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. James

    The anger toward Barack here is so palpable it's pathetic. It's as though people don't care what he says or why he says it; they are just waiting for him to say SOMETHING so they can pounce. Bill Clinton did twist his words. Barack isn't "whining" when he points this out. He's stating fact. Further, he's defending himself against this misquote. Any reasonable person can see this. The only way you could possibly criticize Barack for his remarks about Clinton's misquote is if you're just some hostie sick-o desperate for a reason, no matter how illegitimate, to spew your bile. Hate on. The rest of us are too busy watching history in the making.

    January 10, 2008 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  2. a young woman

    Nobody really knows who will be the best president.

    I mean, throughout history, presidents have been elected with the perception they are the best leader at the time. If it was that easy all our past presidents would have all been amazing. All these passionate diatribes are a bit worthless, considering that these candidates cannot prove themselves until they are in the Oval Office making decisions.

    A friend of mine and I had a heated debate about the Iraq war a few days after it began in the early years of Bush-dom. I was against it and called Bush many a name at his poor choice to go to war. My friend and I stopped talking for a long time. Last year he saw that I was right, and that the war was started by lies and manipulation/fear.

    So remember that your choice right now might not be the best, any way you look at it.

    All we can do is vote and pray.

    January 10, 2008 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  3. Carey Gister

    I have been listening to many of Senator Obama's speeches and to all of his sound bites. I am continually left with a question that he has not answered: what is this change of which he speaks? I am all for positive change, but I want to know what the change will be. I have not heard any specifics. At present, I am an independent and I do not favor anyone candidate. Can someone point me to a substantive speech or paper that articulates what this change will be? I do not mean to sound supercilious, but after the election there will certainly be 'change' – President Bush can not run for reelection – so a new cabinet and new directors in the executive will almost certainly be an order of the day. So what is this 'change'? What can I count on? How will it impact my day-to-day life and well-being?

    January 10, 2008 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  4. Dee Tucke

    This thing with Hilliary "tearing up" is just one tool that the clinton's can deploy. I do not want the President of this great country tearing up if they are tired, angry or whatever in front of Foreign Presidents, Heads of State or anybody else for that matter. When is the last time Bin Laden teared up that we saw. Her crying in front of the Prime Minister of Britain really paints a picture!! Take a good look at it. It'll really make the rest of the world recognize The United States of America as a formidable foe or a needed friend. GOD BLESS AMERICA

    January 10, 2008 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  5. John Wood, Bristow, VA

    Sorry to see Richardson drop out. He was the only one who doesn't scare me. Oh well, not up to me. Iowans and New Hampshirites decide these things.

    January 10, 2008 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  6. Reinhard, Barcelona

    Obama, our hopes over here in Europe are with you. Whoever I talk to is on your side.

    January 10, 2008 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  7. margaret

    America Make no mistake.
    Do not be deceived.Here is a man who from inception has made clear and clean his intentions.He is not deceptive – step forward,Hillary –.He doesnt play games – step forward,Hillary –.and is not tainted by so-called experience step forward,Hillary –. What else do we want?America.lool no further OBAMA 08.OBAMA forever.

    January 10, 2008 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  8. Juliann, Las Vegas

    Why is Obama called the outsider and Clinton the insider when they both work at the same place, the US Senate? Obama is already a Washington insider, people, wake up. This stuff about change and status quo is a script ripped off from Bill Clinton's 92 campaign. Do we really know anything about Obama, or are we just mesmerized by his preaching??

    January 10, 2008 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  9. Rose

    Obama was Editor of the Harvard Law Review. Usually, that person then becomes a clerk for a Supreme Court Justice to pad their resume. The fact that he decided to become a Community Organizer in Chicago instead says a lot more than going to work for the Rose Law firm.

    Believe me, Bubba and the missus would hire Richard Mellon Scaife and Ken Starr if they could, to unload their arsenal of dirty politics on Senator Obama. Although I have never liked HC, I did like Bill Clinton and voted for him twice. Not likely that I will be voting for Hill. I have never voted republican in my life. I will this time if Hillary is the nominee.

    Go Obama!

    January 10, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  10. Christopher London, New York City

    THE CLINTONS ARE DESPERATE. Hillary Clinton is one of the most unpopular and divisive candidates that the Democratic Party has ever run for President. That the establishment committed to her and the part is being run as an instrumentality of the Clinton machine is itself the reason why many Democrats, Republicans and Independents will vote against the party if they shove the candidacy down the throats of the American people. The only way Hillary can beat OBAMA is if (a) she drives up Obama's negatives close to hers (b) makes naive Americans fear an Obama candidacy (c) we count the votes using DIEbold voting machines (d) they divide up the female and black vote. Hence the reason why we will see in the Clinton Campaign in the coming weeks, as we did in NH, attacks on OBAMA as less than black, too black and as no heir to the throne of RFK and MLK. The Clintons have taken and employed lessons learned from NIXON-BUSH eras and KARL ROVE.

    January 10, 2008 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  11. Truethis

    Divide and conquer that's what wrong with the media. This country is tired of the destruction that's going on in our country. I want you guys to know that I love you because WE are one but we are different that what make us so special. I love those who hate by catagories by race or religion because those who not willing to open their minds and hearts to real CHANGE. It coming and you can't stop it

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us5jF80kRWk&w=640&h=390]

    January 10, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  12. Schroeder

    Poor victim Obama. Perhaps he can turn to Oprah for one of her battalions of self-help gurus.

    January 10, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  13. dave

    no wonder politicians twist each others words and attack each other all day long. judging by the comments on this board, that seems to be the american way.

    those of you who attack each other are a bunch of morons.

    the rest of you, who are being objective and who are taking such a great interest in this political race...well god bless you. you will make the right decision no matter who you vote for.

    January 10, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  14. humi

    At what time will the press actually 'press' Obama about the details of his plan of change? When will the press get over their star struck response to 'Oprah on the road' and begin the critical thinking process?

    I think Americans are so desparate to find great leaders like MLK that they are willing to forego the details and reach for a look alike such as Obama. But then again, he is helping this process. Have you noticed that his speeches are changing? Have you noticed that his pattern of speech has changed? He has assumed some of the patterns of speech of MLK (e.g., waivering at the end of sentence). The pace of the sentencing has changed. AND, Barack Obama is no MLK. What has this guy actually done? He's been a junior senator for two years. And before that, a legislator in IL (where he worked with insurance companies to get his health plan passed). He's no leader so in effect, it's really hard to take him seriously that he could effect change. Actually, the only change he has successfully effected is his ability to emulate in speech one of the greatest speakers of our time. CNN should do a comparative look at Obama's speeches over time. But hey, that would be investigative reporting.

    January 10, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  15. EE

    My guts tell me that if serious investigations are made foul play wont be impossible in NH primaries. Even inside the Clinton camps they fear an investigation will sink their campaigns.

    January 10, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  16. Michael, Columbus, IN

    To Carey Gister

    The writing is on the wall. Go to Obama's website, click on Issues. He has outlined all of his positions and intentions. He has disclosed everything. He talks about transparency....all you have to do is type in http://www.barackobama.com, click on issues, and read.

    January 10, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  17. bobfeiler@verizon.net

    While we all want change, IS NOW the time to put a Mr Obama, a 2 yr Senator in charge of the White House and the mess created? We need action, not words! Perhaps at a time when things aren't quite so critical would be a better time to experiment with his ideas, in 4-8 years into the future... NOW IS NOT THE TIME.

    January 10, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  18. Joshua

    After reading the above post I now understand why we have en Electoral College. When it was created the cheif reason was becuase the American Public, at the time, was "to Ignorant to make an edjucated vote". After reading these other post it seems that nothing has changed the American Public is ignorant. That is why this country is going to fail. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. We are turning into exactly what we faught against in the American Rev. and it is sickening. You all make me sick

    January 10, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  19. Comedy Queen

    Let me quote the brilliant late George Burns. "How come everyone who knows how to run the country is busy either driving cabs or cutting hair?"
    America, wake up and smell the polluted political ploys. Obama is the "straw candidate", out wooing votes with his Vaudvillian act of "change". He wants to take the votes from people who have more savvy and savoir-faire on the world stage of international politics. Do you think other countries are going to take this song and dance man seriously? But seriously, folks... Get a grip. This guy is obviously delusional.
    The French have a saying, "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." Translated, "the more things change, the more things remain the change." Hilliary is the right choice, the right candidate, the perfect candidate, the only candidate.
    Will someone open America's eyes about this cartoon character they call "Obama", and I hate to say it, it almost rhymes with "Osama". Send in the hook and get this guy offstage, he does not belong on the world stage of politics. As a senator, he's fine, but he is not presidential material.
    Hiliary rocks! Go girl go.

    January 10, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  20. KaAP

    A little fact checking here ... please ...
    1. The accusation that Obama's campaign manager is a lobbyist ... that is true ... BUY here is the big but: he is a state lobbyist and since he is not a resident of NH he can have no influence over his office ... However Obama will not take money from National lobbyists and from PAC's and that is true which is unlike the Clinton campaign who does ... John Edwards is playing a little semantic game with his no lobbyist money since trial lawyers are an interest group who do have a national influence ...
    2. As stated above Obama DID answer Bill Clinton's allegations in a factual calm and respectful manner.
    3. The swfit-boat techniques that the Clinton's and their operatives are using are at best reprehensible at worst unethical and they demonstrate a cynical regard for the country and constitution they profess to care about.

    I was a single mother in the 90's I do not remember that time as being pleasant the Clitnon's brought us a failed health care (something she highlights as her experience) a stupid don't ask don't tell law and a ridiculous form of animosity after he caused Democrats to loose both houses of congress ...

    Obama has experience and I am voitng for him because I am sick of this dynastic assumption by the Clinton's. I am angered by his lying about his affair not on moral grounds just on stupid grounds ... and I am concerned about what happened to the women left in his wake ... If Mrs Clinton was a feminist as she professes she would have left him ... especially because he trashed other women. I learned early on now that I am a professional that women ought not cry we have to be twice as strong blah blah blah to do what she did denigrates professional women everywhere .... and who can possibly believe she entertains herself cleaning closets? Please ...

    I am sick of the Clinton's ... I am sick of the Bush's ... and to see bill hanging out with george senior was horrific ... I do not see Jimmy Carter doing that.

    Barack obama reperesents a wonderful change, with fabulous policies finally a president has an education policy that I can agree with that focuses on critical thought and not on standardized testing and measurement (which is a large corporate enterprise and measures nothing but the question on the test) ... Here is a man with well thought out policies for the good of all Americans and I completely and totally will give him every ounce of my support

    January 10, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  21. Rick

    Unbelievable.

    There are actually idiots out there that would not vote for Barack because he refuses to wear a lapel pin that proves his has become synonymous with false patriotism?

    What a world.

    George W. Bush wears an American flag lapel pin and is the most anti-American person I have ever seen.

    I really wish some of you people would sit back and re-read some of your irrational statements. Imagine these statements coming from someone else, and how you would tar and feather that person for their views.

    The fact of the matter is that Obama (whom I have not decided to support as of this moment) is as viable an option as Hillary Clinton. You can pick your poison here.... the Repug hate machine will do its best to Swiftboat either of them in the general election, just as they lied about John Kerry in 2004.

    My recommendation is to stop the petty bickering and have conversations of substance. The true difference between Obama and Clinton in terms of policy is slim... in fact, both are too far to the right for me to perceive that either is truly a progressive candidate. But either represents a massive improvement over the current regime, and is a far better choice than the collection of neocons and the cluless running on the Repug side.

    In case you haven't noticed, we are still involved in an illegal war and occupation, the economy is tanking, and your civil liberties are being chipped away on a daily basis. Do we really want to piss and moan over who is a more viable candidate?

    January 10, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  22. Rick

    Unbelievable.

    There are actually idiots out there that would not vote for Barack because he refuses to wear a lapel pin that has become synonymous with false patriotism?

    What a world.

    George W. Bush wears an American flag lapel pin and is the most anti-American person I have ever seen.

    I really wish some of you people would sit back and re-read some of your irrational statements. Imagine these statements coming from someone else, and how you would tar and feather that person for their views.

    The fact of the matter is that Obama (whom I have not decided to support as of this moment) is as viable an option as Hillary Clinton. You can pick your poison here…. the Repug hate machine will do its best to Swiftboat either of them in the general election, just as they lied about John Kerry in 2004.

    My recommendation is to stop the petty bickering and have conversations of substance. The true difference between Obama and Clinton in terms of policy is slim… in fact, both are too far to the right for me to perceive that either is truly a progressive candidate. But either represents a massive improvement over the current regime, and is a far better choice than the collection of neocons and the cluless running on the Repug side.

    In case you haven't noticed, we are still involved in an illegal war and occupation, the economy is tanking, and your civil liberties are being chipped away on a daily basis. Do we really want to piss and moan over who is a more viable candidate?

    January 10, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  23. JC, Topeka, Kansas

    Gee, is it possible Obma just learned that what he says today and what he did yesterday, had better match up?

    Obama claims to be the canidate for change, well, what change does he think that he can achieve by butting heads with Washington? Change in Washington comes from within not from with out and true change can only be accomplished if voters put people in Congress that are for change, want change and are wlling to put polictic party affilation aside, ignore the Washington Lobbists and actually, work together.

    Now, it's really easy to say that I would not have voted to give Gerorge W Bush the authority to use military force if diplomatic efforts failed to gain the desired results, which in fact was what Congess voted on. Congress never did nor has cast a vote saying gee lets go to war with anyone since WWII, and yes that should be a major point. It should be pointed out that the vast and I mean vast majority of the people of the United States were in favor of giving the President a green light as to the use of military force at the time. But I will also point out that that was contingent on a real diplomatic effort to resolve differences with the Iraqi government and their WMD program. I will also point out that at this time Saddam had all ready gotten rid of his WMD programs, inspectors could not find the programs and the main reason Saddam maintained the facade was not to slap the Bush adminstration in the face, but to maintain the illusion with Iran, that Iraq had WMD. This then in Saddam's veiew was necessary to keep Iran from invading Iraq and continuing the Iraq/Iran war which Iraq had earlier came out on a shaky top of through the use of Chemical weapons. It is also this very point that created a situation in Iran, making them think they needed a nuclear weapons program to protect their nation, not from the United States, but from Iraq and their Chemical weapons.

    Needless to say, the situation is a little more complicated that it is made out to be, and it is by no means resolved today. I was not in favor of the War. Not because I liked the Iraqi government, but because I can not as an American veteran, support the invasion of a foreign nation that does not pose a threat to the United States and even at that I can not and will not ever support a preemptive strike against a nation that has not done harm to me. In addition, like it or not Iraq was playing a very important role in the region, that is it was still a matter of checks and balances between Iraq and Iran. Call it stability through mutial threat.

    Now if Senator Obama is truley set in stopping the military actions within Iraq, then as a member of Congress he can change things up and deny military funding. Once again this is not going to happen, but it sounds good. I need Senator Obama to demonstrate taht he is capable of wading through the vast complexities of international realtions and make a reasonable and rational assement of the situation. We have tried foreign politicy at the hip and this is where it has gotten us today.

    One can talk about change all day long until they are blue in the face and that does not bring about change. So what I would like to see from Senator Obama if he is the canidate of change, is what changes does he think he could acheive and what is his plan to bring them about. I don't want words, words are way to easy to come by, I want to see a plan, I want specfics. How does he intend to get rid of lobbist, how does he intend to make the peace in Iraq, how does he intend to bring bin Laden to trial, how does he intend to put America back in its place as a "respected" world leader, how does he intend to get medical care to Americans, how does he intend to bring good paying jobs back to Americans, how does he intend to address the situation of "illegal" foreign nationals, how does he intend to address a system that no longer is there for the people but for the few donors that control the halls of Congress and the White House, how does he intend to represent the people of the United States and not a political party platform that only represents the views of those on the National Committee.

    Obama looks good, when it serves his purpose he speaks very good, but looks and talk only go so far. Lets fill in the rest Who, What, Where, How and When. I really want specifics, talk is cheap, and politicians talk alot.

    January 10, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  24. Jason

    To Carey Gister:

    Great Question, and you are not haughty in your tone whatsoever. I would recommend going to Senator Obama's website. It's a very user friendly site that draws out his plans for "change". He outlines all of his strategies pertaining to healthcare, the war, the economy, civil liberties, etc. It's all spelled out there. Most of the candidates have websites that outline ideas and courses of action. Senator Obama's site provides detail as to what he proposes he will push for and how he believes the policies, he believes in, can take course.
    Additionally, one can state a case that we haven't heard much policy "substance" from any of the Dem candidates. Most of the "detail" or "beef" we are hearing centers around healthcare. I do hope that the candidates will expand to other areas as healthcare is not the only issue.
    But again, the websites are a good source. Plus, I believe we will hear much more detail in the coming weeks leading up to Feb 5. I do hope that you will get the information you need and that it answers any questions you undoubtedly have.
    I would also recommend looking at each candidates participation in the Senate. (I realize I'm narrowing the field to Clinton, Obama and Edwards) I feel it's important to see what each one is doing. Specifically, each one is committed to various Committees that aim to propose and ultimately implement policies to help enrich whether it be taxes, healthcare, our relationships abroad, etc. I hope this helps.

    January 10, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  25. tracy

    I don't think Obama is playing the victim at all. He is simply addressing what he feels is an inaccuracy that is being repeated about him. I have to say as a someone who has always felt connected to Bill Clinton I am having a hard time connecting to the Bill Clinton that I see on the campaign trail. When Hillary was down he was blaming everyone under the sun. It was very strange to see him like that.

    January 10, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
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