April 13th, 2008
10:40 AM ET
15 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. Coline for Obama

    Sivananthi, becase Hillary attacks Obama blows it all up when it's nothing, THAT'S WHY!!!

    April 13, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Alexander P

    If you listened to Obama's speech it its entirety you will realized that he was critical of the other politicians like Bill Clinton and George Bush had not taken care of them in economic down time.

    His speech was somewhat minor considering Clinton's lies on Bosnia, NAFTtA (there are public speaches that she support NAFTA), Columbia trade deal, Hospital lies and the list goes on. On the other hand MaCain's confusion on who we're fighting in Iraq and economy etc.

    Please people move on

    April 13, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. Susa

    Would the Clintons be bitter if someone took their $109 million away from them????

    April 13, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. Coline for Obama

    To Peter in OR: I am also from OR! I agree with you.

    email: Liberal_Lefty@yahoo.com

    April 13, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. carol price

    i think too much is being made of obama's comments and is being picked apart by anyone who has an anolitical mind to keep this petty bickering going on the part of the democratic party. sure people are mad and feel let down by their government even those who are now running. sure people are bitter and maybe they are clinging to their religion because that is the only thing that gives them hope. sure people are bitter and maybe clinging to their guns because the justice system seems to have no reguard for vicitims or the ability or the courage to enforce the laws of this land. so maybe they feel that the gun in their house or their hand is the only protection they have and the only way to find justice. the pictures of hillary downing a shot of licquor and then chasing it with a beer i found quit anolitical in my mind. is she trying to prove that she can stand with the big boys? i didn't see a woman around! is she trying to prove that she can drink with the blue collors and that she is not an elitist? it was quit refreshing to see obama at the bowling alley mixing it with the real people. lets concentrate on hillary's latest backdoor politics with negotations for free trade to yet another country to give away yet another piece of our AMERICA. i won't be voting for either one of these canidates but they do keep me interested and laughing. i'm just waiting for the next comment.

    April 13, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Let's be fair

    I wish all you Obama Haters give it a rest . Say you were going to vote for him and now after he says atruthful statement now you gonna run and vote for Billary or John McKlan . Just be real about it you won't going to vote for him anyway . Just speaking a whole bunch of rhetoric . Believe me the true supporters will be there anyway . Who needs fakers and back stabbers . Please the door out has always been open . Just don't come back around when we are celebrating in Jan . at his inaugraul celebration .

    Go Barack we have your back keep speaking the truth .

    Obama 08 Yes we can !!!!!!!!!!

    April 13, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. bonna

    The only ones thats offended is hillary's supporter, the ones that try to make a mountain out of a mole.

    April 13, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. Wendy

    Come on people. You know Senator Obama was talking about issues. Usually Republicans turn to issues such as gun control, gay marriage, religious zealots, etc. That's was he was speaking about and you know it. If you take his words out of context than you are not a supporter of his anyway and it shows just how desperate you are for your candidate to win. Tell my why does Senator Obama have to be so perfect as a candidate. And as far as Senator Obama being an elitist, who has that status more than Senator Clinton along with her husband and $109 million dollars.
    To Senator Obama I would say Right On! Keep on saying it like it is. People who believe in this country, and you understand.

    April 13, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. NObama

    Obama is SOOOOO elitist that even his lips are blue!

    April 13, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. mwFlorida

    TO: ellianna April 13th, 2008 12:27 pm ET

    AMEN!!!!! Ellanna, AMEN. I pray, that these people will see the Clinton's and McCain for who they really are before this country end up like the people we are in a war with now. The "reinstatement of the draft" is just around the horizon. People need to wake up our kids are in danger. They see it, why can't the grown ups?

    April 13, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. HRClinton 2008

    I’m sorry but I cannot get the image of this man screaming from his pulpit the heinous and absolutely inexcusable sermons of hate!

    In this day and age I would expect that a politician running for President would have the good judgment NO to make a man like that a spiritual advisor to his campaign.

    I have heard all of the empty and inadequate excuses why Sen. Obama chose to remain a contributor and a patron of such an organization. Frankly I am frighten by the prospect that such hateful rhetoric will now emanate from the WHITEHOUSE itself.

    It’s bad enough that we have had to endure the hate and bigotry from the Christian Right over the last 7 years and now we are going to have to be berated by the Black Christian Left.


    Too many things added together give me pause ablut the OBAMAS
    -The Flag Lapel PIN- just wear it! You are an US SENATOR..
    -Your Hand over your heart during the National Anthem- just do it! You are an US SENATOR…AND IT’S THE LAW! Look it up!

    BESIDE WHICH.. Where is your pride? Or are you just using your SENATORIAL post as a stepping stone to advance your agenda?

    Michelle Obama has never been proud of AMERICA until now?! I don’t even know where to begin…MY GOD!

    NOW.. Besides the fact that you have stereotyped me as someone turning to my God, my guns and my intolerance and bigotry because I am bitter about losing my job 25 years ago. Not to mention you are calling me lazy for waiting this long to find a new job.

    Where do the insults on me end? YOU had me and you lost me forever, Sen. Obama! Unfortunately I voted for you early on… before I knew who you really are… that was my bad and I’m appalled.

    Hillary speaks for me. Now and for always!
    I will never vote for Sen. Obama. NADER OR McCAIN if not HILLARY!

    April 13, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Bill

    I hear his comments when they first were made known. I did not take or see anything offensive about them. Nor did I when he mentioned something about being a typical white person. I guess maybe why I did not, is because I deal in reality, not fantasy where everything is great not matter what. I know that I do not need people of any party telling me that things are just fine when they are not. In all reality, there are very few politicians who are in touch with the common folk of America, can relate to them or feel their pain, as one said. No one can feel their pain, because they are not them! How does any millionare relate to someone making 30-75,000 a year. We are a country divided by race, income, political beliefs, age, and a whole lot more. This country will never be as great as it could be because both parties put the good of their parties before the good of the people. That is the reality of the situation. I am 57 and believe that this election is the most important one of my generation. Things will either turn in the right direction, or really take a bigger turn for the worst. However, the only way it goes in the right direction, is if BOTH parties put aside their agendas and work together for the good of the nation, not their parties. I am an Independent. I am not a backer of any of the candidates yet. If I had to choose today, it would be none of the above or Obama. I do know that I will not support someone who nods all of the time in a condensending manner, as if to say," I'm right", I know what is best for you".

    April 13, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. CARRL

    I understand that this is politics but how can Hilliary even believe what she is saying. How can OBAMA, a man who can identify with living in a single parent home, be out of touch with common Americans? This thought about turning to religion and guns during times of distress has been depicted on TV for centuries. So let's turn this around to what really matters. I WANT TO KNOW HOW HILLIARY'S AND OBAMA'S CRIME PLAN COMPARE TO THIER ECONOMIC PLANS. Hilliary should spend her air time wisely and stick to the real issues. These little stabs at Obama make her look bad. Let others do that. Politicians are among the few people I know that benefit from nonprofessionalism or do they?

    April 13, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Phyl

    Has it occured to anyone that there are people who may have said just this to Obama, that they are bitter and dismayed with their economic situation and the government has done nothing to help them? I'm sure he didn't make all this up just so Hillary could demean
    Interesting that Bill Clinton and Hillary both acknowledge that now that Hillary is 60 she has a problem with her memory , as well as he does, and when you get to be 60 you'll know what he's talking about. Any one really want a president with memory problems ?

    April 13, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Issy

    Come on folks!
    Put all politics aside. I am an Independent and I completely agree with what Mr. Obama said. The previous generations in my family are all Republicans from the Mid-west and some of them are "Bitter". The better financially each generation did the less bitter they are, but that is not the point.

    The reason Mr. Obama said what he did, I am guessing, is because most Americans are out of touch when it comes to the economy and tend to vote for the ONE or TWO issues they do understand. It is not because they could not understand more of the issues, it is because they have other things to do and don't take the time to learn more. That lack of control is what leads people to being Bitter.

    Many of my relatives vote on only a couple issues – abortion, gay marriage, gun control, tax increases, with no regard on how any of these topics are linked with anything else.

    What Mr. Obama said IS right on the money and goes to what many people do vote on. The perfect example is George W. Bush. Mr. Bush was put in office because of 3 main issues – WAR, FEAR, & ABORTION. If you cannot see that, you need to take a long hard look at what you see and believe! Ex – look at our economy now.

    April 13, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Anthony

    For a true example of elitist thinking, let us not forget when Barbara Bush made this statement at the Astrodome in Houston after Katrina: "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this — this is working very well for them." I am angered when I see friends of mine with Masters degrees and Ph.D.'s having to work at a Starbucks because they can't find jobs. I can only imagine the feelings of factory workers in middle America where jobs have been non-existent for decades. Senator Obama's words do not even come close to being elitist. I hope people do not fail to see how Mrs. Clinton is utilizing a strategy of manipulation right out of Karl Rove's play book. It certainly makes me bitter.

    April 13, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. Alda

    Obama does not know what it is is to be poor and yet he feels he can judge poor people for clinging to religion. But what is his excuse for clinging to Rev. Writght?

    It just shows he will have even a greater problem if he is the nominee. It is clear so far he has not been able to reach to poor voters. If presidential elections were about speechi giving Obama should win but they should be about leadership and tackling the reality. It would be a great mistake to elect someone so inexperienced and "superior" to the average american.

    April 13, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. Kimay

    Obama insulted the people that are the backbone of America. At least I know Clinton and McCain LOVE their country!

    April 13, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. OlvrWhit

    I see some people are not really follwing whats happening. The Obama speeches you see on CNN are Obama trying to make excuses for what he said behind closed doors when in California. Obama didn't know he was being recorded. Thats were his hateful remarks came from. Some are confused it appears..He is now trying to backtrack and spin what he said to his wealthy donors when no one was looking. Simple, he could have made those commnets on the trail in PA if he thought they were true, instead his true feelings came out in a private party.

    April 13, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Truth

    Senator Obama knows how i feel. He is absolutely in touch.

    April 13, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Ben

    This is a bald-faced mischaracterization of what he said. He said that many Pennsylvanian's were bitter about the lack of competent governance lately–not that they were "bitter people". There is a huge difference. This is an example of journalistic malpractice. CNN, we expect better.

    April 13, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Jon

    His comments make perfect sense. Apparently it's now elitist and divisive to expect voters to contemplate the full text of what a politician says instead of just rolling with what pundits and a sound bite say.

    April 13, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Gene Edochie


    April 13, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Sandy Hart

    What Barack said is true. Being from the "small town" USA, we are fraustrated and bitter with our economy. And because of our fruastrations and bitterness, we do "cling to" or hold on to what gives us solice; whether its with our guns for protection or to hunt for extra food to put on our tables, our faith in our God and our hopes for a better future. We do blame others for our demise – illegal immigrants who have taken our jobs. O'Bama is not a elitiest, nor is he out of touch. We talk about this constantly with our close friends, family and others who will listen. I find it refreshing that someone is finally saying what I feel. Hillary and John McCain are the ones out of touch with us...they try to be one of us, but they do not seem to know what we feel or believe. And, who is more Elitest...the candidate that has earned $109 million dollars and grew up in nice neighborhood and could afford her education or the one that earns far less than that, grew up in a single parent household on welfare, had to fight his way up and earn the right to attend college? As for truth telling....are we going to believe a candidate who says she is not for NAFTA, but who supported it from the beginning and has people who are in her organization that support treaties and who would embellish her experience over and over again – Bosnia, Ireland Peace Treaty? I don't know about anyone else, but I am tired of not hearing the truth. And when truth is spoken, I am tired of people trying to paint that person in negative terms -liberal, elitest, etc...If truth puts one in that light, then I must be an elitest who only earns a little over $30,000/year...some elitest wouldn't you say?

    April 13, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. LH, TX

    Hillary don't act as if you haven't misspoken. Oh I forgot! You just make up stories and lie (not gaffe but lie).

    April 13, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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