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. Jaik , chicago, IL

    very simple, Bill is a genius. He understands that he is the most popular democrat alive. If he could stir up a rift between himself and Obama, it can only hurt Obama. And if Bill is as good as he seems to be, then maybe the campaign for Hillary is going to be the one to beat the GOP anyway. And i could accept Hillary under those conditions.

    January 9, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. breeves

    Senator Obama was not a Senator when the war started. How does he know how he would have voted. Most of the senators on both sides of the aisle voted for the war.

    January 9, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Kevin in PA

    There's so much I could rant about but I think what sums it up best is that if we keep electing establishment candidates we are bound to keep getting the same results. How many more years of the Clinton's and Bush's do we have to endure before people realize that you can't do the same thing over and over and expect to get a different result. I can see it already....8 years of Hillary and then it will be Jeb Bush's turn for 8 years. Then finally we can have one election before Chelsea is old enough to run!

    ANYBODY but Hillary in 08!

    January 9, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Johnny D.

    This is the beginning of the end for Obama and HE KNOWS IT. He is a nice guy and it certainly was nice for him while it lasted but people know that mere niceness and countless repetitions of vague notions of hope and idealism are not what makes a true leader and agent of change. People are seeing right thru the free pass and uncritical adoration the mainstream media has given Obama. When it comes down to the wire people will recognize and acknowledge that Hillary is a person of substance, with the real leadership abilities this nation needs and wants...and thank goodness for that. GO HILLARY '08!

    January 9, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. Yolanda, SC

    Zebulon Pi January 9, 2008 10:58 am ET

    Tell you what. Hillary gets President, Obama gets Vice President, gets 8 years of experience, gets President for the 8 years after that. We get 16 good years of liberal, peaceful times before the pendulum swings back and we get some evangelical Republican invading some Middle Eastern country for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Cheap Oil.

    Everyone good with that?

    Well said by a real Democrat. This would be anunbeatable ticket.
    HILLARY/BAMA 08

    January 9, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. R Reyes

    Obama seems pouty and a sore loser to me in defeat. Hillary was gracious when she took the blow in Iowa. As the race goes on I am finding her more impressive and him less so. When people get a surge of power they really show their true colors (ask anyone who has seen a coworker suddenly promoted – YIKES – power goes to their head)... Obama showed this, now he's all turned around. He better get used to that feeling.

    I am still really irked by his new campaign slogan YES WE CAN taken directly off the side of George Bush's campaign bus!!! Ewww.

    January 9, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. An Interested Voter

    Silly Sarah Splawn-read Mr. Obama's books if you really want answers.

    January 9, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. agc

    all I can say that OBAMA lost in NH and still continue his loosing streak, unitl primary will finish, coz of OPRAH big no! should OPRAH endorse Hilary becasue is more better than OBAMA.. Good luck HILARY..

    January 9, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. Ed Stack

    Read the article on statements by Obama and also former President Clinton.....seems to me that Mr Obama always looks for an "out".....people who comment on him are always wrong and he is always right according to his statements.......this gentleman turns me completely off........if he wants to be the President of this great christian nation....then I ask him to stop the double talking.....denounce islam and the koran in public......and become a "REAL" american..........the gentleman we know as Barack Oboma is definitely a phoney.....I want the American flag to fly over the White House and not some islamic flag that decries hostility and hate and has definite undertones of racial discrimination and that also goes for our present administration.......this Rice woman who is supposed to be our traveling ambassador is also a "wannabe"..............I truly hope the american people awaken and see all of this smoke being blown at them by people who deal in political nonsense........

    January 9, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. Bruce Taylor

    The Fairy Tale that Bill Clinton so ably spoke of actually describes the pervasive myth surrounding his own administration. The ability to manufacture truth,the lack of probity,were hallmarks. That the Democratic Party,of which I am a member,continues to perpetuate the myth is quite troubling. The 35 years of experience which Senator Clinton offers up is part of the litany. Considering that her only major foreign policy decision was to enable President Bush to proceed headlong into Iraq,it is all quite subversive of the truth.
    It is indeed time for the Democratic Party to embrace its future in the candidacy of Senator Obama rather than its past in Senator Clinton and Mr.Clinton.

    January 9, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  11. B'ham for Hillary

    I believe it is Obama who has taken liberties with words lately. The "reality check" came as Hillary questioned a comment made by Edwards made about a bill that was never signed into law and the truth behind Obama's talk about lobbyists. She did not question the reality of Americans' hopes, dreams, and successes. She believes in the country and all that it can do! As for "false hope," he again takes liberty with her words. It is Obama that is false hope as the person who can lead and change. When all the talking, debating and voting is finished, the new president will have to sit down and deliver on promises. I'm for the person who has the most knowledge of the job at hand and already has specific plans to change America for the better. The hope for our country is alive in Hillary!

    January 9, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. joseph

    Bill want Hilary to be the nominee without continuing the fight, They should just campaign and let the people decide. Two or three states can not decide for the whole US. Who is Bill to say that Obama can't be a good president when he was governor of a tiny state when he became President

    January 9, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. John

    What a fairy tale, how could Ohama say that Bill Clinton is twisting his words. Obama said what he said and he should not try and make excuses. Being arrogant has caught up with him. That is what inexperience gets you. ( correction for comment @ 1:02PM)

    January 9, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. rabblerouser

    What does it matter what Obama said about the war – he wasn't in the senate at the time the vote was taken, but Hillary was. It just supports Hillary's claim that she has experience and he doesn't – she was voting in the Senate – what was he doing then? After all, I voted against the war – in my living room – but who cares?

    If you listen carefully to what Obama says – he tells of things he would have done and will do, but he doesn't say too much of what he HAS done. Isn't anyone listening?

    January 9, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Silver Spring, MD

    I just don't like Ms. Obama at all. Something about him doesn't sit right. As a black woman, I won't vote for him just because he is black, as a woman I won't just vote for Clinton because she is one. What to do, what to do!

    January 9, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. mark

    Twenty years of Bush / Clinton is ENOUGH! This country needs to heal and having Bill back in the White House only prolongs the problems we face.

    January 9, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. Billy in Ohio

    Speaking of spin and real experience. Should the Clinton campain be asked by the media what "behind the desk" experience she has? Having proximity and access to the Oval Office as the first lady is not the same as sitting at the desk but politicians cannot openly say that. At the end of the day both are just senators aren't they? And isn't the "spin factor" of the 90s one of the primary contributing factors to the far right looking like the better choice for the last 8 years? Fresh, honest, non polarizing change and ideas is what the voter turn out seems to imply that we want as a nation. Keep up the heat on all of the candidates.

    January 9, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. tom

    I find it ironic that a former president is involved in mudslinging in order to support his wifes cause. Let's get the facts straight people! The Clinton's did a lot of twisting while Bill was in office! The facts state that Obama is correct in his response and has taken the higher ground on this issue. That alone should prove that he has the poise and experience to be a better candidate.

    On a lighter note, Hillary's tears shed on Monday were not because she believes that she can change, but moreso because she could see her chances of becoming the first female president slip away. Her ego is the main concern of many voters, and asking her to change the way she practices politics is like asking a Zebra to change his stripes. It's not going to happen.

    On to Nevada and South Carolina where she will not enjoy a measely 2 point win. By the way, Obama still retains more delegates from NH even though she won the popular vote. Don't you love the political system we have in place. The popular candidate loses the Electoral College in 2000 and 2004, and in NH the popular candidate still does not receive as many delegates. This is one of the many reasons why voters have chosen the voice of change over the voice of experience. Experience didn't get us anywhere in 2000 or 2004.... it won't get us anywhere now.

    January 9, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Nick

    Bill Clinton is the kind of person that would twist the words of someone because he even tried to twist his own. The Clintons and the Democratic Party can play games if they want but as for me I say no Obama on vote. Obama is the kind of person that we need in the White House. What did Bill do in Washington before he got into office? NOTHING. Therefore being a Washington outsider or being new to the game might be a good thing, it worked for Bill so why does Obama need so much time in Washington for him to be able to do the job. Could it be that as they say a Blackman has to walk an extra mile more than a White one to get the same job.
    I say again and I will spread the word to all I know that no Obama no vote.

    January 9, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. Ren

    Is everyone suggesting that Obama's lack of "political experience" is that he's not underhanded and so deserate to win that he will surrender all notions of propriety and integrity?

    I don't want a President who will sell his soul to get into a position of power. I want to vote for one who is determined to see and comform to the will of the people, and one who has the kind of inspired vision for how the world could be.

    I don't want someone who can sell me a car. I want someone who can Lead this country in the direction we've been so long remiss in pursuing.

    It's all right, people. I know it's a little scary to be voting for a person who isn't the same old thing you've been buying for years. But neither change for the sake of change nor resistance to change out of a fear of change are options.

    Let's save the venom, folks. There's several months til we really know who we'll be able to vote for. Maybe we should try to get there as a group and stop being so childish about our concerns for one candidate or another.

    Honestly.

    January 9, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. james Massachusetts

    On steven cox's comment "he (obama) lost by a landslide" comment...

    what election are you watching. Less than 8000 votes between them is a landslide? Less than a 3% differential is a landslide? This is a special reality.

    Also I am tired of hearing about her experience... While she was wife of a governor and wife of a president? He was a community organizer and state senator.

    Give us a break

    January 9, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Spencer

    Looks like Hillary played the :I'm a woman card: in N.H..

    January 9, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. Brattleboro, VT

    I am really, really scared when I read what people say here against Obama. Let me tell you something: YES WE CAN!!!!! You will be surprised. Keep believing in what the Clintons say. You'll only have your eyes to puor tears in your glasses since you don't want to understand that 2008 is totally different.

    YES WE CAN!

    January 9, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Rebekah

    Oh, the Clinton machine is so contrived & obvious. Desperate? It seems that way to me. What's she gonna do – cry the day before every primary? Why is anyone listening to Bill Clinton? Because of his proven honesty & integrity? Please.

    January 9, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. LISA

    Why not Sen. Obama? Why not someone who inspires and offers hope? After the last 7 years I could use some.

    The second he is elected/inaugurated we improve our standing in the world. No can deny that.

    Sen. Obama has no baggage, Sen. Clinton is all baggage.

    I believe Sen. Obama will pick a Richardson or a Biden as his running mate, and his staff would be bi-partisan and made up of the best of the best.

    Sen. Clinton can not be elected in the general election, not only will republicans come out to vote against her but democrats who dont like her will stay home.

    This is so simple to me, a simple middle class person, why cant anyone see this?

    p.s. if you want to see where Sen. Obama stands on the issues and his plan for trying to implement his ideas, go to his website he has a sixty-four page pdf you can read.

    January 9, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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