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. Ja

    President OBAMA has nothing to apologize for. He did not "MISSPEAK". He is only speaking the Thruth!!!!

    OBAMA 08!!!!!

    April 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  2. Jeremy

    What is more ludricous: to confess that some Pennsylvanians are bitter or to deny that any are? Do Hillary or John actually believe that no Pennsylvanians are bitter over their economic present and/or future? Who wants to elect a President that denies reality (again)?

    April 12, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Tanya

    It doesn't matter that what he said could be a truth. It is how he said it that got him in trouble now and will again and again in the future.

    Obama IS an elitist and he talks down to people. He needs to hire new speech writers and new handlers who could "reimage" him, if he is to win in the heartlands.

    April 12, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Kristen

    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 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |

    Dont worry Barrack u wont be the first person to be crucified for telling the truth and u wont be the last. us cool level headed people understood u. The McClinton ticket will go down in history as the worst campaign team ever. What do u excepect from the establishment, they aint used to the truth, All they know is Love , Lies and u know what.........

    April 12, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Mike in PA

    I'm from Pennsylvania, the man is absolutely correct. Why attack the truth? A lot of us are very bitter and we want the government to change. Obama '08!

    April 12, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Cam

    Finally, a politician willing to speak truth to the people. Love it.....Like water in a desert.....

    April 12, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. Tommy H - Houston, Texas

    He is right, I am a 59 year old white male with a college education and I am bitter. He should not apologize for his candor.

    April 12, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |

    Obama has nothing to apologize for. He speaks honestly from the heart. Straight talk which is so refreshing. He understands peoples problems, hopes and fears more than the Clinton and McCain millionaires ever will. Obama is getting tough and it's great to see that he's not going to be intimidated by the dirty politics and spin.

    April 12, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. obama08

    this whole controversy over some words is getting to the point of ridculous. clinton just wants to take the heat off her and lies that we have uncovered. this whole situation just made me like her and mccain even less.

    April 12, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. armod

    this is fair and balanced correct? can we get our comments posted

    Many thanks!

    April 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  12. concerned American

    The remarks are as simple as it was said "bitter" tell who isnt bitter abt losing men in Iraq and the economy almost in recession. If you are upset abt the comment , then you need a reality check. Wake up people politicians are playing on your intelligents, dont give them that chance....unless you are too blind to see!!!!!!!

    April 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. PA-resident

    I am with you all the way Obama. The media is not gonna give you a break while Hillary is lying outright. Sorry CNN. You can be all over this story but that doesn't make us feel better about this country!

    April 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. carolflowery

    Last time i looked, Obama, you are part of the DC government you are so critical of, I think Hillary and McCain should just let you run your proverbial mouth, never attack you and let you be your own worst enemy

    April 12, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Tim

    Obama is a smooth talker. He reminds me of that other Democrat politician–Bill Clinton.

    April 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Scott

    Please Penn... put a stop to the Clintons. The whole nation is tired of them.

    April 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Brett

    How many times does this man have to prove that he's an elitist, arrogant misanthrope before we start TO BELIEVE IT?!?!

    April 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. Independent Voter Now Voting for Obama

    HRC and McCain's immediate response is a joke and they show that they are actually "out of touch" with the voters. I was leaning toward to HRC but now am definitely an Obama supporter.

    April 12, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Obama is a hypocrite. He should have made this statements infront of the thousands of people who attends his realy but instead he selected to do it infront of the few wealthiest people of America.

    April 12, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Timothy

    It was looking like Obama may beat Clinton, in Pennsylvania to end the race, but this comment is as bad as Clinton's comments about Mississippi. This WILL cost him 4-6 points in my opinion.

    April 12, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. JJ in NY

    There's a big difference when someone inadvertantly uses inappropriate words, and the deliberate and calculated use of lies from HILLARY.

    April 12, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. Blazing Sun

    I for one, would love to have a president that admit's to mistakes. I just hope that the 49.5% of the population that voted for the wrong president last time learn from their mistakes this election. Obama would be a wise and strong leader for this country at a time when we can't afford to go another 4 years in the wrong direction

    April 12, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  23. Greg

    Can the American political system survive a candidate who speaks the truth?

    I mean, it's been so long since anyone's done it.

    April 12, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Amanda M - Chicago, IL

    Obama is right. We are bitter. Why are they attacking him for it? We can be bitter and still have hope for change. And how can someone like Clinton and McCain say they are more in touch with middle America? have they ever even been a part of middle America????

    April 12, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. Fred

    I didnt see him laugh his way out of it.

    April 12, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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