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. Dan, Toledo, Ohio

    Please raise your hands if you have ever smoked marijuana...dont lie either. Many people smoke...i have..still do. I agree with Matt from California. Had marijuana been legal at the time, there would have been a different response. Alcohol has been proven worse on the body than marijuana. This may be a shocker to those of you who pay attention only to the mass media: There is not one bit of substantiated evidence that marijuana destroys brain fact it has been linked to neurogenesis. Worlds upside down now right? Read a book. We need reform on the "war on drugs". The logic behind it is nonexistant and if you look at the history of marijuana criminalization you will see a crooked and backwards process of elitism. Point being: If Barak really wants credit for this, step up show your colors. Dont base morality on legality (that hasnt exactly worked for this administration). You have my vote over Hilary, god only knows how awful this country will become with her leading it.

    November 25, 2007 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. Doug, Brentwood, Ca

    Can't believe Obama is still harping on the marijuana story. Must not have got enough mileage out of it the first time around. The "I inhaled" line is just another cheap shot at Hillary. He's obviously desperate and simply can not get past her and on to issues we care about. I have heard nothing of any substance concerning immigration, health care, energy, education (oh yeah, he wants to make college free for everyone–let's hear your realistic plan on how we'll pay for that, Obama) or a host of other issues that affect us and are important to us. It seems that Obama's career peaked when he delivered that great, patriotic speech at the last Democratic convention. To the disappointment of many, he is not the inspiring leader so many of us thought he was. Now, when he's out there, unscripted, he's showing himself as a light-weight: weak, shallow, inexperienced, and in no way ready to lead our nation.

    November 25, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Jeremiah, Odessa, TX

    Big deal, so Obama admitted he used drugs in college or as a kid. OK shows over, this is not news...

    I had a lot of friends who basked in the glow of adulation after starting a bad habit or addiction and then beating it, to be told how brave and courageous and honest they were to do so. Baloney...

    I get very tired of these folks wearing their addictions, and childhood/teenage drug use like an "in" badge of honor.

    Instead let's praise the folks who had the courage NEVER to succumb to peer pressure and media influence/history revisions and start using this garbage in the first place.

    No honor is due you Obama for this, and you still lack the vital experience we need to recover the last 8 years!

    November 25, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. RevRayGreen, Des Moines Iowa

    as a medical marijuana patient who is one of the mentioned with pain and suffering brought on by Multiple Sclerosis, I'm living, breathing,walking,talking,working, voting proof medical marijuana works....

    using marijuana as a teen or in college should be nothing to be ashamed of or arrested for.

    November 25, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Paul Rubel

    A high applaud to a politican who speaks not what he feels is the correct answer to give but the truth. My gosh if every person was held accountable for the things we did in high school we would all be in trouble..

    November 25, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Jed in Texas

    I wont be voting for anyone that went to "Yale".Look at the liars this school has produced over the years.How to undermine the Constitution and make sure mulinationals can take over seem to be their only goal.

    November 25, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. daniel young, san francisco, ca

    Is this what politics have come to? I don't care if Obama inhaled or not! Is he running against Hillary or Bill?

    November 25, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Chance, Waldorf, MD

    LMAO. =-) I'm not a Obama supporter, but that is the best line I've heard from a pol in a looong time.

    November 25, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. R Kirn, Billings MT

    It is to Obama's credit that he admits it upfront. Those who critize him for "exposing" young people haven't been watching TV, movoies, news, etc. They need people who have experienced the drug scene and learned from that mistake. Whoever believed that Clinton didn't inhale also believe he didn't have sex with "that woman".

    November 25, 2007 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  10. AConcernedCitizen, CA

    Alan St Louis MO,,,,, Got to say I have not heard a democrat as honest as you in some time,, I wasn't aware that half the dems in congress voted yes to impeach clinton. All I ever hear as a republican is how my party is to blame for eveything that happens in the world or the inafectiveness of the dem party to get there points across and sell them to america. Its good to hear from honest americans like yourself even if my politicl views are different then yours. thanks

    Posted By mark wilkes barre pa : November 25, 2007 7:22 am

    Mark Wilkes Barre are you such a fool? Half the Democrats didnt vote yes, if they did Clinton would have been impeached because Republicans were in majority.

    I am amazed by uneducated foolish Americans who fall for gossip. Alan lied and you jumped to accept it because of your hatred for Clinton.

    You are one of the reasons why America is in a mess.

    Voting based on hatred is the most pathetic thing in life!

    November 25, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. AConcernedCitizen, CA

    If Democrats trust his leadership, they will vote him to lead the ticket. If they want to nominate another candidate who VOTED FOR THE WAR BEFORE HE/SHE WAS AGAINST IT, then good luck to the Party. The Republicans already have experience running against and beating such a candidate.

    Posted By Diamond : November 25, 2007 6:09 am

    Diamond is another American who will fall for a lie and keep repeating it.

    So Diamond, show me when the republican have the experience of beating a candidate like Hillary? Republicans have tried to throw mud on her for many years (because she has been in public life for many years). Have Republicans been successful even once?

    Nope! But you still need to show why foolish Americans like you have America in a mess?

    November 25, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Manny James

    Hillary is leading in iowa in 11 other
    polls. Why losing in one is such a big deal. We are looking at the execution of Hillary. The main executioner is the Media. Why do they HATE HER so much..She has my vote and money..

    November 25, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. Jimenez - Texas

    What I want to know is if he wrote this in his book? (which of course I wouldn't waste a dime paying for). And, if he didn't why say something now? Honesty? I seriously doubt that was his motive. Obama doest have what we need in our country. It's sad to think that a few of you out there thinks he does.

    November 25, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Keith New Braunfels, Texas

    Your honesty is definitely bringing out the best in you! Keep it up! You have my vote and I pray you win!

    November 25, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. EMW

    Awesome Mitt, way to put your head in the sand. Reality is kids smoke and to try and create a false image of reality and cover things up with words makes me wonder about you.

    November 25, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. AConcernedCitizen. CA

    Its funny – some people say they like Obama's "honesty" (me too) – then they say they might support a Clinton run too? How important is honesty to you anyway?? I'm a Republican – and if Giuliani doesn't get the nomination and Obama does…he will have my vote (and other Republicans I have spoken with) – Hillary won't have the support of her own party…Obama is refreshing honesty in a sea of Clinton(lies)

    Posted By Chris, Middletown, CT : November 25, 2007 9:34 am

    Chris is so afraid of Hillary as a Republican that now he is canvassing for Obama. Chris thinks Democrats can be fooled by spreading lies.

    Many Republicans? Why lie so blatantly Chris?

    So Democrats will be fooled by the statement Chris made above?

    November 25, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. Anne, Chicago, IL

    I find Mitt Romney's comment two faced. "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." A good leader should be open about his mistakes and not try to hide them.

    Mitt Romney clearly is a person who would lie to the American people if he thought it was best for them. We don't need any more presidents like that.

    November 25, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Markie B., Sacramento, Calif.

    Ginger, how does OBama's GLBT stances differ from those of Hillary and Edwrads? They all three support civil rights equal to those of hetero married couples but leave the official term of "married" up to individual churches and states.

    November 25, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. Paul, Monroe NY

    Obama inhales. So what. Admitting it is a sign of character and honesty, exactly the qualities we should be seeking in our next Chief Executive.
    Suggestion to CNN and other news organizations: be certain to ask the Republican Candidates if they ever had illicit sex with Congressional pages.

    November 25, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. Markie B., Sacramento, Calif.

    I wish we could respond to crappy posters directly under their erroneous points for all to see. Instead I have to rely on FV scanning down to the bottom to see how ignorant he is. Hillary more experienced? She's one of the least experienced in the entire field. Only Edwards has less elected legislative experience than Hillary of all Democrats running. You must be the only one able to review her records as first lady during her days in Arkansas and D.C. because no one has been able to determine what experience she is claiming since she locked up all of her papers from those years. She has more brains? Obama passed his bar exam on the first try. How many chances did Hillary have to make? I'd take Obama in a Jeopardy-type debate any day.

    November 25, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Brian Glenn Sr. - Omaha, NE

    Honesty, how refeshing. I'm liking and respecting this candidate more and more.

    November 25, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton FL

    People on here are criticizing the guy...for something a HUGE percentage of Americans have tried at least ONCE in their lifetime? (Instead of worrying about Barack's former drug usage as a kid...maybe you should be worried about your own kids...who are probably experimenting behind your back as we speak)

    November 25, 2007 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. Cal, San Isabel Island, Florida

    What i want to know: did he smoke crack. He admits to cocaine use, but in what form?

    November 25, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. Julie, Lawrence KS

    What a guy...this guy can't possibly be our next president...HE TELLS THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Wouldn't that be a novel idea, electing a politician (to any office) who has a nasty habit of telling the truth!
    Obama 08!!!!!!!

    November 25, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. Markie B., Sacramento, Calif.

    Hey Hillary supporters...for once complete your posting without referring to the "rosy" days back in the 1990s when Bill was president. Guess what? HE AIN'T RUNNING! If it wasn't for Bill would Hillary even be in the position she is in now? Ask yourself that. REPEATEDLY. You folks keep reciting the mantra that a vote for Hillary will somehow bring those days back. Well folks, take off the rose-colored glasses and quit living in the past. We have different problems now that require sound judgment and REAL experience – two things that HILLARY (not BILL) is seriously lackingn. Well, Bill didn't use sound judgment with his marriage fidelity, that much is certain.

    November 25, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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