December 29th, 2007
08:00 AM ET
7 years ago

Obama: My wife says 'now or never'

ALT TEXT

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. ME IN FRESNO

    how in the world could a rational,hard working,taxpaying person who knows what terrorists would do to us if they could,ever want to see hilary clinton as our president! i just dont get it!
    absolutely zero experience running anything. a socialist who would take more of my hard earned money to give to others in return for their continued dependence on the government for all their needs and therefore also their votes.
    not to mention pulling us out of iraq before we have accomplished our mission.

    let me ask you a question. if osama were able to vote in the election,who do you think he would vote for ? now that you know the answer, how could you vote for the same person?? UNBELIEVABLE!!

    December 28, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  2. joan skipper

    have any of you watched the debates? Sure Obama can give a great speech, by the way they're written for him, but when he is asked a tough or combative question he stammers and stutters and generally rambles on without answering until his time is up. He needs the time to learn, I genuinely like him very much but he is too immature

    December 28, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  3. Kirby, Iowa

    I think Obama's indecision, or rather his wife's decision making, shows his lack of commitment or understanding of what he undertook. This country doesn't need a "if I can't win I'm not going to play" attitude. Joe Biden has served this country for 35 years in the senate, has never gotten rich doing it, and has proven he not only has what it takes to do the job but is willing to put in the time to do it. Real experience, not self proclamied, is what we need.

    December 28, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  4. James

    It's funny how most of you claim that Obama needs more experience when the fact remains that he has more ELECTED EXPERIENCE then Hillary Clinton. This means that he has more experience as an agent of a governing body than Hillary. Try looking this up yourselves. The experience Hillary refers to is being the first lady for eight years which has its perks (free world trips, etc.), and she claims that her trips around the world gives her experience on foreign policy. Mick Jagger and other rockstars who have done world tours should be experts on foreign policy too!

    December 28, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. Percy

    Praise the Lord! We don't want to see you in the race this time around either! If you would have gotten real experience, then you could have been a viable president in the furture. Did arrogance bring you here this time? Do you realize it is a little hard to do without experience? You are running to bring change aren't you? Yet you think 8 years in office will make you out of touch? You are then out of touch today. Go back to grocery shopping. Let Oprah get you a job like Joel Osteens....that is what you are good at. Ask the wife though if that is ok.

    December 28, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. ca voter

    this guy just scares the heck out of me. He is so inexperienced I wouldn't trust him to manage a Burger King. Maybe the drive through window.

    December 28, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. Trang, Fremont, CA

    I understand Obama. A campaign is tough. Why would anyone put up with the attacks/turmoil? It's far better to have a normal life, and yes, 8 years from now would be very different. Who knows what shape you will be in and what shape the country will be in. I know the importance of timing. The time is now, and I am going to give you a shot at it with my vote. The result, of course, is up to the American people.

    I am glad you decided to run – give the American people a glimpse of what a good campaign can be like.

    December 28, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  8. Anonymous (Canada)

    Cannot believe that some people have lost sight of the role of the president. Surround yourself with the best people, bring the country together, and make intelligent and rational decisions.........Obama is just what the U.S. needs. Someone that will be respected around the world.

    December 28, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. J.LECKY, CANADA

    I am appalled to read some of these comments. There is a saying that goes "empty vessels make the most noise". The people who are making the comments are either Clinton's supporters, racists, or just plain ill-advised. America is not the super power in the world anymore. And it is not because of
    "inexperienced" Obama. The world has changed and is changing rapidly. The world needs someone like Mr. Obama or any other fresh face, bright, intelligent, and honest candidate. About Mr. Obama not being ready. Was America ready for 9/11? Was America ready for Katrina? With all the experience that was in Washington, some third world extremists brought America down to its knees.

    In conclusion, I am just a lay person trying to understand your politics. You all should unite for the common good of your country. Stop the hate mongering, mud slinging and petty foggery. Band together to make America great again. It can be done. With all this division, you are all playing into the hands of terrorism.

    December 28, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  10. J.LECKY, CANADA

    I might add, in my humble opinion and for what it is worth, President Hilary Clinton's biggest challenge will be Pakistan, and the rest of the Muslim world. They don't believe in women governing. I believe Mr. Obama or Mr. Richardson stands a much better chance to meet America's enemies.

    December 28, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  11. Victoria Williams

    My question to CNN is – why do you insist on putting up less than flattering pictures of Mrs. Obama? Who on your staff thought that was a good idea and when can I talk to their boss?

    Thanks!

    December 28, 2007 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  12. rrobert

    I believe another fellow said "you won't have me to kick around anymore" and then like a bad penny he showed back up and the Watergate hotel became a part of American history. If he can't and doesn't have anything to say about the decisions in his home then why in hell would we want him as president. Mommy wont let him play again if he doesn't win??? He needs her permission??? What if he wins and mommy doesn't like some of his policies? Will they suddenly change to meet her orders? Go back home and come back when you grow up kid. This job requires an adult.

    December 28, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  13. K.J. O'BRIEN , NASHVILLE, TN.

    I WONDER IF OBAMA WILL TAKE A PLEDGE TO NOT RUN? IS THIS MANIPULATION OR WHAT? IT REMINDS ME OF BUYING MY FIRST CAR WHEN I WAS 15 IN 1968. THE SALESMAN TOLD ME SOMEONE ELSE WANTED IT AND I BETTER BUY IT RIGHT THEN. LIKE AN IDIOT I DID, I HAD TO OVERHAUL THE ENGINE AFTER I BOUGHT IT. HOWEVER IT DID HAVE AN 8 TRACK PLAYER .
    OBAMA JUST LET US KNOW THAT AT HEART HE IS A VERY CHARISMATIC, ELEQUENT TALKING QUITTER. SMOKE AND MIRRORS BABY, JUST SMOKE AND MIRRORS. AT LEAST WITH HILLARY SHE IS A STREET FIGHTER WHO DOESN'T GIVE UP. SHE TRIED IN 92 TO IMPROVE HEALTH INSURANCE, HERE WE ARE IN 2007 AND SHE IS STILL FIGHTING. .

    December 28, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  14. Jaime Scottsdale,AZ

    Jem and James D: "Bitter hatred directed at Barack is completely without basis?"
    Now that is the perfect explanation of the analogy "who or what is calling the kettle black?" I agree with you on this..."the rest of the world has a negative perception of the US..." What I find difficult is that it is "deserverd!?" Give the "basis" to that. Let me help, professionally...it is called LEADERSHIP. Your other option is short lived....like Obama.

    HRC '08

    December 28, 2007 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  15. amy R, Iowa

    I would not let him run again either if I were his wife. If the people in this country miss the opportunity to pick the leader with the best judgement that Barack has. Then we will get what we deserve as we did with Bush. THE TIME FOR OBAMA IS RIGHT NOW!

    December 28, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  16. Jose Card - Independent

    I found it mind-boggling to hear that Obama just paid off his student loan.

    I'd assume most people pay off their student loans as soon as they can so that money can be loaned to other students after you.

    Perhaps he is talking about their law school student loans, not his Harvard student loan.

    It's not presidential for Michelle to say now or never.
    Serving our country is an honor, isn't it?

    I now want anybody but Hillary, and still prefer Governor Richardson in the Dem league.

    December 28, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. Chris

    So many people talk about Obama "not having the experience" and I would ask for clarification as to what experience qualifies one to be president. One of our greatest Presidents, if not the greatest, George Washington had no "experience" as most people throw that term around. There is no training ground for the Presidency. There are thousands of experiences that can teach a person how to lead effectively. There are thousands of experiences that can teach a person how to effectively manage organizations. Even with all of these opportunities abound, we still produce very few great leaders or great managers regardless of age. If experience means being in Washington and understanding every trick and legislative loophole to get things done then simply vote for the person who has been in Washington the longest.

    I'm an Obama supporter because I believe that in order to lead effectively you have to be willing to sacrafice in order to truly be credible. You cannot lead if you don't love and you show your love thru service. When Obama had the chance to take his education and make millions for himself he decided instead to serve. That is the character of the person I want leading us...the exact opposite of silver spoon entitlement case in the White House now. So the next time someone tells you Obama doesn't have "the experience" ask him/her to tell you exactly what experience they're looking for.

    December 28, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  18. hey allons,tn

    hey best for all the american people HILLERY CLINTON 08

    December 28, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  19. AlwaysforHillary, NYC

    What a load of CRAP!!! Obama is so power hungry, he could not even wait until he had some experience under his belt to run for president!!! And now he wants us to believe it's now or never??? LOL!!! That is just a ploy for some moron who will think, Oh we better for him now or we will lose him!!! Well, GOOD, I am Glad you don't want to run again! You shouldn't be running now!! I don't even know why you have as much support as you have now. Are people willing to put their country into the hands of a wimpy man who doesn't even have the courage to take a stand on 130 "present" votes in the state senate???

    This country is in alot of trouble both dometically and foreign wise. We need an experience, proven leader! We need somebody who is qualified, experienced, intelligent, and who has the wisdom and strength to get this country back on track!!!

    WE NEED HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!

    VOTE FOR THE WOMAN WHO WILL LEAD THIS COUNTRY BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK!!! VOTE FOR THE WOMAN WHO IS BOTH STRONG AND COMPASSIONATE!!! VOTE FOR THE WOMAN WHO HAS DEDICATED HER ENTIRE ADULT LIFE WORKING FOR CHANGE!!!

    VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT – 2008!!!!

    December 28, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  20. K. A. Noone

    I think what he's trying to say is that Clinton has been in Washington too long and that this has made her out of touch. He on the other hand, knows what it feels like to live an "ordinary" American life, unlike her.

    That's the message. Simple. Why on earth is nobody understanding this? I endorse his comments because the truth is it is human nature to become more instituionalised the longer you're in an institution.

    OBAMA '08!

    December 28, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  21. Jeff from Jersey

    I hope that's a promise!Being just another politician that has over-played the "aw shucks" bit.The ONLY difference between Obama and every other politician and candidate is a note from Oprah!Everything else is just Obama spin on the issues.The only thing that exceeds his hidden agendas,ambition and ego is the size of the smoke-screen he's putting out.No real solutions or plans,just the empty promises that he even has any.Promises,promises,promises...no different at all.Of course if he doesn't keep this promise to his wife he could be a candidate on the "recently divorced" slate.

    December 28, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  22. Teri Helenese

    At this juncture, I am truly at odds over voting for Clinton or Obama. Born and raised in the US Virgin Islands, I met the Hillary Clinton while she was First Lady and came to the territory with her family in the 90's. I witnessed first hand Hillary's sincere interest in the (young, old, rich, poor, uneducated, and educated) people on our islands and their circumstances. She met, greeted, and internalized the issues articulated to her, and offered her advice. She did not brush anyone off. I will never forget that.

    In my humble opinion, she is not cold and she is not mean spirited. Indeed she is a very credible option for the next President. So why am I at odds? I value Hillary personally and professionally and I do value Obama's message of change. His change message has resonated with me, but I am still undecided. This is what democracy is all about. The power of choice. My vote for either Clinton or Obama is still to be determined.

    Teri

    December 28, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  23. Karen

    The skeptical and jaded responses to Obama's remarks are proof of how damaged our political process is. We don't believe anyone about anything and the first response is to attack. The greatest danger to our democracy is ourselves and our willingness to rip apart anyone that dares to take part in it.

    The path to the Presidency is the combo of an obstacle course and an endurance race – true character will come out – give your vitriolic criticism and personal insecurities a rest and let the candidates prove or disprove themselves on their own.

    It's easier to attack – it's harder to listen.

    December 28, 2007 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  24. Marcia (South Holland, IL)

    Some of the comments people have made are comments that makes no retorical sense. When I say this I mean the statement that he will not run again for presidency if he loses could be several reasons other than he acting out for attention to votes it could mean several things that have to do with the current issues at hand. Our economy is so screwed at this point that it is going to take more than an election of a president to clean things up. People have made the harsh comments that Obama is a liar, but guess what the reality of this sitution we,ve been weathering a storm of lies for the past 8 years, to name a few weapons of mass destruction, 911 contributes, hurricane Katrina and much more. So to me unless you have the credentials yourself we should not bad mouth any canidsate for election, because guess what they have the credentials and the courage to do what spectators don't LEAD A COUNTRY THAT IS BLIND.

    GO OBAMA AND CLINTON 08

    December 28, 2007 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  25. E. C., Houston, Texas

    GOOD! We won't have to worry about Obama in the future......and he's NOT what we need right now for the Presidency. He has NO pertinent experience. Guess this remark shows who 'wears the pants' in the family.......certainly not Obama! We also don't need a 'whimp' in the Whitehouse, a la Slick Willie...OR his domineering wife, Hillary! Good Grief!

    December 28, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
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