November 27th, 2007
02:05 PM ET
15 years ago

Talking about drug use on the trail - Obama too honest?

Mitt Romney said Saturday candidates shouldn't go into too much detail about their youthful indiscretions.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Does a good role model talk about using illegal drugs?

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama started the debate when he admitted to a high school audience in New Hampshire that he had experimented with drugs while he was in high school.

"There were times when I got into drinking, experimenting with drugs. There was a stretch of time where I did not really apply myself," Obama said.

He added that when he left for college he realized he wasted a lot of time using drugs.

"It's not something I'm proud of," Obama said. "It was a mistake as a young man."

What a change from Bill Clinton's 1992 admission that he had smoked marijuana a time or two and didn't like it. "And I didn't inhale and didn't try it again."

Full story

- CNN's Carol Costello

soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. Walt, Belton, TX

    An honest politician! Isn't that an oxymoron? Suddenly, Obama doesn't look so bad...........

    No wonder Hillary's all in a tither!

    November 27, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Steve Blaine Washington

    People are wondering if Mitt Romney has use Drugs. I would say no.
    You may find a few Mormons that have used drugs but very few and the people probably are ex Mormons. Most Mormons do not smoke, drink coffee or liquor or chew tobacco. They follow a doctrine
    called Word of Wisdom given by Jesus Christ under D&C 89 advising that if people chose to smoke, drink alcohol or coffee or chew tobacco there would be a price to pay. Before, anyone can renew their temple recommend which is
    done yearly and in some cases every two years now they are asked these questions by their Bishops and Stake representatives. If they say yes they are denied a temple recommend. Being a past Stake President and Bishop and Missionary I would say that he probably has never smoked tobacco, chew tobacco or drank coffee or liquor. If you want to look up D&C 89 you can probably find it on
    Salt Lake City is only about 30 % Mormon. Therefore, you can not blame all the ills of Salt Lake City on the Mormons.

    November 27, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Tommy - Austin - Texas

    Personally, I think it really shows that the candidate is a human being who, right or wrong, makes what they feel is a mistake and can be a big enough person to admit it. NONE of these candidates are pure and innocent, so let's cut the crap and see what they are going to do to better the country!

    November 27, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  4. izzy99

    The point is not that Obama experimented with drugs in his teenage angst years, but, thanks to a critical lady friend, cleaned up his act and applied himself to education; rolled up his sleeves upon graduation to help organize grassroots efforts to improve communities on local levels.

    I do not know what world the commenter lives in to only know 10% of people who have tried drugs. I think it would be more like 50% or higher. And that does not include prescription medicines that many get hooked on.

    November 27, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. matt

    This is certainly a touchy subject. But Romney is ridiculous for making this a political score. Obama is far from encouraging kids to do "bad things".

    November 27, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. no romney for prez

    would you rather have an honest politician or one who has to consult his lawyers to lie propertly?

    November 27, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. Kristy Sanborn

    I think it depends on how you look at it, and there are a few different views. First, its best to be honest and admit mistakes made, however I don't feel a president or president elect should have those mistakes in his/her past. I think when it comes to the President of the United States, they should be more blemish free of those kinds of mistakes, kinda like John McCain. Someone America can look up to, and I don't mean that as any kind of dig to any of the ones like Obama who openly admit drug use in the past, I only mean a President should be held to higher standards. Even if they did learn from their mistakes, its just not the same.
    People can say what they want when someone admits to having drank too much alchohol, but alchohol is legal, even if it shouldn't be.
    I respect Obama for his honesty, but I don't feel to a group of high school kids he doesn't know personally, or how they will take it, he should have said it at all.
    At least obama was more honest about it than bill clinton was!!
    I give Obama credit for that, I think most in America know clinton did inhale, but can't prove it, would be my opinion

    November 27, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. Michelle D. - Atlanta, GA

    Cocaine use tends to lead to paranoia and scyzophrenia (sp?). Alcohol tends to kill brain cells. How come this wasn't more highly covered by the media in 2000 and 2004?

    November 27, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. Joshua, Hammond, Louisiana

    Wow!!! Too honest??? I would rather a politician be too honest, than too deceitful. At least Obame tells the truth and not fabricated lies.

    November 27, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. "Very likely" voter in MA

    “Unlikely” voter in CA,

    Be kind, and enlighten us, please!, what exactly you mean by your comment. I live in MA and I never heard that he "sold out" to the people of MA on health care reform.

    November 27, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    "Believe it or not, the average person in this country has experimented with drugs."

    Posted By Matthew Jaworski, Fort Myers, FL

    Then I must be above average and I am proud of it. Wouldn't it be great if more people on this blog were above average, Matthew, so that we could read more sound and far more intelligent comments?

    November 27, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. MA, des moines, Iowa

    Obama is just politically naieve and inexperienced. Of all democrat presidential candidates, Obama's political experience is just a junior candidate. Obama is all style, without substance.

    NObama 08.

    November 27, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. GH, syracuse, ny

    Honest? Stupid is a better word.

    November 27, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. Matt, Chicago

    It's sad that people have come to the point where they don't want to hear the truth from their leaders. I would think that after almost 16 years, maybe skip 4, then another 8 (Reagan) of "who, me?" Americans might be disgusted with the self-righteous behavior, passing the buck, self-preservation and outright lying of their leaders.

    Obama is the only top tier candidate to admit mistakes – and all of them have made plenty. This is a huge representation of a person's character, and Obama is the only one who has come clean without overwhelming self-serving caveats.

    2nd, as a drug experimenter, who has a fantastic job + functional, loving family, people need to relax with their stigma when it comes to drug experimentation (particularly marijuana). Though illegal, these acts are neither immoral, reckless or fraudulant. (obviously the morality police may have a different interpretation, but i stand by mine.) There is no victim with the exception of the taker's brain cells.
    So for all you judgmental tools that maybe take office supplies fr. your employer,tell a white lie to your spouse, misrepresent a little on your taxes, or kill your liver with booze and ESPECIALLY those who get behind the wheel after you've been drinking…
    "let he who has not sinned…"

    Or if you want to be a total hypocritical fraud and continue downward on this 7-year tailspin, vote for Romney…or Rudy…or hillary..or Fred…you won't be alone and you can cast your stones for 4 more years without looking in the mirror.

    November 27, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. Peggy, Houston, TX

    From my vantage point, I can tell you what I'm ready for...honesty! I don't care who is saying it as long as it is the real truth, unspun. I've heard too much BS.

    November 27, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  16. Matt, Houston, TX

    Has anyone noticed how the posts by right wingers say that since he tried it in HS then he's totally unqualified since he is obviously a crack head? Or how the vehemently anti-drug people say that experimenting in HS means he's an addict, or how 'dangerous' pot is?

    Folks, pot got a bad rap in the 20's from the tobacco and cotton growers who saw it as competition and a few misguided moral extremsts. A government study that was thrown out by Richard Nixon concluded beyond a shadow of a doubt that marijuana is not addictive and does not lead to harder drugs. It also rcommended that it be legalized and taxed, just like alcohol and cigarettes.

    Talk about government control over thinking. Let's legalize it, tax it and use that money for treatment of people using the hard drugs (the only proven way to get people to stop using)and intevention in the supply of hard drugs, like smack, cocaine, crack, meth, etc.

    November 27, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  17. monica, rochester new york

    Kristy Sanborn, what makes you think McCain is blemish free?? He cheated on his first wife. That's breaking one of the 10 commandments. He was also part of the Keating 5 (you remember the Savings & Loan debacle that cost tax payers like a billion dollars). And I for one don't know what his drug use has been or not been over his 7 decades of life, do you?? Whether we like it or not all the candidates are just human beings, just getting an Honest one like Obama is the absolute best we can ask for.

    November 27, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. Paul, Kissimmee Florida

    I don't have a problem with Obama admitting he did some drugs. I don't have a problem with somebody not coming right out with. I do have a problem with someone lying about it. Like I didn't inhale. But it seems like it was a bigger deal to the left that Bush had a DUI. Why's that?

    November 27, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  19. J. McKinney SW MO

    OK, Maybe Obama is "honest" when he admits to drug use, drinking, goofing off in HS, etc. And honesty a a good quality, but is it good enough to make him president? It will take more than "good intentions" to get this country straightened out. We need experience. We need Hillary!

    November 27, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. April Cadwell, Fairfax, VA

    It seems some of you that are leaving posts here are smoking weed yourselves!

    so Obama made mistakes, who hasn't?

    admit you were wrong, BUT DON'T WRITE A HOW-TO BOOK ABOUT THE MISTAKES YOU MADE! Isn't that all Mitt said?

    November 27, 2007 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  21. stan-nevada

    yes we also do drugs-nicotine,alcohol and caffeine

    November 27, 2007 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  22. AJ, IL

    Obama should be complimented for his frankness and openness about illegal substances. You only need to do the research to discover that there is a high percentage of young people experimenting with illegal substances. I include every mind-altering substance, yes alcohol fits that description, especially when you look at the number of underage drinkers (this is illegal and the substance is illegal at this age)!

    November 28, 2007 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  23. Cladette, TX

    Americans don't care about what has happened in the past of those elected to office....ANY office.

    Want proof...Look at Ted Kennedy.

    November 28, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  24. Matthew Jaworski

    Reading the responses from these self-righteous holier-than-thou moralists is making me sick. Are there really that many close-minded misinformed Americans out there?
    Obviously, look who has been our President for the last two terms.

    I personally find the honesty of candidates like Obama and Ron Paul very refreshing. Isn't it time for us to elect someone with honesty and integrity instead of a self-righteous, arrogant, close-minded fool?

    I truly hope that enough Americans who aren't blind and misinformed vote this time around...

    November 28, 2007 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. pam Eugene OR

    I support Obama and am proud to...but I can't help but wonder????? HRC said she had some dirt on him and was waiting to use. I wonder if she was going to release this information and he short circuted her. If so, he is even smarter than I thought!

    November 28, 2007 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
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