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. JJ ATL

    IF YOU LOOK AT THE ELECTION YOU WILL SEE THAT OBAMA IS IN THE BEST POSITION HE AS EVER BEEN- HE SHOWED HE CAN WIN ELECTION- AND HE IS ABLE TO BATTLE ONE OF THE MONSTRUOUS POLITICAL MACHINE OF AMERICA-
    WHAT IS HAPPENING IS BIG- THE CLINTON ARE DONE- THEY ARE HURT- THEY ARE FRAGILIZED-
    OBAMA CAN STILL FLY UNDER THE RADARS...
    NOW CLINTON WILL FACE THE REPUBLICAN ATTACK MACHINE WHILE OBAMA WILL WIN SC AND NV

    January 9, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. seth, minneapolis

    Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator for 10 years and a US senator for 3 years. Hillary Clinton was a US senator for 7 years. Why do people claim she has so much more experience? Or are they just secretly hoping that they can bypass the Constitutional term limit and somehow have Bill Clinton back as president. Anyone who says Hillary is a candidate with experience doesn't know what they're talking about. The true experience candidates of the Democratic party already dropped out of the race.

    January 9, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Adam

    I can't believe the posts I'm reading here. Zero research from anyone. If you "don't: like Obama, don't vote for him. But don't choose to believe utter falsehood without research.

    Mike, Waterbury, CT – The only thing Obama had always said he opposed the war, but "like George Bush, now we're in Iraq, we should do a good job' – exactly like Hillary... and common sense.

    Chuck, Ed – Obama WAS an elected official... yes, only in the Illinois State Senate, but he still spoke out against the war when EVERYONE was for it. It's on the record, and you can't argue that if he had SUPPORTED the war back then, everyone would be quoting him. regardless of whether he was in the US senate now.

    Columbia, SC http://www.barakobama.com has his entire voting history and positions (Hillary still wont' release documents from Bill's years in the white house)

    Bill and Hillary went negative. Obama didn't, and still only defends himself.

    Hillary played the gender card ("What bigger change than a woman"). Obama didn't play the race card.

    Hillary started using the word "Change" about 2 months ago. Obama has been using it for 18 months.

    Hillary is inside the system. Obama is outside.

    Hillary voted for the war. Obama spoke out against it (in no position to vote).

    Hillary is polarizing. Obama brings others together (not opinion -look at the vote breakdown)

    Hillary didn't ask her crowd to congratulate Obama after Iowa. Obama did after the NH win, and not only that, called *all* his opponents patriots.

    We have an oppporunity to change the system... simply because enough Americans have chosen to believe in it rather than continue the same old partisan wars. If more would simply give up on fear,

    January 9, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. still annoyed voter

    After watching the morning after John Roberts interview with Obama I must say, he may lack experience, but he certainly dodged giving any straight answers with as much skill as the most seasoned veteran on Capital Hill!

    January 9, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Gillis

    I think Obama got bambuzzled, bushwcked. Obama did not land on New Hampshire, New Hampshire landed on him. The pundits were right in the pollings. No, I don't think white Ammericans lied about how they were going to vote. A few "defenders" of white dominated politics who had access may have deliberately added Obama's vote tally to Hillarys. I like Hillary, but Obama's message is the right message and the country should support him.

    January 9, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. Gbryant

    Well, it looks like Obama supporters are into slinging mud today. Sore losers. I bet it is hard for Obama to still look so cocky (which he does look milder and meeker today) under all the stress that he can't just run away with all the votes because the media says so and all of his time on MTV hasn't convinced all of the young people to vote fot the "cool Obama." This thing has just started and just because South Carolina is mostly African-American we have a lot of states to go. That cocky is going to wear thin.

    Go Hillary.

    January 9, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Chris

    why didn't the reporter include quotations from Bill Clinton? If there is an alleged discrepancy, as Obama claims, then why don't you set the words side by side? CCN is skewed.

    January 9, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Gonzalo, Austin, TX

    I'm confused Hilary is accused of being a "robot" and when she shows some real emotion she's criticized for it. If Obama cried on the air Obama supporters would yell out that it shows how much he cares for the U.S. Please, get off your pretentious podium and see that politicians are politicians. Also I recommend that everyone read the comment by Garry Lemons,

    "The media REALLY needs to start looking at Obama and actually reporting on his record (is there a record) instead of focusing all their time on Clinton. She has proven herself, has Obama with what, 2 years as JUNIOR Senator? What HAS he done as a Senator, what is his voting record in the house and most importantly PLEASE someone tell me what his plan of change is. I haven't heard a word on how he plans to do this…hmmmnnn By saying present when it comes to voting??? Your killing me with all this sticky sweet promise of change and nothing to back it up..charisma and good talks do NOT make a President."

    I agree. This is why I have changed my positions on Obama. Too many good speeches not enough substance to back it up( Oh yes America, this should matter). In addition, there seems to be substance to what the Clinton's were saying about Obama considering he needs to address the comments on an interview(if they were wrong why address them at all?); if the comments left by the AP are correct on Obama's voting record. In the end, look past the celebrity of someone when voting for president. The last time America voted for someone because they thought he was such a down to earth cool guy we got George W. Bush.

    January 9, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. Mani

    Preach to the choir Obama. This is an election if you havent realized.

    January 9, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. Bob, Seattle

    This just goes to show that Hilliary can't win on her own. She needs to ride Bill's coattails. Bill's tone changed the course of Hilliary's surprising outcome. Somehow, the Dems still purchase the tickets that Bill dangles. Perhaps most of Dem women would have liked to have their turn with Bill.

    January 9, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Johnny Chimpo

    We have had a Bush then Clinton then Bush Administration.... Change is not another Clinton. Change is either Obama or Edwards. If crying and having Impeachment Bill gets the democratic nod for Hillary, then my vote will go with whoever comes out of the Republican party. i don't think the smear campaign will work though, and I still believe in Obama/Edwards 08

    January 9, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    We have heard this song and dance from Sen. Obama previously. He likes to attack others, but tends to get very testy when the shoe is on the other foot. Sen. Obama was not in a position to vote on the Iraq war. Whether or not you like the choice that Hillary made, she had to make a tough choice and she made it and since then she has stuck by that choice. Hillary also had to make a tough choice on Iran. She chose to show up for that vote, make the vote and stick by her decision. She knew it may be unpopular, but she made it and has stood by it without making excuses for it. Where was Sen. Obama? He didn’t bother to show up for that vote. In fact, Obama has not bothered to show up for any vote that could be controversial. His voting record in the Senate is dismal. He doesn’t show up for the tough choices. He gives a nice speech. He talks about hope and paints a rosy picture of the future. But these are troubled times that call for strong leaders, leaders with clear vision and know how, not leaders with rose colored glasses and good speech writers and little else. This whining of Sen. Obama does not indicate strong leadership. It indicates a spoiled, arrogant, empty suit. Haven’t we had enough of that since 2000?

    January 9, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Bukky, Balt MD

    Obama was a Member of the Illinois State Senate at the time of the vote to go to war. He may not have had a vote but he had a voice and made his opinion known even back then. I liked and respected Clinton, but lies like the one he told here are different from whether or not he "had sexual relations with that woman". This is Bill Clinton calling SOMEONE else a LIAR... come on people. Love him or hate him Bill Clinton should never call anyone else a liar not even Bush and we all know he's a lying sack of ....

    January 9, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. georgia

    Way to go Obama!!! I'm gonna vote for you..for sure...First we had a BUSH President, then a CLINTON President, then ANOTHER BUSH, who has runined our country and brought us into a No Win War, now we are being asked to put ANOTHER CLINTON into the Presidency..what makes these two families think they are the only ones capable of leading our Country?? AMERICA is a DEMOCRACY not a DYNASTY....let's kick out these two families and get someone new in the Presidency..someone who can make a change and get our ountry back to being the Best Country in the World!!!! we need Obama!!!! break the DYNASTY and bring back DEMOCRACY

    January 9, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. Nick A

    Obama is trying to have it both ways. The truth of the matter is that twice in 2004 he made condradictory statements about his position. First,he said that he doesn't know how he would have voted on the question of authorizaing the war had he been in the Senate. Then, he said there was no difference between his position and GWBush's position on the war in Iraq.

    January 9, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. Joe Idaho

    It would be something if the Clinton's alinated Obama's supporters to the point that should she win the nomination that they'd stay home. If his supporters could endure 8 years of Bush, anything would be better, and they might just stay home.

    January 9, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Gillis

    I think Obama got bambuzzled, bushwacked. Obama did not land on New Hampshire, New Hampshire landed on him. The pundits were right in the pollings. No, I don't think white Americans lied about how they were going to vote. A few "defenders" of white dominated politics who had access may have deliberately added Obama's vote tally to Hillarys. I like Hillary, but Obama's message is the right message and the country should support him.

    January 9, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. GB

    Edwards should see the light and drop out then most of his supporters will swing for Obama. Why are democrats voting for someone who has no chance in the general election (Clinton)? A vote for Clinton is a guarantee our next president will be a Republican. I can't believe people fell for the tears and the "it's personal to me" Didn't anyone see the debate Saturday when Edwards mentioned how personal it was to him and went on and on????? Then a few days later it becomes personal to Clinton? She stole Edwards line and no one has said anything about it. She is chasing her tail and hasn't has an original idea of her in her life. See through the crap, people.

    January 9, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  19. david

    I am surprised that more democrats are not concerned more about the split in there party along racial and gender lines as opposed to the childish behaviour of a few. Which one of the 2 will be able to bring these sides together and keep the independents from supporting the republicans is of bigger concern. This election is theres to lose and I am afraid the world cannot afford another Republican white house. So please don't screw it up!
    David
    Canada

    January 9, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Rick

    Mr. Obama, Please remember who is saying things against you, the same person who said he didnt have sex with her and we found out different didnt we. I feel sorry for those who have fallen into the clinton trap of dropping a tear to get votes. shame on you. Obama is CHANGE and Clintons are STATUS QUO, come on America

    January 9, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Stev

    Let's talk about "JUDGEMENT" would you elect someone with a 3 time caught cheating husband/wife and decides to stay with them

    January 9, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Slick Willy's dirty trick!

    CLINTONS will do anything to win I actually respected the Clinton's but their Tactics totally turn me off. Crying , Twisting words and playing the Gender Card. Sure OBAMA said on "Meet The Press" if he had the intelligence he may have voted differently. "MAY HAVE and WOULD HAVE" are different words and what exactly would we expect him to say as a Key NOTE speaker for the DNC and JohnKerry. Atleast he supported the Candidate instead of the Clintons who sat on the side line waiting for their chance in 08′.
    I have heard the Clintons play the gender card and never heard OBAMA play the race card taking the high road as he should. OBAMA is a true UNITER as the POLLS indicate. The Clintons are so divisive that INDEPENDANTS and REPUBLICANS will never unite behind Hillary for the type of change that is needed today. Bill Clinton was fully understanding of the political climate during OBAMA's statements and he's also fully aware of the "PRESENT" votes and the REAL meaning behind it .Everybody on this board knows that the RIGHT WING republicans use the "NO" votes as means distract voters and SO DOES THE CLINTON'S. REAL DIRTY TRICK BILL! Blacks will begin to dislike you guys if you keep with the SHANANIGANS

    January 9, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. Barbara

    I was worried that if Clinton is the eventual nominee, that the hateful culture and hate filled vitrolic rhetoric that is perpetuated by the republicans would put us back in the same situation that we had when Newt took control of congress. I guess I did not have to wait that long; it seems that the democrats want to jump start that hate machine on their own. I simply do not understand the hate that some people have when we are talking about political figures. Can someone explain?

    January 9, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. rybehr

    Is Bill Clinton twisting words? I guess it just depends on what your definition of 'is' is.

    January 9, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. Ann

    Hillary, tell Bill to shut up and go home. Every time I here Bill say anything about any other candidate all I can remember is "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

    January 9, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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