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. Lois

    Why would they say that? How would they ever get through a general election?

    December 29, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  2. Larry of Biwabik, MN

    I am so incredibly impressed that such a capable, idealistic and realistic person like Barack can make such a viable run for the president. I understand entirely his reluctance to stay on such a fast political track if his wife is not totally behind him. This race must be such a trip to a young man who not very long ago was this laid back kid hanging out on the beach in Hawaii. I think part of Barak's appeal is that he does not have years and years politics in his psyche. It seems that the longer a person is in the political spotlight, the more it drains away his/her energy for making significant progress in what needs to be done in this country. Have we every had a two term president whose second term came near accomplishing what his first term accomplished? Without question Abraham Lincoln was one of our two greatest presidents. Look at the amount of national political experience he had when he became president. Give me a fresh politician of personal moral vision and of intellegence to an experienced politician any day of the week.

    December 29, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. curtis

    CNN censored and alter my blog twice in two days they are apart of the Rothschild Family Corparate machine. Oh yea Rothschild and Rockerfellas own this election, your votes don't even count. If Obama was elected he would be killed six months after he's in office because he's not in the circle. The Clintons and Bushs are all in that circle. Skull and Bones, Check their family linage youll find they share royal bloodlines traced to England and share relatives in the States.

    December 29, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Craig Finnegan, Madison, Wisconsin

    To serena1313 (above)....Thanks for sharing your positive views of what Obama has to offer...I respect your views, especially when they're so well-worded and are grounded in good principles. I just want to share with you in return that although I, too, see Obama's many strengths, at closer look they don't seem to me any greater than the other Democratic nominee's. In fact, the other nominees all seem to have those same strengths as a more solid and more deeply-rooted aspect of their characters. The resulting impression I have of Obama is that he's suspiciously over-packaged....and the package seems disappointingly light when you pick it up.

    December 29, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. jACK hEDDEN

    What is the deal with Obama and the American Flag? The fact the man delegating for President of our country don't salute the Flag of our nation and refuses to wear an American flag pennant on his lapel bothers me.
    Is this the kind of person we really want running our country? The flag represents everything about our country. Many lives were given defending that flag, it represents, pride, honor and devotion to our way of life and the freedom we are fortunate to enjoy. Obama, No support or recognition of the flag of our country means I have no room for you in the White House.
    How come noone has picked up the fact he does Not recognize the Flag?

    December 29, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. Scott, Des Moines, Iowa

    It is so great he let us know it NOW, better than AFTER caucusing.

    Voters should do him and his family a big favor, let him go home. Be with his family. We have many outstanding candidates in this race, anyone is more experinced than him. We really don't need him in this race.

    December 29, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. e.

    We do need a change; Obama will provided it and the rest of the world will look at us approvingly and will be more willing to cooperate with this great country. The so called "lack of experience" is a strange jundgement about the Senator because experience can be quickly acquired when the mind and the soul of a leader are dedicated to our best interest. No President, no "common man" has
    experience in everything, but with an open mind, experience in various fields will be obtained. The ones that claim experience did and are still doing a poor job and besides the glint in their eyes and the smile on their faces bothers me, the glamour of the Presidency is what is most important to them. Go Obama, this country needs you

    December 29, 2007 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. Jack Staples

    Reading these comments makes me ashamed to be an American...

    Just like when 55,000,000 people voted for George Bush after having 4 years to see what he was all about...

    Just like when 12 people voted to aquit OJ Simpson after having 8 months to see what he was all about...

    I left a recent Obama rally thinking, "America would be so, so, so very lucky to have this man as president."

    But, perhaps this country so filled with violent fools, racist haters, and detached ignorami that it does not deserve such a man.

    You suck, America. The average American is less than average–and apparently, many average Americans have chimed in here.

    December 29, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  9. Rocco, Wellignton, fl

    And does Obama think anybody cares?

    December 29, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. Arturo Gomez

    This go to show what kind of a candidate Obama is he is saying it is now or never. Is this a threat? When I see Obama campaigning it truly shows what a fake he really is. This guy was just inflated by the media in the hopes that he would be nominated instead of a more worthy candidate. Obama is all talk and no show. He has not beenscrutinize like the other candidates that is why we know little of what he is all about we have realied only in what a bias media has thrown at us.

    December 29, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Scott, Des Moines, Iowa

    By the way, I forgot to mention. Those Obama's supporters who are here 24/7 waiting for the posts or attack those who don't vote for Obama, now you guys did a great job, pack and go home, enjoy your rest holiday. Obama doesn't care about you, He doesn't. Time for you all have a normal life, no need to stay here 24/7 and argue for a shallow empty speech guy.

    December 29, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. e.

    what does that mean?

    December 29, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Just O'le Tom

    Just what this coutry does NOT need; another 'first lady' telling the President how to put his pants on every morning. Too much influence could be part of the problem with the way things are mis-handled now...

    December 29, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. Jim

    To all those who say Obama's wife wears the pants in his family, who wears them in the Clinton family? Bill dropped his during his second term in office.

    December 29, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. Mark R.

    This is irresponsible game-playing by the Obama's; they're trying to hold the democratic party hostage by saying "you better make me the nominee this time because you won't get the chance to do it again". They know that most Americans believe he's just not ready YET. So play your little game if you want, Obama. I see right through it, and I bet alot of other people do too. What you SHOULD do is eat some humble pie, take the VP spot for Hillary (who's going to be the nominee this time) and run in 2016. Wait your turn and stop acting like a petulant child.

    December 29, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. Lynn

    What irony: Clinton supporters claim that Hillary gained experience by being the wife of a president, yet when the Obamas speak about their modern marriage where major decisions being mutual they are all over them declaring wives have no say in a president's decisions. Can't have it both ways folks.

    We are living the poor judgments and actions of these "experienced" candidates. These peo-ple are running on their own past, failed policies and decisions. It is time us baby boomers retired to advisors roles and turned the reins over to the next generation who understand this new, dangerous world we live in.

    Time for change: Obama or Edwards 08

    December 29, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    Any man or woman who is decent and responsible knows that you do not run for office without the support of the family, especially the spouse. Those who do NOT value and care his or her family will not truely care about you, the ordinary Americal people, as well.

    Mrs. Obama had been cynical about politics before Obama convinced him a few years ago. Given the sacrifice the Obama family gave in the past year, I can understand Mrs. Obama's words. The Obamas are honest and decent. We owe them a lot for getting the right voice, ordinary people's voice, heard.

    Many of the comments in this blog just showed how shallow many peopel are. This is why they deserved Bush for 8 years, then probably Hillary for another 8 years, and then cry innocent for a savor. The Obamas will be fine without the presidency (they have never wanted it for their own sake). The question is, "Will you be fine with the Obamas?" My guess that time will tell that the answer is "NO."

    December 29, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Ajay Jain, Dallas, USA

    Obama says eight years is a long time. Why eight? He knows Hillary is coming and getting elected in 2008 and will stay in the White House for eight years.

    Obama is getting away with murder and nobody in the press is raising a finger. His State Senator record of hundreds of votes as "PRESENT not VOTING" has not been questioned. He touts his judgment but does not leave a record trail behind to debate his judgment on issues / bills?

    Obama may have the press honeymoon for a while but he can not get the nomination without greater scrutiny. And scrutiny we need. Operations Research on Obama is not a "racist" action but part of legitimate politics and campaigning.

    For example: "Kerry Apology for MUSLIM remark on Obama":

    Kerry does not have to apologize for STATING FACTS:

    He said "It's probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama and his father was a Muslim and this his paternal grandmother is a Muslim,” he said at the time."

    Yes Obama's father is/was a Muslim and his mother an American White female.

    So what! Hillary/Bill do not have to get defensive about their comments, language, remarks on any forum be it Charlie Rose Show or Kerry's event endorsing Hillary. There is no parsing or apology required.

    Obama needs to be brought down from the pedestal if he has to compete fair and square in this election cycle of 2008.

    Go Hillary44 08!

    December 29, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. Abhishek Gupta

    I don't see anything wrong with his comments. Why are people here fretting over the Obama family trying to woo the voters with the emotional agenda. Anything and everything that is going to get him more votes....the obama campaign should go for it. He already has made his intentions clear and spoken his heart out on all important issues. For the voters who are undecided, I will ask you to take a look at one of his books. This guy is young and energetic and full of hope. If he spends more time in politics it is very likely that with time he will become like the rest of them -if not scared, then at least wary of change. DEBATE WITH SMART PEOPLE AROUND YOU. Focus on the candidates strengths. Make a better decision that what americas have been doing for the last eight years.

    December 29, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. Heteroclite

    It’s interesting to read these comments and realize that they come from the general electorate in this country. So many people with reactionary responses and poorly researched facts. Only about 10% of the comments are well thought out or well researched. Well, I guess that is the way in a democracy – emotion and pride rule decisions and opinions.

    It is also true that our nation’s leaders come from this same electorate. Clearly most (if not all) candidates have their entire campaign “scripted” because they are by nature prideful and emotional – not to mention too powerful to connect with common folk issues. Campaign managers orchestrate their every move to insure a connection is perceived. Everything they write is edited and sanitized. If they did not do this they would write like commenter Carl here that posted twice and still could not figure out the proper spelling of “due”.

    At the very least Mr. & Mrs. Obama both seem to often defy “scripting” – and that is a big plus in my book.

    We must all understand that Leadership is a perception. True leadership is defined more by how well you delegate and how good you are at picking the right people to which to delegate. We should be asking ourselves who among the candidates has the ability and resources to find the right people to surround them and advise them? We have seen over the last seven years what poor decisions in staffing can mean to a presidency and a country.

    I urge all bloggers to “think” before they respond. Be constructive and insightful whenever possible. Consider what you want in a leader rather than what they want you to “perceive” from these scripted campaigns. Do not let yourself be told what leadership is. Figure it out for yourselves.

    By definition, true leaders are themselves hard to lead. Campaign managers have a difficult time “controlling” the campaigns of true leaders.

    And so it should be.

    December 29, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. joan skipper

    In so many of these comments people are saying Obama is the only one with good judgement may I ask what that good judgement is? It's easy to say I was against the war from the beginning but he was not in the senate when that vote was taken, he was not given the information that the senate was given, so no one really knows how he would have voted under the same circumstances. My son is in Iraq right now and I want him home safley and as soon as possible. I want a president that has a voting record that I can see, not one that says I would have done this differently, anyone could say that, but with Obama we will never really know will we?

    December 29, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. stan pitts pa

    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…..

    hey just because he listens to his wife, and reasons with her, he is now a sucker? gimme a break, he show he has a healthy respect for his wife and her views matter to him, would you rather a president who disregards his wife by having numerous affiars like u know who? it doesnt mean he will be weak, its shows good judgement and being open to the opinions of others , he shows good leadership skills, the same way he wont do anyhing alone or without his wife, it shows he will not do anything as president without the consent of the people, now thats who you want leading you, grow up!

    December 29, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Angie

    You people who think this is a sympathy bid haven't been paying much attention to Obama in the past 10 months, he has said from day 1 he will not run again.

    Try to educate yourselves about a candidate before jumping all over his case!

    December 29, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Ray, Chicago and IL

    Am I the only man on this blog that has a spouse...?

    Judging from a lot of the comments (mostly from men who are against Barack), there seems to be a huge issue w/ a spouse who has an opinion. I truly love and respect my spouse valuing everything she brings to the table. With that being the case, the decisions we make (most importantly regarding our family) we make as partners, not as her being the women and me being the man. Such a decision as running for President, is one that would definately require his wife's opinion.
    Everything that he is subjected to she and there children have to bare as well. She has her on life her, on goals and going thru the things that they have experienced on the campaign trail would be enough to make any of you never wish to repeat.

    Look at Gore, who would be the most logical candidate if he were available. For those of you who state that Hillary has so much great experience. He would not even step his foot anywhere near this race. Why not, it is the slime involved and he has dealt with the Clintons enough to know to steer clear, which is why he is not involved in the process in anyway shape or form. Gore has completely distanced himself from the Clintons. Is this because Gore is a bad person??? No, this is because he knows the beast that he was in bed with in the 90's and would not dare challenge it.

    All of the perceptions regarding Barack have come specifically from one camp. First was the experience, then the naive remark from Hillary (when he suggested that we should be focused on al-queda and the taliban were they are and destroy there camps, not in Iraq). In addition, she fires a few campaign workers for sending emails that he is muslim and that he is trying to take over America for the "muslim world". There are so many other attacks and none of the attacks had anything to do with Barack Obama, as so many of you riding the Clinton wave like to repeat 'Barack Hussien Obama'.

    Yeah and Clinton has so much experience, she is capable of coming right in and leading the country! Says who, those who know that Barack is capable, but want to limit him for all the claims listed above. I have a boss right now with tons of experience and has been with my corporation for years. If he makes all the wrong decision and can't manage properly, most of you would still want to give him a promotion because he has been there. But back to Clinton, she has made tons of decisions with little to no evidence of what she has done. Things that we do know that she has done, make no sense and were done for political reasons. We all know that she should have never voted for the war in Iraq, all the time knowing that Iraq had nothing (absolutely nothing) to do with the attack on our soil and was no were near a threat to the U.S. Even after this knowing how reckless 'Curious George' is, she still signs an agreement to label Iran terrorist, giving him further authority if he chose to munipulate us and act to attack. Hillary has truly display the wrong type of leadership and experience and I will not be a follower.

    Obama, thinks outside of the group think tank and has chosen to put everything on the line and offer his services to this great country in hopes of restoring the values that we live by, after a low that this country should've never experienced. He has made it completely clear who he is hiding nothing. The Clintons hide any and everything and love the game of distortion, corruption and deceit for there own political gain. America is no longer viewed in the world as the most just. We are consumed by the elite (corporations and politicians), who think JUSTUS. We can no longer allow the continuation of such a divisive, destructive and elitest path.

    It is amazing how we claim to have such strong values and carry the title of a true free country, when so many (sorry men) expect this man's wife to shut up and not have an opinion. And you all fear Barack is muslim! See this man as he is and not as someone who doesn't look like you or all of the prior Presidents of this country and you will see an extraordinary individual who's time could not be better to lead us to a brighter future for our wives/children and also the respect America deserves abroad.

    December 29, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Darryl, Sarasota, FL

    Another wishy washy candidate who would say whatever you want to hear.

    For me someone who speaks what he believes and has voted for consistently is a real leader.

    We need a truthful leader not another Gestapo master.

    December 29, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17