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. Javian B.

    The issue here is that people have said Obama lacks experience, but I can honestly say that he has just as much as experience as Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Being first lady does not count as experience; does Barbara Bush think she should be president next!!!! Why has Bill Clinton failed to show the American people the proper documentation during his term? Are the Clintons hiding something? People have not question Hillary about her experience as well. What has she done for 35 years.....be Bill Clinton's wife, which I must say that must be a challenge! As a voter I don't feel that she doesn’t even have full control over her own campaign. Will this happen if she is president; will Bill take over again???? At this moment I just don't feel she is the stronger candidate because I think the way you run your campaign is the way your run the country, and she has already had numerous problems with that! She is just taking the Clinton name for a ride because we all know if her name was Smith, no one would know her. Obama had to build his name from the ground up and he is a better person for it. I truly believe he is the only one that can really unite this country once again.
    Obama 08'

    January 9, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  2. Elie H.

    Tom her 35years of experience and she voted wrong on the biggest vote of her life! She supported the war and all she says is "It's George Bush's war!" Well she helped him make the case with her vote! Obama oppose the war from the start, and put his political career on the line by expressing his opposition of it in public. Dick Cheney has the most experience in Washington and lead us into a fraud war so ALL THE EXPERIENCE IN THE WORLD DOESN'T MATTER UNLESS YOU HAVE THE RIGHT JUDGEMENT! HILLARY HAS TERRIBLE JUDGMENT BY FAILING TO ASK THE TOUGH QUESTION BEFORE CASTING HER VOTE FOR IRAQ!

    OBAMA 08!

    January 9, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. LJ

    In response to Karen. Why is it you do not have Hilary's voting record and just Baarack's.

    Why is it the majority of your information comes from two Republican funded Organizations?

    If you are going to show Barack's record, then show Hillary's ?

    If people want his programs/plans for change, then why do we NOT aks Hillary for the same?

    Hillary only NOW wants to appear to be human, personable, finding her voice,etc., because she now knows that her sense of ENTITLMENT as a Clinton did not fly.

    Barack's staff MUST be on quick response, and HE must repel the negative remarks and lies from the Clintons. HRC has ONLY held office for 7years.....what 35 years of experience.

    Barack supporters MUST get the word out, donate, volunteer and help get the vote out in the next round of caucuses and primaries.

    January 9, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. El Duende, Laguan Beach Calif.

    Bill Clinton is the only politician in American history who acts like a sore loser when he (Hillary) is ahead. This bloated satyr arrogates to himself the indignant sneers that some usurper should interrupt blood-line sucession. How dare Obama, especially since he is Black; didn't Bill Clintin fool African Americans to this day into thinking that he did anything for them? Bill has beached himself on the sands of hubris.

    January 9, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  5. Alan R.

    How can Obama say that he supports Bush's position on the war in Iraq, yet also opposes the war in Iraq? There is nothing wrong with supporting the troops who are already in Iraq, while still maintaing a postion of a slow military pull-back, and traing the Iraq's Police forces to manage their own country.

    January 9, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  6. Shannon

    I voted for Mr. Clinton, and now I see what my Republican friends were talking about. Makes me sad! "the biggest fairytale" quote was quite offensive to me. What's the fairytale? That an intelligent US African American Senator is running for president! Is that not supposed to happen in America Mr. Clinton? He has no chance because what?! I thought that his dream is exactly what makes America great! What if Senator Obama wasn't running? There wouldn't be much for us to talk about . Just the same old same old.

    January 9, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. just me

    I think Bill also took liberties with an intern too.

    January 9, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  8. T

    Haha now he's complaining. Stop whining, Obama. If you had won NH, you'd still have a hard time getting nominated because of the immense support Hillary has in all the other states. Now that you've lost NH and Hillary has showed how strong she is (winning after being behind by 11 pts in some polls is considered very strong), you have absolutely no chance of winning the nomination.
    Obama is so naive. Only easily emotional people vote for him – look at his positions on various important issues.. and you'll find out.. that he has no positions! He doesn't know what he's talking about – he just makes these HUGE promises that are false and can never be implemented. Hillary knows what change is, and she definitely knows how to birng it about.

    January 9, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. Edward

    God, anyone but Hillary, she will tear the rest of our liberties away and kill our nation. As for her so called health plan that was success, I was the child left behind cause dad could'nt offord it cause it was too expensive.

    January 9, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. Ralph

    What Bill Clinton said is that Barack's only claim of superiority is his opposition to the war (which, IMO is a pretty thin reason for running – nearly half of the people in the US opposed it at that time). On factual examination of the events, however, it was shown that Barack's opposition to the war is less than strident and he has misrepresented Hillary's initial vote and that he has voted exactly as Hillary did since then.

    I agree with Bill's assessment.

    January 9, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  11. JACK, NY, NY

    Obama is a cry baby. Yesterday he was acting like a winner ready to take on WH. Walking with box of pizza in his hand, shaking little girls hand in a coffee shop. His reaction to Clintons remarks- "they are getting desperate.....blah blah....still confident he is wining...going on wining HOPE....then REALITY hits in...he lost....then he starts whining. .....NOW THAT IS WHAT OBAMA IS ..OBLIVIOUS AND HIS SUPPORTERS ARE EVEN MORE DILLUSIONAL.....hanging on with poetry of HOPE.....not thinking about the reality.

    January 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. LO Traveller, UK

    Great leaders need not just vision, they also need enough inner conviction to go after new possibilities they see but that others either aren't gifted enough to see or are too frightened to see or that others have thought was only wishful thinking either because it has never been done or because they have lost their ability to see through dificulties that they haven't themselves got the answer to. The latter is a typical affliction of the boss type. it's the : If I don't already know the answer, it's out of the question syndrome.

    Great leaders know themselves well and have learnt to trust their own instincts and not just wait for the "possible" opportunity of experience handed down to them. Great leaders create new experiences.Great leaders listen, hear and reflect and know more than just what they have been told. Great leaders are adept at connecting the dots that others think are unrelated to conjure the big picture.

    Great leaders also need to be able to communicate their vision such that it becomes not just their vision alone but the desire of those who have been shown this new possibilites. A great leader instinctively knows that it takes more than one man's multitude of experience (however great it is) to make a truly great nation and so will choose to unleash the talents of the multitude to make the seemingly impossible possible.

    From the outside looking in, America is in a rut. Sorry. It has moved from being the place where people with lofty aspirations and complementary abilities beyond which their own home country will let them achieve used to aspire to go to, or wish their home country could become like, into a country resigned to handing over to emerging powers such as China, Russia etc.

    An experienced manager will surely handle the "inevitable" handover very efficiently but it will take a different kind of leader to see a different destiny and make that the peoples destination.

    It is a great potential leader that believes Amerians have the answers to America's current problems as opposed to any one man's experience.

    Of Hillary & Barack, looking from the outside in, I see a natural boss versus a natural leader.

    Wannabe bosses think they are owed the position because of what they have done and what they already know from experience. They will typically confuse supervisory role requirements with that of leadership.

    what I hear from Hillary is: it is so sad that you guys are about to make a big mistake by choosing somene else because this country that I love so much will fall backwards without me as its President and by the way you guys do owe me the Presidency for all the work I've already done over the years. Just look at my record.... It's so unfair having dedicated all my adult life to serving America that you should even consider a mere newbee over me... sob... sob....sob)

    Barack on the other hand appears to me to be is putting his trust in the American people and waking up the American ideal in them. He is engaging them, challenging them and encouraging them to see what he sees and it seems quite a sizeable number of people are responding to him. Are all these Americans stupid?

    It remains to be seen whether he has managed to or will manage to get enough support but what is already clear is that change is already happening in this ongoing elections due to the vision and strategy employed by Barack against the old establishment.

    1. He was able to see like others around him that there was a substantial number of Americans not involved in America's Democracy. But who believed in these Americans enough to put in enough effort to go out and bring them into the political fray as opposed to simply ignoring them as though they were a lost cause and as though whatever they had inside them that was good for America did not matter. Sometimes too much experience without the gift of vision accompanied by inner conviction (both of which you can't learn in a book or through experience) only gets you too close to the problem that you become unable to even see that it is a problem. To you it is just normal that this people are not participating and are not inclined towards contributing to helping make America more than it currently is.

    But are these people not now coming out in great numbers to be counted? I would think that is change already happening.......and happening because they can now see a reason to care that was not there before. Who showed them? Barack.......who made the change? the people.

    2. How many people thought Barack would be able to raise enough funding to even meaningfully compete with Hillary without lobbying the usual suspects (the so called lobbyists) for funding?

    Bet enough people thought it was a pipe dream but is it not happening?
    Who raised the money? not Barack but the people. Who told them it could be done? Barack. Who did it? the people.

    3. Now Hillary is going on about change. That was the message she took away from Iowa I seem to recall ..........after she had lost to Barack. She certainly needed that experience to see what the people were yearning for.

    For what it is worth, my assessment of Hillary is that she can make America as great as she can see but Barack is demonstrating that not only can he see further than Hillary, but he is waking up Americans to also start seeing new possibilies not just the one handed down by the boss. He can lead Americans to collectively make America as great as Americans can see.

    In my young mind, it takes a truly natural progressive leader to inspire and empower the people around him and beyond to propel a democratic nation to perpetual greatness by tapping into the greatness in everyone and not just the boss.

    Don't get too hung up on my two cents worth. It's your country. I'm just passing through. Good luck.

    January 9, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  13. kwame


    January 9, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  14. Ralph

    Anyone but OBAMA. He lies and he is a dirty politician. Verifiably so.

    He's running on audacity because that's all he has. He doesn't have the experience. He doesn't have the kind of grasp of the issues that the other candidates have. It was so obvious in the most recent debate. He kept on stammering and changing the topic when asked something he is unfamiliar with. He makes nice stories but rarely goes in depth because he can't. Without the opportunity to attack, his weak grasp of the issues were exposed.

    My opposition to his candidacy is basically because there are better and more experienced candidates than him in this race, and he needs to shed some of his arrogance and lecturing to other candidates somehow holding a false high moral ground.

    He initiated the smear on Hillary with opp. research smear (D-Punjab) and that Bill was profiting on 9-11 stuff, yet he never apologized to her. He blamed it on his staff. When someone in her campaign mentioned about his cocaine use, she immediately apologized and the person in question quit his position. Yet, he found a way to lecture her on negative campaign tactics when she personally apologized.

    Earlier this year, when Elizabeth Edwards made some statement about unhappy marriage of Clintons and later personally apologized to her, Hillary was gracious and did not do a big deal about it. Where is Michelle Obama’s apology for the smears directed by her against Bill and Hillary?

    Hypocrisy, arrogance on top of inexperience are some of the things that come to mind when I think of him. He would serve his campaign a great deal if he learnt some graciousness.

    Despite the fact that you have a journalist writing the endorsement, there is absolutely no way to hide the fact that Obama is a lightweight and lacks the experience necessary to run the country. All the Boston Globe were able to highlight was Obama's "intuitive sense of the wider world". And all this because he lived in Indonesia when he was 6 years old. In touting his leadership, they pointed to his position on the nuclear proliferation treaty. Huh?

    Contrast with McCain's and Hillary's endorsement where they talk about the achievements and the accomplishements of both politicians.

    It only shows that no amount of journalistic skill can hide Obama's lack of competence, and no amount of attacks on Hillary Clinton can change the fact that she is more competent.

    January 9, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  15. Wise

    Hillary talks a lot about experience. If it was a job interview – which party presidential nomination should more resemble – then one needs to find out whether the 'experience' is the right type. If all presidential hopefulls in both parties seem to agree that "Washington is broken", one can only assume that Hillary's past experience contributed to such an outcome. Is Hillary's past experience really what America need for a more dynamic future? And for all the talk about VP position! Please, excuse me! Party presidential nominations ought to be a very competitive affair, not a give away on a silver plate. Which would happen for Hillary if Obama didnt make any effort.

    January 9, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. bill

    funny, how bush can slaughter the English language here and all over the world and the pundits usually write out the proper words that His Highness ruined. But when Obama uses"gonna" you are very precise in writing down "gonna." It must kill you to see someone of Obama's stature and class ruin this circus for you. Try putting your blinders in your pockets for the next 10 months. Who knows, come November you may actual be able to see both sides of an argument.......................but I doubt it.

    January 9, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  17. Jetking

    obama's beginning to see just what the republicans see in the clintons.

    January 9, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. Lauren

    To Dan from MA: THANK YOU!! I'm glad to see that someone else is tuned in to what's really going on. People say Obama has no positions, he hasn't laid out a plan, he doesn't make it clear where he stands on the issues. These are talking points, not facts. Obama wrote a 362-page book about his positions, about the issues, about his plan for how America can turn itself around. It is contains well-written, thoughtful analyses of the issues facing this country and how he proposes we make change. If you read the book and disagree with his positions, that's one thing. But the problem is that most people refuse to read a 362 page book about politics, or any book about politics for that matter. They want to be spoon-fed the information by the media, and so they miss out on who these candidates really are.

    Obama has more than 11 years experience as an elected official. Hillary has more than 7. There are different ways to dissect this issue of experience, but you have to look beyond the rhetoric.

    Clearly, this goes beyond Obama. Hillary would never be where she is today if she wasn't "hopeful" and she has surely inspired many people with her achievements. And perhaps a lot of people don't like her, but it's obvious that many people do.

    The candidates cannot knock on the door of every single American and answer his/her questions directly. If you care about issues, investigate. Find out where they do stand. I agree with Dan, that Clinton and Obama (and Edwards) basically agree on most of the issues in a broad sense. In general, they are all working towards the same goal of moving on from the current administration and making positive "change" (see, we all use talking points) in health care and the economy, etc.

    For me, it's about being inspired. Words do matter. I've been moved and inspired to action by great books, by interesting stories, and by Barack Obama. That is meaningful and rare. And many people have been inspired by Hillary Clinton. We are all different. We are all inspired by different things. But Obama helps me to see we still have a lot in common. Clearly this is in the face of much evidence to the contrary, as demonstrated in this blog which is a disgusting display of America at its worst. Still, I have to believe you are all here because you care about this country.

    January 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  19. Stagehnd1

    New Hampshire voter fraud??????


    January 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  20. Don

    The article continues a disturbing trend in major media... quoting a one person's side of an issue without including any analysis that supports or refutes it. The CNN article should have told the reader either that Obama was right about being mis-represented or that he was wrong and Clinton was correct in his criticism.

    January 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  21. Natasha B


    It's unfortunate that there are people out there who are so gullible that they'll soak in whatever poison is spewing from the Clinton campaign and parrot it back like a no-brain zombie.

    Obama's co-chair is NOT A WASHINGTON LOBBYIST. He is a state lobbyist who has never lobbied for Obama or any federal official.

    Perhaps you need a Civics lesson on the difference between State politics and Federal politics. For goodness sakes, pick up a reputable newspaper, heck, just spend some time googling for info.

    January 9, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. Hardy, FL Voter

    I am happy for both leading democratic nominees to be. First, for at least recognizing there must be a change and being in the situation the Republicans have put us in, we can't go nowhere but up and forward. So "CHANGE" has to be the primary concern no matter what the issue is. I believe we all know, if we want to exceed in this change, we must keep the White House Democratic, not just for the next eight years, but for at least the next sixteen. Yes, irregardless who our Democratic Candidate is, please, please, please choose the other as your running mate. (Hilary and Obama) We know you are opponents now, but in a few months one will be rallying for the other and both of you are very strong leaders who in the end we will appreciate. Our country is in big trouble and those Conservative Rep. want to keep us locked in the past where all these rich people can keep us at their mercy. So my advice to you Democratic Candidates, stop critizing each others weakness and focus on what each of you plan to do if and when we take over.

    January 9, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  23. Jimmy

    And how many times has Obama took liberties with Clintons words. Remember CNN Barrack's personell news service. Some of us have been following this race since it begun.. Obama tries so hard to make it sound like he is being picked on. Well if you can not handle it on the campaign, how in the world does he expect to handle it as President. BOO HOO for crying Obama.

    January 9, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  24. Hillarylover

    JACK, NY, NY January 9, 2008 7:36 pm ET

    Obama is a cry baby. Yesterday he was acting like a winner ready to take on WH. Walking with box of pizza in his hand, shaking little girls hand in a coffee shop. His reaction to Clintons remarks- "they are getting desperate…..blah blah….still confident he is wining…going on wining HOPE….then REALITY hits in…he lost….then he starts whining. …..NOW THAT IS WHAT OBAMA IS ..OBLIVIOUS AND HIS SUPPORTERS ARE EVEN MORE DILLUSIONAL…..hanging on with poetry of HOPE…..not thinking about the reality.

    Jack Jack is BACK. I have missed reading your comments. I haven't seen them – maybe I just have been skimming through these too fast. I agree. Obama is a huge cry baby.

    January 9, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. akm

    Bill Clinton lies! Period!

    January 9, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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