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. kent

    Bitterness is a reality. It may take root and grow when circumstances turn out to be worse than we worked for and expected. For the Clintons and their supporters the campaign thus far has not turned out as they expected. There are signs in the Clintons and their camp of bitterness having taken root. Their bitterness is directed toward Barack Obama. The root can either be removed or left to grow and never uprooted.

    April 15, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Elisabeth

    If the quotation below is true Obama is not only an elitist he is a falce elitist ! "Obama at Rezko's house for a party whose guest of honor was someone Obama has said he can't recall ever meeting." Is that why he opposed the war in Irak?

    April 15, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. Dr. Will

    The only elitists in the race for presidency are Senators Billary Clinton and John "100 years" McBush!

    Obama 08

    April 15, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. Mary in CT

    ONLY an ELITIST would believe that the average American didn't know what the definition of that word is...in case you don't :a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence e: a member of such an elite —usually used in plural <the elites …yup, that's Obama, alright...and i don't know what "antipathy towards others who are not like them" means either....fancy words from a fancy (albeit empty) suit

    April 15, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. MIKE, PA

    We are not bitter...... if you think we are bitter, you are an elitist !


    We need a president who can think before he talks.

    April 15, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. For Hillary All the way

    Elitist?? Definitely you are not.

    However, you are just very very proud of your country with your wife and your pastor Mr, Wright for the first time maybe after you started your presidential race. Am I right?

    Or else, how could you blame us to cling to gun?

    Very very bitter people from small town!

    Hillary 2008

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. Robert from NJ

    This has ended up being another media circus and we are all feeding into it. It's become sport rather than serious discussion over the issues. BHO is brilliant, highly educated man but he's no elitist and those who say they found offense in his remarks were either McCaine or Billary folks who had already planned to vote for their candidate. I would expect this from McCaine and the Republicans...and even think it would not be out of line for the typical hype given a campaign, but for this to come from Clinton, a colleague in the Senate and a member of his own party with a political philosophy, voting regard and an almost identical agenda on the issues smacks of ruthless politics. For Hillary Clinton, it's all about Hillary Clinton...screw the Democratic Party.

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Sue

    Don't worry Obama, we have your back. I am white, female and over 50. I find your opponent to disgusting to look at. She is brining in ognorance and fear rather tna discussing the issues. You have my support, both financially and in my vote!..you give us all hope to get away from the same old politics.

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Brendan D, Niles, IL

    That's it! I'm tired of it, so I'm just going to say it:

    Anybody claiming to be a Democrat should not be supporting Hillary Clinton anymore. Those who are are either A) convinced a black man cannot win; or B) racists themselves. Period.

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Jake, California

    How is the small town comment racist? Did he say White people in small towns or asian or latinos? Didn't he say people in small towns?

    It is these lack of understanding on the part of you Hillary supporters that have caused this woman her campaign....

    You don't understand half the things you stand for or go against...
    No wonder you are so bitter and won't vote for a candidate other than Hillary...yeah you. 20+% of you won't vote for Obama in the general elections. How else can you be described other than bitter.

    Obama has done nothing to you. He just said lets practice hope and with that we can change our politics and America. All of a sudden you are Bitter against him. Why would you think that people in small towns can't possibly be bitter after suffering so many government failures?

    Think again Billarians.....you are haters and don't seem to vote on the issues and common sense and love for America......You just want to see your Billary and as clearly seen, most Americans don't want her or them!

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Debby

    Owning a 3 bedroom condo in the city of Chicago is very elitist. Its like owning a Brownstone in New York City without a garage.

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. James

    Hillary is Toast. Some of us checked out long ago and are just waiting for the inauguration. Its no longer entertaining.

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. Jude

    Anybody who believes Hillary is simply a sucker!!! I mean, common, lets be real....Hillary is a known liar....and you're gonna take her word???

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. mndharmas

    it is as though americans are on a self destructive path, news channels have been waiting for a guffaw from the candidates then a decline then more of the same. for once we have a leader with head on his shoulders not just ambition on his sleeves.
    he has mobilized the nation, but no we must tear him apart and stay the mundane course of arcane politics were elections are decided by terms like elite , pro-life, gun control,
    how that translates to the progress of the nation , I fail to comprehend . but the genius of the republicans ,Rove, says this is what the people votes for or against. Hillary agrees with him as well.
    so should we hunker in for more unfair trade agreements long unnecessary wars, bad education system , because that is what washington doles out and that is how it will be for ever,
    Since a candidate who deals with the problems of the people is deemed as condescending.
    ironic , we have no freedom to chose in this democracy,
    it can only be carl rove or hillary way .

    our media, vauntingly irresponsible in giving info to people.

    April 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. ray

    the people making a correlation between income and elitism are simply stupid. Hillary and Bill earned the money fair and square, and you don't see them patronizing voters behind closed doors.

    April 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Go Hillary

    This guy is all talk he never REALLY answers questions he just talks – talks-talks-talks and talks.

    Just talk and no action !!

    April 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Texican

    You are what you are and can't change it just to get our votes. Once a Muslim always a Muslim. Once an Eltist always an elitist. Go peddle that dope somewhere else.

    April 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. MMASH in NC

    This whole thing is silly. Clinton lies about Bosnia and NAFTA and that's ok. But Obama makes one badly worded remark in a private setting and it's a big deal. I don't think it's going to work and Clinton should be ashamed of herself.

    April 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Hillary all the Way 08

    Obama with his smug, arrogant attitude and his I was brought up such a poor guy baloney. Spare us Hillary supporters. We tend to see things a lot deeper than your Obama groupies do.
    His dive into criminal types and radicals is a bit disturbing don't you Obama types think? How do you RATIONALIZE his hidden agenda's? The media has done almost no work on what he is all about in these realms. Strange, wouldn't you say?
    I was brought up to trust someone with an important responsibility when they proved that they were capable, honest, enthusiastic, patriotic to the cause and straightforward. Is Obama any of these things? Why on earth should I vote for someone who I perceive to be a phony?
    I'll write Hillary in if she isn't nominated. I won't vote for this slick operator on the minds of the American people. Is he really an American? I doubt it.
    HIllary 08

    April 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Madison , PA

    If Obama is called ELITIST , how can the Clinton be called? Simple...

    April 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Linda from Prescott

    The more you hear, the worse it gets.
    We've got Billary and their 100+millions.
    We've got McCain's wife and her 100+ millions.....
    Hm..............and Obama is an elitist...I think not.

    Let's get this campaign wrapped up, kick Hillary in her whiskey and beer swigging rump and get on with the business of this country.

    April 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. TAX TIME

    It's national tax day, and in honor of this event Hillary Clinton's campaign began its conference call with reporters by calling on Barack Obama to release his tax returns from the late 1990s.

    "Senator Obama, despite his rhetoric, does not appear to be abiding by the same standards that he has set for our campaign," said Phil Singer, Clinton's deputy communications director, regarding Obama's call on Clinton to release her tax returns. "He has refused to release his tax returns for 1997, 1998 and 1999, even though he was in public life during those years. And during that period of time he was accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists representing special interests, PACs, and even directly from corporations. We think that if Senator Obama is going to set a standard for our campaign certainly he should be following that same standard."

    April 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Sean

    Do people not realize how expensive real estate is in Chicago? Do you think 1.3m in Chicago is high? Do you know what a 3 bedroom condo in Chicago goes for? Check your facts people!

    April 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. bob in L.A.

    He is also not the "street kid" he portrays, or tries to portrray.
    He lived for a period in Honolulu, He has lived with his grandparents in Kansas- neither is a bastion for urban youth violence.
    His biography often times changes depending on where he is in the country. How is it possible for one person to have done all the things he claims with any sense of accomplishment in the time span of his adult life? Urban crusader, Harvard professor, state legislator and U.S. senator, author, family man- all in a matter of what- 12-15 years? It sounds like the kid with a dozen or so after school jobs- none would be of much value without the time to master the position.
    Was he born a member of the elite? No. Has he achieved that status by actions and words. Most definitely.

    April 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. brody Lowe

    by saying that he's an elitist, it implies that anyone who voted for him is in the same boat. Well, I dare you to look at my life or the life of my friends who are voting for him and say that to our faces.

    April 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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