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. IndependentVoter

    After reading most of these comments ... it's obvious to me most of you don't realize to politicians (and the news media) elections are a game ... they have rules, strategies, winners and losers.

    And the biggest strategy is for politicians to figure out how to "game" the voters ... they ALL do it. In their eyes voters are their pawns ... that's why so many people get turned-off by politics ... No one likes to be played.

    The Clintons out played Obama in NH ... They won. The news media blew-it ... but what are they pushing on us? Some inane 2 sentence comment Obama made about another inane Bill Clinton strategic comment. Man do I hate getting played by the new media!

    For those of you that want POLICY SPECIFICS ... you're idealistically naive. Presidents are not Kings ... policy is a function of compromise, the DETAILS of which are worked out between the participants.

    I believe being President is about character. Of course there are other qualities required ... ... but the one consistent must have quality is CHARACTER.

    Only you can determine what kind of character these candidates’ posses.

    Anyway, that's my take on all this.

    January 9, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Wendy

    Obama has been twisting what Hilary said for almost a year. He has engaged personal attacks and character assassinations. so stop crying now! Be an adult and follow the golden Rule: do what you want others do to you. Stop character assassinations and misinterpret others' words.

    January 9, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. JohnS

    For all Hillary supporters, welcome back to the world of "political inquiries by the Reps, Scandals of the past and so." I am particularly surprised at those who have failed to follow political events over the past decade," either beacuse they were too young or never really cared. I guess it might be helpful for such people to look up a few archives before using "empty words" here as Hillary would like to say.

    January 9, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Ann

    Ibeth....must be nice to decide you can see a person's "character" when you have no information or record to observe.

    BTW.....what do YOU think about him allowing his grandmother to live in despicable conditions in Kenya.

    Character-building?

    It does take a tough heart to do that.

    January 9, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. JACKIE SINIUS

    I'VE ALWAYS HAD THE UTMOST RESPECT FOR HILLARY CLINTON AS WELL AS SUPPORTING PRES. CLINTON WHILE HE WAS IN OFFICE. MY COUSIN WORKED AS AN ADVISER AT THE PENTEGON UNDER CLINTON. I WAS ALSO GLAD WHEN SHE ANNOUCED SHE WAS RUNNING, FOR PRESIDENCY. I KNOW SHE KEEPS SAYING SHE HAS 35 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. EXPEREINCE IS GOOD, AND AT 56 YEARS OLD AND LOOKING AT HILLARY AND BILL CLINTON I THINK OF THEM AS OLD WASHINGTON WHICH THEY'RE NOT. MCCAIN IS OLD WASHINGTON, EXPERIENCED BUT OLD. HAVING OLD WAYS IS NOT WHERE WE NEED TO GO. I STILL AM UNDECIDED WHO I WILL CAST MY VOTE FOR. MAINLY BECAUSE THEY LISTEN AT THE TIME THEY WANT YOUR VOTE, WHEN THEY GET YOUR, THE GO TO THEIR OWN AGENDA.

    January 9, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. kimdy

    I think all the people blathering about how Hillary can "unite" people, and can "sway the republicans" to her side are really not looking at the whole picture here. The Republicans HATE Hillary, and to an extent, Bill. They spent the entire 8 years of Bill's presidency doing everything they could to stymie the administration, block progress, appoint prosecutors, open investigations, belittle, beleaguer, and otherwise halt anything progressive. Hillary was a large focus of all the above, just as much as Bill. They're wetting thier pants at the prospect of getting to do so again with Hillary. What, in the WORLD, makes you think that someone as universally disliked across the aisle could ever, in a million years, get anything done with all the obstacles that will be put in her way, all the genuine loathing that they feel for her, etc. I'm sure she'd be a fine President, in a better world – But we don't live in a better world, and they're not suddenly going to give up hating her if she wins. And yes, Republicans like to stymie all Democrats, and visa versa, but there's a particularly hungry loathing for the Clintons. NOTHING will get done, just more insults, more partisanship, more abuse, more finger pointing, more blocking things just because... I cringe at the thought. At least Obama has quite a bit of respect across the aisle. Of all the folks running, when looked at realistically, he's the only one I think COULD reach out, and with that quiet, but firm voice, get the oppostion to "go along"... It scares me to think of another 4 or 8 years with all the partisan, angry, hatred of "gotta get the Clintons" no matter what happens to the rest of the country in the meantime.

    January 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  7. Niko

    Dem here. Who likes the surge idea? Hillary would have 0 chance of beating McCain in a general election. She'll get little/no independent backing and will lose some dems. Plus, if Iowa is any indication, she'll rip every state she loses in the the dem primaries. BTW, Iowa does pick corn, but NH certainly doesn't pick presidents....Paul Tsongas ring a bell?

    January 9, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Frances

    I keep hearing about change and dreams and wonderful plans and getting along. I see no strategy or definition of what the change will be from Obama. He talks in generalizations. When I listen to Hillary speak, she talks about specifically what she accomplished in fiscal policies, healthcare, improving the economy in New York and other accomplishments.

    What are Barack's specific accomplishments and goals for change? What changes????

    There is not substance to what he says only rhetoric and dreams and fantasies.

    January 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Candace

    What is not being said here, also, is that all the candidates, Republican and Democrat, co-opted Barack Obama's message of change without specific proposals as to how to effect them. Barack Obama who brought the issue to the forefront of course did have a detailed outline for changes that he wished to effect:

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

    January 9, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Tom Masters

    So what! Obama 'took liberties' with 'hope' and 'King' yet has not substance to go with his catch phrases. Where is his plan to bring this 'change'. A black man in office is great change, but insufficient if it is the ONLY change. You can't just shake some words from your 'Daily Inspiration' Calendar at people and win, you're gonna have to actually tell people what your plan is to reduce taxes, not just that you would. You'll have to tell people what your plan is to address foreign relations, not just that you'll talk to the right people for their advise. C'mon, you can ride this minority sympathy wave, but you are as fake Romney, and it's embarrassing to the U.S.

    I don't think Obama is bright and 'articulate', if he were he would have already articulated what he is going to do in all of this ambiguous 'change' speak he is using. How dumb he must consider the people of our Great Nation to think he can pop a few catch phrases and win from popularity juxtoposed to saying something new, fresh and inspirational.

    He's quoted JFK & MLK, but has failed to do what they did, provoke America into a specific and directional change. He is an idiot, hook please...get him off stage and let's get on with electing a president, not the flavour of the week!

    January 9, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  11. Pete

    The people have spoken in NH, the pundits, the big media and the rigged pollsters that can easy manipulate people opinion all of then LOST! The incredible biased media in favor of Obama, the outrageous biased against Clinton and the total write off of Edwards. Their manipulative tactics lost. the people won. Now the same pundits, media should focus in the issues instead and we'll have a campaign; but they never learn the lesson.
    And what of the Obama wave? That wave crested and has turned. His candidate will have more scrutiny and he should be held to the same standards than any other politician running for the Presidency.
    Good night for democracy in the US. Shame on CNN's Blitzer among others, MSNBC starting with Chris Mathews, ah...and Tapper from ABC. They should learn to be real unbiased journalist!

    January 9, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. sal lincoln nebraska

    We shouldnt let CNN get away with not covering the truth...Letting them pick and choose what they ignore so that their choice of canidate can get into office.....This went on in 2004, 2000 as well....We had a president put into power that didnt win an election and CNN didnt do anything about it....They let 90,000 people in florida become disinfranchised, roadblocks set up...CNN didnt do anything about it...If you dont cover stories that affect the american people what exactly is your place on our airwaves? This isnt your airwaves there ours for all of us...Futhermore we pay for cable what right do you have to illegally not to mention morally keep imporant information from us to push your own best intrests...You should be allowed to call yourself a news station...You and your other network friends need to be titles appropriatley which would be an opinon show or maybe a gossip colum....Need to get as many concerned people as possible together and file a lawsuit, see what kind of grounds the system will take when enough people are ready to admit that illegal monopolies exist...CNN is one of them and their spreading rumors and disinformation....Should get them taken off the air

    January 9, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Jamie

    I for one will not vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination. I'd rather go with an Independent or (I can't believe I am saying this) a Republican before I voted for her.

    January 9, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Wayne

    Not sure if anyone caught this but Hillary's little passion speech and crocodile tears were nearly the same words from John Edwards during the debate about how he feels, well minus the fake tears, he spoke with strentgh and ferver. I don't even like the guy. So Hillary steals his thunder and turns it into a sympathy vote...gosh, I have so much opportunity for this country, I dont want to see it go back. You mean like back to the Bill Clinton era...what is she talking about. Her proposals would bring us back to the Carter era. People need to wake up, take a course in economics, understand how things work. Mr. Obama has laid out his plans in detail. You can tell he understands that socilizaing medicine and rapid withdraw of our troops by not funding them are bad for our econmoy and our future. I represent the emerging independant minds of this country that think we can have a return to what our founding fathers set out to create, but that it will require change. I wonder what Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, Frankiln and others would think of Bill Clinton and HRC? I would rather see a condidate that feels passion about change rather than passion about power. If you think for a moment that Hillary cars about you....The Forgotten Man....(read the book) then I feel sorry for you. Taking us back the the era of phony, criminal, and reckless behavior in the highest office in the land....no thanks

    January 9, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Mr. Obama I don't think skirting truth is anything we are suprised to see from a politician.

    For example-look at the history of the primary campaign's–if you compare agenda's you will note that suddenly–after the polls came out showing John Edwards was the best choice to beat a GOP candidate--FIRST YOU, THEN HUCKABEE, THEN HILLARY PRONOUNCED " I AM THE CHANGE CANDIDATE" !!

    Gimme a break

    January 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Vam

    It's amazing how someone can display teary eyes on moment and turn to attack Obama almost immediately in the same breath.

    January 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Beth, NC

    Hillary and Bill are the worst! I have never had a warm spot for Hillary but I use to love Bill and now he's looking more and more like the rest of them. I'm not giving up on Obama. They went out of their way to tell people to stop hoping that this country could be better. That they know what's best for us.. LIKE NATO! They had their chance and their eight years. And no amount of fake tears is going to change me mind.

    January 9, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. Thewatcher

    Whenever a Black man runs for President, you will always have Whites saying "just because he wants to be the first Black President doesn't mean I should vote for him. Even if he down plays his Blackness. Obama isn't Black in the true sense anyway, which is why Blacks don't really support him. His folks are White and African, and he was raised amongst Whites. Africans don't share the same history of slavery in their culture, which is why Obama is so confused right now. He does not understand why he lost last night. Black folks understand. This African is getting his first look at the way things work. And as a 44 year old Black man, I just think it is funny. I am cracking up as I watch these elections.

    January 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. Chris-Seattle

    Hmmm...insufficient evidence, hidden records, mysterious suicides and who nows what else. This is what America wants more of in the White House!?!

    January 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. TONY LOS ANGELES.

    Life was better and easy during CLINTON,s administration.Hope positive all of us and have life.

    January 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Jamie

    Wayne, do you mean the same speech Edwards made that Hillary scoffed at with a wave of her hand and said "can we get a reality break here?"

    January 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. Experience IS OVERRATED

    I use to love Bill Clinton, and you know what if it weren't for his tactics in the last few weeks I'd probably still be considering Hillary Clinton as my top choice. Not anymore, personally I'm tired of these old school political tactics, times have changed and you're not gonna get my vote by going on national television to slander or twist facts about another candidate. I want to know why you should be president!!!!!!!!!! And let's face it America, either you're happy with the state of our country or you're not. If you're not then it's time for some changes to happen.

    DEFINITION OF INSANITY = electing the same types of experienced politicians (Hillary, Romney, etc) and expecting different results!!!!

    For all of the COWARDS with comments like, sore loser, whiner, etc... It's very apparent that you have a tough time leading your own lives, so electing the leader of the next free world is out of reach. Since when did standing up and defending your stance on the issues or your character become whining?? READING THESE COMMENTS I AM NOW CONVINCED THAT EDUCATION SHOULD BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT.

    January 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. lightharry

    Regardless of all of the statements a democratic process will not take place. The Clinton's have too many ties with the industry and paid their way back into the White House. The DNC will force the selection of Hillary and then Bill Clinton is back in office. They say a nation gets the leaders they deserve.

    January 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Frances

    I see no detailed plans from Obama. I believe Hillary meant that she does not like our country to go backwards as it has in the past 7 years under this current administration.

    She wants to shake things up and get the country back to normal..

    January 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. Matt, Albany, GA

    I like the idea of Obama as VP and I'll think he could get the same amount of stuff done (nothing) with almost no excuses after the first year.

    January 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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