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. Andre

    To all you idiots that think that an elitist can happen overnight, explain to me how Hillary can stay grounded with 109 million, or Bill with 250k a speech. Obama doesn't have 5 million to loan his campaign. I think that people who dislike Obama would admit that they were not going to vote for him anyway, and stop trying to fool us like "Bittergate" changed your mind. I am black man and I college educated, but since the economy has gone south I have been "Bitter" and I have found myself clinging to God as the source that will bring me through this crisis. Why does everyone have to make a big deal out of the truth. The truth shouldn't anger you it should make you free. If you trust more in your Smith & Wesson than you do your Government, maybe it is because every time you pulled the trigger it works, and everytime you look for the government to work it is broken. The Clinton's have shown themselves to be dividers not unifiers. Do you think that if someone would have asked Hillary a question about being racist or sexist, she would have said it was just silly season in politics or would she have said that it was true?

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. Robert Barnett

    Let's see – we are trying to elect a president to rule the world's largest economy. Who ever it is better be the best of the best to get us out of the mess we are in. That would narrow the choice down to an elite few.

    Anyway Washington is full of elitism and everyone there is elitist. The problem with most of them is that they practice the fact that they think they are better than the rest of us. This continuing picking on words "bitter", "elite" detracts from the discussion of which of the elite has the best policy.

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. il voter

    so as per clinton is being elitist or raised to be elitist a bad thing?

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. @americans

    The elitist Hillary thinks that the democratic nomination was hers by birthright, but now that a small unknown Barack is taking it away from her, she is "BITTER"!

    Hillary you can cling to your being "BITTER" and "ELITIST" attitude, but the american presidency is not YOUR BIRTHRIGHT!!!!

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |

    Where are those 2007 tax returns????

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. bill in pa

    Well at least Obama didn't have to dodge sniper fire to get where he's at.

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. Jo

    Obama just does not connect with the voters he was referring to and it makes him feel better to think they are guntoting, bible thumping bitter bigots than to look at himself and his campaign. Whether Obama is an elitist is more his state of mind than his pocketbook. He does think he is the intellectual superior to everyone. He must realize to win calling half the electorate names is probably not a great strategy.

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. your breath stinks


    Obama is not lying.

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Ross in MD

    I am pretty amused myself.

    Hillary Clinton thought she was owed the nomination and now she calls Obama elitist. HA!

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. Linda. Boston, MA

    Yeah, the candidate who has inspired people to donate to his campaign in all time record numbers is out of touch.

    The candidate who has inspired record number of new voters to show up at the polls is out of touch.

    I'm just waiting for McClinton to start calling Obama a "Washington Insider."

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. Matt, NJ

    I dont understand how people like "Barb Canada" can write such hate remarks about him. Am Nether Black or White. I am an Asian and I consider myself as a human being like all of you. I like him because I think he is a honest man.

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Neutral

    This is what had said in a PRIVATE FUNDRAISING with his supporters in San Franciso:

    "and it is not surprising that they cling to guns and religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant or anti-trade as a way to explain their frustration."

    It is NOT the word BITTER that made his word OFFENSIVE and UNFORGIVABLE, it was the word ANTIPATHY. He called middle America a bunch of BIGOTS!

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Pro-Democracy

    Can we all try to be intellectually honest? It is a sad truth that right-wing conservatives have successfully used cultural warfare as a means of getting rural Americans to vote against their economic best interest and contrary to the environmental health of our country and our kids. Hillary is using this tactic to the detriment of us all.

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. Pat Mellerson

    Senator Obama does not give the impression he is an elitist.

    We must walk a mile in his shoes to understand how he must feel ,sometimes ,
    when he meets with citizens who are frustrated. I am sure that frustration manifests itself in many forms.

    April 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. Rey (American Canyon, CA)

    Barb Canada,

    Barb you're Canadian! So worry about your own politics and let us take care of our own.

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Nazih Youssef

    I do not understand, If Obama is "elitist" and "out of touch" , so what do we say about the Clintons $$$$109 Millin Dollars, I think the Clintons are scrapping for living but we are not unaware of it; may be we should collect donations for the Clintons.

    PLease give credit to the American People, they are smarter than what the Clintons think.

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Tell the truth

    He is telling the truth. I hope you people would focus on problems, not this type of BS. Vote with facts not your heart. People hate to face the truth.

    Vote Obama

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Montana Independent

    My stomach turns every time I hear Hillary talk about what Senator Obama said. Not surprisingly, most of what she's saying about him is in direct conflict with the facts.

    The irony is that what Senator Obama said, though with admitedly poorly-chosen words, is basically true.

    It's disturbing to watch her go on the rampage and accuse a man whose entire career has been about helping the disenfranchised of "looking down on the American people." He knows what it's like to have to work hard to get ahead, she knows how to politik.

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Obama support in Iowa


    Obama was able to pay his student loans off and buy a house because he wrote A FABULOUS, INTERESTING, HONEST AND FORTHRITE book about our corrupt political system and how he has the Audacity to Hope that he can make a change. You really should spend more time reading and less time writing.

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. SPQR753

    Even if it is correct to state that a lot voters in many areas of the USA feel bitter, to link such bitterness to a close relationship with religion and with guns was a REALLY DUMB comment to make!

    Moreover, my wife and I, do not have a garage and when it freezes or snows I have to scrape the windshield of two cars , shovel the snow off the driveway (and I am much, much older then Obama) YET I DO NOT WHINE.

    On top of that my commute to my office entails a round trip of 200 miles sunshine, or rain, or snow.

    YES : either Obama is an ELITIST or is out of touch with reality or both.

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Shawn from Kansas

    Someone needs to track Hill's advertising spending. Maybe this is a reason why she is refusing to quit. She needs more time to raise funds, so she can payback those people she swindled into donations. Hey, the longer she stays in the race, the more chapters she'll have for her book. Obviously, she's already making plans for a best seller, "Battling in American Politics, with Bill : A Comedy". I just hope she doesnt write a guide to running effective campaigns. She's too much like Trump - If a staffers idea backfires - "Your Fired"...she'll take no blame. How would she run a presidency?

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. kathleen for Obama

    Bush, McCain, Hillary and Bill, Mitt Rob-ney, Rumssh-t, Rove, Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Hannity, Cheney, Rendall of PA., Geraldine,
    Corville, now that is what you can call "THE ELITE LIARS!" Obama
    will win this election against McTricky.
    McCain voted against the GI bill recently. I guess when our soldiers
    come home, they will be forced to re-enlist. There are no jobs.
    McCain "earmarks" would have excluded the funds for fixing bridges
    that our citizens are driving across only to land in Lake Superior on
    there way home from work.

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Jack Walden

    Wow, 107 million in pocket, multiple homes, and a congenital liar calling food-stamp raised guy elitist... Only in the United Selective States of Clintonian America.

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. 123

    You don't have to have a lot of money to be an "elitist."

    I am offended by his term "ordinary people" on American Idol. Who does he think are "ordinary?"

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Daryl (WHITE) Chicago, IL (land of obama)

    I love it....To all Obama supporters...Don't respond to any of these repulsive comments by conservatives or Hillary supporters soon to be McCain supporters. THEY ARE LOSING, big time and they all know the end of both Hillary and McCains campaigns is coming soon. When you pull in $40 million dollars a month, most from private donors, and the other campaigns can't bring in half of that....well they have got a big problem. I love seeing most of them try to change our minds about Obama by being clever with "new" information (dirt) on Obama, changing his context of speeches, or the usual spin of politics. Or the best one is that his middle name is Hussein so that means he is muslim...by the way what is wrong with being muslim? The closed minded people that live in this country are the ones who scare me the most. They hate change and resist it to the end, they think everyone should be like them, and think like them, and vote like them because they are right and you are wrong. Well I am sorry to all the conservatives/Republicans and close minded people because you are about to get a HUGE dose of change next year. Think of Obama as a teflon freight train made of diamonds...nothing sticks and both the train and money keeps on coming! In fact I am going to donate another $200 just to spite AZM....by the way he bought his home after he received money from both of his books...did you read them? .

    April 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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