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. Danielle, San Clemente CA

    1-Obama Barak is a Black man in America running for President. If he hadn't brought up his "youthful indiscretions," SOMEONE ELSE WOULD HAVE.
    2-The drug war we have spent so much time and money on has not led to anything but higher incidence of drug use and better product for users. It is time to be honest and start a dialogue with our kids.

    November 27, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Rob, San Diego CA

    Just to clear up any confusion on this issue, here is a quote from the latest survey by the Office of National Drug Control Policy: "According to the latest Monitoring the Future survey of nationwide youth drug use, more than 50 percent of high school students have used an illegal drug."

    Additionally, one can safely assume that some people who refrained from using illegal drugs in High School will experiment for the first time in college. With that in mind, certainly a majority (more than 50%) of today's young adult population has used illegal drugs at some point in their lives.

    I applaud Obama for being honest about his past. Making mistakes isn't something to be ashamed of, not learning from ones mistakes is...and after 8 years of dealing with a President who clearly doesn't learn from his mistakes (or even admit he makes mistakes in the first place) wouldn't that be a refreshing change?

    We need more honesty in politics – period.

    November 27, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. Matt H, Radford, VA

    There's no such thing as being TOO honest. I'm glad he admitted to it – if he had said otherwise, I'd know he was lying. Though I don't support him at this time, this whole honesty thing is making me start thinking about changing my mind. I'm thinking Edwards/Obama for sure.

    November 27, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Alvin - Banner Elk, NC

    Is cnn really questioning a politician for being too honest? That is unfortunate. And more unfortunate is that people may be upset with such honesty. Sounds refreshing to me.

    November 27, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Peter

    If the candidates won't tell the whole story, the press will dig it up, so it is best to just come clean with the whole truth and get it out and over with.

    Besides, who under 60 these days is shocked by anybody's admission of experimenting with drugs at an early age? Let's quit trying to pretend that we live in a Norman Rockwell world!

    November 27, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. John NYC

    So Obama's crime is being too honest? We all know that Clinton inhaled. Bush is an reformed alcoholic & former cocaine use.

    I think Romney has revealed more about himself than Obama with his comment. Perhaps in Romney's world politicans hide the truth from their constituents. We are children.

    After 7 year of Bush's lies, I find Obama's candor refreshing.

    November 27, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Seam, Philly PA

    If Obama had not been open and honest about his past, someone else would have dug it up in order to use it against his campaign. His life experiences would have been exploited in a negative way; fortunately, he was smart enough to control his own personal business. People have a hard time with him because he is not the typical presidential candidate. Expect change with Obama as President. He is not status-quo!

    November 27, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. Jim Cleveland ohio

    I am Ron Paul supporter, but other than Ron Paul this is the only other canididate that has told the truth. Thanks Obama. We have been lied to for so long and about so many things, no matter what the topic the truth is nice.

    November 27, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Mark

    November 27, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Ryan, New Jersey

    Chris in Atlanta:

    Obama is not still high. That's not how drugs work. He wasn't capable of launching nuclear weapons in college. I'd like to think that if he were, he'd have made the right choice and stayed sober. Frankly, I don't want a President who can't relate to more than half of Americans. More importantly, I sure as hell don't want a candidate that is of the impression that there's something to be gained from lying to make yourself look better...even in the eyes of a child.

    November 27, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Dave, Milwaukee WI

    Way to go CNN. How many stupid posts will you do on this ridiculous subject? Just enough to plant a seed of doubt about his electability in peoples minds? You guys are a disgrace to journalism. How obvious can you make your pro-Clinton advocacy? Pathetic.

    November 27, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. Robin Schotter, Scranton, Pennsylvania

    CNN This is Pathetic! This story has been on the air for 2 years now, force your LAZY Journalists to get off their butts and do some real reporting.

    November 27, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. Ben, TX

    Doing drugs in high school, especially in the 60s and 70s...I don't think is something really outside the norm and not really even condemnable. Obviously its is highly frowned upon these days, but I think Obama is trying to show that people make mistakes. No one is perfect and all you can do is learn from those mistakes. I think he is also showing people he has nothing to hide and trying to bring a shred of honesty to politics (as futile as that may be).

    November 27, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Brian, San Jose, CA

    I think Obama did the right thing. One thing people want to see from their leader is that they aren't riding some grand pedestal and portray themselves as I am holier than thou. Here, Obama has shown that he is just like the average person. I think that makes him more grounded and relatable. That is a quality that I think has been lacking from a lot of these candidates across the youth of our country.

    November 27, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. James, Burlington Vermont

    It is refreshing to see a political candidate speak with candor and honesty. I am a Lincoln Republican that is embarressed by the current disingenous rehtoric coming from both parties. We could all benefit from Mr. Obama's example. On this issue in particular, any child of the 60s and 70 that claims to have never experimented must be complete hippocrite or grew up in a bomb shelter.

    November 27, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. Allison, NH

    Jimenez – Texas:

    No, she's probably right. Remember, drugs just do not include pot, cocaine, crack, etc. They also include nicotine (ciggeretts/chewing tabacco), alchohol, and steriods. When you think of it in those terms, yes – most people have tried "drugs".

    November 27, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. Ira, Oradell, New Jersey

    who cares what he did in high school when you have politicians taking bribes, playing with little boys and cheating on their wives. I am more concerned with errors in judgement made as an adult rather as a college or high school student

    November 27, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  18. Mia, Stafford, VA

    Chris – how wonderful to be perfect and have no skeletons in your closet.

    Dude we are all human, and all of us have done something(s) that we would love it if no one ever knew, but when you are running for president, you know it is going to come out, so you might as well give your version first!

    He did the right thing, and smoking pot in your past is certainly not the worst thing you can do. Many people, especially military folks drink, and that concerns me more personally, while it is not illegal it certainly can affect judgement!

    This whole pot argument is so old. I'm more worried about the legal drugs that people are taking.

    November 27, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. Lisa, San Diego, CA.

    I think one would have to be on something in order to vote for Romney. Way to go, Mitt. Secrecy about drugs and your religion, makings of a true, yet disgraceful, politician. When you sweep everything under the rug, the bump only gets bigger!

    November 27, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    Nope, Obama is not being too honest.

    He's just taking some ammunition away from the Republicans, who were hoping to use it next year.

    November 27, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Cisco, New York, New York

    Ok, I don't want to bring up any questions but didn't our president have his own drug indiscretions and a DUI? I'm just saying ... wait bad example we saw how things turned out. Maybe better let sleeping dogs ...

    November 27, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. TJ, Pittsburgh, PA

    He did the right thing politically, by disclosing his use of drugs. Otherwise, he'd be forced to conceal or lie. Still George Bush handled it the way any good parent would – don't deny but make the point that any detailing of the activity only gives young kids an excuse for their own mistakes. This is the way a parent should deal with it if it's their own kids asking. If I said to my kids what Obama said to that class, I'd never have the chance to properly raise my kids.

    November 27, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. Jaik , chicago, IL

    "too honest" ?? what does "too honest" mean ??? Only CNN and politicians could make sense out of a phrase like that. Either you want an honest president or you want another lier ! How can CNN go on and on about this and try to shoot down Clinton's opponent with this hatchet job ? George Bush Jr had a cocaine addiction, Bill Clinton smoked pot. Rather than face up and apologise they lied and became president. Why do you think Clinton lied about his affair after that ?! After Bush lied about his drug use, he lied about WMD. What does THAT teach children ? "too honest" come on. What do you expect ?! Does CNN decide whether or not to be honest when it reports ?

    November 27, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Jeff Adkins, Torrance, CA

    Gee, an honest politician. What a concept. With the mess we are in geopolitically wouldn't the countries of the world who do not subscribe to the Bush, et al neocon doctrine be pleased to know they are dealing with someone who can admit mistakes?...especially ones that do not kill innocent people.

    November 27, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  25. RB, from the bay state

    Maybe if candidates were a little more candid and showed their human side this country would be better off.

    Mitt's plastic facade will fool some, but he's a phony as a three dollar bill.

    He used Massachusetts as a stepping-stone, but January '09 he'll wind up watching the inauguration from the sidelines.

    November 27, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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