October 18th, 2007
03:12 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama on Leno: Michelle can take on Bill Clinton

Obama appeared on Leno Wednesday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - His chief rival for the Democratic nomination has a famous husband, but White House hopeful Barack Obama said Wednesday night his wife Michelle could go head-to-head with former President Bill Clinton.

"My wife, is no slouch, you see - if there's a debate between Michelle and Bill, you know, I'm putting my money on my girl," he said on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The Illinois Democrat also laughed off Leno's suggestion that he might want to reconsider leaving his wife alone with the former president.

"Michelle can handle herself," he quipped. "She doesn't play."

Obama also said Bill Clinton's popularity in Democratic circles plays a significant role in wife Hillary's large lead in the Democratic field. The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll registered Clinton at 51 percent nationally, compared to Obama’s 21 percent.

"Particularly among democrats, Bill Clinton is very popular," Obama said. "He's a great strategist. He's very smart when it comes to the politics of the Democratic Party."

"And, you know, there are a lot of chips out," he added. "People - you develop a lot of relationships when you're president. So that's part of the challenge that we have to face is making sure that people know me as well as they know her and as well as they know Bill."

But Obama sharply brushed aside suggestions Clinton was unbeatable and said the New York Democrat's early coronation as the party's nominee reminded him of President Bush's now infamous appearance on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

"Hillary is not the first politician in Washington to declare 'Mission Accomplished’ a little too soon," he said to laughter and cheers. "So we've got a long way to go before the first vote is cast."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. Sue in Michigan

    I find it so interesting that every single candidate spends more time talking about Hillary than they do about their plans for the country.

    October 18, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Uriew, CA

    CNN, Why do you phrase the headline like this so that you can encourage the anti-Obama sentiments, how about this headline:
    Obama: Hillary is not first to declare mission accomplished
    At least that was said on a serious note and the Michelle coment was more of said as a joke.

    October 18, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. Dennis, Akron,Ohio

    Sorry Barack...as far as Hillary goes, Mission IS VERY Accomplished. But you will be a good candidate once she retires...

    October 18, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Karen, NYC

    Obama has my vote 100% ! Everyone woman in America and across our great earth will see Michelle Obama as a role model.

    October 18, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Svetlana Devonshire-Mattling, Dallas, TX

    Oh Barack, you are her husband that's why! You know, naturally my husband will say: "My wife is splendidly brilliant, highly educated, stunningly beautiful, heavenly generous, loving and caring. If there is a debate between Michelle Abama and my wife, I am putting my money and blood on my lady!"

    What else?

    October 18, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Obama, you're overreaching! When has Hillary said "mission accomplished"? Quite the contrary, she has said that she's running as if she were 20 points behind and is not taking any votes for granted.

    October 18, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Steve, LYONS, CO

    Obama's beginning to stink like a dead fish.

    His wife would be chopped into chutney within three minutes of any debate with Bill Clinton. Obama sounds like an idiot, and...why even say something this obviously false?

    His desperation is beginning to make him less attractive than Edwards or Richardson. Maybe Obama should work harder on why even blacks like the Clintons far more than Obama.

    October 18, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Hank, Palm Springs, CA

    What an arrogant man Obama is turning out to be .. and not very bright at all.

    October 18, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    Yes, the chips are down on the table. But so far your message of hope and faith are not enough in this race. Sen. Obama may have good intentions and makes political promises well enough. But what we need are specifics on "what" he would do if elected. Not flowery speeches filled with vague political promises. That is why his message is not resonating.

    We don't want just a good speaker, we want someone that will lead. All I have heard thus far is someone that could fill in as an announcer on the nightly news.

    Telling it like I see it,

    October 18, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Cody, Iowa City, Iowa

    Wow. She can beat Bill Clinton in a debate....HA! That is both arrogant and hilarious. He is getting so desperate. He takes lobbyist money too (Roll Call today), he is attacking a very successful and popular democratic president, and his wife (who is the one running) who is more popular than obama would ever hope to be in the party. He needs to do us all a favor and leave the campaigning to Hillary, Edwards, and Richardson; real candidates.

    October 18, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. Josh

    I don't think I'd let me wife anywhere near Bill Clinton.

    October 18, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. pl. at the UN for a while.

    Mr Barak Hussein Obama, why, in heaven, you cannot get it?
    It's sad, I know, but the American electors are not ready for all that color in the White House–like it or not.

    October 18, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. H. Chase, Austin, TX

    I have no doubt that Mr. Obama's wife is very intelligent and normally would be able to debate with other intellectual indviduals. To suggest that she would win a debate with former President Clinton is an insult. He is probably one of the best speakers/debaters of my generation as well as others.

    Disrespect will not win votes, Mr. Obama.

    October 18, 2007 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Janet. Chicago, Ill

    It is so not over for Obama. However, the pundits and Republicans want us to admit that Hillary has already won the nomination. When (not if) Obama gets the nomination, it will all work harder (the media and the Republicans) which is how it should be!

    Come on People! Let's have a real competition – haven't we had enough of those that feel they are annointed!

    Please oh please do not be fooled by the hype!!

    October 18, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Providence, RI

    Obama-Obama-Obama-getting tired of this. Iowa's 93% of the population are whites, and caucus goers are 65 and older. Do you really believe that Iowa will vote for a young, inexperienced, and an African American candidate? It is an illusion, but I respect Obama a lot, and I do not BELIEVE that he can win the primary. Sorry...Remember, Harold Ford, Jr.? He is very intelligent, articulate, and charismatic, like Obama, but he lost to Corker by 5%, because of racism. It still exists, and it bites.

    October 18, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Jerry Shen, State College, PA

    Oh, well, that's a very bad comment from Obama. I respect him. But, I never believe he can win, only one reason I don't trust his experience. Although he is good at using his mouth, he hasn't proven anything I can trust his words.

    October 18, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    "Michelle can handle herself, she doesn't play"?

    Disgraceful comments from a man who would be president. Mr. Leno should never have made his lead-in comment, and Senator Obama should not have responded.

    Believe it or not most of us have had our fill of a sophomoric, moronic, still in college fraternity pledge sense of humor; President Bush is all of the above.

    We want someone that is going to take seriously the problems facing this nation.

    Animal House is over, let's get serious.

    October 18, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Joe, DC

    Its a little different here Sen. Obama: its not Sen. Clinton who is saying the nomination battle is over, its the democratic electorate. And I'm inclined to believe them rather than you.

    October 18, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Aaron, Saint Paul MN

    "Hillary is not the first politician in Washington to declare 'Mission Accomplished’ ".

    That was brilliant! Obama aced the Leno interview last night. Fist of all, he was actually FUNNY, but more importantly, he showed how sharp and smart he is. I hope they put up the video on YouTube. Everyone (especially Hillary supporters) needs to watch that video.

    October 18, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. caridad + usa

    This man makes me so proud to be an American. He has my vote, he has my support and he is my thoughts and prayers.

    Homosexuals and stem-cells are not our enemies people- crude intolerance, ignorance, fear and complacency are at the heart of all our ills.

    And for those that will respond to these words, I respectfully say:
    For those that claim to be a Christian, conduct yourself accordingly even when you hide behind anonymous comments. For those that claim to support our troops, don't go willingly along with the erosion of our basic rights and protections. Finally, those that love this country, have the courage to support your fellow citizens' right to voice their opinion even when it is in contradiction to your own.

    May God bless all the peoples of the world and help us to see that we are all his children and no one of us is greater than the rest of us.

    October 18, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. RD Alabama

    Bill Clinton is a very likeable guy, But i'm sure Mrs. Obama is awesome too. Only differience is Bill was President. If it had not been for Bill Hillary would not be in the senate nor would she be running for president. I would hope if she won the presidency Bill would be calling the shots cause i'm not convienced she is capable. Only problem is she don't have to listen to him. And obviously their has been a comunication problem in there marrige when they were in the whitehouse the first time. I have pretty good respect for Pres. Bill Clinton ( except for the Monica days )and I feel he has one of the best Idea's of whats going on in the world today. Even the Bush family has been close to him. and I feel that has to do with the fact that the Bush's and Bill Clinton know what the United states is facing today. The President see's classified Info that the average person does not see must be a real load on one man. But with all the respect I have for Bill Clinton I'm still not ready to put my trust In his wife to run this country. Would love to see a Presidential canidate that cares about the USA and not party politics.

    October 18, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Sydney Reagan, Boardman, Oregon

    I don't believe Hillary has declared "mission accomplished". For me, that is just an attempt to through something destructive into the arena on Obama's part. Every time I hear him I feel further alienated.

    October 18, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Maria, Houston

    CNN, since you are so fond of polls, would you mind to post recent poll results reflecting public opinion about quality and accuracy of cable news? LET'S GET OPINION POLLS ON CNN!

    October 18, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. TheInsider


    Follow the money...

    October 18, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. Rick, Forestville Maryland

    He's got to be kidding.
    She's doing a lot of talking,she's
    his version of the great Jame's Carville
    Maybe his wife should run against
    Hillery, she'd probably do a lot
    better, maybe 51 % for Hillery and
    a whoppin 21% for Michelle Obama

    October 18, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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