April 15th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama: I'm no elitist

 Obama laughed off charges he is an elitist.

Obama laughed off charges he is an elitist.

WASHINGTON, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Barack Obama said Tuesday he was "amused" by accusations he is an "elitist" in the wake of the 'bitter-gate' controversy.

"It is true I am amused about this notion of elitist," Obama said, citing the fact that he was raised by a single mother, lived off food stamps, earned scholarships, and had to finance his own law school education.

"[Michelle and I] lived for the first 13 years of marriage up until three years ago, in a three bedroom condo without a garage," the White House hopeful said. "So if you live in Chicago, that means you are scraping ice every morning."

Hillary Clinton has called Obama "elitist" and "out of touch" for remarks he made at a fundraiser where he referred to some Pennsylvanians as "bitter" people who "cling to guns and religion."

During a veterans town hall near Pittsburgh, one man said that the way the word "elitist" had been used against Obama.

"As a white person, this term [elitist] the way that it is being used against you, it isn't far from uppity and I think the Clintons are getting away with something that they must be called on," the man said, adding that he thought the controversy would continue until someone told Clinton she was "close to prejudice here, this is wrong..."

The Illinois senator responded by blaming politics and the "silly season" for the controversy, but told the questioner he did not believe there were "racial overtones" to the recent attacks.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (309 Responses)
  1. Anne

    For starters...ALL ex-presidents make money, so it isn't just Bill Clinton...ALL of them do..... If he hadn't made money, I'm sure that would be discussed ad nauseum.
    Obama wasn't truthful about his parents meeting at the Selma march and "deciding to conceive a child"....I believe he was born a few years prior to the march... He also said his father was air-lifted out of Kenya by the Kennedy's and that isn't true either. He's not been truthful about a LOT of things but so many people gloss over the facts about him.
    I've always thought you're known by whom you surround yourself with...both now and in the past and when I read about his friendships with William Ayres and his wife..... the Black Panthers...... the Weather Underground...Rezko.....Rev. Wright...and the list goes on and on..... I think it's pretty frightening......
    If the mindset of some of the people typing in this blog is any indication of honesty...about the concerns of this country, then this country is in worse shape than I thought it was.

    April 15, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Vm

    I wonder if all the Clinton supporters were promised a portion of the $109 million that they made over the past 6 years because they had to be promised something to hold on this long!!

    April 15, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. Whuzi

    Steve, why not just shut up...your comment was dumb.

    April 15, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Kathleen

    There is a big difference between arrogance and telling the truth. Obama, you just keep telling the truth because we the people need to know. What the Government has forgotten is it is suppose to be for the people and by the people. Keep your word when you become President and work for the people because I know Hillary will only make empty promises. She can't run a good campaign and stick to the issues. If people are smart they will realize what is behind her scheme of berating you. We need the right person as a President. My vote is for you.

    April 15, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Mainely Carol

    Hillary is undermining the Democratic party by unjustly lableling Obama in order to win what she believes is her rightful coronation as the Democratic Presidential Candidate.
    Her Republican roots are showing, this is exactly the kind of campaign trash muck raking that has been perfected by Rove types.
    Obama couldn't sit down and write a check for 5 million dolllars, but Hillary did.
    Since when is the American Dream of growing up poor, working for and education and paying back through community and public service elitist? Really folks.... Do you hear yourselves?
    Reject the verbal manipulation of Hillary and Vote Obama!

    April 15, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Kentucky Man

    Yes you are and elitist Obama. You are just like any American who comes into fame. You think that you are better than everybody. By the way, I happen to like Annie Oakley and I happen to enjoy my shot of Crown Royal. There is nothing wrong with a woman taking a sip every now and then. Since when do us men control women to the point where we are telling them what they can drink and what they cannot drink? If you women want to take a shot, watch football, hang out with the guys, etc. then you are more than welcome too. So people, stop telling women what they can and cant do.

    April 15, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. DFoster

    Elitism is the belief or attitude that those individuals who are considered members of the elite — a select group of people with outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern [1]. Alternatively, the term elitism may be used to describe a situation in which power is concentrated in the hands of the elite ... or the US Government!

    If this doen't discribe Hillary to a "T" nothing does!

    April 15, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. S. Shay

    In the words of the famous Jon Stewart, “the President has the opportunity to have his face carved on the side of a mountain, if he doesn’t think he’s better than the rest of us then he shouldn’t be running!” LOL!

    With that being said, anyone who think Obama is an elitist or thinks John McCain won’t have a hell of time trying to prove the same in the GE then they are on something. The whole premise of the Republican party is to ignore the poor, no matter their color, and pander to their base, uppity, white, pseudo-conservatives, who themselves hide behind God, the 2nd amendment and pro-life stances to explain their beliefs. Well those stances work just fine for people making over $100K a year but the poor who are drawn to Republicans because of their stance on hot button issues can’t keep their jobs from going overseas and can’t afford healthcare…but they have the right to bare arms. It’s really silly when you look at it and all Obama did was expose a page in the Repubs playbook and the Repubs don’t like it. But like he said, he would expect that from McCain but not from Clinton…if she were a true Democrat she would have applauded Obama for exposing the obvious and opening rural voters’ eyes to the tricks of the Repub party. But seeing as how Hillary Clinton is a Republican in disguise, she took McCain’s side. Sad.

    April 15, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. Annie

    citing the fact that he was raised by a single mother, lived off food stamps, earned scholarships, and had to finance his own law school education. All lies. and Rezko is just the tip of the ice berg if the media would only print it.

    April 15, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. T. Wright

    You were not elitish before, Obama ,because you were poor, but your problem now you become rich and fighting for the nomination for Presidency, from the beginning of your campaign so many people and I myself have said that you are so arrogant, you always says that you know everything that you are the best, and that you are better than anybody, you can say anything you want and if we disagree with you you just don't care we just have to take it or leave it you don't know how to apologize you will just try to be clever and get away with it. I know that you were feeling BITTER during your younger days and I am glad that you did not cling to guns only in drugs, your wife was bitter too she never like her country it's only now that she's starting to like it. This is the reason why you cannot condem REV. Wright because your family are rejoicing listening to your Pastor for 20 years. Try to find yourself of what you are, who you are and maybe you will have more peace. Bitternes becomes Hatred!!! that what J WRIGHT will tell us

    April 15, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Sandi

    Barack Obama has made amends over his comments; however, Hillary will not leave it alone. I wonder how she would feel if he hammered on her integrity everyday – maybe he should ask her if the bullets flying over her head have muddled her thought process. When she apologizes for "misspeaking", you don't hear Sen Obama raking her over the coals – yet, he has every right to make an issue of her integrity. I personally find it offensive that Hillary choses to lie to supporters about her Bosnia trip, and then there was the hospital issue about the child with no insurance, and then there's NAFTA. Was she always exhausted and sleep deprived? Well we certainly wouldn't want her answering that phone at 3 am if she can't handle a late night or two! Where does it end folks??? Sen Obama has my vote!

    April 15, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. kab

    He lived in FOOD STAMPS.?

    April 15, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Mack

    Obama is Arrogant and Elitist and will not bring Change to America as he has already proven by accusing small-town Americans of picking up their bibles and guns and taking out their frustrations on people not like themselves when times are bad.

    April 15, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Eileen from Portland, Maine

    Of course, the Clintons really do believe that Obama is elitist/uppity. They didn't think he had any right to even think he was good enough to run for President. They thought it was one big fairy tale for him to think he had any chance at all. After all Hillary and Bill are the head of the Democratic Party. And the very idea that he wouldn't bow out so she could grab her due, how arrogant of him.
    Hillary Clinton, I will love it when I am able to vote for the first female president, but it will never be you. You have set the woman's movement back 50 years. Only time will tell how far you are setting the Democratic Party back, as this is the first time I can remember when a Democratic candidate running for the nomination, stood before the nation and told bald face lies, one after another and then you took us for such idiots you had the nerve to tell it was because you were tired. What kind of President would that make? I won't be a sucker for you Hillary, just because I am a white, middle aged woman.

    April 15, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. candical

    Wake up america. Do you want anymore of this bunch of immoral power hungry group in the Whitehouse? The Clintons have and will continue to se;; america out to the highest bidder. lies, mistatements, and perjury are a way of life for these folks. They will sell out anyone for a vote. Ask those who knew Mr. Foster. The are shameless. Hillary has never been the victim of anything. She has been a co-conspirator in all of the Clinton shady deals. Those who are supporting her above the average voter, want something from her or are afraid of her. This includes the spineless media who would rather create soundbite disputes than seek out truth and report on it. Send thes scallywags packing. Don't let america become a Clinton piggybank there for the looting.

    April 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. Linda

    Elitist: Some one who really thinks she is better than anyone else and deserves to have whatever she wants, even if she has to call an intelligent, hard-working, sincere person an elitist to knock him down. This person could fight back with a long list of really serious, negative things , but he doesn't, because he is not an elitist.

    I am dizzy. Hillary makes me dizzy. Please, take her away. End the war in Iraq and the one in the Democratic party.

    April 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    female grad student NYC April 15th, 2008 4:17 pm ET

    The Clintons have only recently made more money, Hillary didn't grow up wealthy by any means.

    You had better go back and read Hillary's biography...your ignorance is astounding...Wellsley College is not for the poor.

    April 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Mama

    We all need to stop fighting and learn to make informed decisions as adults. Respect each other's choice and just wait to see who the nominee will be. If you guys don't stop fighting, we all lose. The war will continue, nothing will change, economy will keep falling and the environment will be in bad shape. Doesn't it matter more to you guys that we have a person who will work on these things. I'd rather have Clinton or Obama, not McCain.

    You guys need to grow up and stop parroting words.

    I guess some people never outgrow the school yard mentality. If your candidate can't win the nomination, you're going to vote for McCain. For those who act that way, you deserve the mess we're in and the greater mess to come. I for one don't want to have endless war, a recession, inadequate health care, and global warming. Maybe it’s just me, but I want the world to be a better place for the coming generation and I don’t even have kids of my own. I don’t want to see other people’s kids die in war. Everyone should start caring more for each other and stop acting like bullies on these posts.

    April 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. Mark

    There are a lot better places to live in Chicago than a three bedroom condo on the south side. Lets ask Hillary about her days at the lake house and brunches at the Governor's mansion if you want to hear elitist.

    April 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. Benjamin

    Does anyone not realize that elitism is NOT a measure of wealth, but a measure of attitude towards your peers. Hillary understands blue collar, even if she's not blue color. Obama gives the impression, through his own words, that he looks down on blue color citizens.

    That's what elitism is.

    April 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. AJ, IL

    Hopefully Obama repeats this line of counter-punching tomorrow at the Philly debate forcefully and articulately. When the question comes up that Obama is an elitist and Hillary attacks, Obama should just smile and state the following in his calm and cool way:

    "I don't understand how someone who was raised by a single mother, was on food stamps for a part of their childhood, lived in a poor Indonesia village for part of their childhood, earned scholarships, had to finance their own law school education, and recently paid them off be called elitist."

    Then watch the audience respond!

    April 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. maria

    Oh..I am a single mom- who has just stopped donating to Hillary after finding she has $109 million..

    I did not know you were in food stamps..I think I might like you soon

    April 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  23. Fabrizio

    For two politicians who are each worth $100 million to call another, who actually lived on food stamps and just finished paying of school loans from decades ago an elitist is simply politics...

    Also, isn't it interesting that they only focus on the last part of what he said and completely ignore the premise... "that these people have lost their source of income for over 25 years and nothing has replaced it"...

    We are tired of these dirty political tricks!


    April 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. Noah

    Its sad that Obama has so fooled his supporters that they can not even admit when he makes a mistake.

    Obama called millions of Americans racist. This has little to do with the word bitter..

    Obama is not the great peace keeper and healer he claims. He is arrogant, and shows no problem re-telling his story to fool everyone. If this was HRC, you would be screaming LIAR. Well, Obama has lied about his remarks.

    His typical political tactics are disgusting. He is worse than Hillary will ever be and his ridicule of Clinton was wrong. Now I see where is supporters get it from. You are sad people clinging to false hope, with little evidence that he can change anything.

    April 15, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Nermin H.

    He is only and last chance to save this country.

    April 15, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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