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. Darrell


    Trick or Treat

    N.H. Women Tricked ( Right)

    Hillary got the Treat

    I did not see hillary sniffle during the many Clinton W.H. Scandle

    Ha Ha New Hampshire — You may have gaurenteed a republican victory. His politics (Divider) unlike husband. Obama and her husband connect with all people. The Dem for will be split with this type of Trickery on her own Dem.

    Dems are Falling for anything

    January 9, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  2. Hardy, FL Voter

    Oh yeah, by the way, once upon a time all the candidates were "Rookies in da Game" When it comes to being The President, unless you are running for re-election for the The Presidency, no one has any experience on running the country.

    January 9, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  3. Rich

    It is past time for the media to stop giving Obama a free pass.

    He does exactly the same things columnists and reporters accuse the Clintons of doing: doing everything he can to win, using surrogates as attack dogs, changing his positions to pander to particular groups of voters, etc...

    The only difference is that Clinton gets called on all of these while Obama is allowed to slide. It is political correctness writ large.

    January 9, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  4. sade

    Perhaps if hillary spreads her tears across america she will win the nomination, otherwise I dont think she really has a chance.

    January 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. James

    It bothers me how people think that someone has to be from Washington to be president. Its a shame what this governmental system has done to people believing in Clinton nonsense.

    January 9, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  6. JA

    Obama welcome to the "BIG DANCE" ... how are you going to change that??
    Any specific answer will do.
    I guarantee if you had answers for exactly how you will change things besides uniting people you would probably win. I think you are a few years ahead of your time. Also, I would stay out of debates that bring up anything to do with foreign affairs....those questions will kill you.
    Hey people... ask questions.... demand answers from all the candidates.

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

    Hillary ONLY won a small state over Obama by 2 percent! Relatively speaking, SHE lost to him in Iowa by 9 percent, much more obvious, and a larger state, with much more up for grabs. HE still LEADS with delegates.

    We know all two well how the old-school politics are. I want change. Obama, an American man, running for an elected office to represent US, and the U.S., clearly is change, with his attitude, his style, and I believe, like others do about "people mocked about people with minimal experience", that regardless of what he knows once he gets into office, is relavant, but his convictions, passions, and the people he will surround himself with to bring about that change WILL WORK FOR US, and the U.S.

    Everyone, just think about where you were, say two, five, ten, or twenty years ago, and where you wanted to be. The serious ones, with serious conviction, and passion GOT there! He will too. We need him as a leader, as an inspiration, and for change, for GOOD. It's time!

    I don't want 8 more years of "her". We've seen that movie, read that book, and saw the article, somewhere, right?


    Former diehard Reagan Republican!

    January 9, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  8. Wild Bill/Sweet William

    Show me a man who wants to go to Washington to change things and what he offers to do this with is Hope, Unity and Bipartisanship and I will show you a man going to a brass knuckle brawl armed with only good intentions.

    January 9, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. DEBRA


    January 9, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  10. Proud to be an American

    First, I'd like to congradulate the voters of NH. You showed the media that you have minds of your own and don't let the media or polls influence how you vote.

    I was only 50% sure of who I was going to vote for during the primary in my state on Feb. 5th. My vote was a toss up between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. I was leaning towards Mrs. Clinton because she has more experience and has done good things for the state of New York. Look up her record and you will see this for yourselves. She's been clear on the issues and admits she made a mistake with Iraq. That to me says alot. It can not have been easy to admit that she made a mistake. She voted for it with the information given to her and I,for one was okay with the war (at the beginning) in Iraq with the information I was given. I have 3 family members and countless friends in the military so wasn't looking to send these men and women there to die for no good reason. I also started thinking back to when her husband was president and all of the things that were right with our country then. These are the ones that mattered to me and should matter to all of you as well. When Clinton was in office, (and I know he's not the one running, but she was their with him, so some of his experience and knowledge has to have rubbed off on her) sure there was scandal, BUT our national debt was erased, their were plenty of jobs, our economy was great, , he was well liked by foreign diplomats and still is today, and gas and oil prices were at reasonable prices. Americans were proud to call themselves American when traveling abroad. This is not the case any more. We get whispers behind our backs and odd looks, like they would rather spit on us than talk to us. Don't get me wrong this is not the case everywhere, but it is evident. These are just a few things that worked for me during the Clinton administration. What he did in his private life had no bearing on how he ran this country. I'm not saying what he did was honorable or even right, but he wasn't the first president to get caught in this kind of scandal and he won't be the last.

    Then on Saturday night I watched the Democratic debate...that made up mind. I've read on this forum how intelligent and articulate Mr. Obama is, but was I the only one who noticed the stuttering and the long pauses. It seemed to me as is he had to run his answers through mind first before vocalizing them. He kept saying how he was going to make changes, but gave no specifics and believe me I was waiting to hear about these changes he was going to make, and how he was going to make them. I keep waiting for SOMEONE to demand that he give specifics, but as of yet no one has. The media is playing hardball with Mrs. Clinton and using kit gloves with Mr. Obama. I don't believe any of our foreign adversaries are going to use kit gloves with him if he's elected president, so he better grow a spine and soon. And how snotty was he when he told her (Mrs. Clinton) she was "liked enough". Not a good move on his part in my opinion.

    Mrs. Clinton on the other hand was articulate and elegant in her answers. She was specific on the issues and there was no stuttering or long pauses. She got angry at one point in the debate which is one of the things I had not seen her do before and I thought to myself, okay she can hold her own when pushed to the wall.

    The next day the media started reporting how she was trailing in NH by double digits and all I kept thinking is how once again the American people were letting a smooth talker (George W. Bush) who doesn't actually say anything of substance get to them again. I WAS WRONG. Thank you NH for giving me back faith in the American people to be able to tell the difference between just words and empty promises and actual specifics on issues.

    These are just my opinions and observations and I respect anyone who doesn't agree with them, that's what makes America great.

    My vote is firmly in Mrs. Clinton column because I believe she might be the only one who can bring the United States back from the brink.

    January 9, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  11. LV

    After staying glued to the primary and following all of the fallout for the last 24 hrs, I just have one question:

    With all of the media hype over Senator Clinton's "Triumphant Victory" over Senator Obama, why is no one mentioning the fact that Senator Obama has a 1 point OVERALL lead in the Democratic race?

    I mean hey, its still early...............doesn't the rest of the country have a say?

    January 9, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  12. ted

    Dont anyone be fooled by the Clinton name. Bill and Hillary are two different people and for people to think that Hillary will be as good a president as Bill is a big mistake. Besides, Bill had his ups and downs too.

    Another dynasty??? Do we want another Clinton in the white house? why don't people open their eyes and see through Hillary like I do. A woman who will do anything, including shedding crocodile tears to get what she wants is very dangerous. Be ware! She claims she wants to help the American people but my friends, we all know there are so many other ways she can do that including being a senator. Yet, she cries as if her world will end if she doesnt become a president.

    As for Bill Clinton, he should keep his mouth shut and stop going after Barack. He should be the last person to point fingers after his cheating fiasco in the white house. His words mean nothing right now.

    January 9, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. wow.

    Some people really are just dimwitted. First of all, Obama DID respond to Bill Clinton's lies and he did so before the New Hampshire primary. He didn't respond like a baby; he stated calmly and clearly that Bill Clinton has and will continue to take his quotes about the Iraq war out of context. Second, although he was not able to vote against the war, he spoke out against it from day one. Also, he has not once changed his opinion on the matter. Voting for funding of the war does not make him a flip flopper, it simply signifies that he is not willing to abandon the troops. That is all.

    Third, Obama is not behaving like a sore loser, he is simply clearing up the facts. As many of these comments show, people have actually been foolish enough to listen to the Clintons' lies about him and so it his job, as A CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENCY to counter their statements. Fourth, the Clintons are proving themselves more and more to be negative influences on the country. Barack Obama has tried his hardest to run a positive campaign. Even when he was a clear underdog and the hillary juggernaut was moving forward with its "in it to win it" nonsense, he kept his cool and continued to promote his message (which, by the way, is not simply the word CHANGE. he actually has an idea about how this country should be run. try READING about it: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/ ). However, as soon as Hillary suffered a setback, the claws came out she she showed her true colors as a scrappy politician who will do anything to win.

    To win New Hampshire Hillary Clinton had to run a campaign of deception, low blows and crocodile tears. And then we have bill (who I have respected for years, but who seriously needs to get a grip – his wife isn't that great) who blatantly LIED about obama's record and called obama's success the biggest fairy tale ever. give me a break. What really is the fairy tale is that he and his wife seem to think that they are truly entitled to the White House.

    Honestly, obama has forced even the republicans to stop in their tracks and acknowledge that he is a true threat because he has a positive message and he appeals to the public. i've read so many articles about how one special thing about obama is that he truly believes that he can work WITH the citizens of this country to effect change. it's not all this, me me me me me nonsense, he's all about using "WE". He's a visionary leader and i hate that people just jump to the conclusion that he's not qualified just because he has high hopes for the country. HILLARY CLINTON SHOULD NOT BE PRESIDENT because all she cares about is herself.

    Especially great was how, through her tears, she proclaimed, 'some people are right and others are wrong'. Hmm, so you're right and obama is wrong. good one. That's the spirit, the clintons can never be wrong because they are, of course, omniscient. she just wants to win a race, and if she has to cry to do so she will. if she has to claim that obama doesn't stand up for abortion rights, she will. if she has to argue that obama is a flip flopper when it comes to Iraq, she will. She played dirty and it worked in her favor. but does this really bode well for our country? great so yet another politician shows that simply being yourself doesn't work. instead you have to be scrappy and pretend to be a tough guy or a pansy little girl (please, 'i still try to watch my weight, sniffle, sniffle, and watch what i eat, sniffle, sniffle.' biggest load of nonsense i've ever seen) in order to appeal to everyone.

    That whole, 'tears that rocked the world,' bit is NONSENSE. the media took this crap story and went running with it and suddenly every headline is basically, 'woah, hillary has a heart?!' oh man such a joke. i can't believe it actually worked. and everyone tries to say that the press doesn't pick on obama enough, but HE IS NEWER SO OBVIOUSLY THERE IS LESS TO CRITICIZE (interestingly, bill clinton was in the same boat when he was running in 1992 – new guy, big ideas – so i love how now that he and hillary are old, he's all about, wah wah wah my wife has been around longer). moreover, is it such a bad thing that someone is ACTUALLY a good human being with a pretty decent record? i don't think so. what a pity. i seriously PRAY that obama can pull through in the end.

    January 9, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. william walsh columbus ohio

    im not sure obama can do it,im not even sure that hillery can do it, but in regards to the post that if you dont vote for obamma then vote for romney or MCcain?gulioni? edwards, good god man! get some help!, maby,just maby, edwards could do something but i doubt it,but the rest of these guys are,
    well you could go mc cain,he backs bush on the war, and hes like 120,yrs old not to mention he owes, if elected its,politics as usual,,no thanks,romney? he just says what you want to here, hes so back and forth how could you even keep up with him? well unless your his barber,, gulioni,this guy is a total waste,, of all the canidates hes not even worth the min to think and say no,the field is set and theres very little to pick from, but another 4 yrs of a money spending,self indulgent administration, is just tooooooo much,we dont care about abortion,do what you need as long as you can live with it so can we, we dont care if your gay, just dont push yourlifestyle on others and we could care less, unless you just cant get the picture of it out of your head ,then you need help not the gay people,we want gas prices down, a leader to develop a new fuel, get us out of iraq, and leave these fricking countrys alone, get some strong companys back in the u.s, and deport all these frickin imigrants out of this country, thats what the american people want, and while your at it, do an early retirement for the house and congress to get these prehistoric pompus asses out of the 18th century way of thinking and bring things up to date, windows updates every few days to keep up,its time to move forward, or get out of the way! what is so hard about making change? you are the we the people! take it back and make it better,obama,hillery,edwards, anything else is what you have now,

    January 9, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Gilbert Reed

    Here in Illinois, both Hillary and Obama are favorite sons, (daughter?). Maybe Hillary even more, as she was raised in Park Ridge, right next to Chicago, and Obama grew up in Honolulu, and Indonesia. He was a civil rights lawyer here in Illinois, before entering politics. His Senate race was easy when his Republican opponent, Jack Ryan, withdrew, because of a sex scandal. 12 weeks prior to the election, the Republicans brought in Alan Keyes, an African American Republican from Maryland, to replace Ryan on the ballot. So, of course Obama won in a walk. Now for Oprah’s support. What is not publicized is Oprah’s support for the Iraq Invasion. She devoted a portion of her show, and let Judy Miller, and the Iraq Invasion propaganda bunch rail about Iraq’s WMD arsenal, which did not exist. She pushed Judy Miller’s book on germ warfare, and cut off a audience member that questioned the coming invasion. Obama’s opposition to the Military Authorization? I live in Illinois, and didn’t hear anything about it, or from him, at the time. I believe the media would have taken him apart if he had been very vocal in his opposition.

    January 9, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  16. Jensen

    "Barry" Obama (the name he used while growing up, by the way), needs to stop his "crying". He is also going to have a lot of explaining to do, when people start to look into his history. He wrote an interesting book back in the mid 1990's, in which he describes his drug use ("blow" and "pot", but "not smack"), in pseudo-street language, saying that he used these drugs to cope with his stress of being a black man in a white man's world. In reality he went to an elite high school in Hawaii, where there were plenty of mixed race students (after first going to an Islamic elementary school.) He seems to have no problem playing the "race card" in his favor, when convenient.

    January 9, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  17. Bart

    Hillary has experience; Obama does not.

    Hillary Clinton is by far the greater candidate.

    January 9, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  18. CE, Wisconsin, USA

    I believe Bill Clinton. Of course I believed him when he said "I did not have sex with that woman...."

    January 9, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  19. JW

    I love this. All of a sudden, when the pollsters and media were dead wrong, they are spinning it in so many ways, as is the Obama camp, to say this was just a fluke upset. What a bunch of dimwits. I guess pollsters and media folk don't think the public becomes tired of constant polling and start lying just to get them away. I lie constantly to pollsters, whether by phone or online.
    The problem I see now is that some media people, specifically on MSNBC, are starting to use the race card. Chris Matthews is one guy who pouted all night last night as the results came in. His arms were crossed and he looked more stunned then he usually is. He was trying to find anything to show he wasn't wrong, that the voters got it wrong. Then Chuck Todd showed up. Todd is the one who started Matthews on his insinuation that NH voters are racist in a desperate attempt to move it off the fact he also got it dead wrong! He said he wasn't saying the people of NH were racist, but you have to look at these things, and then Matthews gets right in there. Look at his show tonight, that's where he flat out would not agree with Buchanan and Dee Dee, but sure agreed with the Black Professor who threw a hissy fit. He should've done the Obama is the greatest thing since JC like he did on YouTube. Remeber the people in Rangoon will be talking about Obama's win?
    The Morning Joe crew just wanna make me puke (now wonder they're last in the ratings among the 3 news networks). Get rid of those guys, but keep Keith O!
    No wonder people don't trust the media.
    Rate the following: Lawyers, Politicians; Political Pundits;Snake Oil Salesman! Give me a Snake Oil Salesman anytime.

    January 9, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  20. Joan Utterback-Embden

    I'm thinking that maybe there is another, more significant, reason for the discrepancy between the pre-vote surveys in New Hampshire and the actual outcome for Obama vs Clinton in the primary there. Here's my thought: A large number of votes for Obama was expected to come from college students. I would think it would be significant to note that college students are probably on break and not around to vote in the scheduled primary. The question I am posing is why , then, would the NH primary be scheduled when it was – especially so close behind the Iowa primary? Was this deliberate? Was it a strategy to certainly affect the outcome?

    January 9, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  21. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    "you can praise the fact that you dont have an airplan wing in your livingroom. That 50% could have been 0% if you looked up at the towers and said "Oh that sucks, oh well, life goes on, hope they dont do it again tomorrow!"
    If the huge, overwhelming majority of Bush's 50% increase in debt was due to catching the responsible people so they couldn't do this again, that would be fine. But instead the vast majority of money is gone because Bush gladly invaded a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 and anyway, as he said, he "wasn't that concerned" about bin Laden.

    No one should believe that the huge spending is the sole cause for not having a SECOND attack on America on Bush's watch. The 50% increase has not come remotely close to preventing foreigners from easily crossing our borders. If we are to pass out credit, we owe some degree of thanks to Mexico and Canada for preventing terrorists having easy access to points where they could just walk or swim into the United States.

    January 9, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  22. Ann

    Bill Clinton will take more than liberty with your words, Obama. The Clinton's are street brawlers, guttersnipes and play dirty. I hope you can withstand the onslaught that will come for your audacity of getting in Hillary's way to her predestined position in the White House. God be with you.

    January 9, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  23. zero

    It shouldn't be any surprise...Bill has a long, long history of twisting and bending words around to fit his argument. And he's always had the charisma to make even rational people believe in it. It's really his natural talent. That's probably the real reason that we Democrats even put him in office in the first place, because those who knew his game also knew how easily he could hold his office with such a gift.

    January 9, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  24. JV


    Think about it America! If you really wanted change you could actually get it if you weren't so pathetic.

    The Clintons should be in marriage counseling or should have divorced long ago. They are fooling all of you! Wake the hell up. Who care's what Bill Clinton, a President who lied right to your face, has to say. Why does he have ANY credibility. Yeah, I voted for him twice but after he lied I now call his integrity into question.

    Have you noticed how NOTHING has really changed? The candidates are still talking about health care, fixing social security, tax-cuts, bla, bla, bla

    NOTHING HAS CHANGED! It's the same set of problems every election cycle.

    The only way to change it to take a new course insane people. You keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

    January 9, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  25. Candace

    Karen, it appears to me that you've collected the superficial attack points against Senator Obama from the web without having studied the issues yourself. Here's my response to the 4 specific voting records of Senator Obama that you pointed out as somehow anti-middle. If you study them carefully, you'll realize that you couldn't be further from the truth.

    1. The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) addressed some of the abuses practiced by class action lawyers AT THE COST of their clients and consumers that they purport to represent by requiring stricter federal scrutiny in class action settlements, e.g., coupon settlements and attorneys’ fees awarded to class counsel. This legislation, although it’s against my own interest as a class action lawyer myself, was necessary to avoid the type of cases where attorneys’ fees exceed the relief to the class members (the consumers about whom you are concerned). Most class actions settle, and the class action attorneys previously had wide latitude and often unfettered discretion on fashioning settlements, with state courts rubber stamping the proposed settlements which often gave pennies to the consumers and the attorneys took millions. See, for example, the case of Kamilewicz v. Bank of Boston. CAFA addressed these issues to ensure that the consumers would get a fairer share.

    2. As far as the credit card 30% interest cap that you refer to, the proposed amendment that you refer to was to S. 256 which, contrary to what you say, was lobbied by credit card companies including MBNA Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the finance units of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. On the other hand, the bill was OPPOSED not only by Senator Obama but by consumer protection groups such as the National Consumer Law Center, Consumer Federation of America, and civil rights groups such as Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. The opposition to the bill was based on the opinion that the bill was a package put together by financial institutions and their lobbyists and would plunge millions of Americans into bankruptcy and would be ruinous to middle class and low income families. Senator Obama opposed the whole bill, Senator Clinton was absent for the vote.

    3. Nomination of Thomas Griffith was part of a bipartisan deal that dealt with a predictable set of conservative judicial nominees and amidst talk of a filibuster showdown and counter threat of Republicans to use the nuclear option of doing away with the filibuster against judicial candidates. Griffith, as it turns out, was one of the less objectionable candidates on the slate. At the time, Senator Kennedy stated that the Senate had narrowly averted a crisis: “It does seem to me that the American people want us to get on with the people's business. This has been an enormous distraction.”

    4. As far as the fair trade agreement issue, I assume you’re referring to CAFTA. I hope you know about what NAFTA has done to American workers. If not, please study the issue. I’ll let Senator Obama speak on why he opposed CAFTA in his own words from his senate webpage:

    “There are real problems in the agreement itself. It does less to protect labor than previous trade agreements, and does little to address enforcement of basic environmental standards in the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic. Moreover, there has been talk that, in order to get votes from legislators from sugar-producing states, the Bush administration may be preserving indefensible sugar subsidies that benefit a handful of wealthy growers and cripple Illinois candy manufacturers.

    But the larger problem is what's missing from our prevailing policy on trade and globalization–namely, meaningful assistance for those who are not reaping its benefits and a plan to equip American workers with the skills and support they need to succeed in a 21st Century economy.

    So far, almost all of our energy and almost all of these trade agreements are about making life easier for the winners of globalization, while we do nothing as life gets harder for American workers. In 2004, nearly 150,000 workers were certified as having lost their jobs due to trade and were thus eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance–and this number doesn't even count service workers like janitors and cafeteria employees.

    But this is about more than displaced workers. Our failure to respond to globalization is causing a race to the bottom that means lower wages and stingier health and retiree benefits for all Americans. It's causing a squeeze on middle-class families who are working harder but making even less and struggling to stay afloat in this new economy. As one Downstate worker told me during a recent visit, "It doesn't do me much good if I'm saving a dollar on a T-shirt at Wal-Mart, but don't have a job."

    And so now we must choose. We must decide whether we will sit idly by and do nothing while American workers continue to lose out in this new world, or if we will act to build a community where, at the very least, everyone has a chance to work hard, get ahead and reach their dreams.”

    January 9, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
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