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. Anonymous

    My memory of the Bill Clinton administration is a lot of compromised promises and a lack of commitment to ideals. I worry that when HRC says she wants to bring the troops home, that she is not really as committed and sincere as the other Dem candidates. Are we going to hear "If I knew then what I know now" and be jerked around for four more years, while our troops remain in harms way in Iraq? At least with McCain it is WYSIWYG but with Hillary isn't it GIGO? Also, the Clintons are so willing to role over to corporate interests and to make deals with them. Isn't Edwards correct about universal healthcare, when hes says we need to slap down the insurance companies so that there is a level playing field so that we can really revamp the system properly? Wasn't it Bill and Hill who were so gungho about NAFTA and now that our jobs are evaporating (as predicted by Ross Perot) Hillary is parroting her "If I knew then what I know now" mantra. I think people are not familiar with Barak Obama so that frightens them, but I still believe he would really bring some honesty and integrity to the office of the Presidency. My experience with the Clintons is that they do not deliver their promises, they do not stand by their ideals or even their supposed friends (remember Lani Guinier?) and that they really say whatever is polically expediant and go whichever way the wind blows, that is why HRC gave the OK to Bush to preempt a war in Iraq in the first place – she was playing to the "mood" of the country. I am concerned and worried. I think Bill really wants to get back to the WH and will use all of his considerable persuasion skills to get HRC elected. But let us not forget, that the reason Bil was so detested by the right, was not his politicks as much as the fact that he would seduce them with handshake promises he did not keep. The Clintons were and are still polarizing and we need to have a new beginning and national unity for our country to move ahead. And, I am sure, no future Dem administration will deny Hillary her moment in the sun, when it comes to healthcare policy.

    January 9, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. Jayne Chapman - Boca Raton, Florida

    Two things.
    First, at the beginning of this lousy illegal war, once we had troops in the field, all of us, for and against , the war had to stand united – there wasn't much choice. Obama has always expressed his opposition to this war – remember, when funding bills are put together there are things in them that if you vote against the bill you are always hurting someone. So, you have to weigh your opposition to what you want the soldiers in the field to have. Obama, being a moral man, always went the moral road.
    2) I strongly encourage everyone to read Adrianna Huffington's 1/7 post: Portrait in Cynicism: Hillary Attacks Obama from Every Angle" – it is stunning what you will learn about the garbage that went on the days before the primary. I always admired her until recently – I'm sorry, you can't just do and say ANYTHING in order to get elected – you should retain your moral authority – Obama has done this – he sticks to the issues and the facts – always! The only thing I will have to think about if Clinton gets the nomination is the Supreme Court – I know I won't be able to vote against her because of that – the only question will be if I can hold my nose and cast a vote for her – as a woman I am truly ashamed of what she and her team stooped to.

    January 9, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. L.G

    Bill acted as a republican. He thinks after him and his wife nobody
    else at the democratic party can be president. They think they are the only family with right to be president. No other are qualified for them. After me is you and
    nobody else. It's sad for democrat. there is no progress, no hope for other. I hope
    people will give a chance to Obama for a real Change. Go Obama.

    January 9, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. Sharon

    Obama is such a WHINER! When he doesn't like the truth he whines that he's the poor victim of negative politics. Hey, Obama, you said it, you snorted it. Be a man and quit whining because you're starting to sound like George Bush.

    January 9, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. BAMPZS Fan

    UGH! Barack now has Jesse Jackson running his mouth down in SC and slamming Hillary and making fun of a woman who cries. So much for good guy Barack! Lies lies lies! It's ON! I'm even crossing over and supporting the Republicans with outting you. Thank you for dividing my party!

    January 9, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Jack

    What I see happening from all this is
    the percentage of people who would never vote for Hillary is going to grow.
    Making her completely un-electable in a general election.
    If that is a good thing or a bad thing, depends on whom your asking.

    January 9, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. HolliA

    "Is everyone forgetting that he wouldn't even put his hand over his heart to say the pledge about a month ago? Is that the type of Prez we want?"

    Please check your facts:

    LOOK AT THE VIDEO HE PUTS HIS HAND ON HIS HEART!!! (look for yourself)
    It would be great if people formed INFORMED, INTELLIGENT opinions instead of listening to rumours.

    "Obama Said His Grandfather Taught Him The Pledge And To Put His Hand Over His Heart, "During The National Anthem You Sing." Obama said, "My grandfather taught me how to say the Pledge of Allegiance when I was 2...During the Pledge of Allegiance you put your hand over your heart. During the national anthem you sing."

    BTW I'm an Edwards supporter. Obama is my second choice. If Hill-arious is elected I will be one of the Democrats that WILL NOT throw my support in her corner. She is going to safely alienate the Edwards/Obama votes....and that won't win her the presidency. Her victory was small. 48 states to go!!!

    January 9, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Jeff from Jersey

    We darn sure don't want Obama's DNA in the Whitehouse!
    Talk about slick will you?"Slick Obama" is the watchword of the day.He's uniting americans alright.He's uniting more and more of us against him every time he opens his lying mouth.You think Clinton is a liar?He's the Pope compared to "Slick Obama",

    "Just send me money and give me your vote and I'll make everything all better!".Yeah,that sure sounds like he's different doesn't it,yeah right!
    That's the real Obama druggie thought process at work.

    Here's what he was probably thinking when it came to vote on Iraq:

    "I'm the junior Senator from Illinois.I'm a black democrat.The war is going to pass easily no matter what I do.If I vote for it I'm not going to advance my career but if I vote no I've got a shot to get some notoriety.If the war turns out well,nobody's going to care that I voted against it because my real dream of being president won't happen but if it turns out that the war goes badly,I can really make some advances in my career.What do I have to lose? YEAH,THAT'S THE TICKET!I can get power that way.Yeah,that's the ticket.I can always tell them down the road that I had a dream to be the first black president,no,just that I have a dream,yeah that's the ticket.IHave a Dream!Now just where did I hear that before?Heck,if the war goes right I can always tell them that I was too young and inexperienced to vote for it,yeah that's the ticket.Too young and inexperienced but only if the war turns out okay.I can't tell them that now.Yeah that's the ticket,the ticket to get what I want.I'll just tell everyone that I have a dream for them,yeah,that's the ticket.They're dumb enough to go for that".

    January 9, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. Jenny

    I third to Gbryant 's comment.

    January 9, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Micahel Guinn, Ventura, CA

    To the Hillary supporters who continually bash Barack Obama: "The day will come when this outrageous and unfounded arsenal will come back and bite you on the backside." I really believe Barack Obama will be the Nominee, but if it's Hillary- you will need the millions of Obama supporters.
    Keep up the BS and you will ensure another Republican Administration in 2009.
    In the words of the next President, "YES WE CAN!!"...and you need to wake up and stop acting like republicans!! This isn't a fairy-tale and it's not false hopes...It's REAL.

    January 9, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. NO to Hillary


    Oh please Hillary did not stay with Bill for any marriage vows. Why would she wreck the Clinton machine? She had full intentions of running for president before Bill's term was even up. If they went through divorce, it would have politically ruined both of them. So then she ran for Congress. When was that, 7 years ago? So why are we considering her SO experienced when she's only been in Congress a FEW more years than Obama.

    January 9, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. Obama loves Clintons

    Give me a break, all of those involved with Obama are former Bill Clinton advisors., NO CHANGE!

    I'm voting for a republican if slickster Obama gets the nom,

    January 9, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Robert S., New Orleans, Louisiana

    I don't think voting for change means voting for another politician that tap dances around their past record.

    January 9, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. Candace

    On October 2, 2002, when majority of the Americans supported invasion of Iraq (see for example polling data collected on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_popular_opinion_on_invasion_of_Iraq), Barack Obama gave a passionate speech against the war. He was a senator in the Illinois State Senate at the time, a rising star with a stake in his political career as much as any other politician. In fact, this was preceding his run for the U.S. Senate beginning 2003.

    Here are some excerpts from his speech, but here’s also a link to his full speech: http://www.barackobama.com/2002/10/02/remarks_of_illinois_state_sen.php

    “After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

    What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

    He also predicted, in the same speech, the type of problems we would have if we invaded Iraq:

    “I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.”

    January 9, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. Alex

    When did CNN become so biased? I think it's becoming more and more obvious that this organization has an agenda against the Clintons, and I think it's unfair. And all this time I really have respected CNN...

    January 9, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. Samantha Klein

    Obama likes to take stands after the votes happen. In other words, he doesn't have to commit himself to a position without the benefit of "hindsight". Politicians who do not vote on particular issues should not use those issues to define their political posture or position. In fact, they need to use the issues they vote on to make that case.

    The truth is, nobody knows how Obama would have voted on Iraq. I don't know why anybody cares. Obama needs to take a stand now on issues, and, let's face it - he could be wrong. Let's hear Obama in detail on immigration, Iran,
    Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a resurgent Putin and Russia, Chinese militarism, the failing U.S. dollar and other troubling issues.

    Since he doesn't a whole lot of experience dealing with those types of serious problems, I'll bet he'll be wrong.

    January 9, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. Walter Mason

    See Barack Obama Run!

    I think the one thing everyone forgets is that this young black senator from Illinois has single handedly changed the political landscape for republicans and democrats. Weather you like him or not. Our weather you think he has enough experience or not. Every American owes Barrack Obama a debt of gratitude. He going against all odds just stop and think about it. His skin color, his Muslim Grandmother, multi racial background, experience, and he was raced by a single mom, also his willingness to fight for economic equality for all people. I really admire him to put his reputation his family and yes his life on the line. I only wish him God speed and good will. Barrack has really forced all the candidates to bring there A game and get in touch with the people. They can know longer feed the public a bunch of lies and spin. I am so proud of him and I think every American should stop and think what would the presidential race would be like with out him. God Bless you all and Barrack and his family. He is a great American that embodies the true American sprit. See Barrack Obama Run!

    Walter Mason
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    January 9, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Nick

    This guy's inexperience is telling !!!!!! Look at what he says ....

    "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 ...."

    Basically, he has said both for and against the war in the same breath!! He himself doesnt have one single stance!

    Obama supporters ... please start looking for things deeper than just those glorious words that he keeps repeating! He is all gas and no substance!

    January 9, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Tracy



    Lastly, I think Bill Clinton want to be president again, not Hillary.

    January 9, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. cc, Chicago

    Am I the only one who finds Hillary Clinton a wee bit condescending? People voted with their minds for me, not their hearts? So anyone who disagrees with her platform and agrees with another candidates lacks intelligence??? Hillary, if you want to go all the way to the White House, I might respectfully suggest taking the "insult the electorate" tactic out of your playbook.

    January 9, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Tom

    Obama, like Romney is a big bag of hot wind, talk talk talk, both say nothing. Yuck!

    January 9, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. Sean

    The following is beginning to circulate:

    "Major allegations of vote fraud in New Hampshire are circulating after Hillary Clinton reversed a mammoth pre-polling deficit to defeat Barack Obama with the aid of Diebold electronic voting machines, while confirmed votes for Ron Paul in the Sutton district were not even counted."

    What do you think?

    January 9, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Democrats Rule, CA

    CNN predicted a 10 points lead before last night's primary. Hillary won in a very narrow margin. It was a very close call, but that's a vote swing of at least 12 points. She is definitely the "Comeback kid" in every sense. I hope the rest of the states will also give her the comback she rightly deserves and needs.

    I don't understand this anti-Clinton sentiment from supporters of Obama & Edwards camps. Why are they so spiteful? Some of them even consider voting Repulican if their candidate does not win the national primary. Certainly, everyone has the right to vote which way his/she likes. I respect that right. I just don't understand the rationale behind it. I'm a steadfast Clinton supporter. But , if somehow Obama or Edwards emerges as the nominee, I will definitely vote for the guy because I'm all for the "people" and not just one "person."

    January 9, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. RuthieM

    Bill Clinton, just like his wife and her campaign, are sounding just like racist pigs.
    Obama needs to bring up Bill Clinton's disgraced white house as long as he continues to attack Obama. He also should continue to demand their white house papers that show all Hillary's 'experience?' Afterall, they need to compare experiences. But all Hillary has on Obama is age which is the only thing being mistaken for her 'experience'.

    January 9, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. Derick

    The Clintons are trying to make Obamas positons and ideas similar to Hillary. They have have become bankrupt of ideas. The fact remains that Obama opposed the war from the start and no twisiting of facts will change. By the way, I do not know why this is about Bill Clinton, is he running for a third term? Americans need to wake up!

    January 9, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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