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. Renee L

    He's not looking down on people. Read the whole transcript. For once, put yourself in their place. I have a cousin in NC who feels the same way about the government given that everyone is losing factory jobs. Please think about how you feel if your skills were no longer valued and there were no jobs for your skills.

    I think PA needs to look at how NAFTA has played in people losing their jobs.

    April 11, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. Hillary 08

    Less than 12 days left in the campaign and here we go again. If you are poised to win Penn., Hill, please at least look presidential. Maggie please advise her. No more missteps and for the record I am a Hill supporter.

    April 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  3. life's_a_google


    April 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Numbers don't add up for Obama: If he becomes the nominee, Obama is going to lose NH, MI and PA in the GE to John McCain, as well as put WI, CA and MA into play. Even if he wins IA and gets VA riding on Mark Warner's coattails, that would not be enough. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton can win OH, AR, and FL on her own as well as VA, and put NH, FL, IN, MO, TN and AR into play giving her a more than fair chance to win the GE. The General Election is winner take all, where every one has only one vote, and Obama will not be able to game the system like he did in Tx where he lost the popular vote, but still came ahead in delegate count, and the caucus states where less than 10% of the population (I am being generous here) decides who wins the nomination. It doesn't matter if he leads John McCain in the opinion polls, because the samples taken are not representative of the electoral college votes, but rather the popular vote, and every one knows the popular vote doesn't mean a thing.

    April 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  5. boomer babe for Obama

    Obviously, Obama is too honest and open to watch every word for spin-potential.

    April 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  6. Jason from Harrisburg

    Obama tells the truth and rallies people to change America. I don't know about you but I am sick of politicians like the Clintons that twist lies upon lies. They are trying to play the hard working citizens of America so they can get a power trip. Enough! Take back American and stand for "liberty for all!!!"

    OBAMA '08!!!!

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

    On one hand, Obama is supposed to be a brilliant orator, a wordsmith. On the other hand, his campaign is constantly having to apologize, "That's not what he meant." Does anyone else see a problem? Both can't be true and I think Americans are starting to wake up and see through the Obama "mystique."

    April 11, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. ed from the unrepresented midwest

    This is typical. Obama stands up to say what is actually the truth and he is spoken of as out of touch. Hillary is now speaking as if Obama said nothing can be done.I believe his remarks were just the opposite.What he is saying is clearly being put into a sound bite rather than being represented as a bold statement. That being said I live in the midwest in Toledo ,Ohio where jobs are n't plentiful and people are frustrated with the general direction of this county due to the lack of care and understanding from the current President. I am losing more and more respect fo journalism like this. Slam is not what I would call it I would call it just about right on.

    April 11, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. M

    When do we stop "pouncing" on EVERY comment made by the candidates and acting like an old dog with a bone? There are enough issues in this campaign and I am so sick of hearing how "Obama said people were bitter" and this will ruin his campaign, or Hillary told a story she thought was true and it wasn't (so she got bad information-big deal) or whatever comes up today or tomorrow or the next day that 24/7 news drags around for hours and hours and hours until whatever they criticize actually becomes an issue because of the constant coverage. GET OVER IT! Can we talk about IDEAS and INTENT instead of just words?

    April 11, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. vic nashville,Tn

    This statement proved that Obama following the foot step of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers Just now I watched Lou Dobbs
    Obama Please quit the race

    April 11, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  11. Rev. Christine Glover






    April 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  12. Jules

    The truth isn't always easy to admit. I heard the comments and my first reaction was, how true that is. It's unfortunate, but it's the truth.

    April 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  13. SN from MN

    It was connecting relgion, guns, the frustration with immigration, etc. with being bitter ( connotations: helpless, losers). He said "people seek religion because they're losers". Wow is he done!

    April 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. Andrew

    I own a handgun, believe in God and I'm against illegal immigrants and it's not because I'm bitter!!!

    DON'T vote for Obama!

    April 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. Joe

    Obama insults small town America. They cling to guns and religion and foster anti-immigrant and antitrade antittudes. Listen to the Obama tape on CNN. That is what he said. It is rude and insulting – Obama's comments. Obama is eltist and snobbish and now may lose. Rural Americans vote!

    April 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. Kristi

    Everyone, but Senator Obama, seems to be afraid to SAY what everyone is acutually FEELING and THINKING!!! Yes, of course these people who lost and are losing their jobs are bitter. Wouldn't you be?? You can ultimately thank the Bush Adminstration and NAFTA (part of the Clinton Adminstration) for this!!

    April 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. Alllen

    So what does Obama think they are doing with these guns? Bitter – Gun – Are we Pennsylvanians shooting up our employers now..... BHO get it right

    April 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. l3sli3 from michigan

    why is it ok to prey on every word obama says, even if i truly believe he was emphasizing with pennsyvannians but of course the loser hilliary who is worth 50 million will try anything to get off the topic that her husband signed in free trade with jobs going to mexico. only hilliary is allowed to misspeak or lie

    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  19. richardm

    Obama is completely out of touch with citizens. He's out of touch on most things and is not qualified to be a senator let alone Commander in Chief. In one sentence he's made fun of guns, religion, and the economy. We're only bitter at out of touch bigots!

    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. FCA

    It is unbelievable to me that people are so ignorant. It is obvious that people who go through economic problems become bitter and become religious and tend to buy guns for multiple reasons. I think people need to stop being politically correct so we can look past the BS that surrounds the country and blinds people from the real problems and issues. Hillary has sold her soul through the years and needs to realize the American people want and need a person who will make change between the race divisions. For her to drop now would be in the best interest for the Democratic Party, so stop being selfish Hillary, and help the brother.

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

    Its about time someone tells the truth. What Obama said is exactly true. How many times have you seen someone who has everything working in their favor be bitter, mad, upset, or unpleaseant. Never. Its no secret that religion is a poor man's philosophy. Hillary is looking for anything to boost her ratings and help get her a vote. If she is president I bet she will do anything to keep anyone in her graces. Everyone is resilient! I know this is true because we are all not dead. The homeless man on the street who is there each morning is resilient, if he werent he wouldve killed himself and not be there each morning. Get a life Hillary. Stop complaining. DROP OUR!!!!

    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  22. sazzylady11

    reve;emt: April 11th, 2008 6:08 pm ET

    Every time you see someone post a comment that says, effectively, "I'd vote for McCain before I vote for Obama"…

    Remember that that is a Republican plant trying to screw with our nomination
    Let me inform you that ive been a democrat probably longer than you have lived and I know my father in law has , hes 03 .

    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  23. cyp

    This Obama guy is very arrogant , elitist
    and condesending.

    And his campaign is stunned that he can actually exibit that kind
    of attitude. I guess they themselves don't know him.

    Hillary for President

    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  24. Di

    I do not see anything wrong in what Obama said..Am I missing something?

    McCain 08

    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  25. J. Maki

    Saying that people are bitter because they have lost their jobs and have been sold out by theri government is far from being condescenting or elitist. An observation that people may turn to religion,or guns, or seek to blame immigrants is a hard fact of human behaviour, and is not " out of touch " with real life. It may not be pretty, but it is real life.

    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
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