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. MsB, Bremerton, WA

    "Well educated youth don't inhale drug,"

    NOW, that is the craziest statement I've seen here all night!!! What planet is this person on ???? Actually, I was going to write more, but I can't stop laughing..... If you believe that statement that was just posted, I've got a river in Mojave desert to sell you!!!!

    November 25, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  2. Pippen, Arlington VA

    He's honest about his personal drug use... now if he could just be honest about his stance on medical marijuana. Talk about riding the fence!

    November 25, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. JEDI, des moines, Iowa

    The fact Obama admits inhaling makes him "holier than thou"?

    It just shows his personal character flaws – easily subject to temptations and with weak moral compass.

    Obama's other personal character flaws now include: chain smoker, messy and stinky at home, drinking and goofing off in high school. Wow, what a poor role model for our children!

    November 25, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. Kathy, Chattanooga TN

    It is nice to see a politician owning up to his indiscretions of youth, as opposed to pandering to both sides with a mealy-mouthed, cheesy excuse like "I didn't inhale." Bravo for Obama for owning up to his past. I may still not vote for him, but I do have a ton more respect for him as opposed to the Clintons

    November 25, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  5. newcustomersonline

    So he doing it now?

    He came to my blog and left a few comments about marketing and business.

    November 25, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. MB, Newark, NJ

    I can't believe that people are arguing about whether or not he should have admitted to smoking marijuana. There are many people who tried it when they were young and they didn't turn into "druggies," as someone previously posted. So, you prefer that he lie about it and have someone crawl out of his past to call him a liar? This is just one of those topics that get everyone off the real issues.

    November 25, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  7. Musuri, toronto

    Dream On. Dude. You are the one living in the past.

    My live was better with the Clinton. Sorry yours wasn't.

    You can stop the train.


    as a black man I was hoping for Obama for VP… NO MORE.

    Posted By Jo, ATL GA : November 25, 2007 5:17 pm

    I assume that's what the system has always taught you.
    As a black man, you have to be second to someone?
    I am really ashamed

    November 25, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  8. Mohammad, LA CA

    Guys,legalizing marijuana will be the biggest mistake in U.S. history if it ever happens. Thats why a President should not even admit to doing this, because it destroys his credbility if he tries to deny legalizing marijuana.

    Marijuana destroys a person's ability to function and to be alert and sensible. I have seen people's lives destroyed by Marijuana.

    Don't ever legalize drugs, period. Legalize marijuana, and you're coming close to legalizing other stuff too...

    November 25, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. G Cott

    this is OLD OLD NEWS CNN!- You are irresponsible for making this a story now YEARS after he admitted it! Mr Obama admitted this in his book – his book from a few YEARS ago!

    November 25, 2007 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  10. controlledinsanity

    could they perhaps make up their minds..... Now being honest sets a bad example. I think asking a question that they more than likely know thw answer to is setting up the stage for a bad example....

    November 25, 2007 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. Hugh ODonnell

    So Romney advocates lying to young people (and everyone else) rather than "setting a bad example"? How do I know he wouldn't lie to ME if he got elected?

    Isn't lying setting a bad example?

    Avoidance of the truth is lying, folks. Steering people in the wrong direction is lying. Spin is lying. Omission of truth is lying.

    The truth comes out sooner or later and I applaud Obama for being truthful.

    November 25, 2007 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  12. RevRayGreen

    "inhale drug" ?Posted By Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    obvious you are one of the informal, insufferable crazy fools who has a condition known as 'reefer blindness'.

    November 25, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  13. Matthew, Chicago Illinois

    I might have been able to go to college for far cheaper than I did had this substance been leagalized and taxed! We can let generations thin there numbers by smoking cigaretts becuase there is a loby for it. But heaven forbid someone lights a joint, bowl, hooka, or other pipe with a subtance that, as of this posting, has not been linked to a medical pathology. Perhaps the men and women we sent to Washington could lend their ears to the voices of medical science, the voting public, and reason. I personally would love to use on as frequent a basis as I could, anyone who has used knows why. But, becuase my employer tests for useage, I am restricted. There is another waste of money, testing employees who are not obviously high!!!

    November 25, 2007 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  14. Rose, Washington, DC

    Obama admitted to smoking pot, so what!! How many others on the hill have smoked pot, but wouldn't admit it if asked. At least he's honest, and that's a good thing.
    Go Obama!!

    November 25, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. Jane, Pueblo, CO

    It's called HONESTY people, so get off your soap boxes and quit complaining! I hope we see Obama in the White House that way maybe we can actually have someone trustworthy in office.

    November 25, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  16. RevRayGreen, Google Me Iowa

    A healing plant. On either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare 12 manner of fruits, and yielding her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelations 22:1-2)

    And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. - Ezekiel 34:29

    "The Lord said unto me, 'I will take my rest and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs.' " - Isaiah 18:4-5

    November 25, 2007 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  17. Keith Whitcomb Jr. Sheffield, VT

    After reading what Romney had to say, I think it's clear what the differences between him and Obama are: One is honest and open about mistakes, and the other one is more or less a liar.

    I'm tired of liars.

    November 25, 2007 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  18. andy, WA

    "A fool may throw a stone into a well which a hundred wise men cannot pull out."

    This should be read: A fool may throw a stone into a well AND thousand others jump to 'pull it out'.

    This guy has become a joke but its so scary to see that there are so many to look up at him.

    November 25, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  19. Kevin, Des Moines Iowa

    scenario 1

    obama will win iowa

    he will then win new hampshire and south carolina an will then glide to the nomination

    scenario 2

    edwards wins iowa, obama places second

    obama wins new hampshire with a very slim lead

    obama wins south carolina

    clinton wins nevada

    obama wins most of feb 5 states and takes nomination

    scenario 3

    obama wins iowa

    clinton wins new hampshire

    obama wins south carolina

    clinton wins nevada

    they pretty much split the feb 5 states evenly

    neither have enough delegates

    fighting nomination, no nominee until august

    obama gives that is better than the 2004 conv. speech and JJ speach combined

    obama takes the nomination

    all roads lead to obama being the democratic nominee
    thanks to Plouffe's an Axerlod's signature strategies of saving the big guns for the very last, spar of the moment, home stretch

    November 25, 2007 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  20. Kevin, Des Moines Iowa

    **error in last post**
    obama gives speech that is better than the 2004 conv. speech and JJ speech combined

    November 25, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  21. L Bridge, Dallas, TX

    Thanks Mr. Obama, for your honesty! I am a republican – and I admire the fact that you will admit a mistake and take responsibility! We need a President in the White House who has such character. Good luck to you!

    November 25, 2007 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  22. Jason, San Francisco

    [ appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/6118/76346&embedId=10019518&locale=en]

    November 25, 2007 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  23. Adam, West Des Moines

    I commend Barack Obama for his honesty.

    It's too bad other candidates cannot be honest.

    Mitt Romney apparently is not honest about his past by his own admissions in his response.

    November 25, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  24. Pato Lucas, San Francisco, CA

    Time to ban alcohol completely. Then we'll see how "pure" America is.

    November 25, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  25. anon, seattle, WA

    If a lower tier candidate, e.g., Kucinich, admits using drugs, goofing off and drinking in high school, people will say he is a loser, conduct unbecoming to be a presidential candidate.

    When Obama admits his past personal weaknesses, his supporters glorify his honesty. What a bunch of blind followers and hypocrits!

    November 25, 2007 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
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