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. Charlie, Boston, MA

    How is this too honest? He simply admit to having experimented with drugs as a teenager and doesn't delve any deeper into the subject than he needs to. Besides, it's better to have a politician who's too honest than not honest enough, right?

    November 27, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Mike, Washington, DC

    I give Obama credit for his honesty. For too long, drug use has been demagogued by hypocritical politicians who have done the same or worse.

    Plus, doing so inoculates Obama from some later expose set up by a political opponent who has been doing his oppositional research and given his "exclusive" to some compliant reporter from Drudge Report or some other media bottom feeder more concerned with "gotcha" gossip than serious issues.

    November 27, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. Jim J. in NY

    Mitt's failure to want to be truthful, should say all you need to know about this candidate. We've had enough untruthfullness out of Washington. We don't need anymore.

    November 27, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Trish, West Haven, CT

    I think there's a big difference between trying marijuana and sniffing cocaine. I find it reprehensible that we have elected a man who has had difficulties with addictions that have only been covered up and denied repeatedly. But there is a need to regulate information that is given to our children, particularly about the DANGERS of drugs. By dismissing previous drug use as "reckless" behavior, it minimizes the possibility of a fatal encounter with the drug. Furthermore, by saying that it was a passing part of his history it paints drug use as less addictive than it truly can be. The rates of drug use have been increasing every year and it is imperative that as a morally conscious nation we disclose the negative effects of drug use to our vulnerable progeny. Instead of using this information about Obama's past as a reason to praise him for his honesty and boost ratings with some individuals, how about he takes an initiative to try to increase education, prevention, and perhaps MOST importantly, the teaching of alternative coping strategies when times get tough. Good for him that he "turned down smack", because otherwise he probably wouldn't be as successful as he is. And he should be so thankful about his ability to quit an addiction and use that as an opportunity to teach others how, from where the strength came, and the difficulty in doing so. He also quit smoking before starting his presidential campaign kicked off... which to me means he replaced one addiction with another. One that he felt was important enough to address because we haven't had a smoking president in a long time, and he knows it would not be looked upon favorably by the people. So, congratulations and keep up the good work. But, don't try to depict this weakness as a strength of character.

    November 27, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. laurinda ny

    Obama also smokes, which is a worse example and a very bad sign of an addictive personality. Combined with the drug use, I'd say he isn't presidential material.

    November 27, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Kelly, Streamwood, IL

    I think it makes him a better role model to own up to the mistakes he made in his youth. In showing young people that they can be successful in spite of mistakes they may have made, he is offering them hope. I wouldn't want a dishonest, cover-it-up, don't talk about my mistakes kind of role model for my children.

    November 27, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. RJ, SV, AZ

    We're criticizing candidates for being TOO HONEST?!?!? I think our country has hit a new political low. Either that or it could just be that the other candidates CAN'T be honest because then they'd have to admit that they are less than perfect....

    November 27, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  8. Tom, Nashville TN

    Q: Was Obama too honest about drug use?

    A: No. Next question.

    November 27, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. Brittney, Tallahassee, Fl

    Why should we be worrying about what someone did when they were in high school? He doesn't do it now, and he admits it was a mistake. At least we know he's being honest.

    November 27, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. Walt, Belton, TX

    If Romney is a typical mormon, than you can bet he's tried them all. As for Obama, I believe he just experimented in his youth whereas I'd bet pretty hard that Hillary and slick willie still are.

    This would be a good time to start doing mandatory drug testing on our politicians, from Congressmen on up! Bet there would be a lot of empty parking places on Capital hill!!!

    November 27, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. James, Abilene, Kansas

    Barack Obama's comments on his drug use in high school are exactly why we need him in the White House. He'll give us a more complete "truth" than any long time Washington insider. There are lots of americans who will admire him for being honest and truthful.

    November 27, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. Ron, New Jersey

    This is a stupid discussion. The headline might as well say: "Should Obama have lied?"
    It is sad when it is politically incorrect to be honest about something politically incorrect!
    People should take his statement as a sign of his character and honesty.
    He admitted to it and admitted it was a bad decision. We all make bad choices, especially when we are young.
    That should be the end of it. Making a mistake as a teenager does not mean he is any less qualified.
    If anyone says they didn't do something stupid when they were teenagers they are probably high.

    November 27, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. Christian, Tampa FL

    It is best for a candidate to be completely honest and do what they can to present a true image of themselves, not a false image like many candidates do. We need to accept that our candidates are human and that they make mistakes, and more importantly that they have learned from their mistakes.

    November 27, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Ryan, Sykesville, MD

    One of the most frustrating parts of this ordeal is the double standard many people draw when it comes to legal substances versus illegal. Would this even be newsworthy if Obama told a tale of drinking three pots of coffee in one night while cramming for a final, or of having had a few pints more than once in college? Yes, Obama was speaking with a high school audience, and I certainly would never expect him to enthusiastically endorse marijuana smoking, but the stigma attached to his revelation is grossly disproportionate to its importance. Adults drink coffee. Adults drink vodka. Adults can use marijuana responsibly. Obama makes it sound like he plagiarized part of his senior thesis ("It's not something I'm proud of... It was a mistake as a young man.") When will reason enter the legalization/decriminalization debate on a national stage? It seems Obama's not the one to usher in that era.

    November 27, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. ss,chicago,Illinois

    I guess we need a president who did drugs and has foreign policy experience by virtue of living in a foreign country as a child. God bless.

    November 27, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. Tony Davis, Flower Mound tx.

    I for one found it refreshing. How many times do you see politicians tell the truth in such a straightforward way?

    It lends credibility to what he's been saying all along that the people need a President who will be open and honest with them.

    It makes you believe his "new kind of politics" is more than just a catch phrase.

    November 27, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. Jos/Memphis, TN

    Why can't he tell the truth, we are fighting a 200 year war that was based on lies. None of the canidates are beyond fault, or as we say youthful indiscretions, many have blundered in full aldulthood. Rudy had a gangster(police chief)on payroll and knew it the,list goes on with all.

    November 27, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. dan, Reality, USA

    When did telling the truth become a bad thing? I'd prefer a negative truth to a positive lie any day of the week. Especially from our leaders.

    How far has America fallen that we think our politicians lying to us is ok?

    November 27, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. T. St Paul

    Jiminez–Would you have not voted for George Washington if he would've admitted he chopped down his dad's cherry tree?

    November 27, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Right Annie from Miami, that was your epiphany and now you're an Obama fan. Uh huh.

    November 27, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. Chris, Atlanta GA

    I admire Obama for his candor, but shudder to think about his past and the choices he has made.

    For those of you who do not think past drug use is a big deal...let me put it to you this way: I am a military officer with access to nuclear weapons. Would you like to hear that I do, or have done drugs? Probably not! So why would you hold the ONE person with the legal authority to actually use those weapons (and hundreds more!) to lesser standard, and lesser accountability?

    I tend to expect more from my current and future President. Even though I've been sorely disappointed over the past (few? many?) years, I still expect more. Not to preach here, but maybe you should too!

    I have been a big supporter of Obama until fairly recently, as I learn more about him as a person. Although I will dance when an African American finally does gain the office, I will not lower my principles or standards to make sure just anyone does.

    November 27, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. Julie, Springfield, MA

    Mitt Romney is an idiot....I can't say how glad I am he's no longer the governor of my state...I sure didn't vote for him.

    I don't know too much about Barack Obama, but his open and honest comments will make me look at him a little closer.

    A politician who speaks the truth...what a concept.

    November 27, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    I agree that Obama was ingenius to let the cat out of the bag himself. He probably just thwarted a whole slue of swift boaters. HOWEVER, it was to the wrong audience. It justifies complacency more than it inspires those kids. Most kids who do drugs, don't rise above it.

    November 27, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. Trish, Lenexa,KS

    Good for him talking about this. Too many politicians aren't honest about this. By lying, all they accomplish is gaining distrust. By being honest, he has just won me over Hilary.

    November 27, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. Barry, Miami, FL

    Memo to CNN: This story has been sufficiently beaten to death. Please move on.

    November 27, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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