April 12th, 2008
05:07 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama: If I offended, I deeply regret that

In an interview with a North Carolina paper Saturday, Sen. Obama tried to quell the controversy around his recent remarks.
In an interview with a North Carolina paper Saturday, Sen. Obama tried to quell the controversy around his recent remarks.

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Barack Obama said Saturday that if he has offended people with comments he made almost a week ago where he labeled small town Pennsylvanians "bitter" and that they "cling to guns and religion" then he regrets it.

"Obviously, if I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that," Obama said in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal, according to a transcript provided by his campaign.

"The underlying truth of what I said remains, which is simply that people who have seen their way of life upended because of economic distress are frustrated and rightfully so," he told the North Carolina newspaper. "And I hear it all the time when I visit these communities."

Earlier in the day, Obama told an audience at a town hall meeting in Muncie, Indiana that he didn't word his comments "as well as he should have," but did not go as far as using the word "regret."

Obama first made the comments Sunday at a closed-press fundraiser in San Francisco.

Update with statement from McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds:

“Voters will reject his so-called truths that he still stands by. His remarks were false. The importance of our Second Amendment and our country’s longstanding history with faith and spirituality are born in history, not bitterness and frustration. His view is absolutely restricted by elitism.”

– CNN Political Producer Chris Welch


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Joe Green

    Hillary takes $50 million through her husband in speech fees. CNN says bubkis.

    And yet this so-called "bitter" controversy creates 8 new stories on the ticker.

    Yes, peopel ARE BITTER about losing their jobs, their homes, their life savings, all while Friends fo the Clintons make Billions of dollars (and the Clintons make a 110 million).

    That's called the TRUTH, my friend!

    April 12, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. pam

    By Pam from Philadelphia, PA 18 minutes ago
    Why I am bitter:
    1)I am bitter because of the state of our economy
    2)I am bitter because our jobs are being shipped overseas
    3)I am bitter because we are fighting a war we shouldn't have waged.
    4)I am bitter because we are spending $10b every month in iraq, money that we need seriously here.
    5)I am bitter that Iraq has about $50b of its money lodged in foreign account, while we are using tax payer's money to rebuild the country.
    6)I am bitter that we are losing the effort to catch Osama Bin Lladen.
    7)I am bitter that our great country has lost its respect in the international forum.
    8)I am bitter that our dollars has become a laughing stock of the world. That right here in the states, some businesses no longer accepts the dollar as a legal tender.
    9)I am bitter because hardworking folks are being laid off their jobs and have lost all their savings.
    10)I am bitter that honest and hard working folks are facing foreclosures.
    11)I am bitter because the solution to the foreclosure problem from our law makers is to reward the mortgage banks and people who created the problem in the first place, while providing nothing for the people at the risk of losing their homes.
    12) I am bitter because we keep borrowing from china and other countries, thereby leaving debts upon debts for the future generation.
    13) I am bitter because there are so many other reasons why I should be bitter and our government is doing nothing to fix it.
    14) Finally, I am bitter because the only person amongst our presidential candidates who recognizes that I'm bitter and that I have a genuine reason to be, is being crucified for saying the truth.

    I live in Philadelphia, where people have resorted to all these thing, and crime is out of control. WHY, BECAUSE THEY ARE BITTER!

    It’s just another shift tactic, from what is going on in her/and his own back yard.

    REMEMBER WHAT YOU PROMISE US!

    "I don't intend to be a President who tells you what you want to hear...but rather, a President who tells you what you need to hear in order to try and move this country forward. I'm going to try and tell you the truth."

    April 12, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Vig

    My question, why didn't he say these things to their faces? He waits until he arrives in San Francisco to attend a fund raiser, populated by people like himself. Why, because he was able to identify with the uppity ups of the Bay Area, not the downtrodden of Pennyslvania. People need to wake up and smell the elitism.

    April 12, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. Damian

    You did not offend us, by stating the truth. There is a housing crisis, there is and unending war, there is an impending recession because of the housing crisis and the war, there is a lack of jobs, too much of a need on foreign oil, too much influence by lobbyists and special interest groups, if this doesn't make you bitter, then you haven't been paying attention. We need CHANGE, and we need OBAMA '08!!!!!

    April 12, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Fred

    Re: Comments about bitter citizens.
    I find it hard to believe that national and state politicans do NOT understand the voters. Obama is CORRECT. Most people are sick and no longer have faith in Congress and the Presidency (their government). Who is really out of touch? McCain and Clinton who think things are ok? Politicans who refuse to HEAR the disappointment of the voters?

    April 12, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. don

    i don`t think obama need to be sorry for anything,,,,,,,,,,,,,that the truth. people just can`t face the truth or because it was obama that said it,,,,,,,,,, am canadian and i really don`t see what is wrong with that,i also think when u americans that believing in the truth the better for you americans.

    April 12, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. North Carolina

    "These communities"? Which communities might these be: the ones with all those "typical white" people? First you try and deny my right to vote given me by the 19th Amendment. Now you make remarks against religion and guns: my rights via the1st and 2nd Amendments. Stay out of North Carolina. And shut up. I don't want nay more speeches.

    April 12, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. Joe

    Wow, that's rare. A candidate who will actually step up to the plate and set things right.

    I think the saddest thing about this race is the fact that I've lost so much respect for both President Clinton and Senator Clinton. And now, sadly I'm starting to feel that same way about Senator Bayh. I've been a huge fan of both him and his wife Susan for so long, but now he's proving that he'll play gutter politics and say ANYTHING in the hopes of propping up Senator Clinton's candidacy.

    I'm sorry, but the Democratic nomination is not something that is owed to Senator Clinton and America is ready of a new generation of leadership. Sadly, I guess Senator Bayh probably identifies with the Clintons because he also inherited his political legacy. Birds of a feather, I guess.

    April 12, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. Barb Canada

    The story leaves out the part where Obama called them Racist! "They feel ANTIPATHY towards people who aren't like them"! Antipathy=noun
    1. a feeling of intense dislike !

    April 12, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. Jesse

    Actually McCain, This country gained its independence through bitterness and anger over British Tyranny. At least Obama can apologize to those he offended.. Lets see if Billary can do the same about her sniper lie.

    April 12, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Jazz

    Evan Bayh, a CLinton surrogate who realizes that Hillary's chances are slipping away and wants to fan the flames against Obama. Why doesn't Hillary quit the Democratic Party and join the Republicans? She and her Camp have been campaigning using Karl Rove's playbook.

    April 12, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. joe

    And you are a millionare mccain that hide behing your wife wealth. You don't speak for me. You are a warmonger and your longstanding with bush administration is what we can not afford. Not this time, Not right now. Please, we would rather have someone who does not have washington stronghold and lobbyists and who is telling the truth and being crussified for it.

    Obama 08,12!

    April 12, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  13. Mandi Locke

    John McCain should be able to recognize a true elitist considering the America he wishes to represent is lead by fat cats and corporate lobbyists. John McCain is as All-American as Moo-Goo Gai Pan.

    April 12, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. Bitter Floridian

    Apparently Obama makes wide sweeping generalizations about people to make himself look good. The only thing is this politician is able to use "words, just words" to get himself into and out of these problems.

    Reality = Obama is a politician, and he will tell you what you want to hear to get him elected.

    Fantasy = He cares about the American People

    Reality = Obama doesn't know America

    Reality = Obama's "change" remains unknown; an amorphic unquantifyable concept that gets tossed around to rally people to him.

    Fantasy = Obama's preacher is a crazy old man

    Reality = Rev Wright uses hate speech to get his point across and while Obama flipflops on whether he heard those hateful speeches, he made him an advisor to his campaign and then supports his hatespeech by throwing race under the bus, his white grandmother under the bus, and becomes black when he wants and white when he wants… The reality is his grandmother is his blood and you can't disown her, your spiritual advisor you can change, you can see a pastor who meets your needs (not use as a political polevault to the Illinois legislature, and ultimately US Senate).

    Fantasy = Obama thinks every vote should count

    Reality = Obama has done everything to disenfranchize Florida and Michigan voters and that is just down right unpatriotic, un American, and that makes me bitter!

    April 12, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. J WIlliams

    My job was sent overseas a while ago, and you know what? I'm bitter. Obama has hit the nail on the head. We're fed up with our economy and we want change!

    April 12, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. ellianna

    Stir the Pot, Media!! Stir the Pot! When the American people are interested in the REAL ISSUES in Washington, the Media just HAS to find some reason to keep the "stew" boiling!! I will be SOOOOOOOOO HAPPY when this primary election process is OVER!! It is time to move on to the General Election!! It is far past time to get rid of the Clintons and their supporters - and I must say CNN must be using the CLINTON SAUDI DOLLARS (from Bill's millions) to give HRC ALL OF THEIR MEDIA ATTENTION!! It is sooooooooooooo obvious - EVEN A CAVE MAN COULD SEE IT!!!

    April 12, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Chris

    Politicians need to stop slamming other politicians for speaking the hard truth. If these truths were more spoken leading into the Iraq war (e.g. Saddam had NOTHING to do with 9/11) then we never would have gone. Americans ARE bitter about our government. So let's address that instead of denying that is the case. McCain is just another Bush.

    April 12, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. Claire, Austin, TX

    You know, I think the problem is that truth is such a foreign notion to politics. Washington is so used to lies, corruption, and manipulation that when someone comes in who is honest and unafraid of speaking the truth, people get nervous; they don't know what to do.

    Thanks, Obama, for speaking truth, even if people don't like it.

    April 12, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. Barbara Roberts

    The more Obama talks of small town America the madder I get he doesn't know what he is talking about. We aren't stupid we don't feel left behind we do vote on issues. Tell him to take his wife and go back to Chicago and shut the heck up. I live in a town of 600 and that is small. I came from a town of 200 and that is small and none of the things he says apply or his so called reason for saying what he did. He is not quilfied to be a senator much less a President wake up people he is all mouth and no knowledge.

    April 12, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. George

    I am experiencing harsh economic times and can certainly relate to Obama's comment. Those who are seeking political mileage from this are petty and basically dishonest. While politicians are arguing about semantically nonsense like use of the term "bitter" and whether or not we are in a recession – I am experiencing the worst depression ever. I AM BITTER AND WILL OFFER NO APOLOGIES FOR THAT. Whatever optimism I have comes from an enduring confidence in my abilities and not in McCain's or Hillary's pie-in-the-sky notion of what I am experiencing.

    April 12, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. RUAL VA VOTER

    I AM BITTER!

    I'M BITTER BECAUSE OF $4 A GALLON FOR GAS THIS SUMMER!

    I'M BITTER BECAUSE OF THE HOUSEING CRISIS!

    I'M BITTER BECAUSE WE LOST 80K JOB IN THE MONTH OF MARCH ALONE!

    I'M BITTER BECAUSE MY BROTHER IS ON HIS SECOND TOUR IN IRAQ, AND BUSH DOESN'T WANT TO BRING HIM HOME!

    I HAVE ALOT TO BE BITTER ABOUT BECAUSE THIS CURRENT ADMINISTRATION HASN'T DONE ANYTHING FOR ME!

    AND I WILL NOT BE PERSUADED BY THE SWIFT BOAT EXPRESS OF THE MCCAIN AND CLINTON CAMPS.

    CLINTON AND MCCAIN SAY BARACK IS OUT OF TOUCH.... WELL I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT PLANET THEY ARE LIVING IN WHICH THEY THINK EVERYTHING IS OK!?!?

    April 12, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. Sue, NY

    He has explained all of his comments perfectly....time to move on.
    There are many people who are frustrated with the government and how things have been run in the past 7-8 years....and they are not reserved to just people in PA....I live in NY and Sen. Clinton is my senator...and I can tell you ....she hasn't done such a hot job....and all jobs promised to Buffalo have not materalized...

    April 12, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  23. Sue Callahan

    forgive me, but if i lived in Penssylvania and someone came to me and told me my jobs are going to Columbia or Mexico I would be bitter too. And how is this an issue for the politicans? they use their faith, or gun or whatevers to hold on...wouldn't you..you risk losing your property, cars, your kids can no longer attend private schools (ie paid for schools)..you have to worry about feeding your children.
    How did Obamma offend anyone saying that..IT'S TRUE! i live in Upstate New York where Hillary hasn't done crap for us..we have lost jobs..the Republicans haven't done crap for us..our children move out of state just to earn a decent dollar and to buy their own home. Please think about the media spin on this before you buy into this.

    April 12, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  24. Holland

    You Americans finally have someone who is not scared of saying things as they are and then you waste a chance like that and afterwards you start complaining again that nothing has changed in Washington. These elections are one big soap opera with plastic fases. That's bitter...

    April 12, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. Ankita

    this is getting ridiculous, even though i'm a Mccain supporter. Leave Obama alone now. He's said sorry. Almost all the stories in the blog are about this "bitter" comment.

    McCain-Condi 08

    April 12, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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