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. Linda Love Jones

    Right. They are bitter, but that can be fixed. What people in the midwest don't understand is, they have to STOP voting for Republicans! Everytime people in the midwest put a Republican in the White House, that Republican ships the midwesterner's jobs right out of the country! I know because I'm from the midwest (Ohio)! People in Ohio are mostly Republican because they own a lot of property and don't want their property taxed. The Republicans do it anyway! Republicans gave the steel business to China and gave the Auto business to Japan, but still Ohio votes Republican. I've been to Ohio recently and it's almost a ghost town. One more Republican President and the entire State of Ohio is going to be for rent or sale.

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. sydney - UK

    I think after Bill Clinton came out and confirmed that the Clintons are liers, Hillary wanted to say that they are bitter because they've been caught out!!!!

    Remember, Bill did not have sexual sexual relationship with that woman.... then Hillary said she came under sniper fire... then she said pledged delegates do not matter in the race, and then she said supperdelegates do not matter either... so why don't the democrats just give it to her because she so desperate for the nomination that she's got to do anything...anything!!!

    Even damaging the prospest of Obama if he wins the nomination... is something she is dilibrately working at. This woman and her family are BITTER!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. Anne

    "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.

    HELLO???? Are you people even reading this? It's the whole comment, not one word!

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. Scott

    Obama has about as much chance of being elected President in 2008 as Gerald Ford. He's a loser and has only gotten as far as he has because of his supporters in the media, lying pollsters, and of course the absurd DNC rules that allow Obama to win when he loses (i.e., 1 more delegate in Nevada than Clinton even though he lost by 6 points!) and to "win" in caucuses throughout red-state America where he has ZERO chance of winning the general election.

    April 11, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Roger

    All that money that Obama is spending on advertisements in Pensylvania, which he is very likely going to lose, could have been used to at least pay half of the cost of a redo in Florida and Michigan. That's not good judgement to me.

    Hillary '08!

    And God BLESS America!

    April 11, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  6. mike

    can not believe he obama said that,he is through,he will now lose pa and the nomination,what a fool

    April 11, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  7. Adam

    This can't look good to John Edwards. I really wish Edwards would just endorse Hillary. She clearly is much more interested in helping the poor then Obama. Her goals are much more aligned with Edward's then Obamas.

    And seriously, Obama shouldn't start bashing the first Clinton administration. I would be shocked if an Obama presidency is half as good for the American people as Bill's was. I don't see why he has to put down a man who clearly did some great things for the American people. People talk about Hillary hurting the democratic party, but Obama putting down the best Democratic president that the country has seen in a long time doesn't help at all.

    April 11, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. Hildegarde Schildgen

    Clinton who supported nafta, mccain who wants to make permanent tax breaks to the wealthy and their both saying Obama is looking down at the people that have lost their jobs. give me a break.

    He is just stating what is on the minds of those workers that can't find decent jobs and i'm not talking the minimum wage jobs either.

    Hilde Illinois

    April 11, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  9. Linda

    Hillary stated at the Dems Debate in Cleveland, that if she wasn't nominated to be Commander & Cheif, then she thinks John McCain would be the next person most qualified to have the position.

    Is it me , or is she saying " If she can't have it, then the Republicans should. Where I come from that's called a Flip Artist

    April 11, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  10. CNE

    OH MY GOD! can america really handle a President who speaks the truth and don't hide behind washington politics. are we as americans that sensitive to the facts of life??

    April 11, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  11. Justin TX

    Its so funny how the media is still clinging onto this race.. I worked for the clinton campaign and there is literally only 5% chance of her winning the nomination at this point. People in politics know the real situation but its just funny that the media is still making this out to be a legit race. This was over after super tuesday. Obama is the nominee, period.

    April 11, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  12. Carmen

    Hillary get a life. Yes they are bitter because you and your husband sign the NAFTA deal and took their jobs. You are such a jerk. You are now trying to find anything to use against him.

    April 11, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  13. Tell It Like It Is


    Frankly, just STOP all the politically correct mumbo jumbo calling for this one to apologoze, condemn, denounce.
    Just come out swingin" with the FACTS.

    Why is Obama so frightened to admit mistakes?
    To keep the hype alive you've got to believe yourself.

    How does being against the Iraq war from the start "formulate" any exit strategy for our military and the Iraqi citizens? How does it help secure that nation?
    WAKE UP!

    April 11, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. Ankur

    If she is messing up a primary campaign this bad..
    Do we really think she can run a general campaign?

    If Obama isn't even attacking her too strongly and she's faltering..
    Do we really think she stands a chance against McCain once he really starts to rip into her?

    April 11, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. mike pa

    how many of you are on obamas payroll? seriously this story broke not 20 mintues ago and 90% of the post are pro obama. looks like damage control to me. look the average voter do not read your blog for political clarity. steve wonder can tell obama is words and he is black by the way. we all know clinton is going to win and its scaring all of you, wait a copule of week it all going to be clear.......................

    April 11, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. Anna W.

    THANK YOU, JEFF TOOBIN, for giving reasoned expression to the absolute OUTRAGE I am feeling over this preposterous attempt to distort Obama's statements. It is very satisfying to once in a while be treated with respect by the media.

    April 11, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. Matthew

    This is just horrible. Again Obama has put his foot in his mouth. I can't belive a candidate would say such a horrible remark about American people that are facing a hardship. So if your poor and living in Pennsylvania, or struggling with finding a job you turn to guns and religion. That is just ridiculous. Obama... Obama... Up here, look me in the eyes and call me a typical white male. – HILARY ALL THE WAY 08

    April 11, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  18. fkennedy

    I can't believe what I am seeing. Every time Obama opens his mouth and puts his foot in it it's automatically Hillary's fault. Did she make him sit in a church that spewed hatred for 20 years NO. Did she write the Michelle "This is the first time I've ever been proud of my country " speech NO. Hillary has made a lot of mistakes it's called being human people. I'm sure Mr. Perfect Obama will lead us down the path full of flowers and sunshine.

    Sounds stupid doesn't it but that's how all of you sound. I am a registered independent but always vote for the democrats. This is the first time ever I think that the Republicans will get my vote.

    April 11, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  19. MP17

    What does Obama know about people living in hard times? He didn't grow up poor. He went to the most expensive prep school in Hawaii. He went to Harvard. His father went to Harvard. Hillary genuinely cares about people and it comes across in everything she does. When has Obama ever been there for the working people? He only speaks of pie in the sky, not meat on the table. I would be so proud to have Hillary as my president.

    Go, Hillary!

    April 11, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  20. patricia

    dlg are you allergic to honesty and integrity? That is the only thing I can think would cause Obama to make your skin crawl.

    April 11, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  21. Blake


    1. having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, like that of aspirin, quinine, wormwood, or aloes.
    2. producing one of the four basic taste sensations; not sour, sweet, or salt.
    3. hard to bear; grievous; distressful
    4. what the nation would be if McSame is elected. to the tune of 28% approval.

    April 11, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  22. RachelBSW

    Remarks could shape the campaign. Are you guys serious CNN. I can't believe this is really news.

    April 11, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  23. Geez...

    That comment won't go well for Obama, especially when he is tied with the "latte and white wine drinker " voters who are supposed to be the well educated. His comment could be construed as the voters who lost their jobs are pointing finger at immigrants, religion, free trade etc. In other words darling, can't you just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it. Nope, that won't work in Peoria and those "bitter" voters will have buyer's remorse.

    April 11, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  24. Matthew

    I can't believe that CNN is making this trivial. The comments made by Obama sound as if we are listening to Reverend Wright. Stop supporting Obama.

    April 11, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  25. Bobby A

    It's ok. Obama can say anything, because he's buying this primary election, just like George Bush did with the general election last time.

    I guess who ever makes speeches about nothing and shovels cash on top of it wins. Very American.

    April 11, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
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