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)
  1. Sabi Kanani, Dallas TX

    I'm beginning to lose respect for CNN. Look at all the article on Obama during the last few weeks. Negative...negative...negative. Political spin on all his actions, and now, non-actions.
    Hillary Clinton the victim? Give me a break!

    August 22, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  2. John, St. Louis MO

    Aww, poor little Hillary. Another vast right wing conspiracy against her no doubt. It's so vast it is even sucking in the Obama's. PLEASE!!!

    One day this nation will realize, the Clinton's are good people, ON CAMERA. Way too much baggage for the White House. Yes I know they ALL have some kind of baggage, but there aren't enough bedrooms in the White House to unpack all of the Clinton's baggage, AGAIN.

    August 22, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. LandoftheFree

    Can any of you remember the 90's Clinton did not go to war with IRAG.
    - Jimmy, Cherokee Oklahoma

    Yes, I remember... I remember Billy doing nothing to stop the growing hatred aimed at us. What we know today as terrorism. Sorry Jimmy, but a return of pre-911 Clinton mentality will not protect us in the new millennium either..

    August 22, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  4. Lisa, Corpus Christi, Tx

    I think I have about had my fill of CNN...When you guys decide to start covering the Dem. candidates in an unbiased manner, please let me know. As for now I think I will start tuning into to FOX least
    taking "swipes" at all Dem candidates is a bit more "fair and balanced" than what is going on at CNN.

    August 22, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Lee, Fredericksburg, VA

    To Maddy in Hartford and Debi in Philadelphia:

    How the two of you and the media can see this as a swipe against the Clintons is beyond me. Read in context the comments are solely about Obama's capablitity in running his own house and that capability extending to the running of the White House. You have been manipulated by the media. You who need to start thinking for yourselves.

    August 22, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. Mia, Stafford, VA

    Of all the people to attach that statement too, it certainly wouldn't refer to Mrs. Clinton. If it did apply to anyone it would be Rudy Giuliani! He blantantly disrespected, his wife and his children if a very public way.

    Hillary can only control Hillary, not Bill Clinton's wondering eye. However, Rudy controls Rudy.

    August 22, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. James, Minneapolis, MN

    This is the poorest display of journalism I have seen in a long time. This statement was made a while ago and now it is a story because another newspaper made an assumption.


    August 22, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. Denise, New York, NY

    Has anyone read her entire quote???What a joke! Mrs. Obama says on one hand that family should come first and she is running her household properly and on the other hand, she tells us that she gets her girls out of bed, gets them ready, dumps them off and doesnt see them until bedtime! Nice family. What ever happened to being with your children and REALLY raising them? What a pathetic hypocrite!

    August 22, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Dennis, Abingdon, VA

    Obama supporters are saying on the one hand that Michelle was not talking about Hillary and on the other hand are praising her for "having a point" about Hillary. You can't have it both ways. It was either directed at Hillary or it wasn't.

    My feeling is it was directed a Giuliani. And although I'm a Hillary supporter, I love Barack and Michelle. The reason I won't vote for Barack, however, is that his supporters spew the same anti-Hillary bile that Republicans do. On the whole, Hillary supporters seem upbeat about both Clinton and Obama. Obamaphiles are killing their candidate.

    August 22, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Leah, New York, NY

    Oh, give me a break. There must be SOMETHING of substance going on in politics. The original quote is not at all controversial.

    The only people who would be offended by what she said are those who are too dense to find the transcript of what she said and those who already are feeling guilty about their family life for one reason or another. If Ms Clinton is secure in her family life, she'll laugh it off. I mean, were any of the other candidates offended?

    August 22, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. Maureen Snelling, Arlington, Virginia

    Oh please. Can the candidates, and spouses talk about real issues? And can the media STOP making headlines out of non-stories??? I am worried about my health care, taxes, the enviroment and other real issues.

    August 22, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Jess, Madisonville, KY

    This was NOT a swipe at Clinton. CNN just wants a chance to put Hillary's name in another headline.

    Did you all watch Michelle's speech? She was brilliant!

    I would be honored to have her as my first lady!!

    August 22, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. D. Carnes

    From my reading of both posts by others and misquoting or quoting out of context by various "news" sources, Obama is quite a threat to the status quo!

    The perceived threat is SO large that the reporters now have to twist someone who actually believes in strong family values! Sad to think that some have to sink that low!

    I trust Americans, like myself, who can see through the myriad 'misquotes' and decided for THEMSELVES who is the best candidate to remove this fine country from the quaqmire & morass of polarized politics and arrogant, self serving foreign policies.

    August 22, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. MaryAnn Oswego IL

    Talk about family values and the first political family that comes to mind are THE CLINTONS...your children are a direct reflection on what values are being taught and demonstrated at home . Chelsea Clinton has to be one of the best role models for any young girl to look up to!!!!! Chelsea Clinton went to public school for her first 8 years ...unlike The OBAMA girls...Chelsea had a working MOM who got her up in the morning and brushed her hair....etc..etc...How is doing your job as a MOM considered a MORAL VALUE....Raising your children to be RESPECTABLE young adults is raising your children with good moral judgements.....Chelsea Clinton has lived through a lot ..always in the public eye...having a MOM like Hillary to look up to and to guide her from right and wrong regardless of what her peers are doing shows me why HILLARY CLINTON should and will be our next PRESIDENT...The Clintons ran the WHITE HOUSE and RAISED a wonderful daughter...from a working mother of 4 wonderful gifted children (educated in the public school system)

    August 22, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Ted, Jacksonville, FL

    Wonder whether anyone who posted comments criticizing cnn for this story would be willing to ditch this particular news organization and start getting the news from some other outfit? Seems to me that's the only way to get the message across. Hit them where it hurts. 'Nuff said.

    August 22, 2007 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Dan, TX

    Unbelievable, any one here who thinks this was a swipe at Clinton is a self-delusional fool. It was not, and anyone who was honest with themselves would know that. Read what she actually said. I'm disgusted with you all.

    August 22, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Can someone from CNN please answer this message with a direct answer? why is CNN so pro Hillary Clinton? what has she ever done to deserve besides be the wife of a man who cheated? come on america

    August 22, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. F Martini Luzerne County Pennsylvania

    Hillary Clinton kept her marriage together and should be applauded for that. She did what any good Christian would have done and showed forgiveness. It is time the news media did the same. Mrs. Clinton has worked her entire life in good works the force behind her husband and it is her time now to be the leader – and she is a leader! That is obvious by the manner in which she presents herself as a Senator, a candidate and as a family person.

    August 22, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. RuthieM

    Unblievable. Media just ought to stop this nonsense and pounce on Romney or Guiliani or McCain or Thompson or somebody for a change. They're always fighting, attacking one another, and lying yet they get away with it. Michelle Obama was speaking of her family, which was very clear. Why does everything Obama and the Obamas say have to be directed towards Hillary Clinton? Because the 'powers that be' want it that way, that's why. Clinton shouldn't flatter herself so much. Attention is not always geared towards her. And it's also past time that Obama be called front-runner. (Romney, whose national poll numbers have always been in the toilet - what 2%, 8% high, is called front-runner.) Obama's been first in the money race both quarters of either party, leads the donor race of either party both quarters and leads in polls in some caucus states (the only place Romney leads, Iowa). Why should Hillary then constantly be called front-runner just because she leads in National polls of 340 likely Democratic primary voters surveyed, who it appears are polled every 2 days?

    August 22, 2007 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Jana G. Los Altos Ca

    No, it was about her own family. Only the repubs would create a false argument and the world falls for it. There are people dying in Iraq and we are talking about "fake" impressions taken out of context. By the way, she is a refreshing hope that people coming onto the world stage are honest, intelligent and not prone to "bumper sticker" rhetoric.

    August 22, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. VM, San Diego, CA

    The quote in context:

    That one of the most important things that we need to know about the next President of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is a good and decent person? 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. They just know that I was at home to tuck them in at night, and it keeps them grounded, and, and children, the children in our country have to know that they come first. And our girls do and that's why we're doing this. We're in this race for not just our children, but all of our children.

    I can't believe you haven't corrected this yet. And I'm with Juanito, it was just bizarre to hear Anderson Cooper announce they were waiting for Hillary's response. I guess you're all working for her at CNN now.

    August 22, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. J Golden Detroit Michigan

    Read the entire text of the speech. Mrs. Obama was pointing out the way she runs her own household, she was promoting her family as a role model – and saying anyone who wants to be in the White House should be one as well.

    This snippet was taken out of context and interpreted to push somebody's political agenda, which is to create division among Democrats, as though that will strengthen a weak Republican field.

    August 22, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. Ashlee Camirand, Wyomissing, PA

    I am not sure whay anyone is making such a big deal about this. yhis is what Political paties do. The try to make their opponents look bad. This is not a new tatic it is just the way it is. And since it is so common we should just read it and move on to what is important, the issues.

    Ashlee Camirand (26)
    Wyomissing, PA

    August 22, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Tim, Pikesville, Maryalnd

    Even though I do not support Obama because due to his lack of experience. I do not believe that his wife was taking a direct hit at Mrs. Clinton. I totally support the Clintons, because together they have done more for me than any other political figure in my lifetime (I am 40). If Barrack wants to make sure he's in the White House, maybe he should eat crow and ask Hillary if he can be her VICE President once she gets the nomination... THAT TICKET WOULD SURELY WIN! Then once he has some experience in the White House as Vice President, maybe then can run alone for the President's after two terms as Vice.

    August 22, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. Christopher, Chicago IL

    This is the type of hogwash journalism that I would expect from one of your rival news networks. Shame on you CNN!

    August 22, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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