December 29th, 2007
08:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama: My wife says 'now or never'


Obama and wife Michelle at a recent campaign event (Photo Credit: AP)

WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa (CNN) - Barack Obama told an Iowa audience Friday that his wife Michelle thinks he should not run for president again if he loses in 2008.

“One of the things I offer in this race is that we still remember what it means to be normal," said the Illinois senator.

"My wife and I were talking the other day. And she said 'We're not doing this again'. And those of you who met her know she doesn't mince words,” said Obama. “She meant that in eight years, I'm not sure we'll be the same people we are now."

He said that he and his wife had only recently finished paying off their own student loans and started saving for their kids' college education. He also said that, until recently, he would do the family's grocery shopping himself. He said Michele told him, "eight years from now we will have lost touch with what ordinary Americans are going through" and that "we'll be in a different orbit."

"I think when you're in Washington for a long time you lose touch" and "it becomes harder to relinquish power,” he added.

But he told the audience in this blue-collar town, "my wife still shops at Target."

In the new issue of Vanity Fair, Michelle Obama tells a reporter that when it comes to her husband's White House bid, “it’s now or never.”

“We’re not going to keep running and running and running, because at some point you do get the life beaten out of you. It hasn’t been beaten out of us yet," she tells the magazine. "We need to be in there now, while we’re still fresh and open and fearless and bold. You lose some of that over time. Barack is not cautious yet; he’s ready to change the world, and we need that.”

Obama was responding to question from an undecided voter on executive power, and whether the senator would be willing to relinquish some of the power that President Bush has accrued.

Approached after the event, the undecided voter who asked the question said he hopes if Obama loses this time that he does run again: "I think he could make a good President," said Paul Kessler. But he told CNN that he's still uncommitted: "I'm going to read every candidates' website and decide on policy. Not emotion."

UPDATE: Later in an interview with CNN, Obama wouldn't say if his comments suggested he would not run for president again if he were to lose his current bid.

"Well, I intend to reelection after my first term," he said with a smile.

–CNN's Jessica Yellin

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (420 Responses)
  1. Edward S.

    Obama is exactly what our country needs now–he's the most progressive candidate, AND the most electable.

    December 28, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. tina, ny, ny

    It is Obama. There is no need to come back. We don't need inexperienced president like you.

    NO OBAMA.....thank god

    December 28, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  3. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    Obama's Senate floor speeh on Illegal Immigration...........

    "Millions of undocumented immigrants live and work here without our knowing their identity or their background. We need to strike a workable bargain with them. They have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty, and abide by all of our laws going forward. They must earn the right to stay over a 6-year period, and then they must wait another 5 years as legal permanent residents before they become citizens.

    But in exchange for accepting those penalties, we must allow undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and step on a path toward full participation in our society. In fact, I will not support any bill that does not provide this earned path to citizenship for the undocumented population–not just for humanitarian reasons; not just because these people, having broken the law, did so for the best of motives, to try and provide a better life for their children and their grandchildren; but also because this is the only practical way we can get a handle on the population that is within our borders right now."

    Since when do we "bargan" with illegal invaders?

    Not now, not ever will he win

    December 28, 2007 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  4. LB, Dallas, TX

    Oh my, I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of this list to comment! All this talk about Michelle wearing the pants?! Does Hillary not wear pants? Come on, Mrs. Obama is a smart, strong woman that has to come to the forefront at a time like this!!!
    I for one think that makes him more eligible than anything else! He knows at the end of each day, he has to look into her eyes. She will help hold him accountable.
    Secondly, the thought that this is a vote-for-me-now ploy. Who has time for that? They are a Super intelligent team that realizes family takes precedence and campaigning takes on a whole differenent life that puts you in a different state as the wind blows. This is the season that they are in now...but SEASONS CHANGE.

    December 28, 2007 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  5. Beverly

    hahahahaha buh bye Osama binhoping for a miracle.. Snort Snort
    Edwards and his knocked up mistress. Yeah can see the women vote flocking to the polls for that sleaze ball and feeling all feeling good about Edwards and his cancer ridden wife who is home dying while he knocks up a bimbo..hahahahahaha....Edwards. you just make it too easy

    buh bye Edwards

    as to the other dinosaurs.....Yawning

    This is Hillary's turn NOW. Move over. She knows how to play the game with the big boys...

    the Mormon, the hick, the mobster with 3 ex wives and 2 ex mistresses with city funding hahaha love it, the lazy Old pervert who calls his granddaughter...opps mean wife a trophy (wink wink Thompson), and the list goes on....Mccain might be a problem, but the old geezer is near his deathbed and has been tortured so who knows when he'll kicks the bucket.

    Hillary 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Hill on Wheels tour coming to a town near you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 28, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. Jason, Edmonton Alberta Canada

    Wow appears as though there are an awful lot of Republicans on here. Besides that, in my humble opinion Hillary wins Dems lose to Republicans, Obama wins there is a chance although slim. Hillary is just another member of the old gaurd who will change NOTHING!

    December 28, 2007 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. Marge

    Have you ever cheated on your wife. Would you ever forgive her if she did? Your answer on the Brutto assination was a dirty, desperate act. I SAY NEVER NOW!!

    December 28, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  8. KB

    That's gonna hurt him. If she's ready to throw in the towel now, how is she gonna stand pressure if he were to be in the White House. Ouch - comes across as a negative to me. Go home and forget it.

    December 28, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  9. Alan, Iowa

    Is anyone else out there as perplexed as I am. Obama and Clinton should be in the bottom two of democratic candidates. Hillary overplays her "experience of 35 years?" Obama sounds like Bush when he speaks off the cuff, can't speak over five consecutives words without an UH or UM. Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson and John Edwards are head and shoulders over these two, especially Senator Biden. I will caucus for Biden but have a bad feeling he will not be viable, I will then go with Edwards. People, wake up! Hillary and Barack are the two L E A S T experienced candidates. Personality is not the most important quality to be president of the stongest country in the world, look at the idiot thats been there for the last seven years, yeah, everyone said they'd love to have George over for a bar-b-que, cuz he's like one of us. I want someone who is far more intelligent and experienced than us running the show.

    December 28, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  10. Robert, Gastonia, North Carolina

    These statements coupled with earlier concerns about shelterring their children from the campaign have me worried. if he does somehow win the nomination, how is he going to stand up against the pressure of the republicans? The attacks and negative campaigning are just beginning. Someone forgot to tell him this is not like running for class president or for student government, this is for real. I am also horrified at Axelrod's assurtion that Hillary Clinton is somehow responsible for Bhutto's assasination. He and his campaign are sounding plain stupid and borderline narcissistic. We dont need insecure, inexperienced, waffling, weak in the knees Obama. We need someone to stand up and do the job without wavering. We need Hillary Clinton. And, thank God he wont run if he loses this time. I can look forward to the upcomeing elections without getting sick to my stomach. Obama, get over your self, I already have.

    December 28, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  11. ch arles

    it sounds like he gave up.... looking for a vp

    December 28, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  12. Daniel, WA


    You do not have any chance now and never....You need to find another job my friend.

    December 28, 2007 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  13. ch arles

    presidents run this country not their wives..... sorry ...

    December 28, 2007 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  14. Jon B Columbia, SC

    I think Obama is the best Choice out of all the candidates. I went to his rally with Oprah and i follow both parties since i am independent. Vote Obama 08 or go through another bad 4 yrs of somebody else

    December 28, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  15. Walter

    How inspiring. If they can't win the first time they quit.

    December 28, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  16. Marge

    Oh Plazzzzzzzzzzzzzeeee, don't ask why we would vote for him if he was white. There you go. Playing the race card. Taking the easy way out. Well, who would you choose for vice pres? Oh, i know. Opara, maybe jessie jackson, or it can just be Rev Jackson. Don't even go there! Oh, yea, i have many black friends who i love dearly. I am not a racist like you!

    December 28, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  17. M. Fitzgerald, Fl.

    Do Clinton's supporters usually spam hate messages like this?

    December 28, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  18. Starlet

    Wow, that is so nice of her to still shop at Target with the rest of us low lifes. I feel so privileged.

    December 28, 2007 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  19. Joe Evans

    Now is the time for Barack. Look into your hearts. Let's change the world. Vote with hope, not fear. ~~

    December 28, 2007 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  20. Margarita, Los Angeles


    December 28, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  21. Brian Tampa, FL

    I won't vote for him because he is a quasi-socialist and that won't change no matter how many times he runs. I keep hearing people talk about how great he but they never give a reason why. Besides wanting to put health care in the hands of the Federal Government which has to rank among the worst ideas anyone running for President has ever had what does he stand for. Hope? I am not sure what hope that is but I certainly have much that neither he Edwards or Hillary get any where close to the White House. Non of them offer anything put a good media machine and a bunch of Big Government programs which NEVER work. Do the country a favor and vote for John McCain a real hero with a proven record of going against the grain!

    December 28, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  22. P. Homes

    Its amazing how Obama statements on not wanting to run for office are being twisted.The bitter vitriol that accompany this statements is scary. Its saddens me to see how his simple statement illicit such a response, i am sure most of the respondent would not say their comments to his face and that is troubling. In response to his experience, if you truly believe that what he is lacking experience then Sen, Joe Biden is your man otherwise you better come up with a better excuse because its not being bought.
    have a thoughtful holiday season.

    December 28, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  23. Cable King Pittsburgh PA

    Never before have I heard so many laudatory comments from voters who will be voting for someone else.

    December 28, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  24. Nick Lall

    Maybe barack HUSSEIN obama, should NOT be running at all. Somehow I don't believe being Oprahs lap dog or her flavor of the month qualifies one for the Presidency of our nation. Same for hilly klinton, just because you slept with billy boy klinton and became a carpetbagging senator from ny, while noone of substance was running against you also doesn't qualify you for President.

    December 28, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  25. A. S. L, Michigan

    We often complain that politicians are "out of touch" with everyday people. Most of our recent presidents are of the political elite, earned millions before becoming president and have been "out of touch" with regular folks for decades.

    Here comes a husband and wife who are honest about such pressuresand then we want to attack them and call them liars. I think they're just being "real," but no one wants to admit that politics on this level is really like that.

    The reality is, before Barack ever decided to run for president he had a wife and kids. I believe he values his family and doesn't want to lose them in the process. And that's Michelle's concern too.

    And about Michelle wearing the pants, the best marriages work when both individuals submit to one another and compromise. I'm sure Michelle "feels" like there's no way she'd want her family to go through this again. At the same time, after 8 years have passed, she may decide that more than ever, she wants to see her husband in office. I'm sure she said what she's feeling "right now," but only time will tell. It's really kind of hard to be rigid about these kinds of things. And we all know NEVER to say NEVER...

    December 28, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
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