January 9th, 2008
03:25 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama: Bill Clinton 'took liberties' with my words

Watch Sen. Obama's interview on American Morning.

Watch Sen. Obama's interview on American Morning.

(CNN) - Barack Obama accused Bill Clinton of twisting some of his early remarks on the Iraq war in a speech the former president gave the night before the New Hampshire vote.

"Bill Clinton was taking some liberties with my statements," Obama told CNN American Morning anchor John Roberts Wednesday, after his narrow loss to Hillary Clinton in the Granite State’s Democratic primary.

Clinton had alleged that the media had not properly reported on remarks the Illinois senator had made, saying that Obama’s policy stands on the war had actually been identical to those of his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"I'm not clear about what the contradiction is," says Obama. "I said from the start that Iraq was a bad idea. I also said from the beginning that if we were gonna go in then we would have an obligation to our troops and that's been a consistent position of mine. So, the notion that somehow that diminishes my clear unequivocal statement of opposition to the war even before the Congress voted to authorize it actually doesn't make much sense."

Obama won the Iowa Democratic caucuses by 8 percentage points over Clinton, but lost the New Hampshire primary to her by 2 points, despite showing a lead in most pre-vote surveys.

Obama says the record-setting Democratic turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire bodes well for his campaign. "What's pretty clear is that the American people are taking this process seriously. They want to bring about the fundamental change in how our politics works."

Related video: Sen. Clinton on her N.H. win

soundoff (1,012 Responses)
  1. MJ North Mississippi

    Waaaah, Waaaah, Waaaah. Obamas only real words of experience

    January 9, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. John

    I watch CNN , Obama said"I won't let the lobbyist to set up my agenda as a president" he said it again and again.

    but his national campaign co-chair is a national register lobbyist .The lobbyist is setting up his agenda now.

    January 9, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Jason, Chicago, IL

    You should have responded BEFORE the election Barack. Remember the Swift Boaters?!? Kerry didn't respond right away and the damage was done. Now take your medicine and learn from the experience.

    January 9, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. Mike, Waterbury, CT

    2004 – you state that your position on Iraq is similar to that of George Bush. How is that an unequivocal statement of opposition?

    January 9, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Harry, NY NY

    Well Bill Clinton is the man that asked us what our definition of the word "is" is. Why is anyone surprised that he twisted someone else's words?

    Its clear that if you have your own interpretation of language and syntax you can justify anything.

    I wonder how he will interpret Hillary's minimizing the impact of Martin Luther King in her speech and stating that Lyndon B Johnson was really the person who enacted change.

    January 9, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. Barbara

    I don't need an angry ex-president to tell me what someone else said.

    January 9, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. James D.

    I am embarrassed by my previous support of Bill Clinton. The Clintons have taken the "low road"...and that's being kind.

    January 9, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. Robert in Albuquerque, NM

    Obama is a good guy but once again he wasn't around for the Irag war vote so the entire " He said, She said " thing doesn't float. I think he's going to make a great VP and then become President down the road in another election.

    As for John Edwards, he's TOAST. bye Bye John

    January 9, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Sarah

    It seemed like a pretty desperate comment from Bill. Barack opposed/opposes the war, but he certainly doesn't want to abandon our troops who were given a mission and are in harm's way. How is that a contradiction?

    January 9, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. Garry Lemons,

    Oh, WHAT is this?? Obama saying someone twisted his words? Everyone keeps slamming Clinton for her supposed whining, NOW lookie lookie...
    One loss and this is how he comes out..I can just imagine what he will be saying if he loses another and another..
    The media REALLY needs to start looking at Obama and actually reporting on his record (is there a record) instead of focusing all their time on Clinton. She has proven herself, has Obama with what, 2 years as JUNIOR Senator? What HAS he done as a Senator, what is his voting record in the house and most importantly PLEASE someone tell me what his plan of change is. I haven't heard a word on how he plans to do this...hmmmnnn By saying present when it comes to voting???
    Your killing me with all this sticky sweet promise of change and nothing to back it up..charisma and good talks do NOT make a President.

    January 9, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. Al, Los Angeles, CA

    Hillary has this sown up already, don't let the press fool you. She has all the super deligates already. And as we see, Bill Clinton is more than just the future First Lady. He talks, people listen. Blacks will vote for Hillary over Obama because of him. Yesterday I saw 4 women saying "I just want to see a woman president". They don't care if she's the best choice or not. If Oprah quits her show and follows him to every state he has a small chance. Unless there is some debate where Obama can make a halo appear around his head, this is a done deal.

    January 9, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. Amused, Las Vegas

    "What's pretty clear is that the American people are taking this process seriously. They want to bring about the fundamental change in how our politics works."

    Can Mr Obama be a little more specific on what changes he would make in 'how our politics works' and what methodology he would use?

    Is he going to get rid of the electoral college? Make all primaries run on the same day? Change Senate or House rules to prevent minority positions from blocking passage of majority positions?

    If the fundamental change he is going to make is to have people be more polite and more civil, I think that might interfere with first amendment rights, but more power to him.

    However, I never saw Emily Post as someone I would want to steer my country through even clear sailing waters, let alone the current maelstrom we find ourselves in.

    January 9, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. Trudi

    But Obama wasn't in the Senate at the time of the vote authroizing the war. He is in office at the time the Americans are asking to get the troops out of Iraq. A lot of us believe, that supporting our troops means bringing them home.

    January 9, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. Cryston

    CNN Situation Room Anchor Wolf Blitzer, made it clear that Bill Clinton did twist the words of Obama. CNN did an excellent job in getting to the facts of Clinton's statement when it was first aired. Unfortunately, Obama's team and strategists take a long time to answer false charges. I think that is why Obama might lose this nomination. You've got to be sharper and more acute in responding to false or negative facts. No response will cause the accusations to stick.

    Come on Obama, you are an intelligent guy, but you've got to tell your people to look at Fox, MSNBC, and CNN, like I do, and catch the big stuff. Bill Clinton got people to think twice, and Hilary's crying got the women thinking twice, and the Obama campaign said nothing until this morning. Too little too late. It cost us last night. Obama if you need help, let me send you what is out there. You simply can't give the Clintons an inch, because they will take a million miles.

    January 9, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Welcome to politics, Mr. Change!!!

    I've seen your comments on film and heard the audio. You got called out by a master and roasted for it!

    January 9, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. annoyed voter

    I guess Obama really is a symbol of change. that's why he keeps changing his mind about where he stands on the issues.

    January 9, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. jep

    Obama concentrate on your campaign and stop the blame game, Hilary won this time it is her turn to celebrate too just as you did five days ago. Stop blaming Bill, because I don't know what change you are talking about other than being a good orator. Whether Clinton won by 1point or 2, it is still a win and she worked for it because every body including CNN and Fox news had given you a free joy ride, which was totally a fairytale so to speak. It is time to move on there are other 48 states that you need to concentrate on or you will get another bunch out!
    Go Hilary '08!

    January 9, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. manupop

    please Obama, you took Hillary ideas and speaches and then together with the media you crucified her. The media is not tough on you at all.I wonder why?? maybe because you're a man? and a woman is always stupid??? the media literary crucified her. I wish they do the same to you. but they won't because it is a lot more fun to harass a woman than to harass a man right???
    Obama you are not experienced and you should face it.the only reason you won in Iowa is because people are stupid and follow what Oprah says. people can't think for themselves they need Oprah to tell them how to live their lives.
    Hillary is the best candidate and peopel know it. the only reason theyd on't vote for her is because she is a woman. if she were a man, she would have won in both Iowa and NH. I hope people get over the sexism and gender issue and realize women can take lead positions. women have been taking hard jobs in the past 50 years: engineers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc. therefore, there is no proof that a woman cannot take the presedent job.

    January 9, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. Ed

    I find it very disturbing that someone who was not in elected office at the time the vote on the Iraq War took place can say they were against it from the beginning. Anyone can say that. It is a much different thing when you actually have a responsibility of a vote and have to think things through. Senator Obama was not privvy to the intelligence that was presented (faulty as it was in hindsight), nor did he have the responsibility of pondering an actual vote. He was not in the Senate. When you are not responsible for a decision it is extremely easy to say you are against something. Wait, isn't that the reason why polls are not that accurate. You can predict how you would do under certain scenarios and hypotheticals. Things change when you actually are faced with real life decisions. Barack Obama needs to get off that argument as it does not make sense. Give me a decision on which he actually was in the Senate to vote on, and we can have a dialogue.

    January 9, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  20. Jim

    Two things that I have not heard anyone talking about that I think are very telling about last night's results. 1.)Biden and Dodds were "experience " candidates. Had they been in the race would they have pulled from Clinton? Probably.
    2.) If Kucinich and Richardson had not been in the race would their support gone to clinton? I think not! With Edwards and Obama sharing the "change" vote They garnered well over 50% of the vote.

    January 9, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  21. Chris

    If you can't take the heat-get out of the kitchen.

    January 9, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  22. Linda~n~Wisconsin

    The cocky little boy doesn't know what to do with a man like Pres. Clinton. Poor Obama.............Kind of makes me wonder how he would handle all the remarks that are made by national or international leaders as president.

    The free media ride is over for Obama, they all got it wrong.

    Way to go Hillary, Way to go!! I am so proud of ever person who voted for her in NH..............Thank you for the win last night, you showed the media that there really are 50 states in the primaries.

    January 9, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. Theo

    Slick Willy twisting or taking liberty with words?? No, never happen!! LMAO on that one. I'm not even an Obama supporter, but that's rich. Bet he had the old finger wagging too.

    January 9, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  24. Gerren

    Bill Clinton has lied before, just because he hasn't been caught doing it in 8 years doesn't mean he isn't doing it... I would like to see proof before I "take his word" on anything.

    January 9, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. James Charlotte, NC

    Look, I'm not gonna hate on Hillary for winning New Hampshire. All I'm saying is the crying and Bill using half of Obama's quote the night before and day of the election didn't give Obama time to respond and clarify his statements before the vote. Even in the AP article, Hillary said her crying was "might have helped me win". I want to see ONE state where Clinton(s) doesn't use any type of tactics the day before the election and when I see that, I won't saying nothin bad about her.

    January 9, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
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