November 26th, 2007
08:39 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama: Yes, I inhaled—that was the point

Obama discussed his past drug use Saturday.

AUDUBON, Iowa (CNN) - Earlier this week in New Hampshire Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke candidly about his past experimentation with drugs and alcohol in high school, and on Saturday—after a question on medicinal marijuana—Obama was prodded a bit further and asked whether or not he had ever inhaled.

"I did," the senator from Illinois said to light applause. "It's not something I'm proud of. It was a mistake as a young man."

The question was a reference to a line made famous by former President Bill Clinton who, while admitting to trying marijuana, said he did not inhale.

"I never understood that line," Obama continued. "The point was to inhale. That was the point."

On the campaign trail on Saturday, GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney said Obama's earlier comments set a bad example for young people.

"I agree with the sentiment that nobody's perfect and most of us, if not all of us, in our youthful years have engaged in various indiscretions we wouldn't want to have paraded in the front of a newspaper," the former Massachusetts governor said in New Hampshire. "On the other hand if we're running for president, I think it's important for us not to go into details about the weaknesses and our own failings as young people for the concern that we open kids thinking that it's ok for them."

On the issue of medicinal marijuana, Obama said that if the "best way to relieve pain and suffering is through medicinal marijuana," then it's something he's open to.

He added it would concern him much more if people were allowed to grow their own to use whenever they were simply "feeling really tense" and "needed a joint."

-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa • Race to '08
soundoff (494 Responses)
  1. cameron layer,maui,hawaii

    This what I was waiting for. As far as Mr. Romney naysaying his remarks, I can't wait for him to get bit by his past. Younger people will identify more with someone who tried and then said no, rather then avoiding the issue or covering it up. As Mr. Barack said, the point is to inhale. Bravo Zulu to you for those remarks.

    November 25, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. JayCee, Washington, DC

    Mitt Romney misses the point, and his response is typical of most politicans!!! Apparently, Mitt Romney prefers to "sugar coat" his responses rather (which is not surprising) than being truth. Romney joins the list of hypocrites running for public office.

    Barack Obama's openess is refreshing!!!

    November 25, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Craven, Las Vegas, NV

    This should go on the who gives a $hit channel.

    November 25, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Scott Houston TX

    I like how the people insulting "pot-heads" and "druggies" cannot type grammatically correct to save their moronic lives.

    Pot use does not equal drug abuse. Drugs are bad. Pot is not. Those that don't know have NEVER tried it and are making an irrational claim against it out of IGNORANCE.

    Obama is, at least, honest. Something the bush administration knows nothing about. Or the clintons for that matter.

    Besides, your kids all smoke pot and you don't even know it. Wake up Amoronica.

    Can I just secede from the union???

    November 25, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. darrellg, albany oregon

    Silly, who cares. What is more important is how he dealt with it. How did he eventually overcome the peer pressure that lead him to 'inhale' in the first place.
    And who cares if a a few hundred thousand folks in the US are smoking pot for 'releif of stress'... beats drinking a six pack. Guess how many deaths by alcohol related vs. for pot?
    Alcohol is a far greater and more far reaching problem in our society than pot would ever be, even if legalized completely.

    November 25, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. Taylor

    This isnt fair to him, we all make mistakes. He's a great man and at least he told the truth about himself. Most of us wouldn't do that in a life time.

    November 25, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. Nguyen - Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Mitt Romney is an idiot. For once, I want to feel that my leader is a legitimate human being trying to make a difference for us (as a country) and for everyone else (in this world).

    – Hat's off to Obama.

    November 25, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. Tom, Charlottesville, VA

    I don't care if he smoked it, and I'm glad he answered the question straight up. Romney's statement is ludicrous, the usual priggish moralizing from a man whose policies would hurt millions if not billions of people.

    November 25, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  9. DEE, Nashville, TN

    It's a shame that we are used to living in the spin zone that many find fault when someone tells the truth! What have we come to? Have we've gotten to the point where we "can't handle the truth?!"

    November 25, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  10. victoria ariel charter naperville illinois

    gooooooooo obama!!! yay!

    November 25, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. Craig, Carrollton, TX

    Prohibition Creates Drug Dealers ... Drug Dealers now operate in our residential areas and schools. Schools are now one of the few places where dealers have a captive audience: our children. There's no greater failure in the war on drugs than that. As a person who lives in Dallas, TX I can tell you the impact of an unregulated out-of-control drug market has impacted our communities with the dozens of kids ODing on heroin in the late 90's and now kids getting ahold of "cheese" heroin concoctions. These drugs didn't come about until after marijuana was made illegal in 1937. Now the large and lucrative unregulated marijuana market funds these other illicit drug markets that have infiltrated our communities and threaten our youth.

    November 25, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. Mike La Crosse WI

    It's like Obama is speaking directly to 18-year olds. I can tell you right now as a high school senior that this speaks much more directly to anyone my age than any health programs listing long health effects for each drug that one's expected to memorize (incidentally, cannibis seems to be the least harmful drug from these lists). Someone admitting they have done it and telling their wrongdoings is full of integrity.

    What a contrast this guy makes to Hillary, her answers wind like snakes while his cut like arrows to the heart of the matter. As a college-bound Republican who will vote in 2008, I sincerely want Obama to win.

    November 25, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  13. sandy pierce naperville illinois

    do you think if obama admitted murdering someone, robbing a bank, or having sexual intercoarse in his teen years people would just say he was being honest. I think its no different with him taking drugs.

    November 25, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. Jordan Lumberton,Nc

    its about time someone told the truth about their life this is what we neeed to be told abput a FUTURE president

    November 25, 2007 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  15. Dave, Boston, MA

    As far as I can tell, Mitt Romney's problem is that Obama gave an honest answer to the question he was asked. He only "went into detail" because that was the question. What should he have done, lied and told people only what they wanted to hear just to get elected? Oh yeah...that's EXACTLY what Romney did here in Massachusetts.

    November 25, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  16. Seline Armture, Naperville, IL

    obama is legally an impersonation of the second right of any extraordinary personal thus proving that within satisfactory limitations he has contributed a sufficent amount. He should emerse a bit of common sense into the minds of the omniponent and fatulent and have the politically balanced decision of catastrophic events. He knows what peole are enduring and what consequences he might face. You can see it all on his countenance. there is no doubt in my mind that he is the demogratory leader of his day.

    November 25, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  17. Ron Nebraska

    yeah thats what we need a one time muslim turned christian. a one time drug user now doesn't use it anymore. he cant make up his mind what he is or who he wants to be. is he white or is he black? America can not afford this type of misleadership. flip flops belong in the sand whith the other alqueda operatives. send mr.Barack Osama packing.

    Posted By mwk p town florida : November 25, 2007 10:39 am

    Oh no, I'm sorry to inform you that you have violated the gross stupidity clause in the voting rights act and you will not be allowed to cast a ballot for the foreseeable future. Sorry dude!

    November 25, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  18. deidra saneetee of chicago

    obama admitted to squeezing a 16 year olds tits when he was a talkin so then why do you go and say these things n findin ways of beein a fool yous all gots to learn some things aint no high classy grramer gonna prove notin so u can go *&%$#@! *&$%#@ *&^&*%$# selene of naperville!

    November 25, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    obamas a twich

    November 25, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  20. Anthony, Los Angeles CA

    Though I think Senator Obama's stance on decriminalization is a tad bit conservative, his views are a definite step in the right direction for the Democratic Party.

    November 25, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  21. Barry, Miami, FL

    Hooray! A politician that admits he did something bad! Instead of the automatic denial that all politicians these days use, even if they did it in the middle of Times Square on video tape, he said he did it. By doing this it becomes a non-issue that the Repubs can't use against him (yeah, I inhaled, so what?)
    What a refreshing idea! He gets my vote!

    November 25, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  22. amy, Seattle, WA

    This guy is not dependable no matter how many confessions he will make. I don't care about his experimentations, but I am offended by his attempt to use cheap stories to attract voters' trust. He is trying hard to show he is different and special. In the end, he is a politician who is buying votes.

    November 25, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  23. C, Cortlandt Manor, NY

    Didn't we all inhale? Like who believed Bill?!?!?!
    You go Obama...with your inhale, your faith, your stand and your HONESTY!
    What a breath of fresh air!...........C

    November 25, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. Kevin

    "I agree that most of us committed indiscretions when young and these should not be held against us if we grow wiser with age. But Obama has a problem. Whether it's cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco – this guy has always needed chemical assistance to face the day. He's a smart man with a weak psyche.

    Posted By Brian, San Ramon, CA : November 25, 2007 10:20 am"
    Brian from CA. He said that he "tried" marijauna. Though he just stopped smoking cigaretts, I really hope you
    do realize that most people, including ALMOST ALL Presidents, smoked cigaretts prior to the big "social stigma" placed on it in recent years! Maybe you're just too young to remember this BUT smoking was socially accepted at one we'll just overlook your post.

    November 25, 2007 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    This man is incredible. What a great and refreshingly honest President he will make. I have no qualms supporting him.

    November 25, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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