November 27th, 2007
02:05 PM ET
14 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. Dave, Cheverly, MD

    Why doesn’t Mitt tell us the truth about why he strapped his dog on the roof of his car for a family drive? Why he thinks his 4 sons helping in his campaign for Presidency is equivalent to U.S. Soldiers putting their lives on the line for our country. Why he need to speak to his Lawyer before he as President would attack another country. We don’t care if he is a Mormon. We care if he’s a Moron though.

    November 27, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. blake vancouver british columbia

    it's funny how they say not to get into their youthfull indiscretions, yet in the bid for presidency the opposition will use any chance to pounce on that fact and exploit it.. i say better be honest with the people, instead of ommitting details.. we will get another George W. by ommitting details.

    November 27, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. John,Minneapolis,MN

    So now the Obama supporters are very happy with CNN for all the news about him. Is CNN now for Obama? I think this network has been fair to all the candidates. Way to go CNN.

    November 27, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. William

    Obama dropped 9% in the past 10 days:

    November 27, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Marco, Park Ridge, IL

    I hope that some reporter will ask Hillary the same question. I would love to hear her answer (whether she ever used drugs). I know people that knew her back in the day, and they say she did.

    November 27, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. kristenmcc

    Should our politicians be honest?? CNN GO TO HELL!! We need a politican who says you know what I screwed up and I was wrong.. I was wrong to smoke al ittle pot while in high school but I was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about not voting to give our president a free for all in Iraq and Afghanistan!!!

    Pay attention the important issues CNN... honestly..ugh CNN is getting worse and worse.. I am thrilled NY Times is finally free online access...

    November 27, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Jim Gregory, Bethlehem Pa

    It is about time someone running is honest about something..It is refreshing. Had Bush told us the truth about his drug use and we had known about the brain impairment that followed we would have been spared his presidency..

    November 27, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Patrick, Houston, TX

    I'm not voting for either Obama or Romney, though I do respect Obama that much more for admitting to his prior drug use. If anything he should be looked at as an example of where politics can go right. Why do we have to dig through piles and piles of garbage before we discover what a candidate truly stands for? How much longer do we have to be subjected to manipulation and deceit? I find it refreshing to have glimmer of sincerity once more in our politics. As a Republican, I can only hope my choices for a presidential candidate will stay true to themselves and be upfront about there past, as well as their current decisions in life.

    People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election. -Otto Von Bismark-

    November 27, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Dan, NJ

    It is absolutely absurd to say that admiting past drug use sends a message to children that its ok for 2 reasons:

    1. Most children (and most adults) in this country are not paying any attention to the race and are not hearing ANY message.

    2. By Romeny's rationale, it is better to send children the message that the best way to handle mistakes is to hide and ignore them. Sounds like the Bush doctrine. I for one think accountability for your actions is the most important lesson a child can learn.

    November 27, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. Danny Casolaro Martinsburg, WV

    How dare Obama?

    This is America and we don't need him encouraging children to do drugs.

    In fact, we need to take the 200 million plus people that use drugs (be it heroin, caffeine, nicotine, marijuana, they are all the same) and put them all in jail.

    This is the land of the free and anyone who has even thought of doing a drug needs to be jailed.

    We don't need blatant drug addicts, such as someone who once tried marijuana, running the country.

    When you use drugs (or think about using them), the terrorists win.
    Choose Jesus, not drugs.

    November 27, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. john garth, athens, al

    I supposed what has people shocked is the fact that he was honest. Mitt Romney, Bill Clinton, etc. will never be found guilty of telling the truth.

    November 27, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. Heath

    Too honest? Refreshingly honest maybe? You make better decisions as you grow up, especially if you're going to consider becoming the country's leader. I would rather an honest candidate giving credence to his human condition than someone with a marked facade that may be revealed later.

    November 27, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Gina GSO, NC

    Does CNN actually pay any attention to these comments? WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT OBAMA'S DRUG EXPERIMENTATION WHEN HE WAS IN COLLEGE. What has happened to CNN? Why isn't there a story about poverty,health care,social security? CNN is turning into tabloid news, plain and simple.

    November 27, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. Shan Houston TX

    Ok I'm 37 average sucessful female American and have never smoked a cigarette, never done illegal drugs and never drank alcohol while underage. Why do people assume all Americans have some past experience with drug use ?

    November 27, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  15. SayWhat

    Lie. Never admit it. Ever. There's no video. And hippie (and others) parents, your kids don't need to know either.

    November 27, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. kristenmcc

    At least we can be certain Obama's camp did not PLANT that question unlike dishonest Clinton campaign.... uh.. I am as left as they come but I do not want to vote for her. She will be very very bad for this country.

    November 27, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. Annie, Miami, Florida

    Kudos, Obama for your honesty. Mitt Romney feels that you should not have revealed that information, but you did the right thing. For your honesty, you have my vote.

    November 27, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. Miles Pochert Grand Rapids, MI

    I think it is refreshing to see a candidate be honest about any aspect of his life. I think Mitt Romney is a fool if he thinks it is better to lie about it and act like it never happened. Obama was not promoting his drug use as a great experience. He was saying it was a mistake and wasted time. But maybe Romney is right better to hide parts of your life that are not perfect until you get caught playing footsy with an undercover cop in the bathroom. It would be nice to see more honesty from our polititians.

    November 27, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Marco, Park Ridge, IL

    I respect Obama all the more for his candor. It makes me more likely to vote for him. Romney's response was typical.

    November 27, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Obama wasn't honest enough. He's pretending that smoking pot was a "big mistake," like all of these lying politicians.

    I'll say it again: Tobacco and alcohol kill close to half a MILLION Americans a year.

    All illegal drugs kill 10,000 Americans per year.

    Pot has no legal dose.

    It's time to move away from idiotic and stupid perception of pot, made up by your typical joyless far right winger.

    Pot is good. Alcohol and tobacco are the killers.

    Pull your collective heads out.

    November 27, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. Igor, Wantagh, New York

    Isn't there a candidate that did not do drugs? Can't we have a president without the past? This is United States of America, and to be a president of such a great country, one would think we would have better candidates.

    November 27, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. Andy Sacolaro

    Clearly Obama knows nothing about how the CIA has been involved in (and now controls) the world drug trade since the 1950's.
    Can you imagine if every dollar of drug money was suddenly purged from the world economy?
    It would collapse overnight. Removing a source of liquid cash that size would destroy the world's financial markets.
    Gee--it's almost as if a wise (and evil) government should do its best to prevent such a thing from happening.
    From Marseille to Corsica to Lebanon to Iran to Vietnam to Laos to Colombia to Panama to Mexico to Bolivia to Afghanistan to the United States--the US government has done its level best to ensure that the world drug trade doesn't just exist-but flourishes.
    Without it, there would be no economic prosperity of any kind.
    Oh yeah-and it also helps to keep "undesirable" populations in their place, and also is a great source of off-the-books (non-Congressional) funds to use for overt and covert military operations.

    Just ask George Bush, Sr., William Casey, Oliver North, Bill Clinton, Ted Shackley, William Colby, or anyone in the CIA or the Mob.

    Alfred McCoy-where are you on this one?

    November 27, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. Anna, Chicago IL

    I'd much rather have a candidate get up there and say, yes I did drugs in my youth, or yes, I drank before I was 21. I know that they are being honest and they are admitting that they are not perfect. No one is, so why pretend to be something that your not. If you do, it will only come back to haunt you later.

    As someone who is just leaving the "youth" age of my life, I can report that most "youth" will drink before they are 21, and they will try some form of drugs before they leave college. It's not something we as a nation should be proud of, but it s a fact. Notice I said most, not all because not everyone does. For those who don't good for them.

    But, I'd rather have a President who can admit that he might have made mistakes when he was younger, and use his mistakes to teach the next generation.

    November 27, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Kate, Aurora CO

    Am I one of only a few parents who have been seeing the latest drug prevention commercials encouraging open and candid conversations with your children? I understand we are their parents and not their friends but as a parent I think it is doing our kids a disservice by not encouraging open and honest communications.

    November 27, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. Paul, Fort Mohave, AZ

    What a horrendous question. Such a question shows why I have become so distrustful of our government. We've gone from a president who "could not tell a lie" to asking whether candidates are too honest. I applaud Obama for his honesty.

    November 27, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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