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. Allison

    What is the probelm with Obama's comment? It is the ruth. Obama was being sympathetic and telling the truth.

    April 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  2. Deloris, Pennsylvania

    . . . ..Senator Obama was telling the truth. The people should be bitter
    because their condition is partly because of Clinton's NAFTA.

    April 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  3. mark

    Talk about Pathetic! Obama once again proves his inexperience and poor judgement in making such a disrespectful comment about the people of PA. This is the same poor judgement that he used to attend rev. Wright's church for 20 years. Obama is nowhere near qualified to be President and he has proved it yet again. Obama has no business being in the current position he is in.

    April 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  4. LT for Obama

    Just another way Hillary tries to deflect attention from her ever declining campaign. The polls have proven that people are really looking at the fact that, like she said, she will do ANYTHING to win this nomination. That includes lying and the retracting when she gets caught and having once again to reign in her husband for talking too much.

    What really amazes me is that those of you who continue to attack Barack on the issue of Wright seem to be very ill informed. Have any of you really listened to the 9/11 sermon in whole? Have any of you actually listened to any of the sermons in their entirety?

    The problem is that you are all listening to snipets and not getting the whole story and IGNORING the responses of Barack Obama who has explained why he stayed and when he actually heard the bits of sermons that you continually go on and on about.

    I am so sick of the constant back and forth of both sides, but mostly, I am sick of people trying to put down Barack for such mundane issues and people being bitter when in fact, if you really talk to these people one-on-one, will find they are bitter and upset that their jobs are gone and that there have been no new jobs to replace them and that, yes, many do blame immigrants for taking jobs that they could be doing. I have seen it on the news and in articles. Has anyone else? I find it hard to believe that no one else has heard these complaints from people in some of these towns.

    April 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. Sean

    Obama is empathizing with small towners, saying they have been pushed to being bitter or anti-immigrant. If Hillary comes out and says that she's seen nothing but happy and resilient Pensylvanians, then maybe she's not listening well enough, meaning that she can only make the situation worse.

    April 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. jennifer smith

    As someone from a very small town in rural Kentucky i do not find obamas comments offensive at all .It's not offensive if your right!!

    April 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. Marc For America

    It's not the "bitter" word that was disrespectful. It was the ".. they cling to their guns, religion...etc., etc." that appeared condescending. As if to imply they can only deal with problems primitively.

    April 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. John from Las Vegas

    Poor Hillary, the more you let Bill speak for you, the lower your chances.

    Oh..wait...that's right......you've already lost!

    OBAMA '08......PEACE '09

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

    This is just sad. People keep saying Hillary is a fighter, but it seems she can't fight her way out of a wet paper bag. She is knowingly causing intense bickering and resentment in her own party. Most of her viewpoints are very similar to that of Obama. So I ask why can't she be happy with someone in office that stands for a lot of the same things she does? Why drag out a race when you know the only way for you to win is for the lead car to get a flat? What is next? Will she criticise Obama's tie and say Michelle has bad hair? I wouldn't put it past her. This is petty.

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

    Oh, and if you're going to attack Obama for being "rich" I would re-examine Hillary's tax returns and McCain's worth . . .

    April 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Obama is not looking down on peoples. There is a lot of peoples bitter about there jobs. I known if i lost my job i will be bitter Work 20 years on a job and you lost it see how you would feel. Hillary don't known nothing about working peoples. Look how she got her money.

    April 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  12. Coleman R. Brice, Asbury Park, NJ

    Well what's not to be bitter about Hillary? What's he guilty of? Observing the truth and stating it?

    April 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  13. Silvia Salcido, Fresno, CA

    No thanks to Senator Obama either... what has he done for Pennsylvania folks or Katrina folks during the time he's been in the Senate??? Absolutely nothing - just a bunch of hopeful speeches!!!!!No wonder Pennsylvania's feel lots of "antipathy" toward him.

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  14. Neutral


    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  15. joaquin

    I think he is telling the truth. I am also angry and bitter against the Bush administration for all the damage they have done tot he nation. I do not understand Clinton keeps attacking Obama for those comments. I think they are in part true.

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  16. Russell

    Obama in 08 = United States Loser for 4 more years!!!!

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  17. Barbara L. Giles

    Hillary, you have just grasped the longest straw in history. Of course, people would be angry if their jobs were taken away from them. They are bitter because Washington has not and is not doing anything about it. Obama speaks the truth. If my job were snatched from under me, I would be bitter also. Hillary, you are losing, and you are trying to find anything that can hurt Obama. You are doing more harm than good. What you need to do is try getting a muzzle for your husband's trap. Take care of your home first. OBAMA 08!

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  18. Bill

    Barack Obama speaks the truth. I was out of work in 1976, and bitter is only one of the negative feelings one has. People want the truth, not some sugar coated campaign tale of what wonders you will perform. You can roll up your sleeves until the cows come home. Keeping jobs in this country is an over simplified answer to you Global Economy How many jobs have been lost through, NAFTA, SHAFTA, etc? The entrenched polticos in Washington have created this problem. It is a problem to see a foreign made car with an "I'm Proud To Be An Amercan " sticker. Buying American products is not an isolationist act. It is Americans helping Americans rather than waiting for your promises to bear fruit. Obama says what Hillary is afraid to say.

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  19. Bill L

    When people speak the truth about the problems in America, be it poverty, homelessness, teen pregnecy, job losses, prison population, failure of government to respond, etc., politicians jump up and criticize the speaker because they know it is a comment on their failure to address the problems we face. The problems exist, don't deny them.

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. Angie

    Obama has it right, I am extremely bitter at the state of this country. Mayhill sold her soul to put out a ridiculous contrived and contorted story.

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  21. Joe

    As an unemployed Pennsylvanian factory worker I can tell you I am not bitter. I really don't care what Obama say's. I'm not voting for the new kid on the block for the most important position in America. I'll take the vetted Clinton's who know how to get things done by playing by the rules or making them up as they go along. Obama seems to think that once he's President he will be able to get stuff done because he is The President. He thinks he's going to unite Washington to bring about change. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  22. Lynda

    Clinton and McCain are the one's out of touch. My brother hasn't been able to find work for years. My other brother just got laid off. Are they bitter, you bet they are.

    Clinton is sleezy to be jumping on this. But then again, I bet she doesn't listen to a word all the people are saying to her.

    We are all bitter. Bitter to have no jobs, bitter trillions are going into a war we never wanted.

    America needs a President in touch with reality. That's not CLinton

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  23. George in Texas

    Obama is right.

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  24. jaki

    this stuff is so asinine. hillary grew up rich, married a guy who she pegged to be one day big and powerful– then gamed the political system to stay rich and the woman has the nerve to call a poor born black guy done good– out of touch with the average guy.

    clinton supporters continue to make the woman rich. send her your money- she's do for another 20 mill on her next book, more if she looses the race. she'll be so rich that even Oprah will have to pay respects.

    but all rich folks know, you get rich by spending other folks money- so keep sending Hillary your money- keep the game going for her. no wonder she's always cackling at direct questions without answering them- the fools just don't get it.

    April 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  25. HILLARY!

    The Huffington Post reporter who is a BO SUPPORTER, said SHE was bothered by his remarks! SHE was bothered! She struggled with the decision to release it........what does that say??????
    You elitist media and the BO family are SOOOOO out of touch!!!!

    April 11, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
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