April 15th, 2008
08:14 AM ET
10 years ago

'Bittergate' sparks new look at candidates and guns

 Guns are on display at Ace Guns in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Guns are on display at Ace Guns in Washington, Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The battle over the word "bitter" between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has sparked a new look at the candidates and their stance on the Second Amendment.

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."

"I didn't say it as well as I should have," Obama admitted in Muncie, Indiana, on Saturday, the day after he first defended his comments, "because the truth is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation - those are important."

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Filed under: Political
soundoff (263 Responses)
  1. Jonathan Kiner

    (I’m getting a little weary of making excuses for a previously great CNN)

    Fallacy of False Alternatives:

    Announcer for Larry King Promo growls with a Monster Truck commentator’s excitement:

    “[Barack Obama's "bitter" discussion about people in American small towns...] Will it hurt him or help Hillary Clinton?”


    April 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. JERRY

    What an elitist and ignorant comment from Obama. He needs to get out of the race and let the experienced big boys (or girl) take care of our country.

    April 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Susan / PA

    Lets not forget that Mayhill Fowler not only wrote a biased piece, she called reporting, she also gave the Clinton Campaign the info way before Huffington posted the bias, twisted article.
    I have read all the stories and I back my statement up with Candy Crowley reporting "the Clinton Campaign have been working on their new add (tacky) since early Friday Morning". The Fowler piece was posted Friday afternoon. A real journalist would have given Sen Obama the priveledge of addressing his comments first and adding that to her article.

    Set up ring a bell....or "sting" operation????

    Politics as usual with Hillary.. UGGGGG!!!!!!

    we wont be fooled here in PA...USE YOUR COMMONSENSE!!!!

    I know..moderation coming again

    April 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. Lord Voldemort, London

    None of your guns will help you against magic muggles...

    April 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. Danielle

    It truly is amazing to me how quickly the political and media juggernaut can turn its ugly wheels. Obama made a comment – a comment that many Pennsylvanians, like myself, actually agree with and the McCain and Clinton camps have jumped all over it. Both teams have been waiting for something out of Obama to push their own momentum forward and put him down. It is such a shame that we, as a Nation, continue to allow ourselves to be swayed so easily by so little.

    Read their platforms, understand why they make their decisions and vote for whoever inspires you to be a better American. If this election is won by propaganda and mudslinging then we all will have a reason to be bitter.

    April 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Mike from Calgary

    Doesn't one CLING to life preservers to stay afloat? Doesn't one CLING to things one holds dear? Don't children cling to their parents when they are worried or need help? What is Hiilary's problem?
    The only thing Hillary clings to are the Rose Law Firm's White Water papers and her Tax returns. Thank you Hillary, for bringing Self-service to the Public Service!

    April 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. TypicalWhite

    The problem with Obama is that he is too honest. Sen. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, is the typical politican who knows how to play the game of politic that means lying with a straight face, spinning words to confuse those of cling to her words for information, throwing kitchen sink at her rival when the going get tough the list goes on and on...
    I am a woman, and I don't believe her nor do I trust her. She can confuse and fool those old folks who only remembers the old good days of Bill Clinton, and not realizing that Clinton actually shipped the jobs overseas before living office when he signed the NAFTA agreement.
    Come on PA!!!

    April 15, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    The worst thing that ever happened to this country was the second amendment,



    April 15, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  9. Wallace

    I am a Obama supporter. I will support the Democratic party no matter what happens. I am determine to put an Democrat in the White House.

    Democratic voters we must unite...we must unite our forces. We must stop the divisive attitude and stand behind our democratic nominee whether it be Obama or Clinton.

    DNC needs to stop this race after the Pennsylvania primary or Hillary will destroy the Dem party for good. We must not let this happen. WE ARE DEMOCRATS, WE MUST STAND BEHIND OUR WINNING CANDIDATE NO MATTER WHAT.


    April 15, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Kathy in Oregon

    If anyone over-reacted over the bitter-gate issue, it was Obama. I saw him attacking Clinton over this..and he looked ridiculous during his “Annie Oakley” rant in front of a Penn audience.

    The man went TOO FAR — name-calling, and using a mocking, sarcastic tone. Encouraging the crowd to laugh at his characature of Clinton. The man totally lost his “COOL”!!

    Obama’s behavior was extremely immature and unbecoming of a presidential candidate. After witnessing his temper-tantrum, I can’t imagine that man as president. EVER.

    BTW - it wasn't the "bitter" remark that was offensive...Obama stereotyped rural voters as being SMALL-MINDED, and racist (antipathy towards people unlike them, etc).

    April 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Paul

    Obama just offended millions of Americans. He did not apologize but stood by his comments, now he sees it backfired, he is trying to justify his poor judgment. Stereotypes are the result of a lack of information =ignorance. Do we need a Harvard alumni who pretends to be better than his fellow citizens?
    We do not need anyone to look down on any of us, ' cause by doing so, he is not offending a few, but all of us.


    April 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. dan

    This isn't about being "bitter"...These comments reveal that Obama really is too inexperienced to run an effective general election campaign...Whether he believes them or not, whether they are true are not, those words shouldn't have been said... For a Dem Candidate to generalize a broad section of America as ignorant, gun wielding xenophobes is a big mistake... It's like Kerry saying "I voted for...before i voted against..."- EVEN IF ITS TRUE, IT'S NOT A STRATEGICALLY GOOD THING TO SAY! Escpecially when you're saying it behind closed doors at a fundraiser...

    April 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. Dennis

    Hillary should take a lesson from Obama here. What Obama did could be characterized as having mispoken. Blatantly distorting the facts to change an instance where you peacefully walked across a runway and listening to a poem recited by a child to one where you were ducking sniper fire is, at best, exaggerating, more closely, distorting the truth, or lying.

    Hey though, distorting things comes second nature to Hillary, so I'm not surprised she has made such a big deal out of the word "bitter." I found her comments that Obama was "out of touch" ironic.

    April 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. Danny

    Obama don't understand at all is not all the people have gun are bad.
    Most of us use for hunting only. Obama you don't know Gun and God so
    just shut-up and drop out your campaign. I don't think Obama he's real
    Christian or faith.

    April 15, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. dem08

    What Obama actually meant to say is if everyone was happy, you would have no need to go to church, and you would put down your guns. But, since you have economic problems, your just a bunch of bible thumpin, gun toting redneck racists slimebags stupid hicks. People have religious because of faith. People have guns for hunting and protection. Not because they are bitter.

    If you haven't notice but, Obama seem to have insulted, and disrespected all Americans in different ways, except his African American race. He has never said anything insulting or disrespectful to African Americans. Is this what we are going to have to put up with, his demeaning arrogant behavior toward us (except African Americans) if he is elected president. Obama is so out of touch with regular people.

    Obama supporters are sounding more and more like Bush supporters in that Obama is never wrong, never makes mistakes, and always blaming someone else, never taking responsibility for his actions.

    Never will he get my vote.

    April 15, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. kelly WI

    Bad people will get guns even if they are illegal.
    you can get killed by a bat or a car, knife or anything.
    More murders in US than soldiers killed in Iraq. Maybe we should take a look at wearing body armor here. Ha. Makes as much sense as making guns illegal.

    April 15, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. John

    To all Obama's worshippers,

    You have been blind by a very charismatic speaker!! Obama has finally shown his true feathers but you don't want to believe in it!!

    What a shame!!

    April 15, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Kareem from Hampton VA

    The more this story takes shape the more I realize that the anger isnt about what he said...its the fact that he said it! Im noticing that this campaign season is bringing forth a lot of America's ugly truths...and we just cant handle it!! If not, why is this article even here?...

    April 15, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Jennifer

    How, in the real world of thinking people, does "bittergate" become a thing and HRC lying, that's right LYING about her experience here and abroad doesn't. It's a sad day for Democracy to be sure.

    April 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Phil Fitzgerald, Sr

    The "Wild West is tamed", John Wayne is dead, the "cold dead hands"
    are just that, cold and dead. We have farms which produce our food, The "right to bear arms" applied to the militias spread thru out the colonies preparing to defend themselves against the British. The so called sportsmen many of whom are just following tradition don't need
    AK-47's or Tec-9's to hunt. Why are some Americans so obsessed with GUNS? Guns are never an issue until you or yours is killed by
    someone with one! Think about it!

    April 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Shirl

    We need to somehow get ted kenndedy, john kerry the other brainwashed obama congressmen supporters out of office because they are a danger to America. HILLARY '08

    April 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Christian

    April 15th, 2008 11:35 am ET

    You are lucky we have free speach in this country. The problem I have with your comment is this… Anywhere on earth, you can go to a museum and see definate proof of evolution. Where is you proof? A novel written about 2000 years ago? All you have is faith, I HAVE PROOF!!!

    Ok, maybe your ancestors were monkeys or tadpoles. I apologize. My family tree starts with Adam and Eve.

    April 15, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Mike

    It is just evidence that when Obama speaks his own words they are dumb or racist.

    I could care less about his idiotic statements. The reality is that he contributed money and clinged to a religion itself that promoted Hamas material, blamed the US for 9/11 and made numerous racial comments.

    There is no way Obama can distance himself from his religion and Wright and that will defeat him in November.

    Only Hillary can win against McCain.

    April 15, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  24. Scott, TN

    It is becoming increasingly apparent that this country is full of citizens who are willing to vote against their own interests in a stupid, ill thought out attempt to elect someone who could be their next door neighbor.

    Who cares if the president can shoot a gun, drinks beer, or has ever hunted? "Well I just want someone who I can have a beer with." This is the ubiquitous statement that we have heard throughout the last several election cycles: and look what it got us. We now have a president who is fervently anti-intellectualism, anti-government, pro-war, anti-civil liberties, and he may very well go down in history as one of the most resounding failures of American politics, all in the cause of Average Joe wanting to have a beer with the guy he will never meet.

    This mindset is fundamentally self-destructive. Wanting to place someone in the highest office in the land, not based on intelligence or capability, but their ability to clear brush and "be normal," is patently ridiculous. Maybe it is best that we have an "elite" in the White House. Americans want the best in everything else, why not a president? Would you go to a less than elite surgeon, physician, or lawyer to help you solve your problems? Of course not. So why are the standards different for someone who is elected to help solve the problems of the entire nation?

    Senator Obama's statements are true; people cling to the things that they know best in times of difficulty whether it is God, guns, or anything else for that matter, a statement which is both psychologically and politically true. So why the uproar?Maybe because many Americans become upset when a guy with a funny name who went to Harvard begins to tell them the truth about themselves: They are bitter. I am bitter. We should all be bitter about the last seven years! Let's move on from "Bittergate," a gross exaggeration in my opinion, and look forward to all of the hope that Senator Obama offers America

    April 15, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. John, Milwaukee, WI

    Mr. Obama is simply TOAST!

    ANY ONE who votes for him is simply delusional, incredibly stupid and dumb or an AA who really thinks Obama is going to do something for black America...


    April 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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