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. Peter

    There are too many politicians who make running for office their entire life's work. The idea of democracy in this country is the citizen politician who serves for a time and the goes back to regular life. That does not happen very much nowadays. I think that Michelle Obama had in mind that once one goes through this process and then spends enough time to lose the common touch, then one's service is no longer as responsible. I believe that she has a point. Those of you who fail to see that are just perpetuating the idea of the political elite. Some of you are willing to follow the professional politician. If that is your wish, fine, but don't complain when you get the same trite policies regardless of party. With Hillary you get Bush lght. At the end of Bush's presidency you would have had 2w0 years of Bush/Clinton. If Hillary wins, the we would have 24 and possibly 28 years of a Bush or Clinton presidency. Can that be good for our country?

    December 28, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. jessica

    well...just shows why he never will be president...that statement proves that obama and his wife are not in it for the long run....and besides i sure dont want a president that cant stand up to his own wife and make a decison. sounds like she wears the pants in that family..can only imagine how he would be in the oval office.... calling his wifie to ask her permission to veto something...hehe
    Hillary Clinton is the only answer...go hillary

    December 28, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  3. Independent in IA

    Flashback to Richard Nixon....." won't be able to kick me around anymore...".

    Of course he sounds like a petulant little boy in the grocery store...."...I'll hold my breath til I turn blue..."

    Be very careful all you sobber's and boo-hooer's out there....please don't fall for this latest ploy of ..."My mommy will spank me if I don't bring home the milk..." This man is not ready to assume the presidency.

    December 28, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. F.M.

    What incredible cynicism and pessimism some of these comments underscore! There's such political apathy in a time when we need political energy to tackle so many important issues. Obama represents that energy – the refusal to give in when you believe that war isn't the answer (even when people are calling you unpatriotic), the refusal to take money from lobbyists who have their own agenda that is counter to the ordinary American people, the refusal to compromise who you are for the sake of political achievement, the experience to know what it means to be middle class or of mixed ancestry. I can't say the rest for any other Democratic candidate (the Republicans are a sad bunch). Obama can change the course of this nation.

    December 28, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  5. matt

    "It's now or never." What kind of BS statement is that? It sounds like a used car salesman who's offer "a GREAT GREAT deal, but to-day and today ONLY!"

    Sorry Barack, but I think we'll survive just fine without you.

    December 28, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |


    December 28, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  7. Stephen Teichmann, Irvine, California

    The scariest part of Obama's wife's comment was "Barack is not cautious yet,". That scares me! I hope any presidental candidate will be cautious when elected, as we have seen since 9/11.

    And why is everyone apologizing for usin Barack's middle name of Hussein? If that is his name, then why the apology and fear of being so politically incorrect? A man is what he is. If he is muslim, then so be it, but be honest about it. We are talking about having a potential first woman president, first Morman president, so be up front about being the first muslim president if that is who you are – don't hide it from the voting public.

    But one item does deserve attention: Barack Obama insisted on being sworn in to office with the Koran, not the Bible. The voters need to know these facts.

    Personally is scares me, WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!! Get involved and be informed.

    December 28, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. stan pitts pa

    obamas point is that running for office too long , gives politicians a sense of entitlement, and they become corrupt over time, obama relates to everyday americans and its time to put a new face on american politics if not for anything else but to simply return the govt to the people, obama08!

    December 28, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. connie floyd, crockett,texas

    well, Michelle, it will be never. Your husband 's lies about hillary are catching up with him. He needs to got back to the senate and actually cast some votes!!!!!

    December 28, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  10. Nikki

    The best thing about Obama is that he hasn't been corrupted by the federal government like most of the other candidates. Everyone is looking for something to be wrong with Obama because it's so hard to believe someone could actually be this good for our country.

    Just like any of us, running for president would take a lot of out us and we could lose a piece of ourselves in the process – he is the common man.

    We do need change. We need someone who is willing to talk to our "enemies" to make this country viewed as less arrogant. We need someone who isn't going to blow hot air up our asses because they have a public personality to protect.

    "Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?"

    December 28, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  11. W. T. Moses, Boca Raton, Florida

    Obama and Clinton should not be running anytime.

    December 28, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  12. Amanda

    Poor Obama! His wife tells him what to wear and now what to do? What will he/she say next? No one cares! He is a joke for a President!

    December 28, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Malcolm, Huntsville, AL

    First of all – CNN, BAD story editing – you're taking quotes from Michelle Obama in Vanity Fair and what Barack Obama said on the trail IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CONTEXT and creating this picture that Obama is "threatening" his audience. While the outcome statement is the same – Obama doesn't plan to run again after 2008 – the context MATTERS. Michelle's comments was from a family perspective – the impact of running in a presidential race has on a family and that being the reason that they're in no mood to do this again. This fits exactly with what Michelle and Barack Obama said MONTHS ago about their decision to run- that this race was a huge sacrifice/strain for their family and they only entered into it after serious consideration of what running in 2008 would entail and their realistic chances in 2008 ONLY. Barack Obama is responding to a question about him running again and while he mentions the wife and family side of the argument, he is primarily speaking of the _political reasoning_ behind him not running again. On the campaign trail he has constantly quoted MLK Jr's statement of the "fierce urgency of now" and that NOW is the best chance of him effecting the kind of change that America needs. Obama is being honest (yes, I know a SHOCKER for a politician)- if he stays in DC too long he believes (rightly so) that he will become out of touch and not able to relate as well to the American people – recall George HW Bush Sr's introduction to the supermarket scanner years ago. Plus he notes the "power corrupts" mentality that is pervasive in DC . It has been a basis of his whole campaign that he is not a Washington insider (hence the criticism for his "lack of experience") and he's just making the "obvious" observation that 8 years down the road, he will not be the same person then that he is today. He's specifically addressing those who say "he needs to wait" with a very real, honest assessment of what 8 years down the road could look like. Take a look at the relative stagnancy of the campaigns of those "long-time" DC-resident Democratic and Republican politicians in the race and you'll see EXACTLY what he's talking about.

    December 28, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Jem

    The irrational hate pushed by some of the commenters here is really quite despicable. One more reason I won't be caught dead voting for HRC. Ever.

    December 28, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. Robert

    Obama was talking about 8 more years in the senate, not the White House, if he wasn't to win next year. Most people who comment(ed) on this article are obviously scared that this gentleman might win the nomination, and are constantly checking on his whereabouts. You guys have already made your minds up, and are just looking for opportunities to bash him- that's the truth. At least 90% of the people who have commented are Hillory supporters and that's quite clear.

    December 28, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  16. critical thinker

    I bet you the abundance of Hillary biased comments you see here is due to CNN picking and choosing which ones of the posts will be deleted or allowed for viewing. I personally know a number of people that have posted "appropriate" material, yet CNN decided to delete it because it shows the truth about their candidate "Hillary"

    Obama '08

    December 28, 2007 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. charlie houston texas

    "We went to washington to change it, but Washington changed us." John McCain.

    In reply Ron Paul said, " I went to Washington and it did not change me." When you look at his record it is true. No new taxes, No unbalanced budget, No to the Iraq war, does not participate in the congressional pension fund, does not participate in congressional health care insurance, returns a portion of his salary back to the US treasury every year. Go Ron Paul! He has not allowed Washington DC power corrupt his views.

    December 28, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  18. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    Peter, would you have said that to Roosevelt?, Lincoln? Reagan? Adams?
    your explanation is moronic, people run for president because they want to serve the country and that if that becomes their life work then we should praise them, the constitution already has limits, let the constitution work and vote for your favorite candidate, but don't give me the hogwash excuse that we should not elect someone because they have had experience close to a sitting president, if anything that is a position of strenght and wisdom. We aer electing a person that we believe will be good for the country and experience does matter. when doing ANY job experience matters and this is one of the ultimate jobs in our country so I would like someone that knows that they are doing, understands the issues and situations and can deal with them. Sen. Obama's cry that they somehow will loose touch with the American people is simply ridiculous, that argument could have been made the day he took the job of a senator in washington. if you are so blind as to think he is not already a part of that culture you are truly naive. he is putting up smoking mirrors and I for one don't like it.

    December 28, 2007 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  19. Mukeh Pancratius

    cnn is biased for Obama. That is the truth and you know that.

    If you are bold and think this is not true, then post this comment.

    December 28, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  20. Hope

    What you don't realize is that it is Hillary who will lead our country. I don't care that her last name is Clinton and I don't care that her husband was elected president twice. What I do know is that Hillary has much more to offer. And for people to what that she will have a negative impact on our country really need to sit back and think. We have the desire and need to back a fighter. That is what Hillary is. And for you the few that think Obama is the one get real. He gives us no feeling of change, a fresh start or any of the bs.... that is being written. What Obama gives us is just a waste of time. We need to focus on what is best for our country and Obama isnt.

    December 28, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  21. tango

    Is this another trick from the Hillary camp to discredit Obama?

    December 28, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. Cathy

    " We need to be in there now......." What was meant by that comment? Who is "we"? Did I miss something? Is her name on the ballot too? Or is she referring to the "black community" from one of her other stupid comments she made. Whoever it is I guess that I just don't trust "them".

    December 28, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. Desiree, Queens, New York

    I don't believe that for one minute. If he doesn't win he'll run again, he just wants to get sympathy votes.

    December 28, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  24. Huddy B

    Stephen Teichmann, Irvine, California – How did your comments even past moderation?? Please quit with the made up relgions and etc. for Obama, I don't know if you're just genuinely misinformed, or intentionally propogating your made-up info. It's not every day you find Keith Ellison confused with Barack Obama. I'm just hoping complexion wasn't the sole reason for your mix-up. Lol @ "the voters need to know these facts"

    December 28, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  25. Julie McLaughlin

    This is OBVIOUSLY another cheap marketing trick: "limited time offer.....last chance....this deal will go away after 2008"!!!!! In other words, the Obama people are telling the public "It's NOW or NEVER!" and it's a very UNETHICAL attempt to get Obama more votes. More MANIPULATION from a desperate political candidate. Do they really think most of America is THAT STUPID??????

    December 28, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
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