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. Larry DeVito Mason NH

    Twelve years of George the elder. Eight years of Bill. Eight years of George the younger. Eight potential years of Hillary. Waiting in the wings Jeb and/or Laura. This is Democracy? Hey, we need a break.

    January 9, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Kenny Connell

    Isn't it ironic that former President Bill Clinton woulld chose the words "fairy tale" in describing what he feels is Sen. Obama's "Iraq" record and the alleged treatment of it by the press. The two biggest "fairy tales" I remember are "There are WMD in Iraq" by the current administration and "I did not have sex with that woman" by the previous one. Hmm. Funny how it escapes me who the author of the latter "fairy tale" was. I also don't know if Sen. Clinton's "teary moment was genuine or not, but the timing of it right before a make or break primary was impeccable!

    January 9, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. scott in NYC

    Can someone say "sore loser"?

    January 9, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. Ito, Yokosuka Japan

    The Clintons = lies and half-baked truths...

    Get ready for a whole lot more of the same...I've said it before and I'll say it again. If Obama can survive the Clinton hate machine, he will be well suited to handle the Republican attack machine.

    Anybody who supports the Clintons has been duped. They are the snake oil saleteam of the 21st century.

    January 9, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. karl

    anderson copper, lou dobbs, wolf , I saw the smiles on ur faces last night with that dubious criticisims but i still believe we can

    January 9, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. TONY

    All of us think one more times EXPERINCE is most important run this country and this experince NO BODY can buy it from a grocery store or from CHINA,

    January 9, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Connie, Tn.

    I fail to see where all this "experience" Hillary keeps talking about came from. The only thing I can say about Obama is he is not experienced in "cut-troat politics".

    If people want change, they are not going to get it with Hilary.

    Go Obama!

    January 9, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. Hillary Billary, BOO! No third term for you!

    Tony,

    All of us think one more times SPELLING and GRAMMAR is most important run this country.

    January 9, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. karl

    Bill clinton to call obama a kid and a drug user doesn't cut it in sc and we pissed for such foolish words and u would pay for it in sc

    January 9, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. alex

    Mr Obama in one of his addresses to his supporters mentioned history being made but the fact is this coutntry needs a leader not some one more interested in making history.

    January 9, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. bud

    Hilary is in a fairy tale. Thirty five years of experience; give me a break. She was not elected to office until this last decade. She was the governors wife and the presidents wife. Everyone is so quick to jump on her experience well as first lady she tried to get a health care bill passed and it failed. She never tried again and in her campaigns for ny senator she took thousands from pharmacutical and hmo lobbies. Give me a break Hilary. How can you say Obama is tied up with lobbiest and has no experience when you are in the same position. If Americans wanted experience then Richardson is the best candidate. If you want change its either Obama or Edwards. HIlary represents the status quo with a deadlock between Republicans and Democrats. The only way she can get anything done is if the Senate, Congress and Whitehouse are democrat.

    January 9, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Pancho, Miami FL

    See. This isn't about Hillary. I have nothing against her. It is about Bill. IT IS ALWAYS about Bill. And this is what you'll get by electing Hillary. 4 years of looking at HIS puss every night. He is truely a snake and the devil incarnate.

    January 9, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Dan

    Track record of experience in the largest foreign policy disasters in the U.S. in the last 30 years:

    1. Secretary of Defense McNamara and others in the DOD had seen Chamberlain appease Hitler regarding eastern Cechoslyvakia. Years later, they believed in/conceived the domino theory that provided the rationale for war in Vietnam.

    2. Cheney, Rumsfled, and co. had perhaps more foreign policy experience than anyone in the nation entering 2000. Going on 8 years later, the US is involved in another bloody and unpopular war.

    Presidents without foreign policy experience included Reagan and Bill Clinton. Please stop citing "experience" as a reason to make your choice. Do a little reasearch instead of spouting HRC's catch phrase.

    January 9, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Candace

    Karen, let's please try to have an intelligent discussion here if you truly care about the fate of this country. We're at a critical stage in our national and world history, and spewing venom without proper reflection does not do anyone good, including HRC.

    If you are truly concerned about the specifics of change that Senator Obama is proposing, please review what he has already said and outlined on the subject before bringing up the issue for discussion. If you want to attack after reading the lengthy, detailed 64-page on that subject, please be my guest, otherwise, you are engaging in the same type of politics of Dick and George that brought us into the mess that we are facing right now.

    Please review:
    http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/ObamaBlueprintForChange.pdf

    January 9, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  15. Ann

    Peter, I noticed that, too. He is very disrespectful to both President Clinton and to his opponent.

    I suspect that's his drug addict thinking at work.

    January 9, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. brenda

    Nobody said we shouldn't try even in a tough fight. I just think Barack is doing the right thing even if he doesn't win...

    January 9, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  17. Joelene Reno, Nevada

    Barack Obama has not yet been vetted. When his "record" or lack thereof is put before the American public, it will become crystal clear that his lack of credentials actually does matter.

    As for his position on the war. HE WAS NOT IN THE SENATE AND HE DID NOT ARTICULATE HIS OPPOSITION UNTIL THE WAR BECAME AN UNPOPULAR 'WAR OF CHOICE'.

    Wouldn't it be nice if, after an NFL game, we could go back and make a different wager, once the outcome is clear?

    Share the wisdom of your beginning game strategy once the game is nearing conclusion and the outcome is clear. Well, that seems to be Barack's "wisdom credentials" and mantra. He was against the war after he saw it as a no win proposition.

    Someone wrote earlier that selecting Barack Obama would be like putting a student pilot qualified in a Piper Cub in the 1st seat of an F-18, on the deck of a carrier at sea...Once the cable is released, full power applied, those first 2 thrilling seconds are followed by a disasterous end.

    This country can not afford to be wrong this election cycle.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON HAS THE ABILITY, WISDOM EXPERIENCE AND STAMINA TO BE A GREAT PRESIDENT.

    HILLARY 2008!

    January 9, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. George, Billerica, Mass.

    Obama was not beating the anti-war drums as people assumed he had been. Bill called him on it. Now Barack cries foul? The more he is examined close up, Obama seems not quite up to the task of being either specific or clear (especially in their last debate). I think the Clintons are simply going after his inexperience... in politics. And in that respect, the Clintons are (love em or hate em) masters.

    January 9, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. karl

    anderson copper, lou dobbs and wolf should start campaigning for the clinton family and should stop the bias and fake presenting they do on cnn. this is not clinton's cnn but cnn

    January 9, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. America Rising

    Obama has the audacity to whine about Bill Clinton "twisting" his words after he has taken the intellectual property and words of John Edwards on more than occasion? FOFLOL

    If you haven't already, read The Boston Globe and L.A. Times articles where Obama is called out for just a couple of his transgressions and you'll see the humor in this too! LOL

    January 9, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Nita

    You know I am so proud of our party. I am proud on NH. The pied piper will run out of tunes and very soon. Let me say I respect Hillary Clinton. Last night she thanked all ther candidates the ones that dropped out and the ones that continue. I watched her on a debate sometime back when they second half they sat. BIden was asked a question and answered w/out getting up. Clinton was second – she stood up and answered. This woman knows how to show respect. Last night is only the beginning.

    January 9, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  22. Missouri/The Show Me State

    Appearently Hilary chocking and fake tears worked for her in NH.

    January 9, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. nevadamuley Las Vegas, Nevada

    Well, I suppose we can expect to see Opra soon because Obama's getting picked on.

    Obama's a whinner and an empty book.

    Wait till the race gets really nasty, he'll have to have Opra hold his hand and beat up the big ol bullies for him.

    Quit complaining Barak, it only makes you look like a girl.

    January 9, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  24. Hillary Billary, BOO! No third term for you!

    Joelene,

    And Hillary would be like putting a student pilot qualified in a Piper Cub that just so happens to the wife of a pilot in the seat of an F-18. What difference does that make?

    Stamina? She broke down on the eve of the second primary. Oh yeah, I forgot. That was just scripted because she's phony.

    January 9, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. Art

    I think romantic idealism is all fine and dandy but if Obama were to win the dem.primaries, the republican dirty tricks machine will drag him through the mud and slander him till the cows come home. The John Kerry swiftboating tactic will be chicken-feed when compared to how they will obliterate Obama and distort everything he ever said and did (or not did).

    It is very easy to mis-represent his name (a middle name like Hussein is not a winner when the mud slinging begins), the fact that his father and step father were muslims will all be dragged through the slime and be distorted and painted as national security issues....the fact that he and his immediate family are practicing Christians will be forgotten in all that flying mud. His youthful drug use will be used to paint him as a horrendous influence on the youth and turn away many well intentioned family people.

    These are all realities. The Clintons have gone through such fiery trials several times over and have survived and will outmaneuver any such slimy attempts in the future too.

    To effect any change in Washington, where you take on powerhouses and live to fight another day, cannot be captured in a slogan, however catchy/romantic it may appear at first blush.

    I think the democrats need a fighter and a tested team to take on the republican machine. Edwards is a passionate fighter but he does not have the political apparatus behind him.

    Republicans will tout the fact that Hillary is polarizing etc., which in fact is true but bottomline, her political machinery has got the staying power and grit to take them on. That has got them running scared of a Hillary candidacy winning the primaries, however much they try to spin it otherwise.

    I like Obama and agree completely with several of his positions (including the rationale for the disastrous Iraq war where the eye was taken off the ball in Afghanistan) but as a candidate who can take on and win against a McCain in a Gen.election, and then function as a driving force for change against entrenched and well funded special interests, I think he will not be very effective (regardless of the emotions that his terrific speeches evoke).

    January 9, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
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