September 7th, 2008
01:43 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama: I once considered joining military

Sen. Obama campaigned in Indiana Saturday.
Sen. Obama campaigned in Indiana Saturday.

(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama - locked in a tight presidential race against Sen. John McCain, widely considered a war hero - said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he once considered joining the military himself.

Speaking to ABC's "This Week," Obama said, "You know, I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school. And I was growing up in Hawaii, and I have friends whose parents were in the military. There are a lot of Army, military bases there. And I actually always thought of the military as an enobling and, you know, honorable option.

"But keep in mind - I graduated in 1979. The Vietnam War had come to an end. We weren't engaged in an active military conflict at that point. And so, it's not an option that I ever decided to pursue."

On the stump, Obama has praised McCain for his service in the Vietnam war.

The two candidates' stark differences over the Iraq war mark one of the central issues of the campaign.

The McCain camp argues that McCain's experience has prepared him to serve as commander in chief and lead the United States through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said in her speech at last week's Republican National Convention that while Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, "have been going on lately about how they're always, quote, 'fighting for you,' let us face the matter squarely: There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you... in places where winning means survival and defeat means death."

In the "This Week" interview, Obama also expressed regret for how he handled a question about the Saddleback Civil Forum on Presidency last month.

At the time he said answering a question about when a baby gets human rights is "above my pay grade."

Asked by ABC whether that answer was "too flip," Obama answered, "Probably, yes." He added that as a Christian, "I have a lot of humility about understanding" when the soul enters into the body. "And so, all I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions."

"What I do know is that abortion is a moral issue, that it's one that families struggle with all the time, and that in wrestling with those issues, I don't think that the government criminalizing the choices that families make is the best answer for reducing abortions."

On a lighter note, "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos jokingly asked Obama whether he'd ever be willing to take on Palin in a game of one-on-one.

Both were avid basketball players in their school days, with Obama earning the name "Barry O'Bomber," and Palin nicknamed "Sarah Barracuda."

"You know, I would play her a game of horse. She looks like she's got some game," he said, adding, "I know she's a sharpshooter... I probably wouldn't do target practice with her. I think she'd be a better shot than me.

But on the basketball court, I think I'd stand up pretty well."

He agreed with host Stephanopoulos' suggestion that the game "would break all Nielsen records."

soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. Matthew

    How is this news? I once considered becoming a surgeon. I didn't.

    Awww, the past.

    Political positioning at it's worst– because it's so noticeable.

    September 7, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. E.C.Coleman

    CNN VIEWERS: TAKE HEED WHEN YOU COMMENT ON THIS TICKER......A SITE THAT 'REQUESTS AND WELCOMES COMMENT.'
    CNN SCREENS EVERY IDEA, THOUGHT, OR RESPONSE THAT IS NOT IN SUPPORT OF OBAMA. DISGRACEFUL LACK OF COMPLIANCE WITH 'FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.' WHAT A JOKE THAT CNN, THE MEDIA BACKBONE OF OBAMA, WILL NOT ALLOW OTHERS, WHO ARE NOT OF THE SAME PERSUASION, TO OFFER THEIR COMMENTS. SHAME ON CNN.....RADICAL LIBERAL MEDIA!!!

    September 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. Richard

    1979 lets see Nixon was impeached, Kissinger had allready gone to China. a ping pong had allready been played and Obama is under the delusion that the Viet Nam War was still going on. What a bunch of Bull***. I believe he would have gone to Canada if the draft was still in place. He is afraid to admit that he would be a draft dogger, if that was still in place.

    Is this the kind of change he will bring? More of the same!

    September 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. Sternberg

    Obama once considered making a change, too. He just never has done so.

    September 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. Madge H. Matthews

    I truly believe that in his pick of Sarah Palin as V.P. John McCain
    should hire someone to test his food before he dines on it.

    September 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Josh

    Question???

    1) Why is she reading a text that Bush's speech writers wrote??? Can't she do her own???

    OH I forgot two months ago she didn't even know what V.P. does now she is expert on everything!!!!

    As the man said it himself, "They think you are stupid."

    September 7, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. S

    I understand that Palin lowered the money for special education in Alaska and now that she has a special needs child stated she will provide for special education.

    September 7, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Jane

    Liar Liar pants on fire.

    September 7, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. Mike

    FOR THOSE VOTERS WHO HAVE CONSTANTLY STATED THAT OBAMA HAS NO EXPERIENCE TO BE PRESIDENT OR THAT SO MANY OTHERS WILL VOTE FOR MCCAIN, SINCE HILLARY DID NOT WIN IN THE PRIMARY...LETS'E SEE MCCAIN HAS PICKED A WOMAN NO EXPERIENCE, SOME SAY A STEP AWAY FROM THE PRESIDENCY IF SOMETHING WOULD HAPPEN TO MCCAIN...

    SOME OF YOU JUST WANTED A WOMAN ON THE TICKET AND YOU'RE GOING TO VOTE FOR HER, AND YET SHE HAS NOT TALKED ABOUT ANY OF THE ISSUES WE FACE EVERY DAY...SO FAR SHE HAS ONLY MENTIONED WHAT HAS BEEN IN A PREPARED SPEECH FOR HER...SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO TALK TO REPORTERS ON ISSUES THAT AFFECT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

    SO WHAT SHE IS GOVERNOR OF ALASKA, BUSH WAS GOVERNOR OF TEXAS, AND WE ALL KNOW THAT SURE DIDN'T MAKE HIM QUALIFIED TO BE PRESIDENT...

    PEOPLE IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP AND VOTE ON ISSUES THAT EFFECTS ALL OF US HAS AMERICANS,, PALIN IS SURE NOT THE ANSWER, SHE'S ONLY ALLOEWD TO SAY WHAT THE REPUBLICANS WANT HER TO SAY...

    HAVE WE TRULY FORGOTTEN WHAT THIS PROCESS IS REALLY ALL ABOUT.. ..CINDY MCCAIN SAYS SHE UNDERSTANDS WHAT THE AMEERICAN PEOPLE ARE GOING THROUGH, AND YET AT THE CONVENTION, SHE'S DECK OUT WEARING AN OUTFIT ANAD JEWLERY WORTH $300.00 DOLLARS, FOR THAT NOT SHE WAS WORTH YOUR HOME AND MINE, NOT TOO MENTION A PRICE TAG THAT SO MANY OF US DON'T EVEN MAKE A YEAR ON OUR JOBS...BUT SHE SAID THAT SHE UNDERSTANDS WHAT WE'RE GOING THROUGH...PLEASE , SHE DON'T EVEN HAVE A CLUE, NOR DOES MCCAIN... IWAS INSULTED BY THE #00.00 PRICE TAG FOR AN OUTFIT FOR ONE NOT IF NOTHING ELSE...

    September 7, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. Ron

    there you go he admits defeat on one if confronted and a possibility, of winning on the other. points Palin one and a half to Obama one half once considered joining?

    September 7, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. Last Honest Man

    This is laughable.

    September 7, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Non-military waste

    And this is another reason why I don't like ths Palin Chick. I respect the military – considering the fact that my dad is a veteran. But why are they talking as if this is the only way to fight for people? They talk about Obama being Elitist, but they can't get any more condescending.
    As an african american female, those who came before me FOUGHT for me to have the civil rights & women's suffrage rights I enjoy today – but they didn't join the army to do so. I thought there was more to America that just defense, but let them tell it, everything else is a waste.

    SO if you did not serve in the military, you are a waste of skin – at least to Palin...what a minute – did her husband serve in the military or did she marry a fellow non-military pansy? hmmmmm. What a silly republican parrot.

    September 7, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. No_Obama

    Many people considered doing many things which they didn't. Those types of statements do not carry weight.

    September 7, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. Charlotte

    Lets see, now that McCains military experience is a plus, Obama once thought of joining? I am amazed everyday of this election. I have a warning for the Obama-bots, careful with that Keating Five business, 4 of the 5 Senators involved were Democrats. I was there, it was not pretty. I sure didn't go around bragging about being a Democrat. Obama is the DNC's pick for the nominee, not mine. The party has lost this election. If comparing McCain to Bush is all he has, he is in trouble. McCain is No Bush. Obama plays the race card at every opportunity, and we know how Rev. Wright feels about race. We also know Obama sat in that church for 20 years. We also know he claims to have known people for 20 years, yet has no knowledge of their dispositions? Judgement? I think not! The War in Iraq was not his decision to make either way. How can any of us know how he would have voted if he could have voted, since he seldom votes on anything. Missing Senate votes is not change I can believe in, it is business as usual. McCain has missed a lot of votes as have a majority of Senators.

    September 7, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  15. Kyle in San Diego, CA

    I'd PAY to see that game!

    September 7, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. E.C.Coleman

    OBAMA HAS COME FULL CIRCLE IN ACCEPTING 'THE SURGE' ......NOW, OBAMA DELCARES THAT "THE SURGE WAS SUCCESSFUL BEYOND WILDEST DREAMS!!!' FURTHER, HE'S NOW CLAIMING THAT HE WILL NOT RAISE TAXES, BUT LOWER TAXES. HIS ORIGINAL STANCE ON 'CHANGED' HAS CERTAINLY CHANGED TOWARD REPUBLICAN STANDARDS!!!! OBAMA IS A CHARLATAN AND A JOKE!

    September 7, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. rais

    Good Barack! Army is not made for everybody. Joining doesnt make one more patriotic. I have as much tremendous respect for those that have joined than those that have served the country in places like community service. We need our issues fixed and barack is the man for that.
    Obama/Biden 08

    September 7, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. Rourke

    Great! That should give us the much needed Commander in chief experience. Go Obama 2012!

    September 7, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. james

    Who really cares about this? It's clear, at least to me, that the choices he has made in life have been fruitful, he doesn't need to pander to the fans of McCain and Palin. Though maybe superficial overtures to those people would work...

    September 7, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Jen in PA

    In the meantime, there's this garbage out of Oklahoma:

    "I am not questioning Sen. Obama's patriotism, but you have to question why at times he seems so obviously opposed to public displays of patriotism and national pride, like wearing an American flag lapel pin." ~ James Inhofe, Republican

    Neither Palin nor McCain wore flag pins at the convention, so they must hate their country. Right?

    God help us. ..Palin won't even talk to the media, and this is what we focus on? I am seriously scared.

    September 7, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. Independent voter

    I have a lot of respect for men and women serving our country in the military field. I recognized McCain for that, but having said that just because somebody choose to serve in that way that does not disqualify or dismiss the qualifications or patrotism of the rest of the people or citizens of the nation.
    Is about time we focus in things beyond the military experience of McCain, economy is horrible right now and I believe that is the number one issue at this time.
    Thank you McCain for your service but please move forward, the retoric of McCain/Palin and advocates of Republican party is stuck just in that issue, please start talking about something else is about time now, we need solutions for the economy, health care, education, etc, etc, etc,
    Mr. Obama serving or not into the military field has nothing to do with the qualifications required to be President of the United States.

    September 7, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Non-military waste

    that's suppose to be "this" not ths and "wait" not "what".

    September 7, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Pepou

    I don't care what Caribou Barbie says. She is a distraction which does not bring change to McSame's boring campaign.

    September 7, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. Linda

    Can someone explain how being a POW is training to be commander in chief?

    September 7, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. Say Cheese Obama

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!! Whatever Obama....nice try! Sounds like a politician's answer!!

    September 7, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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