January 9th, 2008
03:25 PM ET
5 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. memyself

    Hmm. Wolf Blitzer clearly proved on CNN that Clinton was intentionally twisting and spinning the truth and Obama DID respond the same day. (I say intentionally because Bill Clinton has put out this lie publicly before and Obama informed him that it was incorrect, and gave the full quote that proves that).

    This wasn't covered enough so that folks are even aware of it, yet Clinton's defenders keep saying how hard the media is on her and how easy it is on Obama?

    Guess that excuse has now been thoroughly debunked. Better start working on a new one for why she's not doing anywhere near as well as was projected just a few short weeks ago.

    January 9, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. krill

    Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. The corporate lobbyist's Democratic Dream Ticket.

    January 9, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Hawk,Texas

    This just shows how green obama is. he has twisted his own words. he dosen't have the moxie to be president. grow up obama and get some experience behind you. you talk a good game, but you have missed about 80% of the votes since you were elected. quit acting like george bush, get over it.

    January 9, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Cathy

    RE-ELECT BILL CLINTON!

    Oh wait, we can't. Silly Constitution.

    Wait, who is campaigning for this presidency again?

    Bill came out swinging for Hillary, and he is getting called on a penalty jab.

    January 9, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Caset

    Oh slick Willy needs to keep his mouth shut. Many Democratics I know, especially in the South, would vote Republican before Hillary. He must know she is unelectable. Obama just needs to stay honest. He is different and he does shine the light. Dont worry I have been canvasing in South Carolina Obama is a sure thing.

    ex-Clintonite in the South

    January 9, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. Chrissy

    Is everyone forgetting that he wouldn't even put his hand over his heart to say the pledge about a month ago? Is that the type of Prez we want?

    January 9, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Julia

    I think it's sad that the candidate that is REALLY going to help the middle class of this country is getting ignored while two people totally out of touch with real americans lives are getting all the press. John Edwards is the only one who speaks to me.

    January 9, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. william

    I guess if a woman runs for president or any office position all she has to do is cry her way in and play on the public sympathy..Wow I wish a man could do the same thing...

    January 9, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. James, Virginia Beach, Virginia

    It's really sad to hear so many petty and nasty remarks regarding Obama and the Clintons in these comments. And most of these spiteful remarks are from the same people who accept and support all the devisive, destructive, and illegal things Bush has done over the past seven years, let alone his ability to continue his mis-deeds for another year.
    We need to be honest about how bad things have become in the US, and around the world, and be thankful there are intelligent and talented people who
    are willing to devote years of their life to bring America back onto the path of our true destiny for freedom and prosperity for all.

    January 9, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    First a heartfelt thanks, and God Bless You to the people of New Hampshire for reminding the media and the candidates that it is the voters that decide elections.

    As for Senator Obama, the only person that is twisting his words is him. Former President Clinton is absolutely right that Senator Obama has not faced the tough scrutiny that Senator Clinton has, and that Senator Obama has changed and continues to change his positions trying to catch "the wind that will carry him to the White House". That is Obama's change.

    And please Senaotr Obama, and Obama supporters; refrain from the comparisons to JFK; because Senator Obama is not even in the same league. When he ran for President JFK was a decorated war hero, had met with and discussed foreign affairs with many world leaders, had written Profiles in Courage; and had spent 14 years combined in the Congress and Senate of the United States. Senator Obama does not compare at all to JFK.

    Senator Obama would do well to take a quick reality check, even though he scoffs at the ides; and realize that his premature entry into Presidential politics may doom any future chance he has to be President.

    And stop discounting us baby boomers in favor of the youth of this country. We make up more than 60% of the population or will in short order; we are the ones that in large measure have the money (even if it is not enough) and we vote.

    We are also old enough and wise enough to realize when something appears too good to be true, it usually is.

    January 9, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. Obama finally exposed

    The sentiment appears to be (not like it ever changed) that all Black people must support Barack Obama, regardless if his political positions differ with that Black voter. Any who deviate are fair game from the traditional attacks.But it would appear, not all Blacks are toeing the line. It'll be interesting to see if the effort is made to denigrate the "blackness" of those not so accessible?Among blacks, Obama's favorables are high (60 percent), but Clinton's are higher (85 percent). Plus, Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have deep roots in the black community always supporting black community, they have allot of excellent history for helping minorities. Black leaders are not interested as much in Obama as one might think either, how does that necessarily affect what the general Black American population thinks of him? We learned in NH not to trust media coverage any longer. Truth is and some of you may have noticed Barack is not getting the automatic support from African Americans that many assumed he would get since throwing his hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination for the presidency and (Louis Chude-Sokei, L.A Times article) makes an effort to inform us as to why this might be true. Unfortunately, while it has a few good points it misses the mark in too many ways. The main point, Obama isn't "black enough" to get the support of the standing Black American leadership because of his White/Hawaiian/African (meaning NOT African American, but real African) heritage. all this goes to explain why Black leaders don't seem to be warming to Obama as far as this University professor is concerned. Obamas public line of thinking, all things black in the US threatens the lock on the dem nominamtion, turning away non-black and educated black voters who won the iowa caucus for him. The tides have changed Obama will need to use more than ½ of his race to get educated black voters to support him. He now needs to begin showing substance and back away from the preaching. NH is a perfect example of whats to come.

    January 9, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Lisa Hampton

    As a black woman i will never forgive the Clintons for using their slimy tactics to get their NH win. Black people need to wake up and see the clintons for what they are. Obama is a good man and didnt deserve this. The Clintons will pay for this in SC.

    January 9, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Margarida Southard

    Obama is an inspirer candidate but he is not ready to lead. Hillary has the experience and leadership to really make the changes. Obama has not shown any specifics on how he wants to bring the country united, he just talks about it. . This is a mith. In true democracies you will always have a division. Bush brought this division when he invaded Iraque.

    Obama is a great talker and is getting better everyday. He is trying to prortray himself as John F.Kennedy but he is not Kennedy. He has never occupied any public office and has no record to show what he is able to do. He should be Hillary's vice president and then in eight years run for president. He will then have the experience.

    January 9, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. Jo

    Hillary and Bill did every nasty underhanded thing they could to narrowly win the N.H. primary yet we're suppose to feel sorry for her. Hillary is the most divisive figures in American politics if she recieves the dem. nomination she will not recieve the independent and swing votes she needs to win the presidency. People don't like her because she lacks integrity and wants to win for her own self-serving reasons. Her husband wants he to win so he can fix the things he ignored (Al Qaeda) while in office, so he can leave a better legacy when he dies in the near future.

    All people black and white need to be smart enough to really research all candidates and think deeply about their true motivations for being president. Obama may have the least experience but I truly believe he sees his bid for the White House as something bigger than he. He really will help others because he's devoted his life to bringing people together while Hillary has devoted her life to climbing the political ladder no matter who she has to marry, slander, etc.

    We as a nation have become so complacent that we no longer believe in the American dream ourselves. Why can't Obama be president? This is America. If there is anywhere in the world were he could be president it would be here. If Obama does not win because he's black and not because he's not the best candidate won't that make us a nation of hypocrites. Won't radical Islam and others be right about us -we barge into their countries and try to tell them how to be but in our country a person can't win an election because he's not the right race.

    Hillary is not right about Johnson being the deciding factor in realizing King's dream. We are the deciding factor -we are the one's who must realize King's dream by standing up and fighting for leaders who truly represent us and not lazily leaving our future in the hands of others. It's time for all of us to wake up and continue fighting for not just King's dream but the American dream.

    January 9, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. AJ, IL

    I am disappointed that Obama didn't win New Hampshire, but am happy with the close second place finish. Hillary is not the "Comeback Kid" and didn't pull up an upset no matter what the media claims. Hillary led in the polls over Obama from Feb 2007 to Dec 2007 by an average of 10 to 20 pts. After Obama's win 9pt win over Hillary in Iowa, many of the polls re-tooled and pushed out new polls are soon as possible with only 5 days between Iowa and New Hampshire voting.

    Hillary won over Obama by only 3pts after leading him by 15 pts for much 2007 year. This only proves that the polls won't be as reliable in the past due to the new voters Obama is attracting. Hillary supporters have to thank John Edwards for staying in the Presidential race. Edwards garnered 17% of the vote in which 70% of his support suggested Obama as their second choice. If Edwards would have been out of the New Hampshire race, Obama could have reached 48% with Hillary at 41%.

    The Clinton supporters booed Obama's stance on the Iraq War because Bill Clinton has intentional been distorting (a.k.a. lying) about Obama's public stance. All the mainstream media has already confirmed Obama's position on the Iraq War back when Obama denounced the war back in 2003 before it started. The Democratic base that has been so anti-Iraq war that supports Hillary are continuing to be ignorant of her vote, because Bill Clinton has diverted attention away from it. If anyone is a liar about his position on the war, it is Bill Clinton. Voters in their 30s on up, remember that Bill Clinton has problems telling the truth all the time. This the same guy (President) who went on national television in January of 1998 and told America "I DID NOT HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN!" Then in February of 1999 got on national TV to apologize for lying to America the year before. GIVE ME A BREAK!

    January 9, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. Kate

    America the great has now officially caught up to third world politics!!

    Congo – Laurent Kabila to son Joseph Kabila

    Togo – Gnassingbe Eyadema to son Abass Eyadema

    Pakistan – Benazir Bhutto to Son Bilawal Bhutto

    Syria – Hafez al-Assad to son Bahar al-Assad

    USA – Bush to Clinton to Bush to Clinton ... Congratulations!!!!

    January 9, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. MN

    There seems to be a misunderstanding about the "inconsistency" of Obama on his war funding vote. Troops were sent in. Obama was opposed (if he was in the senate or not it is irrelevant). Once the troops were there, there were 2 options: 1) young men die doing all that they can in the silly war, or 2) young men die defenseless.

    Obama was trying to vote for the least number of American casualties possible. If anything that is humane. He was giving up his self interest end ego, understanding that the war was going on against his will, and trying to help innocent soldiers. Understand the man, and then dig deeper to see what an inconsistency really is.

    He stuck to a moral, not a position. That deserves credit and applause, and my vote.

    January 9, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. GDub

    Funny how the Clintons hammer Obama for his "experience"... that was the same tack the Republicans lost when they failed to defeat a certain governor of Arkansas in 1992. Billy (Bubba) Clinton.

    What "experience" does Hillary have? Coat tail riding? Opportunistic politic-ing?

    January 9, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  19. Damien

    Elly

    I rather hear we can bring about change more so then I will make change or I am change. It might only be me but we, can sounds democratic where as I will sounds like a dictatorship.

    No matter who's the next president is he/she is going to have to work with congress/senate. It wouldn't hurt them to listen to the American people as well since we are the best form of government.

    Personally I will vote for a we over an I anytime.

    Looking at the exit polls people with higher levels of educations voted for Obama.

    Serious!

    January 9, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  20. aisha naeem

    i fully support clintons.it was about time that someone opened their mouth about the media and obama.so if it was her husband who has proved to be a good president and who has turned things around for our nation then be it .i loved it .obama has no experience . i look at candidates and i think, oh obama has GED and hillary has MBA with experience so ofcourse i m gonna vote for more qualified one....... go hillary ............

    January 9, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. Marion

    Who is running for office? Is Bill running again? If Hillary is she needs to step up and not hide behind her husband to defend her. If she needs to hide behind her husband, she needs to find another line of work.

    January 9, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Margarita

    I saw Obama on CNN this morning, this man hardly answered the questions he was being asked, he struggled in his comments. He is a capable man, maybe he is a good talker but that alone is not enough to be President for this country or any other country. He needs to just go away.

    January 9, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. JGM

    If the democrats want the white the best choice is Obama for the following reasons:

    1. The general election is decided by non-aligned voters and Obama wins their support.
    2. Obama has the highest positive rating of all candidates among voter (Dem&Rep)
    3. The Dems need a candidate who is an inspiring speaker (the last one we had was Bill)
    4. Hillary-bashers (many of whom I think are disturbed) are too numerous and won't change

    Tearing Obama down is not the path to the white house.

    January 9, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. Crying, Twisting words& Gender Card

    If the Clintons truly didn't believe that OBAMA ' was against the war, WHY DID THEY WAIT TIL THEY WERE BEHIND IN THE POLLS TO REVEAL IT? Why not point something so important out earlier?

    Why did she wait til she was BEHIND in the POLLS to show her so-called softer side? Crying and such!

    Why did they wait till they were behind in the POLLS to criticize the Media coverage? when she was ahead in POLLS why no mention of media scrutiny?

    It is because it was all a dirty trick? They will do anything to win! And in today's climate the open minded REPUBLICANS AND INDEPENDANTS will never unite behind a TRICKY and DIVISIVE figure like Hillary/CLINTONS.

    Last but not Least why was Bill Clinton parading around the country like he and BUSH Sr. were good ole buddies from way back? Why did George Bush Jr.in November 07 interview suggest that Hillary would win instead of a republican colleague? Why Did Karl Rove suggest it too.

    It seems as though the same powers and backers are behind the BUSH's and Clinton's

    January 9, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    Obama is nice. It is more than "twisting words", but "distortion of Obama's record" and the use of fear and tear. Whether the Clintions are losing the battle, they are losing integrity if they have it before.

    January 9, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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