April 12th, 2008
11:32 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama on 'bitter' remark: 'I didn't say it as well as I should have'


Watch Sen. Obama speak about the controversy Saturday morning in Indiana.

MUNCIE, Indiana (CNN) - Barack Obama said Saturday that he didn't word his recent comments at a fundraiser "as well as he should have" but added that the back and forth that developed between Obama and fellow White House hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John McCain is "typical."

At a closed-press event in California Sunday Obama referred to some jobless Pennsylvanians as "bitter" who "cling to guns or religion." Saturday, the Illinois senator sought to douse any further firestorm over the comments.

"I didn't say it as well as I should have," Obama told an audience in Muncie, Indiana, the day after he first defended his comments, "because the truth is is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation–those are important."

The campaign added that the "traditions" Obama referred to are those of gun ownership and religion. Obama said those traditions are "what sustains us."

He also labeled the dust up that's developed as "a little typical sort of political flare up" because, as he contends, he said something that "everybody knows is true."

The Democratic candidate maintained–as he had Friday night after the story first broke–that people are frustrated because Washington isn't listening to the average American.

"There are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my home town in Illinois who are bitter. They are angry."

"When you're bitter, you turn to what you can count on," Obama said, adding they then turn to voting "about guns" and "taking comfort" in their faith and family.

"That's a natural response."

UPDATE: McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds responded in a statement and said, "Barack Obama’s elitism allows him to believe that the American traditions that have contributed to the identity and greatness of this country are actually just frustrations and bitterness. What ‘everyone knows’ is that the Constitution’s Second Amendment and our country’s strong roots in faith are cornerstone customs in this country, and Barack Obama’s dismissal of those values is revealing."

–CNN Political Producer Chris Welch

soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Ifeanyi Azubike Houston Texas

    We the people understand. All the controversy stems from the fact that Washington does not get it and appear bent on chasing trivialities at the expense of the important issues. Isn't this the same reason we all clamor for change

    April 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |

    This isn't going to go away. Stick a fork in Barry he's done!

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

    When you admit your mistakes that make you a bigger and better person don't blame anybody else for it. Obama acted very childish by lashing out at Clinton and McCain for his comment, what kind of judgment that man has, this is arrogance.

    April 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Reality Check

    His comments are so insulting and elitist. They demonstrate his inexperience and his lack of understanding of how average Americans live and think. Mr. Obama – the people you have insulted are the very people the Democrats need in order to win in November.

    April 12, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Mack

    If a person is a racist in his heart, it will come to light. One can't listen to racial slurs for years and not be affected by it.

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

    Who is he really?
    Does he really exist?

    April 12, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. susie for Obama

    Dear slow on the uptake: you are ignorant to think that Obama is superior and insulting by just trying to communicate what he is hearing the "real people" say in America. He will state what we all feel when no politicians will. I'm sorry to say, but you are "slow" and ignorant period.

    GO OBAMA!!!!

    April 12, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. patrick

    obama is right, people are bitter, I'm bitter. just look at this country's economy today, we need to do some thing about it. clinton and mccain are out of touch with us the common people. just look at their income. they are set for life, why should they feel bitter. wake up mcclinton supporters.

    April 12, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. USAF Sr. Airman

    His comments were not demeaning. They were accurate. Typical of Clinton to try to bring something up about Obama when there is nothing to say about him. I wonder if the Mark Penn fiasco / Clinton refusing to talk about Columbia / Bubba bringing up Bosnia again has anything to do with this extremely weak attack.

    April 12, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. go kickstart your broom

    The only people twisting Obama's words were never going to vote for him regardless of what he said.

    April 12, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Obama is right – I am bitter

    April 12, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. disgusted

    What a stupid remark ! This country is running on empty for leadership! We're really in trouble!

    April 12, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. mike k

    McCain and Clinton can learn from Obama – but they won't. When he can say something better, he admits that without sacrificing the integrity of his convictions.

    April 12, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. gurarro

    Obama, there is no need to explain yourself when you are telling the truth. As this blog and other bloggers have stated, not only is PA's citizens angry and bitter, the citizens of the USA are bitter about how this country is going to H3LL in a Handbasket.

    April 12, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Angel

    I guess the truth hurts!!!!!

    April 12, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Irving B. Taylor

    "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Thank you Senator Obama for your honesty and not created the "smoke screen" – these are tough times and it has led to bitterness. Our resolve and our bitterness can co-exist.

    April 12, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. Nick

    How come Mccain doesn't jump on Hillary when she lie on Bosnia fire or other lies she has lied about? Just wondering.........

    April 12, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Coby Austin, Texas

    Since this seems to be a Obama bashing, I would just like to say that you guys are stupid!!!

    April 12, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. NBC

    McCain......the waffle man.

    April 12, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. right

    And you will not be as good a president as you SHOULD... so we will not vote for you in Nov.

    Go Hillary.

    If Hillary is not the dems nominee, then write her name in... JUST that simple.

    Use your voting power well people of America.

    April 12, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. NBC

    McCain........the waffle man.
    Clinton.........the liar.
    Obama........the best choice of the three!

    April 12, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Big Magical Sandwich

    So...this has to do with the issues in our country in what way exactly?

    April 12, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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