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. SS

    Fair enough and well justified...

    April 12, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. armod

    The two millionaires both Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain have been sitting in Washington for years and this happened to us on their watch. Do you trust the same person to get you out of a situation when it's the same people who placed you in the situation?

    April 12, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. Diane

    Obama is very arrogant and immature. I cannot stand even looking at anymore. We need leadership in the White House.

    Hilliary 08 or McCain 08

    April 12, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. David Sattanni

    How many times can he put his foot in his mouth and get away with it? Stop being ignorant, people. Just be glad the mask is coming off now before it's too late.

    April 12, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. Michael Hindman

    As I reminded by Hillary – just words, just words.
    Funny now she takes them so seriously.

    April 12, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Cindy Martinez

    Another thing he says that he has to explain and his supporters will turn a blind eye to it. Hypocrits.

    April 12, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  7. James

    Why don't you get this story in perspective, such as Wolf Blitzer did in the CNN Situation Room with discussion panel of Jeffrey Toobin, Jack Cafferty and Gloria Borger. Watching that and reading this story gives two completely different impressions.

    April 12, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. Don - Indiana

    I was there, he did not backtrack. Things are taken kinda out of context here. I can see now how things can be "spun". He said that Americans do get bitter when they lose jobs sometimes, period.

    April 12, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. cross of florida

    gas prices are out of control, home foreclosures are at all time high,
    home values are going down, stock market is unstable, unemployment is going up, job security is at best not secured..who is not mad & bitter?

    April 12, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. Steve

    Those of you who are defending Sen. Obama should be ashamed of yourselves. His recent comments are so condescending, and show that he thinks that Americans living in the Heartland and in small town America are idiots. It's sad that he's a leading contender for President of the United States!

    April 12, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. Obama Wins Pennsylvania!

    Projection: Obama Wins Pennsylvania!

    April 12, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Sean

    I agree... Every week he is forced to apologize for something. The sad part is, he shouldn't. McClinton finds something "wrong" with the wording, and he is forced into a Political corner trying to defend something that doesn't need defending. People are bitter, and for Hillary to say that nobody is just shows how unreasonable and out of touch she is. He says "some people are bitter" and she responds with "no they're not". It's getting old. Really...

    April 12, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. woman for Obama

    Truth is painful , but is true. People are fed-up.
    100 mil McBush & 109 mil HillyBilly are in touch with small town peple???
    Wait after November to see their real faces.

    April 12, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. Obama CA

    Hillary keeps getting more desperate and has to make a stink about everything. It's bush-league politics. She would be better off controling her husband. He's the one with a big mouth.

    April 12, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. Another Typical White Woman

    ...and, so could have the Rev. Wright. But, both of you did not.

    April 12, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Twaid

    Are we really making such a big deal about the word "bitter"? I would be bitter too if I lost my job. What's wrong with that? To think otherwise as Clinton and McCain said shows just how out of touch they are.

    April 12, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  17. Fernando

    He is starting to show how inexperienced he is.

    Honestly, I am tired of his excuses every week for something dumb he said... and it is ALWAYS "out of context" or "just being honest" – these are the top 2 most used excuses from Obama himself and his supporters.

    HILLARY '08

    April 12, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. jan

    exonerated again by his followers–perhaps he would prefer small-town americans to sniff cocaine for a hobby instead of legal hunting. it was not so much the bitter comment as the insult to american intelligence. ps–the only people who were not prosperous in the clinton years were those who had no intention of working!

    April 12, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Holly in Scranton PA

    I'm a Republican and I agree with what Obama said. I will be voting Democrat. I'm bitter and angry. The mortgage industry lied to me. McSham does not want to help me, and guess what, i can't file for bankruptcy because of a law that the $109 million dollar a year Clinton signed off on. We all have our own opinion and interpretation but anyone who accepts Obama's comments as nothing short of the truth, are people who needed a reason or did not want a reason to vote for him anyway.


    April 12, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Mia from Florida

    It's sad to see the division in these comments and the obvious "politicizing" of comments. As a democrat I hope we can all come together and stop fighting one another. We need to win in November. Another four years of a republican in the white house will be a disaster. Senator Obama was trying to make a truthful statement, maybe he didn't say it as artfully as he could, but try giving speeches 24/7 and see if everything you say comes out perfectly. People are frustrated, angry, and bitter about the economy, healthcare, the war, and so many other things that create stress in our lives. Let's act like democrats, americans, human beings, and not be brought down into gutter politics. We're better than that.

    April 12, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. BRiley

    No the reason people own guns is because our country is not safe. We have people who have a chip on the shoulder trying to take things that belong to hard working people!! So the hard working people are trying to protect their families and their homes! There you go Obama

    April 12, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  22. Larry Gray

    It is difficult for me to understand how one whos spouse is worth millions and another who has gained 109 million in the past six years can call Obama an elitest. Woe is me.

    April 12, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  23. jj

    Obama ....please....please....go away.....for the good of the American people!

    April 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. EAM

    When Clinton and McCain hear any bitter truths, they have a hard time swallowing it – but, American people don't. Truth has become something that gets swept under the rug, these days.

    Bitter? You betcha I am! Thank you, Obama, for recognizing that!

    April 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. J, Ca

    Shouldn't have said it. Too late to back track

    April 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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