April 12th, 2008
05:07 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama: If I offended, I deeply regret that

In an interview with a North Carolina paper Saturday, Sen. Obama tried to quell the controversy around his recent remarks.

In an interview with a North Carolina paper Saturday, Sen. Obama tried to quell the controversy around his recent remarks.

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Barack Obama said Saturday that if he has offended people with comments he made almost a week ago where he labeled small town Pennsylvanians "bitter" and that they "cling to guns and religion" then he regrets it.

"Obviously, if I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that," Obama said in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal, according to a transcript provided by his campaign.

"The underlying truth of what I said remains, which is simply that people who have seen their way of life upended because of economic distress are frustrated and rightfully so," he told the North Carolina newspaper. "And I hear it all the time when I visit these communities."

Earlier in the day, Obama told an audience at a town hall meeting in Muncie, Indiana that he didn't word his comments "as well as he should have," but did not go as far as using the word "regret."

Obama first made the comments Sunday at a closed-press fundraiser in San Francisco.

Update with statement from McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds:

“Voters will reject his so-called truths that he still stands by. His remarks were false. The importance of our Second Amendment and our country’s longstanding history with faith and spirituality are born in history, not bitterness and frustration. His view is absolutely restricted by elitism.”

- CNN Political Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Colorado voter

    Let's see– McCain, thorugh his spokesperson calls the comments demeaning and alleges that Obama is out of touch, yet Mr. McCain continues to whole heartedly support a war that the vast majority of Americans oppose, the implication being that the vast majority of American just don't understand what hje does. At the same time, both Ms. Clinton (who is worth over $100 million) and Mr. McCain, who is married to an heriess with countless millions have the unmitigated gall to call Mr. Obama "out of touch" and "elitist."
    Get real.

    April 12, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. 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 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. s.positive

    I guess to please those folks, you have to appolize but if AMERICA wants a Liar for a leader, then they do not derserve his Man. It is pure and simple.

    April 12, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. amanda


    April 12, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  5. Jeremy

    What he said may have been true but he should have realized how is comments would be interpreted. The last thing a bitter person wants to be called is bitter. Nonetheless, he will have no problem weathering this storm and Hillary's attacks against Obama wreak of insincerity and desperation.

    April 12, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    I'm shocked by all the hoopla created by Senators McCain and Clinton about Senator Obama's remarks. The senator from Illinois is the "least" elitist candidate in the race. He speaks from the heart and from experience working with Americans. It is sickening that by doing so, Clinton and McCain are getting lots of press coverage.

    I'm SO tired of the type of Clinton is running. . .and I will be heartsick if she gains the nomination because she is so nikpicking about every word Senator Obama utters.

    Give us a break!

    April 12, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Becky

    I'm bitter. Obama is right, once again.

    April 12, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. Jot

    Senator Obama denounce and reject your pastor Wright so that the American people can forgive you. All the things you are saying now come from your church. Your pastor is bitter of this country and so is your wife and yourself.

    April 12, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |

    he ALWAYS has to go back after he makes a misspeak and go "well, what i meant to say was...." seriously! watch! ALWAYS DOES IT! he did it with the people talking to nafta – to whether or not he heard his pastor say racist things – to whether or not he'll do public financing! ALL THE TIME! ON BIG ISSUES!

    stop trying to act like that's now what you meant. admit it – you aren't small town. just say it.

    hillary understand small town people better. say ittttttt

    April 12, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. Sam Rose

    and the only one willing to tell it like it is and tell the TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!



    OBAMA is willing to tell it like it is--the TRUTH!!!!!!!!

    Hillary and McCain–wake up and get in touch with what is really going on-it is obvious they are both out of touch with the American people–and they are running scared and grasping at straws here–lets get real-

    Bitter in Arkansas

    April 12, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Hans

    If anyone ever misspoke in this campaign than it was Obama in his remarks, who were based on the truth that many Americans are bitter about what has happened to their country in the last eight years!. This is a far cry from the "misspoke" that Senator Clinton claims about her remarks about her trip to Bosnia, which were clearly lie as proven by the facts of the video!

    Who would you rather have as your President? A lier and twister of facts as we had for the last eight years, or someone who tells the truth?

    April 12, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. Mary

    I don't think anyone is looking for a perfect human being/President. After running 15months, anyone can make a major mistake and should not be crusified for such at for it. I am not looking for a perfect President but I think Obama is the right candidate of this time for our next generation!

    April 12, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Rayray

    WOW!!!......People, I don’t know about everyone else but losing jobs to overseas companies or to local U.S. companies who want to make 10 billion dollar of profit instead of 7 billion and run the countries unemployment rates sky high, does frustrate and does make people bitter. If anything, McCain and Hillary, if they are in touch like they say they are with the people, they should recognize this. Bitterness is not part of our fundamental values like they are saying Obama stated, but a byproduct of how this government has been run and how their dumb decisions affect us all.
    People let’s take back our government, NOW IS THE TIME…..cast your vote for true change. Even Lou Dobbs can agree that out of the 3 left in the race, Obama is the best chance at getting government to work for the people again and not the rich.

    April 12, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Candy Feilds

    I really relate with what you said and agree 100%. I'm am tired of Hillary's lies, I lost my job from trade to China, and Iam bitter. Maybe other will agree with you when it happens to them.

    April 12, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. tellTheTruth

    Truth often hurts, and many people cannot handle the truth, and they choose politicians who lie to them. It is sad that Obama has to apologize for telling the truth.

    April 12, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. John From Cape.Cod.Ma

    Sen. Obama
    We both know that all these stories occurring now..a week later...are simply another Ploy by the "Opposition" to use your own words..out of context..even though they have a Video of that speech. You have nothing to apologize for, Sir. They do!

    April 12, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Ben

    The truth is hardest to swallow when it is the TRUTH! People are suffering there and have done so for over 26 years.. So Obama is not wrong though wording it with sensitivity may be helpful!!! Hillary should try to use this to cover up her liar liar pants on fire Bosnia story.

    April 12, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. GiveMeABreak

    I don't think Obama needed to apologize! This "controversy" is simply political spin coming from a failing campaign that wants to draw attention away from Bosnia comments and Penn. The truth is that many Americans are bitter! I know I am bitter. I am bitter that nobody in this administration is listening. I am bitter that some politicians think Americans are happy and are not hurting. We ARE hurting, we ARE fed up, we ARE bitter, and we ARE annoyed that when a meaningful discussion should be taking place about failed republican policies and John McCains desire to continue them, we are stuck debating the semantics of the word "bitter". Give me a break.

    April 12, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. Brenda

    Obama is mature enough to regret making a statement offensive to the American people. This is truly a breath of freshness. Clinton misspoke for weeks, and would not have admitted her error until a film clip surfaced of her Bosnia trip. Has she apologized or regretting lieing to the American people? It takes a very mature and strong individual to admit to something they regret saying or doing. Hillary is too selfish to be mature. In her case, it's about cover-up. John McClain's opinion on the issue doesn't matter. He is too old to think about regret because he is so out of touch with the younger generations.

    Needless to say, Obama spoke the truth. People in society are fed up with the lose of jobs, home foreclosures, free-trade deals with foreign companies, and the rising cost from gasoline to the very barest necessities with has the United States in a recession. I admire Obama because he is a man of integrity and dignity. These are characteristics needed for the Presidency. God Bless You, Obama.

    April 12, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. J. Brown, Lansdowne, PA

    What's to regret? How often are people that lose a job happy about it? I wish Obama would stand by his word, instead of letting Hillary determine his reactions.

    April 12, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Scott Lindquist

    I am so sick and tired of the anti Obama rhetoric that Clinton, McCain and CNN is dishing out. His latest comments were the God's honest TRUTH. Anyone who doesn't think that Americans are bitter with their government is living in dreamland. The people are sick to death of this garbage from politicians who pander to phony outrage. Obama speaks the truth. What's the matter with CNN? Why can't you folks be objective for a change. It's getting to the point that CNN has become as bad as Fox in looking for the dirt in every situation. Why not actually do your job and find out if America is bitter. Do a survey for God's sake, instead of repeating the fake outrage and lies of the Clinton and McCain camp.

    April 12, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. Mary


    April 12, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. Jackson

    His words tell us who he really is ... just like his sitting in a hate-mongering church for 20 years. Wake up people ... this guy is not good for this country.

    April 12, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. Dominique

    No apology needed for speaking the truth. Yes we are bitter. We are tired. We are worried and frustrated. It is about time that someone in Washington recognized that truth.

    Obama '08

    April 12, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. cmb

    cnn please let this go, Obama will win the nomination and hillary will lose she is pathetic, and she makes me sick to my stomach, every time I hear her voice. They are trying to destroy Obama, but she is making herself look so stupid, she need to worry about her own comments, and stop lying about things she says she did but really didn't do, how funny is that.

    April 12, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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