January 9th, 2008
03:25 PM ET
4 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. David

    Open your White house records Hillary. Your experience lies have already been spotlighted, what else?

    January 9, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. stan pitts pa

    to shanna: last time i checked, anyone born on American soil is an American, obama was raised for the most part by white folks from his moms side, his story is one of growth and change,and he inspires Americas future generation! no wonder most young folk in this country are disillusioned, its racist comments like yours that try to masquerade as meaningful thought, that keep on retarding the progress of this great nation, f.y.i something has to be done desperately, we are losing ground in the world in everyway, wake up and read the truth and for once please take a trip, anywhere but your backyard!

    January 9, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Marvin G.

    Slick Willie be very careful of your words and actions. Mr. First Black President, your political style has always endeared you to Black folks, and they've supported you to no end. But, now you see yourself losing real revealance in American politics and it's scaring you. Mr. President attacking Obama as vehemently as you did recently may backfire. Hilary is not you, and her black support will eventually lag if you all continue the kind of politics you're famous for. Obama comes off as a good guy, full of vision and prepared to take this country out of the international funk we've been in under the present administration. I'm glad Black folks are finally seeing that you have always taking them for granted, and merely used them to get and stay elected. This will be a very interesting year and I can't wait to finally see Bill Clinton losing the Black support that he's always had. Too bad for you Hilary.

    January 9, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. JJ in MT

    I'm glad Hillary "found her voice" in New Hampshire. As much as I like Pres. Clinton, I now think he needs to go in the background so this can be Hillary's campaign and race..NOT HIS! She should just be Hillary. Her handlers have done a poor job.

    January 9, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Glen, Boston, MA

    Is anyone else disturbed by this superdelegate system?

    I guess I was naive before – I thought delegates were responsible to vote as designated by the division of votes. Now, I find out there are certain people corronated with the right to choose whomever they want simply because they already hold positions of office.

    It seems like a sure way to ensure those embedded in the status quo still has the final say in who is selected.

    Maybe Obama should buy some stock in the SUPERsuperdelegate, Diebold.

    January 9, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. John

    A word to Obama, you shouldn't be surprised and expect more of the same. It is the product of the Clinton machine.

    January 9, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. Dee

    I find it mind boggling to that the Billary voters fell for the oldest trick in the book. When you don't get your way, choke up, well up and play the blame game. Works every time . Well, most of the time, but my husband doesn't know that.

    January 9, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. Franklin Watson

    Mr Obama need to couple with message of change with a vision. A vision of where he want to take us the American people and our Country. We place lots of empahsis on expeience, experience can never outweigh WISDOM. There are special people that come from the hand of the creator God, imbuded with special talents. Men like JFK, Ghandi, MLK and even some of our founding fathers. Individuals like these come along once in a lifetime and leaves this marks in history. Mr. Obama was never President, so he does not have the experience of being a President. Mrs. Clinton was never President, therefore she does not have the experience of being President. Since experience is personal and unique to each individual, both Obama and Clinton do not have the experience of a President to be a President. However, I do believe that Mr. Obama is that special individual for these times in America, with WISDOM that is devinely ordain to lead this Country of ours, to bring the country together, to create full employment, to take us out of War, to foster economic growth, to give every American health care benefits, to save social security for the elderly, to save american jobs from going overseas, and to provide prosperity for every american family. This takes God given WISDOM. This why every American voter should support Mr. Obama.

    January 9, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Art H

    I think what I would want Obama to do, would be to put together a detailed plan for change that he is talking about and his plans to SUCCESSFULLY execute it.

    If I am part of the media, I would examine his past track record in driving change through, under difficult circumstances (assuming such events even took place), because believe me, if he plans to execute all the talk we have heard till date, he will be going against gargantuan, entrenched titans. Prior track record is a solid indicator of future ability to succeed. I have not heard of a SINGLE event where Obama went against huge entrenched interests and succeeded in changing the status quo, after facing insurmountable odds. I don't see the media as having examined Obama with any degree of sustained scrutiny, either.

    Without the above, all I hear are a lot of words and "inspiring talk" from Obama and "energising" impressionable youth, which by itself is a good thing. But, bottomline, TALK is cheap without solid past record of SUCCESSFUL ACTION to back up the talk.

    I don't want to determine the president of the USA, based on talk alone. Till date, the media has totally failed the citizens of the USA, when it comes to Obama and that is a fact. There is a lot at stake here and we are past the joking phase.

    January 9, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. JJ in MT

    It's good that candidates lose primaries once in awhile. It hones their candidacy. We need to keep the country engaged in this process as long as possible. Therefore, I believe that having all 3 candidates in the democratic party still campaigning is very important. It also divides the fire of the republicans. This is not a coronation, it never has been. I still support Sen. Obama!!

    January 9, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. denis

    I find all of this discussion very confusing.

    My confusion comes from the "gender" discussion. After long thought on this I came to the conclusion if it is wrong to vote against a candidate because of gender is equally wrong to vote for a candidate because of gender. You simply can not have it both ways. Once you get past this you have to ask what has Senator Clinton actually done – what is her record of 35 years experience? Not Bill's record but Hillary's record. All of her talk about her concern for heath care yet what is her actual record? What has she really accomplished, not just talked about? When she was on Wal-Mart’s board did she do anything to improve the life of the working person, including improving one of the worst worker health care policies in the country? As an elected official what is her great record (remembering that is NOT a 35-year record.

    A strong supporter of women and women's issues? Is this not the candidate that outraged Iowa women by saying on the Today Show that women in Iowa can not think for themselves in a caucus system? (In my caucus there were far more females than males and they had no problem speaking up for themselves.) What a sad example of non-gender based politics.

    Additionally I do not understand were all of the "quotes" attributed to other candidates come from. In spite of all the cry baby tactics by Bill and Hillary were in fact have their statements and claims been fact checked?

    January 9, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Marneda, NY

    If anyone thought that Hilary's breakdown on t.v in NH was a genuine show of emotion you are all gullable. I watched her body language and listened to her voice sort of crack and I thought it was a low down desperate attempt to get votes. She never squeezed one tear from her eyes, and when she failed to do so, she lowered her voice to an almost whisper. She thought for sure she'd lose in NH and that was her reason for getting emotional. She didn't even cry to us when Bill got caught in a public sex scandal and I am supposed to believe campaigning and her love for USA brings her to near tears?

    I think to myself :If she would stoop so low as to fake emotion, what else has she and will she lie about? I was totally unimpressed. This woman has ice water in her veins and totally lacks charm! I used to really admire her but she is now the senator of my state, and hasn't done one darn thing for NY. She had her eyes on the Oval Office from the beginning. I say stop being so ambitious Hilary. Just be a good Senator from NY.

    Obama in 08

    January 9, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Liam

    All is fair in Love and Politics. I am an Obama supporter, but I feel that Hillary did a great job in winning in New Hampshire. She has shown that she can take an eight count,and get back up and throw a knock down punch back. That is good to see. Now let us see if Senator Obama can do the same thing.

    It is now a two candidate race. Let us find out who has the skills and stamina to complete the marathon. I hope that it is Obama, but if Hillary bests him, then that is who I will get behind in the General Election. We need this competition to make sure that we pick the right person to fight the Republicans. We handed the spot to John Kerry way too soon, and it turns out that he was just a sprinter, and not capable of completing a marathon. I am glad to see that we are going to have a real test this time.

    The Democratic party is still the party of expanding equal rights and freedoms. Today we know that the nominee of our party will either be the first woman, or the first person of color. How great is that!.

    Congratulations to Senator Clinton for a great win. Now we have a real contest, and that is good for the party.

    January 9, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. MarkC

    Obama was not in the Senate, but he came out publicly against the rush to war. See the interview at http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/012595.php

    January 9, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Matt, Chicago

    This isn't whining. It clarifying a calculated half-truth not surprisingly aired by a frustrated former president. Obama was against the invasion, like he's always said. But in 2004, after the invasion had occurred, and while the insurgency was increasing and the situation was devolving, he conceded they should not pull out at that time. the damage was done. THis is not a contradiction. He has always been against the initial Invasion.

    I wouldn't expect Obama haters to be objective (Clinton included). Keep the misguided hate flying. Your own ignorance gave us 8 years of Bush, so don't be surprised if you'll get more of the same.

    January 9, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Joe, Indiana

    Last night proved it to me! Hillary was shown in Iowa that you can not be distant with the American people if you expect them to vote for you, unless you are a Republician. She listened. So, Obama if you don't think that someone is going to not twist your words, and you say you have nothing to hide. Well, you are in the wrong ball game.

    For the last 7 years, we were told one thing and what truely happened was that the select few lined their pockets. I am tired of the same old games. We need a President that will put American first, put my needs above some other country that has hate for America, and finally wake up and notice that the a majority of American's can't afford health insurance, new cars, or decent home. It is sad, when all I hear are promises. Hillary, you say you are here for change, and can produce, then GREAT – SHOW ME! All of the others are just full of hot air. Tell the truth, even if it hurts, but empty promises will help no one. There is a different from a goal or dream and a promise. You strive to reach your goal, but you depend on a promise.

    January 9, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. freeworld23

    Hillary cannot win a general election against the republicans in Nov. She is truly part of the Washington gridlock. The Clintons have a checkered past which all signs show the republican will expose. Obama and Hillary have the same record, so for Bill to winning like a baby-i have truly, truly lost all respect for him- i think he and Hillary are scum.

    January 9, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. snakesup

    He didnt' support the war, but now he supports the war?

    He voted against funding the troops, now he votes for funding the troops?

    January 9, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Jason

    Thank you Jr. someone else finally gets the picture on Hillary's supposed experience too

    She's trying to claim her times as "first lady" as experience.... that NOT experience, it may be experience in something... but not useful.

    Thats like a gas station attendant who pumps gas for 50 years applying for a job as ceo at Exxon and claiming he has 50 years experience

    January 9, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. Lu

    Obama got Oprah ... Hillary got Bill ... Thats sounds pretty fair to me..
    Obama's young he could run in 8 years from now.
    I have so much respect for Hillary now.. This is the most incredible comeback I’ve ever seen.. No one could have done what she just did in NH..
    She’s a fighter.. That’s the type of spirit this country needs.

    January 9, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. carol, ct

    As a supporter of Bill Clinton's presidency, I found his diatribe against Obama offensive.

    Putting it in perspective, Hillary ONLY won by 3 points. Clearly, not a strong victory.

    January 9, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    To Jr. in CA:

    You are aware that Hillary was one of the investigating attorneys and assistant to Senator Sam Ervin in the Watergate Senate Hearings?

    35 years...........YES!!!

    January 9, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. chris

    Obama should become a preacher not a president. He paints a pretty picture! We all have hopes and dreams but how many have the know how to turn them into reality?

    Obama....you're begining to make me sick!

    January 9, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. "i just dont want to see us fall"...much like my husband's respectability

    two people have spelled "loser" incorrectly. i tend to only take seriously people who spell their Obama criticism properly...

    as if anyone is consistent 100% of the time! as if voting record actually matters! the executive and the legislative are different beasts, and require different skill sets and different decision-making capabilities.

    no one sticks to their campaign promises. obama has a consistent vision that has been able to unite people all across the country. his message and tactics haven't changed from place to place. he didn't adopt a southern drawl when speaking in a black church in the south. who did that? oh, yes, the same woman who happened to tear up when in a canary-yellow estrogen filled coffee shop.

    January 9, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Mike, Eugene, Oregon

    The Clinton's are dirty campaigners. They will say and do anything to get elected, but once in office none of us has any idea at all of what they will actually do ...outside of enriching themselves. For this reason, this Democrat and his family want it known that we will not vote Clinton if she is the eventual noinee, we will, in fact, not vote for one Democratic candidate, punishing the entire Party for inflciting this pair of corporate rats on us. We will vote Republican, something we have never done before. All those "womyn" and the Clinton machine may succeed in winning her the nomination but millions of Democrats stand ready to ensure that she looses the general election.

    January 9, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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