April 26th, 2008
07:51 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama: 'I've been taking some hits'

CNN

Watch Obama explain why he sometimes takes political punches without firing back.

(CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama used a question during a campaign event Saturday to explain his unusual approach to politics.

“How do we get rid of that huge divisiveness in this country?,” a voter asked Obama in Anderson, Indiana.

“The president sets the tone,” the Illinois senator said before explaining the bipartisan approach he’d take if elected to the White House.

“But, I’m also going to try to show this during the course of the campaign,” he added. “Sometimes you take some hits. Even during this campaign, I’ve been taking some hits.”

“One of the things that I learned in the school yard was: the folks that are talking tough all the time, they’re not always that tough. If you’re really tough, you’re not always looking to try to start a fight. If you’re really tough, sometimes you just walk away. If you’re really tough, you just save it for when you really need it,” Obama said.

“I’m not interested in fighting people just for the sake of scoring political points.” “If I’m going to fight somebody it’s going to be fighting over the American people and what they need.”

Obama’s effort to explain his sometimes non-confrontational approach came on the same day that his rival Sen. Hillary Clinton proposed a Lincoln-Douglas style debate. Prior to Clinton’s challenge, Obama said in a television interview set to air Sunday that he would not agree to any more debates with Clinton before the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. After learning of Clinton's proposal, the Obama campaign maintained that the Illinois senator would not participate in any more debates until after May 6.

Related: Clinton to Obama: Let's debate like Lincoln

soundoff (353 Responses)
  1. DEBATE !!!

    Obama Quit Making Cowardly Excuses !!! . If You're Scared , Just Say It !! . You're Coming Off As A Spineless Coward . Debates Are As Much A Part Of Campaigning As Giving Stump Speeches In Each State .

    That's Like Saying I've Allready Gave Over 21 Stump Speeches In Pennsylvania . I'm Not Going To Do Any More In Indiana . Or North Carolina . You're Cowardly Excuses Are Just Plain Lies , You Are Afraid To Debate Sen. Clinton . You And Your Campaign Have Spent More Time , Energy , and Money trying To Duck Out Of This Debate , Then it Would Take To Do It !!! . Obama You Really This Timid And Weak !!

    Hillary 08″

    April 27, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  2. Timothy

    Obama, is the man I hope the people of Indiana and North Carolina will see that and not be fool by the Clintons.

    April 27, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  3. Roszile

    Hey TWP, I don't see how what you're saying makes any sense. Your a life long Democrate. You don't like Obama. So if Obama is the Democratic candidate then you will vote for republican McCain. McCains policies and plans to govern the country are completly OPPOSITE to the plans and policies of both Obama and Clinton. Obama and Clintons policies are VERY similiar. The democratic fight is very dirty right now and you've decided you don't like Obama. But how does it make any sense to vote to put in place the exact OPPOSITE policies which Hillary Clinton is promoting instead of voting for the candidate who is the democratic nominee (likely Obama) and whose policies are VERY similiar to Clintons ?????
    Is this a win at ANY COST approach from the HRC supporters. Your position just doesn't make any sense in terms of how you want to see the country governed if HRC is not the candidate.

    April 27, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  4. SHEILA

    MCCAIN IS SOUNDING SO WEAK HE'S EVEN HAVING REPUBLICANS THINK HILLARY NOW IS MORE CONSERVATIVE!! WOW! NOT A GOOD THING FOR MCCAIN TO HEAR!

    OBAMA? HE THINKS HE HAS A JUMP SHOT BUT WE ALL KNOW "DEFENSE" WINS GAMES! U LIVE BY THE JUMPSHOT YOU DIE BY THE JUMPSHOT!! HILLARY HAS ALREADY BLOCKED HIS SHOT!!

    WELL, WELL, WELL!! WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT HILLARY CLINTON WOULD BE THE BEST CANDADATE OUT THERE? NOT ME BUT....SHES NOW LOOKING LIKE THE FRONT RUNNER AND WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP INCREASING HER LEAD!!

    OBAMA AND HIS SUPPORTERS DONT KNOW THIS YET BUT HE'S DONE! HE CAN THANK THE PERSON WHO HE USED TO GET WHERE HE'S AT AND BLAME THE SAME MAN FOR RUINING HIS CHANCES!! 2 WORDS "REVEREND WRIGHT"!!

    YOU DONT THINK FOR ONE MOMENT "BUYERS REMORSE" HAS SET IN YET? LOL! I FEEL BAD FOR ALL THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED IN THE PRIMARYS FOR HIM AND HAD NO IDEA WHO THIS MAN WAS AND NOW REGRETS IT AND IS PULLING FOR CLINTON NOW BUT CANT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT SINCE THEIR STATE ALREADY VOTED!!

    INDIANA GOES TO CLINTON!! ANYBODY OUT THERE THAT THINKS ANY DIFFERENT IS NOT PAYING ATTENTION!! SHE WILL WIN IT AND CONTINUE TO TURN THE TIDE UNTIL ALL POLLS SHOW SHES THE CANDADATE TO RUN UP AGAINST MCCAIN FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION....

    SHE IS NOW AHEAD OF MCCAIN ANYWAY AS OF TODAY IF RUNNING AGAINST HIM IN THE GENREAL SO ITS FAIR TO SAY HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT!!

    END OF STORY!! ONLY THING IS THIS IS NOT A STORY ITS WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN BUT HAPPEN IN DUE TIME SO NOT TO SEEM LIKE ELECTION WAS STOLEN BY HER OVER OBAMA!! GET IT????? ITS OVER!!

    April 27, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  5. Ron L

    What many off us don't seem to get is this...

    POLITICS IN AMERICA CAN NOT CHANGE IF WE KEEP ELECTING THE PEOPLE WHO DO THE VERY SAME THING WE SAY WE DON'T LIKE!!!

    We claim we don't like attack ads..But if one canadidates does it to the other EVEN IF IT IS A CLEAR DISTORTION / LIE we don't punish the one who does it by not voting for them...we call the receiver of the lie as a WEAK and unworthy to win....

    A clear recent example of this is Hillary knows Barack is not an elitist, look at his history, many of the people who have worked with him said he was not. And yet MANY of the Pennsyvanian voters STILL voted for her...They took exit polls on trustworthiness and 60 % percent of them said they didn't trust her...and many of them still voted for her...

    DOES THAT MAKE SENSE??? NEWS FLASH a LIAR is A LIAR whenever it is convienent. Remember the Bosnia story!!

    I admire the fact that Barack refuses to be pulled into the same Black-Hole Hillary seems to feel quite comfortable in. Unfortunately it could result in him losing.....Its both funny and sad when you really think about...

    Politics in America can't change until we quit rewarding such BAD CANCEROUS BEHAVIOUR!!

    April 27, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  6. Tanya K

    Obama will not debate Hillary for a good reason he is smart enough to know she will make him look like he doesn't have a clue about what the H?ll he is talking about as she has had a habit of doing. I am not completely sure if he is unaware of the vital things one should be able to comprehend as President of the United States of America, but I am beginning to think he may not. I have came to these conclusions by observing that without a prewritten speech ( not saying he did not write it himself, I was not there ),and a teleprompter he seems unable to communicate well with others on the matter at hand. However a debate would more then likely help me and many others to understand.

    April 27, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  7. KATHY1

    Very good Sen. Obama, they want you to go negative, so they can splash that all over the news. Obama extremely negative, I thought that's not what his campaign was about. I thought his campaign was about change, I thought he didn't want to be old Washington. "You people will never change, old Washington to the end". Hince, Sen. Obama claim; you're true to form.
    All I need to say is Sen. Obama, "stay on track" She want's to throw you off your game. Just think of it as 3 on 1 basketball, with a little headbut here or there, haha, wink, wink. It's like you mentioned, just brush her off and talk to the American people about the issues that's haunt us all. Change in politics of the White House, economy, jobs, gas prices, cost of living, healthcare, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, NKorea, SKorea, Pakistan, Russia and anyone else we have pissed off with our arrogance. If you people allow the Republicans to steal the White House "AGAIN", you deserve your downfall. You came into this election looking for a change from the old politics, now you're willing to go back to the old way if your candidate is chosen. How lame is that, we are fighting to get this country back on track and it won't happen if we allow the Republicans to retain control. Think about that, or are you soooo rich that it doesn't matter that our economy is shot to hell. That would say a lot about you.

    April 27, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  8. douadavid

    No more debate because Obama only talk and talk but he can not walk and walk. He could not change any thing in Washington since he became a US Senator. He is too chicken to vote for an important issue that will affect the future of American. He lost the debate and primary election in PA and blamed on the media and old and uneducated people in my State. Maybe Obama got the vote from the educators and drug dealers only. Hillary should know by now that he is a loser.

    April 27, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  9. sakki

    CNN, prove to the world where in any country that conducted so many debates for primary elections especially like the type you set up to favor Hillary Clinton, who is your favorite? Let Hillary Clinton debate herself, it would not be the first time, she always have fantasy example sniper story. We are ready to watch her debate herself.

    April 27, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  10. Glen,

    Yeah, Yeah and soon the Pope will make you a saint. Its just you usually come off second best, your support team are the ones who make the derogatory remarks so you don't get your hands dirty.

    April 27, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  11. Mek,WA

    America Listen to the wise man speak! Wake up .Well said....
    Go OBAMA!!!

    April 27, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  12. Ohio Mom

    I have blocked off Fox and turn off the TV anytime Hillary is on, otherwise I feel like I will say things that Obama wouldn't approve of. I am proud that we have a candidate who is trying his best to bring out the best in us.

    April 27, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  13. Delaware

    No more Debate with billary. Billary we know that you know how to debate. Our problem in this country debate is not going to solve them and you cannot fool us either by debating.

    John McCain 08 Hamas is with you 100 percent. Hamas need McCain 08.

    April 27, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  14. jt

    Obama is just making excuses!!

    It is a debate, if you think you have good ideas for the american people, why you are afraid to defend them. Hillary is not afraid.

    Hillary 08!!!

    April 27, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  15. Tom,des moines

    HUSSEIN OBAMA IS MR.WHINER OF THE YRS.

    April 27, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  16. Danny

    The reason why Obama don't want to debate because if he take more debate he going to lose more vote.......by the way Rev. Wrong still not over
    yet so another thing come out too.....like William Ayers and Hamas. If you
    want to be a champion you need to fight. Anyway he not going to win because he not stand for Americans, look he don't care to put his hand over his heart in the presence of American flag.

    Hillary 08 nominee and 09 President.

    April 27, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  17. Eric-PA

    Kelley James,

    I often wonder the same thing. How anyone in their right mind could vote for OBAMA. You've got to be blind not to see how this guy is a fraud. He's a race-baiter, a liar and a very sneaky guy. If you actually payed attention to both campaigns you would have clearly seen how Obama has run a dirty,Bush-like campaign.

    April 27, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  18. James

    Obama IS the future of our country. After Hillary won Pennsylvania by 9 points, she called it a "deeply personal victory". New flash HIllary: this is our country, not yours. Kennedy asked us to ask ourselves what we could do for our country. Roosevelt told us that the only thing WE have to fear is fear itself.

    Great Presidents are not remembered for what they did for us, rather what we did during their term (Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy). Come January, we will have a President that will have to look all of us in the eye and say, "We have to fix this together, and it isn't going to be easy". It won't be a "personal victory" for the President, it will be all American's rolling up their sleaves to fix the mess GWB made. Only a uniter will be ready on "Day Two".

    Obama '08

    April 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  19. plb

    For all those who claim they will not vote for Obama if he wins. Join hands with your idiot counterparts who did not vote for Gore or Kerry and gave the rest of us 8 years of Bush, the Irag War, an economic crisis that will EAT UP YOUR GRANDCHILDRENS FUTURE. And every decent job shipPED out of the country (thank the Clintons for giving birth to NAFTA, instead of having a abortion). By the way when was the last time you went into any store and seen a product labeled MADE IN THE USA. THAT WHAT I THOUGHT, ITS BEEN SO LONG YOU DONT EVEN REMEMBER. GO AHEAD A VOTE FOR MCCAIN, JUST DONT WHINE WHEN YOUR BUTT IS HOMELESS AND HUNGRY (NEWS FLASH, THIS WEEK THERE WAS A SHORTAGE ON RICE, OF ALL THINGS, RICE)

    April 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  20. Marsha

    This made me cry. How wonderful to have a President that cares more about fighting for us than gaining power. I'm taken aback. This man is the real deal.

    April 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  21. Joel

    Nicely said,
    However, in order to earn true respect, which I believe should be one of the goal of a president if he wants to represents the greatest nation in the world, this particular kind of toughness ought to be self-evident.
    Whereas I do believe he's probably the best suited person to bring the change america needs, this 'quiet toughness' really didn't stepped up in a meaningful way, it hasn't been self evident to say the least.
    And for several reasons that he can impugn to external factors (distractions, media, etc.) but also that he should impugn to himself and his campaign.
    In the schoolyard, the thoughest kids that walked away from fights but still was respected as never before were the ones that walked away with a verbal punch that suffer no concessions : 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Now ... Glad we're done, I got better things to deal with.'
    I don't question that Obama can do that. He dit it with his race speech. I question his willingness to do more of it, I question his understanding of the importance of doing it. Fair or not, there's too many controversies that still needs to be crushed appropriately ... or fester and tarnish the message for good.

    April 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  22. TK, Dallas, TX

    OBAMA O8 hillary accept your fate. No more debates unless hillary is going to tell the truth for once in her 60+ years.

    April 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  23. GMCK

    I would not enter the ring with someone who would just as soon bite your ear off as smile in your face. Hillary knows she is losing and want to show off her great debate skills to try and gain the upper hand. I solute Barack for not debating Hillary. Let her sweat it out with her unpleasant rhetoric.

    April 27, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  24. Dmitriy

    Obama has taken some hits just like Clinton has. Especially recently when Clyburn accused Hillary of not caring for black voters. Like that wasn't divisive. Democrats (white and black) will not contribute to 4 more years of Bush – especially in current economical state. Any provocative talks to undermine that is just shows lack of support for the party.
    Can anyone really tell me that in their right mind they are willing to turn their blind eye to recession, loosing jobs, higher gas and food prices just to continue their racist segregation?
    Democrats will come together and will win white house for the better of all american people.

    April 27, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  25. Ken Out West

    Doesn't matter......

    Do the math people.

    Hillary cannot win. Obama has won the nomination.

    April 27, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
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