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. Mike, Bethesda MD

    Hey Romney - you're saying it's better that we have a President who used coke and lied about it rather than one who's honest about his past? So basically, for Republicans, lies and deceptions are better examples for children than an underage beer or a puff of marijuana. Wonderful.

    November 26, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. Stacey, Chapel Hill, NC

    Gotcha Obama, the point was that you inhaled (just as I suspected). So the point was never about trying to help children avoid the pitfalls of illicit drug use and addiction by highlighting your past problems with them. Glad at least you don't use drugs anymore.

    November 26, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Bush admits he freebased cocaine and snorted it as powder all the way through college. THEN he says he quit. Hee haw. Obama would have to drink moonshine all day and eat psychedelic mushrooms for lunch to run the country worse than Bush, Rove, and Cheney.

    November 26, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. Tom, Amherst, MA

    The next time you're feeling "simply 'feeling really tense' and 'need[] a joint'" just go to the bar, buy a few shots of vodka, drink them, and drive home.

    People that smoke marijuana are not criminals, they pose negligible risks themselves or anyone else when compared to drinkers, and the only thing that usually ends up getting hurt is the snack cabinet.


    November 26, 2007 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  5. Gay Shumaker - Carnesville,GA

    With your honesty, you just got my vote. And the fact that you care enough about the young and healthy to let them know – don't make the same mistakes we made as young people/ and to care enough about the old and/or sick to use what we have to make the pain go away. Thank you again for your honesty and caring.

    November 26, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  6. Donovan Michigan

    C'mon people!!! Calling him a druggie over a bit of pot in high school or college? It's obvious that people posting here have done NOTHING wrong or illegal in their entire lives. Personally, I find it refreshing that a political figure is willing to be open about missteps before his political career. How many people tried pot at one point in their lives? I think WAY more people can identify with him now that he has opened up. This will only bring more people onto his side!

    November 26, 2007 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  7. Richard, St. Paul, Mn

    Finally! A politician who admits their mistakes, good or bad! Perhaps the rest of Congress would like to admit some of their misdeeds as well? We could really use some honesty in Washington for a change!

    November 26, 2007 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  8. pl. at the UN for a while.

    Bernie Moore-Knowles.
    How does smoking pot produce breaths of fresh air?

    November 26, 2007 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  9. Jacob Houston Texas

    Honestly I think it is sort of crazy that all Hillary Clinton can do a bash him. She needs to get her act together. She needs to work on making her campain better and not trying to ruin his.

    November 26, 2007 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. james

    I love it! The MSM is so retarded.

    "Obama has discussed his past drug use on the campaign trail."

    They make it sound like he was a junky.

    Come on....honestly...who cares? Just about everyone in the universe has smoked pot at least once..

    November 26, 2007 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. J - San Antonio

    He comes out with this how many months into this? C'mon the guy isn't honest – he was scared. This man is way to green. After Bush we need a strong leader and it's not Obama. He should have thought twice about what he addressed to high school students. Bottom line we all have skeltons in the closet. Sometimes it better to leave them there. Next thing we will be hearing is what toliet paper he likes to use when he..........

    November 26, 2007 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. June, Aiken SC

    The great thing about this is that it wiped away any doubt I had about Romney's suitability as President. He as much as admitted that he is more concerned with "appearances" than he is about honesty. I think we've had enough hypocrits in office. Don't you?

    November 26, 2007 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. A Voter in N.Y.

    In case you haven't figured this out, he is making the point that he is different from the Clintons who would smoke pot then come up with the absurd statement "but I didn't inhale"
    Obama may be wrong for admitting he smoked pot, or having done it in the first place, but you have to give the guy credit that he isn't as big a fool as Clinton who said he didn't inhale.

    But then again, look how many people believed Clinton only because they wanted to. Facts, lies, trust all used when it comes to politics.

    At least this guy is being honest. It's refreshing.

    November 26, 2007 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. Chris J, Palm Bay, FL

    "Bush admits he freebased cocaine and snorted it as powder all the way through college. THEN he says he quit. Hee haw. Obama would have to drink moonshine all day and eat psychedelic mushrooms for lunch to run the country worse than Bush, Rove, and Cheney."

    Posted By Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Bubba, are you basing your comment on facts, or just making it up as you go along? I'm going to guess the latter.

    November 26, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Daniel O

    Pete, Iowa,
    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.

    You must be a joke parent or simply ignorant. Common sense parents demand honesty from their kids even on bad

    habits. Most parents here, if they were to be honest enough, will want to know if their sons and daughters are

    getting into bad habits for one reason. They will have a chance of reaching out and helping their children.

    The lesson from Obama's talk to these youth is more about honesty. Not what he did. "stupid".

    November 26, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. jack, ny, ny

    are you kidding? it is obama who has been in attack mode since day one like a pitbull. It just tells you what types are supporting him. they don't even know what is going on?

    Honestly I think it is sort of crazy that all Hillary Clinton can do a bash him. She needs to get her act together. She needs to work on making her campain better and not trying to ruin his.

    Posted By Jacob Houston Texas : November 26, 2007 9:20 am

    November 26, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. Bill, Columbus, Ohio

    Oh no...not...INHALATION! Yeah, I'm sure all the other candidates are squeaky clean. Why is this even news?

    November 26, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. David, Alabama

    Oprah is making a mistake.

    To me, it's a little more obvious that she's got more than just political motives for this guy. Just watch how they are around each other.

    November 26, 2007 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    I, for one, am curious about one thing. Why has Obama been the only one asked this question? I think it should be put to each and every one of them at the next debate, both Democrat and Republican.
    I think the answers would be very interesting.

    November 26, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. Barbara Columiba, MO

    I think that him telling the truth about his marijuana use is appealing. As he said we all have indiscretions in our past, but we do not have to allow those to dictate who were are or what we can achieve.

    November 26, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  21. David Columbus, OH

    Thank you Obama. Day after day I support you more and more. What a great guy. Honesty in politics!

    It's going to be a hard choice between Ron Paul and Obama.

    November 26, 2007 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  22. FedUp- Democracy, USA

    As soon as we stop the Political Correctness, can we finally start calling the Democrats, Bureaucrats?

    Throw away our culture and endanger the sovereignty of our nation why don't ya.

    Don't feel bad tho Dems, all politicians are crooks in my eyes regardless.

    November 26, 2007 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. Bruce, San Diego, Ca.


    At the end of the day it won't matter who the president is, the price of gas, heating oil, groceries, ect, ect, won't go down anyway. Your taxes will keep going up, recession and probably depression is on the way. Crime will sky rocket. That's when the 2nd Amendment will come in handy. If you're a criminal and would like to do a home-invasion here, help yourself, we have something for you...!!!!

    November 26, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  24. anon, ottawa, OH

    wow, 418 stattements about Obama inhaling dope. This shows that OBAMA IS POLARIZING. I see lots of hatred in the threads here.

    November 26, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |

    I think a lot of you all are writing things just to see them posted! How much insight is needed to see that this whole thing about Obama admitting to inhaling marjauna is to show his honesty and upfront approach on things we view as a backyard problem; when in fact its something that we deal with on a NATIONAL level. How many of you are honest in your everyday lives? How many of you will admit in public your wrong doings and short comings? I know, not many. As the days go on and reports on candidates are steadily coming in I am gaining more and more respect for Obama. I see the subliminal messages throughout the media outlet that AMERICA is ready for a CHANGE and there is no better time than NOW and Barack Obama seems to be the way. I truly believe if we were more upfront and truthful about things we encounter in life then this WORLD would be a better place and an ideal atmosphere in which to live. PARENTS IF YOU LOVE YOUR CHILDREN RAISE THEM TO UNDERSTAND AND RESPECT RIGHT AND WRONG. AMERICA DON'T LET YOUR CHILDREN RAISE THEMSELVES... WE ARE LOSING FREEDOM BY THE SECONDS! LOVE AND TRUTH!


    November 26, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
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