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. Lisa, Central Florida

    Legalize, regulate, tax, just like alcohol and tobacco, which are far more dangerous LEGAL drugs. And Mitt Romney is an idiot if he thinks Obama's admission is going to make kids try drugs. Just another weak argument that the knee-jerkers will glom onto.

    November 26, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  2. Willy, Chesapeake, VA

    At least this guy is trying to be honest unlike the Mrs. Bill Clinton who can't answer a yes or no question with out blaming President Bush and the republicans for that; "Vast Right Wing" question. But my vote is for Huckabee.

    November 26, 2007 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  3. The Truth

    Way to go reason to lie..there are few and far between that never smoked weed..

    November 26, 2007 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  4. Matt Shemers Malibu, Ca

    Ron Paul!

    November 26, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  5. M, Orlando, FL

    I appreciate a candidate that is honest. Does it matter now? No it does not. Everybody "experiments" at some point in their lives. I am my own moral compass and make my own decisions and face the consequences of the bad ones. Because Obama smoked pot, that means the youth of today will think it's OK? Give me a break!

    November 26, 2007 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  6. Wayne, Greenville TX

    This guy is a buffoon...

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

    Nope. All the buffoons in this race have an "R" after their names.

    November 26, 2007 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  7. Tevin, Raleigh, NC

    Anyone who has a problem with the fact that Mr. Obama smoked marijuana has issues. Who is perfect? It's amazing how people can make issues out of non-issues! A part of being a great leader is being open, for it's only when people see where you've come from that they truly can see where you're going. I love Mr. Obama's judgement and character. He stands well above the rest. I can not vote for one whom I can not trust!
    Obama '08!

    November 26, 2007 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  8. Pete. des moines, iowa

    Obama, supporters:
    If Obama were you son, and he came back from his college telling you that he had been drinking and taking drugs, I bet that you would be disappointed or sad or enraged. Few of you, as a parent, would be happy to hear his "honest" statement.

    Wake up. Obama is a loser. He is a joke as a politician.

    November 26, 2007 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  9. Tevin, Raleigh, NC

    I'm really starting to realize just how stupid this Romney character is! I thought he was smarter than that! Obama setting a bad example by being truthful? What The World? He sounds like Hillary with her "You can think big, but you shouldn't always say what you think." Thanks for the honesty Obama. The status quo fears you!

    November 26, 2007 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  10. JB Boston MA

    Mark wilkes Barre PA-

    Got the wrong guy, I was mocking AConcernedCitizen. His rants against you and others annoyed me, and he was wrong. I may have mispoke, I believe he called you an "uneducated fool".

    November 26, 2007 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  11. JD, Syracuse, NY

    Obama is inexperienced. He hit himself in the foot by unilaterally reacting to Novak's rumour, and unilaterally disclosing his past indiscretions. He is psychotic and talks to himself. He is a goof ball!

    Being weak in personal character and in plitics, he will be easily beaten by the republican nominee if nominated.

    November 26, 2007 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  12. Craig H

    So Mitt, it's okay to lie or pretend something didn't happen in your past because people ar too stupid to make their own moral choices? Another example of how you have no credibility.

    November 26, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  13. Tevin, Raleigh, NC

    Pete from Iowa,
    If he were your son and just came home from college after graduating at the top of his class, I hope you'd be proud! Be intelligent.
    Obama '08

    November 26, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  14. Seam, Philly PA

    You idiots, Obama will not have any impact on whether kids use drugs or not. It's TV, music videos, and movies that you allow your kids to watch that have the biggest influence. Don't blame Obama. Blame your own poor parenting skills.

    November 26, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  15. Ryan, Nashua NH

    Alright! He's not lying to us from the get-go by telling us he didn't inhal;e like the Clintons'! I could get used to a politician that isn't 100% phoney.

    November 26, 2007 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  16. J. McKinney SW MO

    Good Gravy, folks! Get a grip! Some of you on this post act like you are going to vote for Obama because he admitted he smoked pot? So what? One way or the other. But what about his lack of experience, his weak debating power (which he will need when dealing with foreign leaders) his ideas about things. The fact he can't make a speech without sputtering uh, uh, uh. We now know (due to his wonderful honesty) that he smoked pot, and was a complete goof-off in school. Maybe in a few years his wonderful honesty will cause him to admit that in 2007 he knew he didn't have the qualifications to run for president, but did anyway, but NOW (about 2016) he thinks he is experienced enough, and ready. Can we believe him now? Or then? Nice he is honest about his weaknesses, but where is he on what he needs to run the nation?
    Clinton '08 We need her strength and experience.

    November 26, 2007 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  17. Carl Enlow Greenville SC

    OBAMA will NEVER get my vote

    November 26, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  18. Dave, Cheverly, MD

    To: Pete IOWA,

    If your kid was doing drugs or drinking in college most realistic parent would want to know the TRUTH. DISALUTIONED parents would be satisfied to have their kids LIE to them about taking drugs and doing alcohol.
    The real concern is did your kid come out of that experimental phase ok and with a good understanding that self medication /drugs is not the way to go.
    Looks like Obama came out that phase with his life priorities straight. The Leave it to Beaver expectation is hypocritical. As we have seen with many religious and Hard Right leaders be Outed for some of the same things they rail against publicly.

    Lets have some TRUTH for a while on personnel, National and International dealings.

    November 26, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  19. omar orama Bronx NY

    He is playing the Bill Clinton card, Im tired of hearing what people did in there private lives in the past. It sould not be our business.

    November 26, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  20. Mary L. Shelby, NC

    What? An honest answer from a politician? HOW REFRESHING!

    November 26, 2007 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  21. Rae, Menomonie, Wisconsin

    An honest politician. Amazing... Absolutely amazing.

    November 26, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  22. mamoru kanazawa Tokyo

    obama did weed... so what? people experiment things during their stages in life. it is not a great atrocity that he has used cannabis. i find nothing worng. in fact he should legalize that stuff.... for good.

    November 26, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  23. MJ, Tampa, FL

    Of course someone from Tampa would say they think Hillary has more brains. The average IQ of an adult in Tampa is quite low. I hate living here. Anyway...I respect Obama for being honest.

    November 26, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  24. Butter Apex, NC

    This guy makes more sense as I read more about the candidates.
    He is not phony and talks straight.

    November 26, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  25. Tom, Aberdeen, NJ

    As many others have said, lots of people have made this particular mistake in their youth. So since Obama has made the mistake already, is it better for him to be honest when he is asked about it, or to attempt a Clintonesque cover-up? You can admire Obama's honesty in confessing to this indiscretion, without admiring the indiscretion itself.

    That said, if you want the kind of honesty you heard from Obama here, plus the experience to take the reins of the country in these troubled times, take a look at Senator Biden. He has been around the track a few times, he knows what he is talking about, and he is unafraid to speak truth to power.

    November 26, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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