April 13th, 2008
10:40 AM ET
13 years ago

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/04/13/obama.clinton/art.obama.afp.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Obama told a North Carolina newspaper if he offended anyone, he deeply regrets it."]

MUNCIE, Indiana (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama on Saturday tried to clarify what he meant when he said some small-town Pennsylvanians are "bitter" people who "cling to guns and religion."

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

The Illinois senator made the controversial comments at a California event that was closed to the media last Sunday.

Obama defended his point of view amid intensified criticism from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain that's he's elitist and out of touch.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (308 Responses)
  1. stag

    BHO, another lie. BHO would not know the truth is it hit him. BHO, stop the lies–just say what you believe. You know we love you.

    BHO 08

    April 13, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. scott

    words matter

    April 13, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  3. AO

    Obama you don't have to explain yourself to anyone. You were clear and any misinterpretation that Clinton and McCain want to give to people out there then let them do that. Clinton is so ridiculous and petty and lets not even talk about dear mccain and his out of touch self. People always say they want the truth but they can't handle the truth. Clinton and McCain act like people aren't bitter about the situation of the country. No...they happy and dancing in the streets with joy. What a bunch of crap from these two. And these two are what we can offer to the American people to vote on? I has to be Obama or we're in it for a load of trouble for another 4 years potentially 8 years. China and India's growth isn't slowing down any time soon people...WAKE UP!!! SERIOUSLY

    April 13, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Spider

    The Obominations want to say their Messiah is just telling the truth. Barack explained that we are bitter. Saying the American people may be bitter is not the problem. We all know people get discouraged and bitter when things aren't going good.
    Then he went on to say because of our bitterness we turn to guns, religion and racism. That is the mistake he made. That is what makes him out of touch.

    April 13, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Larry

    Let it go people, he is right in what he said. Maybe he did not word it as well as he could have but he is correct in his statement. There are way to many people in this country that vote on based on 1 issue. Gun control, abortion, illegal immigration, all important issues but meanwhile we are fighting a war we cannot win, loosing jobs overseas and have one of the most corrupt groups in history running this country into the ground. There are much more important issues then worrying about a slight gaff by Obama.

    April 13, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. maynard

    OBAMA KEEP THIS UP AND YOU WILL BLOW THIS ELECTION

    April 13, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. pittsburgh bob

    sorry, i'm not offended. i am bitter. once again obama speaks the truth and gets attacked for it. and once again, hillary is aligning with republicans with her low road negative campaigning and proving her "me or no one" attitude. how can telling truth be more detrimental than bold faced lying as hillary does over and over?

    April 13, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. Yvonne

    When will America wake up and realize when they have something good. Obama is doing America a favor by running for President. We tend to praise and respect people after their dead. The Bible says a child will lead them and that's what's going to happen. Pennsylvania Youth...Mobilize!!
    Obama '08

    April 13, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. ACFX

    Everyone judges the political correctness of a statement before judging the accuracy.
    Did anyone stop and think that he may be right with this statement, at least sometimes?

    April 13, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Sbama

    Clinton and McCain camps should be ashamed of turning the political process and campaigning into a joke.

    7 articles on Obama's use of the word bitter.

    Americans are bitter, especially with stuff like this.

    April 13, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. YES BITTER!!!

    NO NEED TO APOLOGIGE OBAMA...PEOPLE OF INTERGITY AND INTELLIGENCE KNOW WHAT YOU WERE SAYING. THIS IS WHY THEY KEEP SAYING HILLARYS BASE SUPPORT IS THE UNEDUCATED. IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT SHE WANTS TO CAPITALIZE ON THOSE PEOPLES MISFORTUNES. BUT THAT'S A CLINTON FOR YOU.

    OBAMA 08

    April 13, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. Larry

    Let it go people, he is right in what he said. Maybe he did not word it as well as he could have but he is correct in his statement. There are way to many people in this country that vote based on 1 issue. Gun control, abortion, illegal immigration, all important issues but meanwhile we are fighting a war we cannot win, loosing jobs overseas and have one of the most corrupt groups in history running this country into the ground. There are much more important issues then worrying about a slight gaff by Obama.

    April 13, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. vic nashville,Tn

    Obama you are good man no doubt about that
    But you don’t have experience to be president
    You gave very sweet speech in California !!!!!!! LOL
    We know about you now
    So please quit the race
    Hillary 08 or Mc Cain 08

    April 13, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. Tom

    I thought people didn't like politicians pandering, not telling the truth, or willing to say anything to get elected. Given the complaints about Obama's comments, it seems that was just hot air. People only get upset when politicians pander to others, but they expect politicians to pander to them, and if a politician refuses to do so and instead tells them the truth, well, that's just "demeaning" and "out of touch".

    It's hard to deny the truth, though: Republicans have somehow convinced small town Americans to vote for their own economic destruction by distracting them with issues like gun control, prayer in school, and gay rights.

    Nothing will change until folks realize that having a job and health insurance is a whole lot more important than whether they have to wait 7 days to buy a Glock, whether second grade teachers lead prayer groups, or whether some guys named Brad and Michael in San Francisco can marry each other.

    From the looks of things, that time isn't comming soon.

    April 13, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Ann Marie

    Observation: Why is it that when a white politician makes a comment about the plight of ghetto America, or devastated Louisiana and tells it like it is saying that residents of Ghetto America are hurt, bitter and turn to either drugs, crime, alcohol or faith as a refuge, why is it that no one complains? But when a black politician truthfully explains the plight of Small Town Rural America, everybody�s huffing and puffing. What is going on? I personally do not believe Hillary Clinton or John McCain have any respect for Blacks, poor Whites, Latinos or anyone other than their elitist selves.

    April 13, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. Rosie

    Obama, why do you always have to explain yourself? You speak out the truth, and those who do not want to hear it should not vote for you, that's why people who do not hear to others do not have the last word.

    April 13, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. April in Texas

    Well I understood what you were saying. I am 39 white and in Texas and yes due to our economy and the world currently with the war and prices going up and lay offs YES I AM BITTER. No government will take that away from me. Yes in troubled times I seem to pray more and rely on my faith to get through things. Obama GETS IT and it just reinerates that my original choice to support Obama was the correct one. I am proud to have a canidate that tells it like it is.

    Jobs are being lost and prices continue to rise everywhere on everything. I am guessing suicide also happens more during troubled times so yeah Obama GETS IT once again. Although I am not a gun supporter, I am not agianst guns either.

    We are so close to a depression its scarey. Politicians mostly try to say what they think they want to hear or make up stories such as Clinton but Obama is truthful and honest and RIGHT ON. I applaud him for talking to us as people as we arent stupid like typical politicians seem to think we are.

    The nickpicking and mudslinging that Clinton and McCain are both doing has made it clear that I will voice my bitterness if the nomination is stolen from Obama.
    For two familys who made or are worth 100 million plus to label another who is worth 1 million and elitist is so reaching its almost funny. GET REAL people this guy has been on food stamps and I bet Clinton nor McCain can say that and yet Obama is the elite one ? I think you two have it wrong there just look in the mirror Clinton and McCain as you two talk down to people all the time by the lies and stories and telling us what you think we want to hear and not the truth..

    Obama 08

    April 13, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. ktb001

    Right, Scott, words matter. Thanks for enlightening us. Please forgive Obama for his relative lack of consision and clarity. Perhaps he was under sniper-fire when he said it.

    April 13, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. Jan

    First it was Rev Wright, Then Michelle Obama, and now he is looking
    down on the penn people and calling tem bitter.
    How long are we the american people going to keep accepting
    his apologies. God help us all if he becomes President . There is
    more in this mans closet than we realize, and when it all comes out
    it will be too late for Americans.

    April 13, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. UrbnLit

    "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they 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." ~ this is how the black community has felt for years as it pertained to just feeling like we are Americans (ie Rev. Wright)!!!

    April 13, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. bdc

    his point is that when things don't go your way, you hold on to what you can depend on and what's been there for you in the past.

    I think most people DO pray when they have trouble in their lives

    April 13, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Ian

    Anyone who actually heard what Obama said would agree with him. People are so sensitive in this country. Wake up: Getting mad about the truth isn't going to fix it. Vote for somebody who cares more about his friends (Wright) and his people (lower income brackets) than saving his own face. Obama out of touch? Obama elitist? Come on people- Clinton and McCain combine for over 100 million dollars, and I don't remember either of them working for 6 years trying to get poor people jobs in the south side of chicago.

    April 13, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Cindy,CA

    Obama made these comments at a fundraiser in San Francisco. He thought it wasn't being recorded. This is how he really feels when the teleprompters are not there to help him with "his words".

    When he says words like: typical, them, us he is only letting the divide deepen. He was supposed to be a uniter not a divider. What happened? Words matter and he is letting us know who he really is inside.

    People are concerned not "bitter" with all thats going on in the country these days. We have never lost our hope and will continue to have religion etc like we have always had on a daily basis. We don't need an excuse to live like we have always have.

    I have never felt so disconnected from an election process as I have from this one. I'm a democrat (53 years young) who can't and won't vote for Obama.

    April 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. Victoria

    The problem with Senator Obama's remarks about small town americans isn't his use of the word "bitter" to describe their economic frustrations. What's extremely offensive is his statement about how these good people, when experiencing hard financial times, become gun-toting bigots – against everyone who doesn't look or act like them. Words matter.....and his words are a slap in the face to fair-minded, generous, hardworking small town americans.

    April 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. Orlando for Obama

    Obama used poor choice of words to make a point. I give him credit for standing behind the meaning of what he said and how he apologized to anyone he may have offended. This is what separated him from the other candidates. Apologizing for his poor choice of words but standing behind his intended purpose. He owns his mistaken and he did not claim he misspoke on the details.

    April 13, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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