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. dale in indiana

    nothing like a bunch of whining obamabots. they can't seem to get it.if he can't see past wright(HA) how can he see what the real problems are..

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


    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  3. Pat Long

    You Idiots! Obama did not slam the small towns or those who have lost out due to a changing econoy. He speaks the truth! Small towners without any hopes are in that mold.
    i am from Ohio and a steel mill town. My education has allowed me to move away. But My origins are in Butler County which s not in good shape.

    The problem is education, education education. Companies will not come to areas where they have tp import significant amounts of educated workers that are already in shortage.

    I have vote libertaina in the last 2 electyions.So I am not inclined to any party.

    The pols need t talk about reforming and investing in education,( and giving back to the parentsaka. reigning in the teachers union) .

    At least Obama talks to us like we are adults.

    April 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  4. Supa D

    Well, I think the truth is the truth.
    Why do most of of want a change in Government ?
    We are bitter, Pissed, or any other word you may want to use.

    As for what Rev. Wright said
    He told the truth as salty as it is.
    Watch the new flow of Herion comming to your neighborhood's
    Coke was flown in to this country by US planes guarded by our soldiers and by the way some of them lost their live
    and we made Ollie North a Hero

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

    Obama; "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.

    I KNOW NOBODY WHO HAS an "anti-immigrant sentiment". I know MANY people who have "anti-ILLEGAL/CRIMINAL-immigrant sentiment! ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS AGAINST THE LAW Sen. Obama! You Lawmakers Wrote the laws, yet refuse to enforce them.

    HOW DARE YOU use THE WORD "IMMIGRATION" When Talking About ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. HOW DARE YOU! Then, What an arrogant "Politition! Cling to guns & religion because they're BITTER?
    NO APPOLOGY CAN or WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER YOUR ARROGANT, SELF CENTERED COMMENTS. You are a phony sir, nothing more than a phony & it shows every time you open your mouth! Discusting!

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

    Obama needs to drop out of the race NOW! His empty rhetoric is dull and boring. He has no solutions, just speeches. We need someone with real solutions and who will fight for us! Hillary Clinton is that leader!

    She is the only one who can beat McCain in the general election. The latest poll shows Obama tied 45-45 with McCain (down 10 points from just a couple months ago). This is BAD news for Democrats if he gets elected, because he will continue to drop in the ratings. Hillary still has a decent enough lead at 48-45. She's won the big states and can win them again in the general election. Obama will lose because he can only win caucuses. There are no caucuses in the general election. Democrats will be in huge trouble if Obama wins the nomination.

    Obama gets slimier by the second too! He's running commercials in my state that he doesn't take lobbyist money. However, there are several news articles out on Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune outlining the millions and millions of dollars he has taken from lobbyist. Or what about his claim on the oil company? He doesn't take money from them (he actually does) and doesn't want to give them tax cuts (he voted for a Cheney bill that gives the oil companies HUGE tax cuts). This guy is a liar and two faced. His campaign is "Do as I say, not as I do.". Everything is a double standard.

    Hillary '08

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

    This is so crazy when you watch the reporters on Fox and CNN who try to destroy Obama. My only question is where do you turn when things are going bad for you? People turn to God, they turn to fishing, they turn to hunting and anything else that me easy their minds from they pain that’s going on in their lives. It’s so sad to see the same reports over and over again trying to destroy his campaign.

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  8. Ron Bradley

    I watch CNN daily and normally feel your reporting is straight forward and non-biased. BUT something you do that drives me nuts is that you vent a story and make sweeping judgements before you fully investigate it. I am now speaking of the latest on Obama's comments about Pennsylvanians. You are not at all non-biased on this one. You present it as a total negative before knowing the context.

    It thoroghly disgusts me the way you jump on a story and lead your public!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. Linda of Atlanta

    This is absurd! People who have lost their jobs, their homes and their way of life are angry and bitter. I don't blame them. Instead of playing this like it is Obama looking down on people who have lost everything, people ought to look at this, recognizing that he understands where they are coming from. This is just another Hillary attempt to try to steal this election. And I am not surprised that she doesn't understand bitterness. She has had everything handed to her on a silver platter. Because she is loosing this election, she seems more than a little bitter to me. it's just that she is incapable of recognizing bitterness even in herself.

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  10. Gloria

    Obama is absolutely right!!! I live in PA and today I decided to vote FOR HIM.. He is the one who understand people like me in a hard economic situation... YOU CNN ARE WRONG to make him looks ELITIST .. You and Clintons are ELITISTS! Not Barack !! You can make a big issue of his remarks but people in PA trust him and Clintons will be out of our state .. SHANE on you HC and McCain to attack him for telling the TRUTH!!! Shame on you who replaced L.Dobbs, you seem out of touch with ordinary Americans!!



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

    It is a shame that the media has to "parse" words so they can make it understandable to us viewers at home. I wish I could simply hear what the candidates have to say, and make my own determination as to what characteristics I want to attribute to the candidate. I am a staunch republican, but the rebuttal to this speach leaves me "bitter" towards Mr. McCain.

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  12. BIGG- O


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

    OOPs was in a hurry My father in law is 93 and We all will vote MCCAIn if obama is nominee. We are the BASE democrats

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. Jerry

    Ugh, here we go again! Let's see how long this one lasts. No one can touch this man. He was not condescending in the least. The comment is not as alarming as is the fact the the same group of morons who took Kerry's "stuck in iraq" comment out of context will do the same for Obama. Now that I think about it, middle america does need to pull it's nose out of there bibles and DO SOMETHING to help this country.

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  15. Patrick

    I am sick and tired of this! One: anyone who has heard the “audio file” can tell you they cant tell who it is. Two: He was lambasting The Clinton Administration and Bush administrations. Three: I would get bitter to if I lost my job. Three: contrary to what Clinton says he did not say that they where not any of the long list of things she claimed and last, all he was saying is that they where fed up with the last few presidents.

    I hope CNN hears this!

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  16. Cheryl

    I am rural America, and I am both resilient and bitter. Until someone writes me a check for 109$ million, that is likely to continue. Obama is our only hope. Hiliary, since you can't keep your husband quiet, you have decided to hammer away on your opponent. You are such a drama queen. You are done in Pa. Face the music...

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  17. surprised

    The anti-Hillary vindictiveness of these posts surprised me. The comment (which was recorded and verified) included: "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." Sure people are bitter, duh. But it's how Obama characterized the consequence of that bitterness that bothers me. And remember that this is a campaign. Even Obama would not pull out the troops if he gets elected. There is hype on every side.

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  18. Anna

    Obama went for sweeping prejudicial judgment. Offensive statements like this one are going to be very detrimental, particularly because he asks of white america to be open minded and tolerant. He should be the fist and lead by example and he failed

    April 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Cathy

    EXCUSE ME!!! I'm a 'rural american' and I AM BITTER!!! Have you seen the small town 'Good Ole Boy' corruption? It's rampant!

    April 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. tonybama

    Sounds like Hillary is really grasping at straws. I too live in an area where the economy stinks and, yes, some people are bitter.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong or condescending about what he said. Hillary can try to twist it anyway she likes. For me, this bitteress is why I am supporting Barack.

    April 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  21. Anne in Texas

    I've been watching the CNN panel discuss this issue, and I still can't see how someone can categorize Obama's words as elitist. A person loses a job they've had for years due to offshoring is pretty darned likely to feel bitter, angry, frustrated, even have periods of despair. It doesn't necessarily follow that they won't pull themselves up the bootstraps and get back onto their feet somehow, and, in scouring Obama's words, I can't find any implication that he doesn't understand that. I can only conclude that anyone perceiving elitism in his message is looking for an excuse to undermine him.

    Yes, I'm an Obama supporter, but I try to keep my mind open to both of the Democratic candidates' strengths and weaknesses, and, despite my best efforts, I just don't see this latest so-called faux pas as anything that should be an issue.

    I wish our politics didn't involve candidates picking each other apart, putting unintended interpretations on their every word. Come on, people, look at the issues, not the spins!

    April 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  22. kenneth Williams

    The truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth!!!!!!!!Ask Bill what he thinks?

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

    This shows Senator Barack Obama's true character. In other words, he is a big fake and he stands for nothing. Between these current rude comments and Obama's former Pastor Wright Jr. this should raise a big red flag about Obama's lack of judgement. If Obama gets the Democratic nomination over Senator Hillary Clinton then they deserve to lose the election in November. Didn't Democrats learn anything from the 2004 election? This is a year that where Democrats have an excellent chance to win if they play their cards right by voting in Hillary Clinton to victory for the nomination. It's clear to me now that Obama is out of touch with the average everyday American and I will never vote for him.

    April 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  24. avgJoe

    this reveals Obama's contempt for white people and blue-collar people who surprse aren't "like him"

    April 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. BillieJean in Idaho

    I can't begin to understand how what Obama said was so insulting or degrading....I understand exactly what he meant. I deal with hurting families everyday in my occupation. When people are hurting, bitter or anger many of them turn to religion...they either become closer drawing on strength from their faith or they blame God and become angry at their religion. Many males that are bitter or hurting turn to hunting, shooting range or outdoor activites involving weapons. Those who can't deal with bitterness or anger sometimes use guns in acts of violence.

    Many of us blame trade agreements on our loss of jobs and how it has affected or familes. Or even how the illegal immigrant issues hurt our economy and cause some American job loss. My sons are experiencing difficulties with job loss due to immigrant issues in the agreas they live.

    Why does speaking the truth offend people. I guess it is okay for the Clintons to lie on the campaign trail and Americans are just supposed to accept it, but now we are supposed to be angry at Obama because he is not afraid to speak the truth. I always liked a preacher who could give a good sermon and step on my toes. One he kept my attention and he made me strive to change or better my life. I appreciate this same honesty and staaight forwardness in Obama. I could sure place a lot of more trust in him than I could Hillary Clinton.

    April 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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