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. John E. Adams, Olive Branch MS

    Every presidential candidate out there has some sort of phrase, thought, commercial, or media standpoint where they sort of "grasp" their audiences minds into wanting to vote for them. It is only the ones who can bring out the most interesting and best "grasping" technique that will actually win the election. Everyone can criticize Obama for the things he says, but I can assure you that every single candidate out there is going to be saying some stupid stuff too, so please be sure to criticize the others as well. Oh, and by the way, Obama obviously got your attention. Getting the attention of an audience is the top priority in being publicized and winning an election. Congratulations Obama, you have reached out to several, and the best of luck to you in this presidential campaign.

    December 28, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. CAREN

    Thank you Michelle Obama on behalf of every sane person out here, thank you

    December 28, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. don warner


    (I am a retired physician and my net worth is more than that of Obama and I am not rich)


    In my humble opinion they will blow it agaqin if they do not elect Obama.

    December 28, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. Dean St. Louis

    Boo Who

    Whats with this guy? If you don't vote for me now then I won't be there the next time. Does this also mean if, and I sure hope not, this guy would be the next president that in 4 years he might just be tired of it and not run if someone would be running on the democratic side against him? If the Obama fans can not figure this out now, well we will have another president that crys and complains if he doesn't get what he wants then he will do whatever it takes to get there. Not my kind of president. Had one for eight years don't need another even if it is a democrat.

    December 28, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Lisa, Las Vegas, NV

    Both of you are off base. The Obama's are the most genuine and authentic people I've ever met in politics. I met Barack at an intimate house party early this summer, he sat down as if we were neighbors from across the street. You can't imagine how your life and family's life is turned upside down from being on the campaign trail. They are just referring to having some normalcy in their lives and their daughter's. It has nothing to do with "argument" Ann. I met Michelle at a woman's rally and had a chance to talk with her also.

    I read Barack's "Audacity" and got a sense of the man and decided then, if he ever went into presidnetial politics, I'd support him wholeheartedly. I'm a Precinct Captain in Las Vegas and am committed to their success and being in the White House. He is our man for now, not in 4 years or 8 years. This is the time we need Barack Obama. In 4 or 8 it'll be screwed up sufficiently by then and why should he have to go in and have a presidency of "clean-up". At this point, we can do some restoring and change the course.

    Ann, you NEVER forget how to shop at Target!

    December 28, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. Jed in Texas

    She is what Kerrys wife was for him.....Poison. He doesnt stand a chance against a Republican in the South with her at his side. She has a street level mentality that thinks she will run the show and it wont fly down here in the big sky. Try again in ten years ,the population will be so diluted by then, if we are still here,that my dog Rusty would be able to win.

    December 28, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. James,Lawrenceville GA

    Obama's wife should have told him not to run for president in 08. Obama's not ready for the White house.

    December 28, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. X, Madison WI

    All you haters need to shut up. Its obviously that most of you here do not support Obama and you're either for Hillary of Edwards. Stop taking things out of context and stop making a huge deal out of nothing.
    Its ok, I understand, you're feeling the heat. Obama is up there battling it with the Clinton machine and you're panicking. 3 months ago, when he was trailing in the polls, no one complained.
    He has a momentum that cannot be stopped – Obama all the WAY!!!

    And Adam, you like a Nostradamus or something? LOL

    December 28, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    This shows the mettle of a man. "We will have changed in 8 years." Of course, people change over time but most of the time their core values do not. If one's core values change with circumstance, then they are not really core values at all. Is Obama so unstable that if he's not elected right now, his passion for change is going to go away? Is his sense of right and wrong, fairness or compassion going to change?
    And if Michelle Obama thinks the campaign is tough, what does she think the White House will be like?
    I think this is another instance that indicates that Obama is style over substance. He is an empty suit running on arrogance and an inexplicable sense of entitlement. He sounds like the little kid who threatens to hiold his breath until he gets what he wants.
    Hey, last time McCain ran, didnt we hear the same thing – he wasnt going to run again...

    December 28, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Alli

    It's a good sign that the Obama's are aware that power in Washington often leads to corruption and a disillusionment of what it's like to be a "normal American." On the other hand, it's disheartening that they realize this threat, but also feel that they won't ever be able to fight it! If you know what could happen, you don't just throw up your hands and let it take over- you try you best to be the right person. If Obama feels that he could be the best President ONLY now that's ridiculous. I want a President that will be able to withstand corruption and do the best for American THROUGHOUT the years.

    Also, i agree with "Les" – with both his and his wife's high publicity and public positions, they are just now saving for their kids' college funds? I understand that a presidential campaign requires a lot of money, but it seems naive that Obama is trying to make himself seem like an "ordinary American" that "still shops at Target" when the government health insurance plan is nothing near what a normal American receives even at a white collar job. I'm supposed to applaud the Obama's because they don't spend $10,000 for a Coach handbag?

    December 28, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Michael

    WOW. You people are crazy. First and foremost. Our politics are heavily corrupted, lobbyists in Washington. America is about money, and greed, and that is what is breaking us. Corporations rule America, not Americans.

    The references to "Target"...and "we still know what it's like to be normal"..shouldn't be taken literally. It means...they are on the same level as us. Most presidents have only taken to the populace for votes.

    They have so much money, and so many assets, we are really nothing to them. They don't need us for anything else.

    Obama just now having paid off his student-loans, etc...they are still normal people. Like us. They haven't been polluted with the corruption and the intense evil that surrounds politics and greedy men.

    They are "innocent" still so to speak. Even if he does have a million dollar home, most US Senators, have 50x that. This country needs a new direction, a new voice, like our founding fathers, they had no REAL experience, but they made it work, through common sense, and what they thought was right for the populace.

    Obama can do that for us. We need a fresh new leader, to take this country well into the 21st century. Go Obama!

    December 28, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. Frank, Los Angeles

    I am a Hillary Clinton supporter – but would not mind Barack becoming President. He is a "Fresh" face to Washington!

    Best of Luck to all candidates!

    December 28, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. John Read

    That is ridiculous !! First of all, this guy is barely more qualified to be President than I am. He's been in the Senate for all of a week and a half and thinks that qualifies him to be leader of the free world. I admit, George Bush is not the best. But COME ON, trying to bully people into voting for him NOW or NEVER. We need a Democrat, YES. We need a Democrat who has experience in the political world, YES. We need Hillary Clinton. And I am a white man in my 40's, (slightly younger than Barack, but probably just as able to be the next president as he is.) We NEED the Clinton's back to get this country back on the right track again. PS. Remember when the dress stain was our biggest problem ??

    December 28, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Angelo

    I did my part. I voted absentee for Obama yesterday. I'm a Florida voter in Micronesia.

    December 28, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Lisa Hampton

    If Obama was white many of you would not be saying any of this. John Edwards has no executive experience and only served one term in the Senate. But no one is questioning his experience. Why the double standard?

    December 28, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Scott, Ft Lauderdale, fl

    Seems like a lot of pro Hilary bloggers on here today. This obviously had hidden messages, (this is politics) but it focuses on a much larger issue. He is an everyday American much like most of Americans. When you are in political office too long, you change. People change, situations and your circumstances change you, and dealing with the scum you need to work with to be in politics definately changes you.

    He may run again, he may not, but the fact of the matter is that this is a real American. He wasnt born with a silver spoon in his mouth like nearly every other candidate. He has worked for who and where he is, and he has risen from no where on his own to become a Presidental front runner.

    Can you give me a better example of the American Dream?

    Obama is the right man at precisely the right time for America. This whole experience issue is incredibly small thinking. Being the wife of a Presidents means you have experience to lead a country? He is not a George Bush ("normal guy") image, he is a normal guy wih the same bills and problems you and I have. This is our chance to do something truly extraordinary not only for ourselves, but for the world and the children of the world.

    December 28, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Lee, Mays Landing, New Jersey

    I really don't care about Obama's personal political future since the critical time is now (it was really oin 2000, but we blew that one big time).

    It can be Obama, it can be Edwards, it can be a few others, but it absolutely cannot be Hillary or any criminal enabler (a republican) any more. The disaster must be stopped now. The deficit must be pushed back and sanity and reason must be brought back into our nation.

    December 28, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  18. Ryan

    If you all are an indication of the kind of people who hate Obama, that enmity speaks volumes for his character. Pessimism and cynical bitterness are precisely the national woes that Obama is trying to oust. What he's saying is that this is a unique moment in time, for him and the country, and if people are upset that he's honest about that, go find your empty platitudes and false assurances elsewhere. I hope that Obama wins in 08, but if he doesn't, at least he brought hope in the first place.

    December 28, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. DirkNowitski

    Yeah! Can't wait for him to lose now.

    December 28, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  20. JCH

    I think the piece shows that they are down to earth and realistic. Gosh, what a bunch of cynical, sarcastic commenters!

    I think the Obamas are takes youth, fearlessness and courage to make the hard decisions and bring about real change. Hillary will be more of the same. She is a Washington insider who helped to build the broken down partisan system that is in place. Get real, your eyes. He's the best candidate for the democrats in 2008.

    December 28, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Kevin, Landover, MD

    Michelle is correct. If after Obama presenting to America voters that he is the BEST Candidate to lead us at this time. Then the American people choose to keep doing the same wrong things and bad judgment by picking the wrong President for the wrong reasons, Then the Obamas should move on and enjoy their lives.

    I don’t belief most Americans are SOS (Stuck On Stupid), but the next few months will tell.

    December 28, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. J, Ca

    This is not news worthy as same as when his wife was talking about Obama's smelly underpants.

    December 28, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. JR

    So much hate on this board. Not one person has anything good to say. What is this country coming too? You people make me sick. Every comment section on every political article is nothing more than a faceless and nameless forum for people to spew their hate to whomever is featured in the article. It is getting so old. We are so divided anymore.........

    December 28, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. Pam Phipps

    I am a definite Obama supporter, but disappointed at this shallow line of reasoning... I do not want to call this statement a threat but one which depicts Obama on a natural high and just temporarily lost for words to further influence or convince the voting public ..... and come on Michelle ...what is this talk about you still shop at Target.... that statement appears very unnecessary ... one which is very patronising ......a bit elitist ......... ...also I do trust that behaviour is consistent........

    December 28, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  25. Tim

    Its nice that Obama is honest by saying his wife doesn't mince words – and that's obvious by her actions at times during the campaign. But, those kind of people need someone around them to keep them corraled....and I don't think Michelle would have anything to do with a handler. She can also do without the shopping at Target and student loan stuff....they have made millions off his books and she pulls in about 200k a year...

    December 28, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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