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. Ivelisse

    I have to laugh.. Mr. Obama have been attacking Ms. Clinton for a long while on her record, but when somebody question his, he cries "foul".....

    I agree with Mr. Clinton on something: Mr. Obama has gone way to far in this contest whitout being asked HOW he plans to bring about the change he is promising.... In recent debates his answers are just about the 'change' people want and how much of an 'insider' Ms Clinton is, but his answers have no substance...

    I do want to her Mr. Obama talk about his record!... I want to hear him expalin why he took so many "present" votes in the state senate, when he was presented the chance to take a stand in real issues..... I want to hear him explain all the votes he missed last year in the US senate while campaigning.... I want to hear Mr. Obama explain how does he plan to bring about the change he is promising....


    January 9, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. JD Malette

    If you guys round-up numbers, the actual difference should be 3 points; however, if you calculate to two decimal points, the difference is 2.74, still 3 points rounded up.
    The difference in raw votes between Clinton and Obama for NH is 7,667 for as between McCain and Romney is 12,886. How do you characterize a tight race?

    January 9, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. Val Carlson

    About contradictions: When it is convenient for Mr. Obama to pretend to be mystified, It seems to me that there are quite a few things which Mr. Obama does not get, wnen it is convenient for him . B. Obama mystified, never. Not with $600,000/individual spent to make certain his stand. Congratulations to Lew Dobbs, who has now become a staple in my book.

    January 9, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. John, Richmond, VA

    No surprlse here. For all you knuckleheads that blindly support the Clintons, Bill has already said "Whatever it takes to WIN". That is all that matters to these two.

    One other point...don't get so smug that your candidate won NH. If she does manage to win the Democrat Party nomination, It may be just enough to convince Mayor Bloomberg to run. Since Bloomberg is a Democrat at heart, his running will ensure Hillary does not occupy the WH. Afterall, Bloomberg has said he is concerned with the partisan, divisive climate in Washington, and that is exactly what a Hillary Presidency would perpetuate.

    January 9, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. b. jones tulsa,ok.

    to manupop.......sounds like you are having gender issuses. Any have way educated preson realizes that women have the ability to tackle the tough jobs. It's rather archaic to pretend that Ms. Clinton's problems are totaly related to the fact that she's a women. It's funny....I don't ever hear Barack Obama play the race card.

    January 9, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. RUDY

    Did I miss something? Since when does age count as experience? Everyone is reporting that Hilary Clintons political resume is longer than Obama's. Really? I thought She was a lifelong, lawyer and a first lady (does that count as a political office)? Obama has been involved in politics since 1996. It just happened to be on the state level and not federal level. America is not looking for a new fresh perspective. It is very clear to me that Obama is the obvious candidate for president.

    January 9, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. Obama Truths coming out FINALLY

    spoken like a true LOOSER! he means the words written for him, he doesnt have an original thought! Cable news pundits may have successfully predicted John McCain's victory in New Hampshire, but they sure had a lot of explaining to do around 10:30 p.m., once The Associated Press and MSNBC projected victory for Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The polls were so wrong. So off," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann said. Perhaps exaggerating slightly, Olbermann added, "Two cable news networks actually predicted this outcome after Sen. Obama conceded." Chris Matthews, co-anchoring the evening broadcast on MSNBC, told Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson an hour later, "I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again."

    It was that kind of night for the punditocracy. So how do the media come back after being so far off? "I think the people are going to make some judgments about us," Brokaw said. It is quite possible that voters, who were barraged in the past days with reports about how Obama was cruising to a double-digit victory, already have.

    January 9, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Taalib

    Obama, don't worry. Just stay focused on your message. You are willing to unite the country and people are willing to listen. Remember Bill Clinton lost to Paul Tsongas in 1992 in N.H. and Bill Clinton lost to Tom Harkin in Iowa that same year. Harkin dropped out and Clinton went on to become the Democratic nominee.

    Thus, you are already starting off better than Clinton did in his first run. I liked the interview you did with Brian Williams on January 7th. Stick with that temperament and steadyness of hand. You'll win, and so will our country.

    T (A whispering Republican who supports you)

    January 9, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. OJC, Phoenix, AZ

    "but his national campaign co-chair is a national register lobbyist .The lobbyist is setting up his agenda now."

    Jim Hodges is a STATE lobbyist and also a former governor. I believe Obama is referring to federal lobbyists when he makes his statements. In addition, his distaste for lobbyists has more to do with the money they use to influence not them as people.

    January 9, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Damien

    For you Clinton supporters claiming Clinton's 35 years of experience is why we need to elect her remember this.

    Newly declassified documents show that President Bill Clinton personally approved the transfer to China of advanced space technology that can be used for nuclear combat.
    The documents show that in 1996 Clinton approved the export of radiation hardened chip sets to China. The specialized chips are necessary for fighting a nuclear war.

    "Waivers may be granted upon a national interest determination," states a Commerce Department document titled "U.S. Sanctions on China."

    "The President has approved a series of satellite related waivers in recent months, most recently in November, 1996 for export of radiation hardened chip sets for a Chinese meteorological satellite," noted the Commerce Department documents.

    These special computer chips are designed to function while being bombarded by intense radiation. Radiation hardened chips are considered critical for atomic warfare and are required by advanced nuclear tipped missiles.

    Judicial Watch obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act, a Washington-based political watchdog group.

    Several documents were withheld from release by the U.S. Commerce

    January 9, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. Jameson S.



    January 9, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. Joey Girl

    Between Hillary's "breakdown" and Bill's "Fairy Tale" they accomplished what they always have (and will continue to do)... take the low road.

    I'm ashamed that women in New Hampshire fell for Hillary's very public "personal moment". Get a grip. This woman hasn't been real for 20 years.

    January 9, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  13. Garod

    That was absolutely dirty politics. So if Bill is going that way which he is going to do to make sure Hillary gets the nod, say the media was wrong about the polls that favored Barack. Think about the possibility that the media has been wrong all along about the black vote. He should not take black vote for granted. Blacks need a voice and Obama seems to be that voice for all races. No Black would win Iowa and no black would lose in NH by 2% (I know, I am black and I live in NH)
    I thought this race was going to bridge the race and genders devide but I am skeptical now. It is going to get there and if Bill angers blacks, you know what?
    Republicans are going to get pop corn ready. Bill has a potential to mess up things here. By the way, I like Bill and I also know that Bill is not running.

    January 9, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  14. Ed Barenborg, Vero Beach, FL

    It was a classic Clinton manipulation. Make a statement at the last moment when there is no time for a response. Another example of why the Clinton's can't be trust. I'm frightened by someone that will do ANYTHING to "win" the election.

    January 9, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Obama Truths coming out FINALLY

    ASSOCIATED PRESS-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has lot of explaining to do. He voted against requiring medical care for aborted fetuses who survive. He supported allowing retired police officers to carry concealed weapons, but opposed allowing people to use banned handguns to defend against intruders in their homes. And the list of sensitive topics goes on. With only a slim, two-year record in the U.S. Senate, Obama doesn't have many controversial congressional votes which political opponents can frame into attack ads. But his eight years as an Illinois state senator are sprinkled with potentially explosive land mines, such as his abortion and gun control votes. recent land purchase from a political supporter who is facing charges in an unrelated kickback scheme involving investment firms seeking state business. Abortion opponents see Obama's vote on medical care for aborted fetuses as a refusal to protect the helpless. Some have even accused him of supporting infanticide.

    January 9, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. Zebulon Pi

    Tell you what. Hillary gets President, Obama gets Vice President, gets 8 years of experience, gets President for the 8 years after that. We get 16 good years of liberal, peaceful times before the pendulum swings back and we get some evangelical Republican invading some Middle Eastern country for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Cheap Oil.

    Everyone good with that?

    January 9, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. eOpinion

    Jim, that's a good point. I think we're making a lot of assumptions that we should be careful about. There are a lot of 'other influences' to consider. I'm not sure who to listen to except the skeptics. But now that you put it in that context, it's totally possible.

    I still have hope for an Obama nomination. Hillary is the same problem we have now (to some degree) but in Democratic clothes and the GOP is absolutely pathetic and in line with Bush and his failed policies.

    January 9, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. jep

    I was so happy that finally LOU and Carfetty realized how wrong they were on their opinion about Clinton. That is why you should always be objective and not subjective on matters like these. I hope this changes the tone in the media world. I have been a fan of CNN because I thought they were fair and balanced, but they seemed to have teamed up with the Fox news to punch on the Clintons.
    Look, for the last 8 years Hannity has nothing else to say but to tear and critize the Clintons, he has made so personal that it is just so boring listening to him. I am sure he was surprised yesterday when Clinton came back .
    Please CNN be fair and balance as you say, so as to keep the motto the best politacal team.

    January 9, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. A woman in NC who will not vote for Hillary. Obama '08

    Shame on Bill Clinton for misquoting Obama on the "War". He left out the second part of the quote, editing it for his own purposes of down and dirty politics as usual. Bill should get out of the way and let Hillary stand on her own if she actually can. She has made claim to all of Obama's messages and couched them in her own convoluted rhetoric. Shame on her. And to resort to crocodile tears to get votes. . .excuse me, but if you can't get them as a full blown woman I don't want you as President. There's no crying in Presidential races, Hillary. If that is the "voice" you found after 35 years of service we don't need it in the White House. Do your crying in the bathroom, Honey.

    As for those "Desperate Housewives" who fell for it (I saw it on CNN and laughed it was so unconvincing), they are simpletons. You can only pull that one once, Hillary; and you have the rest of the country to convince. You've already made up my mind for me.

    January 9, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. Kevin, Louisville, Ky

    Bill Clinton is ready to do anything for Hillary to win! Lie (which comes to him naturally)..twist words (like i did not have sexual relations with that woman) and do anything ..Bill knows that his marriage is toast when Hillary loses !!

    I am happy Barack has not taken the low road that the Clintons are taking....crying and all that...

    I cant wait for President Hillary to start crying when Ahmedjeinied starts acting tough with her or Chavez ...Now America knows why she would not talk to Iran, N Korea and Syria directly ..she will cry

    January 9, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. Joelle, Milwaukee, WI

    "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."

    NOT SO, Mr. Triple speak!

    1) You did indicate that Iraq was a bad idea – however, you never were in a position to VOTE for or against it – one only wonders IF you were a Senator what your VOTE might have been – we will never know. ["Bad idea" does NOT really translate into TOTALLY AGAINST IT or VOTING AGAINST IT in political speak...]

    2) You said you wanted to end the war, AFTER you became a Senator, and yet you VOTED for $300+ BILLION to support the war in Iraq. [At least one of our Senators, Mr. Russ Feingold, has the COURAGE to both OPPOSE the IRAQ WAR [AND] VOTE "NO" to funding it!

    3) You said you would not VOTE FOR the Patriot Act; you VOTED FOR THE PATRIOT ACT!

    Although you are GREAT at TRIPLE SPEAK, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton was RIGHT to call you out on your position(s).

    I remain pleased that CNN – the OFFICIAL Obama news station – always gives you plenty of face-time with which you can further contort your asinine, juvenile messages.

    Furthermore, although you will NOT win the Presidency – this is not the BEARS against the PACKERS – [You EARN the Presidency; you do not WIN the Presidency.]

    NOTHING would really CHANGE in SWAMPLAND even if you did...

    January 9, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  22. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I won't be voting for the Clintons, I'll vote republican before I vote for Hillary. When Bill was in office, I had been warned how dirty and self serving the Clintons are and didn't believe it, now I know.

    January 9, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  23. nr

    Got any cheeze wit dat whine? lol

    Don't go away mad Osama, just go away 😉

    January 9, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  24. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    What comments? I was at the polls most of yesterday in New Hampshire and "No one" complained about these "so called" comments by Bill Clinton? I think Obama is pulling at straws trying to figure out exactly what happened to his "pundit-based" lead in New Hampshire.

    Whats interesting is that Obama "the Teflon Candidate" is actually complaining about another candidate for a change. Usually he lets his Vice President, John Edwards, do that for him.

    I always thought it was hilarious that Obama claimed, long after the vote for the Iraq War took place, that "he was against the war before the war". He wasn't in the senate during the vote, but claims the high ground that he wouldn't have voted for it. Nice back seat quarterbacking, Sen. Obama. And this occurred AFTER we deteremined that lies were told to Congress at the time of the vote.

    Time for Action, not just Words,

    January 9, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  25. Jessica


    He did say that but what everyone leaves out is what he said next. Something to the effect that of – what he could say that with the information he had the case was not made.

    Bill Clinton also lied about he fact Obama had not be asked about this. He was asked about on Meet the Press for one.

    The dirty politics of the Clintons has turned me off completely. I hope if Hillary gets the nomination we have a good Independent candidate.

    January 9, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
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