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. canadian observer

    Hopefully Americans will realize what you have as a potential leader in Barack Obama. You are extremely fortunate. His message of hope is resonating all the way up North. He is refreshing, unique and one-of-a-kind in this lifetime. He has not waivered from his message. He is a different kind of politician. Open your eyes and minds and take this opportunity for your country!!

    April 14, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Dennis

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

    April 14, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. ryan indiana

    How is Obama elitist?

    Single parent mom raised him – food stamps and all, lived in Indonesia as a kid (last time I checked not an elitist country), mom died at a young age from ovarian cancer and Obama moved in with grandparents, first job at Baskin Robbins, worked with churches in Southside Chicago after college, etc.

    Sound elitist to you?

    Must be that having a $109 million, a husband who is former president, and a second childhood cottage home in Pennsylvania, etc. makes you one of the common people, huh?

    April 14, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Julie, Small Town American

    Someone help me here, I'm trying to find the humor in this situation. Guess I need a Harvard grad to explain it to this simpleton who only has a 4 year degree from a state college. I do have a shotgun tho that I faithful haul to church every Sunday, never know when I'll have an antipathetic fit.

    April 14, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Paul

    With everything he has said, written and done which paint a totally different picture from this one tiny quote, one sentence hardly serves as a window into his true feelings. Get past the sound bite and really listen to him.

    April 14, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. keith Fox

    No apologies, Obama. Speak the truth, the facts and don't look back. Go Nader '08.

    April 14, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. fred-roanoke

    Hillary has lost all credibility with her bosnia story. Barack will bring this country back to respectability and give americans a sense of pride again. For the first time since the kennedy administration I feel there is hope for all of us.

    April 14, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. sherrie50

    Continue to keep your head in the sand Obama supporters. I feel sad for you as it will be an awakening.

    April 14, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  9. YO

    I've been bitter since W took office.

    April 14, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. henry

    But what has Barack Obama accomplished that entitles him to look down on his fellow Americans? – William Kristol, NY Times, April 14, 2008

    April 14, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Ca Native

    Don't apologize for being an elitist, Obama. You're private school upbringing, Havard-educated, liberal-media darling experience only reinforces your political entitlement outlook.

    You can't help it. It's just who you are.

    April 14, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. Mike

    Obama wants to be "America's Darling." The teflon Prince that nothing sticks to.

    He slips up, his pastor slips up, his wife slips up and then "oops, I made a mistake."

    Mirage, phoney, fake, liar etc...more to come from this loser.

    Nobama is simply an empty suit!

    Go Hillary!!!!

    April 14, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. Never Vote Obama

    Absolutely. I agree Keith. Listen to "everything he [Obama] has said, written, and done" and I would never vote for him.

    April 14, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. OBAMA4PRES

    Who cares!! They try and find anything on him!!! I'm still voting for him in NOV!!

    April 14, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. G.F.Jones

    I am not just bitter. I am angry at the way this country has been mishandled by the currant "leadership "LOL. I have a right to my feelings and when Obama recognizes the feelings most of us share this is called empathy and is not a put down. Good Grief!!

    April 14, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. Harry Moyer

    Why are all the news organizations still harping on this "bitter" remark when we have another racist republican, Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis, calling Barack a "snake oil salesman" and a "boy"??? Obama is around 46 years old, (my own age), and I don't believe he'd be calling my white behind "boy". It's pretty obvious that calling a black man "boy" is almost as bad as using the "N" word. It reminds me of a question posed to McBush the other day asking him if he realizes that he's going to benefit from some folks that just won't vote for Obama because of their prejudices. McBush responded by saying that he didn't believe that would be the case. Talk about "out of touch"!!!!

    April 14, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. Pennsylvania Voter

    Shows what a decent, Christian gentleman Obama is!

    April 14, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Elizabeth

    So, Obama, what do you plan to do about it? All these observations on what is wrong and you say you want to change things. What are you going to change and what are you going to change them to?

    April 14, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Miss Belief

    81% of America says they don't like were we are headed, so let's change course. Only one candidate is best able to do that.

    Barack Obama speaks the truth but America doesn't want to hear the truth.

    April 14, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. Jack

    People have not seen this whole "bitter American" comment from the correct perspective I don't think. Most of America is very bitter about how America is being run in Washington and the thing is it is not just Pennsylvania. Many people in several states feel that they cannot be lead by an honest government. The only way to change that perspective and train of thought is to voice the correct opinion that everyday Americans have and that we as a society are "bitter". We as a nation are tired of having leaders in Washington tell us one thing and then give us another. If there is candidate that will honestly listen to Americans and not just try to win votes, I believe, will be the best candidate for our nation's presidency.

    April 14, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Phillip G. CA

    I don't think the Pennsylvanians are offended by the comments.....in a recent speech, Hillary Clinton was booed and jeered for trying to use those comments to demonize Barack Obama.

    I would be curious to see what the Pennsylvanians have to say, not what the news pundits think they are feeling. It sometimes feels like the pundits are making the calls in this election and not the people.

    CNN, could you please do some investigating on this and see what the people think? I'd be curious to see a poll on this.

    April 14, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Pooh496

    It wasn't just his offensive comments that were wrong, but also the reaction he got from his well connected crowd of rich donors.

    They were laughing at all of his insensitive remarks like it was all a big joke. Small town people are proud and should not become the punch line in order to drum up money!!

    SHAME on you Barack Obama, SHAME on you!!!!!

    April 14, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. jimmy vekmen

    Obama cannot win. Michelle Obama can forget about the white house.. evrey American worth his salt has heard everything they said about America..

    April 14, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. KOR

    I don't want Obama's finger on the button either. After all, he pushed the wrong button twice in the Illinois Senate, coincidentally sparing himself from taking a stand on the casino issue–an issue on which he had promised two different things to two different groups. Sound familiar?

    April 14, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. Denis For NOBAMA

    NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA ! NOBAMA !

    April 14, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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