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. Lee WV

    He should make light of it because there was nothing to it.The only people making a deal of it are politicians and news media.There was nothing he said that wasnt' true.

    April 14, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Cynthia

    It is truly a joke that people can't see what Senator Clinton is doing – she is trying to keep the spot light on a small misspeak so people won't be examing what Bill Clinton is doing on the down low , example the $800,000 for a speaking engagement, saying that she was tired whe she made her speech at 11:00 at night, and so on and so on.

    April 14, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. Maxine

    Everthing Obama said was correct. People are mad and why shouldn't we? Gas is high there are no jobs available and Health
    Care is through the roof – But Hiliary said he should like an Elitist.
    Because you ou tell the truth, you have to be labled some stupid name
    that doesn't even apply. The talking head on the news always give their opinion not the Opinion of the American People. I would once like the New Media to just stop and ask ther average person on the street how they feel and find out that they are mad. Anyone who dosen't know that is not living in a the real world

    April 14, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. vince - phoenix

    JESUS!!

    April 14, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. say no to the 3 headed candidate

    about time he stands up to the clinton machine, what will it take for the rest of the democrats to see who the clintons are??

    incredible

    Hillary and McCain one and the same

    oops a 4 headed candidate...............

    April 14, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. PA voter

    it's all a big joke to obama

    get this self centered egotistical prick out of the race now!

    April 14, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. big_puppy

    Hillary and McCain are both taking advantage of Obama not wanting to get into the gutter with them. But some time soon Obama is going to smack the hell out of them just to get their attention. You have a pair of bookends, a liar and a cheapier, now that is low and how low can you go.
    But you know what is even worse, the H& M combo have campaign people just looking for dirt like there's not enough to talk about, the economy, health care, the WAR and our young men and women dying. This spin they are doing don't make them look any better.

    April 14, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Madison , PA

    Hillary uses theses word to distract people for her lies: Bosnian trip, Columbia trade, Mark penn, her income... and so more. Bill was right to say at her age(60) at at 11:00 PM she is tired and usually mispoke ... Can she be able to answrer a phone at 3:00AM and make a good judgement... I don't think so... Bill her husband knows her much better than us... Do no make a mistake to vote for her...

    April 14, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. EMMA CARTER BROOKS

    $109 Million + 2 Clintons = Elitist

    Shame on you Sen. Clinton, it only takes one million to become a millionaire and you have one hundred and nine. What does that make you? I believe it makes you an"Elitist Millionaire Hypocrite"! LOL!

    Stop the nonsense Sen. Clinton!

    April 14, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. rice, bryan

    if you are making better than 300,000.00 a year, own your outsourcing business, hire immigrants, then i guess you wouldn't be bitter either. but if you lost your job, make minimum wage now when you used to make a good living. watched your job go over seas, while this government works on more free trade agreements. watch more people come across our borders still illegally. watch your retirements funds disappear, and see how the white collar employers make more and more. why wouldn't anyone be bitter. i think obama hit the nail on the head. mcbush's wife can look the other way to the poor of this country. by the way she is the definition of corporate greed.

    April 14, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Wayne

    2 wars, 4 dollar per gallon gas, recession, health care crisis, New Orleans remains in shambles, we cant protect our borders, our public schools are failing, companies are shipping jobs over seas...What is the media circus about today..

    OMG...OBAMA SAID VOTERS ARE BITTER BECAUSE THEYVE LOST THEIR JOBS!!!!!

    Corporate controlled journalism has failed...this country is looking more like a failure every day. Perhaps we DESERVE Bush. We dont DESERVE Barack Obama. We're not worthy of that kind of leadership.

    April 14, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. Chris

    Hillary is such a liar. All of a sudden, her lies on NAFTA, Colombia Trade deals, her husbands funds from Colombia, her hospital lies and her charitable donation to herself are all gone. How noble of her.

    Hillary may have a chance to run again if she stops lying now. Goodbye Hillary. Obama is doing well in polls. Gallup poll has Obama with a strong 10 point lead over Hillary.

    Obama for President.

    April 14, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Now for Obama

    These "bitter" remarks are nothing compared to Bill Clinton's racist remarks in 1991 and 1992 during his campaign.

    The reason (George H. W. Bush's tactic) works so well now is that you have all these economically insecure white people who are scared to death," Clinton was quoted saying by the Los Angeles Times in September 1991.

    Clintons are irresponsible hypocrites

    Obama or no one
    Will never vote for a Clinton!

    April 14, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. bakersfield

    THIS GUY IS A TRIP HE NEEDS A TELEPROMTER SO HE DOESN'T SCREW UP. SOMEBODY TELL HIM WHAT TO SAY PLEASE.

    April 14, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Dennis

    Never OBAMA!!!! -- NOBAMA for all the "WRIGHT" reasons

    April 14, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. sd

    Obama’s self described qualifications for the Presidency as “college trip to Pakistan and living overseas.”

    Obama: “[F]oreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain.” (Mayhill Fowler, “Obama: No Need For Foreign Policy Help From V.P.,” The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, 4/7/08

    Obama: “One thing I’m very confident about is my judgment in foreign policy is, I believe, better than any other candidate in this race, Republican or Democrat.” (Jake Tapper, “Obama: ‘Better Judgment’ On Foreign Policy,” ABC News, 7/25/07)

    Obama: “What I was drawing on [in dealing with Iraq] was a set of experiences that come from a life of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders.” (Jake Tapper, “Obama: ‘Better Judgment’ On Foreign Policy,” ABC News, 7/25/07)

    OBAMA’S TOP 5 FOREIGN POLICY CREDENTIALS

    Foreign Policy Credential #1

    Obama Lived Overseas From Ages 6 To 10. (Linda Matchan, “A Law Review Breakthrough,” The Boston Globe, 2/15/90)

    Foreign Policy Credential #2

    In January, Obama noted his degree in “International Relations” when discussing his foreign policy credentials.

    Obama: “[M]y experience in foreign policy is probably more diverse than most others in the field. … You know, I majored in international relations.” (ABC’s “Good Morning America,” 1/24/07)

    What a joke obama

    April 14, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. Jed in Texas

    Hillary supporters remind me of the 18% that still believe in Bush lies.

    April 14, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. Ann Green

    Out Of Touch – Any candidate who thinks 81% of Americans are HAPPY when they agree this country is headed in the wrong direction!

    Please people, we fell for the gay marriage non-issue already in '04, and look where that got us.

    Let's not fall for this 'bitter' non-issue in '08.

    April 14, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. Phong Nguyen

    In the CNN show last night on Faith in Politics, S. Obama jokingly referred to Rev. Wright’s episode as Rev. Wright’s “greatest hit,” which shows S. Obama’s insensitive side. Rev. Wright’s racial remarks are not a laughing matter! His joking reference trivializes his explanation for Rev. Wright’s racial remarks. His linking the bitterness and frustration of small town people and their guns and religion shows that he is out of touch with small town people and it faintly reminds me of Rev. Wright’s attitude!

    April 14, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. Emmanuel, Chicago IL. Obama 08

    SN from MN you said he was done with the Rev. Wright story.

    Sorry your opinion dosen't hold more weight.

    Obama 08

    April 14, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Dee

    Joe Smith, get packing. I'll help you if you need help moving to Canada

    April 14, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. Meredith

    Come on, people! I'm not saying that it was OK for him to say that, but do we have to have it in the news every day for a week? I don't get it. We all know about it know. We can digest and discuss on our own. Having it the news every day since then IS A DISTRACTION.

    Now, instead of having Barack and Hillary debate important issues, they are sniping at each other back and forth over this.

    April 14, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  23. JR Texas

    All I can say, his True Colors, a racist remark about whites in general. Nothing more can be added......

    April 14, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Jermaine

    Hillary will not be President at least not this year, MC-BUSH (Mcshame Mccain old fart) will NEVER be President.

    OBAMA is going to trounce him in the general. I am happy the media isn't vetting Mccain and his staff, they will be in for a rude wakeup call at 2AM in the mornin g in Sepetember, October and November. The good thing I thank GOD for Hillary and Bill, they are making OBAMA tough skinned and READY to rumble in the jungle of AMERICA.

    I want OBAMA to ask Hillary to be his VP, SHE WILL Accept and I KNOW TOGETHER WE ALL WILL "CHANGE AMERICA"!

    BUSH-MCCAIN NO MORE
    "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."

    April 14, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. Pol

    I am so hopeful that PA has an historical opportunity to bury and stop disgusting attempts of lying Family to return to White House which they disgraced.

    This is a test, Pennsylvania! Be smart and brave!

    April 14, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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