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. MJ

    Who cares what he thought about doing? Again, all words and no action.

    September 7, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. jl

    Yeah right

    September 7, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Cupper

    When is Palin going to answer any questions?

    According to Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, the American people don't care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy. According to Wallace - in an appearance Joe Scarborough's show - the American people will learn all they need to know (and all they deserve to know) from Palin's scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads.

    I thought she was applying for the job as VP?

    Why can't we ask her any questions?

    All we get is one speech she delivered great, but didn't write.

    VERY strange. Very unsettling

    September 7, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Jim

    He probably once considered a lot of different things... from less serious things, to more serious things ... like... what he wanted to have for dinner... if he should buy a new pair of socks... at what point a child is considered a human... his stance on oil drilling... or how he feels about the war and the surge... or if he wants to cut taxes on people making less than 100k or if instead maybe under 250k...
    Lets face it, it doesn't really matter that much what he has considered, just the way he chooses. and rechooses...

    September 7, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. S. Boatman

    When Mccain Was A POW He Sold Out His Country For A Cigarette!

    September 7, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. McCain = 4 more years of the same...

    Look up " Palin Earmarks " she sent 31 to ted stevens for the 09 fiscal year totalling 197 million dollars...! Change? Mavrick? How about bold faced flat out LIAR. Even John McCain can't say that he has never requested an earmark.. Luke AFB... Waste Water Project... Rehnquist Center..

    NO WAY, NO HOW, NO MCCAIN!

    September 7, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. Katrina

    Obama's answer was jarring in tone; but McCain's answer - "at conception" - is what women should think about. Neither the pill nor the IUD prevent conception. If McCain is serious - I doubt it, but one never knows –, we might get saddled with an administration that will seek to get rid of the safest and most effective contraceptives available. I long for a journalist to ask him whether he considers women on the pill killers...

    September 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Barack Hussein Obama

    Then why didn't you? That's like saying, I thought about becoming a surgeon.

    September 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Belle

    Well, Senator Obama may have once considered joining the military, but talking about it and actually doing it are two different things.

    I am sick to death of the bloggers that say this election is about race. If that were true, it wouldn't be so close. The London Times reports that if Obama loses this election, it will be because the bloggers for Obama have had a boomerang effect back on Obama.

    Hard to believe in Hope and Change when the only change Obama has seemed to show is repeatedly changing his positions, ridiculing and demeaning others, bringing up his OWN race all of the time instead of talking about what his plans REALLY are, saying he will fight corruption when he NEVER has, and touting his one bill with a Republican that put up Pork on a website...saying he is against PORK when HE voted lockstep with Democrats for PORK instead of diverting the money to rebuilding the twin bridges in New Orleans, the levees in New Orleans, and the Bridge in Minnesota.

    PLEASE EXPLAIN YOUR VOTES SENATOR!

    September 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. Joe

    Oh wow, he considered joining the military - he's got my vote now. What a true American hero.

    September 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. S. Boatman

    Mccain Doesnt Want Women To Have Equal Pay!

    September 7, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. ch

    Funny he hasn't revealed this before!

    Wasn't in either of his 2 books was it?

    Give me a break – and give me Hillary in 2012!

    September 7, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. wiser

    Senator Obama only fights for himself. Words, words, Words, over actions is his mantra!

    Democrats for McCain!

    September 7, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  14. Lois in CA

    I urged my sons to evaluate the option of military duty and consider these hypotheses:
    1. If we are to be a global community, we have to stop killing each other.
    2. US citizens who join the military loose most of their civil rights, and become controlled by military law.
    3. My sons lives are their own, and decisions about how they will conduct them are their responsibility and spiritual path.
    4. Raising men who don't believe killing in the name of patriotism as a solution makes the world safer for my grandchildren and their future.
    5. War is obsolete and wasteful.

    September 7, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  15. JulesT

    As a veteran , I do not hold myself above others that did not serve volunteerly. Had I chosen a political career when I got out, I would not be more qulified to be president than someone who did not serve. It takes more than experience being in the military to president.

    Yes, John McCain served honorably, and no body can take the past away from him, but somewhere between being a soldier and now, he lost the values and ethics, and traits we are all bound by. If you are a veteran you know what I am taking about. A hero in the past, does not make a hero for the present or the future.

    September 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. A(O)bamantion

    Yah, ok, I'm sure he did. I'm sure Obama considered himself God at one point as well......oh wait he already thinks he is.

    September 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. James, Houston, TX

    Why does John McCain consider himself a Hero? He's a former P.O.W. , spent 5 1/2 yrs at the "Hanoi Hilton" sitting out the "Nam War" while others continue to Die!

    Guess He was preparing to become President after G.W.; McCain was a throw G.O.P. Throwback in 2000 in lieu of Georgie! Now he asking You to Stand Up and Fight ! He wants to create a New War Front, maybe this time He'll get it Right at Your Expense and more Kids Life's. But now the G.O.P isn't fooling around, they've recurited Palin and She's Tough, Tougher than an Old Sea Lion !

    Also, Palin wants to shoot Hoops against Obama ! Whew

    September 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  18. JK Ashburn, VA

    Probably realized at the last moment that military service required more commitment and accountability than being a community organizer.

    September 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. georgia independent

    Palin said:
    "...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."

    Can someone please explain to me how it is that someone who was a soldier/POW/military person is automagically qualified to be a good president?

    Is it the taking orders part or the killing part that qualifies someone? Or the POW part?

    Does the Republican party really really believe the only truly qualified candidate is one with a military background?

    And if it's true – how does Palin qualify? Does shooting a moose give you a military equivalency degree (MED)?

    September 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Marge Hibbing Mn

    WHO IN THE HECK BELIEVES THIS ONE....trying to make him seem patrotic....yep.

    September 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. Florida Democrat

    BS, BS and mucho BS.

    September 7, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Tom from Wheaton, IL

    The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats never pretend to know what God want them to do, and Republicans are all very sure they know what God wants YOU to do.

    September 7, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. Tubby The Tuba

    Palin's state of Alaska:

    One of the lowest graduating students from high school.
    Was FOR the bridge to nowhere before she was against the bridge to no where.
    Went into the mayorship with the city of Wasilla owing nothing, but left it owing millions.
    Increase taxes to her fair city of over 30%!
    Hired lobbyist to find PORK for her fair city and later for her state.
    Her husband and she supported the AIP, wanting Alaska to cede from the United States. Conuntry first? Their motto is Alaska first, forever and always.
    Accused of abusing her powers!
    She should fit in with the Republicans.

    September 7, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. steve dumford, Scotts valley ca.

    Palins positive rating is allready higher than anyone else that is running. Including Obama and McCain. The Obamabotic bloggers don't know what to do but continue their onslaught of nastiness. Don't be fooled by the overwhelming presence of the Obama Lemmings in these comments Most of them are obviously younger, ignorant and don't have jobs to go to. So they sit at their computers and spew their nasty, hateful, vile slime.
    Noticed in the story about McCain working with and appointing Democrats, the lemmings couldn't help putting their monumental ignorance out there for all to see. McCain has a total history of working across the aisle to get things done. Wonder if any of the lemmings ever heard about the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law? Feingold is a Democrat. All the Democrats in the Senate know that McCain works across the aisle.
    Obama, on the other hand tags his name on other peoples legislation and then says he co-authored it, Hasn't come up with any legislation of his own, Guess he was too busy writing his memoirs, campaining to be President. Like when he was a State senator. I guess he was only "Present" and even that, only part of the time.

    September 7, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. Pancho

    You gotta be kidding me!!! Never mentions it before, but now???!!!! This has to rank up there w/ "I tried it, but didn't inhale." Stick to the issues, Obama. You have a good chance of winning; don't pull stupid, amateurish ploys now.

    September 7, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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