August 21st, 2007
04:51 PM ET
15 years ago

Did Michelle Obama take a swipe at Clinton?

Barack and Michelle Obama at the Iowa State fair last week.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Did she or didn't she?

That's the question some political observers are asking about recent comments from Michelle Obama, the wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, that could be interpreted as a swipe against her husband's chief presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

In Atlantic, Iowa last Thursday, Michelle Obama pointed to the strength of her own family and said the next president must be "somebody that shares our values."

"Is he somebody that respects family? Is he a good and decent person?" Michelle Obama asked the crowd about the next president. "Our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House."

The comments went largely unnoticed until an article in Tuesday morning's Chicago Sun Times suggested the statement was an indirect swipe against the Clintons, whose previous marital problems have been well documented.

The accusation immediately got top billing on The Drudge Report, a conservative Web site, and Obama himself was asked about the comments in a conference call earlier Tuesday.

The Illinois senator emphatically denied the comments were aimed at his rival and added, "There was no reference beyond her point that we have had an administration that talks a lot about family values but doesn’t follow through."

He also noted that his wife often speaks about children and families in her campaign remarks.

Katie McCormick Lelyveld, Michelle Obama's communications director, also told CNN, "the only family Mrs. Obama was talking about was the Obama family."

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Martina Stewart

soundoff (166 Responses)

    I doubt it. I think it's a direct shot at the vulnerable Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani who has been married three times (once to his second cousin) and supposedly has a horrible relationship with his children. Wouldn't that make more sense?

    August 21, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. RightyTighty

    How sweet it is..

    August 21, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. enko, fords, nj

    Please – you call this a swipe at clinton? Give me a break. So anyone talking about family values now is taking a shot at the Clintons? This is getting pretty ridiculous!!

    August 21, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Rob

    I cannot believe the media would stoop this low to destroy Obama. I can't take it anymore. I see you will stop at nothing until he is beat into the ground. Can anyone of you so-called journalist do some real reporting and find out who is making this an issue. Clinton might be a great place to start!

    Black people will never matter to this country! Well, at least we tried. All the best to Obama and his family. Sorry you have to deal with this slander!

    August 21, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. Ryan, New York, NY

    It amazes me how the media will try to turn everything into a controversial subject.

    Also, it may just be me, but for being so "liberal," the MSM is doing a much better job of stoking the fires between the Democratic candidates than the Republicans. You hear Romney call out Rudy on immigration, but that's about it. It seems like hardly a day goes by without a Obama-Clinton tiff.

    August 21, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. Len, sparks nv

    Why is Clinton and Edwards never characterized as taking swipes or attacking when they say negative things about Obama? This is the media choosing words that show bias against a particular candidate. I hope it has nothing to do with race, but you have to wonder. Is CNN showing its true colors here? And as far as what Michelle said, she said the same thing 2 weeks ago here in Reno NV. CNN is just slinging mud at this wonderful lady. She would make a warm, fun, energetic first lady. I want to see her there in the big white house. She is as remarkable as he is.

    August 21, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. Bill W

    Poor Hillary! Always the victim, isn't she? These stories are getting a little thin. And ridiculous. Why does CNN feel such a terrible need to keep her in the new every minute of evey day??

    August 21, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Dan, TX

    non-issue! it is only the prejudice of the listener or reader that would lead them to connect those comments to anyone. Giuliani, Gingrich, Clinton, and a whole string of politicians COULD spring to mind, but let's concentrate on major issues. It is Michelle Obama's job to talk about good family, mom and apple pie. Don't drag her into the mudslinging, when she didn't sling any.

    August 21, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. Brian, Saint Louis, Missouri

    It is quite clear that misconstruing the sincere words of Michelle Obama regarding the importance of strong family values is just another political tactic to illicit political support for Hillary Clinton by the mainstream media.

    August 21, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  10. Jeff Eby, Santa Cruz, CA

    This is pathetic. If you read the whole quote, she was obviously talking about her own family, not anyone else's. So one newspaper and Drudge make a big deal about nothing, and you guys follows suit. Why don't you do some real reporting instead of being an echo chamber?

    August 21, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. Craig, Nicholasville KY

    Yes, she did take a swipe at Clinton, and I thought it was hilarious. The actions of William Jefferson Clinton set back the Democratic Party's image of a family first party by his actions (the ones we know about at least). If she couldn't control Bill's actions then, how can she do so now? I thought Clinton was a great president, but he hurt our party. Hillary couldn't control him in Arkansas or Washington, so how can she control him as the "first gentleman"? Hillary is the most transparently fake politician I have seen since Nixon and I commend Mrs. Obama for calling her out on her indifference to her husband's actions both as a wife and a Democrat. Hopefully Obama, Biden or Edwards will get the nomination, if not it will be the first time I have ever voted for anyone other than a Democrat in the national election.

    August 21, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    I would say her remark is relevant only to Giuliani, not to Hillary, as a presidential candidate.

    Giuliani has personal family problems (several marriages and unhappy kids). However, I do not think Hillary has done anything "inapproiate" in her personal faimily affairs (although her husband's behavior was considered inappropriate).

    Hillary endured it all through no fault of her own. In the end, their relationship appears fine, and she has become a stronger person.

    This may be a plus point to Hillary that she was able to resolve family conflicts, that Giuliani was not able to do, or that Obama or other candidates may not know how.

    This again point out that HILLARY IS VERY EXPERIENCED, in personal family affairs and in federal and international politics, that Obama and other candidates can only dream about.

    August 21, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. als

    If anyone took the time to read the transcript, it is clear that she is not attacking hillary but talking about her own family:

    "So our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I'm home before bedtime. So the girls know that I was gone somewhere, but they don't care."

    August 21, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. James, Phoenix AZ

    Did she or didn't she? OMG has our election process turned into a mindless soap-opera?

    Michelle Obama – NEXT time someone asks you if your comments were aimed at a political rival simply answer,

    "If the shoe fits – wear it"

    August 21, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. John, Erie PA

    Both of the Clintons are constantly taking "indirect swipes" at Senator Obama.

    Especially by using the word "experience" in just about every other sentence they utter.

    I wonder how many times Bill and Hillary Clinton said the word "experience" while he was running in 1992. Zero, perhaps?

    Mrs. Obama has every right to tout her strong family. Good for her!

    August 21, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. Tony, Boston, MA

    "So our view was that, if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I'm home before bedtime."

    The complete quote. Can we move on now please??

    August 21, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. GeorgiaVoter

    Its about time the Democrats started talking about family values again. Bill set us back 8 years, and a Hillary win will push that even further back.

    Anyone but Hillary "08"

    August 21, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Linda, Chandler, AZ guys are really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find negative things to say about the Obamas. Maybe you should stick to reporting the facts instead of innuendo.

    August 21, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Pamela S.

    Of course it was a swipe at Hillary. Obama never takes responsibility for ANYTHING. It's his staff's fault, he didn't know anything about it,he can't be responsible for what other people say. People if you don't see a pattern here and he wins you will surely get what you deserve. It's just the rest of us that will have to suffer.

    I started out really believing this guy, really pulling for him. The more he stays in the more his mask cracks. First Edwards wife,then his wife and now he carries Rove's water for him in attacking Clinton.
    I think Biden is the best choice but I would vote for Clinton if she got it. I WILL NOT vote for Obama, he's running in the wrong primary and personally I don't want a "First Lady" who stoops that LOW against a fellow Democrat.

    August 21, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. lavelle

    The Young and the Restless. I think thats what CNN is trying to make our presidential race into. And I think there really taking the Obama campeign seriously. thats why we keep getting Obama articles with 99.9% of them targeting him in so many different ways! I guess what there trying to say is....If you want to be the first black president your gonna get there with a lot of wounds. And heck just wait until your in office it will get worse!Go Obama!

    August 21, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  21. tony, Mount Vernon, NY

    I totally agree John, talking about a presidential candidate's experience is a nasty swipe. After all, I want an inexperienced president in the middle of what could be the most volatile time in world history don't you? Shame on Hillary and the other democrats!

    August 21, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. Mary Miles, Port Huron, Michigan

    The Mrs. will ultimately cost you the nomination, Mr. Obama. I commented to friends about her behaviour the first time I saw her on Oprah. You will not be able to rein her in. She is a huge liability to your campaign. Obviously you cannot run your household so well either. Perhaps a job might occupy her time. Volunteer work – in something not related to politics. She is abrasive to the public.

    August 21, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Marc, Briarcliff, NY

    Jeff Eby, I completely agree with you. It annoys me so much how some news stations have become so biased (i.e. anti-Obama and pro-Hillary). Every chance there is to shed even the slightest bit of negative light on Obama, CNN snaps it up with pleasure yet barely anything negative about Clinton is ever reported. Yes, every now and then, something somewhat negative about Clinton is addressed, but no where to the degree of Obama news.

    August 21, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. A.B., Warner Robins, GA

    Once again the media is creating news instead of reporting it.

    August 21, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. Dave, Chevrly, MD

    I agreed that Mrs. Obama should be proud of her strong family and show it off. We need way more examples of that in the US. What better way to tout it then as the NEXT First Lady of the United States. (News media, don't be hating that you can't find anything really wrong with this future First Family)The country is due for a little fairy tale JFK, Ronald Regan presidency 🙂

    August 21, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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