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. Matt, Boston MA

    IT'S POT PEOPLE! It's FAR less destructive than alcohol!!! People pour themselves a martini when they're 'feeling really tense' all the time. There is not longer any REAL reason to keep marijuana illegal – never mind criminalizing it!

    November 25, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. Charlotte, NC

    Mitt Romney is an idiot. Call me crazy but I trust a man who will admit to what he did as a kid. As Romney said everyone has engaged in things that we are not proud of, but at least Obama is willing to truthfully answer any question that is asked of him. By no means is he going around parading the negative things he has done in life, he is simply giving an honest answer to a question asked of him

    November 25, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Archie Kearney Ne.

    Oh goody ;another proud inhaler!

    November 25, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. BRIAN

    The United States Government has been trying for 60 years to scare people and to proove Marijuana was bad, they used to have posters and commericals saying you would become a crazy monster, that you would become sterile and many other horrors, after spending millions trying to proove it was bad they finally gave up and admitted that they could not proove any of their stories, in fact the United states Government is the largest grower of Marijuana in America and it now has been prooved to have many very real medicinal properties. It is being prescribed to people who have Glaucoma, It is found to be very helpful for people who have eating disorders and many other tests and cures are being researched. In fact many scientists are saying it may very well be one of the most beneficial medically and for other purposes plants on this planet. Millions upon millions of Americans and people world wide have tried it and or our regular users of it, including patients, politicians, athletes, presidents, etc,etc,
    For Obama to admit it just may just show he is the only politician being honest when asked the question about it. Now ask Hillary when Bill was puffing on a joint and handed it to her, did she also not inhale it or did she just sit and enjoy his non-inhaled 2nd hand refer smoke.
    Well thats all for now, I gotta go roll one

    November 25, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Torgerson, Miramar Florida

    The point of the media's question to the majority of political candidates as to whether or not they used marijuana is to create controversy. I applauded Mr. Obama on his honesty. In my opinion the majority of America has tried marijuana at one time or another.

    November 25, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Free Rochester NY

    "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."

    Well, I personally adore his honesty. It's a relatively harmless drug anyways, and whether or not he used it decades ago, should not be any bearing on whether or not he'd be a good president. And as far as the quote at the top is concerned, I believe that he simply had to say that, so as to not seem like he is pro-drug. A lot of people don't want to see it returned to personal choice, and simply want it banned forever. Those are the people that comment catered to. Personally, I believe that all "drugs" or medication should be legalized just like alcohol, and be up to the individual to regulate. It would not be the fall of our society as others would have you believe.

    November 25, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Mitt Romney say it's irresponsible to tell the truth? Well, he's a Republican. Believing that telling the truth is wrong does not surprise me. Let's count how many would agree: Bush, Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez... need I say more?

    November 25, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. robert , westfield mass

    hey thank you sen obama. you are the breath of fresh air we need. not to mention that i will take a pothead over the drunkin coke maniac that we have had in office.

    November 25, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Markie B., Sacramento, Calif.

    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. I guess you won't be voting for Hillary then huh? Good, because Barack went to Harvard.

    November 25, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. Tim Buckley

    This may be a sign of the mans honesty. Contrary to Clinton, Obama actually tells the truth. America should only hope this does not hurt his chances. Marijuana advocates should and will step up and support Obama.....And gain more supporters.... but will they show up and vote??????????? Americans all need to VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 25, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. wale azeez boca raton fl

    Judge in ana nichole's case got busted smoking pot, bush did coke, clintion had the smoke in his mouth but blew it out, america feeds on drugs. Drugs are bad for you and i have personally experimented with them before but will never again...his admission only helps me re-inforce that decision. Like Jesus said to the pharisees, stone the woman (prostitute) only if you have never committed a sin in your life. That's right romney i see you dropping your stone..

    November 25, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. mick, okc, ok

    Romney claims presidential candidates shouldn't admit to mistakes made while young for fear of children doing it. Romney is a fake loser. Kids will experiment with "bad things" no matter what adults do or say. If the kids like what they're trying they will use more, if they dont like it they will stop like any cash paying consumer. Romney dont flatter yourself, a lot of kids wont try weed if some intolerent, dim-witted,self-centered, religious nut admits to trying it.

    November 25, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. No Puffin, Vermont

    Both Clinton's should have inhaled. Close but no cigar. Oops, there was one cigar.

    November 25, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Gay Walker, San Diego, CA

    So Romney advocates lying about past behavior?

    November 25, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    All of you need to get your thumbs out of your butts and hit a joint every once in a while. obama's right about medical marijuana. our country needs to learn that marijuana isnt a bad thing at all. "NO ONE" has ever over dosed or been killed from this harmless plant. its just a plant people. not a chemical drug thats kills hundreds everyday!!!

    November 25, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Dr. Ronald Doiron, Naples, Florida

    Sen. Obama's answer to the question demonstrates honesty and a willingness to be open – traits sorely lacking in the majority of our goverment servants. In my opinion, this is a much better example for young people than those who are dishonest and deliberately try to hide their past.

    November 25, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. David Edison, St. Louis Missouri

    So... Romney would have us vote for the candidate who did *not* tell the truth? In a president, we should look for a man or woman who is *not* honest?

    November 25, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  18. Markie B., Sacramento, Calif.

    To A concerned citizen: It appears that quite a few Dems did vote for impeachment in the House, including five who voted for all four articles of impeachment. Whether it was half or not, the votes were pretty close and for the articles to be ratified quite a few of them had to vote yes. But, thankfully, no Democratic senators voted to uphold the articles and Clinton was saved. The vote was 45-55 against impeachment in the Senate. As we all should know, according to the constitution, the House shall raise articles of impeachment and ratify them (or not) and the Senate then approves the ratified articles (or not). Our system of checks and balances at work, even within one leg of the triad. It's a beautiful thing.

    November 25, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. JM San Diego

    Finally, some honesty in DC. I'd rather vote for someone who shows they are an actual human with human vulverabilities than a politician who hides behind written scripts and a false persona. Bravo Obama!

    November 25, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. Daniel, NY

    SUSA just released a new poll from New Mexico, and it has the state leaning Democratic, though McCain and Giuliani would keep it more than very competitive.

    November 25, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |


    November 25, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Emilie Hare, New Mexico

    Romney is essentially saying that we should lie and cover up our pasts?!? As if we need another lying president. Obama may need to play the game and say that he wouldn't want people getting high for fun because his conservative constituants want to hear it, but at least he's honest.

    November 25, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. Ken,NY

    If being forthright about past drug abuse qualified someone to be President of United States,then we should elect anyone who were once in the drug rehab facility. No matter how anyone spin it, DRUG ABUSE IS ALWAYS MORALLY WRONG. Next time anyone wants to cheer this kind of behaviore,please have one's logic check.

    November 25, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Kevin, Columbus, Ohio

    A politician who is honest.
    A politician who represents a break from the ongoing feudal politics of the 60s.

    Donating to Obama's campaign today for the 4th time... 10 bucks (hey I'm a college student, but apparently a lot of other people doing the same thing can raise a lot of money)

    November 25, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. AntonK, Seattle WA

    Marijuana is a multi-billion dollar industry. The reason it's a billion dollar industry is that MILLIONS of American's smoke it. Is every one of them making a "mistake" ? Is every one a criminal?

    Marijuana has been used by humankind for well over ten thousand years. The substance only became illegal here in the States in the 1930's. Anyone who does the research will discover that the plant was criminalized for very dubious reasons. Perhaps it's time to rethink marijuana policy and stop demonizing a substance that so many Americans embrace.

    November 25, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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