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. Hope, Seattle, WA

    So, not only is Obama responsible for his own position, but for Oprah's as well? I love how the only person not responsible for their position on any issue is HRC. Isn't she promising the same things that her husband promised in 1992? For those calling for an investigation into the Obama, be careful what you wish for, because when the investigations begin they will also include Mrs. Clinton and her so-called husband. If she breaks down because she was losing a primary what will she do when the Republicans come after her during the general election. The reality is that the in-fighting between these two candidates is going to ensure a Republican victory in November. The Clintons have already begun slinging mud and Obama will have to sling back in order to stay in the race; and after watching the Republicans on television tonight they are re-energized and salivating at the opportunity of running against HRC. And to those who have gone on and on about experience, if that is the case then shouldn't Dodd, Richardson, or Biden have won? Your argument doesn't hold up, but I suspect you know that.

    January 9, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  2. ZH

    Bill, it is such a shame to twist.. I saw you saying the rubbish. you lost my respect. you atre not any different from those ugly politicians...

    January 9, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  3. marguerite manteau-rao

    Thanks for setting Bill straight.

    I am a huge fan of Bill, except in his role as husband supporter of Hillary. We need to turn the page and open a new chapter with Obama. Step aside, Hillary, please.


    January 9, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  4. sri

    When Bill clinton said it is a fairy tale, he is immediately condemning all those black people who saw Obama win Iowa caucucs and became hopeful that something can really happen. Other day I saw a columbia ph.d. student on Charlie Rose. She was covering Obama race and at the end of the program, her eyes teared up about the possibility. If you play these against Hillary's tears, you will know which are genuine; which tears are exploting the basic instincts of human race.

    January 9, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  5. m.m

    Glen, the superdelegates are some kind of check and balance against potential abuse and conspiracy. for instance, imagine a conspiracy from a competing party to subvert the democratic choice. in that case, the superdelegates could be used as a counterbalance. SUPERDELEGATES are individuals that have proven their loyalty to the party by being committed to its philosophy for a substantial period of time. someone who votes today in a democratic primary is not necessarily a proven party loyalist; for that person may vote for another party coming next election. so leaving everything to mere voters may not be a wise party decision. hence, the necessity of superdelegates.

    January 9, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  6. Brittany Johnson

    Clearly Obama is the only logical democratic candidate. Hilary has been using Bill as a platform for years. Her only experience is being the wife of a cheating, dishonest husband, other than that she has none. Obama can and WILL save this country and anybody who believes otherwise is simply ridiculous....

    January 9, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. Joanne

    I am a New Hampshire resident who voted for Hillary Clinton. Why? Because she has what it will take to turn this country around. I don't know where Barack Obama stands on the issues & I don't believe he has what it takes to be the leader of this country. Oh sure, he gives great speeches but it's going to take more than speeches about hope & change to turn this counrty around.

    I trust Hillary Clinton to put together an excellent team that will work to cut our national debt, restore our dignity in the worid, take the tax burden off of the middle class, affordable health care for all citizens, etc.

    Most importantly, I trust that Hillary Clinton will address the debt that we owe to China. Do any of you realize the dollar amount that we pay in interest on that debt? Do any of you think about what will happen to this country if China uses the "nuclear option" & calls in that debt. How can we as a nation stand up to China when financially they own us?

    As for those of you who believe a woman cannot run this country, think again. Who handles household budgets, cleans the house, cooks, gives birth, comforts & pumps up the men in their lives + works to afford a decent lifestyle for her family?

    For the past seven years we have had two men running this country & they have run this country into the ground. We are debt ridden due to war of choice not of neccessity. It's going to take a strong woman to turn this country around & that woman is Hillary Clinton.

    January 9, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  8. David James

    Has ANYONE here read Barack's speech on the matter, PRE-invasion??
    Everyone criticizing the man wants to pretend that he has NO record. It's out there people, just read for a few minutes!


    January 9, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  9. m.m

    the big problem with the clintons is that they would insult the intelligence of the american people without even blinking. first of all, bill claims that obama voting record in the senate is very similar to that of hillary in an attempt to show that hilary is not that different from obama; yet, he would praise his wife's legislative accomplishement but undermine that of obama as the biggest fairy tale. that is the contradiction!!! what obama said about the war was not a contradiction. also claiming that the media is in favor of obama is a lie. obama was written off by the media long ago in favor of the inevitable candidate. as someone has already pointed out, obama has only himself to blame; for god's sake, bill was the same man who tried to change the meaning of the very common word "SEX", so no one should be surprised if he has twisted another man's word.

    January 9, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  10. Azar


    Women other than Hillary Clinton can turn this country around. We have some great women at the head of major corporations and in the public sector. Hillary Clinton is too divisive to unite the country. If she gets elected, she will not be able to rule effectively because of her attitude. In New Hampshire, she and her husband used emotion and race card in order to win. Her narrow victory was due to sympathy votes by women. In this context, if women like you and Ms. Gloria Steinem vote because of gender, another division may arise within the Democratic Party and vindependents. I think that people should vote for a candidate based on that candidate's qualification.

    January 9, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  11. Elliott

    Hillary = Status Quo. It's that simple. She tried to enact major healthcare reform but failed miserably. Health care is too important to risk with someone who has a bad track record.

    I am amazed how Democrats have bought Hillary's fairy tale about "change." There will be very little change under a Hillary administration. Don't believe me? Name some significant new policies and changes under the Bill Clinton administration.

    Obama = Change. Hillary = lip service to change and cozy relationships with big donors, selling out the progressive left, just like Bill did.

    January 9, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  12. Hailey

    How funny. I submitted a comment earlier that stated something along the lines of :
    "Big surprise, The to biggest campaign spenders are butting heads. Maybe if there was a cap on campaign spending we would get a clearer view of the truth"
    To my disbelief, my comment was not approved. Has sensorship really reached this level?
    Once again , a Ron Paul supporter of the south
    (maybe this time my comment will reach the cut)

    January 9, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  13. AJ, IL

    Obama has never played the race card. Unlike Hillary who has continually played the gender card. GIVE ME A BREAK! Tearing up about a question concerning the campaign season. Hillary didn't tear up when Bill (the adulterer) got caught publicly cheating on her or when her vote for the Iraq war put this country on a divisive and downward path. I'm sure the terrorists are liking the weakness they see in Hillary.

    January 9, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  14. m.m

    being against unchecked lobbyism is not equivalent to being against lobbyism itself.
    people have a right to lobby but they do not have a right to bribe politicians.
    similarly if a doctor says that too much sugar is bad for you, would you call him a hypocrit if you see him consume sugar in moderation? similarly, on what logical basis is obama an hypocrit for hiring a professional lobbyist since in the first place obama is against lobbyism itself but rather against unchecked lobbyism? plouffe is not to pander to big powerful lobbyists, so it is not an act of hypocrisy since the job of being a political strategists overlays with that of being a lobbyist. this is again how the clintons would insult our intelligence.

    January 9, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. Sean Joseph

    I believe the correct protocol is to address a former President as President Clinton or President Bush, etc. I feel that addressing President Clinton as
    Bill Clinton is disrespectful and demeaning and projects an air of arrogance.

    January 9, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  16. Ray

    I think it's about time everyone takes a step back and asked themselfs a question or two about those who are running for U.S. President that serve in the House or Senate. If they all have such great ideas, then why haven't they introduce bills for these types of thing they are promissing to the American public. When you get a justifiable answer, please let us all know why the Bill didn't pass in committee or house, but first let us know when it was introduced.
    The second point is, I would like to have a job right now where I'm getting paid by the American people while I'm running a champaign for President. Is that fair to those who aren't a Congressman or Senator, and have to do the funding out of their own pocket. Oh, I forgot, what about the money being spent for secret service personnal? Who's paying for all of that? Don't forget that there is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so that roughfully means 50 to 60 security people we pay for in travel , meals and lodging. Now, if we took the money that is paying for all the security and all expenses, we could almost pay for all health care, as well as secure our boarders. I know most of the folks in California don't care about that, beign they are the ones who just burn they're money just to show off.
    Let's find someone who cares more about what is happening in the United States and wants to close the gates and return labor where it belongs. Not over seas, but here. If we continue the way we are going, we will be at the mercy of other countries for all our needs.
    Bottom Line, Only six months of campaigning, one million dollars for advertising, andthen the seventh month is the elections. It's up to us to make the difference and not the politician.

    January 9, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  17. cadem22

    Anyone who believes that Hillary Clinton will lead this country in a new direction is extremely out of touch. The democrats have the chance with Obama to nominate a candidate that not only appeals to democrats but independents and republicans...isn't that the best of all scenarios for a general election?? Say what you want about his record and experience, Hillary is by no means perfect either but one thing is for sure and that is she will polarize this country and ensure that the gop has a legit shot at winning the white house AGAIN! This is a moment for democrats to seize back Washington and build a coalition of the willing regardless of political affiliation. And with that this country will actually be able rebound from this terrible situation we are in

    January 10, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  18. ecmexican

    Am I the onl y person who thinks that if Obama were Phil Mckenzie and a white man he would have been laughed off the stage when he stated he wanted to be President? A white man or woman with his experience would not have been given the time of day.....

    January 10, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  19. Patricia

    Bill Clinton will do anything to WIN Hillary... Remember, after that ORAL office chapter which put to shame the greatest country on earth, he has been wooing Hillary. I bet Bill promised her the ORAL office just so she can put up a picture of one happy family... Get real, Clintons...

    January 10, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  20. Mark Flanders


    It is depressing how many (not all) of these comments are ignorant and abusive. Apparently people are so disempowered that when they get a chance, they just spew whatever bits of out-of-context information they've managed to fit into their preconceived little ideas. The facts are repeatedly wrong and the attacks are mean and childish. If I'm for intelligent dialog and consided opinions, does that make me an Obama supporter? If so, guilty as charged.


    January 10, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  21. McDonald

    Really nice to know that Bill the racist Clinton thinks that the only good use for Blacks is neoexploitation in pursuit of his family's interest. Funny looking for an additional presidential term through his wife ...Well this time it will be different..everyone will see him for the incompentent slcik sellout that he always out...the economy is in the tanks thanks to GeorgeW and his wife's and his political opportunism will only make things worst...
    The Oracle

    January 10, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  22. McDonald

    How bout voting for Barbara Bush ...she had two sons who were governors and a Husband and a son who were president... let's see the Clintons top that ...What experience?

    January 10, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  23. From The North

    Well it's nice to see that CNN and so many bloggers are still consumed and obsessed with the Election that doesn't take place for another .....eleven months?

    I'D THINK MORE IMPORTANT TODAY WOULD BE THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION'S ANNOUNCEMENT that they are all but ready to send another 3,000 military to Afghanistan to aid the steady rise in violence. Albeit they haven't a clue where they'll get 3,000 military members! Apparently not from Europe as it sounds like they've had enough with assisting the PEACE KEEPING AND DEMOCRACY BUILDING in the Mid East.

    Course this was not news for me. I knew it was only a matter of time/days before George found an excuse to get another fiasco going. Good Ole George. Never a dull moment while he's around eh?

    Maybe Americans should be spending more time concentrating on their present (so called) leader instead of yammering about which unqualified Candidate should replace him. NEWS FLASH – He AINT GONE YET – He's Bigger Than Life
    And stoking the fires!

    If everyone is so concerned about the future direction of their Nation maybe they should spend time making placards for a march in Washington instead of posting, as it looks like DIMWIT may move the election another year or two into the future so he can finish his next battle in the Mid East! (Iran by way of Kandahar)
    I'd sure like to get a look at his map.

    And Clinton was Impeached by an Intern and Publican Sniffer! Politics in the US are sure mindboggling. No wonder elections take so long!

    Oh Gee I'm missing Late Night with David Betterrman....Gotta Run...

    January 10, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  24. sam

    voter fraud
    obama and paul were cheated
    in the precint of sutton it is reported paul got 31 votes, while Sutton reported zero votes for Ron Paul
    exit polls shows obama was leading clinton
    even the cnn exit polls show them to be tied
    why would people lie after they had voted
    this is a fraud
    check this link

    January 10, 2008 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  25. chad

    ask people in illinois what obama has done here. bet they cant give you anything. i think hes spent more time in africa trying to fix their problems than he has in illinois.

    January 10, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
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