April 11th, 2008
10:03 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama defends 'bitter' remarks


Watch Sen. Obama defend his controversial remarks Friday night in Indiana.

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (CNN) –- Barack Obama was forced Friday to defend comments he made at a recent fundraiser where he described some Pennsylvanians as "bitter."

Obama came under fire from Hillary Clinton and John McCain for his remarks just weeks before the Pennsylvania primary.

"When I go around and I talk to people, there is frustration, and there is anger, and there is bitterness," Obama began. "I want to make a point here."

"[Pennsylvanians are] frustrated and for good reason, because for the last 25 years they’ve seen jobs shipped overseas, they’ve seen their economies collapse. They have lost their jobs, they’ve lost their pensions. They’ve lost their health care."

Obama then said that politicians from both sides of the aisle have promised answers but that "nothing ever happens."

"So…they don’t vote on economic because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them," Obama said, adding that they end up voting on issues that include gun rights, gay marriage, and faith.

He then directly hit Clinton and McCain, mocking their earlier attacks.

"Here’s what’s rich," Obama said. "Sen. Clinton says, 'Well I don’t think people are bitter in Pennsylvania. I think Barack’s being condescending.' John McCain says, 'Oh, how could he say that? How could he say people are bitter? He’s obviously out of touch with people. '"

"Out of touch?" Obama said. "I mean, John McCain, it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch?"

"Sen. Clinton voted for a credit card sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I’m out of touch?"

He concluded his argument by telling the audience that it is, in fact, the opposite.

"No. I’m in touch. I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania, I know what’s going on in Indiana, [and] I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed up."

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer has since responded to Obama's words on his remarks.

“Instead of apologizing for offending small town America, Sen. Obama chose to repeat and embrace the comments he made earlier this week," Singer wrote in a statement. "It’s unfortunate that Sen. Obama didn’t say he was sorry for what he said. Americans are tired of a President who looks down on them - they want a President who will stand up for them for a change. The Americans who live in small towns are optimistic, hardworking and resilient. They deserve a president who will respect them.”

As has McCain's spokesman, Tucker Bounds.

"Instead of apologizing to small town Americans for dismissing their values, Barack Obama arrogantly tried to spin his way out of his outrageous San Francisco remarks. Only an elitist who attributes religious faith and gun ownership to bitterness would think that tax cuts for the rich include families who make $75,000 per year. Only an elitist would say that people vote their values only out of frustration. Barack Obama thinks he knows your hopes and fears better than you do. You can't be more out of touch than that."

–CNN's Chris Welch

soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. Richard

    The people who are considering the "bitter" statement as condescending are just simply ignorant. No wonder they are easily fooled by Hillary. She will continue to make the big bucks and keep you all in poverty.

    April 11, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  2. truth be told

    OBAMA is right.

    The truth hurts sometimes.... But at least he's not misspeaking.
    To tell like it is is Honesty not condescendence


    April 11, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  3. A&A

    OBAMA=G W BUSH...cocky arrogant, non apologetic...

    April 11, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  4. Geofrey

    I am bitter and angry. Finally, a politician who understands that.

    April 11, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  5. clintons out of control

    yes, go Obama, do not let the clinton machine scare you away, as they have done with every single person in the DNC.........

    Yes We Can............

    April 11, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. Ivan (D-NY)

    It's funny that the closer we get to the Pennsylvania primary, Mrs. Clinton chooses to use dirty tactics to gain momentum. Americans should be asking why is it that she feels the need to attack another democrat in this fashion. Her campaign is actually siding with the republicans, why doesn't she just endorse John McCain, if this is the only manner in which she can run her campaign? We all know that politicians have to try to keep everyone happy; I honestly believe that Obama gives the most honest responses of all the presidential candidates. That's probably why it's easier for them to mount an attack against him, they need to run an honest campaign and argue the issues and present how they would tackle those issues. I'm tired of this kindergarten name calling; this issue is real and affects real lives.

    April 11, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  7. OlvrWhit

    Obama was wrong...you can't admit it.. You guys jump on Hillary for any small thing, but Obama can do no wrong.Please...its obvious that you all have been snowed.

    April 11, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. Kevin

    Maybe it is condescending. But that doesn't make it untrue.

    April 11, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  9. Paula

    Looks like Barack has gone from the Audacity of Hope to the Audacity of Hate - unfortunate because he had seemed like he was getting away from the fear-mongering style of politics that are so divisive to us as a people.

    April 11, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  10. Oleg, CA

    Do they (Hillary & McCain) want to say that people are happy?
    They are really out of touch. Instead of feeling terribly guilty for the Iraq war, they chose to run for office and say something. One is from almost royal family, and another – well, pro-Bush.
    So, if you are not fun of government run by families, and if you are not pro-Bush, and if you do not feel jolly from Iraq war – you do not really have choice here.

    Obama 2008

    April 11, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  11. white woman for Obama

    Obama is amazing! Clinton has no clue what is going on..what is this thing called truth? what does that mean? that would be Hillary. She and Bill have no idea what truth is. Sit back and watch a tremendous leader , and honest "tell it ;like it s" kind of guy,help this country get real. Make progress. He is amazing! I just hope that America gets its chance to celebrate a change that will be the beginning of real politics. Real goverment. Real people. Vote for change !

    April 11, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  12. John

    The truth shall set you free but the clintons and truth dont go together
    go keep up the good work stay strong OBAMA we the people are with you. BARAK THE TRUTH OBAMA

    April 11, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  13. Ron

    Yes, Obama is right that people do get angry and bitter when their jobs are out sourced, especially when you have to train the people who will be doing your job. Yes, we become bitter when health care makes you choose between your spouse medicine or the mortgage. Yes, we become bitter when you have to get your house out of foreclosure and lose your equity. Yes, we become bitter when you have not had a raise in 6 years and the price of gas is more than three dollars a gallon and you're still making payments on your truck.
    It appears that politicians are too wealthy to feel the squeeze and they can't relate to what I'm feeling. Yes, I want to blame some one but who?

    Dallas, TX

    April 11, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  14. Ricardo Williams

    If you're fed up "Shout for Obama." Thank God Cnn has given us an outlet to be heard. We are fed up and you can take that to the bank.

    April 11, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  15. Obama Mama

    I'm pretty bitter that the Clinton's won't go away!

    April 11, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  16. Geri

    Once again Obama blames McCain & Clinton for his loose mouth. He said it, they didn't. As far as being "rich" goes, Clintons tax returns were for 6 years...do the math. John McCains wife has the money, not him. Obama and her nastiness Michelle had a healthy income so knock it off with the comments. I have never seen such "bitter" and hateful people as the Obama supporters are.

    April 11, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
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