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. Dina O'Sullivan, Mendocino, California

    It was obvious some months ago when Oprah interviewed both Obama and his wife on her show that it was his wife who runs this family. She made some terrible comments about not being able to send him to the store to get birthday balloons. That may seem human but when your husband is running for president, you weigh what you say about his abilities.He seemed to sit there like a meek and mild wife beaten husband. So is this the kind of president we want. I don't think so. I think it should be a candidate's decision to run or not or at least a joint family decision.

    As for Oprah's support, that was way out of line. She needs to stay on her television show.

    I'm not sure who would make the best president but it certainly not someone with as little experience as Barack Obama in light of the world situation today. I don't care how different he is from past presidents, he has to have some world experience and political savy. I don't see any of this.Everyone was hoping for something new and different, but not in the wife but in the man who is running.

    December 28, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |

    "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."

    What an arrogant, holier than thou statement to make about the rest of us! We are happy when we can afford to "shop." PERIOD!

    If this isn't a threat and an arrogant one at that, I don't know what is...Oprah's lavish lifestyle might just be too tempting for the Obamas apparently and that is not what we ORDINARY Americans face everyday...

    I have to choose between gas for the car and oil for the house and between food for the week and a decent Christmas present for my kids...I can't lose touch...I am an ordinary American who might have voted for Obama because I was still undecided, but not anymore. I am sure not to vote for one who predicts being out of touch in the future because financial gain and prestige will be too much to actually remember to serve the people who voted him in!
    "We'll be in a different Orbit." WHAT?

    A different orbit? Too high for the rest of us...too good, perhaps? Out of touch? And you are running for President? Thanks for helping me narrow down my choices...

    And by the way, it was just about sealed yesterday after hearing Obama's reaction to Bhutto's death anyway. It was the coldest, most unfeeling statement I had ever heard. I couldn't believe the empty words. It was not a good moment and this seals the fact that I will not vote for this man who has no real emotion for a woman who fought against the very terrorists our President must keep us safe from and one who knows he will lose touch with us because he'll be in a different orbit. Forget about it...He is wrong for America.

    December 28, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Ms. Smith

    Look, no one should "hate" any of the candidates - on either side. I'm an independent, and I am supporting Hillary Clinton, although I DID NOT vote for her husband. I consider myself a fair-minded individual. Obama has many, many fine qualities, but his experience is limited. And, please spare me the comparisons to other elected presidents of similar age. JFK was a WWII hero and had spent 13 years in Congress when he was elected in 1960. Bill Clinton served two full terms as Governor of a state and a full-term as that State's Attorney General.

    Come on folks. You can argue whether Hillary Clinton has or does not have enough experience or the right experience, but she sure has more experience (and relevant at that, i.e., White House) than does Senator Obama. This blood feud between these two candidates does not help the Democrats now, and it won't help them in November 2008. I suggest each side cool the rhetoric, unless they want to put McCain or Guiliani in the White House next year.

    As an independent, I am committed to destroying the influence of the extreme right-wing of the Republican party once and for all. And, that, my friends (as Senator McCain is always saying) is what will bring "real change" in Washington. That is also, in my opinion. the only way we are going to restore public policy and fiscal sanity to this country, i.e, keep our troops at home, the government out of our bedrooms, and the snoops off our telephones. So, come on KIDS – knock it off. It has nothing to do with loving the democrats for those of us who really want a democratic victory next year.

    December 28, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. John

    I will not be voting for Obama. He comes across as inexperienced, all too often playing the "class clown" with ill timed humor and friviolity, and has run a campaign that crosses too often into the attack and negative mode. Running a campaign promising "change" is sophmoric and rolls off one's tounge with ease, and to date has been left wanting as evidenced by his lackluster unsubstantive rhetoric.If some of his comments on international affairs don't convince you then you deserve him as a candidate. If elected, the Republicans will have a "Bush like" target, one that is seen as inept, lacking real presidential skills and abilities that they will destroy, limiting Obama to one term and assuring themselves the White House for many years to come.

    December 28, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. randy

    For some people who is talkig obama runing for president too soon I will just say to them that if you read the history of all the best people that have ruled the world the don't have that experience but what the have is bigger than that wisdom and good judgement. And obama have it hillary dosnt.

    December 28, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. Ivelisse

    well, well, well.... Mrs. Obama can't stand the heat of the campaign trail????? the process has not even started and she is already giving up and closing the door in other opportunities??????

    oh, well... good to know it NOW, when we can still elect somebody with the fortitude to run this country the full 4 years of the upcoming presidential term....

    none of them are White-House Material!!!!!!

    December 28, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Joe Stebbins

    He will need to opt for the NEVER option.

    December 28, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. Jaime Scottsdale,AZ

    OMG, are they putting "AMERICA ON NOTICE?" This is just dumb. So the Bama train leaves in 15 minutes and if you are not a follower then you just lost your "Golden Ticket?" Both of them need STUPID tattooed on their foreheads. What makes this story worse is that I just got back from Target. The Dollar Store sells publicity better than this.

    December 28, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Walt, Belton, TX

    I agree!

    December 28, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  10. Jason, Seattle, WA

    Thank the Lord!!!! You won't run again!

    December 28, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. HJ, Richmond

    Our experienced leaders got us into this mess to begin with! Yeah Hillary has had experience in the White House, but was the Clinton Administration that great that we need to repeat it?

    The one thing that Obama does and that is to give us hope that we as citizens can do better. Hope and the encouragement to change our ways is what both our counrty and the world needs now.

    December 28, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. Bill in Buffalo

    Do we really trust Obama Bar-Ladin to be our next president? What's he going to do when he doesn't get the answer he wants from China or Korea, grap his wife's purse so he can take his balls and go home?

    It's like the old guy in Iowa said if we elect him we get Oprah, Jessie and Al in the deal. No Thank You, personally I've had enough of all three.

    December 28, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Brian Tampa, FL

    Presidents inevitably lose touch with the world around them. They do not interact with normal people. Those of you who bash Bush so constantly would be wise to listen to Obama, this happens to every President and he knows it. It is not possible to avoid it.

    December 28, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. Brian L. Manning

    I would believe that the circumstances presented as a "blue-collar" politician is a typical tool employed by all politicians in attempt to relate to the working class. The fact is American jobs are being shipped overseas because the free market will correct itself. Well, it is not because jobs that continues to disappear for the college and working class alike. What will happen to this country as we allow the deterioration of the U.S. dollar?

    Those are the answers this country really needs Obama to answer. He may not always "wow" us like the hype that surrounds him, but is there really another candidate that will deliver the necessary change the American people are crying for. It is our voice that needs too be heard. If there is an agent of change, tells us why Obama? Maybe then we can call you the next great leader of the free world.

    December 28, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. randy

    OBAMA 08! Fired up!ready to go. I got ur back in iowa 1000 garenteed voters. On jan 3. Your running the presidential race at the right time.people can say what ever the like who will vote for you will stan with you till the end.

    December 28, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Jose

    I'm wondering if Obama can even make it through the General Election. This statement makes me wonder.

    December 28, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. randy

    Obama 08 fired up ready to and my friends are living from new york to iowa to run thing obama ones again we got you.for one time in my life as a black man I moved, I am proud to be black cnn try to ruin it for me it will not go down like, we will fight in Iowa.until midnight that thusday.

    December 28, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  18. paul

    Hillary is so much like Walter Mondale in 1984 it's scary. The same big pile of unions and party pols and hacks that gave Mondale an extra boost to win the nomination in '84 after he stumbled, are back to do the same for Hillary. Even some of the pitches that Hillary makes are similar: "The question is, which candidate would be the best President? Which candidate is ready to lead right now" That's exactly what Mondale said in 1984. Translated, it means, "Who is the safe choice? Who is the one who has collected the most endorsements?" The main differences are 1) Hillary is younger and 2) Mondale had a track record of accomplishment, while Hillary has a track record of non-accomplishment (chaired the WH Health Care Task force, lead sponsor for the war in Iraq in 2003 from the Democratic side). What makes anybody think that she is "ready to lead" right now?

    December 28, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. William F. Kuntz, II, Brooklyn, New York

    If Obama is nominated, Gore should be his V.P.

    December 28, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Josh Maloney, Oakland, CA

    Barack Obama is what this country needs. He stands out as the most influential among ALL candidates. I knew he should run for President when I heard him speak at the 2004 Democratic Convention.

    December 28, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. randy

    Obama 08 fired up ready to go .

    December 28, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. THOMAS BILLIS las vegas nv

    Boy I have heard a load of crap before but this takes the cake.Maybe he ought to drop out now so he can do those other things that are so important to him.By the way I believe he stated he would serve out his full term as Illinois senator.I guess what these politicians say should be etched in stone.

    December 28, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. John

    I think his comments and his wife's comments are directly related to their age and his little time in politics. I think that it's great to have someone with as little experience and as much hope as he has running in politics....just not for the Presidency. The Presidency is not something to be played around with. Barack is relatively young and has many years in his political future. A U.S. President is a President for the rest of their life. All Presidents (past and present) are ambassadors for the country and to the world in and out of the office until their death. I don't understand his or her logic in these comments. It seems like he wants to take over the oval office and then turn it all off after he leaves. I would vote for someone who was a little more devoted to our country all the time...not just when they feel they can be. I'm under the age of 30 and I'm all for fresh and new faces along with progressive views...but come on....we deserve someone with more experience in the oval office.

    December 28, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. carobert

    This country doesn't need to be dictated by a monarchy consisting of two families for 36 years! If our country manages to survive King George the Second, we don't need Queen Clinton inheriting the throne.

    Its time we get some new blood and new ideas in Washington, instead of the same old stock that has stuck us with trillions of dollars in debt and mortal enemies in every corner of the globe.

    December 28, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. VM

    Well gosh darn we better all just run out and vote for Osama, pardon me, I mean Obama while we still have chance.

    December 28, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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