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. Kenster San Diego, CA


    How can you call a guy who won't wear a US Flag lapel, or place his hand over his heart while the flag passes by a GREAT candidate?????

    He lacks respect for our nation, it's heritage, it's veterans and the true sacrifices of those who have gone before.

    ANYONE whom has served will understand the simple but pure ignificance that those two things represent. As an elected official, Mr Obama clearly is comming at all of us from WAY in left field.

    It's not about how much he smoked or didn't smoke in HS. Who really cares that he made mistakes – we all did. Romnet did too, just doesn't feel the need to elaborate upon each to our kids who are so impressionable. What's wrong with that?

    It's about the man's character. A man's character is represented by what he DOES – not what he says. Look to what Obama DOES – every day. Obama is a chameleon and you are simply color-blind.

    November 26, 2007 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  2. Jesse, Gulf Shores AL

    Hillary has experience???

    She has 6 years worth of coddled and unproductive senate experience in which she has exhibited no more than a "phone in" attitude to her constituents.

    To keep up the tax and spend policies that the current administration endorse and every contender for the democratic nomination propose to accelerate is murder to our economy.

    No one on the democratic stage is offering anything other than politics as usual in washington.

    It is time for a change ...

    visit and read a real and refreshing view on the issues of the day.

    November 26, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  3. Tom, Huxley, IA

    You can thank Bush for lowering the nation's standards. If you voted for Bush, you voted for a former cocaine user. If you voted for Clinton, you voted for a marijuana user. Nobody is clean.

    The drug use issue is a non-starter.

    November 26, 2007 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  4. jmy , lakewood , co.

    the question was did you and the answer was yes. so it wasn't a matter of dem.vs rep. or black vs. female, it was a matter of a politicion anwsering a question with honesty.
    the problem is that only the alcoholics who drink like fish, publicly or privately, are just a bunch of hyphocrits. does anyone asks the politicions about their experimenting in beer bongs or how many drinks they have during luncheons or dinner partys. how many drinks they have every night. the media distorts everything or blows thing out of context when it comes to marijuanna. why? because it's some alkeys moral issue. o please.
    they won't legalize it because they believe that confiscating personal and private property is a far greater monetary gain. it doesn't matter what party is in office. the drinkers will always make sure of it.
    now the other problem i see about whether a black or a woman will become president. the answer is neither. this country is not united enough within itself to handle it. it will pitch blacks against white and men against woman. why? because there are too many haters in all categories that will exploit the power that their party now has control of. i firmly believe that a man is a man and a woman is a woman, no color bounders and equality in the sexs. i'm one white male that only fears that whomever is elected that it's only going to be matter of time before they start turning on my race and sex for everything they've had to suffer decades prior.
    it's when an elected candidate can stand before this country as the most qualifiy human being for the job then i can stop inhaling to relieve my stress and tension.

    November 26, 2007 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  5. George,Md

    Barack Obama 08!

    November 26, 2007 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  6. jerry,worcester,ma

    Never stop to get amazed by this guy. I love him and would not wait to see him as my president!

    November 26, 2007 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  7. suzzy,baltimore,md

    Only in u.s.a . Praying for you. Obama all the way. A fresh breath in the white house. Can not wait to see him in the white house. Barack 08!

    November 26, 2007 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  8. fred,derry,NH

    I think everybody should think the pain this country went through the last seven years. We need someone to show us the way. I want Barack Obama. Join us and let us make America great again,
    Obama 08!

    November 26, 2007 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  9. Robert, Dallas TX

    I can't believe so much ignorance still exists about Marijuana.

    Marijuana is a safer substance to use than alcohol in nearly every way, the possible exception is that smoking anything damges lungs.

    Yet, alcohol is a legal recreational drug and pot remains illegal.

    All you right-wingers need to move to China or Saudi Arabia where the goverment restricts all aspects of peoples lives, since that is what you are clearly in favor of.

    November 26, 2007 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  10. Shane, Moorpark CA

    He's got me. No other politician would ever have the nerve to admit to their mistakes in the past.

    If people are just voting for Hillary because she is a woman then you have it all twisted. It's not about proving that a woman can be the next president. It's not proving anything at all, it's voting for the next best addition to bandage the wounds. There are a lot of other problems to worry about rather than the next "gender-specific" approach.

    November 26, 2007 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  11. Trollmaster, CA

    I'm betting all the idiots bashing Obama about being honest about smoking pot were the same people that voted for Bush when he was less than honest about using cocaine.

    And someone needs to ask Romney exactly how Obama should have responded to this question.

    November 26, 2007 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  12. Ross Lippincott; Davenport Iowa.

    Most of you on this blog really should pay attention to what's going on around you. Barack Obama WILL do great things if given the oppertunity. IF he only gets done half of what he wants to accomplish this will become a country that we can all be proud to live in once again. And Mr. Obama, if you're reading this, I will caucase for you in Iowa. The only regret I have is I Only get one vote. But I've also convinced my entire extended family that you're the right man for the job. And it wasn't hard to do.

    Ross Lippincott in Davenport.

    November 26, 2007 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  13. Noah, Calabasas CA

    The point of being young is to be young and stupid. And most presidential candidates dont have the honesty to tell people that they did smoke pot and they did enjoy it because they have a right to be young and stupid like everybody is when they are young.

    November 26, 2007 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  14. Christy, Tacoma WA

    I think it's a good thing. Not only do we need a real person to run for office but the people need to understand that they are only human. Everybody has a past, who cares what he did as a teenager. Its all part of growing up and learning about life!!!

    November 26, 2007 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  15. Clark, Valencia, CA

    It's just pot, get a grip people. . .

    November 26, 2007 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  16. Spike, Sunnydale CA

    Romney is such a tool, ragging on a politician for actually being honest for once in their carreer. Tim Leary forbid. Maybe if more polititians were open about their disgressions we wouldn't freak out every time one plays hide the cigar. Cause you know that's not really any of our buisness, or a matter of national security. Neither is what psychotropic substances a candidate may or may not do/did. Freedom of choice people get used to it! Let people figure out where north is on their own moral compasses. Yours may not help someone find their way when they get lost in the woods.

    !!!!!!!!RON PAUL 2008!!!!!!

    November 26, 2007 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  17. Bernie Moore-Knowles - Papa'aloa, Hawai'i

    Kenster in San Diego?

    Aloha and thank you for your reponse to my post. Unfortunately, I beg to differ. I fail to see what the man's color has to do with anything that I have commented on. Maybe the color of his skin bothers you? I am color blind? You couldn't possibly have met to say that? I am assuming that you were refering to my post where I stated that I find Obama a breath of fresh air with his honest answer to the question that we are all discussing? And you feel because he chooses to not wear a flag pin on his lapel that Obama has no character? It also appears that you have bought into the media blitz about his not having his hand over his heart during a ceremony that included the American flag – that he has no character? Kenster in San Diego? Are you really that simple minded?

    November 26, 2007 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  18. Francine, San Jose, CA

    It is well known that other politicians, including Clinton, Edwards, Bush, Dean, Gore, and Kerry did drugs, but respond by mostly denying it, while leaving room open for them to say they were telling the truth. Is that what you want – to hear your elected officials proudly lie to you? Oh, silly me, I forgot that it all depends on what the meaning of the word is, is.

    November 26, 2007 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  19. Francine, San Jose, CA

    I should remind everyone that the criticism here is coming from Romney, who due to his religion, believes that the caffeine in soda, coffee, or tea is a drug and that it is against the will of God for him to drink it. (I'm not kidding.)

    November 26, 2007 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  20. mark wilkes barre pa

    JB Boston Ma,, Thank you for your comment, but my response to Alan was not based on my lack of intelligence. It was simply a compliment on his honest opinion and acessment no matter if his facts were not exactl. y on the mark. He was right about dems voting to ratify the articles set forth, But that is not what I was complimenting him on It was his honest opinion on the rest of his comment that I found refreshing. heres a guy who has the ability to not just bash and run but is willing to look inward at his own party like I do to see whats wrong and try to better it.

    November 26, 2007 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  21. Ross Lippincott; Davenport Iowa.

    Obama is gwanna kick bootey and I am gonna feel so good when all you nay sayers (who if you ARE good democrates) will be casting your votes for him in the general electio...... so NYA!!!

    November 26, 2007 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  22. RevRayGreen, Google Me Iowa

    free the weed plant the seed OVERGROW AMERICA.....

    to all those calling it an illegal drug, do you know why it was made illegal in 1937 ? lies based on racism and greed.

    November 26, 2007 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  23. matt, chanute kansas

    SIMPLY: A man who thinks that MARIJUANA isnt grown from neighborhood to neighborhood is simply as blind as Bill Clinton on a Tour of Monica's home town~
    ITS THERE, ya just have to open ya eyes!
    Grampa is ready to smoke a fatty, his BACK IS OUT and ya know how it goes~ SIFT, SPARK and INHALE!

    November 26, 2007 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  24. Ross Lippincott; Davenport Iowa.

    Sorry; I meant democrats and election.
    The excitement got to me.

    November 26, 2007 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  25. Scott, Stockton, CA

    I am a republican. I fear universal health care, raising taxes with the falling dollar, and permitting citizens to abuse the system to obtain handouts.

    However, I will be supporting Obama. Not because I share his political views or care for his experience(or lack there of). I will be voting for him because a harsh change in political leadership is needed to be respected on the world front.
    Obama is a former muslim and an African American.(I hate that term... and I think hes half native Hawaiin right?)

    Right now the world view is that the government is controlled by hardlined white Christians that are knee deep in kickbacks from big Oil. True or not, it doesnt matter.

    Support Obama. Image isnt everything, but right now thats what we need.

    November 26, 2007 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
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