April 12th, 2008
11:32 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama on 'bitter' remark: 'I didn't say it as well as I should have'


Watch Sen. Obama speak about the controversy Saturday morning in Indiana.

MUNCIE, Indiana (CNN) - Barack Obama said Saturday that he didn't word his recent comments at a fundraiser "as well as he should have" but added that the back and forth that developed between Obama and fellow White House hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John McCain is "typical."

At a closed-press event in California Sunday Obama referred to some jobless Pennsylvanians as "bitter" who "cling to guns or religion." Saturday, the Illinois senator sought to douse any further firestorm over the comments.

"I didn't say it as well as I should have," Obama told an audience in Muncie, Indiana, the day after he first defended his comments, "because the truth is is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation–those are important."

The campaign added that the "traditions" Obama referred to are those of gun ownership and religion. Obama said those traditions are "what sustains us."

He also labeled the dust up that's developed as "a little typical sort of political flare up" because, as he contends, he said something that "everybody knows is true."

The Democratic candidate maintained–as he had Friday night after the story first broke–that people are frustrated because Washington isn't listening to the average American.

"There are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my home town in Illinois who are bitter. They are angry."

"When you're bitter, you turn to what you can count on," Obama said, adding they then turn to voting "about guns" and "taking comfort" in their faith and family.

"That's a natural response."

UPDATE: McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds responded in a statement and said, "Barack Obama’s elitism allows him to believe that the American traditions that have contributed to the identity and greatness of this country are actually just frustrations and bitterness. What ‘everyone knows’ is that the Constitution’s Second Amendment and our country’s strong roots in faith are cornerstone customs in this country, and Barack Obama’s dismissal of those values is revealing."

–CNN Political Producer Chris Welch

soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Richard

    Sen. Barack Obama tells it like it is ! Why wouldn't anyone feel some Bitterness after almost 8 years of the Failed Bush Presidency! Sen. Obama spoke truthfully and Sen. Clinton doesn't know what is truthful because she "misspeaks" frequently!

    April 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. That's Reality

    Obama needs to realize that, for some people, faith IS the most imporatant issue; it tops even the economy. The reason for that is because God blesses a nation according to what the people value. If they value His word and His ways and act accordingly He will bless them with prosperity; If they turn away from Him (as this nation largely has) He revokes His blessing. Quite simple but true. Please post this truth CNN.

    April 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. osmond

    I guess pointing out the flaws of government is now elitism. Some have said his comments are large generalizations but i dont see it. He said some people in small communities are bitter and angry about their job loss. So they turn to gun rights or abortion right or immigration policies and ignore economy. The industrial jobs in Pa, and Indiana are not coming back. The shape of our economy no longer supports it and if it did the jobs are being sent overseas but NAFTA to which Hilary supported under her husband and bush is trying to implement in Columbia. I lived in Altoona,Pa for a few years as a kid and i remember hearing many conversation about these faith based issues and anti immigration sentiments. Blue collar laborers need to direct their frustration at the government and hold them accountable for their failed promises and policies.

    Obama 08' 12

    April 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |



    April 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. Joe

    Obama is now back pedalling. Last night he was defiant in his remarks and attacking Clinton and McCain. Now he is on the defense. This is worse than Wright. Obama is the one who spoke. He will lose PA and IN. I would not be surprised if John Edwards did not endorse Obama and went for Clinton now.

    April 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. That's Reality

    And, Mr. Obama, no verse of scripture is "obscure".

    April 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Cynthia

    I saw Senator Obama on You Tube responding to the so called flare up. I understand exactly what he is saying and believe it to be true. I know people who have voiced similar frustrations – so he is not wrong. I think the other candidates are just trying to draw the negative publicity away from themselves to Senator Obama.

    April 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Paul

    Why doesn't Mr. Obama also talk about his comments on immigration. People in small town America, of which I am one, are entitleds on our opinions about immigrants, are entiltled to worry about them pricing the strugling American worker out of jobs by u dercutting the pricing and the cost of educating and proviving medical care for all these "poor immigrants" as Sen. Obama refers to them. Let's worry about Americas poor in Appalachia, on Indian reservations and the poor legal immigrants before we kiss up to the "illegal immigrant causes" looking for votes from the Libveral left. Sen. Obama should worry abvout small town America.

    April 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Obama-fatigue

    First of all Obama is arrogant and has no idea what he is talking about. He cannot connect with those outside the Wright congregation. He makes so many condescending remarks that his true colors come out. Mr. Eloquent Speaker isn't so eloquent. To group everyone as "bitter" speaks to his lack of knowledge about real people across the country. Additionally, he always tries to say that "those" people in Washington don't listen to average Americans...well he is exactly that...part of Washington elite. His message isn't getting through to anyone except those who already support him...you know who you are. He won't be making any new supporters with his latest comments.

    April 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Lee

    Aboma needs to go help Ophra preach her "no God, no sin doctrine.
    We need neither of tem in politics..

    April 12, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. typical

    "typical" politician What ever sounds good at the moment!

    April 12, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. Ron

    I agree with Obama. Hilary is trying to change the topic from her own failure to respond to a genuine question raised by CNN about her husband making 800,000 from Colombia for their trade deal. How can she try to say that she opposes NAFTA and have senior advisers and her own husband that agree with it. She takes all sides of all topics for votes. All she could do is laugh. Atleast Obama cares for the people and not special interest.

    April 12, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. California Voter

    It is not surprising that Obama used the wording he used initially. I believe the former pastor and apparently the members of the church he attends are angry and bitter as is his wife. Whether Obama has that same deep seated anger and bitternes is not clear. I also find it interesting that Obama appeals (well, according to the media) to the well educated, young, affluent voters. So when polled, I'm not surprised that numbers are often screwed. Who wants to admit that they are poor, old, and uneducated??

    April 12, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Sam

    I was at the town hall in Muncie today!

    Everyone who's disenchanted with government and tired of being ignored knows exactly what Obama meant.

    Frankly, it's Clinton and McCain who talk down to the American people by acting as if we're stupid and don't understand what's going on. There spin on what Obama said is insulting.

    And really, when's the last time either of them worked on the streets with average Americans?

    April 12, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. DT

    Hillary is still not going to win! People say that want a candidate to deal with the issues. Well he is dealing with the issues and so because he is dealing with the issues now he is insulting the people in PA. Well again, there are people that are bitter, angry and upset at the way this country has handled its people and their business.

    Now let's deal with the issues. Hillary always want to attack Obama on something he says but yet again she "MIS-SPOKE". Get outta here!!!! Apparently, both McCain and Hillary are threaten by Obama and how he is challenging the Washington.

    Of, course McCain is goign to attack public financing because Obama is blowing him out with support. Obama would be silly not to take the public financing when his supporters are giving him the support he needs with minimum donations.

    Get over it! Obama will be the next president!

    April 12, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  16. ken

    Even though he didn't phrase it well, he is right on...joblessness in PA is a huge issue...Scranton has been trying to revitalize since 1940 and is hurting deeply....an intersection for the North South/East West drug traders....and as for Hillary's Scranton roots...her so called humble roots at Lake Winona...baloney!! Back then all those cottages on the lake were unheated and without showers....they were summer homes!!! Give me a break...if her family could have a summer lake home back then, she was from an elitist family ...when analyzing what she says of the past you can't use today's standards. Wake up America...this woman is full of holes in everything she says.!!!!

    April 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. felo

    The truth is always painful, It's time to bring back all those outsourced jobs to their original source THE USA!

    April 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. Ann Marie

    Obama speaks the truth and Hillary lies. The Bible says: Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Proverbs 12:19. It also says, The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. Proverbs 12:22
    Guess who God is delighted with?

    April 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. JBilly from Fl

    This is another anti american statement made by Obama , first his wife, then his pastor and mentor and now again him. Slick Willy is
    going to turn this around and get out of it just like he did with Rev.
    Wright. I cannot believe he is fooling the American public , it is really
    scarry to me that if he gets elected no telling what he will do to the
    white americans.



    I truly believe now that he is a Muslum, I didn't before.

    April 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. Gloria

    Well your friend in PA and a Republican obviously didn't listen to the tape! You got it wrong because you didn't check the facts, talk about gulible. That is why Obama is leading, so many gulible people that don't check the facts.

    April 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. stl

    His "sound" judgement really shows!

    April 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. John

    Obama dares to speak the truth. Who isn't bitter about the way the government has screwed things up?

    Hillary, while dodging sniper fire, was part of the machine that caused this mess. And McCain, well, he doesn't know that much the economy and such - but he's sure it'll all work itself out someday...

    April 12, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. Damon

    Is this the best that Hillary can do? This was said well at all by Obama, but I get the gist of what he meant. er campaign is so bad that she now has to seize on one word to attack a fellow Democrat?

    April 12, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  24. DT

    You Hillary supporters need to stop. At least he can say he should have used different words but to flat out lie and then have your husband lie on top of your lie is pathetic.

    Get over Hillary people! Deal with the fact you have a lying candidate. At least Obama really Misspoke! He didn't lie!!!!!!!!!

    April 12, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. Jim

    How interesting it is that Hillary Clinton gets in trouble by telling a lie, and Barack Obama gets in trouble for telling the truth.

    April 12, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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