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. Chris, Washington, D.C.

    Geez... what's with you people? Is everyone going to clamor that the election is a done deal after every state? This is going to be exhausting. Obama got Iowa, Clinton got New Hampshire, which brings them nearly neck and neck. There's plenty more states to go, everybody, please stop being so quick to believe the Clinton campaign's despicable theme of inevitability.

    January 9, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. CDR

    "THERE IS SOMETHING HAPPENING IN AMERICA!" Since August The Honorable Senator Barack Obama has been gaining increasing momentum. In late December, the Obama campaign closed a huge double digit gap in New Hampshire. On January 3rd, the Obama campaign swept Iowa and on January 8th in New Hampshire, (largely a Clinton stronghold) the Clinton regime escaped defeat only by the skin of there teeth by 2 percentage points but not without deploying very NEGATIVE, UNDERHANDED, and SUSPECT tactics which will surely hunt the Clinton regime.

    Despite the inflated overprojections from most polls days before the NH Primary, CLINTON IS NO COMEBACK . Never place too much stock in polls, particularly when vetted against reason, and it was unreasonable to expect a nearly 40 percent voting difference over a 2 week time frame from previous steady and consistent projections. However, the Obama campaign did make significant large margins of gain. The Obama Campaign drew larger crowds compared to the both Clintons. The Clinton regime, should have coasted through NH but they limped out barely and it is reasonable for every expert to say that Clinton regime is underperforming and some triumphant comeback as the Clinton regime continues to lose ground.

    "THERE IS SOMETHING HAPPENING IN AMERICA!" and it is can be simply put that the Clinton regime is losing votes and the Barack Obama Campaign is gaining votes and delegates. CHANGE is on the Horizon and "Yes ,we can be the CHANGE we want to see in the World when we BELIVE and VOTE for Barack OBAMA (A Champion for the people and the PEOPLES CHAMP!)

    OBAMA '08


    January 9, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. confused

    Who exactly is running for president, Bill or Hillary?

    If Hillary is running, why is Bill slinging mud at the candidates, and questioning the
    candidates...shouldn't Hillary be speaking for herself, it seems that Bill talks loudest of the two...if Hillary "found her voice" was it in Bill?

    Why does Bill Clinton get so much press coverage? isn't there a rule about
    equal press coverage for the candidates in the media? All I saw yesterday
    afternoon was Bill angerly pointing fingers at the media and slinging mud at
    Edwards and Obama (and appearing to look desperate) with no media effort to
    give equal time to others for a response. The media frenzy and mudslinging
    probably gave Hillary a few extra points along with the staged Boo-Ho moment
    since the trash talking probably scared others away from some candidates.

    January 9, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Christian, Tampa FL

    I truly, truly hope that the nominee wins not through negative campaigning and personal jabs, but rather through civil dialog and a continued passion for an end to the partisan division and fear of a scheming president that has been around for decades.

    Whether it is Obama or Clinton, let us all seek to make this process and this election one of change and political reconciliation.

    January 9, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. Brett

    A vote for Hillary is a vote for polarity. She is more polarizing to this country than Bush. I guarantee you that congress will return to the republicans two years after her election.. if she wins. I've met many who hate her. And it is not her fault.. but she will hurt America.

    Obama runs clean.. as clean as he can and will work to unite the country and the world again. Clinton's experience is not what we need.

    January 9, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. Richard

    Hillary is still in alot of trouble!! Obama closed a 20 point gap to 3 points in 3 weeks. It's obvious that Hillary's show of emotion made women voters dash to her side at the last minute to save her. That's not being sexist or anything, I just think it's the facts!! I could easily vote for either Obama or Clinton. Being younger though, I prefer Obama. But if Clinton is the nominee, I will wholeheartedly support her. Clinton pulling it out cannot be explained away in any other way, but that the emotional episode helped her. By the way, I really don't think it was staged. Clinton still has alot of work to do. Folks memory of the cry will fade quickly, but Obama remains a very formidable candidate and will probably take Nev. and S.C., which leads to a showdown on Super Tuesday. If I were in the Obama camp, I would be putting tremendous pressure on Edwards to drop out after he (Obama) beats him in S.C.. I think most of Edwards' support would go to Obama. What do you think??

    January 9, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. john L Cerrato, Rockville Centre, NY

    Obama was not in the Senate at the time the vote was taken. To say , from a distance, that the war with Iraq was a bad idea is not an anti-war position. Jillary thought at the time it was a bad idea too, but gave President Bush the benefit of the doubt. As did 72 other Senators. It was Bush who pulled the trigger on the war not Hillary.

    Obama's inspirational message is better suited from a pulpit in a church. It is not what we need in a President of the U.S. When he is asked to translate his message to what he would do on certain issues, he's not very different from Hillary. The difference is he HAS NO EXPERIENCE IN FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC ISSUES. THAT'S RIGHT, AT THE END OF THE DAY, HE HAS NO RESUME FOR THE JOB. I REST MY CASE, JOHN L CERRATO

    January 9, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. Bill W - PA

    4 years ago, we had a scandal with voting machines. DIEBOLD manfactured the machines. The CEO of DIEBOLD was a huge Bush supporter, and stated publicly that he "guaranteed" George Bush the election. It has been proven repeatedly that these machines can be easily rigged. Yet 4 years has gone by, and here we are again. What has been done? NOTHING. No investigation, not even a government study. Are you sure your vote counts????

    January 9, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  9. Jane Buchanan, Dallas, Texas

    Bill Clinton will do or say anything. He could never tell the truth. He is a sad person, one who will attack on his wife's behalf. Her crying was staged, that woman would not know how to cry. They both are pathetic. I feel sure the country will see that in the coming months.

    January 9, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Arthur

    How convenient that we neglect to factor who is actually commenting on either of the candidates. Yes Senator Obama is under experienced, but represents a new generation of voters. Yes, Senator Clinton is a perhaps intimidating character along side her husband, yet both are good candidates for this race to the White House. If you are a republican and wish to slander the Clinton's or Obama, more power to you, but please do it elsewhere. If you are a supporter of either candidate, yes please state your support, but done lace your words with menace.

    What we really need to hear are those independents, those who will decide the vote in '08. Moreover, we need the facts on the voting records of both candidates, without the subjectivity of partisan candidates, and people manipulating others words...Clinton. Yet, we also need candidates who won't complain on the way politics is done...Obama...this is politics after all.

    For those who think that either Clinton or Obama is tainted by lobbyist groups and special interests, in fact they both are, you just haven't seen the documents.

    When you consider your candidate this coming fall, remember, credentials and potential, nothing more and nothing less.

    You may criticize them for what they do now, what they did then, but consider more, what they will do for our future.


    January 9, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. JoeBrown

    Obama just got called out by Clinton by playing politics with the war. His own words prove it. I'm an independent, and I will surely vote for Hillary before Obama.

    January 9, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. jean

    Iran is saying the incident with our Naval ships was fabricated. Clinton haters are saying Hillary faked the show of emotion. It's big news to seek out the woman who asked the question that generated the tears, that maybe caused the polls, the pundits and media to be wrong and what they found out was the woman respects Clinton but voted for Obama. Yep this is bound to be "the tear heard round the world". If Clinton wasn't as strong a woman as she is she would have broke down long ago with all the negative and mean hits she has had to endure. Ever hear of talk radio's "Stop Hillary Express?" New Hampshire voters decided to think for themselves. That's what we all need to do. Keep trying to determine who the best candidate is and vote for that person regardless of race, gender or party. Listen to talk radio today, are they going to be talking about the current issues, especially the one currently with Iran or is it more important to bring up the Clinton's and imply that any display of real human feelings is fabricated? Cheers to Lou Dobbs, no he isn't for Hillary – but he at least was early to acknowledge that he felt her emotion was real.

    January 9, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. John, Virginia

    There are a lot of racists up in New England. Bill Clinton is just lighting the fire.

    January 9, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Obama finally exposed

    Now, Obama admits campaign/PAC donation linksBad news for the Barack Obama camp and his politics of hope clean-guy image.The Washington Post reveals today that there was, indeed, close coordination between the Illinois senator's presidential campaign and his leadership PAC, Hopefund, in deciding which local, state and federal politicians around the country were to receive thousands of dollars in contributions from Obama's PAC.Such coordination appears to be forbidden under Federal Election Commission rules because it, in effect, would give a candidate another, less regulated financial fund to influence the outcome of his own campaign. But Obama officials express confidence they violated no rules. The Post's John Solomon reported the other day that Obama's Hopefund had distributed money in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire to people like New Hampshire state Sen. Jacayln Cilley, who got $1,000 from Obama last summer. Six days later the Democrat in the nation's first primary state announced her endorsement of his candidacy because she said she believed in him.Likewise, Obama's PAC gave $9,000 to U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, who was New Hampshire's first congressional member to endorse Obama. In the earlier story Obama spokesmen denied any connection between the PAC and Democratic presidential campaign.But today's piece alters that account and says the PAC has distributed $180,000 to groups and candidates in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa and another $150,000 to similar destinations in states with primary balloting through mid-February.Bob Bauer, private counsel for both Obama's campaign and PAC, named names of those from the campaign who'd help select the PAC's recipients and professed confidence the Obama entities had met all FEC regulations.But Scott Thomas, a Democrat and former FEC chairman, says: "He is clearly pushing the envelope."

    January 9, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. HolliA

    I am a woman. Voting for a woman just because she is a woman is incomprehensible! As Democrats we should select the best candidate. A candidate that will help heal this country, strengthen our connection with the world, reach across party lines. People should stop listening to the hype and actually research the candidates. Then all the Hillary backers would see she is nothing but smoke and mirrors created by the media.

    January 9, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Lisa Hampton

    The divisive politics of the Clintons will divide the democratic party and hand the republicans the white house. If she is the nominee, i will vote for republican for the first time in my life.

    January 9, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. Jennifer, New York


    January 9, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. Dan

    This is why Bill was/is a brilliant politician. Make false/misleading statements to your opponents strongest base without leaving your opponent enough time before the vote to respond. Desperate time called for desparate messure and it worked. I, for one, find these politics deplorable and embrace the change in the way things are done that Obama exudes.

    "Fools learn from experience. The wise learn from the experience of others." Otto von Bismark.

    January 9, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Mati

    This guy didn't vote against the war. He wasn't there!! He gave a speech God knows where like so many activists, and we know he gives good speeches, in which he said war is not good. We have NO IDEA how he would vote if he was in the Senate, so whatever he said from the margins, doesn't really count. In many other situations in the Senate he missed the vote or voted Present without taking a stand. Of course, next he voted for funding to support the troops. Did he try to pass any bill or something opposing vehemently the war in the Senate? He had a couple of years when he could do it. Sorry, there is no twisting words by Bill Clinton, he just exposed the sequence of events followed by Obama.

    If Clinton interpreted this as quite inconsistent, its his opinion. I happen to agree, other may think differently. I am not sure the term "twist my words" even applies here. This is about Obama's behavior not words.

    January 9, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. MN

    sara splawn...

    his parentage? his religion? oh, because THOSE are real issues. If that's what makes you decide about Obama, that's unfortunate. God forbid we elect someone with a Muslim father and step-father. That would be as treasonous as electing...a woman?! NOT a legitimate question. Question his positions? yes...his parentage? read his book.

    January 9, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Susan

    Slick Willie ....zip your mouth

    January 9, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. dd

    'sea' to 'shiny' sea, 'yes we can', blah blah blah and more blah, blah, blah. Obama, yes you are a great orator but you do not have what it takes to become president. GO HILIARY GO!!!!

    January 9, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Becky

    Will everyone just calm down, puuhleeeze? Just a few thoughts here... during the Saturday (ABC) Democratic debate, Hillary's overdone, over-defensive anger started a classic Clintonian strategy with so few days left before the N.H. primary.

    Next, change the scene – in a diner at a table with a very small group of women – notice the softer and more subtle lighting, Hillary is already leaning forward into the table when the woman asks, "How are you doing?" Pan in... closer camera shot... and the "cracked voice" and the "teary-eyed" Hillary does not answer the woman's question in earnest – she said "the opportunities.....doesn't want to see our country..." As a woman, if I have lost my emotional composure just a bit, one can actually see tears welling in my eyes and there is some redness and a few of those tears actually roll over my bottom eyelid onto my cheeks. And, my voice doesn't sound like I am trying to sound like I have a sore throat when I make a call to cancel my dentist appointment.

    Next scene change – former United States President and husband of Democratic candidate, Hillary, is on the stage at a rally spitting anger, losing control, and name calling like a spoiled brat who needs to be put on The Nanny's naughty mat ! Hardly the decorum I expect to see from a former U.S. President and the husband of the Senator from New York running for their party's nomination – not to mention the embarassment former President Clinton created for our country in the eyes of the rest of the world.

    Fast forward, scene change – Hillary's celebratory speech last night... now she is on the stage without Bill and Chelsea... they do not even approach the steps to the stage until she motions for them to come up... they are on stage only seconds to say they are proud of her and swiftly go back down the steps to their places in the audience.

    Really, how stupid do they think we are? Just watch for more of the same.

    We are beginning to hear some populist conversation from Obama and Edwards – thank you gentlemen! Let us hear more and let's drill down to the problems we face as a country, why we are facing these problems – this must be discussed so we do not allow the same mistakes to be made again, and please present a very specific and measurable plan on how we will solve them in a bipartisan manner !

    Yes, I am an Independent Populist and I agree with Lou Dobbs – this contest has just begun. I don't know if the candidate who will raise the conversation and debate to this level is even in front of us yet – maybe so, maybe not. But, unless and until, I hear specificity regarding our country's problems and the specificity of a plan to solve these problems, my horse is still in the barn and it will stay there until such a candidate comes forth!

    January 9, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. sukkee

    As a guy wants anybody but Hillary, I think Obama seems too slow on counterattacking Willie's twist. Afterall, Obama might be not that smart as much as I think.

    Though his high-road tactics on campaign look elegant, elegancy won't bring "dough" similar to golf analogy – "driver is for show, putting is for dough."

    Mr. Obama, wake up to face reality and remember most of American voters don't read NY Times. You should fight back all the snakes right away! If not, you'll be end up a dimwit loser. The end of story forever.

    January 9, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. steven cox


    January 9, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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