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. BobbyC


    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Just like the woman who asked the question of Hillary I had more respect for her before the tears. I was leaning toward Obama but now I am sure. I saw the tears of desperation and Bills rants confirmed the desperation. If you are a person of emotion it shows always not just when things are not moving in your favor. If I went for a job interview and the employer told me it was not going well, I don't think tears would make the situation any better.

    As far as Obama is concerned:

    Why would anyone think that any one other person can solve all there problems? If you listen to all the candidates Obama is the only one constantly saying we. He says that because although he will be the one leading the charge from Washington, it will take all Americans to push for change in America. What he can do for us is stay truthful and resist corporate influence as opposition to change. What we can do is replace those who are roadblocks and stay involved in the process.

    January 10, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  2. Don B, Cameron, MO

    All of this flap about who said what, when, to who and what is – is is ridiculous. All of the Dem hopefuls are in the tank with big money (and they want even more). The only difference is Hillary and Edwards already have theirs and Obama is still trying to make his on the backs of minorities and white elite pseudo intelligencia yuppies whose parents started the 60's dope rebellion and are still on the stuff and living in the past.
    What we need now is a mature clear thinking President like Romney who can keep our economy in the black and the jihadists out of our malls.
    Think about it folks–what exactly have the Dems done for this country and where would we be if they had been in the executive seat on 9-11?
    I rest my case. JUST MY HUMBLE OPINION.

    January 10, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. pab

    OBAMA didn't lose anything in New Hampshire. This race is now a DEAD HEAT. I think CNN and all the other major media have failed the American people by not explaining the true outcome of the New Hamphire primary, Hillary and Obama won the same amount of electoral delegates(9). I say this because most people don't understand that the nominee will be decided by how many delegates received and not how many popular votes they received. All you have to do is look back to both the 200 and 2004 elections and remeber the the Democrats lose by the ELECTORAL votes.

    I am an African American and very proud that Barack Obama has consistently taken the high road and not let the Clinton's drag him down to their negative tactics.

    For all those criticizing him saying he hasn't been specific on his details of how he would CHANGE America then go to this website where he is specfic on every issue: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/

    He hasn't been specific intentionally because on most ocassions, specifically the debates you only get a few moments to make a response. He has asked that you go to his site and read in detail all of his plans on such issues as: Education, the Economy, Healthcare, Immigration, Jobs, Iraq, Foreign Relations, Environment, and the National Debt. He has a specific plan for everything and it lays out how everything will be paid for, etc.

    January 10, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Jason C.

    Why is Obama getting so defense about Bill's statements? As a matter of record, most Democrats were TOTALLY against the whole Iraq situation that Bush put us in from the jump. But once it was clear that we were going to be there for a while, all sides tried to make the best of the situation. Then of course Bush started blackballing folks who had anything negative to say about the war at one point, so while once again both sides had to hold some of the true feelings in. As we got later on down the line, people were able to speak out freely against it without fear of previous repercussions. At the end of the day, Obama ended up having the same stance as every other Democrat about being in Iraq, and though Hilary was more vocal about it, she still had reservations about the way we got involved in it but understood that once we got in so deep (thanks to Bush), we might as well support it and make sure the troops are taken care of.

    January 10, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |

    Why do you people, your republicans and cemoctats, know that OBAMA is a MUSLIM plant. This should be as plain as the nose on your face.

    For God's sake...Do somehting about this. Heaven forbid this should put CLINTON in a winning positin, but maybe aq good American is in the background that coulde step up and save the Democrats.

    I am a staunch Repubilcan...


    January 10, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Paul

    To the lady who said she doesn't need an angry ex president, well it appears you do because you are not listening. The American people do not want the war. I have never supported the war. Many have based their support on the falsified intelligent reports. The fact remains that Obama voted for the appropriations in 2004, 2005, 2006. That is a supporter. The military budget is great the soldiers would not of been left without support especially if we were to pull them out like the majority of the American people demanded in our last election. This is wishy washy, politics at its best. To say one thing but vote another. We are smarter than this. He says no more but does the same old Washinton shuffle.

    January 10, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. Julie

    Experience does not make you good at a job or qualified for a more demanding job. I can say I have 60 years experience eating: does that make me qualified to be a dietician? I don't think so. Experience only says you have done something for a long time, not that you have done that something well or know what you are doing. That said, forgive me for not being impressed with HRC's experience. Then you must ask what experience is she talking about? Bimbo squad management? Travel Office control? Trading cattle futures? Hiding subpoened documents? Perhaps even covering up more heinous crimes. And you women: some of you sound as if you would vote for the Devil if he put on a skirt and shed a tear or two. Do you truly want someone JUST BECAUSE they are the same gender as you? What about thinking for a change, or is that too much to ask? But I can say one thing I do believe: The Clintons will put that uppity black boy in his place (back of the line). Maybe they will let him pick up the trash on the White House Lawn . That is where it seems many here think he belongs. Go Hillary Go. That is not a cheer; I am encouraging her to go.

    January 10, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Ron

    Not to get off topic but I need to ask everyone here a question. 2 days before the primary in NH, did anyone but myself notice what Bill Clinton stated during a live interview? Bill Clinton said Quote:"Were not worried about the NH vote, we already have it in the bag, we already won." Also be aware that he said this while he was somwhat off camera meaning he was walking to the right side and you could hear his voice when this was stated. The reason I bring this up is for 2 simple facts. #1 if this were for the presidency meaning the final vote, it may be passed off as a simple statement BUT being that Clinton in every poll was double digets behind Obama I found this a bit "strange" that Clinton himself had the arrogance to even make a comment like that when every other comment he had made was a speach to prepare for his Hillary loss. #2 if this indeed were a final vote say between Hillary and say McCain or Rudy or Romney, and they were caught saying that it is fare to say that the Clintons would indeed feed off of a statment of such as a complete setup, faulty voting system, rigged and would demand a congressional investigation based off a comment like that. I am not anti Clinton by any means, so dont go pointing the finger and using that as an excuse. I would point this out no matter what candidate it was.

    On the Obama issue, look for the Clintons to attack his church record, Trinity United Church of Christ with it's (Black Value System) happens to be one of the most racist groups out there. Even though Pastor Wright has be asked by Obama to seperate himself from him on issues, the churchs mission statement is going to be what gets him. Do you wonder why he talked about direct talks with Iran? Look into his "Church" and you will find out. This place is anti semetic along with preaching the "white man is a devil" theory. Democrats need to re focus themselves with what a true democrat is and get away from the "lefty" label that the party has put on itself. FDR would not be a democrat in todays defanition if anyone would look back in history. In fact, he would run more along the lines of an independant/republican if anything. If democrats want to make change, we need to start with our own party beofre we can convince the people and let them down as is going to happen with any of the candidates running today.

    January 10, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Gerry


    January 10, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. David

    A president can only do so much, congress holds the money reins and who ever controls the money controls everything else, If congress allows a president to do certain things then you can bet it's in the best interest of congress and It does not matter who is president.

    Who ever is elected is willing to be a puppet, take the heat and retire after four years with a good retirement income.

    Besides, in four years the U.N. will be not only running America but the whole world under a New World Order and a One World Government controlled by the socialists/ freemason/zionist alliance.

    And your job will be filled by an illegal immigrant, you know, the undocumented workers.........so vote wisely folk's. Not only for president but also for those other jerks!

    I like Fred!!!!

    January 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  11. Niki

    Jeff, you must hate George Washington, JFK and countless others also. They all had affairs and immoral Leadership. We were a lot better off when Bill Clinton was in office than now in every aspect. His morals were bad but many presidents have done that, they just didn't have Ken Star trying to make a career off of them.

    January 10, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. Niki

    Bobby W Rochester: First it is nobody's business whom the president sleeps with or what he does personally. our Country was better off with Bill in Office then we are now. George WAshington, JFK did the same sleeping around. WEre they bad Presidents. Besides he isn't running, Hillary is. There are a million reasons from religion, to lack of experience for Obama not to be elected. Everyone should pray he doesn't get in or America will move backwards.

    January 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Niki

    I pray Edwards Stays in not only do I think he would make a fine President, but as long as he is splitting the Obama Vote I couldn't be happier.

    January 10, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. Niki

    Angry American: Ditto that, why would anyone who is truly a christian insist on swearing in on the Koran instead of the bible. The third anit-christ will be the UN and all they need is a Muslim in charge of the United States of AMerica.

    January 10, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. kimdy

    I think all the people blathering about how Hillary can "unite" people, and can "sway the republicans" to her side are really not looking at the whole picture here. The Republicans HATE Hillary, and to an enormous extent, Bill. They spent the entire 8 years of Bill's presidency doing everything they could to stymie the administration, block progress, appoint prosecutors, open investigations, belittle, beleaguer, and otherwise halt anything progressive. Yes, he was flawed in his personal life, you bet'cha, but the sheer amount of blocking above and beyond his err, personal issues, was astonishing. Hillary was a large focus of all the above, just as much as Bill.

    Now Karl Rove is supporting her... Hugely transparent.

    Again, the Republicans are wetting their pants at the idea of having Hillary to kick around. Daschle said Obama is a "clean slate" – Hillary is not.

    Think about it, who do the republicans MOST want to see get the nomination, and who do they have the most "dirt" (made up or real) on?


    What, in the WORLD, makes you think that someone as universally disliked across the aisle, not to mention her extremely high negatives across the country in the electorate, could ever, in a million years, get anything done with all the obstacles that will be put in her way, all the genuine loathing that they feel for her, etc.?

    I'm sure she'd be a fine President, in a better world – But we don't live in a better world, and they're not suddenly going to give up hating her if she wins.

    Yes, Republicans like to stymie ALL Democrats (probably even Obama), and the reverse is just as true, but there's a particularly hungry loathing for the Clintons'. NOTHING will get done, just more insults, more partisanship, more abuse, more finger pointing, more blocking things just because... I cringe at the thought.

    At least Obama has quite a bit of respect across the aisle. Of all the folks running, when looked at realistically, he's the only one I think COULD reach out, and with that quiet, but firm voice, get the opposition to "go along"...

    It scares me to think of another 4 or 8 years with all the partisan, angry, hatred of "gotta get the Clintons'" no matter what happens to the rest of the country in the meantime.

    January 10, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. Marsha, Portland, OR

    Hooray for comments where people start to actually question Mr. Obama. Now if the media would actually start to question him! Oh, and Senator Obama, have some respect...refer to the man as President Clinton. All of our previous Presidents are referred to as President and treated with respect, I see no reason that President Clinton should be treated otherwise by you.

    January 10, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  17. Paul

    In all honesty not in support of Hillary Clinton but she has been around politics for over 30+years, She was involved with politics way back with watergate. While her husband was president she lobbied diligently for National Health Care. As an Insurance person, involved in the insurance industry, at the time, I know she was confronted by great opposition from Both the Insurance and Medical industries. She did not get everything she would have liked but she did get the Industry to make a lot of concessions which is leading the way today for a more equitable National Health Program to provide coverage for the many of needy uninsured families in our country. If you are going to slam Bill about his indiscretions than lets not forget about Obama's admitted heavy drug use. Not just a little pot smoking. Whether it be as a young, teenager, college student or whenever it still puts into question his judgements. These were still illegal substances and it doesn't matter what the times are. This is a person vying for the highest office in our country who has the ability to launch wars, push bottons, etc. We don't want him to have a misjudgement or maybe a hallucination from one of his past drug experiences and make some drastic mistakes. He cannot just come in and say present! He will have to make very difficult decisions and I question his maturity as well as his experience. He has shown his great abilities as an orator but this country needs more than someone who will show us the promise land. We need a leader who will actually lead us in making the difficult choices. National Health Care, Education for all, Social Security and the ability to have a place to live. This may sound Socialistic but Capitalism can work in a Democratic society that reackonizes that there are needs by the Government for implementing programs that help all. I believe Abraham Lincoln once said that is the responsibility of the government to due for the people in which the people cannot do for themselves. Nobody was calling him a Socialist. So lets quite the name calling look at the facts not the subjectivity that have echoed through out Washington for way to long.

    January 10, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. gerald

    I look at all the comments and see that most of the people who are giving comments are from the incest south. Hillary is a divider she told the America people to vote for her because she is a woman. A president should not run because she is woman, but want change in this country. Where do the clintons get off telling Obama to wait his turn, that is the most racist thing to say in America today. Clinton labeled as the first black president but there were still a high number of murders in the black community and let not forget rwanda. America is still as stupid as the world see us. We voted for Bush and look at us now. Hillary was never president so let get this out of our heads now , she was first lady and if she was strong she would have not voted for the war.

    January 10, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. Ibeth Dellemann

    January 9, 2008 11:42 pm ET

    (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.)

    Respect has to be earned! Don't you think he demeaned him self with his escapades.? Oh, excuse me he never inhaled and he never slept with that Woman,
    Oh, it is all coming back to me now it was a right wing conspiracy according to Hillary.
    As a Grandmother I like some body my Grandchildren can look up to and the Clinton's are not it.
    Don't forget People died around them and went to ch ail for them, they are ruthless
    power hungry People without any scruples.
    I believe I can live without the Clinton experience.

    Here is what I want from an new President,.put the American citizen first.! I do not want to pay for the illegals healthcare, education, ch ail stay and on and on..
    Committing a crime should never be applauded, but we do if we close our eyes
    and rewarding with Visa's.
    Health records and a criminal check should be mandatory before entering this country.
    Fix health care, taxes, social security and stop wasting the tax payers Money.

    Who will that be, smile:)

    January 10, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  20. Louis, New York

    Just the politics of the Clinton's attack machine. Bill goes on the attack now, HRC crys and plays the victim. Bill will lie about Obama (Hillary will lie about being the victim) and the older women eat it up because they can identify with having been abused by a man in their life.

    I read the statements made by Obama, they were taken way out of context by Bill Clinton and spun. If there were any fairy tails it came from Bill Clinton. yet people would rather be taken in by this nonsense again. No change, just the same old Clinton Politics. Lie with a straight face, the worse the lie the more indignant they get.
    (I Did not have sex with that woman!)

    Yet the twisters are expected to lead the United States of America? As they twisted their way through NAFTA, Osama Bin Laden, Terrorism, destroying the military.


    January 10, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. Paul

    Julie, I think was way out of line. Very descriminating. Leave your racist views at home, I don't think real AMericans want to hear that kind of talk. " Who needs experience"' usually comes from somebody who neither has any or is looking for something for nothing. The reference about Clinton towards Obama is the most unintelligent remark somebody could make. Mr. Obama is an intelligent person which is less than I could say about you Ma' am. Both the Clintons have a very favorable record when it comes to helping the underpriviledged. Who made you the judge and jury when it comes to the Clintons past legal issues. I for one have enough faith in our legal systems, not to mention all the scrutiny that one is put under when running for the highest office of the Land. These two lives have been disected under a mico scope. Personally who needs it!!! Is it possible that they do believe in the AMerican system, that this country is and always will be great, that they are willng to dedicate their entire adult lives to the common good and the people of this great Nation to try and make it better for all its citizens. No Ma' am what sacrifices have you made or are you willing to make for your country beside some childistic rambling and crying. Yes, it is easy to critize and in some cases criticism is warrented. Hillary is a Politician who is trying to make a difference. But regardless who is nominated the change will not take place with out the more than majority of Democratics being elected to both of the houses. The Republicans have had controll for to many years and yes I too have voted for this party in past elections gone by. But the party for the People, as I see it, is the Democratic Party as it stands today. I thank all those candidates who are giving their best and give thanks to God that we live in a Democratic society.

    January 10, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. carol

    Obama and Oprah – cut the phoney ethnic tone and style in your speeches. You are not JFK or Martin Luther King – they have already been their and done that.
    Oprah – you are not from South Africa – and yet you have developed their accent when you are interviewed there.

    January 10, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  23. David from Texas

    Poor Poor Mr. Obama! He got his feelings hurt. This is the big league-if he can't handle it, than he needs to get out of the game-after all, this is just 1st quarter . If he actually had experience he would have known to hit back hard. Is this slow response an example how he would handle a real problem? Where is the substance that makes up his smooth talk-or is there not any?

    January 11, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  24. Peace

    I can not believe that we are going to vote for someone with a self-destructive smoking habit. We haven't had a president who smoked since FDR during the WWII. Obama needs to kick the habit or we need to kick him out of the race.

    Look who is talking about change!

    January 11, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  25. dora_rice

    what kind of fairy tale is this, that Obama is more liked by the republicans then Hillary , therefore the reasoning is that they won't fight him for the presidency as hard? give me a break. There won't be one single republican that will vote for Obama. He is leaning to much left , and doesn't have enough foreign experience to be president. There is also the question, what will his policy be on Africa, since he has deep recent roots going back to Kenya. As president of the US , what will his policies be on Islam extremism and the muslim world, since he was partially educated in Indonesia with a large Muslim population. He was absent when the votes were cast to declare Iran a terror state. Which had nothing to do with war on Iran. Yet he was absent. He also voted against the war in Iraq, when american emotions were high and all americans united under 9/11 were seeking
    justice for 9/11. Bush made a mess out of the war, but had we won the war, where would Obama be today? The fact is he voted against the war on Islam extremism twice. What does this really mean? Did he vote against the war on Islamic extremis, because he didn't want to fight Islam extremis, or was it because he had America's future in mind. This question can be debated.

    January 11, 2008 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
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