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. Juanito, Washington, DC

    Obviously none of the people attacking Obama actually WATCHED him on Leno, because if you did, you'd know he was kidding around.

    You people are hopeless.

    October 19, 2007 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  2. Noele Chicago, IL

    Hey, great suggestion !! Michelle runs for President. Obama steps aside !

    October 19, 2007 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  3. Yese Clarion IL

    Yea right, Obama would never beat Hillary. He could not even win against Mondale. But, hey, great idea Obama, step aside, and have Michelle run for President.

    October 19, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  4. Musoo Champaighn IL

    Sure, lets start the Michelle campaign.

    October 19, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  5. Yoki Miami FL

    So why did you remove the most appropriate comment ? Is CNN biased. Move asided Obama. Michelle will be running for President.

    October 19, 2007 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  6. Surey Washington DC

    Perhaps we will get a new CNN before election year. Wouldn't that be nice ?

    October 19, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  7. Battie Roanoke VA

    The most important thing, though, is Michelle related to Lynne ?

    October 19, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  8. Hopemonger, Concord, CA

    If Obama wins the primary he can win the general election in November. Right now he has 33% positives with Republicans. However, if Clinton wins the primary she will lose the general with over 40% negatives with Republicans. Granted the Republicans don't have a strong candidate. Let's not hand them the election on a platter. GO OBAMA!

    October 19, 2007 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  9. Zeus Racine, WI

    I really can't take much of this too seriously. Obama can never open his mouth without either attacking one or both of the Clintons. [Then he calls upon God.] He is the BrownBack in the Democratic party – no racial pun or put down intended. He is just another overly zelous religious fruit loop not going anywhere.
    I don't know if the arrogant Michelle would/could beat the ex-president in a debate or not. [Probably not a chance.] Who REALLY CARES?
    As a rational INDEPENDENT, one of my major criteria for a future president is that they not be "Guided by God-Land" but remain firmly rooted in reality.
    None of the candidates out there fit that bill. So, when someone with a brain, who embraces rationality over sheer superstition and baseless fables arrives on the scene, I will gladly give her/him my vote.

    October 19, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  10. Probly Boston MA

    There is nothing funny about Obama and CNN. Would they give our country to Iran ?

    October 19, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. Wakeupidiots Boston MA

    I thought jokes were for Elmer Fudd. This is about the Presidency of the USA.

    October 19, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  12. Dumjay Bowling Green NC

    Send Jay Leno and Obama to Baghdad if they think Politics are about jokes.

    October 19, 2007 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  13. Cooper Haliburty TX

    Totally unclassy Leno. Go to Baghdad and serve a 36 month term in the military, if you think it is so funny.

    October 19, 2007 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  14. Bushay Clarksville UT

    If you think it is such a big joke, should the Presidential debates take place in Baghdad ?

    October 19, 2007 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  15. Venus Smith, E.I., Winter Springs, Florida

    As a 32 year-old woman, it is essential for my generation of voting Americans to imagine the White House occupied by a WOMAN as Commander-in-Chief. I studied U.S. history in high school; women are sidekicks in the political arena, a novelity, really and that is frankly becoming extremely boring in my aging occupation of this world.
    Hillary Clinton was First Lady for 8 years and has been a U.S. Senator for another 2 terms in New York of all places...a tough state to represent, especially after 2001. Don't you see, she didn't divorce Bill Clinton after his very public disgrace to their marital vows. Her response was a homerun. She actually rose to a greater calling for herself and her life, I think, to show her daughter that women really ARE tougher THEN MEN in this world.
    Please understand that I speak from the viewpoint of a heterosexual and a proud bra owner. Therefore, I am rather "normal" and whatever stereotype you, as my reader want to try to label me to discredit my comments, I reject. You need to notice that I continue to observe the objectification of women in this country. If Mrs. Obama is so awesome then why can't she run for political office and have her husband be her greatest public supporter. I am tired of my gender being discredited by pop cliches into functions for male amusement. The global economy and their cultures NEED to be shown that the USA can be competently lead by a WOMAN. Hillary is a wonderful example to WOMEN that have been mistreated by their husbands or some man in their lives WORLDWIDE. Don't go quietly into the night...Stand up and fight for your own voice because INDEPENDENCE is the GOD-GIVEN right to every citizen of this country, of this planet.
    CHANGE? Yeah, I am demanding change for MY COUNTRY for myself and my future children. To support this change, I will even volunteer my engineering services to redesign the Oval Office's private lavatory so the seat can never be left up.

    October 19, 2007 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  16. Totaly Yano, OH

    Hey good idea. Michelle run for President.

    October 19, 2007 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  17. Lenolessamerica Atlanta GA

    Yes, great idea, Wolf, Obama, Leno, have a funny session in Baghdad. Do more funny news about the Presidency of the USA. Real funny issue. Isn't it. Troops stuck in Iraq, and you make jokes about who shoule lead the USA. I hear Kobe is demanding a trade to the Hawks. Funny stuff. Get a life Leno and CNN.

    October 19, 2007 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  18. ByeLeno Los Angeles CA

    Hey, good idea. CNN should all move to Iraq and do their biased newscasts about funny America. If it is so funny, please take your Leno and CNN and relocate to Iraq. I am sure they would enjoy your jokes.

    October 19, 2007 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  19. Clufer Ann Arbor MI

    So why did you put "Michelle for President" at the bottom of your ticker ? Are you biased and Racial ? Get rid of the other garbage on your ticker, and post one statement. "Michelle for President"

    October 19, 2007 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  20. Roso Clavbille CA

    Post the real comments CNN. What are you doing ? Another WMD ? Picking and choosing for Politics ?

    October 19, 2007 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  21. Ronnie.Irving,Texas

    She isn't good enough to even blow Bill let alone tak him on.

    October 19, 2007 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  22. Jake, San Diego CA

    Man you guys need to get a sense of humor. Jeez, why do people take things so seriously. What do you expect him to say? "Yea Bill will beat my wife, she'd have no shot."

    And just because Bill was president doesn't make him invincible he's just a man just like everyone else. So lighten up and get a sense of humor, maybe you won't get upset all the time.

    October 19, 2007 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  23. Olson Johnson -- Rock Ridge

    I would pay money to see Michelle Obama debate Bill Clinton.

    Those of you who think she would be overmatched obviously don't know her very well and never heard her speak. She is a strong woman who is very smart and confident in herself and in her husband. She is also a lawyer. Bill Clinton used to be a lawyer too before he got dis-barred. I honestly don't know who would win since Bill is pretty sharp himself, but I bet she could hold her own.

    To all the Obama haters out there, you are in for a rude awakening when he wins Iowa and then the nomination and then the Presidency.

    He's raised almost two million dollars in a little over a day, has the most donors (350,000+), has raised the most money since the campaign began, turns out the biggest most impassioned crowds, including 24,000 in New York a few weeks back, has dozens of military and foreign policy experts working for him, has a great domestic agenda and all you can say is "Hillary is ahead in the polls" and make false statements that Barack doesn't have enough experience?

    Well, cling to that for as long as it lasts, Clintonistas, which will be right about the time people start actually voting/caucusing.

    If Hillary plays her cards right, President Obama might even find her a spot somewhere in his administration.

    Barack has the experience, leadership skills, character and judgment to be a great President. Furthermore, he should not have to wait behind someone like Hillary who is not as qualified. The sooner you people realize that, the better off everyone is going to be.

    October 19, 2007 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  24. Dom

    Obama is down to earth, forthright and real.

    Vote Obama!

    October 19, 2007 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  25. Cindy Davis, Las Vegas NV

    I was registered as a Republican for 28 years. After seeing what Mr. Bush did to our country I know the best person to fix this mess is Mr. Obama. I am registered as a Democrat and will do all I can to get Obama elected.

    October 19, 2007 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
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