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

Obama: If I offended, I deeply regret that

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/12/art.bo04122nd.ap.jpg caption="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. Sam Ramos

    We all know that Barack Obama wasn't trying to offend anyone with his comment, and we are not stupid enough to think that he looks down on middle America. This is so ridiculous. Unfortunately, the McCain and Clinton campaigns both know that most Americans will only see their attacks on the news, so the more they talk about it and the more disparaging they are, the better for them. Of course, it doesn't matter how shallow and empty the attacks are. As long as they win. American politics is a lie.

    April 12, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. David

    I think it is elitist of McCain and Clinton to ignore the fact that so many Americans are fed up with Washington. The way they have tried to twist these remarks is disgusting and the way they are trying to drown out the voices of so many Americans is even more so.

    April 12, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. david

    give me a break. this is nothing but to divert the public attention from Columbia deal. we know this very well.

    April 12, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Gail QWade

    CNN Ballot Bowl needs to get over itself. It's been on for four hours and only reported one story. If Barack's comments weren't going to cause him problems, CNN is seeing to it that they do

    April 12, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  5. Chris

    There's no need to apologize. At least, with news like this are going, and with Pennsylvania residents getting some attention, hopefully the sitting ducks in Washington will do something now.

    Good on you Obama.

    April 12, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. franco

    Hello American People!

    Oh! Once again, the man of the speeches will need another distracting and academic lecture to try to fix this.


    April 12, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. Josie

    I believe that the small town Pennsylvanians and the superdelegates will not accept Obama's attempt to smooth-talk his way out of his offensive comments.

    April 12, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Susie

    I can't wait to read all the comments from Obamaniacs about how Obama's offensive comments somehow prove that he is wonderful and Hillary caused the flak.

    April 12, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. Corey, Maryland

    Don't apologize there is no reason for you to. Clinton and McSame are just so out of touch with the American public that its not even funny. You will be a great President. Just keep doing what you are doing and you will be in the white house.

    Obama Richardson 08!!!!

    April 12, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. john

    Why is obama backing down? he knows he was wrong. GO CNN

    April 12, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. Democratic no matter what

    CNN, is this all the news you are reporting today? I see this on TV as well! How about "Hillary Laughs Off Colombia Trade Question"?

    I've been watching Ballot Bowl and seen squat about this issue? Is that not equally as important?

    I used to think you all were being fair; however I have seen nothing about the above issue except on this site! Not Pleased.

    April 12, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. Sandi/ Georgia

    You didn't offend me Obama. I really feel bitter about what is going on in America and our politicians are to blame. Thanks for standing in that gap. I will not vote for Clinton. She is way to evil.

    April 12, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. Danice

    I meant that our government does not listen nor do they care about us. Sorry about the error.

    April 12, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. GoldCanyon AZ

    Obama keeps trying to defend the indefensible...unbelievable! Why doesn't someone tell him he's just making worse? He's ruffled the feathers of a lot of people...he doesn't seem to get that he just betrayed what he really thinks about what motivates some people to vote. His comments ignore the fact that every persons vote counts in this country...regardless of their motivation...and he reduces those motivations to ignorance and/or intolerance...way to go rookie!

    April 12, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  15. Terry

    This is just plain sad that this story has been pushed and twisted by the Clinton and McCain campaigns. Barack Obama is a breath of fresh air and it is going to be a travesty if the American people get sucked in to old time political tactics that are at play here.

    April 12, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. Michael A

    At first Obama defended he remarks then his campaign relized that this could be a serious issue and that is the only reason why he sort of apologized . This is another example of his inexperience and the GOP will eat him up in Nov. with this and the Rev. Wright controversy. He should think before he speaks or we will see another dem swift boated.

    Hilary '08

    April 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. Bob, Lyons Oregon,

    John McCain is an old fool and I would not vote for him no matter what, he is an old politician that won't change anything. Clinton is just a downright monster, and I will not vote for her, even if she turns out to be the nominee, because of her nasty tactics and negative campaigning. I have tried to think positive about her and was planning on voting for her if she became the nominee, even though she is so negative, but no more. I am sick of her and McCain spouting their bull. I have had enough of it.

    Obama 08 or no one.

    April 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  18. L. Geffen, Cape Cod.

    . . . .CNN should stop being a vehicle through which Hillary can
    continue to spread her miss truths and deceptions if you want to remain at least a semi-reputable source of information, and not the likes of FOX NEWS, MSNBC, and HEADLINE news.

    April 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. kelly WI

    early states want a do-over. Voted too soon. Learning too much about the empty suit. Already new enough about Hillary and Bill. Bring back the others and do it over.
    I bet MI and FL regret their actions to be early.

    April 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Shelly

    Boy - CNN is the all Hillary channel today. Also, who is the elitest at 109 milliion to Obama's 1 million.

    April 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. dan

    Finally Obama's misteps are catching up with him. Do we need another novice president?Wasn't GWBush education enough?

    April 12, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. Former Obama Supporter

    I am really tired of Obama having to explain everything he says and does. I have come to realize that I can’t trust him. I am voting for Hillary. The Republican Party has so much dirt on Obama that he can’t win the general election. I want a democrat who can win, and that’s Hillary.
    I am voting for Hillary now.

    April 12, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. Kristen Ingram

    Wolf, remind us of the time Hillary accused her opponents of "mud-slinging." It may have been the first, or at least an early all-comers debate. As I recall, she was upset over some very mild "mud," compared to what she'd sloshing around.

    April 12, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. Dave

    A good number of people are disheartened. I take that to mean the same.

    April 12, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  25. Bob

    It's insane that people are worked up over this. Ever read the user comments on the CNN.com political ticker? And you still don't think people in this country are bitter? If you don't like Obama, fine, but please quit playing this silly game of trying to spin everything into a controversy.

    April 12, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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