April 11th, 2008
05:57 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton hits Obama over 'bitter' comment

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/11/art.clintoncomment.ap.jpg caption="Clinton is seizing on a recently reported Obama comment."]

(CNN) - Democrat Hillary Clinton is seizing on comments Barack Obama recently made in which he said some Pennsylvanians who have lost their jobs are "bitter."

"It's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who face hard times are bitter," Clinton said during a campaign event in Philadelphia. "Well that's not my experience. As I travel around Pennsylvania. I meet people who are resilient, optimist positive who are rolling up their sleeves."

"Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them," she said. "They need a president who stands up for them, who fights hard for your future, your jobs, your families."

Obama's comments were reported earlier Friday by the Web site Huffingtonpost.com. The Web site says he made them at a fundraising event in San Francisco last Sunday. On Friday evening, it posted audio of the comments that verified their accuracy.

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them...And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not," he said.

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," he also said.

McCain's campaign also criticized the comment Friday. "It shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," said Steve Schmidt, a senior advisor to McCain. "It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."

(UPDATE: The Obama campaign responds after the jump)

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not confirm Obama made the comments.

"No one from our press office was there - we don't have a campaign recording–we are neither confirming nor refuting."

UPDATE: The Obama campaign released a statement in response to the criticism: "Senator Obama has said many times in this campaign that Americans are understandably upset with their leaders in Washington for saying anything to win elections while failing to stand up to the special interests and fight for an economic agenda that will bring jobs and opportunity back to struggling communities," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.

"And if John McCain wants a debate about who's out of touch with the American people, we can start by talking about the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that he once said offended his conscience but now wants to make permanent.”

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (658 Responses)
  1. Tom

    Just tuned into CNN to see if they saw the light but they were busy twisting Obama's elitism against average americans into shots against the others campaigns. Y'all need to get some Obama pom poms and you'll be all set........by the way, Mr. Cafferty – judging by your thought processes and opinions (all poor muslims become terrorists) it's pretty obvious that you didn't finish college.

    April 11, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. robert frazier

    Let's see "Bitter"....

    Mark Penn lobbies for Columbian Free Trade
    Bill Clinton makes $800,000 lobbing for Free Trade agreement with Columbia
    Hillary has "No Idea" any of this is going on "wink" "wink"
    Hillary lobbies for NAFTA while in the White House

    And she has the nerve to speak about a bitter comment?

    It is her's and Bill's and Mark Penn's policies that have brought on any bitterness in Pennsylvania!

    Hillary Your DONE!!!!! Just a matter of time and Good riddance!

    April 11, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  3. WA for Obama the patriot

    Kathleen said it well.

    More sniper. The math is over. The SuperDelegates have already said they won't overturn the popular vote, and if they did we all know people really would have a good reason to stay home... so they won't. Go home already, so we can get on with seating Florida and Michigan. Everyone knows the controversy is over as soon as she gets out already.

    Can't wait to see those great primary turnouts for Democrats repeated in the general election. "More of the Same McCain" doesn't stand a chance.

    April 11, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. Dennise

    Reaching again, she can't help it. She has to find the negative in someone as she's always lying....she was just caught in lying and so was her husband. "Oh please don't beat on me, I can't take it....Beat on obama! Whatever Hillary!!!

    April 11, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  5. Dorothy

    Hillary would take anything out of context and go with it. She should have kept a more watchful eye on her Billy while he was president and America would not have been shamed by her husband's behavior. What Obama said is exactly what all Americans are feeling, not only the people of Pennsylvania but across the whole nation.. Lost jobs, no jobs, jobs sent abroad, lost pensions, working for low wages, looseing homes to foreclosures, no health care, wasted money on Bush's self made WAR in Iraq, not taking care of the injured veterans returning home from Iraq and many, many more complaints. Get a grip! We all are upset with the way America is falling back from lack of high quality leadership. WE NEED CHANGE. This namecalling and slamming each other is like the behavior of all the neighborhood kids in my backyard--he did it, she did it. The Evening News is getting hard to watch. It's like a bunch of kids, namecalling. So I turn off the news when I find that America is still more or less rotateing around the sun. Enough is enough. If Obama is not in the run for president, I SHALL NOT VOTE.

    April 11, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  6. maxine, texas

    Guess what? People in the situations to which Obama refers probably are bitter...and rightfully so. Obama was just telling it like it is...it's the truth, like it or not, people get bitter about being lied to by politicians. I hope those people don't forget who was a NAFTA supporter and praised it openly (until running for President, that is) and don't fall for her false sentiment. After PA primary is over and if she doesn't win or only wins by a slim margin, PA and its people, bitter or not, won't matter to her anymore. It'll be just another state that didn't count to her. She's so fake, it makes me sick to hear her speak (or misspeak, as the case may be). And to think that she has been laughing about serious issues because she doesn't have a good answer for the totally plausible questions asked of her. Some of these things are simply not a laughing matter. The American people deserve better than a filthy-rich proven liar and power monger for a President.

    April 11, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. who is looking down on whom?

    I can say this: I am from a small town in Virginia, and I look up to Obama because he stands up for the average person. Why does he want to reveal the big salaries that CEOs are hiding from the average American? Why hasn't Hillary talked about how much CEOs get compared to the average American? Because her husband has made so many shady deals with them. I want Bill Clinton to give back all of the money he got from CEOs. Or better yet, why don't the Clintons give us some of that money because those CEOS took it from ordinary workers like me! It's filthy money.
    Bush at least made an honest salary compared to the Clintons.

    April 11, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  8. k2

    Obama is an empty suit who has no clue how people struggle to survive. He talks about "hope" and "change" because that's how he wins votes. Hope is not a plan.

    April 11, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  9. Oh Brother

    I have been hurt by loss of job,actually a few times.And I am bitter about it,I dont think Obama was speaking anything but the truth.I am incredibly angry that the great job I once had became more cost effective overseas and I had to start over again at 41 years old.Some that have experienced this were much older than I am,and I am certain they are just as bitter as I am.Obama is NOT wrong here,those who criticize this comment are wrong,there are many like me who are bitter.

    April 11, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  10. TheONE

    Hillary is just plan tired. When this race began I had nothing against her. Now with so much spin and campaign strategy changes as well as just lies, I really think that the people she has left supporting her are doing so out of sheer stubbornness. Obama has CLEARLY run the best campaign we've seen in years. I hope she does the right thing after she loses Penn and bows out gracefully for the betterment of the Democratic party.

    April 11, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  11. Mike

    If any of you Obama supporters were familair with Pennsylvania, you would realize that he can't win in Pa.

    The undecided vote will go to Senator Clinton, and lots of "so-called" Obama supporters will NOT cast their vote for him once they are in that voting booth.

    Pennsylvania folks are "hard working, proud people," this remark ("bitter") will not be forgotten.

    And, PLEASE, before you refer to me as an uneducated Hillary supporter, I proudly call myself Doctor (as in Surgeron).

    Go Hillary!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |


    OBAMA 08

    April 11, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  13. Sly in Seattle

    Hillary you are pathetic for this.. simply pathetic

    April 11, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  14. joseph

    obama is the best candidate with good initatives

    April 11, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  15. Michael

    "Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them," she said. "

    That's exactly what Hillary will do, look down on the citizens of this country as if she's better than us all. People of Pennsylvania: please stop this woman from going any further. On April 22nd you all have the power to stand against this woman and her communist ideals.

    Pennsylvania, stand up to her and declare as a unified state that her kind of politics are a thing of the past.

    April 11, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  16. Tanya

    If Obama is the candidate..he will lose.
    You think Hillary is hard on Barack....just wait . !!??
    If he did win...it would take him 4 years just to find his way out of the
    White House.

    April 11, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  17. Jen

    Such a desperate attempt to twist words. When did bitter = being looked down upon? I don't live in PA, I have a job and I'm bitter! I'm bitter about the dishonesty of the current adminsitration and about politicians who think we're so stupid that we'll buy any lie they try to sell us. This especially includes the Clintons. They couldn't tell the truth is they tried. If anyone looks down on the American people, it's them. Honestly, they really, really think we're buying thier act. Sigh...

    April 11, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  18. Lifelong Democrat, OHIO


    We MUST keep OBAMA from the White House... HE CAN NOT BE OUR PRESIDENT. I am willing to support anyone over Obama.

    Anybody but Obama '08

    April 11, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  19. CJ

    Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, what are you thinking? Anyone who has a family and has lost his/her job is always "bitter." Anyone who gives a large portion of his/her life to a company thinking there will be retirement, medical benefits, etc., has the life knocked right out of them when learning they have nothing and will have to start over. The response by you and McCain merely proves how out of touch the wealthy are with those who work for a living. I have been waiting to make my decision but as of this day, I think all of us better look toward Obama. Having you and McCain join forces against him looks rather suspicious to me!

    April 11, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  20. dave desmond

    Maybe the American people are so dumb and stupid to think that Obama was negative.
    How low will Hillary go?

    April 11, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  21. infiniti

    We all know Bill and Hillary brought in the welfare reform bill that impoverished the poor even more so by stopping financial aid after 5 years. The reform was suppose to put those people to work and make them self efficient. After making them self efficient, the Clinton's brought in NAFTA, CAFTA and etc., to take away their jobs. Now we have a major problem that the poor became poorer. They have insufficient government help and no jobs which has put them in a far worst position than they were before the reform. This has caused more criminal activities, robbing, break-ins, selling drugs and etc. People have live the best way they know how and this is what a lot of them was forced into doing.
    I'll tell you this, if we don't wisely elect the next president, with the rate in which this country is going downhill everyone is going to experience how and why blacks feel the way they do about slavery, discrimination, racist and everything else. We're all going to be slaves.
    We can keep sugar coating if we want to. The truth will sooner or later come out, it always has.
    The majority of our toll roads are already foreign owned. We're giving our country away, little by little.

    April 11, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  22. Venus

    I'm glad obama is getting careless, and Hillary has the right to point out his degrading of hard working Americans. He's always attacking Hillary Clinton every chance that he gets. It's not right what he said about the people of Pennsylvania. I mean what do we expect from someone who used there own grandmother as an example of racism.

    April 11, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  23. Eric-PA

    I'm offended! I live in PA. What do you know about the people of PA. Get out of my state! I've got my absentee ballot right in front of me. You're going down Obama!!!

    April 11, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  24. NLS

    I'd be bitter if I lost my job. I'd probably blame the tooth fairy or Nafta or terrorists.

    April 11, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  25. Bart

    Hillary is the one condescending to the voters of PA because she thinks they are too stupid to understand BO's comments. Actually it was effective in Ohio with the invented NAFTA scandal and her irate press conference calling Obama out so who knows? If there are enough uneducated, unemployed workers in PA, they may just fall for it. At this point she has nothing to lose. Clearly this is part of the kitchen sink strategy, as we get closer to poll time I expect one of her supporters to "remind" the voters that he's black again. 🙂

    April 11, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
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