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. Bitter Floridian

    Apparently Obama makes wide sweeping generalizations about people to make himself look good. The only this politician is able to use Words, just words to get himself into and out of these problems.

    Reality = Obama is a politician, and he will tell you what you want to hear to get him elected.

    Fantasy = He cares about the American People

    Reality = Obama doesn't know America

    Reality = Obama's "change" remains unknown; an amorphic unquantifyable concept that gets tossed around to rally people to him.

    Fantasy = Obama's preacher is a crazy old man

    Reality = Rev Wright uses hate speech to get his point across and while Obama flipflops on whether he heard those hateful speeches, he made him an advisor to his campaign and then supports his hatespeech by throwing race under the bus, his white grandmother under the bus, and becomes black when he wants and white when he wants... The reality is his grandmother is his blood and you can't disown her, your spiritual advisor you can change, you can see a pastor who meets your needs (not use as a political polevault to the Illinois legislature, and ultimately US Senate).

    Fantasy = Obama thinks every vote should count

    Reality = Obama has done everything to disenfranchize Florida and Michigan voters and that is just down right unpatriotic, un American, and that makes me bitter!

    April 11, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  2. I Love Hillary

    We love you Hillary - Keep on fighting!
    We want you in the White House, period.

    Go Rocky!

    April 11, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  3. Jackson

    NObama will get more people to vote for the GOP nominee than any democrat since ....................... Kerry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. Janet White

    This is the Obama arrogance coming through again. His whole attitude is "I've got mine. Aren't I wonderful. Vote and give me more."

    April 11, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  5. Glenn; Delta, PA.

    As a Pennsylvanian, and someone who lost his home after being forced into foreclosure and bankruptcy I feel bitter just touches the tip of the iceberg. If he did say it, good for him. If not, he should have. It's nice to hear that a candidate isn't going to blow smoke up my butt and call it resilience and optimism. Isn't there another state she can campaign in???

    April 11, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. Kurt C.

    Ridiculous. I'm not rich and I got a tax cut. Obama needs to be more informed.

    April 11, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  7. Sonia CA

    You're 110% right Hillary!
    What an awful comment to make about anybody! I have never come across a bitter person, let a lot Pensylvannians!!

    April 11, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  8. Deb, IN

    I just wish Hillary will come out with whatever she's been sitting on about Obama and take him out once and for all.

    He will not win in November, I guarantee it!

    April 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. b

    The lost jobs that the Pennsylvania workers could be bitter about losing perhaps might have been prevented by voting NO fo NAFTA, Hillary

    April 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  10. Scott

    time to quit Hillary. No one wants Bill loose in the whitehouse again.

    April 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. John

    He said people were "bitter" because politicians have made empty promises about bringing jobs back. It was taken way out of context! And McCain and Clinton, who are worth more than 100 million dollars each, have no right to talk about Obama being "out of touch" with the American people. Barack worked as a community organizer for years in poor parts of Chicago (and this was after graduating with honors from Harvard Law).

    April 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  12. mel

    "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"

    They cling to religion Obama? You must be joking, you who in the name of religion and with the pretext that you wanted to find Jesus you stayed with a lunatic preacher. You are calling these people militants,racists, xenophobic, overzealous religious fanatics and in front of a group of your rich of supporters.You sir are in serious trouble after these inflammatory remarks.

    April 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. Chris H

    Saints preserve me from the obamamaniacs who, despite their so-called better education seem incapable of stringing a coherent sentence together, let alone a formulating a reasoned and informed thought. It is truly scary that these people ( at least the ones who are of legal age) are voting.

    April 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Jonathan 23yo from PA

    I am a white male from PA. Should I respond with my "typical white man's fears" or with my "bitter Pennsylvanian's" views. This is not the first time he has sterotyped not only myself, but thousands of people. This is rediculous, how could you people not understand WHY WE ARE BITTER/ANGRY when we have to put up with this kind of behavior. Are we suppose to trust him and vote for him? I absolutely will not vote for someone who has sterotyped me multiple times without ever meeting me or talking to me. Everytime he visits the area you need to buy a ticket to see him. Hillary has events open to all public. No wonder why he raises all that money and no one can talk about anything that he wants to do IF he becomes president.

    April 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  15. Linda

    he said what????? more bad judgement

    April 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. Mary

    This is one white woman who will never ever ever vote for Hillary in a million years.

    I'm so sick of her and her lies and blaming other people it's not even funny.

    April 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. Sensible Thinker in CA

    I'm shocked...just shocked at this womans complete desperation and "say anything" tactics.

    The context in which Sen Obama used the word "bitter" is entirely empathetic - not condemning or demeaming. Read the quote, for God's sake! How can you twist that into being a direct jab into the hearts of hard-working people?

    And Elitist? Who's the multi-millionaire here? Hint: It's not the kid who worked to make good after being raised in single-parent household.

    Hillary, just how low are you willing to go? Shame on you.

    And McCain - well America deserves a President who has the energy and the vision to make a difference - for our citizens and our country.

    OBAMA '08

    April 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  18. HILLARY!

    CNN.......you are part of the elitists.....I wouldn't expect any of your "Best Political Team" to even begin to understand how demeaning BO's words sound...........you have truly hit a new low and even I didn't think that was possible......nice attempt at spinning this as Hillary's problem, boy, you must be absolutely terrified to find out how this plays out in PA......sorry, but the SurveyUSA polls are soooooo much more reliable than ANY others! This ought to add to her 18 point LEAD in PA!
    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  19. Julie

    Talk about arrogance and elitism. Yes, we "little people" here in the "heartland" get that we're stupid lowlifes. I live 30 miles from Chicago, yet I feel hugely dismissed by his remarks.

    What an arrogant twerp.

    April 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  20. Lenore

    The only thing wrong with the comments he made is that they are true. He's a politician, he should know better.

    April 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  21. Diana NJ

    For our leaders to believe we would not feel bitter when life is getting tougher and tougher make me question if they are the ones who either have lost touch with reality, or simply because the truth is their lives are not affected so they are not sympathetic and don't feel the pain,. They think we are optimistic, we can hang onto the false hope that one day we would all be better and don't challenge the status quo. Truely, that is just life in denial and hyprocritic. Thanks Obama for the true understanding. We have no intent to be bitter but life makes us so.

    April 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  22. Brian

    Mike: "If a war hero John Kerry couldnt beat AWOL George Bush in 2004, then Obama a non military, church American hating goer hasnt a chance against a POW war hero like McCain.

    Looks like another 4 years of Republicans. If Hillary gets the nomination then I we as democrats have a realistic chance to win."

    –> Well Mike, I'm glad you're not running for president with logic like that! Wow, that was the most ridiculous, closed-minded, unrealistic comment I've read in a long time.

    Kerry lost due to a lot of reasons, not the least of which he didn't have a solid foundation of set goals. Obama is just as well spoken, if not better, and has a very solid plan. If you're not familiar with it, go to his website and find out – it's spelled out for everyone.

    As far as calling Obama a "church American hating goer", well...that was not only untrue, but so ridiculous I had to keep myself from laughing out loud in the library. How did you ascertain that theory? I'm so sick of people mislabeling others because of what certain officials say that may support them. I do not hold HRC responsible for every word that comes out of a supporter's mouth (except her staff, of course), and the same holds true for Obama. It makes no sense to castigate someone for comments he/she had no control over. Obama left the church, so let it lie.

    As far as Obama's odds of beating McCain....funny you say HRC has a better chance. Haven't you seen any polls? ALL of them point to Obama having a better chance of beating McCain than HRC. And with the latest poll of Dems, 51% support Obama, 42% for HRC.

    It's beyond obvious Obama will be the Dem. nominee, and once the battle begins against McCain, there's no way Obama can't win. This country, and the world, is SO SICK of Dubya and his backwards politics. There's NO chance for his follower McCain to win, considering what's happened since we've had GW in office.

    OBAMA '08

    April 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  23. TX

    Most of the suburban and metro people supporting Obama are quite emotionally charged up, not because they like Obama, but because they like to see a 'change', without even knowing what that would mean in future. He is getting blind support of muslim community worldwide because of his middle name. He is getting vast support from black community, students and independents.

    But, is he getting support from rural America ? No.
    He does not care for "bitter" and "typical white Americans".
    Sen Obama is talking to rich, who can donate to his campaign, and those who live in big cities.

    April 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  24. Tanya K

    Open mouth, insert foot.

    April 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  25. l

    To all those that feel that Obama should win the nomination because he will end up losing to McCain in november I ask "Is it better to elect a Liar?" What kind of message are we sending our kids?

    April 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
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