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. 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 theyr eally think most of America is THAT STUPID??????

    December 28, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. val

    Is Barack trying to bully us into voting for him? You either make him President now or you'll never have the chance again! Come on. I knew there was a reason that I couldn't see Michelle Obama as a First Lady and this is why! Her heart isn't really in it and this is only the begining. I think her comments show her lack of enthusiasm about his campaign is has more readily admitted that the campaign isn't where they thought it would be. Talking about failing even before the first caucus shows that the Obamas are not confident.

    December 28, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. CS, Gerald, MO

    "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." –CNN's Jessica Yellin

    So Ms/Mrs Yellin, did Mr. Obama ever actually answer the question? If so, will/would you print it?

    I agree with Sandi Giseburt of Lake George, NY, we can no longer afford a President in office that has lost touch with the populace, nor do we need one who fears he/she may lose touch. It is pretty frightening when a candidate actually admits this, but at least we are aware now.

    EDWARDS '08

    December 28, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. Chris

    I wish she was not letting you run for this election.

    December 28, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  5. Nancy, Dallas TX

    The Obama's sound like an info-mercial..."Act Now While This Offer Lasts!"

    Am I the only one who notices that she has wayyyyy too much say in Borat's affairs? He is completely submissive to her. His behavior and remarks bespeak a conciliatory role. This trait is borne out in his approach to managing America's business – that is, we'll just make nice and the mean people will then like us.

    Please stop parading this embarrassing dynamic in front of American voters. It might be entertaining on a TV sitcom but it is unappealing when selecting a leader for the free world.

    Both Michelle and Borat need a lot of seasoning before becoming suitable for enhanced roles. Their behavior is inappropriate and a turn-off.

    December 28, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. christine malloy

    Obama please tell us why you voted "present" in over 100 votes when you were a state senator??? That does not lend itself to the ordinary person, that speaks of cowardice to take a stand on over 100 issues. Talk about who has guts to be a President. You do not appear to have the "stuff", unless you tell us why you avoided 100 votes & just said "present". I hope the electorate starts looking your "votes" up. At least Hillary stands for her votes!!!!

    December 28, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  7. simone dubois

    So what you're saying is - you'll lose touch? What a stupid comment to make. I think you'll use any ploy to try to get elected. Biden has so much more experience and you get all the press - can't figure it out.

    December 28, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. Robert Bent

    I think he made the right decision. If he had waited too long he might have been corrupted by some big money lobbist. Right now he is still freah and thats what this country needs now. Fresh blood not puppets of special lobbists, which I believe the rest are.

    December 28, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  9. mikemi

    Every time I hear his wife talk it's something that is derogatory. His morning aroma was one comment that left me saying WTH? Now this, he can't run again. He needs to run from her. She's typical of a woman with no support for her man. No he won't win and yes he should have waited and gained political experience but he's in it now and I hope he enjoys the run as she will forever remind him that he lost the race.

    December 28, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. Kya Marienfeld

    It doesn't matter if Michelle would let Barack run again, it won't even be an issue, because hopefully he'll win this first time around! Also, I think she would make a spectacular first lady when the time comes. Although Barack is less experienced with certain things compared to McCain and Clinton, for example, I don't necessarily think that is such a bad thing. Being "inexperienced" has given Barack the fresh perspective that I think this country needs in its current state of overall distrust for its government. He's managed to keep his hands clean and show America that he is committed to truly bringing about the change that we need in a time when most talk of government almost triggers a gag reflex in a lot of us. I think he's done a great job so far in balancing strength, which he has to exert over other candidates to prove he isn't a pushover, and compassion, which he shows by remaining positive and not becoming the "dirty politician" that most in his shoes would.

    December 28, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  11. B, Gainesville, FL

    This is what I like about Obama–this is a glimpse into the intimate conversations that husbands and wives have about these types of moves. Any man who has this type of partnership with his wife–a true partnership in which both parties are active participants and their opinions matter–that's who I want in the White House. The Obamas are the type of family I'd be proud to call the leaders of my country.

    I think this is the perfect time for Barack Obama to run for president, and I believe that sometimes you have to go with your gut–and my gut tells me to vote for Obama. He's the type of person I trust–that I'd trust my problems with, my children with, my business with. He's transparent and honest and real. That's who I want as my leader. Experience as a senator is not nearly as important to me as character, ideology and experience in life. Go Obama 08!

    December 28, 2007 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  12. James D.

    I'm with Jem. The bitter hatred directed at Barack is completely without basis. You people need serious help. Professional help....or at least get laid. Wow. No wonder the rest of the world has the negative perception of the US they's deserved!

    December 28, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  13. jay

    i'd rather put someone in that at least sounds like they are normal than the career politicians that are runningnow.

    what do you mean this country doesn't need this?

    you want more of teh same of what the country has, a career politician that gets nothing done, sways to special interests and is already currupt through years on capital hill?

    funny people very funny...

    December 28, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  14. KDS

    His wife shops at Target? The same Target that does not support our military or the families of people serving this country? The same Target that provides economic support for gay and lesbians, but not our school children? I have not stepped foot in a Target in years. No American citizen should!!!

    December 28, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  15. Mario Uy Streamwood

    I don't like Hillary, and I was leaning Obama. But now I would vote for Hillary any day over Obama. At least Hillary is a fighter and she wears the pants. Obama wants to be president of the free world and he can't seem to control his own wife?

    If this isn't a wake-up call, then anyone who continues to support Obama is really SOS (stuck on stupid).

    Mario Uy
    Streamwood IL

    December 28, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  16. Bruce Silver

    then she does not back him now

    December 28, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  17. Diamond E.

    That's right!

    Don't expect to come asking him to rescue the Party after Clinton loses in Novemebr. It's not going to happen. If you want a loser, you're going to get a loser and you must be prepared to keep having a loser.

    Obama offers the best chance for Democrats in 08. Every head-to-head matchup confirms it. And the reason is because the average American does not need someone who's experienced at being out-of-touch with the American people. We need someone who's still in tune with us. We need Barack Obama.

    December 28, 2007 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  18. Justin

    There Are Down to earth Americans That Know what the American people want! I believe that if we have a president that has not really Experience what it is like on the other side, How are they gonna know what we want and how we feel about a specific thing. GO OBAMA... YOU HAVE MY VOTE..

    I Believe Obama can do it! He is smart. EXPERIENCE??? Who's to say what Experience is the same dumb asses voted 4 Bush twice and they have the audacity to pull the experience card! America Continues to Mess take the wrong path.

    December 28, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  19. Vic Novosad, Sugar Land, TX

    To Senator Barak Obama: Listen to your obviously smarter wife now and pack it in. The caucus members in Iowa are no fools; they are not going to have it on their hands that they sent you to compete against the Republicans. Instead, they will vote with their heads and hearts and send the most qualified person who can enter the oval office ready to govern. They will instead, compare your and Senator Clinton's immediate response to the assassination of Mrs. Bhuto:

    CLINTON: Stepped right up and spoke of mistakes made in Pakistan by the present administration as they supported President Mussharaf, and presented step by step as to how the U. S. and the world must act to right the wrongs there.

    OBAMA: Blamed Senator Clinton for contributing to the terrorist and political unrest by her vote for the Iraq war which, he says, contributed to the assassination of Mrs. Bhuto.

    NOW, which of the above is qualified to be President of the United States?

    December 28, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. Mike, Inglewood, CA


    "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."

    This poster is ill informed or...drum roll please... an ill-motivated supporter of the anti-Barack forces.

    Barack was an agnostic that became a full fledge christian. Those who say otherwise should provide verifiable documentation or a credible reported statement that says otherwise. I CHALLENGE you to ....but you won't because you know that you're being untrue!

    Forrest had it right: "Stupid is as stupid does!"

    December 28, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  21. atruth, NYC, NY

    is it really credible for any president to not lose touch? No way. most politicians, of whatever stripe, are so out of touch already, any incremental alienation is not much of an issue. these are not "real" peole, but mouthpieces for different interest groups (who in the aggreagte, hopefully, represent a majority of Americans).

    as for the actual comments made by Obama, who cares? he was just tryng to seem ordinary, like a family man. but none of that will matter to a president. it's all fluff, and every intelligent voter needs to understand that.

    December 28, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  22. krissy

    Wow he'll never try this again!! What a relief for the rest of us normal Americans. I guess I'll sleep a little better tonight. Does that also mean no book deal or Oprah show in the future too? . This sounds like a made for TV movie in the works with HARPO productions getting the movie rights.

    December 28, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  23. Ken, San Diego, CA

    That's too bad....

    I guess it's never....

    Please, talk about pandering to the voters: 'If you don't vote for me know, you may never get the chance to....'.

    Who says the Obama's are not politicians.

    December 28, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  24. Claudia

    I don't think anyone with small children should run for elected office. Also, Ms. Obama's comment annoys me because it sounds like whether or not he runs is completely up to her.

    December 28, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  25. Caroline

    Good riddance. Notice how Barack attacks and when others attack him he cries foul? If I hear the word "change" one more time, I am going to puke. Mr "Present" Obama will not be getting my vote.

    December 28, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
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