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. angelina_ MN

    It is clear that Bil is running for president and they both will do whatever it takes to get to Obama. I am sure that her negative remarks will continue then she will cry as she did before to gain sympathy. Anyone can see through this, just listen to the words used by Senator Obama to the attacks, he is calm, respectful, answers all the questions and does not flip flop. the Clinton's hunger for power will try anything I just hope Senator Obama keeps going and does not let this old tactic of negative attacks get to the campaign. There is still a long road to go and many states yet to vote in.
    One thing is for sure, if the democrats send Hillary as their representative,many people like me will for sure vote for the Republicans.

    January 9, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Lynn Minneapolis MN

    So much Obama bashing!!!! Lets not forget that Hillary and her camp are doing more than their share of mud slinging!!!!!! Hillary does not have it sewn up YET!!! Edwards is NOT toast!!! If I remember correctly Hillary wasn't there for the Iraq vote either, so stop beating Obama over the head with it. Also I wouldn't be to thrilled about the Michigan Primary because only her and Kucinich are on the ballot so she'll get that state by default and not because she earned it. If she gets the nomination I'll have to rethink my vote because she's nothing more the Bush lite. I'm ready for a women president but not if it's her. I gave her serious conceration early on but since I found out she has basically locked the press out
    and her people have been uncooperative, the planted questions. I just don't have time for her. I don't like her health care because it doesn't put regulations on the insurance companies. I work in heatlh care and insurance companies are now
    the biggest culprits in rising healthcare costs. If they'd spent less time trying to avoid paying the bill by illegal denials and stall tactics and the CEO's were not
    so greedy we wouldn't even need health care reform.

    January 9, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  3. Mike, Houston, TX

    Obama needs to get used to the Clintons twisting the truth. He will also need to constantly point out the lies coming out of the Clintons. Americans, apparently, don't pay attention to character.

    January 9, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. Jason

    What friggin experience does Hillary supposedly have? she has as little as anyone else around here. If people honestly want experience then the vote should go to McCain, Paul, Biden... these people have experience. Hillary doesn't have any more experience being an actual LEADER than anyone else does

    January 9, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Chuck

    Amazing how when one camp has negatives to say, then the other camp feels the need to respond just as negatively. All the candidates need to grow up!!!! This is life in the real world. Not everyone is going to like you or even believe you. The Aerican people will see through the phonies. Even the Christian ones!!!!!!!

    January 9, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Clarke Banta

    I've read Obama's books and listened to his speaches and frankly he is more like Bill Clinton was at the same age when he ran for president than Hillery is today. Bill made a good president, he was intelligent the same way that Obama is, they are both excellent speakers and they both connect with people. I don't see why everyone is giving "experience" credit to Hillery for time as First Lady and if anyone can polerize the opposition she is the one. I don't think the american public is going to love the idea of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton when we have another articulate candidate who seems to be able to better unite the country. I have been struck by the presidential nature of the Obama speaches after both the Iowa and New Hampshire votes and think he has raised the nature of the contest to a new level of decency – this is the kind of person we need to lead our nation. And I really like the fact that he has raised his campaign money from little folks and rejected taking money from the PACs. This is the first time anyone has seriously bucked the system and had a real chance to become president in my fourty years of voting and I'm strongly leaning toward his canadency. And like he said last night – these are all honorable people who are running, so why all the expressions of hate and disrespect – please, we should be better than that.

    January 9, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Tisha Todd, Hampton, Virginia

    I have to speak out on this. I am a 29 year old professional African-American woman that loved the Clintons. However, I am DISGUSTED by how low they have gone to win. Last night me and 4 other of my family members in different parts of this country were so upset with how low the CLintons have gone.

    As a family we have said that we love this race because we felt that Obama or Clinton as president would be great. BUT Clinton, in his disgusting comments yesterday, was the straw that broke the camel's back. So now if Obama does not win the nomination I am DEFINATELY voting republican. I feel as though Bill Clinton's comments were so low that I can not support his wife.

    Listen to black radio A LOT of blacks were calling in and expressing their disgust with Bill Clinton. And I can tell you for me and several members of my family it was just enough to send us to the GOP IF Hillary wins the nomination.

    January 9, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Ray

    Its pretty clear who CNN is rooting for in the democratic nomination process. Even when Mrs. Clinton won last night, CNN's "Best Political Team" made sure to repeatedly stress that Obama lost by a small margin. CNN, please be journalists and stop being opinionated – You are supposed to bring unbiased news to the people, not actually create the news according to your whims.

    Obama needs to be VP first before he can be president. I personally think he has potential, but he also needs some experience. Given the 8 years of Bush rule, it is pretty evident that we need someone with considerable experience to steer America out of her problems and improve America's standing in an increasingly multipolar world. Maybe its just me, but I don't think a Junior senator with 2 years of experience is well equipped to become the president of the United States. And all that 'Change' that he keeps talking – I highly doubt he can do much. Stop with your stirring speeches Mr. Obama and talk substance please – this is the US Presidency you are fighing for, not some basketball team that you are coaching.

    January 9, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. bcc

    Obama's only real political experience is state. Do any of you even know what a mess IL is? It is embarassing and I am saying that as a lifelong resident. With that on the resume I would never vote for him- that would be like voting for Daley as president- a horrible thought.

    Hilary has it locked down. Seriously.

    January 9, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. Nomad

    And SOOOO, guess you'd prefer to be the only one speaking with forked tongue. Be very careful people, be VERY careful. We don't know this guy. Only a senator for 2 years ... was reportedly lazy ... usually just voted "present". Dear me. To think he has mesmerized so many people who have yet to find out, or bothered to do the research, what he really plans to do – or what he HAS done.

    January 9, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Ann

    Wether Obama was in the senate to cast a vote or not, he was against the war from the beginning. Hillary voted for the war and she was in the senate and could have voted against it. She now says she will have the Generals decide how to "start" to bring the troops home. Translation--the Generals want to keep the troops in Iraq and I will do what they say!

    January 9, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. From The North

    Barack is showing his immaturity and lack of experience at every opportunity.

    Whether Bill Clinton took liberties with his words is really not the issue here.
    Barack has slammed Hillary on more than one occassion. If you want to dish it out you should learn how to take it first.

    The issue on Barack's comments regarding the Iraq War is a Non-Issue. Barack apparently didn't feel the Iraq War was important enough to vote on so why all the hype now? If he wanted to take a stand on the Iraq War he should have found time to vote on it. And that was not the only vote Barack missed!

    When there are votes on important issues that have the potential of "CHANGING" America's Economy, Security, and Military Safety Barack's No Show Present doesn't cut it.

    Isn't HE THE ONE CONTINUALLY CHANTING "CHANGE" "WE CAN DO IT." Well, in my view his lip service to CHANGE and WE CAN DO IT leaves much to be desired.

    For instance, HIS PLAN FOR CHANGE? No one knows as he has never spoken to that issue. HOW DOES HE PLAN TO CARRY IT OUT? No one knows. He has never spoken to that issue. HOW HE IS GOING TO END THE WAR IN IRAQ? No one knows He has never spoken to that issue. HOW DOES HE PLANS TO SEND THE TROOPS HOME,? No one knows. He has never spoken to that issue. HOW IS HE GOING TO BRING ABOUT PEACE,? No one knows, he has never spoken to that issue. HOW IS HE GOING TO MAKE AMERICA THE NATION WE WERE ONCE PROUD OF? No one knows, He has never spoken to that issue.

    I could run for President too if all it takes is lip service and a few good catchy phrases like; " I WILL" and "America Wants Change" and "We Can Do it" with nothing to back up my Campaign Promises short of Good Looks and my race!

    Barack needs to drum up and put in place a few strategies to go with his idle promises (chatter). If I was Michelle I might be concerned about his "I WILL." Hopefully he is taking his marriage vows more serious than his Campaign Promises!

    I WILL not take any more of my time commenting on Barack Obama. As untill he puts some substance behind his promises he is just another Wanna Be President with nothing to offer America short of a good vocabulary, public speaking skills, a bit of Charisma and a face that is easy to look at. NEXT.

    January 9, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Rick

    The sad thing is that people below are posting statements about this election being woman vs. man. That is the exact reason that I will not EVER vote for Hillary Clinton – this is not some agenda about equal rights you idiots, this is about who will make the best decisions for our country, put his or her own agenda's aside, and choose to make this country better for those who live in it.

    The fact that people are posting women say they will vote for Hillary just because she is a woman, or that women have taken on hard jobs for a long time and can handle a tough job like being president – what is wrong with you all? Vote for the person who is most likely to improve our country, not for the person who will make things more equal, not for man vs woman, or black vs white.

    If ANYTHING in my mind, Hillary has hurt her chances because such a huge deal is made out of her agenda to be the first woman president. The drama and agenda that she brings with her every where she goes, needs to be left out of the whitehouse, regardless of gender, that's the truth.

    While Obama has made some comments about using his presidency to REACH more african americans, he has not made it his agenda to focus on his race – he has made his agenda improving this country – that is why I will vote for Obama.

    January 9, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |

    NASTY bit of editing of Obama's words by Bill Clinton, on the eve of a critical vote, where Hillary was faltering badly. If one actually reads Obama's statements, IN FULL, and IN CONTEXT, he consistently oposes the war, but says IF we go in, we should go in with force, and in THAT, his opinion is effectively similar to Bush's. Clinton's editing can only reasonably be construed as a corrupt cheap shot. He knew voters would not have enough time to check those facts before they were on the way to the polls. Just calculatedly nasty.

    My one wish to all is NO BLIND ADHERENCE. Don't just repeat what conveniently suits you. Do the homework. Check the source.

    Oh, and while one should never question or qualify anothers emotions,
    THE CLINTON CRY, oh please!

    I always thought that these kind of cheap-shot strategies were beneath Bill,
    but I guess, not when things look dire. How very sad. Gotta say, the Clintons are sure shrewd.

    January 9, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. Desiree

    Cry me a river. Obama sound just like a politician, blame someone else for your loses. Grow up Obama, this is a presidential race, you can go crying when you loses. If your upset about what Bill Clinton said about you, just wait and see what the republicans do to you.

    January 9, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. Jr., California

    Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton??? I wouldn't mind a change would you? 35 years of experience??? Isn't Hillary 60. So do the math. Are you trying to say that she has had political experience since she was 25?!?! Come on folks we're runnin out of Kool Aid.

    January 9, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. Ada

    Obama, where were you when Hillary was saying all of those nasty things about you two days before the election. You never came out to defend yourself. Now you are coming out to defend yourself after the election. You can't just ride the wave and win. By the way, I support you.


    January 9, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. mike, demorest ga

    The women of this country have awoken...go home obama

    January 9, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  19. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Note to you Clintonista sheep, LOSER is not spelled LOOSER as more than a few of you have posted over and over again.

    It does however again PROVE the point that uneducated people are voting for Clinton in droves and the more educated Democrats are choosing Obama.

    The uneducated ones are easier to manipulate with tears and smears and the usual Clinton lies and distortions.

    The Queen AGAIN stole another candidates idea when she used John Edward's "Invisible" theme last night, no lucid thoughts that are her own in the supposed smartest woman in America's head.

    She hammered Bush (again, the idiot is not running) by saying drug, insurance, oil and mortgage companies have all ben with him for seven years...

    Google who are her major donors and you will find that all of the above companies give to HER CAMPAIGN in droves.

    I don't hate All Democrats and I respect strong women, she has not earned my respect, but has earned my utter hatred.

    January 9, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. Jim

    For all of you who think experience is so important, when George W Bush was elected, he had very little experience. He was a terrible president. After 4 years he was the most experienced candidate. He was still a worthless President. After 8 years he is vastly more experienced at being president than any other person on the planet except a man who blatently looked the American public in the eye and repeatedly lied to us. Bush is now an even worse President than he was 8 years ago when he had no EXPERIENCE!

    January 9, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  21. Uniting America

    It is unfortunate that Bill Clinton had to come out to defend his wife. Is he going to have to do this every time Hillary gets in trouble – she needs to stand up for herself if she wants to run this country – is Bill running for president or is Hillary. As a long time African American Democrat I can see why so many of my African American friends are starting to leave the Democratic party and go independent and even Republican. The Democratic Party is getting stale with the same status quo figures – even the age old civil rights african americans leaders that push for the Democrat vote have a tired message that does not resonate to the African American community. OBAMA and John Edwards offer a new fresh look to the Democrats that unites people of all classes, races, and religion – they are shouting unity to Americans – something that we need after these past tumultuous years. Clinton politics are not going to the heal this country – never will they reach across party lines. Republicans have done more in putting African Americans in prominent White House positions (Secretary of State, Chairmen of the joint chief of staffs, Supreme court justice etc.) then the Clintons have. The Clinton tactics are getting nasty and classless against classier opponents, something that I never thought I would see against fellow Democrats in their own party – the Clintons no longer represent the Democratic party I knew.

    January 9, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Ellen

    Oprah went to Africa and built a girls school. Nothing wrong with that. Why doesn't she spend some of money here in the U.S. thereis a lot of poor and hungry people here to. I am not impressed with her support for the muslim or her show when she gives things away. I don't support or watch her anymore. Why do these stars think they need to but into someone else bussiness. This is America. Everyone is treated equal if they deserve it. WERE YOU NOT GIVEN A CHANCE?

    January 9, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  23. Jr., California

    Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton??? I wouldn't mind a change would you? 35 years of experience??? Isn't Hillary 60. So do the math. Are you trying to say that she has had political experience since she was 25?!?! Come on folks we're runnin out of Kool Aid.

    January 9, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. doris

    For the Clintons to stretch the truth is nothing new. Their track record goes before them.

    CLinton will resort to her tried and true negative campaigning and her position that only she holds the answers. This woman is SCARY.

    I definitely support a woman for President but not at the expense of the welfare of my country

    January 9, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. Raman, Plano TX

    Why does 'Vote for Oprah' sound like 'Vote for O prah'?

    January 9, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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