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. Scott, Owensboro, KY

    To me, this comment futher illustrates Obama's inexperience and his inability to persevere when things get tough. I know a lot of people want "change," but do we really want to put this political infant in office; a person who can't invision going through the rigors of another campaign? How does he think he is going to do once he is neck deep in the crucible of the oval office? Personally, I'd rather have a candidate who doesn't give up and isn't afraid to tell you exactly what he thinks; John McCain. The guy was a POW, subjected to torture, yet he survived and thrived. He ran for president in 2000 and was subjected to the GW Bush capaign's dirty tricks and smear tactics, and yet here he is again, still trying. Personally, I'd prefer my leaders have a "never say die" attitude rather than crying about how if they don't win they're going to punish us all by never running again. Give me a break! Obama will make a great talk show host someday. Maybe Oprah can hook him up.

    December 29, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    Big picture folks...

    Shys away from making decisions by voting "present" if he even shows up for the vote.

    No real world experience at anything significant.

    Open borders amnesty supporter which 75% of the voting public (remember us?) do not support.

    Nice cute remarks but without substance.

    Excellent track record of spending other peoples' (taxpayer, remember us?) money.

    Not now, not ever.

    December 29, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Ayyub, Richmond, Va

    It's sad to say but many of the people here have really lost it. C'mon! You get mad at him for threating to band toys from China if they don't change the ways they make and paint the toys (IN LEAD). Do you care about the safety of our children and yourselves, did you know lead poisioning causes mental retardation? Then y'all go on to attack him for listening to his wife, isn't that what a good husband is supposed to do? If he cares about the well being of his family wouldn't he the American people (Which I hope no John Edwards people are attacking because is wife was one of the problems in the general election because of her health). C'mon America, you got a guy who want to change the nation. Hillary just in the last few week has been using this change thing. Only really John and Obama (maybe Biden and the others) have been using change all along. And, and if you talk about who's puts on the pants in the Obama family, they both do because they are married with children and both are in this thing together to win it. Would you put your children through the Republican attack mechine and Clinton attack mechine another time if you had a wife/husband and kids? C'mon, you have no idea how bad it is with completely untrue rumors floating around everyday. How would you like it (if you're not Muslim) to be called Muslim. Don't forget FOX started that thing about Obama too, and now Clinton supporters are using it. Does that sound right America? We need to do research, listen, and think. This is truely the most important election possibly of our time.

    December 29, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. Rob

    Funny how you talk about the sacrifice the Obama family has made in the past year. The media has given them a pass on all the things other candidates have been and are being crucified for. And if they think a campaign is tough, what about actually doing work? Something that even his supporters admit he has not done in federal government. Obama would have to actually do difficult things for a change instead of reading his empty words from teleprompters and notes written on his sleeve.

    December 29, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. Hank Castello

    This statement is a mistake and will hurt him. There is just now way to read this article and come away with anything positive. Edwards may be the Dems only hope since Hillary just may not be electible.

    December 29, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. joan middle class america

    Maybe Michelle can explain why her husband was the ONLY ABSTAINING "PRESENT" VOTE against school bullying? And against children being protected from pornography while he was an IL state Senator?? 😦

    "Mr. Obama was also the sole present vote on a bill that easily passed the Senate that would require teaching respect for others in schools. He also voted present on a measure to prohibit sex-related shops from opening near schools or places of worship. It passed the Senate.

    In both of those cases, his campaign said, he was trying to avoid mandates on local authorities."

    In light of the tragic school and mall shootings, and the rampart child pornography on the internet why does Barack Obama keep getting a free pass on his position on such vital interests to the welfare of America's children?! What does this forbode for the future of the United States Supreme Court - when he's NOT even willing to stand up and publically commit to taking action for our youth and the vulnerable??

    Why do his supporters continue to GLOSS OVER what public records that still exist??!!

    Here's what how he "defends his positions"

    December 29, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Jaki, Tamarac, Florida

    I guess he looked at the latest polls and decided to get his pitbull to come out and tell the people- that maybe if they don't get elected they probably won't run again. If the american people fall for this BS, then we really need to lose our country to the islamic muslim radicals. He knows that this assination of Bhutto has shown the american people that "experience" is a must to be able to handle arising problems such as this one. His speech was so flat and he hesitates alot when he spoke of her death. Sometimes his hestitation gets so studdering that I feel like going to the television and smacking him to speed it up. He is a broken record with the "change" and "hope" factor.

    December 29, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. Liam

    Many of you are missing the point. A lot of voters are saying that they really like Obama, but they have a sense that they can wait, and vote for him in a future election. He is running now. Their future votes are useless to him now. He is saying that his family is only going to go through this once, so if you want me, you better make your approval known this time. Tomorrow is promised to know man.

    I love the Obama family. His wife is terrific, and I love the fact that Senator Obama is man enough to let it be known that his wife is an equal partner in life.

    If that revelation from the Obamas has made you declare that you would never vote for him, then you were never going to anyway, and were just looking for some excuse. If Michelle Obama having a real say in how their marriage will be conducted scares you, then you are the weaklings and cowards. All misogynists are.

    December 29, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Jake, California

    You see the thing about Clinton people that is so much like madam Clinton herself is that you are weak and naive. You have taken this as Obama being defeated...
    And you sound so happy with it too!

    You wait and see the real results. All these CNN polls have been cherry picking!

    The real results will begin to throw some light on who is who....hang on, its just about four more days!

    December 29, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Don't make a mistake!


    This is a man who would not put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. What does that say to you America?

    December 29, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. RuthieM

    I think the Obamas are honest people and here too they are just telling it like it is. They all will be different people in 8 years. Their oldest daughter will be on her way to college if not already there by then, the U.S. will again be different, there will be different players, and Obama's 'fierce urgency of now' will no longer be because you can't have your time twice. You can only have your time when it's your time, and this is Obama's time. They both too will be in their 50's so maybe they'll be fat and unmotivated, who knows. Maybe if Rosa Parks had not decided it was 'her time' to sit in the front of the bus, blacks would still be sitting in the back of the bus, so I understand what they are saying here.

    December 29, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Gregg

    The remarks were taken from a Magazine Article ~ so for all you 'HATERS' out there .... I'm so sorry Obama doesn't match up to a Hillary (who has awesome EXPERIENCE as a 'First Lady'), or Edwards (who considers himself a champion of the downtrodden while he gets $200 haircuts).

    Obama is a breath of 'Fresh Air' that will WIN in Iowa and the Democratic Nomination because he's a Statesman that has a grasp of the World and an Idea on how the counrty can aspire to be that 'Shining City of a Hill'!

    The policy of 'HATE' in our National Politics will wilt away when Obama sits in the White House. And melting away also will be all this narrow mindedness that stunts not only Individual Growth ~ but National Growth as well.

    December 29, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. Scott, Des Moines, Iowa

    "Given the sacrifice the Obama family gave in the past year"
    What sacrifice ? Name some ? 130 big number "present" voting records ?
    Give me a break.

    As I always say, media pushed Obama to the frontline. Obama he himself never walks to the front. This is another example, "elxperince "matters. I felt so unbelievable when I watch him comment on Bhutto's death, even his cheerleader Chris Matthew reacted "That is so cold". Actually, that is just the real Obama. Take away his speech, his notes, he can't talk right, he can't make sense, like someone has speech problem. Wait, he is a speech guy, right ? All his ads are all same theme, speech, speech, speech.
    By the way, did anyone get his latest comment on CNN ? I,I,I,...... Wolf did a good job and did not buy his trick.

    December 29, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. cathy

    I think this article really hits on what sets Obama apart from the others, and why we can't wait till he's more 'seasoned'. This opportunity will only happen once. If we miss this, it will be a long time, if ever, till we have the chance to get an honest agent in the White House. There is alot of dirt to clean up right now, and we need someone with integrity to get it done so we can get back on our feet, and hold our head up as a nation.

    December 29, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. Jim, Cherokee

    We need a President with staying power. This does not represent the type of person I would like as President. I will vote for the one who has proven their abilities, and power to stay true to the ship. "Senator Clinton for President 2008"

    December 29, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Ray, Chicago and IL

    It is amazing to me how this is a serious topic for discussion!!!

    I am more than certain that there were much more important issues that he and his wife spoke of during this event in Iowa. CNN, please explain how this is the only thing that you found important? and then explain why this was so important? Sorry to be in awe here...but a husband and wife should discuss any issue that effects there household. Hence, a marriage is a partnership! In addition, if you are a man (straight, gay or other), and you partner doesn't submit to you and vice-versa, then there is no partnership. Even in business, a partnership is a partnership! Get it! If you have made all decision on your own without any input or feedback from anyone else, I could careless, your opinion. George Bush made several decisions on his own or better yet w/ his willy lynch'em buddy. His worst one was this horrible mess of an act, that has us divided straight down the middle. Barack has gotten more flack for his hopes of doing something good for this country then Bush has gotten for committing crimes against other countries!

    Maybe, just maybe...Bush's wife should've put her foot on his neck and told him HELL NO to this war!!!

    December 29, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. kenda

    I just love the obama's. Go Obama!

    December 29, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. Brian

    I am for Obama because I think there is so much hype in the country about Hillary. If the goverment can hype the country for Hillary's sake, how about the killing of pakistani former prime minister, doesn't that come about during this election so that Hillary can be seen experienced and we change the topic.
    I just think this country is going the wrong direction.

    December 29, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. suzzy,boston,ma

    We need a President with staying power. This does not represent the type of person I would like as President. I will vote for the one who has proven their abilities, and power to stay true to the ship. "Senator Clinton for President 2008″

    C'mon, Give me Obama anytime!

    December 29, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. vicky

    Bulls or Bears?????

    Go Obama!

    December 29, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. kelley

    Keep cruising on Obama. These Clintonians will never give you a break with negatives. We like you and will love you more being our president!!

    December 29, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. Ayyub, Richmond, Va

    Oh man! I still can't believe you people. If you're Hillary supporters I understand because you're desparate to get her into office. Yes, yes, yes I know you say it's going to happen anyway but it's like y'all look for any bad about the candidate, Edwards and Obama (expecially Obama) to say that person should be president. You people truely scare me in how you stay behind this woman no matter what. She could call Obama an 'N' and Edwards a cracker and some of you will still strongly support her. If Bill said the same as Michelle y'all would be saying "He's right, now is the time to vote Hillary Clinton as president not later, Hillary 08!". It's absolutely said how she has split the democratic party apart. If you can remember to this summer, Hillary attacked Obama because he wanted to get rid of terrorist in Pakistan. Now look, Bhutto is dead. If she and others didn't vote with Bush to go into Iraq maybe this wouldn't have ever happened. We would have been protecting our ALLY Mrs. Clinton. Not fighting a mistaken and occupational war in a nation with no WMD. Guess what, Pakistan actually has them. We can't vote Hillary president solely because she has bad judgment and claims of experience when she was in elected office 7 years compared to Obama's 11 years. She is not what we need right now.

    December 29, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Wow, so much hate in this country. With so much hate, everyone is practically an enemy to you unless they agree with you.

    I listened to Hillary's response to Bhutto's assassination, and I can see how she will hit the same roadblocks as Bush has. Hillary's can only see from the American's point of view. Obama have seen America from the outside, and he can see how America is perceived, its strengths and weaknesses, and has a better chance of breaking through the roadblocks.

    December 29, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. Average Joe in America

    OH NO –> If he takes his bat & ball and goes home – how are we ever going to be able to finish the game?

    Oh woe is me!! How does the old saying go = don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out...

    He & Michelle must not have consulted with all those Clinton era advisors? And Oprah has been curiously silent lately - what does SHE have to say about Obie's running for Prez again??

    Inquiring minds want to know 😉

    December 29, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. Joe Stillwell, Alhambra, CA

    Well, Michelle, when your husband DOES NOT get the nomination, you and he must promise that he will never run again…Okay?

    December 29, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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