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. Ray, Collingswood NJ

    Poor Obama. I guess your wave is all washed out for now. Lets start to look at Clinton and Obama for what they CAN or HAVE done and not what they say they WILL do. Obama is all talk and New Hampshire noticed that. Clinton was down by 10 points in most pre-poll's and for Clinton to win by 2% is a BIG sign that she is the smart choice to run our Country. Now is not the time to "Roll the Dice"!
    I do think a Clinton/Obama ticket would a win win for the Dems now. We would all but lock up 16 years in the White House.

    Hillary 08!

    January 9, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  2. Jim in Orlando, FL

    Is it not already a proven fact that Bill Clinton is a liar ?

    January 9, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. Rob

    I think Bill played well in the wannabe Elitist state, the rest of America is getting disgusted with him and can not believe the so called more intelligent state fell for the absolute acted out crying from Hillary.

    What scares me is that Hillary supporters act like the Bush supporters in the last couple of elections and that women, whom I am losing respect for, are being so biased towards having a female president but dont even have a clue as to her policies.

    January 9, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. KP

    SYMPATHY VOTES WILL NEVER WIN THE TOTAL AMERICAN VOTE...YOU CANT CRY YOUR WAY INTO OFFICE...remember OBAMA is still up he won 12 delegates "Crybaby" Clinton won 11.
    OBAMA 08!!

    January 9, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. C Martelli

    All the Obama supporters better go and look up Dr Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ and what that church believes in, since Obama is always going on about his beliefs and faith, etc. I would be afraid to have him as a president.
    I have never been racial, but him and his beliefs really scare the heck out of me. After reading about how because of Dr Wright he decided to join his church back in the 80's even before he became a Sen. well that just gave him a longer time to believe all those beliefs from that church. Wake up America before it is too late.

    January 9, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. jep

    Barb, sorry Obama is the one who has been destroying the Clintons. Can't you see, read and watch what is going on? Be informed girl!
    Hilary the winner whether we like it or not.

    January 9, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Jon

    and he'll try with your kids next.

    January 9, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. Walt, Belton, TX

    What? Bill Clinton lie????? Think the surprise should be if he ever actually tells the truth! Same for his ever adoring wife!

    January 9, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Chuck

    If Obama had been in the Senate at the time he would have voted "present" anyway...

    All of the anti-clinton comments are from republicans anyway who'll support Obama until the general election... too bad people saw through your tactics in NH... only 12 more months of Bush!!

    January 9, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Jen, NYC, NY

    Al,

    Voting based on sex is hardly the best reason to vote. I believe we'll be able to see a woman president in our lifetime, but it doesn't have to be Hillary. This country needs to break out of the nightmare Bush-Clinton cycle.

    January 9, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Hank

    oh come on Obama, what do you expect. Bill is the master at this stuff. it's how he got there himself. guy is scum and knows how to work it.

    January 9, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. John

    Jim, there might not have been a mention of no Biden or Dodd meaning more votes for Hillary. But a few on CNN definitely mentioned the fact that Edwards and Obama are splitting the change vote and leaving enough for Hillary to pick up small victories over (Obama for now) either. They also mentioned that they wanted Hillary to finish 3rd or worse again and leave the race soon. Then they could ride with Obama as the only real choices and wait for him to falter before the nomination. Not only that, but the potential "change" vote in NH can be part of those 40+% "independents" who might have chosen to vote Obama (or Edwards) if they didn't feel more compelled to save McCain.

    Back to the topic at hand, though. As Clinton has pointed out, you (Obama) can't say you're against something unless you have actually voted against it. Voting FOR it or choosing not to vote are practically the same thing if it passes. The problem is, she basically does the same thing. Honestly, the only person who is true to their record and is not afraid to back up their "opposition" with a NO vote is Ron Paul.

    January 9, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. Philip

    The way the vote was setup in IW do you realize that if there were not enough votes for a certain person those votes then had to changed to a different person. Unlike the Republican side where it was basically a straw vote and people couldn't change their votes.
    It it had been that kind of caucus in IW for the Democrats then Clinton would have won, it was the second chance votes that killed her in that state.

    January 9, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. b. jones tulsa,ok.

    John....are you only saying that because you heard Hillary say that? Do you have anything besides that to back up that statement?

    January 9, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. looking

    I think people need to really look at everything Obama stands for, He should scare alot of people. If you go to his church website, it seems as if they are racist against the white people, and then on top of that he has all of the muselim background, HOW is that going to help the world. If you turn your back on the flag You surely do not need to run our Country!!!! Why don't you say your whole name when talking.

    January 9, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. sly

    If Obama can't handle one tough question, whether or not it came from the ex-president, how is he going to run this country? I'm glad that I found the answer to that question before our primary vote on the 29th.
    Everyone is soooo hung up on the Clinton's...get off of it and start doing your homework. Your going to put a slick talker (another Bush) into the white house that has no experience. Unlike Hillary, Obama has not yet to give his list of accomplishments, past and present. Nor has he said "how" he plans to make these big changes. I want to hear some substance from Obama, not a bunch of biblical and oh so saintly speeches.

    January 9, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. BobW Rochester, NY

    What did Regan's resume look like when he applied for the job of President? How about any of the previous presidents for that matter? What made them uniquely qualified for the job? Were they presidents some place else? Does any amount of time serving as a governor, senator or congress person really add up to being qualified as a candidate for the highest office in the nation?

    As for Hillery's record, what exactly has she done that counts towards being qualified for the presidency? As a New York State resident, I am still trying to understand what she has really done for me. We are losing jobs and industry at a record pace, healthcare costs are still going up, the middleclass is getting smaller and we are still deploying our citizens to Iraq as members of the Guard, Reserves and active duty military. George Bush's policies are still going forward unabated and Washington has done nothing. That includes Hillery.

    As for some of the other comments here, I would suggest some basic fact checking. For Bill Clinton to stand in the wings and snipe at Obama is really laughable. How he can cast doubt on Obama when he is the master of of denial is beyond me. "I did not have sex with that woman.." remember those famous words. To accuse Obama of being unclear or wavering on positions is interesting coming from someone who looks at morality based upon the definition of "it".

    January 9, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. jthompson

    voting ballot fraud is alive and well in NH... another remake of florida in 2000, ohio in 2004 and now NH in 2008, all to keep the bush/clinton dynasty alive – this country is going down a tragic path...

    January 9, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. Azar

    Hillary Clinton's voting record on Iraq war is more in line with the Republicans than majority of the Democrats. Obama's votes in favor of the troops are correct. What happened to the notion of 'Support our troops'? The Clintons will do anything to win. They believe in 'no holds barred'. I am an undecided independent voter, but I will not vote for HRC if she gets the nomination. The Clinton era is over.

    January 9, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. jc

    Charisma, charm, and the ability to captivate an audience do make a president. That being said, and all things being equal, I'd prefer someone who can speak well and is charismatic over the opposite. Bill Clinton had these qualities, and simply put, his wife does not.

    I think Clinton has more experience. I also think she's knows her stuff. Push come to shove, I will be forced to vote for her for President simply based on the fact that I don't see myself voting for any of the Republicans, especially McCain or Romney and especially since we've just had 8 years of Bush II.

    The race will be interesting to watch and it will be interesting to see how long Edwards stays in the race. His votes, along with the Kucinich and Richardson’s should probably bolster Obama in the coming states, assuming they eventually back out.

    I think that Bill Clinton is doing what he needs to do to help his wife. That's admirable, especially since she stood by him back in the day. That being said, when I watch H. Clinton speak you know Bill is internally cringing wish that he could somehow make her stop talking, or at least be moderately appealing. I also don't think it's going to bode well for the Clinton's that they're using the Terrorism Fear card... it's a page right out of Bush's Campaign Manual.

    Clinton is an insider. She just is, and there's no way around it. She says what people want to hear, and behaves how people want her to behave. Her inner voice sound-bite makes me laugh because I feel like it's so scripted and prescribed that she'd happily change her tune tomorrow if she thought (or was told) that she needed to act in a different way. In my opinion acting like this is what lost the elections in 2000 and 2004 for the Democrats. They were very soft. Someone just needs to say what they really mean.

    January 9, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. Saint

    Spoken like a true looser.

    January 9, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  22. Mack

    Bill Clinton did not have sexual relations with that statement of opposition.

    January 9, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. stirlingmclaughlin

    When someone hits you you fight back. You don't cry about it. That is how you win. Oh wait... Crap. Maybe I got that backwards.

    January 9, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. Michael

    What do you expect, Senator? Bill, like his wife, is a congenital liar.

    January 9, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. Kate

    Bill Clinton Slick Willy is the best at what he does ... master at hijacking the agenda ... forget about the real issues ... let all talk about junk and Britney ...

    January 9, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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