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. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    I haven't heard Sen. Clinton declare the "Mission Accomplished." She has repeatedly asserted that she has to earn every vote and that she is prepared to do so.

    But twisting Sen. Clinton's words or simply putting his own in her mouth is turning out to be a typical Obama tactic. From misrepresenting Sen. Clinton's Kyl-Lieberman vote to distorting her position on country-to-country negotiations v. face to face meetings with leaders, this is simply more of the same.

    October 18, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. Al Andres

    Hey Senator Obama I thought your wife can take on Bill Clinton. How come, Obama also said Bill Clinton's popularity in Democratic circles plays a significant role in wife Hillary's large lead in the Democratic field. So do you mean to say your wife is not popular. I thought she can take on Bill Clinton.

    October 18, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Bob, Austin, Texas

    It makes no difference what Obama and Hillary say or do now that Colbert is in the race. Colbert-Colbert 2008!

    October 18, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. Sarah

    I am 100% in Barack's corner (and Michelle's too)!

    October 18, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  5. lynn farmington hills mich

    Hillary people know THEY CAN'T TAKE A JOKE!!!LIGHTEN UP ALREADY. If you can't take a lighthearted moment where a man jokes then how in the world are you gonna take a knock down drag out fight next year???? STOP PLAYING VICTIMS ALL THE TIME. THAT'S WHAT I DON'T LIKE ABOUT HILLARY. And I'm a black woman, I don't like that she she entices black women to feel victimized all the time. Obama doesn't do that, he says his wife can take on anybody in a lighthearted way on JAY LENO. good gried get over yourselves.
    AT LEAST HE DIDN'T CALL BILL NAIVE AND FRANKLY IRRESPONSIBLE LIKE HRC CALLED HIM. And Obama didn't play the victim card like y'all are doing. This is getting old fast. Hillary can handle this and so can Bill. RELAX it was Jay Leno, NOT A DEBATE. IT WAS NOT SERIOUS. The audience understood it to be lighthearted banter that's why they laughed and clapped.

    October 18, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  6. Mary Ann Gigliuto, San Francisco, CA

    When did Hillary declare "Mission Accomplished"? Barack, you have a lot of nerve putting words in people's mouths. Hillary is not taking this election for granted and neither should you.
    I'm voting for the only candidate that I trust and that's Hillary.

    October 18, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. Maria, Houston

    Lilian, NY,

    Hillary Clinton is running as "a woman and a mother" – well, than it should have been her DUTY AS A WOMAN AND A MOTHER to speak up against the war and prevent sensless killing of thousands of young soldiers, children and civilians.

    Not all female senators were "mislead" or afraid to oppose the war – D.Feingold, B.Boxer and others were among those 23 senators who opposed the war. Clinton did not even bother to study reports. And now she wants our vote "as a woman and a mother"?
    I am a mother, I don't want anybody's kids to die in a stupid war and I'll never vote for Hillary Clinton.

    October 18, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. Jackie Conway, Broadview, Illuinois

    Pay attention, folks! 1st > Mr. Obama > the Presidency of the United States is NOT AN ENTRY LEVEL JOB POSITION !.
    There is zero chance he will get the nomination and no chance Billary shoud get it. Those of you that think Bill
    will have any say should just give up everything you own right now.

    October 18, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  9. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Bill Clinton is a great speaker and debater, and therefore can easily beat Michelle in a debate. Just watch Bill Clinton's excellent debating skill in You Tube belittling Mike Wallace of Fox News, very fun indeed.

    While I wish Obama luck, I see little chance he gets the nomination. Obama doubled his ads than hillary in Iowa, but he still lost to hillary by additional few points lately. Bottom line: people in iowa are not listening to him. He appears wasting his money there.

    Obama is unelectable because he is a black man living in 2008 America, in addition to being perceived as lacking in leadership and too "green." He won't win a single red state, and would lose most purple and even some blue states.

    Hillary will get the Dem nomination and be a formidable general election candidate because she will win every blue state, most purple states, and then grab some red states (at least she'll win arizona, unlike Gore who lost it in florida because he could not even in his turf).

    Hillary does not have to paint the whole America blue. All she needs is to win one more state than john kerry.

    A new poll puts another crimp in the Hillary-is-unelectable argument, finding that she's beating Rudy Giuliani in head-to-head matchups in the top three swing states.
    The new Quinnipiac poll found that she's leading Rudy in Pennsylvania (48%-42%), Ohio (46%-40%), Florida (46%-43%). Her support there appears to be as deep as it is wide.

    Hillary is the only Dem to beat Rudy in all three states. Obama loses to Rudy in Florida and Pennsylvania but beats him in Ohio.

    That is a simple electoral vote math for hillary to win and obama to lose.

    October 18, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Has anyone commenting negatively actually seen Michelle Obama speak? I suggest going to youtube and watching her introduce Obama at the Iowa State Fair, the speech she gave on "fear" and how we need to overcome it in order to take back our country.

    It was probably one of the most stirring speeches I've ever heard in my life. Far, far more relevent and sincere than anything I've ever heard Bill or Hillary Clinton say.

    It came from a place so deep down, so honest and passionate, that I have absolutely no doubt that Michelle Obama would mop the floor with Bubba.

    Obama is one of the greatest leaders this country has ever seen and we're lucky he has such a smart, savvy, sincere wife that talks the talk and walks the walk.

    Obama 08

    October 18, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  11. Uriee, CA

    Lillian from NY,
    You are right. hillary voted for the war so that her NY voters could not see her as un-american. Just one more proof ypu have given us for Clinton being calculating and deceptive. Obama at that time was gearing up for a senate election but guess what, he still stood up in a rally and said he was against the war. Just like he stands up in front of auto-makers and tells them they need to cut carbon emissions. Not calculating like Hillary was. Oh and also do us the same favor and forget that Obama is a colored person and see if you think the same of him.

    October 18, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. Pete, Washington

    Bravo, Barack!!!!!

    You have it all, integrity, poise, good judgment, a vision for America, and a great sense of humor...I am sure that Michele could do quite well debating Bill. Don't forget, she is a excellent lawyer that was NOT disbarred for lying under oath, nor did she lie to the American people about an affair.

    There are those, like Marc Penn, who want to continue the 'myth' about her 'inevitablity'. We are tired of the Clinton Machine trying to shove it down our throats, but guess what Marc, the public is 'not going to swallow it'...Go get'em Barack, we're behind you 100%.

    October 18, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  13. pam Eugene,OR

    Thanks Jessica,
    I really enjoyed the blog at abc. Very informative. Who knew she would be so brazen as to hold a luncheon for RURAL Americans at a lobbiying firm for Monsanto in DC. She must really think we are stupid or she just doesn't care about throwing the dirty money in our faces.
    I want hope.
    Obama 08

    October 18, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  14. NC

    Take it easy there hard charger. You know that Bill and Hillary rule. Go HILLARY 2008!!!!

    October 18, 2007 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. Lakeisha Williams SC

    Michelle Obama is NO FIRST LADY material...she reminds us of Kerry's wife last election, she has not helped her husband at all! infact she has said if he doesnt win IOWA, its all a dream, she doesnt believe in his chances no more than the rest of the country


    October 18, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |

    Our great country is dire need of both Bill & Hillary's experience and clout with the rest of the world. They both have shown they can hit the floor running, even after 8 years as First Lady, Hillary continued to work hard for a better country and then was elected Senator, when she could have retired and enjoyed her wealth. Hillary is admirable, powerful and higly intelligent sucessful woman!
    They are the only ones who can begin quickly fixing the mess Bush has made.

    I only wish we could elect her today!



    October 18, 2007 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  17. mike,ny

    the more i read about this, it is more like obamba in 2028 or 2048.

    October 18, 2007 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. Jennifer H., Albany NY

    I think just about anyone could take the Clintons in a debate. Bill and Hillary are so reputably dishonest that no matter how smooth they sound, you would have to be a fool to swallow what they claim.

    October 18, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  19. sue

    I have never heard Hillary say mission accompolished,hes twisting those words with gbush.as bush has said this. so who side are you on Obama its not the people or your own party,i see your leaning to the republicans pandering.I dont like canidates who play games like 4th graders.so when you grow up and long after Hillary retires and get us on track,with a Husband who's a Rhode's Scholar to back her,then maybe you can be a more polished canidate to run for the most powerful office.

    October 18, 2007 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  20. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I can picture Bill now..."I did not have relations with that woman" – yeah exactly what we need again...."depends on what is....is"

    October 18, 2007 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  21. ronnie - knoxville ,tn.

    Obama continues to campaign on nothing – well empty promises. I say empty promises because all promises mean nothing unless you have some experience to back it up. He doesn't know how to run a business, he doesn't have executive qualifications the way a governor or mayor does. All he has done is vote - he even declined voting on key issues to appear more populist. He wants to be all things to all people, but ends up being nothing.

    October 18, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  22. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton, FL

    You morons...He was joking...Get off of the computer and watch it for yourself...I feel bad for our country's future if this is how we research things.

    October 18, 2007 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  23. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Buggie, San Diego, you are right and your comment is the best one on politicalticker so far. I wish Obama's supporters read and listen carefully. Obama didn't pay attention what Hillary said, just runs his mouth fast.
    How dare to spit such a shameful idea, Michelle is not even enough to present with Bill Clinton at same place.
    Obama disgraced Democrat Party and Former President, I would like to suggest to expel Obama from the Party. Obama said he is smart, he can run again as Independent. Obama made a lots of mistake but this is the worst one, he is a disqualified candidate.

    October 18, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  24. Busso Boston MA

    It is good that Michelle can whip Billy, because Obama certainly doesn't stand a chance against Hillary.

    October 19, 2007 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  25. Blake Bluebonnet SC

    Perhaps Michelle should be running instead of Obama then.

    October 19, 2007 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
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