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. Eugene Anaheim ca

    I know where you comming from MR OBAMA especially if you have a "ghetto woman for a wife LOL they dont mince they words.What happened to you i guess it show you have weak choices in general

    December 28, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  2. al, San Francisco, CA

    Obama has shown himself lacking of audacity and courage. Remember that he told the audience during the Iowa debate that his new year wish is to be less timid? There is simply no fire in his belly, and american should not entrust our country to Obama for his lack of faith.

    On the other hand, Hillary's new year wish was to lose weight and win the election.
    You have to admire her dedication and conviction in polifical service.

    December 28, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  3. Joe Evans

    Obama is a comet, folks. A guy like him only comes around once. Please don't pass up this opportunity to change the world.

    December 28, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  4. Dwight W.

    I don't know why we can't just take him at his word. He is simply responding to criticism that he's running before his time. This IS his time. It's now or never. No one is ever "ready" to be president. It is a role that history casts upon a few people. We need a president who will bring significant change to Washington, not just four or eight more years of the bickering and divisiveness that we've had for so long. Obama is that person. I voted for Richard Nixon twice and George W. Bush twice. I'm definitely willing to take a chance on a person of Obama's strength and character.

    December 28, 2007 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  5. gcr

    i doubt if that was a smart comment to make....i am not politically savy, but to me it sounds like he cannot stand the pressures of DC much less the pressures as the leader of the free world....GCR

    December 28, 2007 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. Adam T.

    Im all for a BIG CHANGE and think that Mr. Obama is it. There has been enough of the same government not being in tune with the people that pay their salaries. At times it seems as though the government is absent when it comes to making big decisions and solving problems. I keep seeing the same tired line, " Obama lacks experience". What experience does one need to not balance the budget and have the majority of Americans question every decision the president makes because they have little to no confidence in his ability to make a decision that best represents the will of america as a whole? WAKE UP AMERICA!!! The time for change IS NOW.

    December 28, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  7. Henry, VA

    We have been given a wonderful gift in Barack Obama. Let's not blow it, America.

    December 28, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. Eddie W.

    It is always interesting when so many share their thoughts on someone else choices.If Senator Obama chooses not to run, then so be it. Some people says not enough experience...yet the others running collectively has over some 200 years of So Called Experience and look where we are today AND THEY ARE THE ONES WHO DICTATES POLICY...wake up ...We need some fresh air. If Senator Obama waits until 2012.....We may not be here to vote..since we are spread out all over the world with our forces and not enough here at home to defend our own ground and the planet is going ape each and every day. The problem is that Americans has sat on their butts, elected mostly millionaires, let the elected ones do what they want,retire when they want and we (the people) pay them well...more in retirement than the average American earn every 1.5 years . Please REMEMBER that the office of The President is an on the job training position with a 4 year probation period...if he does not work out ...then fire him and when you do please elect the members of Congress to some type of term limits.. then WE will have our form of goverment back...and we again in control.Having someone in a position for 25 years is stupid....Hello dictators....

    December 28, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  9. i am the son

    If I had my druthers, I would far and away choose Obama over Hillary and Bill. I have nothing against a female being president, but she has had enough. I am tired of same family presidents. If Hill and Bill get in that will three terms for the Clintons and two for the Bush household.

    Think about it, five terms with two families, that 20 years.

    Give someone else a chance. Maybe some of your comments about Obama and his wife are true, but the same applies to every one of the candidates.

    We have to believe they will try their best when in the house. If you can't believe that, don't vote for them.

    December 28, 2007 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  10. Eugene Anaheim ca

    Enough about Obama please go to YOUTUBE and watch video Benazir bhutto Osama was murdered .

    December 28, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  11. Drew, SC

    I agree James! ...thank goodness someone has commen sense. Barack will win SC if he wins Iowa. The black/youth turnout is underestimated at this point. IF he wins those two then he will end up with the nomination.

    December 28, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  12. JBH

    Are Obama and his wife dropping hints, making threats, being clever, or what? Whatever the case, he seems to be placing blame on her! He strikes me as someone that cannot handle a difficult situation and is already making excuses for a future LOSS!

    During the Democratic debates, Obama mentioned on two separate occasions that he wanted to be a "better husband and father" and he mentioned that he had "to work at not being timid." This struck me as being odd, or just plain naive, making comments such as these during a live, political debate.


    December 28, 2007 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  13. treaty

    I think this comment is genius if not misconstrued by Hilldogs out there. It tends to show that he pays attention to what his wife says or at least gives her some consideration. Can you say women's votes..!!

    December 28, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  14. mar mar

    I am all for a Hillary-Obama ticket. Now, more than ever , we need a female world leader. I truely believe the two would be force to be reverrred. Best of luck either way. If Hillarry were black I'd vote for her too. I just think that what has transpired in Pakistan in the past 24 hours puts Hillary in the front of the race. Barack-sign on as her "wing man" please!!!!!

    December 28, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  15. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    To Michelle Obama, I have not shopped at Target ever since they did not support the Reservist and National Guard Troops who were activated for Iraq and Afganistan so that is one strike against you and your husband shopping at a store that does not Support our Troops. As a member of the Senate you do not fully understand what the rest of regular America has to deal with as far as medical care goes and you get your special perks that the military or civil servants do not get.

    December 28, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  16. KHC

    Duh, of course Obama won't run in 8 years (especially since there is no way that he will ever be elected in Nov). There are several other young, African-American candidates that will be primed to run in 2016 and will be much better nominees then Obama will ever be. (Think Harold Ford Jr. just to name one)

    BTW, for all of you who think that Obama, or any of the other candidates, is going to be your savior, get over yourselves. Politicians are just that, politicians. Haven't you realized that even though the Democrats won the House and the Senate, their approval rates are lower than ever and they are getting absolutely nothing done. Effective government is local government. Let the local city councils decide what is best for their citizens, not the overpaid bureaucrats in DC.

    December 28, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  17. Tasha, FL

    A man that loves and respects his wife...what a concept! Maybe if he would have said I intend to sleep with the interns he would have more support; family stupid of Obama! These are the values America needs now's now or never!

    Obama 08

    December 28, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  18. Mario Uy Streamwood IL

    I do not like Hillary, and I was leaning towards Obama. But after this comment, I will vote for Hillary any day over Obama. At least Hillary is a fighter and she wears the pants.

    Mario Uy
    Streamwood IL

    December 28, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  19. Whatsit2ya

    Did you people even read the same article I did? The man isn't saying vote for me now or never, he's saying that he and his wife discussed it and given all that it takes to campaign for president, the changes in life that are made not only to him but to his family, they have jointly made the decision that if it doesn't work out, they'll go back to family life as usual. The man may be inexperienced but he's not stupid, he knows idle threats are useless. I haven't made any decisions yet, but he's definitely someone I'm keeping an eye on. Everyone wants to find some sort of angle to every story, no matter who it is on. This extra stuff is just that...extra. All I'm interested in is what the candidates position on various policies are and is that candidate good at sticking to his word. Start paying attention to what you are reading and stop trying to relate evil to every candidate.

    December 28, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  20. John

    Ummm....I have to disagree with the people saying that it is ok that Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) doesn't have that much experience. I think that it is ABSOLUTELY important for a possible president to have as much experience as possible to ensure that our country is being run by a competent person. It boggles my mind to read some of these comments stating that BHO is liked because he is "fresh" and "he has managed to keep his hands clean." His hands are clean because he hasn't worked long enough to get them dirty. Experience is not a bad thing and we should be looking for leaders with experience in this very unstable period in our history. This is a very different time in the world and we need someone with experience taking on some very tough issues. BHO has yet to explain his hope of change tactics. He doesn't explain anything and apparently doesn't vote much either (I guess that explains the clean hands). The more I learn about him the scarier it is becoming that he has even a remote possibility of winning the nomination.
    I can see how younger people like the idea of a young, fresh, and clean person in the white house. But we need to think about the big picture and remain focused on the types of struggles our country is currently facing. Our issues are not confined in our borders but on a world stage and Barack is way too inexperienced for the job. Let's hope that Iowa and New Hampshire can make the right decisions for the rest of us.

    December 28, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  21. jessica

    Hillary Clinton 2008!!!!

    December 28, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  22. BMartin, Duluth, MN

    I don't think Obama could stand the rigors of the presidency – If Obama is already thinking the campaigning is too tough so he won't run again, what in the world will he do if he were in office and every day was tougher than any campaign day?
    We the people need to stop electing people because they are "nice", and start electing people based on experience, their ability to be tough when they need to be, to give in when prudence dictates it, have the ability to command respect from the rest of the world, and work for the best interests of the people of this country – first.

    December 28, 2007 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  23. Laurence C

    Statement upon statement lends an ear of intolerance, ignorance, and unforgettable truths to Obama's comment. The reality is presidents lose touch with the general public. Obama is right on as in "now or never" because running for president is difficult and challenging; don't forget costly.

    Many people on the blog lend false perceptions to lead readers in fear. It’s just playing on ignorant fear as we have over centuries. Especially now, because we live in a country of skewed truths, influencing one to support a war based on lies, we create economic stability for the wealthy and then we pretend not to be angry about energy prices when windfall profits are beyond reproach. We exploit the simple words of a man to mean everything but the truth it presents. We create dynamics of faulty innuendos where simple minds embrace what’s read as factual. Just as many illiterate Civil War soldiers ran to fight the war out of negative influences. Many readers jump on the wagon of fear and negate the fact of Obama being a prime presidential candidate with enough experience for office.

    It saddens to read such nit picky items to deter provoking thought from what is important. The American people should wake from its slumber of illusion. We live in one of the most horrifying times where the world does not view the United States its leader. We hold a blind eye to general public problems, such as healthcare, jobs, housing, and education. We wince to truths behind immigration and dumb ourselves to sharing the tax burden left upon us. We instead falter into a mere heard of sheep and blindly follow whoever is in front.

    It’s high time to choose a person without a connection to the norm, whose involvement is shallow to the network of politics. It is time we stand true to the constitution and practice “We the People” and elect a true leader. Why not? It can’t be any worse than what we have today.

    December 28, 2007 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  24. Linda, Chandler AZ


    December 28, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  25. julie

    Does this guy even believe in saying the pledge of allegence in schools? I had heard he didn't and that right there turned me away from him. We are fighting in different countries and have service people dying everyday and we can't say the Pledge of Allegence come on people........ I was going to vote for him till I heard this.... I may be wrong in what I heard and if I am, I am sorry I brought it up...

    December 28, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
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