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. Cynthia, Montreal, Quebec

    Has no politician yet learned this phrase – My personal life is non of your business.

    November 25, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. Kenneth WG, New Jersey

    1. We need someone who is not sleeping with the biggest corportations.

    2. We need a candidate/President who can be candid. Obama is most candid, for obvious reasons.

    3. We need a candidate/President who relates to a diverse, and not always rich lifestyle.

    4. We need a candidate/President who has the vigor of youth and wisdom of experience to help guide us in the 21st century.

    5. We need a candidate/President who exhibits the nature of a wise, forward-leaning Leader.

    Senator Barack Obama is this person. We need him–Period.

    –A member of the active military, a registered Republican, and a Patriotic American.

    November 25, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  3. Andrew Dykers Summerville SC

    The way we talk about this issue is so strange to me... why would the senator, or anyone else for that matter, be afraid of people growing their own marijuana? Are you familiar with alcohol and tobacco? The current laws, and our overall perception as a society, really need to change. After I inhale, I do not freak out, or harm anyone, or behave irrationally... Jesus said, "it's not that which goes in the mouth that defiles a man, but rather what which comes out." And I agree.

    November 25, 2007 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  4. R.V. New Jersey

    The standards of respectability for the position of the President have just dropped ten more notches.

    November 25, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  5. randy,newyork,NY

    It is an honest thing for obama tell young people that he did drugs when he was a tenager.and doing drugs will not make you cool.I trust him to be next president.I will vote for him.barack the vote america!

    November 25, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. Tom, Florida

    I never understood why Clinton was vilified for his "I didn't inhale" comment. I did not inhale either. I took hits to be sociable, but did not like what it did to me. I applaud Obama for admitting he engaged in the same activity that most of his peers did, and that are voters now. The ultimate hipocracy would be for the boomers that smoked pot at the same time he did condemned it now. His lack of hipocracy is refreshing.

    November 25, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  7. randy,new york,NY

    Obama 08!

    November 25, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. Charles, NY

    Imagine how low our standards must have descended when a candidate reveals past drug use, and the electorate merely showers him with praise for his honesty! We deserve better from our leaders. Very well, Barack Obama is being honest. I for one, would prefer a president who could honestly claim to have had the judgment and wherewithal not to engage in such stupid behavior as a youth.

    November 25, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. David, Los Angeles CA

    Look, people, please use your head for once and think about what is going on here:

    Obama smoked pot in his youth. That's not being denied here. And the fact that he did smoke pot in his youth means it WAS going to to come out during the election whether Obama wanted it or not. It was inevitable. Given that circumstance, he has chosen to hang a lantern on his own problem...i.e., he's beating his opponents to the punch and telling the people something unfavorable about him. This allows him to mitigate any leverage opponents might have had on him if he didn't hang a lantern.

    I'm a big supporter of hanging lanterns: it's a good election tactic, it allows many of us to move past the often-pointless debates and onto the real issues, and it encourages honesty in the race.

    Please, people, start using your heads and think with a dual lens.

    November 25, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  10. randy,new york ,NY

    Obama is the most honest presidentail candidates out there.and hillary have to disclose her records during the time she was first lady.she keep saying that she have experience.her record will prove it.

    November 25, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. Alabi, Gaithersburg, MD

    In my humble opinion, i think Obama is set to change the face of American politics forever with his forthright and candid answers. I am in a hurry to process my citizenship in order to vote for positive change that will affect my children's generations.

    November 25, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. Roger, Fresno, CA

    Why shouldn't I be able to do drugs in the privacy of my own home? I SHOULD be able to! America is not free until drugs are legalized. End of discussion.

    Obama rocks...and I like Clinton and Edwards too. Heck, we got three good ones to choose from this time. That's rare!

    November 25, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  13. Keith, Baghdad IRAQ

    you know all this bashing is really getting very old. very fast. you know i would vote for the guy without the smear campaign, the guy who comes over to iraq and sees whats actually being done over here and then decides his point of view. who cares if you smoked some pot in your early days? most people do. that is not something that should be even considered when running for president.
    about iraq- i am a soldier currently in iraq, and i think that its time for the iraqi people as a whole to stand up and take esponsibility of their own country. if you dont like it, CHANGE IT. isnt that what happened to america? hell, we even decided to govern ourselves because we paid unfair taxes. now why cant these people do this? they are being terrorized by a vast minority. stand up for yourselves people

    November 25, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  14. randy,newyork,NY

    Honest that,s what we want in white house and obama has it. Barack the vote america.

    November 25, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  15. Marie,CA

    To Muhammad,LA:
    Ok, what you are saying, you prefer him to lie?..or he will say; I did not inhale.

    November 25, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  16. Eli Marietta, Ohio

    "This guy is a buffoon. So what's the moral of the story? Instead of giving his plans for America, he is fixated on whether he inhaled or not. We have heard it before, please move on, address the issue that you couldn't articulate time and time again, in the debates."

    "Posted By Jeremy : November 25, 2007 6:27 am "

    Don't blame the candidate, blame the media and the guy who asked the question. Obama told the truth, and the media is obsessed with this issue for some reason. The media focuses on these stupid stories, and you never see the issues discussed. That wouldn't make for good ratings, and look, over 148 comments on this post alone. It's all about ratings people. I have news for everyone, the Media is trying to elect the next President, and we all know who they are for.

    November 25, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Lindsay, Loveland, OH

    I definitely disagree with Mitt Romney. Since Barack admitted to that part of his past and said he was not proud of that, it shows his honesty and character. I think that's a more important quality needed for a president.

    November 25, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Obama is a liar, he didn't pay traffic tickets when he was in College until runs Presidential candidate 2007, is he honest? Well educated youth don't inhale drug, Obama's childhood is not a normal, I couldn't believe him to run the President of United States of America. How Obama supporters are blind or deaf, they think Obama is the most honest guy among the candidates, it was totally wrong, his honesty is lower than 17 other candidates. Obama's supporters are making mistake like Republicans. Obama should tell voters in the beginning why now? because people found that he inhaled drug, that's why he confessed now and let his supporters to believe his honesty. The other hand he used his drug experience for election, he didn't care young people's education, only think his election, how selfish and egoist he is. I worry about his candidacy, what is coming for next, this guy is disqualified for the President. We need honor student for the President.

    November 25, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  19. Nando ,Palm Coast,FL

    This is what draws people to Barak his honesty, And people should respect him for it . Which they will.

    And they will see Jan 03,2008 when he wins in Iowa by a landslide,

    The Revolution will be televised!!

    Obama 08

    If he can win Iowa he can win the General Rupublicans know it and so Does Hillary!!!!

    November 25, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  20. david, san diego, california

    good for him. anyone who says the never smoked is probably lying. IM still voting guliani tho

    November 25, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  21. Ms.B, Bremerton, WA

    I don't believe for one minute that each and every candidate isn't guilty of something they may regret from their past.. Now if Barack says he's still smoking a joint these days, then perhaps I'd be a bit leery.... I say come clean, and fess up now, not 2 years into the term....

    November 25, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. London H., Southfield Michigan

    Finally, a politician that isn't afraid to tell the truth! Wrong or right, at least he was honest which is a trait not usually seen in our political system. After being so truthful about this issue, imagine how honest he'll be as president. I'm not quite sure of the country is ready for this much honesty. Reality Politics and Reality Government...what a concept.

    November 25, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  23. Tom Topolinski, Canton, Georgia

    I was one of Barry's best friends in high school. I am glad he has not covered up his past and is being proactive about people trying "dig up his dirt."

    We got stoned regularly. We even called ourselves "Choom Gang." Not that we were a REAL gang, but several of us just liked to hang out, light one up, listen to rock, and play basketball. "Choom" meant getting high.

    And for the record, we were all very productive students and athletes at a very demanding private school, and we had accomplished a lot.

    And for those who weren't around yet, the 70's in Hawaii was a time when a large amount of professional and upstanding people smoked "pakalolo."

    Go get 'em Barry!

    November 25, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  24. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    Obama should tell voters in the beginning why now? because people found that he inhaled drug, that's why he confessed now and let his supporters to believe his honesty.


    Do some research before making comments. Obama told the world about his drug use in his first best-selling book "The Audacity of Hope". The people found out about it because HE TOLD THEM. He also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno months ago and talked about it then.

    Don't claim that Obama hid this and was exposed when the real problem is that someone didn't bother to get the FACTS. Give him credit for his honesty.

    November 25, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  25. Christine, Lafayette, IN

    MOHAMMADO...Please...because one smokes pot once or twice as a teenager that makes one a 'druggie'?? And then you ask, "What kind of guy admits he smoked pot then runs for president?" Are you retarded?? I'd bet a year's salary 90% of our presidents tried, did and may even still that and worse. I've been a Republican my whole life and watching Bush screw up the world even more, I'm ashamed that I voted for him. Obama is honest in his answers, highly intelligent and should be our next president. Oh, and, JEREMY, he answered the question because he was asked if he ever inhaled. My God, who hasn't smoked pot at least one time in their lives? If you say, "me!" are probably either lying or in the very low percentage that really haven't tried it.

    November 25, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
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