January 9th, 2008
03:25 PM ET
6 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. Justin, Houston, TX

    Now we're getting to real issues and his flowery speech won't be able to cover anything up anymore.

    Twisted his words. Now the Obama camp is doing the spinning. How can bellow from every microphone that you've been so fundamentally opposed to this war from the beginning, but fund it over and over and over again. There is simply no way to reconcile that. And if he's the great uniter, why wasn't his first act once he got to the Senate to get Republicans on board to end this war.

    And he's gonna fight tooth and nail against the lobbyists, yet one of his campaign co-chairs is a lobbyist. But wait, he's a state lobbyist so that's different. And how is he gonna unite everyone when his positions are so far to the left that they almost wrap around to the right.

    I'm glad his record is being put under scrutiny now. He has to show what he has done and what he can do, not just make a bunch of emotional promises.

    January 9, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Leo

    jep, has it right on.
    CNN Best TV Political Team really screwed up...
    Way to go LOU and JACK...
    You guys look so good with a red face...
    Wolf ain't much better...
    I use to really like all CNN but now I watch other and better reporters...

    January 9, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Don't Mess With Texas

    Oh, shut up Obama! Now that your free ride is over, let the press begin to press you and Edwards on the critical issues that you "preach" about. Let's see how you hold up under their pressure. Let the voters know where you really stand on issues and how you have voted in the past. The press has had Hillary for breakfast, lunch, dinner and daily snacks for the longest time and they will continue to do so. Why should you and Edwards not be asked to explain what you say. And Joe, alienating people can work both ways. If by "chance" Obama wins, he will not receive my vote. I may stay home or vote Republican. I cannot vote for someone I do not believe. I do not believe in him nor Edwards. If Biden and Dodd were still in the race and one of them would win–I would vote for them even Richardson. Why? Because they are not only smart but they have experience and have the maturity to be President. Obama thinks this is high school. Runing for Student Council President against the girl! That's all it is. Big EGO!

    January 9, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. Bill

    Why do people even care about this stuff? Is voicing that Bill Clinton lied or didn't lie going to change that Obama lost or Hillary won? NO. Will any mudslinging get a person elected? Possibly. But remember, even in the early years of our country, mudslinging was used against opposing candidates.

    If you are in a state that has not voted yet, then it is up to you to make the difference.

    If you are not registered to vote or did not vote, SHUT UP because you have no business commenting on how elections play out, because, unless you have been convicted and have that right taken away, registering and voting is free. Exercise that freedom.

    January 9, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. rybehr

    In response to Linda-n-Wisconsin...You need to check yourself. Barack Obama is a 46 year-old man who has many great accomplishments in his life. To call him a "little boy" is not only racist, it reflects poorly on you. Exactly what have you accomplished in your life that comes anywhere close to what Mr. Obama has done?

    January 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Michael

    Man, I am so sick being called rich and having mediocrities demand I pay more taxes. I've been working since I was 13, held two jobs while I went to law school and am in an income tax bracket that pays 98% of all income tax. You folks in the bottom 50%, whether you're simply stupid or lazy, pay 3%. Look at yourselves, not me.

    January 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. Scott, Royal Oak, MI

    Hillary "won" New Hampshire by appearances (% vote). HOWEVER, take a look at the NH delegate count. Because of the "superdelegate" support, Obama has actually won New Hampshire!

    I really think this could be a good thing for Obama: he hasn't really "lost" yet, but all of this Hillary attention will avoid complacency and rally his supporters to make stronger showings in other key states.

    January 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Yvonne K. Calhoun

    It doesn't matter what Obama said about the war because he wasn't in office to cast the vote to take us into a false war we didn't need to be in in the first place. Hillary was, and that's what you good people need to think about when it's all said and done. But, for anyone looking for the truth, what he stood for is out there on the record. Just like Hillary's vote for the war is. Obama didn't have the power in his hands to get us into this mess and Mrs. Cry-baby Clinton did.

    The Clinton's have also done just about everything but say that Obama doesn't need to run for the office of President because he's Black. And, as for Bill Clinton calling Obama "The Kid", he may as well have called him a "boy".

    Maybe now, everyone will see that the Clinton's have been fooling Black people all along into thinking that Bill Clinton is "The First Black President". Now it's true what he really is.

    January 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. Mireille, Charlotte

    Media, in all its forms is the allowing factor in all of this. They print everything. Rightly or wrongly said. They don't check claims, they let the opposing parties and readers have to do the leg work. why don't the media show and prove these stories using the best resources they have, whether audio, print or video? Each format is not easily interchageable with the other. The media needs to correctly show/report/ research and write about this most important process going on in the country. stop just throwing claims of what any party or party affiliate out there says. Be responsible, be bigger, stop being the cause of argument and side taking.

    January 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. Independent

    It is funny how arrogant the Clinton supporters are becoming on a 2% victory in NH. Blacks are beggining to believe that there is a real shot at the White House for a Black man and not to mention the ignorant statement from Hilary about Martin Luther Kings involvement in Civil Rights. Add that up the Black vote goes to Obama, mix that with some independents, Edwards voters(Who will swing to Obama), and the Culinary Unions he will pick up today. He will easily win NV and SC, plus a win in Iowa, and a virtual tie in NH (remember Clintion and Obama split the delegates even, so I wouldn't really call it a victory for her) carry that into Super Tues and he is set. That is as a Obama supporter.

    As an American whoever wins between the two of them needs to bring the other, because the voter turnout isfor the Dems. Hillary and Obama are in a close race and if they came together those turnouts will be 100 percent for them instead of 50-50.

    January 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. Mrs. America

    I for one would like Obama to be clear on specifics rather than just making good speeches. Bill Clinton was the wrong person to call him on past actions, but someone needed to.

    January 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. Niko

    How does being married to someone count as experience? She's only got a few years in the senate on Obama. Hillary's campaign and supporters are becoming as warped as W himself. Good luck in a general election. Obama's positive message gets republicans and independants to convert. Hillary's smear tactics are polarizing even to dems.

    January 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. dd

    If Clinton wins the party nomination, I will vote for Bloomberg (or maybe even McCain).

    January 9, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. Sara Splawn

    I think the American people need to take a real hard look into Obama's background before deciding to put him in as our President. I can tell you that if he wins the Democratic nomination, I will vote Republican this year, even though I am not a Republican. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered about his parentage and his religion.

    January 9, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. RICH

    My goodness...the Clinton's are so desperate. Billy boy and his mindless wife are the most pathetic examples of "public" servants I have ever had the displeasure of being witness to. It's amazing that the sheep of america (i.e. american voters) are blinded by their deceit and incompetence. My hope is that there are some intellectually curious individuals among the electorate that recognize that this pathetic country's only hope is BARACK OBAMA. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!

    January 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Candace

    "Rhetoric: Sen. Obama Promised To Oppose Iraq War Funding, Then Voted For Every Iraq War Funding Bill

    Reality: Obama Has Remained Consistent in Opposing a Blank Check for Iraq

    Since Obama Has Gone to Washington, Every Senate Democrat Has Voted For Every Iraq Funding Bill Until President Bush Vetoed A Timetable For Withdrawal. Since Obama came to Washington in January of 2005, every single Senate Democrat has voted for every single Iraq funding bill that has come to the Senate floor until President Bush vetoed a timetable for withdrawal. [HR 4939, Vote 112, 5/4/06, Passed 78-20, D 43-0; R 34-20; I 1-0; Vote 261, HR 5631, Bill passed, 100-0; D: 44-0: 55-0; I: 1-0] 54-0; I: 1-0; 9/29/06; Vote #366, Conference Report adopted 93-0: R: 51-0; D: 41-0 (ND 37-0, SD 4-0); I: 1-0; 12/21/06; Vote #126, HR 1591, Passed 51-47: R 2-46; D 48-0 (ND 43-0, SD 5-0); I 1-1; 3/29/07]

    After Bush Vetoed A Timetable For Withdrawal, Obama Voted Against A Motion To Concur In House Amendments To $120 Billion Emergency Appropriations Bill; Obama Opposed Supplemental Because "It's Time To Change Course." Obama voted against the Reid, D-Nev., motion to concur in the House amendments to the bill that would appropriate $120 billion in fiscal 2007 emergency spending, including $94.4 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama said in a statement, "This vote is a choice between validating the same failed policy in Iraq that has cost us so many lives and demanding a new one. And I am demanding a new one. We must fund our troops. But we owe them something more. We owe them a clear, prudent plan to relieve them of the burden of policing someone else's civil war. We need a plan to compel the Iraqi people to reach a political accommodation and to take responsibility for their own future. It's time to change course. I opposed this war in 2002 precisely because I feared it would lead us to the open-ended occupation in which we find ourselves today. This President has led us down a disastrous path and has arrogantly refused to acknowledge the grim reality of this war, which has cost us so dearly in lives and treasure. After he vetoed a plan that would have funded the troops and begun to bring them home, this bill represents more of his stubborn refusal to address his failed policy. We should not give the President a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path. With my vote today, I am saying to the President that enough is enough. We must negotiate a better plan that funds our troops, signals to the Iraqis that it is time for them to act and that begins to bring our brave servicemen and women home safely and responsibly." [Vote 181 Motion agreed to 80-14: R 42-3; D 37-10 (ND 32-10, SD 5-0); I 1-1, 5/24/07; Press Release, 5/24/07]

    Obama Said That He Would Judge A Benchmark Supplemental On Its Merits, Would Oppose "Giving George Bush A Blank Check." Stephanopoulos asked Obama: "So does that mean next week or the week after when the war funding bill comes forward it doesn't have the time line for withdrawal but it does have benchmarks, you vote for it?" Obama said, "It's going to depend on what the bill looks like. I don't believe in giving George Bush a blank check." [This Week, 5/13/07]

    SEP 2003: Obama Said $87B Is A Blank Check. "State Senator Barack Obama...said today that there should be 'no blank check for Iraq' in response to the Bush Administration's request for $87 billion from U.S. taxpayers. 'We should not have gone there in the first place,' Obama said. 'We should not stay there without an end in sight.' Obama challenged the Congress to 'stand up to the misplaced priorities of this Administration' by delaying the $87 billion for Iraq until the President provides a specific plan and timetable for ending the U.S. occupation, justifies each and every dollar to ensure it is not going to reward Bush political friends and contributors, and provides 'investment in our own schools, health care, economic development and job creation that is at least comparable' to what is going to Iraq. 'It's not just Iraq that needs rebuilding. It's America, too,' Obama said. [Press Release, 9/28/03]"

    January 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. Fran

    From this point forward, the gutter campaign tactics used by the Clintons in both Iowa and New Hampshire will be more visible. It will get dirtier and dirtier, and all the negativity directed at Obama will be based on lies. The Clintons lack the type of character we desperately need in the White House. That Obama is running a clean campaign is just one more reason to like him in the role of POTUS.

    January 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Bea

    Yep– welcome to the political arena where the big boys play rough....

    January 9, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Nicola

    GO OBAMA !!!




    January 9, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. JJ

    Welcome to politics 101.. As some have mentioned, though you claim to be against the war, you were not in office to vote for or against.. so get over it..
    You just got roasted by one of the best.. (Clinton)..

    Now, let's see the "change"..quit griping.. if you are what you claim to be.. then stop whinning.. and by the way.. it was Johnson that instigated the "change".,not Martin Luther King.. so give credit where credit is due..!!!

    January 9, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. van de Harts

    Crying baby....Hillary are you happy now? Go figure. I know one thing President Obama will never, never go on his knees in the Oval Office. Long live President to be Obama.

    January 9, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. michaelindc


    This was a comment on my blog last night:
    “I am so glad that Hillary won the N.H. Primary. This is about the future of our country and who best can lead us out of the mess that George Bush has made. We need someone with experience, know how, contacts,
    and with Bill along, it’s a two for one win.
    So many people in this country keep up on the entertainment world and not the real world we live in. Obama’s programs benefit the minorities of this country and the rest of us will be paying their way AGAIN.
    Go Hillary”

    I think this brings up some majors points:

    1. Barack Obama does not have the “experience” Hillary does. He does not have experience voting for the war, for standing idly by while NAFTA was passed, and he most certainly does not have the experience of being despised by the 47% of this country who says that they WOULD NEVER VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON.

    2. Barack Obama does not have the “know how” of Barack Obama. He did not “know how” to fail to bring the country Universal Health Care with the full power of the bully pulpit behind her. What he did know was the quagmire the Iraq War would turn out to be. What he did know was what he stood for, rather than changing the justification and message of his campaign with every new poll Mark Penn does like Hillary knows. Please, don’t talk to me about Hillary’s “know how,” not to mention all of her “experience.”

    3. Hillary does have some great contacts. She also has 47% of the American people as contacts who WOULD NEVER CONSIDER VOTING FOR HER. Tell me how she’s going to pass legislation, not to mention get elected, with that many people against her. Her potentially useful “contacts” will be neutered in the face of the easy job the Republicans will have shooting down her every effort.

    4. Oh yes, Bill. Who, according to a poll last night, 58% of Hillary’s supporters would vote AGAINST her to vote for Bill. Mr. Excuses. Mr. Self-Pity. He is tanking his legacy. Like it or not, Bill committed perjury, and while he should not have been impeached, we should not be inviting him back into the White House. If you think Bill in the White House is a good thing for the country, you are misguided.

    5. Your final accusation, that Obama’s programs will only benefit minorities, has no basis, which is probably why you didn’t elaborate. It is the racism that is the resort of dirty politicians. Bill Clinton will use African-Americans when it helps him, and dismiss them when it hurts.

    6. I know, what a shame that a person should have to “pay their way.” I really hope Hillary takes on your rhetoric. That would just be awful, wouldn’t it? No, see, while some of you folks believe government has the responsibility to take care of you in spite of your actions, Barack Obama (and I) believe that Americans don’t want government to solve every problem and foot the bill. We just want a government who wants the American people to succeed as desperately as the American people are striving in that “pursuit of happiness.”

    I do agree with one thing you said.

    This election IS about who can help this country recover. That is why Barack Obama will win. We don’t need another eight years of politics over progress, rhetoric over action, and despite Hillary’s latest campaign configuration, Hillary and her politics exemplify “rhetoric over action.” The kind of politics that as long as you can justify to yourself that you’re right in your failure, than success doesn’t really matter. The kind of politics that is content with explaining away health care failures, and her husband’s infidelities, with the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Keeping red America pitted against blue America.

    We need change. We need something new. Not just for the sake of change or for the sake of newness. No! We need change because what we’ve had for the last 4 decades isn’t working. It hasn’t worked for the American people! It hasn’t worked for the world! It hasn’t worked for white people, brown people, yellow people, purple people, people of faith, union-members, gay people, Republicans, Democrats, Independents…IT HASN’T WORKED FOR THE PROMISE OF AMERICA THAT SO MANY OF US BELIEVE IN! THE PROMISE THAT IS AT THE CORE OF OUR COUNTRY, THE FOUNDATION OF OUR DREAMS, THE WELLSPRING OF OUR HOPE!

    That is why I support Senator Obama. Not because of his greatness, but because of his belief in the greatness of the American people.

    January 9, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. JarryHames

    Bill and Hillary are in it to win it. They're a power couple and Bill will use his to get back into the White House. They will also step on anyone who gets in their way. Those words were twisted and taken out of context. That was also several years ago. Bill and Hillary are very smart! Obama just got a taste of what those two will do to win. Bill isn't even the same this time. He's becoming an angry old man that's out to help his old lady! I hope that the Clintons don't turn America off in '08. We need this...Clinton, Obama, or Edwards. They've been known to mess things up with their egos.

    January 9, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. gena

    if we all start actin like human being and get along with each other we get put the right person in office.this country could run better! what wrong with new change!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! are your scared of a black man run the white house.lol or your scared a women that would have the house in order.

    January 9, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Karen

    Damien, you must be getting your info from the media. Where are your sources. Exactly what year was that law passes? Who was the President in office when this policy was made? What party was in office when this policy was set? What year did these transfers take place? Then tell who was in office at the time? Site your sources and please don't pop up with one right winger. Read multiple sources and see that are different views as to what happened when. Stop manipulating people. We'll never get the politicians to discuss issues when we can't.

    January 9, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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