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. Craig Finnegan, Madison, Wisconsin

    The IRONY!......Obama's "audacity of hope" already turns to an "urge to despair"...... It's called the "Pendulum Effect."

    December 29, 2007 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  2. Benny Brown Jacksonville Fl.

    Good for her, why not drop out now, all you talk about the vote you didn't make to go to war. Do you have just a little since to know that that was then and now is now? By the way, Oprah, said that you was the one, which one? I won't be watching her program no more, she's losing it to!

    December 29, 2007 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  3. Linda, Kansas City, MO

    Wow. I wasn't going to vote this year but he changed my mind. Anyone that acts like this needs voted against. Give him a pacifier, what a silly baby. It's like a threat (vote for me now or else) and yet a childish person (like my teenagers). I would be scared to have him as president. I'm a woman but I have to say does this guy have a spine? Seems like his wife and Oprah are running the show. I think Oprah is a great lady but this guy doesn't seem like a leader to me at all. Now I have to figure out who I can vote for, I don't like anyone this year really but anything is better then this childish man.

    December 29, 2007 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  4. Melinda Harris-Jackson

    I love the fact that Mrs. Obama is so strong and forthright in her opinions, just as I admired Hillary Clinton during the Clinton Administration. I have no qualms about the fact that she is not "meek and mild". She and Barack have a partnership, as it should be in a marriage, in or out of office. I appreciate his respect for her.

    As for "now or never"...I think he was just stating a fact. He's a real person, and, naturally, because we're not used to seeing public figures being normal and speaking without a great deal of B/S, we look for fat to chew on with every phrase spoken. He's not saying, "Vote for me now b/c I'm not coming back"! He's saying this is a journey that he's on 100% right now, but not one that he wishes to take more than once...

    Can you blame him?

    He's got my vote all the way. In 2008 or 2012 or WHENEVER! As long as he doesn't change (for the worse), my opinion won't change. God bless him and his lovely family!

    December 29, 2007 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  5. Fair,Washington DC Obama supporters are too much...Obama could come out and say he is GWB best friend and you guys would still find some way to justify it and beat the Obama drum. He's not the best candidate to win the General Election..yes he can possibly "hijack" the primary from Hillary , I'll concede that.. I am African American and I am telling you as an insider every major African American outlet is touting Obama, so Hillary will lose the African american support she had coming in to Obama. Not sure if that will give him the Primary, but it is definitely one of the reasons her numbers are dropping. Yes Obama is a decent person, but there are a majority of African Americans voting for him just because he's african American and they don't care about experience, electability or anything else...theres a brother running and that is all they need to know.

    December 29, 2007 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  6. Craig Finnegan, Madison, Wisconsin

    To Nancy, in Dallas (above), who observed......"(Obama) is completely submissive to her. His behavior and remarks bespeak a conciliatory role".....I instantly noticed it, too.....and you're right to conjecture that his imbalanced marital relationship would transfer onto OUR country's relationship with the rest of the world if he were to be elected. We would go from now being led by CON-ARTISTS to the other extreme of being led by SUCKERS. We need a President who'll neither dominate nor submit to other countries.....

    December 29, 2007 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  7. serena1313

    Many believe experience is the defining issue without qualifying it. Every individual has experience. But unless that experience translates into wise decision-making based on sound judgment it is otherwise useless. Obama's experience working in the trenches as a community organizer dealing with people with intractable demands and resolving problematic situations provided invaluable insight and knowledge that has been tried, tested and true which gives me confidence in his leadership and problem-solving skills.

    Obama's strengths including sound judgment tempered with intelligence, a sense of balance and justice are admirable qualities, not readily seen in the other candidates. In stark contrast to the cookie-cutter-type answers most politicians give Obama's are measured and thoughtful. Patience and reasoned logic indicates someone who is responsive rather than reactive. The current administration's reactive policies proved ineffective and dangerous. And after 7 years of that the nation is more than ready for change.

    Experience is not an end to itself. Although Obama has plenty of experience it is his judgment that makes him stand out from the rest of the contenders. Instead of using military power Obama is more apt to utilize a host of tools available that actually solve problems rather than create more. What a welcomed change.

    A commitment to competent governance necessitates objective reality. Pure politics, ideology, and/or party loyalty create false narratives. Those claiming to care about people without acting on are paying lipservice. However organizing poor neighbourhoods, taking on genocide in Darfur, opposing military action in Iraq are proof Obama is a man who acts on his convictions.

    Furthermore not only does he appear to understand the complexity of issues that challenge the nation requires someone with communication, negotiation and diplomacy skills, Obama has those skills. Equally important with his sincere desire and yearning to lead the country in a different direction Obama can and will do so successfully given the opportunity.

    December 29, 2007 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  8. Iowa Caucus Goer

    Good gravy, I cannot believe the things people say on here, even though CNN always has the most idiotic commenters.

    RE: Stephen Teichmann, Irvine, California "Get involved and be informed."

    Physician, heal thyself!

    Barack Obama is NOT a Muslim. Duh! Google is your friend.

    Keith Ellison of Minnesota is the US Congressman who was sworn in with a Quran. DUH! Wikipedia is your friend.

    RE: Bean Counter

    You've written the sanest post here. And you are correct.

    December 29, 2007 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  9. R Hayward

    I'm a Hillary supporter but I'm more than a little tired of the Internet rumor mill. Barack Obama did NOT get sworn in on a Koran.

    December 29, 2007 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  10. Elvirea

    please, stop trying to scare the american people by telling them this is their only chance to vote for Barack...what a cheap move to motivate people to vote for him...if Barack listens to his wife's rather callous ultimatums on this important issue, what kind of influence would she have on his presidency if he were elected?

    December 29, 2007 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  11. Jeff, Rathdrum ID

    Well I see the Clinton trolls found a home at the clinton new network!!! Thats good!!!
    Hey I'm sorry if your canidate takes everything Obama says about Government needing change, personal, I guess if the shoe fits wear it!!!! And I have to say I love it when you blame Obama for smear tactics, since most of what you call smear tactics are him responding to stuff Clinton camp puts out. But luckily most people don't listen to your Clinton camp talking points! I mean if anyone still think's he is a muslim, they either to stupid to caucus anyway, or they live under a rock and probebily won't come out to caucus.

    As far as Obama saying he won't run again, why should he if the American people like what they have in Government, if politics as usual is fine, and they don't want change now, why would they in 4 or 8 years.

    If you want an experanced canidate I would say Biden, if you want the same old politics, then clinton is your girl. But if you want a President that will lead us (the American People), and give us back our government, Obama is your Man!!!!
    That's what I love about him, he will lead us, he will open Government to us, he knows he can't change government, but he will lead us in changing Government. Like he says change doesn't happen from the top down (personally that sounds like the Repub economics), but from the bottom up.
    Together we can change the world!!!!
    Obama '08

    December 29, 2007 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  12. Angela

    Much as I'd like to believe in the energetic idealism that Barak seems to have, this comment by his wife is disturbing!
    If she is complaining now, then where are they going to get the stamina to lead the country. ..for the next four years at the least.?
    This is not a sporting contest or game, this is the Presidency of the United States of America!!
    You better have commitment, conviction and the will to go all the way!!

    These comments by him and his wife underscores the simple fact that he does not possess the strength of character to be the President.

    He's simply not ready to lead yet....maybe later, but not yet.

    December 29, 2007 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  13. Terry

    What's wrong with shopping at Target?? If she's "keeping it real," she should shop at K-Mart!

    December 29, 2007 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  14. Fred

    What a lame way to try and get people to vote for him. What is he saying? I won't run again if you don't vote for me now.

    He should have saved himself the embarassment the first time around and not run for President in the first place.

    December 29, 2007 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  15. Fred

    Obama proved me wrong. He is dumber than I first thought!!

    Republican all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And those of you who dish President Bush....real Americans you are who cannot stand behind your President. Bush has had to deal with the war on terrorism for 7 out of his 8 years as president. President Bush has had a lot on his plate during his term and if you have the nerve to think or say he has done a bad job then you need to go scr_w yourself!

    December 29, 2007 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  16. Margarita, Los Angeles


    December 29, 2007 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  17. tricia

    I think he is the best man we have running right now. He is an old soul in an young mans' body. He has knowledge, and compassion that works with his
    wisdom.. He has values that are based on thought through principles. He was one of the few to stay out of Irag because he saw through history there never has been peace among the people themselves. He to me is a breath a fresh air. He isn't going to run ahead and make mistakes, but take each day as it comes; plan for them as best as he can an; implementing for them as they present themselves. Lets not let bias or prejudice get in our way.

    December 29, 2007 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  18. Lib

    oh, a male candidate can say his wife won't "let him" do something. I don't think people would think the same if a female candidate says " My husband won't let me"
    It seems that all the males are playing up the "wife" and how they "listen" perhaps to present a softer image.
    I don't buy it. When the political, power and control bug hits-it doesn't easily go away. maybe he'll run with a another wife!

    December 29, 2007 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  19. EE

    May Hillary people help me out. Im having a hard time knowing which of the Hillarys is running for President. Which Hillary should I vote for on Thursday?

    Campaign Slogan
    1.Hillary the Change agent
    2.Hillary the experienced person
    3.Hillary the likable person

    Policy Positions
    1.Hillary that voted for the war in Iraq
    2.Hillary that opposed the funding of the war she authorized
    3.Hillary that can bring people together and then
    4.Hillary that turns on the heat on Republicans

    Campaign style
    1.Hillary that wont attack her opponents then
    2.Hillary that two weeks later wanted to completely destroy his chief rival
    3.Hillary that cant manage a small campaign then
    4,Hillary that purports to manage the greatest nation in the world

    SO WHICH OF THESE HILLARYS will actually be running on Thursday?

    Well for Obama, I can easily decide to vote for or against him.He's stuck with his message of change from beginnning to end, I can judge him but there are TOO many Hillarys running , so GUYS help me out.

    December 29, 2007 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  20. Moe, NY

    So sorry that is the case next elections you just may have matured enough, in the political sense, regarding experience, foreign policy, etc. ect. and, please start voting on will help you and American citizens.

    December 29, 2007 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  21. Mike Atkins

    It is all over for Obama. This "one shot" comment will sink him like a stone.

    First, it shows that he is not committed to the call of politics, and he has to win first time, or not at all. No Abe Lincoln here.

    Second, he is treating voters like a cheap ad that declares a now or never "opportunity" to buy a product at a great price.

    I would never vote for someone who insulted me like that.

    December 29, 2007 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  22. Mathilda , Sweden

    Oh... If mrs Obama says so.. Then it just has to be!!
    I have never heard such a load of nonsense..

    He will run again if he isn't the candidate now. But maybe someone who now feels a bit worried now about his experience thinks it's "Now or never" and gives him the vote on these grounds..

    Please don't be so easy to sway as that!!

    December 29, 2007 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  23. Natekng

    What a wimp. And he expects to be president? Now I understand why he didn't show up for 80% of the votes in the Senate. His wife needed him in the kitchen.

    December 29, 2007 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  24. Stephen from Irvine

    This is to address my earlier blog, and specifically the responses from Linda from Chandler, AZ and SEC (she did not indicate where she was from). I believe in right is right, and wrong is wrong. And I was wrong about Obama being sworn in with the Koran, and for that I apologize. I do, however, stand by statement questioning why he refuses to use his given middle name of Hussein, and his involvement in the Muslim Community up until the mid 1980's.

    And by the way Linda, being wrong does not make one ignorant, racist or otherwise. Sometimes we, as human beings are just wrong. In this case it was clearly me with regards to the Koran.

    You asked if I "got it". I really do. You really don't believe either he or Hillary will be elected our next president anyway, do you? It is simply not going to happen for either one of them.

    December 29, 2007 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  25. Chris

    The media has probably picked the worst picture of her to depict a villian. African Americans-and any other person of color have always been portrayed as less than 'normal'. Whatever that is.
    Get to know people before you judge. Sit back in the fringe and let your soul decide what is good and what is bad. Rather than some freelance photographer and rogue editor that is obviously contributing to the fire that burns within your adolescent cultural education-or lack thereof.
    Mrs. Obama has a lot to say about 'ordinary people'. You know? People that post comments on CNN's website after reading a story. People that go to work and earn a living. You and I. Here is what it is. "The Obama's will work for the working-class".
    Bush said thatn too. He came from money. Knows nothing but money. So what would you expect? If you voted for Bush either time well shame on you.
    Why doesn't America open up their minds and try something new?

    Ignorance is repeatedly trying the exact same thing and expecting a different result. Perhaps 'we' should try something DIFFERENT.

    December 29, 2007 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
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