November 4th, 2007
08:06 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama turns the page on Clinton

Sen. Barack Obama criticized Clinton Saturday morning in South Carolina.

SPARTANBURG, South Carolina (CNN) - In what was billed as a definitional speech by his campaign, Sen. Barack Obama Saturday accused Sen. Hillary Clinton of "vague, calculated answers" in the most recent Democratic presidential debate and vowed that he will "turn the page" in Washington.

"Much has been said about the exchanges between Senator Clinton and myself this week," Obama said. "Now, understand that Hillary Clinton is a colleague and a friend. She's also a skilled politician, and she’s run what Washington would call a 'textbook' campaign. But the problem is the textbook itself."

Obama, who was interrupted several times by applause and standing ovations in an auditorium at Converse College in Spartanburg, displayed an energy he sometimes lacks on the stump while playing to the enthusiasm of the audience.

"It's a textbook that's all about winning elections, but says nothing about how to bring the country together to solve problems," Obama said. "As we saw in the debate last week, it encourages vague, calculated answers to suit the politics of the moment, instead of clear, consistent principles about how you would lead America."

Though much of the speech was devoted to issues like climate change, Iraq, social security and torture, Obama's speech today was crafted as a follow-up to the much-discussed debate, in which Clinton was assailed by the other Democrats for what they said was her inability to give a definitive answer to questions.

Obama finalized the speech with his aides shortly before appearing on stage.

"I don't believe we can bring about real change if all we do is change our positions based on what's popular or politically convenient," Obama said, in a clear reference to Clinton.

Obama's criticisms, while forceful, were less direct than those of fellow candidate John Edwards, who blasted Clinton on Friday morning for "double talk" in the debate. Edwards said Clinton was not being "straight and honest" with viewers of the debate.

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- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. A. Harrison, Atlanta Georgia

    I think we need to think about how we answer questions. Absolutes are mostly not wise because situations change, that is what the problem is with this current administration. Yes, no, for and against don't represent America's opinion. I think Hillary understands this. We fall into wars this way, we mistreat our citizens this way, we ignore emergencies (Katrina) this way and we continue being biased instead of being open to the melting pot of the USA.

    November 3, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  2. Michael, Irving Texas

    I read nothing here talking about the substance of the comments–just some vague BS about "calculated answers." Calculated answers to WHAT? Where are these calculated answers? What are the questions at stake? Nothing discussed here of substance–moving on now.

    November 3, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  3. RM Vinton VA

    The media annointed front runners in both parties need to buckle up for a very bumpy road ahead. Obama and McCain would be a much more substantial race between statesmen rather than another round of "say what I need to get elected" politicians.

    November 3, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  4. Flabergasted

    Note to Mrs. Clinton- please simplify your answers so that Mr. Obama and those stupid enough to support him can understand where you stand. You are either for something or you are against it. Our current president has taught us that. You are either good or evil, right or wrong, with us or with the terrorists. There must be no room for compromise on anything- that means you have no principles. Like our current president you need to rule, not govern. Barack Obama is running the a Rove like campgain and has the nerve to criticize the system?

    November 3, 2007 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  5. Lioness, Washington DC

    It was a beautiful speech – the kind that could be quoted for years to come.

    Obama had another Democratic-Convention-2004 moment. It was policy-specific, general-election oriented, inspiring and very clear about what voting for Hillary would mean versus a vote for him.

    I am very proud to support this man.

    November 3, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  6. Terri, Plantation, FL

    What Hillary says to your face is one thing. What she's doing behind your back is another. See this article from

    She plays the poor picked on woman while behind the scenes she has Mark Penn and her Rovian attack dogs using every dirty, underhanded trick in the book to smear her opponents.

    Didn't we have enough of this power-driven hypocrisy the last 7 years?

    November 3, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. Uzoma, New York City

    And for those of you who think that Clinton is running a clean campaign, please see the following article. She has been disseminating negative information surreptitiously to the media, encouraging them to do her dirty work for her. Like I say, those of you who support her, I highly recommend that you really get to know her before cross the others off your list. And don’t judge the other candidates for something that your candidate has been doing for weeks…

    An excerpt:
    “If Obama was suggesting that one candidate couldn’t or shouldn’t make it clear that he disagrees with another on matters of substance, well, he didn’t say that then, and he’s not saying that now.
    In an interview with the New York Times last week, Obama said he’s “amused” by “some of the commentary out of the Clinton camp, where every time we point out a difference between me and her, they say, ‘What happened to the politics of hope?’” It’s a “silly” question, he said. Why? Because, he said, “the notion that somehow changing [the] tone means simply that we let them say whatever they want to say or that there are no disagreements and that we’re all holding hands and singing ‘Kumbaya’ is obviously not what I had in mind and not how I function.”
    Nor is it the way the Clinton campaign functions. While Clinton herself generally — but not always — stays above the fray, the Clinton campaign routinely reaches out to reporters to provide information they might use to attack her Democratic opponents. Some of it comes in public statements like the Penn memo the campaign sent around today or the harsh, on-the-record comments Clinton spokesman Phil Singer has made about Edwards’ “flagging campaign” or Obama’s “same old attack politics.”
    Much more of it comes in behind-the-scenes e-mails to newspaper reporters and bloggers — the sorts of e-mails we get from the Clinton campaign but not from the Edwards or Obama camps: On the “off-chance” you didn’t read it, here’s a copy of a Washington Post editorial calling Obama “irresponsible”; just “wanted to flag this item” in which the Huffington Post criticizes Obama on Iran; here’s something Edwards just said about Iraq, and here’s something contradictory he said earlier.
    The last of those came in an off-the-record e-mail message we received from the Clinton campaign late last month. We’re probably breaking the rules in mentioning it, but we figure it’s fair game: If you’re going to claim that the other guys are doing something wrong in calling your candidate’s views into question, you don’t get to pretend that you’re not doing the same. ” index.html?source=rss&aim=/politics/war_room

    November 3, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  8. J. McKinney SW MO

    Obama–you are smarter than this. You know Hillary is trying to be honest in her answers, instead of just parroting yes or no, on questions that can't be answered that easily. I guess you feel you have to attack her, but if you would just say what you want to do, instead of tearing down another democrat, I could respect you more. You may have noticed that Hillary isn't attacking other Democrats. I don't think you or Edwards are doing anything very intelligent, by tearing down the people in your own party.
    It has to be Hillary. Edwards will never make it, but in 8 years, you will probably have experience enough to run successfully for president.
    We are behind you, Hillary. Hang in there.

    November 3, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  9. M. Brathwaite

    The comments on these articles and in the main stream media by the various commentators is revealing the racist Character of the American Nation. The question the media really needs to seek an answer to is theis "IS BARACK OBAMA WHITE ENOUGH TO BE PRESIDENT" His mother was white but that does not make him white enough for a large eenough percentage of white americans to vote for him. He is obviosly very able and has shown the judgement and vision to lead at this time, but HE IS NOT WHITE ENOUGH is he?

    November 3, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  10. Joyce D. Fairbanks, AK

    In a picture taken with Bill Richardson, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Ruth Harkin, Sen. Barack Obama not only refused to put his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance but also refused to say the Pledge. When he was sworn into office, he used the Koran. Now do you really think we want this man as our President? Wake up America!

    November 3, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  11. Simone - California

    Where does Obama stand on these issues? He sure likes to blame Hillary for everything yet doesn't show up for votes nor does he say what he'll do. He sounds like Bush when he ran his first election - how he'll come in and "fix it" - yeah, he's not electable. Hillay has the rolodex and credentials.

    November 3, 2007 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  12. Derf Renbeuh, Henderson, Nv.

    They both voted "yea" for the Dream Act. They feel helping out undocumented immigrants is more important than concentrating on the problems the undocumented are causing to the middle class American citizen. Both of them should take their campaining to the countries of those citizens they are more worried about. If they can't make the U.S.'s problems their "A" #1 priorities they should be questioned on their patriotism to the U.S. and not even be considered for the candidacy as a Democratic nominee. I hear Prince Harry of Nevada has already sent out resumes.

    November 3, 2007 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  13. Jack Stevens

    Obama campaign conjures memory of George W. Bush in year 2000. Big on promises but weak on leadership and experience. In that case, his presidency would be run by a group of shadow democrats that are unknown to the public.

    November 3, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  14. Dan, Saint Louis, MO

    This Obama buzz is sickening. People are projecting all these noble qualities on him. He has proven nothing. He's been a radical liberal in his voting record. How can you be dumb enough to believe the BS he says in all these speeches?

    November 3, 2007 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  15. Axel, RKDA, California

    "Now, understand that Hillary Clinton is a colleague and a friend." - Barack Obama

    And that is one of the many reasons why I won't vote for you. If you think it's fine to attack your friends as if they were your enemies, you are not fit to be President of these United States.

    November 4, 2007 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  16. Axel, RKDA, California

    "Now, understand that Hillary Clinton is a colleague and a friend." - Barack Obama

    And that, Mr. Obama, is one of the many reasons I won't vote for you. If you think it's fine to attack your friends as if they were your enemies, you are not fit to be President of these United States.

    November 4, 2007 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  17. ohgotcha

    I do not want this B.O. in there,A President who doesnt put his hand over his heart for Our Country Pledge, is a false leader,Scary,for one thing,Joining a church 3 months before he stated to run that sounds bogus to me,I know he was sworn in by the koran,all these missed votes well my opinion is he in a mosque/probably spelt wrong whatever it is.I mean 80% missed votes,He reads the koran or he wouldn't of sworn on it.islam does not leave you i worked with a guy who was from Iraq,this past year,he told me once in islam its strong beliefs,to leave it you don't.just like cat stevens cassuis clay,now michael jackson.Obama brings politics of dope,He has a standard turn the page ,Gospel,gay bashing,hillary bashing,inspiring souls of religion,playing the race card,Tha is not politics of hope,to Uniter to divider.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Senator Biden said “I wonder why he wasn’t there to vote,” Biden said. “We all knew that this vote was coming up.” Senator Biden said that because Obama has blamed scheduling for his, once again, missed vote. Readers of Big Pink know Obama has a long dodgy history of missed votes, of being in the room but not voting, of being in the room and instead of voting “yea” or “nay” voting with a schoolchild’s “present”.

    Obama has been lying. Obama has been lying continuously. CNN yesterday, for the first time, called Obama out

    November 4, 2007 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  18. Christine NJ

    Regarding the attacking Sen. Hillary on questions for illegal immigrant Driver License. I accept Sen. Hillary answer, because, illegal immigrant are still human, the issue should take time to processing, and will get involve lot of situation, now just the begining, we have to see the whole picture then make the final decision. Sen. Hillary handle the way very perfect, not like other candidate, simple answer as child, not smart enough, not qualify to be the president.

    November 4, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  19. Anonymous

    He's just jealous just like the rest of them cuz they know Hilary Clinton is gonna win this election.

    November 4, 2007 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  20. Garstol Atlanta CA

    Hitler News Network HNN. You tell them CNN, posting what you want to control the news.

    November 4, 2007 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  21. Juanito, Washington, DC

    "When he was sworn into office, he used the Koran. Now do you really think we want this man as our President? Wake up America!

    Posted By Joyce D. Fairbanks, AK : November 3, 2007 11:25 pm "

    HUH? Obama is a Christian, so why would he have been sworn in with a Qu'ran? You must be confusing Obama with Rep Keith Ellison, who was sworn in with a Qu'ran in January.

    I guess to you, all blacks look alike.

    What an idiot.

    November 4, 2007 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  22. Charlee, San Jose, CA

    Has anyone really read H.R.1400( see for yourself it it gives Bush the go ahead for a war. Next, did Sen. Clinton say she endorsed the right for license to illegals, it sounded like she agrees that something needs to happen and that was a good start/direction/idea, but never endorsed the idea. Those of you who do not like nor trust Hillary, sounds to me because she is not telling you what you want to hear the way you want to hear it. Instead of taking the words of other politicians, start researching for yourself what these politicians really stand for and believe, not what their opponents say. "I just read that Sen. Obama is missing quite a bit of voting, which is part of his responsibility as an elected senator. So how can he criticize on issues he has not voted for one way or another? and Mr. Edwards, well he's not even in office anymore, he most likely gets his 411 the same way we all get it (ok I'm sure he still has some clout at the White House.), nevertheless, we need to remember, promises are always made during a campaign but often broken when won, why, because it takes the senate and house to make it happen, and there must be a majority in order for it to pass, so lets all start electing the right people into the right places, the ones that work together.

    November 4, 2007 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  23. sonya, atlanta, ga

    Obama will be the next president of the united states. And for all you racist, koolaid drinking sickos- I feel sorry for you, because if you represent the ideals of America than no president can make us as great as we used to be. I will not and can not believe that my fellow americans are spew this much hatred, and if it's true, then say good bye to America the great.

    November 4, 2007 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  24. alan St Louis MO

    I never seen clinton supporters use FACTS


    1)Clinton voted YES for IRAQ war
    2)Clinton voted YES for IRAN that gives Bush the green light to attack IRAN
    3) The first 2 Is the biggest issue that upset america. The Illegimit war in IRAQ and the so near future war in IRAN and CLINTON VOTED YES FACT FACT FACT

    4) She made a harsh attack on Obama for saying he will open Diplomacy talks with IRAN. I beleive the word NAIVE was used. then several months latter said she will open diplomacy talks with IRAN. does the word HIPOCRITE fit in.

    Which President was responcible for the republican take over of congres????? PRESIDENT CLINTON elected in 1992 and lost congress in 1994 WHY????
    If clinton does win the whitehouse in 2008 the republicans will get control of congess in 2010.

    RNC wants clinton to run for the white house.

    1) She is a lighting rod for the republican party and will push the swing voters to vote republican.
    2) Even with the out rage amaerica feels about IRAQ, Clinton on the ticket can counter the effects. Causing the race for the white house be counted to the very last vote to see who wins. Any other canidate will be a shoe in. (Biden Obama Edwards)
    3) IF she does win the White House the RNC still wins. After a year or two of the same old Clinton tactics the race in 2010 will put congress in RNC hands agin.
    4) The 2012 whitehouse run after 4 years of same old clinton will give a shoe in victory for the repubicans.

    Back to squarre one. RNC has the white house and RNC has congres. sounds like another attack on americia in 2012 and another illegimit war in the middle east.
    5) Clinton voted more like a republican then any other canidate. FACT FACT FACT

    Why vote for clinton?????????????

    IF you a clinton suporter and clinton wins please hyperlink this post and reread it in 2012 so I can say I TOLD YOU SO.

    The best canidate to fix our country and diploamcy around the world is Biden. But this country dont elect people by IQ,Wisdom,Smarts. We elect by popularity. And is why we have a cowboy in the white house going loney tune on the world.

    November 4, 2007 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  25. Hank, Fort Myers, FL

    He decries politics as usual–and expects to be an agent of change? As President–in order to get even a few things on his agenda done within our constintutional, congressional, and judicial system–he will most definitely need to collaborate, concilliate, and compromise–or he will be ineffective. By trying to tell Americans he is above all that–is disingenuous. Look at Mr. Veto right now: nobody likes him, even his cronies have fled, congress won't cooperate with him at all...a one man President. Obama is naive on the deals he will need to make to get the job done, or is deceptive in a key plank of his platform. Hillary, logically portrays someone who can be a deal maker with power brokers and government leaders–by using leverage, the law, etc...her approach seems more logical and realistic to the actual demands of the job of President.

    November 4, 2007 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
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