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. zeita lei

    Obama...Obama...Obama...we wish you God's guidance and we believe in the hope that you have given us. Even in our everyday lives this hope is what is keeping us to be strong to fight life's battles.
    United we stand and divided we fall.
    God Bless America.

    January 9, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Marc, NY

    Hillary's experience edge over Obama consists of four years in the Senate. Considering the historically slim mandate afforded the President, I would have to say the opposition put up by the Democrat's to Bush and Cheney driving us off a cliff would have to rank as perhaps the weakest opposition party performance in our nation's history. Post 9/11 hysteria is not too blame –
    110 Congressional Democrats voted for the war authorization; 147 Congressional Democrats voted against it – 57.2% of Congressional Democrats got it right! Still trying to figure out why any of the 42.8% who voted yes on possibly the worst mistake in our history even warrant consideration for President.

    January 9, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. Big AL

    If Obama wants to insure a victory in S.C. I would suggest that he pretends to cry when the camera's are around. It worked for Hillary, maybe it'l work for him.

    As far as Bill Clinton "Twisting his words", everyone posting a comment here are snickering. You have to admit, slick willy's the best there is at that. He's probably a bit upset that he had to do it, as he's been working his magic or revisionist history on his legacy.
    These 2 have 2-4 positions on every issue. It's just easier for them that way.

    January 9, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Karen

    I absolutely disagree with Linda J.

    Don't go to his website and look at the machine driven, machine polished, machined spin of a candidate. Go to government websites and look at ALL of his votes, not only the ones his machine want you to know about. That's manipulation, not honesty. It's your opinion that counts, not his.

    Don't go to his machines website and get his machines spin on what the current media positions are. Read history books, political literature, and study the issues. There is an abundance of info on the net if you hate books. You can find information on military conflicts involving around the world if you want to understand foreign policy. A two year senator has access to no more information than you. You have a much right (even an obligation) to have your own views on foreign policy. It's your opinion that counts, not his.

    You can go to govt websites and legitimate websites to find out everything you need on Medicare and Social Security policy. It is your opinion on social issues that count, not his.

    Don't rely on ANY candidates website. If you want your country back, it is more than going to a voting booth. Being involved is more than casting a vote.

    January 9, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. Colo

    Barrister/ uhh seems to me like the only people voting for Hillary are feminist...

    January 9, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. GiGiovanna Timor Pascarella

    It is comical to listen to "Obama" claim that he is the answer to the "people's" cry for change. He sounds like a circus tent revivalist mouthing off borrowed words from past preachers and swindlers who have nothing to offer other than those words linked to nothing.
    I cannot believe the American People would be so naive in their desperation for change to consider yet another inexperienced, barely out of diapers politician to lead this country during one of its most challenging periods in history because he is a black, male politician instead of making the simple choice of selecting an experienced, brilliant and strong woman, who by virtue of her gender is already born with abilities that her male counterparts could not even aspire to possess such as courage in the face of aridity and unsurmountable odds, stamina worthy of a Roman Legion, superior communication skills, multi-tasking skills, organizational skills and a tireless will toward diplomacy and peace rather than conflict and war and who has been for decades inspiring her male counterparts with her intelligence and dedication to a job well done.
    We should look to the Cherokee People and other Indian Nations for clues on how to run a peaceful and prosperous nation, who had two Chiefs in every tribe.
    The War Chief, who was a man, and The Peace Chief, who was a woman.

    January 9, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. Erik in NC

    For everyone who keeps asking how Obama plans to effect the change he keeps talking about, go here and read the OBAMA BLUEPRINT FOR CHANGE:


    January 9, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. lorraine

    I am starting to dislike OBAMA – he is too cocky and smooth, so beware of the silver tongue – on the other hand I am still in Hillarys corner and hoping she will keep on in the same manner, gosh by the time we get to the actual elections all this talk will be so boring – why not just say look this is what I stand for and this is how I will act and this is what I promise do, make a recording of them all and leave it in the closet till about a month before the election and take the recordings out and play them once more,,getting sick sick sick sick of so much election coverage on TV but feel I should watch so I can stick up for Hillary.

    January 9, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Yeah Right

    "Bill Clinton was taking some liberties with my statements" is very different from using the word "twisted". CNN, our politics are dirty enough without adding to the mix. Shame on you.

    January 9, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Message from Colorado

    Colie Brice,

    You are very intelligent to name him like that–Bill is a cold-blooded liar.

    January 9, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. rw

    To Scott

    January 9, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. Marie VanDyke Royal Oak Michigan


    January 9, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. joli

    Im a dreaded Paulite. So obviously I was disappointed by the Republican results in NH. Im glad Obama is getting a little taste of what is to come... politics is dirty... duh. If he thinks its hard now whats he going to do against the Rep attack machine. They are going to drag him through the mud. I can already hear it... "Osama I mean Obama" ... "his daddy was a Muslim...GASP" .... His middle name is Hussein...AHAHHHH!"... "He refused to place his hand over his heart during the Pledge!!!!" This along with every vote, every comment, every Dean sound...etc scrutinized over and over again...

    As far as his love affair with being an agent of change ...give me a break. Any candidate running will bring some change...hopefully a positive change.Obama's fan base... from what Ive observed... are like Elvis fans. Some openly admit they just a have a good feeling about him and that they dont know the details of his plans. You know we tried that 8yrs ago... going with the likable candidate that had less experience. The candidate that promises change and assures us that they will unite us not divide us. People who felt that having a beer with a candidate put to rest any questions as to their ability to handle this job. I dont think we need to go down that road again...

    January 9, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Michael

    You go Hillary Clinton! Only CNN would publish the above picture of Bill Clinto waving to the crowds with you and Chelsea...There were so many great pictures of you smiling and thanking the crowd but, one-sided CNN chose the picture above. Thanks again CNN for your bias.

    January 9, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Brian, Austin TX

    you people are flipping out as if he attacked Bill Clinton. All he said was his words got twisted. Which Bill Clinton woulod do... his wife is running for president. I'm telling you though Hillary Clinton's "experience" is b.s., she would be a do nothing president that would get wiped out in 2012, or atleast divide the country further... She would try and have old school Bill try and handle the foreign mess, while she would just be taking up space.... The only real choice for president is Barack Obama...... or John Edwards..

    OBAMA '08!!!!!

    January 9, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. Erik

    So, has anybody realized that the last time the Clintons were in the White House, a certain terrorist group was planning their every move to destroy the US due to its hatred for the United States and its government? Oh, no thats right, they only started planning their attack the day Bush took office. Ya Right.
    I dont know about you, but I certainly do not want to return to that era, ie: the Clintons in the White House.

    January 9, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Kollie

    Hillary Clinton won the N.H. primary alright, she won. But how pathetic does that sound, and how embarrassing? Through out the 2008 presidential race Sen. Clinton has always portray herself as the inevitable candidate among her fellow demoncratic contenders and she had dwelled in such vain personality until the Iowa Caucuses caused a tremendous setback to her campaign a week ago. After the Iowa Caucuses, Sen. Clinton soon realized she was living in a fairyland. And in order to raise her head a little above the bottomless grave in which she saw herself, she had to cry for the N.H. votes. How sorrowful. This is just the beginning, and let us all remember it as we watch Sen. Clinton's demeanor in the months to come and then we will figure out if she cried because she really do love this country or if she did so to draw sympathy from N.H. voters just to get back in the race which was almost over for her. Keep crying Sen. Clinton; you are good.

    January 9, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Barbara Gray

    Who is running for President - Bill or Hillary? or Is Bill the designated ad man to distort the positions of the candidates - in particular Obama.

    I voted for Bill Clinton and I understand he wants his wife to win. I'm surprised somewhat at his actions and making unfair statements regarding Obama.
    I saw Bill Clinton on Charlie Rose's show before the Iowa Caucus. He commented that the country needed to elect someone with experience and specifically mentioned Obama. Clinton was asked, and I paraphrasing here, if he's saying Obama is not qualified or lacks experience. Clinton was somewhat evasive, and commented that he likes the guy, but was simply stating that the country needs someone with experience. Bill after that interview and another comment he made that caused some controversy, became a liability and he disappeared from the radar screen.

    After the Iowa election, he resurfaces in NH. I saw a clip of him in NH the day with the primary meeting with a group of young people. He was having his own little town hall meeting as if he were running for President. He commented that Obama's was not telling the truth about his position on Iraq. Hilary in her tearing display commented that the country would be making a mistake by voting for someone without experience, that voting is not a game and should be taken seriously by the voters, and the right person need to be nominated or there will not be a change. Did the voters in Iowa not take the process seriously? Was she saying that Obama, since he is her greatest threat for the nomination, is not the right person or could not get elected if he received the nomination? At the New Hampshire debate the candidates were discussing energy and she interjected with a comment about Obama's policy on Iraq. He did not get the opportunity to respond. Not to mention Bill's comment about Obama's candidacy being a fairy tale.

    In Oprah's campaigning for Obama, not once did I hear her say anything negative about the other candidates. Her purpose was to introduce the man to the voters and it was done with grace and dignity.

    With the above being said, "What will Bill do or say next about Obama to get votes for his wife? Will this now turn into a negative campaign because Bill wants to be President again? What will he say in Nevada, South Carolina etc. to hopefully pull in the votes?

    I know this is politics, but if one must resort to distorting the truth, if one must pretend emotion to get a vote, if one must put a negative spin on a candidate, - I question the integrity of that candidate running for the highest office in the land?

    Hillary won by a narrow margin in New Hampshire; however, Obama won also because his campaign was won on integrity.

    So you tell me, "Who's the candidate - Bill or Hillary?"

    Barbara Gray

    January 9, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. BAMZS Fan

    Obama admits campaign/ PAC donation links

    Bad 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 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. manny james marietta ga

    Guys,calm down! the Republicans and Independent went back home last nite. In Iowa the conspiracy worked by getting the Repub and Indep to cross over and vote against hillary to make her look bad. The media also played their part by telling the people of Iowa how to beat Hillary. " get the repub, Indep, and everyone in the Hood to turn-out against Hillay.. They tried to do the same thing in New Hamshire but the one man, one vote did them in.. Way to go Hillary. She will win the nomination..

    January 9, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. Tina


    January 9, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. jones...Mpls

    May be we should have South Carolina today for Hillary to win . Big Bill blamed the media for not giving Hillary enough time to recuperate from Iowa fiasco. Hellooo!

    SOUTH CAROLINA here we come. The Truth shall be told. ... All ye Hillary apologists

    January 9, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. Justin

    I think it is hilarious that so many of the Clinton supporters are talking about how they think Obama is whining when all Clinton did after losing Iowa was whine and even cry! Every sentence out of her mouth was just a big self pity party. All Obama was doing was defending himself against false accusations. I would expect ANY candidate to do the same.

    January 9, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Sean

    Until this election, I've never soooo many people go on and on and on so ignorantly about how important experience is! Let's not forget about raw talent, the ability to listen and to think constructively, not to mention the ability to inspire others while being critically decisive. What good is experience without those traits?

    And what experience are people alluding to, exactly? Experience in supporting a political system that is largely responsible for the Middle East instability that brought about 9/11? Yes. What these people who cite Obama's lack of experience are saying is really, "We want the status quo. We want to continue to push American values on the rest of the world BEFORE we even begin to try and understand who it is that we're dealing with. And in our naivete we'll continue to be baffled when the world lashes back at us. Because that is what those with political experience have done up until now."

    Don't get me wrong, experience is an important factor, but if anything, in this case its merits are doubtable at best. As much as Clinton's voice may break, and as much as she may try to say differently, she is firmly entrenched in the old guard mentality and she'll continue right in step with the Bush-Clinton-Bush-(Clinton) program, what with Bill constantly hovering over her shoulder.

    Obama has a much better chance of bringing a fresh perspective to revitalize the U.S. political landscape which has really become the country's great shame as of late.

    January 9, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. From The North

    I have to disagree with the poster that said Hillary is the most divisive in American Politics. GEORGE is most divisive, deadly. arrogant and narcisstic. politician and leader throughout the world.

    He's now on a new path trying to resurrect some fame and glory by rattling the Iran Cages to see if he can stir up the Lions.

    I truly believe he will use any excuse he can find to initiate a war with Iran before he has to leave the WH. And it will be all about saving his face and mustering a bit of glory for the History Books of tomorrow! So I must thank all the Americans who elected this pathethic shell of man as President of your Great Nation not once but Twice! KUDOS

    He may be in for a big surprise this around however. As Putin will not be with him he'll be on the other side and I suspect the other side will have a few more world leaders as well.

    January 9, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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