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. carol

    Obama actually did respond to Bill's comments before the election, calling him out on leaving out the other parts of his comments. Bill took part of the Obama's interview during the last democratic convention out of context to make it appear that Obama supported the war.

    He's a dishonest, two-faced person and I'm a Democrat, I wouldn't support him or his wife at this point. I'm also African-American and if she's nominated, you can count me as a no-vote. No to Hillary and No to any Republican.

    January 9, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. David, Gilbert Arizona

    This has become pretty comical I must say. The front running democratic candidates either break down and cry or whine about having their words twisted. Now the supporters on either side are throwing insults at each other.

    New Hampshire was a virtual democratic tie people. Own it. Obama and Clinton both received 9 delegates. All of this "We won and you lost so shut up" junk does not make either of your democratic candidates look good.

    As a favor to me, nominate Hillary Clinton PLEASE. She is so hated by republicans she won't receive a single cross-over vote. She is just as polarizing as Bush is. Hillary almost assures a republican president so please please please nominate her.

    January 9, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. B

    Now everyone is back on this experience kick and saying Obama doesn't have enough. Who does? Are we quick to forget that Bill was a governor and had no foreign policy experience nor presidential, what about reagan..what experience did he have, let alone Bush? But also have we forgot Bill got impeached for his deeds. Not this MAN of a president. Are we quick to forget how he cleverly tried to get out of that one? He actually questioned the definition of sex. Just look it up but he is a leader? Hilary is status quo and those that vote for her have nothing more to say but experience. Where is hers? If any of you have any education and use the tools that are afforded us, you will see that her so called experience is non-existent. Being a wife of a president doesn't allow you decision making abilities nor make you privy to world affairs. She wasn't even aware of Billy's "bopper" in the white house...how did she spend time learning about the oval office. Seems she was never there. She even said that if she were president Bill would not sit in on meetings because being the spouse doesn't afford you that. She said that! Kinda shoots your story right in the foot. I would like a president who doesn't have short term memory loss. So why do we believe that she has this white house experience? I think a lot of you so called political scholars are just watered down spoon fed scholars that drop pre-stated lies. I guess that is why many of you believed Bill's fiery speech filled with fear.

    As for the media going easy on Obama, if you believe that you are truly lacking. and it proves my point that you only know what you are spoon fed. Does anyone remember the not black enough issue, the Iraq vote issue that many are still resurecting today ( geesh..he's explained that too many times...would you like me to recite it?, the experience issue, the muslim issue, the undercover alqueda operative thing, and the list goes on. What have they said about Mrs. Clinton that she hasn't brought about herself. Changing her stance on illegal driver's licenses, her stance on the war, funding the war, why she is running? She gets battered in debates because she is another Bush. Someone that can't think for themselves and just wants the job for legacy. I am surprised no one has grilled her on that acting job she did with the fake tears. You all talk about experience and so forth but I would rather have a youthful dreamer than a strong crier.

    January 9, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Nick A

    I think Sara and Ivan have it exactly right. Examine Sen. Obama's record. Anyone following his entire career in politics will see Obama's new found "new politics" meme is something the Senator has recently and conveniently come to embrace. Obama was old school politics as recently as 2006. Note his endorsement of political machine hack Todd Stroger to become Cook County Board president. Stroger proposed a 2% hike in the sales tax, a tax that disproportionatly hurts the poor. First of all, why is a sitting Senator mucking around in local politics? Second, why would would he endorse this old school candidate over another who vowed to clean up the legendary Cook County patronage system? There are other events in Obama's past political life that should be addressed before he is declared the Democratic Party's standeard bearer. If he is not sufficiently vetted in the primaries, the republicans will have a field day with him.

    January 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. me

    When someone stands on the sidelines, and isn't in the trenches, they can say whatever they want to say! Decissions on the war in Iraq were made on the facts at the time that were presented to the Senate, turns out they were a lie, but those who had to vote did so on what was factual at the time!
    What has been done in the way of action when in a position of ability to act, such as Obama has had since becoming a Senator in '06 speaks more that sideline preaching! And since being in a position of action, what actions have validated the sideline preaching?

    Obama stated if elected to the Senate, he stated to serve his entire mandate for his constituants fully and not run for President – Failed!

    Obama on the last 300 bills before the Senate voted on barely 50% of them and only either wasn't present of stated only "Present" for the rest – Failed!

    Obama stated no lobbiests control his campaign, yet a campaign Co-Chairman is a lobbiest – Failed!

    Obama talks of Uniting, yet during the NH debates when on the topic of likeability was discussed, he doesn't raise his head from doodling when telling Clinton she is "likeable enough", how is that Uniting – Failed

    Obama during the debates watched football over what the Republicans were saying in their debates, unable to respond to questions posed on what the opposition has said – Failed

    Obama campaign played "signed sealed and delivered as the entrance of Obama at last nights address to NH voters after elections – Failed

    The one thing last night proved to every candidate should be "there are no free rides," defend your position with "facts and actions" and make a case for the Presidency on more than preaching or likeability as that happened 7 years ago and look at the failures that brought to the White House!
    Talking has now proven cheap and the media had better tow its line going forward and end their past ways of being followers and folling the public for ratings sake and start being reports on everything and not just the fluff stuff!

    January 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. Bahamapapa

    I got my FACTS Bahamamama i don't hate Obama like you hate Hillary but you did NOT do your Homework pay attention.
    Here are the FACTS in IOWA

    Obama 16 Delegates
    Clinton 15 Delegates

    In N.H
    Obama 9
    Clinton 9

    Total Delegates so far for DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOMINATION,including superdelegates.
    183 CLINTON
    78 OBAMA

    Hillary is doing fine.
    You want some conch salad now Mama.

    Your right Bahamamama Obama is a gifted speaker i wish him well, but when it comes to FACTS , POLICIES, and TRACK RECORD Clinton beats him by a MILE.

    GO HILLARY!! Well Done!!!

    January 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. NY_Naydean

    Poor little Obama unable to stand up to someone your own size. Although I am an African American I refuse to vote for Obama because he lacks the necessary experience to run this country. Thats what happen seven years ago we elected George W. Bush with little and no experience and look at the developments since. Obama speech last night was more suited for someone addressing the NAACP. Why are we kidding ourselves America electing an African American President.

    January 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. Dave; Battle Creek Mich

    MiddleAmerica: You Posted “All I will say is Hillary will not be the first female president because I'm pretty sure Edwards and Obama supporters will not vote for her"
    Great – I guess it's better to stomp your feet, act like a two year old and have another Republican in the White House than vote for Hillary if your candidate doesn’t win. I might suggest that you throw your tantrum if your candidate doesn’t win, but speak for yourself. I’m quite sure that you don’t speak for all Obama and Edwards supporters. All of them can’t be quite so juvenile. I sure hope Obama doesn’t win because I really think that he has nothing to offer except for lip service, but if he wins my party’s nomination, I’ll vote for him. Any Democrat has got to be better than any Republican.

    January 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. Beth Hefta

    I can truthfully say that as a newly minted democrate as of yesterday, the only reason that I changed my affiliation is because of Obama. If the nomination goes to Clinton, than my vote will go Republican. And in reference to some of the previous comments: with all the votes that have occured in Congress on the Iraq War, it seems slightly presumtuous to claim that Obama has not had his foot in the door. On a personal note, as a person who has a brother serving his country in the military...I would prefer his life be in the hands of a Commander in Chief that one can actually believe is telling the truth and will do everything in their power to protect and help the American people.

    January 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. concerned citizen, Mesa, Arizona

    This race has just begun. In every election someone complains that they have been misquoted. Yes people it happens to everyone. Having said that I am really tired of hearing that Obama was against the war from the beginning. Well so was I but what does that matter. It is done now we have to deal with it. Bush did miss use the vote from congress to go to war so put the blame on where it rightfully should go. All voters need to go to the candidate that they feel best represents their beliefs. But to personally attack the other oppents like the Obama supporters have done to Hillary just shows ignorance. As far I can see they are all good people and love this country. They just have different ideas on how to lead this country out of the mess we are in. So make an informed decision on who to vote for, show support but no need to get nasty about other candidates.

    January 9, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Nancy

    Keep the faith, Obama. There's plenty of time for people to get over their amnesia about who Hillary really is. She can't really expect to cry in every state and win, can she? Oh, and nobody's strategy on Iraq is really all that different in the Democratic party. Though Hillary likes to mince words and come up with something new every time she's asked about it. Obama's strategy can be the same as Hillary's strategy on removal, since she's had about a dozen of them.

    Obama '08

    January 9, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. Jason, Baltimore MD

    As a young educated Black man, I find that the propaganda behind Barack Obama to be quite insulting. I refuse to vote for someone who voted "Present" on 79 major issues involving this country touting sermonic prose about "Change." How about you be the change that you want to see? I am actually quite embarassed by the actions of most of my peers of ebony hue. The media is seizing on the stereotype that Blacks don't read in order to plant a weak inexperienced person in the White House that will get steam rolled. I for one am a registered Democrat but stand moreso as an independent b/c I focus on the issues. When the primary comes to the state of MD, I have no idea on how I will vote as of yet, but I would prefer to hear about the issues. Barack, my brother, though we are both Christians, we differ strongly on the moral issues (abortion and gay rights). I was actually willing to give you a listen, but you have failed to state a plan for change. In my honest opinion, I feel that a vote for Barack is throwing away your vote for a change in American politics. Folks, PLEASE, do your homework before you get swept into a growing fad.

    January 9, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. JB Boston MA

    When are people going to realize the CLintons are scum of the earth. Yesterday Bill Clinton started crying about the election process because he thought she was going to lose. She FAKE cried because her handlers told her she was too mean on Saturday night. They all started looking to change up their internal people because they thought they were gonna lose. And a new Hillary 5.0 was coming out which was going to attack Obama.

    This family will do and say anything to get power. WAKE UP PEOPLE. This is exactly what is wrong with politics. Instead of them wanting to help the country, they get off on the power.

    Almost all of her money has come from PACs. Those PACs are going to come calling on her if she is elected. God forbid!!!!

    She is a divider. 47% of voters dislike her!!! She will lose to McCain hands down. If you want a dem in the WH, vote for Barack!!!

    January 9, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. Jane, Cherry Hill, NJ

    If someone would just view and display on YouTube the PBS interview with Obama on the program "PUblic Affairs" the debate of this issue would be over. The interview was taped before we went into Iraq as the drumbeat was sounding. Obama accurately predicted the consequences. Looking back at that interview now, his predictions match the daily news out of Iraq - absolutely prescient!

    January 9, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. Jennifer

    New Hampshire voters – you're the best! Poor Obama – he has gone around slandering Hillary Clinton, and now he is crying poor me – well, everyone had better take a long, hard look at him. Yes, he gives inspirational speeches, but Hillary has been voted into the Senate twice and has served on the Armed Services Committee. She has done a lot for our veterans. She is respected, and works both sides of the aisle....John Edwards, I'm sure is a nice man, but he's another one – blah, blah, blah – I believe he is genuine, but he can't win and he also slandered Hillary – and it backfired on him. The last point I would like to make is that Obama WAS NOT in the Senate when the Iraq vote was taken so he is disingenuous about calling Hillary out on that – twist words? You've done the same thing, Obama – and Bill Clinton was right. If you listen to Obama, he makes great speeches, but he does not say how he will fix our mess of an economy – that's our biggest problem, and it is a number one national security problem – if we go down the toilet economically, we've had it. Pay attention people!

    January 9, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. lcb

    All I want to know is where does he stand on any issue. Change is good, but what does he want to change?...All I hear is how inspiring and refreshing he is...I seem to recall that those were the same words used to describe Bush and look what we got. He has no position on anything as far as I can see, hear, and read...so why is he whining about his words being distorted? Can someone, anyone tell me what this man stands for?

    January 9, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. glenda

    I hope Mrs. Clinton gets an oscar nomination for that crying show she put on national tv. And to Obama, keep on fighting.....and if at the end of the day you don't succeed, you can rest assured that you tried your best.
    I used to be a Clinton supporter until I heard him say that the media has Obama living a fairytale.......what he really mean to say is "for a black man to be president of the united states, it has to be a fairytale" because no where in their reality would Hillary Clinton be beaten by a black man.......Also they talk about Obama lacking experience........Yes, he lacks experience in lying to people, taking money from lobbyist and most of all running around in the white house cheating on his wife.........this is where his lack of experience comes in because apparently these are the qualities you need to become president........

    So as a woman, I lift my hat's off to you Obama!

    January 9, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. Lisa

    Congrats to Hillary!!!!! Well deserved and very much needed. She needs to stay on message and not let anyone frame her as anything other than a very qualified, experienced person who will be a unifying president from day one. Obama people need to get their spin stories straight when they try to say Hillary supported LBJ more than MLK. She went to MLK committee mtgs while in college and attended his rallies. She was around and actually heard from MLK himself, supported his movement and moarned his loss as a "great loss" for the country. People need to actually look up some of her "experience" as she has done a great deal for the middle class, the those who are voiceless and will continue to do more for us than anyone else.

    January 9, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Murdock

    My feeling is that Obama is running for president because he feels that it's an easy run for a democrat to win. So why not run! I am still not sure what his qualifications for becoming president are. I have lived through several presidential elections and the issues that the new president will have to deal with is unprecedent. We need a president who has balls! And I believe Hillary has the experience and the balls to do the job. Stop trying to sweet talk me into thinking you're sooooo cool and different. Bin-Laden and al-queda don't care.

    January 9, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Frank D

    Advice to hopfuls: (1)Respond very fast to every accusation leveled againt you. (2)Speak out repeatedly so that people will know the truth in that position. (3) Don't expect that people already know that the accusation is false, few people knows the truth, a lot just believe what they are told if it is said with some emotion, that is why lies thrives and succeeds in elections.

    January 9, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Bob, Seattle

    $2 bills.

    Had nothing to do with Obama.

    Bill O'Reilly gave Hilliary and unexpected major uplift by presenting her with an unforcasted opportunity to handle him with deportment at a campaign event the day prior to the vote.

    Bill Clinton gave a vintage 'righteous indignation' speech attacking Obama with Irag, also the day prior to the vote.

    Neither the polls nor the pundits gave due credit to these two events.

    Dems love gool 'ol Hill-Billy and they hage O'Reilly.

    This is your answer for NH.

    January 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Scared for our country

    People, educate yourselves! Please do not vote for someone just because they are a good public speaker. There are many other news sources out there, please get all the facts.

    I for one would like to see Senator Obama make a "Change". If Mr. Obama talks "togetherness" he should encourage the church that he belongs too to change their vision to be inclusive of ALL people. Google Trinity United Church of Christ and read the about us sectoin. Then maybe encourage Mr. Obama to attend a church that is Unashamedly AMERICAN!

    January 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. maggie,PA

    Boo hoo..Obama's people are peeved that he's not ahead! Get over yourselves. At least we could agree that things are better with democrats running the government! Boo hiss to the republican machine, it's sympathyzers and people who vote for someone with no proven track record! We're giving the CNN people and media what they want...rumors to spread and pot shots to dig into our political choice as president. Whatch your words people!

    January 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. George

    I was driving down the freeway on my way to work one day, with nothing particular on my mind. I started thinking about the way things are, the political climate and also the climate of the nation as a whole.

    Well let me begin with the hatred that that is shown toward African American, though nothing new but still, our forefathers fought for freedom, equality, and acceptance. As we marched through those thresholds, and started feeling like we were actually a part of this great nation, again and again we are slapped down. I don’t really have to go too far to find events that support my view.

    We can start with such recent events like the Jena 6 case, the young man in Atlanta, Ga. (Genaro Wilson), and the young lady in Virginia who was held captive, tortured, and sexually abused. And what is up with the nooses? Nooses everywhere, even a main street company like Jack in the Box has a commercial depicting the use of nooses. I personally think that the Republican Party is the reason for the sudden rise in this type of hatred being shown, they show this type of separating of people and the freedom to express this hatred.

    Just think in the year 2000 we had the opportunity not to go in this direction, but through scandals, cheating, and a bias Supreme Court, things has changed, or has it really?
    Remember back in 2000 after the election mess, there was a hearing in the halls of Congress and all we needed was 1 vote from a Senator to appeal the result of the election 1 vote mind you. Not 1 Senator would lend support to the efforts of the Congressional Black Caucus, not Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden, or Chris Dodd and today these are part of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls. So really with these same people in these positions and we couldn’t get not one to see our view where is the difference. I remember President Clinton made a statement to the Congressional Black Caucus “when they (the Republican) put fire to my tail, you came with the buckets of water to put it out “. I see loyalty, and what did we get for that loyalty? Another disappointment, just angry Black Folks but they will get over it again. We looked so high at President Bill Clinton as if he was one of our own, but come to think about it the Voters Right Act is still an Act and not a Law, and he cared so much for Black Folks, to be truthful NAFTA isn’t good for Black Folks, the increased trading with China isn’t good for Black Folks or any American. Do anyone remember the motto made in the good old US of A, and love that Union Label, well my friends when we look at our poor brothers and sisters standing homeless and at the lowest levels of poverty remember NAFTA, and China.

    So this is my cry for change, this is my cry for Senator Barack Obama. We want change, and here he is, wanting to be the change we cry for.

    George in Seattle

    January 9, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. CK

    I second to Gbryant 's comment.

    I will too stay home, if Obama is nominated by people clearly can't think by themselves and vote for some dude with stupid peer pressure.

    January 9, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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