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. Rob

    That's exactly what we need during the War on Terror....a leader who melts down and whimpers in public. The kind of voter who would vote for Hillary based on this is a complete imbecile.

    I dunno. "Change" means eight more years of the Clintons? I'm not sure I understand that.

    January 9, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Glenn Robinson Orlando FL

    For Senator Obama to finally take exception to the Clinton comment campaign is amazing. The Clintons are running a multiple front ability to undercut anyone not seen in US politics. The next thing you will hear is that the Clinton's are just friendly adversaries and are interested in the wellbeing of all candidates to unite the party and make all their fellow candidates welcome in their new empire...Ah administration.
    For Mr. Clinton to misrepresent Mr. Obama is nothing shy of business as usual.
    What has to be done is for Mr. Obama to confront Ms. Clinton and ask if this is part of her ability to show her capacity in leadership and management: to the effect of controlling her husband and his aganda.

    Infighting is always news: Mr. Clinton will come out of the shadows only long enough to cast doubt on other candidates and then fade into the background with hopes that this distraction will occupy valuable time away from getting out any messages from other candidates.
    I am NOT a supporter: I am a citizen interested in watching and participating in the working of this republic and can see and identify a smear tactic when I see one.

    January 9, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Jason, Seatac WA

    Give me a break, Barack just can't handle when someone tells it like it is, grow up and come back in 20 years Obama. You just ain't ready for this.

    January 9, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. Ellen

    I was sickened by the sight of Chris Mathews and Russett kissing up to Hillary after her victory in N.H. Just days ago it was glum and doom. This is America where we are proud to honor our flag and we will hold our bible.
    What part of no does Edwards not understand.

    January 9, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. LINDA

    I HAVE BEEN A DEMOCRAT ALL OF MY ADULT LIFE. I WILL NOT VOTE FOR HILLARY. THIS IS ONE BLACK FEMALE WHO IS DONE WITH THE CLINTONS. WHO WANTS TO RELIVE ALL THE DREDGING UP OF BILL'S INDISCRETIONS THAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE SURE TO DO? IF I CRY WILL YOU ELECT ME PRESIDENT? HOW STUPID CAN AMERICANS BE. SHE IS " BUSH-LITE", A WOMAN WHO STAYED WITH A MAN WHO HUMILIATED HER AND HER CHILD BEFORE THE WORLD FOR THE SAKE OFHER POLITICAL AMBITIONS. IF SHE COULDN'T STAND UP FOR HERSELF AND HER DAUGHTER HOW CAN SHE STAND UP FOR THE COUNTRY? SHE VOTED FOR A WAR THAT HAS KILLED THOUSANDS FOR HER POLITICAL CAREER. WHO NEEDS HER? IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN GUTS TO WALK OUT ON BILL AND SAY NO TO WAR SHE OBVIOUSLY HAS NONE. SHE TOO WEAK TO BE PRESIDENT.

    January 9, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Frank, Dayton, Ohio

    I like Hillary. I think she's smart and has the experience necessary to be president. That said, she is still not my first choice. That honor goes to Obama because he is smart and has the ability to inspire people to do good for the sake of the nation: a quality that Hillary has in reverse.

    People line up to oppose her. If she wins the nomination, Republicans will come out in droves to vote against her and we are likely to have 4 more years of this Republican presidency (probably McCain) along with several generations of our troops occupying Iraq (McCain already said that).

    If she wins the general election, we can look forward to 4 more years of partisanship reminiscent of GW Bush because there are plenty on the Republican side who will do anything to see her fail.

    January 9, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. La'Kitgum

    The truth is coming out. Starting NH, Americans are beginning to understand that in politics, endogenous is more important than exogenous – that reality and fact are more important than rhetoric and body language or charisma without substance. Americans are beginning to understand that Hillary stands for what the President of the USA should be and not Obama with his empty promises. Obama's leadership leaves a lot more questions to be answered but foremost, how can he be an agent of change without experience? How can he change what he does not know? How can he change what he does not have? Experience in economy, healthcare and security are all in Hillary's bag and Hillary can change them for the good of all America. Obama has a bag of experience but it is empty. He has nothing to change.

    My prayers and Best wishes to Hillary and I urge all Americans (black, white, oriental, hispanic) to support Clinton because they will never regret their votes. We did it in NH. NH understands that it is issues, not body language, which stands out in this campaign and Hillary is all about issues. Listen to her carefully instead of cheering at her and you will understand just like the people of NH did – the issues matter,

    January 9, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. Brenda

    Bill Clinton is the original LIAR. Does "all knowing Bill; the Rhodes Scholar"; know the definition of LIAR? He's been convicted of it. He lost his law lisc. over it. He claim to LOVE blacks. And yet, he comes out and disses trash on a kind man. Worst of all the man can't keep his pants on; or his roving eye still. How dare that slug speak of ANYONE. It's his fault G.W. is in office because everyone voted for Mr. Christian-Conservative. He's not bright; but he keeps his pants on. Bill and HIlls are trying to circumvent the Constitution of the US by getting "Slick Willy" a third term. NO ONE is "entitled" Especially not you. Your legacy Mr. Clinton is the same as Andrew Johnson's "IMPEACHED"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go Obama, don't wallow in the Clinton Crap.

    January 9, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Matt, IB, CA

    Just what EXPERIENCE is Hillary crowing about? That she slept with Bill? Get in line. It's time for leaders that aren't still fighting the echoes of Viet Nam or the pathetic 90's scandals. All Hillary has is politico-speak for every question. As a progressive, I'd have a hard time voting for her, even if it was to thwart the Republidiots.

    Go Obama, time for the old fools to retire to the lobbyist stable and move the country forward from the Idiocracy that has become the United States.

    January 9, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. daniel stewart

    i personally like both barack obama and hillary clinton, so i'm actually torn between who to vote for. However, i'm almost inclined to vote for neither because i cant stand the back and forth banter they seem to be so enthralled in. And they wonder why so many people choose not to vote. if the candidates talk and act divided what kind of a message is that sending? I dont want to hear about what they think of each other or who did this or who didnt do that. Just tell me why you should be president and what you will do to resurrect a country that seems to be going to hell! talk about the issues that are tearing this country apart at the seams. poverty, unemployment, gay rights, education, healthcare to name a few. And one last note...we already know that change is needed and we know that the candidates are for it. Can we please stop using that word. hey! here's a word we haven't heard teamwork! oh and don't forget unity...hmmm! Two democrats are better than one i think! hint hint. We could have the C word and experience and 2 firsts either way you put it!!!

    January 9, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Mark

    Most of Clinton supporters in this thread disgust me. HRC deserves better than you lot. I think Alan Keyes is looking for some rabid support, why don't you all check him out?

    January 9, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Stephen

    I agree with Wallace, from Chicago. Sen. Obama was simply being a loyal Democrat at the 2004 convention, nothing more. I'm a Republican, and I know that a lot of people in my party who might secretly disagree with President Bush in many areas, nonetheless would show party loyalty when being interviewed on national television during a convention. Context is everything, at least from time to time.

    January 9, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Oddoye Manieson

    .. ..All of the top international media and USA television netwoks, radio stations and Top poll conducting agencies got the Democrats pre-voting and exit polls 100% wrong, not even withen error margins but using the SAME STAFF AND MECHANISM AT THE SAME TIME, they all got the Republicans pre-voting and exit polls 100 % right... very interesting....hahaha!!...can anyone explain...how many times has this happened in the past?
    ....i hear they run out of ballot papers and had to print MORE...!!

    January 9, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Republican in Republican Country

    I live in the most republican corner of my state, adjacent the most republican state in America. Our values here are not in lock step with the church, but with honor, and perseverance in times of trial. It pains me to see how conflicted and divisive my party has become, and the fiscal irresponsibility that has arisen during 'our' watch. Ron Paul hasn't a prayer, yet has raised raised well over 20 million dollars, I suspect largely because of disenchanted republicans like myself.

    All the daily quips aside, I see a level of honor and responsiblity, and humility in Obama that is very compelling. It is amazing to me to be stepping outside my party to endorse Obama, but maybe it's just plain time. And maybe my own departure, and that of so many others signals the beginning of bi-partisanship. If it is Obama that secures the White House, I hope the cabinet he endorses has members from all parties.

    I do think there is reason to believe in this young man (46), who has the audacity to hope. I hope we haven't all grown too rigid to remember hope.

    Martin from the Panhandle

    January 9, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. Andy J, NY

    I just want to say something to Gary Lemon about his emphasis on Obama being a JUNIOR senator...

    Clinton is a JUNIOR senator, and has been her whole time as a NY senator... even though she was not, is not, and never will be a NEW YORKER. She's a power hungry phony.

    January 9, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. marcella

    The Clintons are a very sleazy couple. They will lie and distort to get power and support their egos. Please Please don't let slick Bill back into the whitehouse.

    January 9, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. Kiki

    I voted for Bill Clinton, but I now support Barack Obama. Bill Clinton lied numerous times to the American people in the past, so I'm not suprised he would lie about Barack Obama now. The Clintons have lost my support because I find them playing the game too much and too well. Shame on you Bill!

    January 9, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  18. Chris

    I see all of Clinton's sheep have come out for the shearing. What a joke.

    January 9, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. Rory B. Bellows

    To set the record straight please read the text of Obama's 2002 speech about the Iraq war. Hillary talks of experience, I'd rather have this type of judgment any day: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Barack_Obama's_Iraq_Speech

    January 9, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. Bianca Sanai

    Clintons always talk about experience. The first time they run against mr.Bush,
    they were less known to us than senator Obama. Most of the people I talk to;
    they tell me we are actually voting for Clinton not Hillery . She is talking about
    Special Interests, if it is so ;why at the end of her husband's presidency she
    Put the name of Mark Rich for pardon;instead of a poor man that his third strike
    was steeling a piece of pizza. Because he was hungry and had not eaten for
    three days. And by the law that was passed during Pete Wilson; any third strike
    meant life in prison. That is obvious because Mark Rich's first wife rewarded
    her ( according to Hillery) with a dinette set only?
    I have been a business woman all my life I hardly remember to have taken any
    insult from any of them. But Hillery stayed with Mr. Clinton to get up there. I
    think she is a power hungry woman and has no dignity.
    Also her famous crying ( which I have seen it times and times again) was for her
    loss.
    Also the reason that older women vote for her,because they have not accomplished
    anything themselves. They are seeing themselves through her.

    Regards to all of you who are covering the election.

    January 9, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Bahamamama

    I guess no one knows the process of the Presidential Election. Even so, Hiliary one New Hampshire and only by 2 points she is still behind Obama in Delegates.

    Hiliary get one win and barely got that because Obama was on the tail her supporters thinks Hiliary got it sewn up!! This race is a toss up just like the Republican race. People are tired and they want change. Just because you are experience don't mean you do the job right. Experience got us in the slump we are in right now. It don't take long to figure out where our country is heading.

    GET THE FACTS. THINK. AND THEN VOTE!!!!

    January 9, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. duug

    Desparate people say desparate things.

    January 9, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. SteveG

    1/9/2008

    Obama still has 1 more delegate than Hillary Clinton. Something CNN or Fox News is not reporting by voice.

    January 9, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  24. Robert M. Reidy N.Y.

    If women are going to break hard for Hillary just because she is a women
    coupled with the racist vote against Obama, then I guess America will
    have missed the boat Again. What does this really mean –

    If McCain gets the Nod and wins the general – Much war

    If Romney gets the nod and wins the general – Rich benefit big time

    If Clinton gets the nod and wins the general – Division and gridlock

    America please wake up to the possibility of beneficial change that
    has a chance of bringing this country together and vote for Barak Obama!

    January 9, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. DD, New York

    Welcome to the world of politicking, Mr. Obama. Expect more of that to happen, not just from the Clintons but from Edwards too. If you can’t stand the heat, get the heck out of the kitchen. And I think your over-confidence showed last night, as your “concession” speech came off as a victory speech, with the “Congratulations to Hillary Clinton” paragraph added in at the last minute. Go Hillary!

    January 9, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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