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. Ron, TX

    I can't blame him. Eight years is a VERY long time. If the Dems elect Hillary (looking more and more unlikely), and she somehow makes it past the Republicans (VERY unlikely), she will have screwed up the government so bad that America won't want to elect another democrat anyway.

    Now or never. America better not pass up the chance to change the world.

    December 28, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. roger, conway sc

    they sure do not look or act like a president or a first lady.. talk about change is it for better or worse? i thought gw was from another planet check these two out...

    December 28, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Charlie, Upstate NY

    For President, the best choice is Clinton.

    When voting for a President, one votes for what is essentially a corporate team. The Clinton group figures to be far more prepared to carry out the duties of the necessary positions than the group of any other candidate in either party. Bill Clinton's Presidency was on the whole a time of peace and prosperity for the U.S., and it was no accident. Hillary & Co. are miles ahead in know-how regarding whom to appoint and how to govern. Was she wrong on Iraq? Yes. Is she still the best choice to be President? No doubt about it.

    Clinton brings an unrivaled network of seasoned veterans of all the domestic and international issues. She's going to need it if she's selected to clean up the mess created in D.C. over the past eight years. My hope is that the party coalesces behind Clinton as soon as possible so that the U.S. can begin the long road back.

    December 28, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Blue Dog Coalition

    And....... ??

    Are we supposed to vote for him now or never because..... ??

    Does this mean Michelle is having second thoughts about the glare of being the First Lady?? Or that she is already tired of the Secret Service Detail in constant tow (of which they are the ONLY other candidates to already have besides the Clintons!!)

    Refreshing or revealing? Does this sound like a couple who is COMMITTED to being the image of America or just a passing fancy?! The White House or a play house??

    Between the two of them, they do come up with some pretty off the wall remarks 😉

    December 28, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. Mrs. America

    Why isn't she running? Sounds like she's calling the shots. As far as forgetting how to be regular people, Mrs. and Mrs. Edwards still eat at Wendy's (or some fast food restaurant) on every anniversary to remember where they came from. Also sounds like Mrs. Obama plans that they're going to be pulled into the Washington circle of everything her husband talks against. Well, whether he's in Washington as a senator or president, that will probably happen. She has never been helpful to Obama in his campaign. Makes him look like a henpecked hubby. And makes me feel like I'm hearing an ultimatum.

    December 28, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. Jes, Bethesda, Maryland

    Michelle is exactly right.

    December 28, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. K

    "eight years from now we will have lost touch with what ordinary Americans are going through"

    If he thinks that he will lose touch with what Americans are going through, than why should we vote for him?!?!

    If he would not want to try again if he loses now, than why should we vote for him?!?!

    if he thinks "it becomes harder to relinquish power,” than why should we vote for him?!?!

    come on! we need someone who will go to bat for us now or 10 years from now! if he doesnt have that confidence in himself than why should we?

    December 28, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Peter, NYC

    FILE UNDER "Famous Last Words"

    He isn't gone win this time. But he may well win later.

    December 28, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. Amanda Orlando, FL

    I'll believe it when I see it.

    December 28, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. BABucher, NYC

    Contrast that to Clinton's step-over-her-own-grandmother approach. Well played, Obama, well played.

    December 28, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Ray

    Yes, absolutely. His time is now. Far and away the best candidate running.

    December 28, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. sean

    barack and roll.

    December 28, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. John G Charleston SC

    Great...Another president whose wife runs the show.

    We already had one of those and now the wife is running against Obama, can we expect Michelle Obama to run in 2020?

    December 28, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. Julie Hall

    From my perspective, I believe that an untarnished politician is exactly what we need in this time of our lives. I think that so many of the candidates say what we want to hear, but on the otherside, they will ultimately do what the special interest groups and Corporate America want and the American people will suffer in the long run. I am excited about Barak Obama and my vote will go for him in 2008!!!

    December 28, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    I'm sorry, but seeking the presidency of the United States is not something you take lightly, so you are doing this as a one-time-stunt? give me a break... is that how much you value your service to this nation?

    perhaps it should have been never... maybe you are wasting everyone's time.

    December 28, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Amanda, Clinton, MD

    I appreciate Mrs. Obama's urgency, but Barack is not ready yet. I will vote for him in 2016! He would make an excellent vice...and I hope can keep his passion until his experience grows. Romney 2008

    December 28, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. La'Kitgum, Concord, NH

    This is cowardise. Obama is running away from what he has been doing for the past many years: accountability. Obama knows that 8 years of tough legislations and votes will show his indicisiveness and expose him to the true definition of relevant experience. To date he has thrived by skipping tough decisions as state senator and wants to do the same as US senator. His strategy has been to climb the ladder as fast as one can before voting records show one's weaknesses.

    Obama knows that the next 8 years will do more harm to his purity – actually, avoidence – of skipping up the ladder so fast before the dust settles on truth. Eight years will sufficienntly open Obama to challenges on his voting records and he is trying to avoid it as early as possible. All this crap about my wife saying it's now or never is a total lie.

    This is the most outregeous comment ever from the Obama campaign? It is the lowest level of desperation any campaign could show at exploiting Bhutto's death for political ends. Sincerely, how could any one link Clinton to Bhutto's death if it isn't a case of desperation? To say Clinton is responsible for Bhutto's death because she voted to authorize war in Iraq and that she votted to lebel the Iranian Republican Army a terrorist organization is from the brains of the simplest of simpletons.

    If that is what David Axelrod believes is a political stregy I sympathize with the deficiencies in the Obama campaign. It is desperation that will fatally lay to waste the Obama campaign before Iowa Jan 3rd.

    David Axelrod speaks like a mental case and I sincerely believe that he is even by just looking at his facial composure and body language. The whole Obama campaign will sink beyond rescue on Jan 3rd in Iowa because of Axelrod's dumb remarks. How silly can one be. Believe me.

    December 28, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. Diane, Whitestone, New York

    I find it very interesting Obama 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." Eight years...hhhhmmm.....a presidential term lasts four years....hhhhmmm....I wonder if he is conceding Hillary will have two terms???

    December 28, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. Edwile

    This is the kind of public figure we need in this country. A person who is aware of his strength at a particular time and and his possible weaknesses in the future. For how long have we not heard a public figure boldly speaking of his inability to be in touch with the American people "all" the time. Yet all over the campaign we heard people stating without decency how experienced they are, how ready they are going to be from day one but still unaible to admit that their past political choices at a decisive moment for our country were wrong and has caused our country thousands of young people, billions of dollars and a degrading image abroad.
    Beyond political parties and ideologies, beyond names and "experiences", i believe that the time has come for us to look forward to something different because the challenges before us are different thus might need different people with different approaches.

    Edwile, Texas, Houston. 2:27 pm

    December 28, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. Emily, Alberta

    Obama's wife shouldn't have let him run this time either!

    December 28, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. ann marie menta

    You will not be qualified to run for president until 2012, then you will have more experience especially in world affairs and you will become our nation's leader. Until then try to contribunet all you can to your party and you will lead in 2012.

    December 28, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Kevin, SF, CA

    I'm pretty sure Joe Biden, who is the 99th wealthiest senator, and has survived immense personal tragedy and life-threatening health problems, hasn't and will never lose touch. Biden never became rich because he refuses to be slave to special interests, and because he doesn't own much stock due to conflict of interest with his job. Now THAT's honor.

    December 28, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. CAL, NY, NY

    While you vote for the candidate, their success (and their ability to do the job) can largely hinge on the support that they get from those closest to them. It may not be true in all cases, but if their family is not committed to them running for president, and the sacrifices that entails, perhaps that is a candidate who should not get your vote.

    December 28, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. Cecilia

    This is more or less a veiled jab at fellow candidates' times in the political world - most especially the Clintons. "We're just like you, but if we spend too much time in politics we won't vote for us now while we're innocent!"

    It's also a jab at the folks who are saying Obama lacks the experience; a way of saying, "Yeah, I do lack the experience, why is that a bad thing?"

    It's a weak shot and I think it'll fall under the radar of most voting Americans.

    December 28, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. Ben MacGowen

    As a Red American and planning to vote for Huckabee, this comment by Obama and his wife is the most honest thing I have read not just in this primary race, but in politics this year.

    You really can't BS/finesse that.

    December 28, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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