April 12th, 2008
11:15 AM ET
15 years ago

Clinton: Obama's 'bitter' remarks 'demeaning'


Watch Sen. Clinton respond to the controversy surrounding Sen. Obama's recent comments.

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CNN) - Hillary Clinton sought on Saturday to fan the flames surrounding Barack Obama's controversial assertion that voters in some small towns are "bitter."

Clinton told an audience of automotive workers here that she was "taken aback by the demeaning remarks Sen. Obama made about people in small town America."

"Sen. Obama's remarks are elitist and out of touch," she said. "they are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans, certainly not the Americans I know, not the Americans I grew up with, not the Americans I lived with in Arkansas or represent in New York."

Clinton aides said they planned to make Obama's comments central to their message on the campaign trail this weekend. The New York senator will campaign across Indiana Saturday, and will return to Pennsylvania on Sunday.

In a soft-spoken denunciation of her Democratic rival that lasted several minutes, Clinton played up her own faith and Midwestern roots before attacking point by point Obama's claims that people who feel disenfranchised in small town America "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."

"Americans who believe in God believe it's a matter of personal faith," she said, to periodic applause. "People of faith I know don't cling to religion because they are bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor but because they are spiritually rich."

On the issue of guns, Clinton said: "People of all walks of life hunt, and they enjoy doing do because its an important part of their life, not because they are bitter."

"I don't think it helps to divide our country into one America that is enlightened and one that is not," Clinton continued, finishing her remarks with a line she introduced on Friday in Philadelphia after the story broke: "People don't need a president who looks down on them. They need a president who stands up for them, and that's exactly what I will do."

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Robby from TX

    He said....she said....he said....

    CNN, why don't you cover ANYTHING Ralph Nader says. He's the only one on the campaign trail that is making any sense!!!!

    April 12, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. John - Maryland

    How many angels dance on the head of the pin????? Loser. This all you can scavenge? Pleeeeease. PA and Indiana folks she is a chronic liar.

    April 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. Tobias

    Senator Clinton is absolutely right. Obama is an extremely divisive person. He gives a speech on race and all it does is further the race divide. He talks and talks about being different when he isn't. He makes false claims or tells bold face lies and people are finally starting to notice. He is not qualified to be president and at this point I don't believe anything he says. He has no chance of winning in November. Vote Clinton.

    April 12, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. Dan , TX

    Obama makes sense to me. Why is common sense so uncommon in politics?

    April 12, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Lou

    Why don't you ask a person who has actually lost their job if it's realistic to say they feel bitter...not someone who is sitting on a 100 million dollar fortune.

    April 12, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Tim

    I don't think I've ever hated a public person as much as Hillary...she is vile.

    April 12, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Scott C

    If there was any chance of Obama losing the nomination I would have voted for Hillary, no matter how much I disliked her.

    This is the end though, she has eliminated all possibility of getting my vote no matter what.

    This is an obviously shallow attack designed to do nothing but try and hurt him, this IS what negative campaigning is...

    Saying his policies are flawed isn't negative campaigning, THIS is.

    She is scum.


    April 12, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. Pam

    Well, ignorance is bliss. Twist it any way you can Hillary.

    The fact is that people are bitter. They are bitter about the lies, misspeeks and embellishments to state a few.

    THey are bitter about your and others old style politcs.

    So spin it all you want, people are not as stupid as you seem to think. You thought they were stupid enough to believe your Bosnia story and they were not and they wont now either. They will take this for exactly what it is.

    The truth that people are fed up with old politics!!

    April 12, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. April in Texas

    I as a lower income white woman from Texas who understands fully what Obama is saying and hes absolutely 100% correct. I know I am bitter every time I see or hear someone losing their job thats shipped over seas or a plant closing. All this knowing we could be next and not even to be able to help our neighbors as many may want to because its the right thing to do. Its frustrating and its sad seeing two near you get that pink slip due to lay offs or that well your contracts up but we are bringing in a new person so you can train them before your let go. How insulting is that?

    Obama said it right on and you rich typical politicians can never relate to me. Yes we are angry and thats why we NEED Obama in the whitehouse because HE GETS IT. I dare any of you to live on 30k for an entire year no benefits and work at a normal job. No savings no credit cards and not even a new car. Our car is 19 years old and guess what we bought it brand new when we thought we were getting somewhere only to be slung right back to the gutters.

    My husband has been layed off 3 times in the last 7 years and is possibly going to get dismissed from his current contract through AMD. Guess what we have nothing to fall back on so we will once again try for food stamps and pray that we can find work before we get evicted or our lights turned off. All the while you guys have that lovely 100 million or your wifes income to continue living and your job security. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.. Clinton and McCain are the elitist not Obama.

    I did not see at all how he was demeaning but Clinton has demeaned our intelegence with the laughing off sniper fire and claiming well shes human and thats somewhat of a revolution.. Obama gets it and I wish all america would as well. Yes I am BITTER but at least I still have HOPE which is something no government nor another person can take away from me. I still have my faith.

    Obama 08

    April 12, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. voice that matters

    CNN stop this lenghty nonsense subject, you being paidn again by Hillary.

    Obama answered a legitimate question about race again and he is being criticized. the question was why some people in small town are not listening to Obama, is it because he is black?

    He answered and analyse it. Hillary want to divert her lies and fraud by jumping on Obama answers. I bet to laugh away legitimate question is better than answering it. eh..?

    Hillary and her folks want him to make mistakes.
    Why don't you like your fellow democrats? what has he done to deserve your comdemination all the time Hillary folks?
    Every little words will be spined out of context, this will not help democrats win the white house.
    Hillary is favouring Mccain then Obama over and over again. Mccain attacked Obama and Hillary follow suite criticizing her democratic rival.
    Last time she said she have lifetime experience and Mccain does ,but Obama has speeches he gave 2002.
    No wonder her fans will want to vote Mccain if she didn't get the nomination, because Hillary has endorsed Mccain.
    Can't candidate say the truth about really hardship?
    Even some Hillary supporter and Mccain want Obama to apologize for saying the truth.
    You guys are stupid and your ears are under water.
    Looking for fault from Obama will not get your candidate elected.
    No matter what good Obama do or talk about, you folks will still blindly criticize him, not because what he did was wrong but you just want to criticize everything about him. TOO BAD !!!

    April 12, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Fran

    I am sure that everyone (including the press) will focus more on Senator Clinton's comments than on Obama's. People need to realize that Obama's comments show his true colors. He is not the person to save this country, he is the one who will say and do anything to save himself. Think about it, he is now using this "misspoken" comment to say that people are angry and want change. Well I am still waiting to hear what this particular change will be. At least with Senator Clinton she is offering solutions to our problems. All Obama does is talk about the fact that people want change. And when he does offer some type of solution, it's a carbon copy of something that Senator Clinton has been saying all along. Obama says that he doesn't want "old politics," but he is the one who is playing the game of old politics to the fullest.

    April 12, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Dan

    How come Hillary's reaction to Obama and John McCain's reaction to Obamma are almost word-for-word the same? Is it because they are both so inside-the-beltway Washington types that they can't see that ordinary Americans are indeed bitter and frustrated that Washington insiders, who get these large lobbying paychecks (like Mark Penn), are selling us out to foreign governments and companies. If Hillary and McCain think everything is rosy in rural America, and in the suburbs for that matter, then let them shop for grocies, buy gasoline, and pay for the basics of life for a change. Then they will understand why Americans are so fed up with their same old same old. Obama said what many Americans are thinking. Thank goodness at least one presidential candidate realizes that people outside of Washington are hurting and hungry for the truth ... and for real change based on reality, not tired rhetoric.

    April 12, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Ifeanyi Azubike Houston Texas

    If earning over 109 Million dollars even in a life time doesn't make you elitist then I wonder what can. I have been unemployed and bitter and you can never possibly feel what we feel unless you have suffered the same fate. For Washington to contribute to unemployment and turn around to use it as a diversion from the issues that matter is demeaning. We want jobs not jabs.

    April 12, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. Mark Hudson

    If Obama is elected, get ready to give up your guns, folks.

    April 12, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. Addy

    Hillary you are too desperate.The truth is that people are bitter.Obama is the only presidential candidate that is saying the truth.If you want the status quo to continue vote for either Hillary or Maccain.
    OBAMA '08

    April 12, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. S Lawrence

    What Barack Obama said is the truth.

    Could it be that some "cannot and do not want to handle the truth.

    April 12, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. Joel H.

    Looks like Hillary's finally shown her true colors, bold red.

    April 12, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Illinois

    Thank you Hillary!!! Hopefully the SD's will start to pay closer attention to this guy. Sooner or later, he will completely bury his candidacy by his own actions.

    April 12, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Disgusted by same old politics - This is not Change

    Bitter? You are darn right we in America are bitter. This is yet another cruel joke on the people of the republic where the truth cannot be said. Yes – I am clinging to religion and praying that reason and sanity will win out. Has 8 years of Bush and Rove dumbed down our expectation so much we cannot handle a thoughful conversation on anything and are willing participants as the politicians and media spin and spin and tell us what to think? God help us.

    April 12, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  20. Andrea

    They weren't demeaning. They were right on target. I am bitter. Everytime I fill my gas tank, buy grocery, get an energy bill I'm BITTER! The sad thing is I have a six figure income to rely on. I could only imagine being unemployed. I would be beyond bitter. Let's stay focused everyone. Economy, healthcare, Iraq that's what really matters. I would suggest Senator Clinton consider that!!!

    April 12, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  21. J. Johns

    Can you imagine the fire-storm if Hillary (or God forbid, Bill) used the phrase "typical black person?" That would have forced her out of the race. Yet Obama casually throws this out and it's ho-hum. Now he refers to Pennsylvanians as being "bitter" and tries to blame it on the current state of campaigning. Keep pounding Hillary!

    April 12, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  22. james

    Too many gaffes. Shows lack experience, Poor judment. Surely will be swift boated in general election. Given Republicans enough red meat to trash him.

    Obama can't win the general election. YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART, HE IS "wright"

    April 12, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. John

    I stand with you Obama. I have lived in many towns across the U.S. (including Philadelphia) and understand well what Obama is talking about. He IS in touch. I am increasingly becoming bitter with Hilary who needs to drop out of the race because she will not win the nomination. She is acting as if Obama was the Republican candidate.

    April 12, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. James

    Hillary Clinton was asked a question yesterday about her husbands $ 800,000. speeches in Columbia and since she loaned her campaign money did she consider that a conflict of interest. She couldn't answer the question because she told so many lies and all of her deceit is out in the open where she cant lie again, she laughed it off. I don't believe that was presidential at all. Hillary clinton lacks good judgement, character, she lies, exagerates, not accountable, and will do anything to win the nomination. She will never have my vote.

    April 12, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Bill - Charlotte

    Lying to us and then demeaning us by calling it a "misspeak" is mean too. We are not idiots.

    April 12, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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