January 9th, 2008
03:25 PM ET
4 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. barb, seattle WA

    Poor Obama.....is he just now understanding that the Clintons will do and say ANYTHING to win? They are nasty and mean and will try and destroy him, his family and his campaign. Hang in there Obama!

    January 9, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. scott,manchester NH

    mr obama,its really very simple..you may have a lot of good things to say, a great attitude...and on and on and on....
    but the ONE THING that counts MOST at this critical time, is to pick up the pieces of the trail of destruction thats been left..
    and that, im sorry to inform you, REQUIRES A TON OF EXPERIENCE...

    news bulletin: YOU JUST DONT HAVE THAT....

    January 9, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. Bernard Mizrahi

    why is CNN the only network to show a difference of 2% between Hillary and Clinton and Obama? it is clear that CNN and others are trying to influence the race. It was obvious during several debates when some were asked to Hillary only and not to the other candidates ( about the driver's licence in NY for example).
    one more time we can see that Cnn lost the notion of doing information and become one more channel whithout any objectivity.

    January 9, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. LeftyLoosey

    Stop crying already, Bill's been allowed to "takes liberties" whenever he wants, what are you going to do about it??

    January 9, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. richardson supporter

    I would like to know why the media has seem to forgotten the Governor Bill Richardson is also a candidate. The Governor has a very good platform and is down to earth in his message. I think he deserves more respect since he is also dedicating his time and money and effort just as the other candidates are. He doesn't even get to have his concession speeches aired. I think the media needs to give him a chance. The media is not always right. Look at what happened in New Hampshire. Everyone was counting Hillary out. I guess she showed them!
    So I am asking. Please, be respectful; give him the time he deserves. He may not be the front runner but he does have a very strong message. I for one have heard it and believe it...

    January 9, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. jep

    Stil Hilary won, too late to cry over spilt milk. Move on, people. Can't you see and reason? It is a matter of who is will best lead the country and not who is likeable or good orator? Hilary is best suited for the country right now, come Nov'08 and we will all be surprised that she did it again!!!!
    Hilary Girl.

    January 9, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. Florida gal

    This just proves that the only thing Obama has going for him is a smooth, slick tongue. When it comes to direct questions about his past decisions or achievements he gets all fumbled up. He keeps trying to give the answer that he thinks voters want to hear instead of answering truthfully... We put up with that nonsense from Bush, we don't need another president that lies to save face.

    January 9, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. Miki

    There's no need be bitter Obama. In the past, you have been vague about your position on Iraq and its only lately that you have gone with the popular consensus.

    January 9, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. B. Jones

    I think the margin of loss speaks for its self. in my opinion it is not only important to just see who won and who lost, but to also look at how big of a win/loss was it. Oboma won big and lost small, Hillary lost really big and won small. Take it how you want it, but that really doesnt say much for hilary. she needs to do something to change that because in my opinion, that doesn't put her in a position of a confidence boost. She is still scrambling. It took her crying (fake crying) to get attention and angry remarks from her husband to get attention. To me that's LAME.

    Maybe Oboma should let his wife loose on Bill to take verbal jabs and hissy-fits and then maybe he should show a softer whiney side to get votes. what's going to happen if she gets in the White house and people aren't happy???? or if people are angry with her????? is she going to get on CNN and cry again? Is she going to call up other world leaders and Cry "this is not just politics, its personal for me"???? Your personal issues go to the wayside when you are trying to run a group, business, state, government or a COUNTRY!!!!!!!

    Her speeches lack conviction, her posture says "its all about me", her responses are catty and her appearance under pressure can be read like a Dr. Sues book.

    Need I say More????

    questions?

    January 9, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Miki

    There's no need to be bitter Obama. In the past, you have been vague about your position on Iraq and its only lately that you have gone with the popular consensus.

    January 9, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Roger Locklear

    I feel that it was Bill CLintons place to speak up on behalf of his wife because Obama has been twisting her words for months now. If you dont like his methods then maybe you are not cut out to become the President of the United States Mr. Senator. Stop complaning and get to focusing on how you can bounce back from this loss.

    January 9, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. Dumbfounded in Des Moines

    Is this what we now reward?

    Bill twisting Obama's words on Iraq, slamming him and his supporters for living in "fairyland," and Hillary invoking Rovian tactics by trying to scare voters with the Al Qaeda reference yesterday.

    It seems bizarre that with an opportunity to say "enough" to lobbying money in DC, some New Hampshire voters decided to register a "protest" vote against Edwards "piling on" and the mainstream media "daring to tell them who to vote for."

    January 9, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  13. jep

    Jim, you have not heard anyone talk about that because we don't have time to analalyzing that, they didn't win, the dropped out and so why waste time? It is clear she would have still won may be even with a greater percentage if they were not in!
    Hilary '08

    January 9, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. JT

    "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."

    The contradiction is that he promised to vote against funding the war when he ran for Senate and then did it anyway. His vote was not going to defeat funding for our troops so he could have voted no, or he could have abstained similar to his history of voting present in the State Senate. He clearly voted the way he did for political purposes and yet he critcizes others for doing the same. Obama is making his war opposition a key part of his pitch, but he isn't that strong in this area. He is no Kuncinch on this. And there is a reason why, he knew being a Kuncinch could not win him the nomination. He needs to get off the past and talk about the future and tell us why he is best suited to handle Iraq once in office.

    Furthermore, he misrepresents Mrs. Clinton's position on Iraq. She voted to give Bush the authority to use force against Iraq because Bush said he wanted to use that authority to force Sadam to let inspectors in. Mr. Bush misused that authority by rushing to war without making a good faith effort to use the threat of force to engage in effective diplomacy. Voting to give someone the authority to do something is not the same thing as approving of the way they use that authority. If I were to support giving someone a driver's license, I would be giving them the authority to drive a car. That is not equal to me supporting them driving that car off a cliff. Especially if they had promised not to do that. The only person who is responsible for the mess in Iraq is George W Bush. George Washongton once said "...to secure peace,...it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War." The Congress gave George W Bush the tools he needed to secure peace, he choose to use them not to acheive that end, but to recklessly pursue a radical ideological agenda. The Congress did its duty, it was George W Bush who didn't do his. Mr. Obama should stop pandering to the far left by trying to make this vote an issue. In 2004 he didn't feel that this vote in any way should disqualify John Kerry or John Edwards as suitable for office. Now that he is running for President and he stands to benefit from making these attacks he does. He either lied then to help his party, or is dishonestly making an issue of this now for his own gain. Not exactly a new kind of politics.

    January 9, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. Al, Los Angeles, CA

    Jim, thank you. That is the only intelligent analysis I've heard in 4 days.

    Maybe Hillary is the best candidate, maybe not. Her experience is only valuable if you don't want change. Check the figures, she gets more money from the healthcare lobbiests she claims to fight, than anyone save George W Bush.

    She will be a good president, but I think America will have missed out on a chance to unite the country & take power out of the pockets of big business.

    January 9, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Eric U.-Minnesota

    I said this several days ago about Hillary & now I'll say it about Bill–they're sneaky politicians who will do anything to win. Don't trust either of them.

    January 9, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. mike

    Hmmm... you are right? You said iraq war is a bad idea but at all debates you mentioned you opposed it. You mentioned you voted against the iraq war but I just realized that you are a junior senator that took office on 2004 – after the war. I think you are a good orator without any single experience.

    January 9, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. Aaron

    The primary is now getting ugly. It is disappointing that the former President Clinton has to resort to ugliness but what can he do? It's too bad things are the way they are.

    I hope we get an unifying figure for our president, regardless of party.

    January 9, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. BLM

    And despite these things, like the true statesman he is, Mr. Obama remained congratulatory in his manner towards the Clintons, regardless of how much mud they sling in his face. Compared with his methods, the Clintons are petty, trivial, and had a mouthful of "Senator Obama" to say prior to the voting, and a paraphrased version of an Obama speech after the results were in.

    The fact remains that the Clinton campaign is the bitter, dirty, old, inauthentic one.

    Obama needn't say a word at all to look refreshing by comparison.

    January 9, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Independent Voter

    CNN: I know it's a tough topic to talk about, but why is there no discussion about Hillary's constant minimizing of MLK over the past 3 days and saying it was really LBJ who brought about the real change?

    African Americans have infinitely more reason to be outraged this morning than woman did yesterday at the mainstream media playing "Hillary's moment" over and over.

    January 9, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. comput34

    The goal of Obama (and the media is feeding it) is to go up on stages and give these "I have a dream" MLK rip off speeches without ever saying anything. What are your programs- Give details! What are you going to CHANGE and how are you going to do it.

    Only morons fall for these empty pillowcase speeches. He's a politician!!!!!

    January 9, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. The Saint

    Hey CNN! Obama LOST last night, baby! Just maybe the American people - and not you lot - will decide who the next president will be.

    Keep up the Obama lovefest. We are on to you, and the more free fluff pub you give him, the more people will turn on him. You have yourselves to thank for last night.

    I saw David Gergen get visibly upset when someone suggested that Hillary still had a chance the other night. Very unbecoming. I loved Donna Brazille's face last night as the results came in. Priceless, after she talked about Obama's tidal wave.

    By the way: You were off by 12 points on Clinton's support last night in New Hampshire. Try polling someone NOT wearing an Obama t-shirt next time!

    January 9, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Eric

    I can't understand how cnn is reporting New Hampshire as anything other than a tie.

    Clinton and Obama both recieved 9 delagates. This is not a popular vote election... you win by obtaining over half the delegates.

    Additionally, of the super delegates in the state 3 support Obama to the 2 that support Clinton. If anything, Obama won this state.

    Good job CNN on confusing people as to how the political process works.

    January 9, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. margie

    Sour Grapes Obama.
    Hillary beat you and thats that. Your sords were not twisted. I think you will make a good VP (if you play your cards right). BE careful what you say as it may come back to haunt you.
    GO HIL

    January 9, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Carol

    I hate it for you, but when you throw mud, you have to expect to get mud thrown back. Personally, I hate all the mud slinging and negativety that comes with the elections. We want to hear what you can do, not a bunch of twisted facts about your competition.

    January 9, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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