April 14th, 2008
03:27 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama makes light of 'bitter' comments

CNN

Watch part of Sen. Obama's speech Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) –- Democrat Barack Obama continued to tweak his explanation of what some in the media are now referring to as "bitter-gate" by saying he now feels his comments have served as a "distraction."

"I regret some of the words I chose," Obama said Monday at The Associated Press annual conference in Washington, D.C., "partly because the way that these remarks have been interpreted have offended some people and partly because they have served as one more distraction from the critical debate that we must have in this election season."

At a closed door fundraiser just over a week ago, the Illinois senator referred to some small-town Pennsylvanians as "bitter" people who "cling to guns and religion."

At the top of his remarks to the crowd, which included a significant number of journalists, Obama made an attempt to turn what he calls his badly-chosen words into a joke.

"I know I kept a lot of you guys busy this weekend with the comments I made last week. Some of you might even be a little bitter about that," he said to soft laughter.

Reading from a prompter, the White House hopeful then began wielding attacks at the presumptive GOP nominee, saying John McCain and the Republicans will use his "bitter" comments "to argue that I'm out of touch" with average Americans.

"I don't blame them for this - that's the nature of our political culture, and if I had to carry the banner for eight years of George Bush's failures, I'd be looking for something else to talk about too," Obama said.

"If John McCain wants to turn this election into a contest about which party is out of touch with the struggles and the hopes of working America, that's a debate I'm happy to have. In fact, I think that's a debate we have to have."

In a response, McCain senior adviser Mark Salter said, “It’s hard to keep a straight face when you’re accused of being out of touch by a guy who thinks the whole country is worried about the high price of arugula or that you hunt ducks with a six shooter.”

Sunday, Obama used harsh words to criticize Hillary Clinton for her attacks on him calling him out of touch with Pennsylvania voters. He mocked her, implying she is falsely creating the image that she's a bigger supporter of gun rights than he is.

"She's talking like she's Annie Oakley! Hillary Clinton's out there like she's on the duck blind every Sunday, [like] she's packin' a six shooter!" Obama said.

The McCain response also draws a parallel to a past Obama faux-pas: at a campaign stop months ago in Iowa, the Illinois senator asked a group of farmers if they'd "gone into a Whole Foods lately and seen what they charge for arugula." Whole Foods is a more upscale grocery chain, and they have no stores in the state of Iowa.

soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Susie

    I have always been a Hillary supporter, but my friends were for Obama, but since all the hoopla re: midwest and PA people they have switched to Hillary! YES........

    April 14, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  2. Betty, NJ

    Obama created his own distraction. I'm sick and tired of listening to him deflect responsibility for his mistakes or positions that he has taken that are no longer convenient for him. Good to know he feels comfortable enough to make jokes about his insulting remarks. Oh, and so much for 'new politics'. We haven't heard him talk about that much since decided to get down and dirty after Ohio and renegged on his commitment to pursue public financing in the GE.

    April 14, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  3. Joel

    Bitter Americans? Most are too comatose feel bitter....unless the TV remote isn't working. Of course there are people who are absolutely worried about their financial security. Whomever doesn't recognized that there are fundamental problems in the government is either not paying attention or complicit in allowing it. Obama said nothing that was untrue and there's nothing to forgive. People who are not bitter about the state of our country aren't paying attention. Presidential campaigning has been reduced to entertaining the lowest common denominator, which in the US is pretty darn low these days. Why can't we as Americans find a little dignity and not destroy the people we will eventually have leading our nation? A people divided are easier to rule. Haven't we learned anything in the last 8 years?

    April 14, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  4. Donald

    It seems as if this bitter story is being run constantly it is absurd It is easy to understand that he probably intended on conveying the sense of frustration anger and even cynicism that sets in after having multiple term politicians looking right past the peoples wishes and straight towards big money ignoring our interests... I started this race supporting Hillary and am still fond of Bill but this negativity has to stop I now support Obama and his positive message in addition I think that ANY candidate that accuses a person of mixed heritage raised in a single mother household that pulled himself up by his own bootstraps an elitist Is simply out of touch.

    April 14, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  5. clc

    I am a small town, "typical white" female in my 30's with a college education and a family of 7 to support... am I bitter? Yes, I am. I am extremely bitter that no matter how hard I work to push forward in life and in faith, I am faced with challenges and difficulties. I believe that Senator Obama made a statement based on fact and I do not think an apology is necessary, we shouldn't have to apologize for how we feel. I wish more Americans would swallow their pride and admit that they are also "bitter".

    April 14, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  6. Big Tex

    Harry Moyer,

    The Clinton has sold us out in her own words:

    She said ,A lot of these lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans. They actually do. They represent nurses, they represent social workers — yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people."

    The former first lady said that she welcomed the debate on the issue.

    Now, a vote for Clinton is a Vote for the same old things

    They just rather attack Obama because he's the ony one who can committe to change.

    Certainly not Clinton.

    April 14, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  7. Bernice

    THERE IS NO REASON FOR OBAMA TO FOCUS ON THIS FOOLISHNESS. MOST PEOPLE FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT HE MEANT. AND WE FULLY UNDERSTAND HILLARY'S BS SHE IS FULL OF IT EVERYTIME SHE OPENS HER MOUTH THAT'S ALL THAT POURS OUT.

    OBAMA IS READY TO MOVE ON FROM THIS TO MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES. THE REST NEED TO DO THE SAME, LET'S GET ON TO THOSE THINGS THAT HAVE US BITTER ALL ACROSS AMERICA!

    April 14, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  8. The O

    The Second American Revolution is coming, to take back our Goverment for the Lobbyist and there Fat Cat supporters
    we have had 20 years of lies and decite,
    20 years of changing the subject to distract form the real issues

    ( you will have to take my guns out of my cold dead hand )
    ( lets talk about gay marriage ) ,
    ( Terry Shivo )
    ( How patriotic we are for supportting this war)
    ( Lets luagh and joke when we get cuaght in a lie)
    ( was against Nafta before I was for it )
    ( I DID NOT HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMEN )

    so we were not watching what was really taking place

    The real issues:
    Job loss
    Lobbyist running our goverment
    Nafta
    Katrina
    $ 9 trillion bet
    The war in Iraq
    4000+ dead soldiers
    90,000 badly injured soldiers
    Educations
    Tax breaks for the rich
    __________________________
    __________________________
    __________________________
    if I left any out you can fill in the blanks

    WE ARE MAD AND BITTER AS HELL AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO
    TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!

    Obama is the leader of

    The Second American revolution

    the Revolution will be Peaceful Honest and Straight forward
    and will take us back to the glory and the luster that we have lost in the last 20 years

    OBAMA 08

    April 14, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. sherry from Atlanta Georgia

    Excuse me, Hillary..didn't you just tell a bold face lie to the AMERICAN PEOPLE and flippantly defend yourself by saying, "Well, shows you I'm human!" ?? Now you are trying to exploit a clumsy and misspoken comment by Barrack Omama, which HE HAS TAKEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR, to distract us from the truth.
    You must think the American people are really stupid! Shame on you Hillary, you will stop at nothing to promote yourself. How elitist!

    April 14, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. John

    True colors starting to show, huh Obama?!

    April 14, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. California Voter

    I would suggest to those that believe that the Rev. Wright issue has no meaning that they go to the TUCC website (under about us) and substitute "white" for everytime "black" is mentioned and see if it doesn't come off as racist to you. The Clintons were accused of racism before the South Carolina primary and they said nothing along the lines of this church's "value system". Do we want an American president that supports a church that has a "non-negotiable commitment to Africa". I would seriously question who is the angry and bitter person in all of this - besides Michelle Obama.

    April 14, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  12. Vig

    Obama makes me sick. He does not take responsibility for his words, which he said behind the backs of the very people he was talking about. Like he was in some exclusive high society club where he could say what he really thinks of people. This guy needs to be sent packing.

    April 14, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  13. Ann

    How much more do we need to see? Obama takes his baby girls to a church with comments on the par of hate crimes, His wife slips and reveals that she is only just now proud of our country – consistent with the Rev's message. This last one by Bitter Barry Obama is the last straw. This is not someone that belongs representing the democratic party. This is a giant step backwards from what we have worked for for years. Can you imagine these types of inexperienced slips with leaders of other nations? This man should not and clearly will not be elected. I only hope that the DNC comes to it's senses and realizes this emperor has no clothes.

    April 14, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
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