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. Matt

    Hillary and her entire campaign are despirate and these latest comments proove it.

    Obama is the right person for the job at the right time!

    April 11, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  2. California girl

    Hey Liz: You sound bitter, he, he, he

    April 11, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. a perspective from abroad

    ALL american politicians including Mr Obama live a very good life, have wonderful salaries, economically powerful and influential friends, ambitions, and after they leave the oval office they all are well paid for conferences... So can they really "experience"/understand without beign condescending the daily problems of less fortunate citizens? In an intellectual manner is easy to say they are bitter... but in a practical way HOW these leaders propose to solve their problems? Hopefully media, reporters and public will concentrate in a more substantive discussion/comments not on personality, use of terminology, income, appearance, age, race, gender,spouse, etc and more on the PROGRAMS and concrete ACTIONS each one of the candidates offer the "bitter,resilent" people in the USA. In most of the "less developed countries" and even those "well off" countries people do not have the luxury of wasting time discussing irrelevant issues...

    April 11, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. s.b.

    This is why you don't nominate a first term junior senator as your presidential candidate.

    April 11, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  5. Blake

    To T L:

    "bitterness leads to revenge"

    what are you a Jedi or something T L. Leave star wars out of the equation. If I had been disenfranchised by my representatives I'd be bitter too.

    April 11, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  6. Jake

    You want to know what I'm bitter about?

    Nah, you don't.

    /basically... EVERYTHING that politicians have created for us
    //the idiocy of the libtards and contards constantly frightens me

    April 11, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  7. Mike Smithson

    Obama doesn't have a clue what heartland America is.

    April 11, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  8. Paulette, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Obama is showing his true colors. Keep on talking Obama you are doing a great job messing up your campaign by yourself. Now American is seeing the real Obama. Vote "Hillary 08"

    April 11, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  9. Marc, Seattle Wash

    You have to be kidding me Hillary, but people are mad that they are loosing there job. She is trying to say like the people are strong in PA and that they are, but when you are a big supporter of NAFTA and jobs are going overseas, how can you roll up your sleeves. She need a reality check. People are mad and they have the right to be. The Government is there for the people and people like Hillary has been taking advantage of the system and making there pockets fat. She made over 10 million for the year 07 and Upstate NY has lost over 200,000 jobs. A place that she promised would flourish. She is a joke and I hope the people of PA will not vote for her.

    April 11, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  10. Jake, PA

    I am bitter, and pissed and upset. I think bitter is kind in terms of how i feel.

    I am working harder for less, half my friends lost their jibs to China and NAFTA.

    Your darn right i'm bitter.

    April 11, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Danny

    I am really sick of all the ignorant comments posted by "intelligent" people. I read this stuff everday and it get more irrelevant by the minute. If all of the "intelligent democrats" would stop posting comments about these ignorant stories, democrats would not look so ignorant. Maybe we would all just begin to focus on the issues and winning in November. Neither Hillary or Barack are perfect and we need to focus on that fact and quit making every statement spoken a major issue.

    April 11, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. Mike

    Now Hillary, you know darn well Obama, was not talkig down to the people of PA... People over America, are bitter about the economy, hosusing, the gas crunch, I am bitter because our govt let us down again...HILLARY IS ALWAYS TRYING TO TO A SPIN ON SOMETHING
    TO SUIT HER NEEDS..This time it is todetract Bill's statements in the news about Basra.. Hillary go across this country and see that how bitter every is...it's a fact...

    April 11, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. gl

    An all time low leve of desperation on Hill's part. When are these Clinton's going to just get over it. I didn't think that this liar could sink any lower and guess what, she did !!!

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. Arthur-Texas

    This man (Obama) is not ready to be president.He wants to represent only his elitist liberal friends.He needs to say how bitter his good fiend J.Wright is and his wife.Now those are bitter people.

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. Rob

    What's condescending isn't that he used the word "bitter". It the "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them" line. He's basically calling them a bunch of racist redneck children who misdirect their frustrations.

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. TrutIsBitter

    Obama told the bitter truth. Its very unfortunate that Hillary has chosen to play with words when a sensitive issue like this is being discussed.

    Hillary this is soooo pathetic.

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. jane jones

    I know this will stay in moderation .but hillary clinton acts just like a raving lunatic who has nothing positive to say about herself....she behaves like a mad woman!!! I think she needs to see her doctor about giving her some medication..

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Has anyone taken note, when Hillary complained about Obama getting all the media time compared to herself. Well she's getting it and boy is she getting it and she keeps backing herself into a corner everytime. I think she's put herself in a real "hot seat", now she's trying to put Obama on the same seat with her. Won't work, Obama knows Hillary's tricks just like the rest of us. Go Obama.

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  19. Marie in California

    Obama....your true colors are showing! You really ARE out of touch with Middle America....the blue collar folks, the backbone of the USA....those who work the factories (the few that remain), the farmers and ranchers, the people who dig ditches and drive buses....the ones who suffer most from the outsourcing of manufacturing and farming, who struggle, and often fail, to make ends meet. Amazingly, most of them remain loyal to their country, patriotic to the end.

    Guess what, Mr. Obama? It's these victimized, loyal, patriotic, disenfranchised, suffering Americans who form the bulk of the voting populace. And they won't forget what you said, belittling them and their values.....not in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else, for that matter.

    No Obamination in the Presidency.....ever!

    Hillary or McCain – 2008

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  20. OlvrWhit

    You guys are missing the point. You are looking at the higlighted word of bitter and running crazy. You miss the point that what Obama is saying is that people in rural PA are bitter, they become bigots and cling to guns and religion. He is calling people bigots, saying that they are blaming everyone for their problems. This is Obama's words, not Clinton. I may be bitter about how things are, but that does not make me a bigot and I am not running for my gun or bible. Just how does Obama justify this comment. Its wrong. Its condesending.

    Also, please stop acting like the millionaire Obama is more connected to the common folk. He is not.

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. Nick, Rochester, NY

    So according to Barack the unemployed turn to guns and religion?
    Does he mean his Weathermen cronies, or Reverend Wright and his congregation?

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  22. SN from MN

    He's Toast.

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  23. Joe

    She is headed pell mell for hell.

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  24. hannah

    hillary – as a white woman who is over 45 and used to vote for you.......

    SHUT UP!!!!
    We are so sick of your drama. Is this election over yet?

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  25. hugo

    WOW! What a great uniter. I smell some of that "typical white people" attitude. The longer this campaign goes on the more we will see of Obama's real thinking. Hang on Hillary. This story has inspired me to make another donation. I'll pay any price to keep Obama and his bigot wife and pastor out of the White House.

    Everyone send $10.44 to Hillary!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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