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. sarah brown, raleigh nc

    Hooray for the Obama's, winning the presidency or not I know your family will have a fabulous life.

    If this country is silly enough to elect another Clinton, then I say that is what they deserve. Sequels in movies as well as politics would be better off never happening.

    In a country this big and diverse if we elect a president from the same family in the same generation, well all I can say is if we think we have lost credibility with the rest of the world, I shudder to think how we will be percieved then. I guess in 4-8 years we will look forward to Jeb or his son to continue with act III.

    If Hillary wins, that will be the final proof that this countries best days are in the past and that it is full of a lot of lazy and pathetic citizens. I have been a democrat and even voted for Bill, but if Hillary is the parties nominee, I will be voting for a republican because this cycle of 2 family rule has got to end. Hopefully if this happens there will be a credible third party candidate who decides to run.

    Enough already.

    December 28, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Jay Graham, Dallas, TX

    I think he is running too early. The best time for him to run will be on 2016. He is smart but not experienced enough for that office.

    December 28, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. David-Paul Niner

    I agree 100% with A. Harrison, this is a very devious blog entry. The implication that eight years of Washington political life changes a person is an underhanded swipe at The Clintons.

    This comes across to me as an end-game manipulative maneuver. Regardless of what the poles show today, I don't believe he stands a chance at getting the Democratic nomination, and that reality is beginning to sink in.

    December 28, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. Steve, San Ramon, CA

    I'm not sure people really understand the extraordinary opportunity we have to elect this man to lead our country. I truly hope we do not elect a brand-named politician in a desperate attempt to reclaim what is thought to be our golden age. This is a different era.

    December 28, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Kiz

    Hilary has been and is NOW so power hungry it's pathetic. Where was she when Bill was getting into trouble at the White House?
    Nowhere to be seen....That's how dumb she is.
    Mr. Kiz...Bear Delaware

    December 28, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. Tyrone Washington

    Obama has not paid his dues and is not ready – run again in eight years and I will look again

    December 28, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. Cantrell

    Oh? We have a choice? Ok, hmmm.. how about "never"?

    December 28, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. A.Markle, Lancaster, PA

    I have read, in the past 2 years,"The Audacity of Hope" and Dreams From My Father". I am hopeful for Barack Obama in the 2008 election, and I am still favoring him above all others including any and all parties.
    I am deeply concerned with many problems and conflicts in this country and around the world and our leaders in the government will need something special to call forward in difficult moments. This is a daunting thought, but if Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle are willing to stepforward, then may the power behind the universe be with them, as they walk forward into the unknown future. Prayers and Love,

    December 28, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. DrayNick

    Obama will be the peoples President. How can the world trust us to lead when we have a Boy like GWB in the office of the president. Lord help us if we get another power hungry rep. in that office anytime soon. We need a person that is more in tune with the people and the rest of the world to lead us. I hope and pray that we will show the rest of the world that we are smarter the next time that we go to the polls. My God how sad it is to have a man like that in the Whitehouse. This is not a game folks it is serious business.

    December 28, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. Amani B

    I think what people comment is very arrogant. I don't think we should pay attention to the current issue. Let's consider his character... A strong one that he demonstrates when anwering questions from voters, concerning social security, and other issues. Their family's social situation does not affect my vote for him. I consider what He can do for America rather than what people are murmuring about.

    December 28, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Let the Leaders Lead, Arcadia, Iowa

    That is really too bad, because he would have been a good vice-president and the heir apparent at the end of the presidents tenure. I am sure he will do good work in the Senate once he learns his way around. Bye oprah-Obama you ran a good race.

    December 28, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Naomi - Dallas TX

    How can you vote for a man to become the "leader of the free world" who can't even make his own decisions at home. This reminds me of John Kerry's wife and the off-the-wall comments she became known for when he was running for president. We were thinking........this is not First Lady material.....what an embarrassment. These comments from both Obamas leave me thinking this is just a grand experiment to see how far they can go.....if they don't win, they're not interested any more. Let's go play somewhere else.....I don't see any commitment from them to our country. It seems that it's all about them – blind ambition. I cannot take them seriously. I wish they would go play somewhere else. No, I'm not committed to Hillary as yet - nor anyone from either party – but she does have more to offer this country than BO does. My pick would be Joe Biden. It worries me that the voters in this country don't look at credentials, experience, intelligence, logic, maturity, leadership, foreign policy experience, ability to give meaningful, informative speeches (without tele-prompters and speeches written by professional speech writers; we've had enough of that in the past 7 years) - all of which describe Joe Biden. BO isn't even close to being in Sen. Biden's league, or Hillary's for that matter, or Mitt Romney's.... MO and BO please go away - there are much better qualified candidates in both parties.

    December 28, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. Andy, New York, New York

    This means that Obama is not a career politician like, say, Hillary Clinton, who has been in politics all of her adult life. And it is a good sign. I'm very wary of career politicians who are so caught up in politics they lose sight of what us ordinary folks really have to endure. When was the last time Hillary led an ordinary person's life style? She is so power hungry, she will crush anyone and everyone to get her way. That's what a life time of politics can do to the mind.

    December 28, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. neil, tampa, florida

    This country NEEDS Obama after our experience with that spoiled, rich, ignorant, arrogant brat we have now!!! Look where THAT got us. Anyone who challenges this has been drinking the kool aid.

    December 28, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. Tim, Seattle

    Les Wrote:
    His wife is making over 300K sitting at the board of directors for a non-profit hospital in Chicago, he bought over a million dollar home, he made over a million AT LEAST from two books he wrote not counting royalties. His healthcare insurance for him and his family are paid by US TAXYPAYERS, he received salary as US senator;AND he just paid his student loan?!?!?!

    So Les, are you trying to say that getting an education, getting involved in your community, marrying a smart successful woman, paying back his student loans according to its terms, suceeding in free enterprise and public service is a bad thing? Really?

    December 28, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  16. jan

    Sounds to me like his wife runs his life. If this is the case how can he run the country???? I know I won't vote for Obama. He also doesn't have the experience. Hillary does because she has been there. She has my vote.

    December 28, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. Claude, Calgary

    Health Care Hillary has been so successful that Anderson Cooper did a wonderful documentary on patients that can't pay in hospitals and get dropped of on skid roe. A women with experience that is getting it done, (ya rite)! Its more like feed the dog the bone and make sure there is no meat.

    Obama needs to get nasty and make sure America is reminded with all her big mouth ideas that have come into action. THIS IS A SENATOR GETTING THINGS DONE IN OFFICE.!!!! Hahahahah.

    Ok i know I am not funny but America can make change and go with what is new, look at the Terminator!!!!!

    December 28, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  18. rdierker

    Wow, those of you so blinded by hate that you can't seem to empathize with a family that has had to endure death threats, slander, constant racism, and 24 hour attacks by political zealots like yourselves seem to be blind to the idea that, when it comes down to it, we are all just human beings. Obama is the most down to earth candidate, and that is why he and his down to earth wife are expressing genuine emotion about the hardships of campaigning to be POTUS. Obama is just trying to make the world a better place, and you people who are hating on him for doing so have lost sight of what it means to have empathy and compassion, and all you care about is winning a few political points wherever possible.

    December 28, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Elie H.

    I read a few of the first comments, and frankly I think it's pathetic how pple dont know a candidate personally, but can determine so much about their private lives; aka prejudice. The notion that Hillary is more qualify due the fact that she was first lady is a baseless claim because it would mean that Laura Bush and every other first ladies are also qualified to be President . Obama has clear judgment, and he's fresh out the box and that's what our country needs; a new face, a new pairs of eyes for the new challenges that await us!

    OBAMA 08!

    December 28, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Bobby

    The comments here are shocking... Am not sure who all this people are but one things for sure, come 08 we shall know if he succeeds or not.

    The comments on here stink, probably best I post this and quickly shut of my computer before my room gets drenched with this stench.

    Obama for president.

    December 28, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    Alright! Elect Rudy for two terms and there will be no Obama later on. I was sure that he represented a problem because he would have a lot more experience after 8 years. But, now his experience is a liability for him so he won't get elected this time and he won't run next time. Hooray!

    December 28, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. ademplease

    He and his wife are getting punished for honesty. First off, these campaigns are brutal on the candidates' family. Secondly, it appears as though if he doesn't win the nom, he'll continue on in his senate seat and things will be different. Eight years is a long time and things change.

    December 28, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. Bill, Chicago, IL

    “She meant that in eight years, I'm not sure we'll be the same people we are now."

    Uh, does he know we elect our presidents to four year terms?

    December 28, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. Kathy, Roseville, California

    I don't think we need a President that is not cautious or not seasoned.
    We need a steady and experienced President that is not a Republican.
    Obama is scaring me every day a little more. Please don't vote for someone that is saying, "vote now or I won't run again"
    Threats are disturbing don't you think?

    December 28, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. Alex Onlooker, Cary, NC

    I hope they were sincere in saying that – the part about prospects of feeling "life being beaten out of you" does seem genuine, by the way – and, if so, it should cost them: how would one feel about voting for president a guy who knows he will not have strength to run for president in 8 years (why 8, not 4?) yet, needs to run the country for at least half that long?!

    December 28, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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