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.

Full story


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

    All Obama Supporters

    Go to the website and see where Indiana and Pennsylvania voters reject the comments from Clinton and McCain

    I guess the people are really fed up and bitter. Gas prices, lost jobs, higher food cost.

    April 13, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. david

    hey guys this is nothing. but a distraction from Columbia deal and Mark Penn crisis. poor Obama doesnt know tactics.

    April 13, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Barb

    Obama,

    Your remarks were scripturally and culturally correct. Midwesterners are bitter, thanks to the Clintons and NAFTA. The news and your opponents do not listen when they are in Church. They are trying to paint you as an elitist because they are fearful.. Why did this turn racial? Everytime a black person shows confidence or courage we're looked at as high and mighty and must be brought down. How can a man who walked around with holes in his shoes, drove a car that you had to pray over to drive, make only one million dollars be characterized as an elitist. Where I come from we call it a person living the American dream. A person who understands his Bible, hardships, fears and yes bitterness

    James 2:5-6

    5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

    6 But ye have despised the poor . Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
    KJV

    Barb – Ohio

    April 13, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. White Woman for Obama

    First of all. He didn't lie–he misspoke (in the true meaning of the word)
    second of all we are bitter. Bitter that the Clintons are making money hand over fist while our jobs are going to Mexico, China (and coming soon Columbia!) and our money is going to fight a was in Iraq.
    Whose fingerprints are on both of those problems?

    April 13, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Re-Obama Speaker

    Obama cannot fix all of the US problems. The people must fix their own problems. Leaders inspire. They don't go around to each house and fix your finance and make your life happy. You do that. However, as a leader, he is inspirational and motivational. The exact thing Americans need in a leader.

    April 13, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. Debby

    I guess Shaun Hannity was right about Obama. His personalities are starting to peel off and we really don't know what this guy is all about. His stump speech's on the campaign trail are different from when he talks to the elitists.

    April 13, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. Shirley

    DO NOT GIVE UP OBAMA.

    THE THOUGHT THAT YOU MENTIONED SOME OF THE PEOPLE IN PA SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS TO ME. IT SHOWED ME THAT YOU HAVE COMPASION FOR THEM AND FEEL THEIR PAIN AND WHEN YOU ARE ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES YOU ARE GOING TO CHANGE THINGS FOR THE BETTER FOR THESE PEOPLE AND A WHOLE LOT OF OTHERS.

    WHAT PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND IS THAT YOU DID NOT MAKE AMOST 10 MILLION DOLLARS IN 6 YEARS SO YOU REALLY DO NOT HAVE A REASON TO LOOK DOWN ON PEOPLE. THEY DO NOT REALIZE WHERE YOU COME FROM AND THE FACT THAT MOST PEOPLE DO NOT FORGET WHERE THEY COME FROM SO THEY DO NOT MAKE IT A PRACTICE TO LOOK DOWN ON OTHER.

    THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE TO BATTLE BOTH THE MCCAIN AND SOMEONE WHO CLAIMS TO CLOSE RANKS WITH YOU IF YOU WHEN IT A BIT MUCH AND PEOPLE REALLY NEED TO LOOK AT HILLIARY FOR WHAT SHE IS AND IS DOING. SHE IS DESTROYING THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND SOMEONE SHOULD PUT A STOP TO IT.

    I AM BITTER AND I PRAY MORE THAN I USE TO BECAUSE I AM BITTER. I LOST A JOB OVERSEAS PEOPLE DO WHAT I DO FOR CHEAP. I BLAME THEM BUT IN THE SAME BREATH IF NEED I NEED A ROOF PUT ON MY HOUSE AND THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WILL DO IT CHEAPER THAN AN AMERICAN I WILL USE THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT, BUT I STILL BLAME THEN WHICH IS WRONG.

    I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE SAYING AND A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE DO AS WELL. THEY ARE JUST BLOWING THIS OUT OF PROPORTION BECAUSE THEY CAN.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

    SHIRLEY

    April 13, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. sd

    Obama at ‘back room’ fundraiser in San Francisco
    In a private and well shrouded fundraiser amongst the rich elite of San Francisco, and in the mansion of Pakistan native and ardently Muslim millionaire Sohaib Abbasi (CEO of Informatica), Obama was recorded saying: “You go into 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 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.”

    Remember, he is talking to events sponsored by billionaires like (so called) Republican Gordon Getty, and ex Oracle executive (and highly devout Sunni Muslim) Sohaib Abbasi. Claiming that small-town (White) America is clinging to their culture of religion and guns as a ‘primitive’ way of explaining (and excusing) their economic troubles (which he also clearly ridicules by implying that they should have figured out by now that nobody will help them) is apparently an odd attempt to explain to these ‘rich folks’ why their own values would never be welcomed in these same venues. Ironically, by painting the majority of Americans as ignorant ‘hicks’ who just “cling to guns and religion” to fulfill their pathetic need to justify their own failures, he is precisely devaluing his whole pretension to become President of the United States.

    For if most people in this Nation are simply doomed to continue the yolk of economic exploitation by these SAME BILLIONAIRES, no matter which administration comes into power, then his candidacy of “change” and “hope” is utterly meaningless. If the right to bear arms and the practice of religion are simply crutches which enslave most of rural America, then his open pandering to these same groups would be ‘dishonest’ and ‘counterproductive’.

    But his comments are also very damaging in another way. They underscore the Rev. Wright controversy, his wife’s comments about America being a mean Nation, and it digs deep into NAFTA GATE and IRAQ GATE, were his campaign has been proven to sell one policy promise to the American people and then send surrogates behind their back (and around the world) to spread the idea that his speeches are ONLY rhetorical. Therefore, these comments, and their context, cut into the heart of Barack Obama’s political pretensions and message. savagepolitics.com

    April 13, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Jay From San Diego, Ca

    Americans are not the smartest people, I swear!!!

    What he ment was that small town people don't vote on issues like the economy, the war in iraq or numerous other serious issues. They vote on religon, gun rights, etc. AND IT IS TRUE!!! How else do you explain over 70 percent of american doesn't agree with the war in Iraq, and or thinks the economy is in a recession, but still will vote for Sen. MCCain just becasue he is a republican or out of spite cause Sen Clinton isn't going to the Democratic ticket. Ask anyone on why they voted for the canidate of their choice and I gurantee you The polls will support Sen. Obama.

    This isn't even an issue because if you are not going to vote for Sen. Obama because of this, you probally wasn't going to vote for him anyways. Which is pathetic considering the state we are in now.

    The people that are not going to vote for Sen. Obama because of this, are probally the same people that voted President Bush into office twice.

    April 13, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. KOR

    An earlier ticker story says Obama apologizes "if he offended anyone." Funny, when Clinton said that earlier about her husband's South Carolina remarks, Obama supporters were all over her for the conditional apology. Now you are excusing Obama. Don't forget besides calling people bitter, he said they were racist. Why do you have a lower standard for your candidate than for the others.

    He made these comments behind closed doors. What else has he said behind closed doors? If he truly empathized with PA voters, he would have spoken directly to them. Obama is not a uniter...he is a divider. Please visit the home page of his church, tucc.org, to read about the Black Value System that is the foundation of their church. Michelle Obama is even worse with her black separationist views.

    April 13, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. gobo

    Dear America,

    You have a chance to vote for a president who understand your burning problems. He pointed out to the real problems that needs tackling. And what does he get? All these criticism by the power hungry politicians who seem to care more about grabbing the power instead of acknowledging the problems you face.
    You have a chance to solve problems with Mr Obama who understands real problems you face.

    April 13, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. O holy Cow...

    Actually... I am an American – doesn't matter if I am small town or not - or in Hillary's words "IT'S NOT RELEVANT" - but I will tell you what... After all the Billary and Bush years... I am BITTER... I DO NOT TRUST the politicians.

    sivananthi - to answer your comment, as an Independant that has not decided yet – because Hillary is using the distorted version of what was said TO DEFLECT FROM BILL'S LATEST FIASCO... And it is working... don't you think... No more news of it in the headlines.. 🙂

    April 13, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Gion

    FOX News hit the streets of PA to interview people, fishing for Obama bashers. what they actually found was person after person, both Obama bashers and not, who said that Obama is actually dead on and people are very bitter and angry with Washington.

    Theres a reason so many people either dont vote, or hold their nose and vote. its time to take the cameras to the streets and talk to these people directly about their attitudes rather than having the media TELL US what to think.

    I'm not just bitter, I'm mad as hell, and not gonna take it anymore!

    April 13, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Uchenna.

    Waowwww. Americans never cease to amaze me. It seems Obama took them unawares by getting to where he is today thats why every of his words is being scrutized daily. .... Obama was very very right in what he said. The Whole citizens of the world have elected Obama as the President of their hearts , unfortunately only Americans have the right to elect a US president.........

    April 13, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. katie in texas

    To April in Texas:
    Yes, you are right both Clinton and McCain are far richer than Obama, and hence elite. However, Obama's latest tax return shows he is a new convert to elitism. Perhaps his elitism is the zealotry of a new convert. This shows his lack of experience in elitism.

    April 13, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Gion

    Cindy from CA posted "Obama made these comments at a fundraiser in San Francisco. He thought it wasn't being recorded. "

    There is video of the event that has been posted around the web. there were dozens of people there with cameras and recorders, obvious ones. The spin that this was some closed door comment is a lie. Obama said the EXACT SAME THING on Charlie Rose in 2004.

    April 13, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Obama supporter

    it is pertinent to note that this young man did not say anything out of the ordinary. This kind of irrelevant dust is raised when there is so much time before a state primary..................
    i want to know why peoplw would be hungry for change if they are not bitter and frustrated at something or someone, yes he hit the nail on the head, people might like it, people might not but you can trust someone that tells you the hard truth than someone who tells blatant flat and useless lies to buy the hearts of people, even with all Hillary's so called experience, it does not guarantee the change and reasoned judgement Americans need at this time, after all she has been a part and parcel of the unpopular government of President Bush so what change could she possibly bring except for some amendments from the normal routine.
    we need complete change and Obama is the man for the job

    April 13, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. ann

    I think Clinton is looking for any means to keep her hanging on to this nomination. it will not work.
    Go Obama

    April 13, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. sue

    This is typical Obama. Off course he will get a free ride from the media. He and his campaign are very arrogant. Hopefully, the American people and the Pennsylvanian will see through him.

    April 13, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Paul Canada

    I wish Americans who I respect can see what is really happening, how said it would be if you people don't see the TRUTH.

    Obama may not have used the best words but I believe he spoke the truth. He did not lie and we all know telling the truth is hard to swallow but it is better than LIES.

    Hillary has lied several times, NAFTA, Colombia, Sniper fire, etc but she has not apologized for her lies and is always trying to distract attention to what Barack does, spin it, distort it and amplify it just to get their votes.

    It will be heart-breaking and disappointing if millions of Americans do not stand-up for the truth by sending lying Hillary away and electing Obama. God bless America.

    April 13, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Richard

    A vote for hillary is a vote for mccain.

    Most of these so called democrats claiming they will vote for mccain against obama if hillary loses the nomination are NOT democrats at all. They are republicans trying to scare up clinton votes, because they know she has NO CHANCE in November.

    Rush Limbough has, several times on his radio show, called on republicans to SWITCH PARTIES and get out to the polls to vote hillary. LOOK IT UP, IT'S THE TRUTH! Thousands are believed to have voted hillary in texas, ohio, mississippi (though she still lost), and other states as well.

    Remember, switching parties has no effect on who you can vote for, or against, in the general election.

    Republicans DO NOT want to go up against OBAMA in november – this is certain.

    April 13, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  22. Bryan

    I guess that Hillary was not bitter when Bill fooled around with Monica. Hillary and John McCain are LIARS! Barack told the truth. For any politcian to say anything else is bull. It is not in the old political hand book to say that. The book says to lie and tell the people that it is raining, when they are peeing on us. We need change and Barack is the only one to do it in Washington.

    April 13, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. IA

    Obama is a loser. He needs to just concede now so we can move on. He has destroyed any chance he ever had of winning the general election.

    April 13, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. kmontgomery

    That's right take the spot light off of the main issue, (you and your husband). Give me a break, voters that have lost their jobs whether blue-collar or not are very bitter at the current Administration. So what's wrong with the truth.

    GET WITH THE PROGRAM

    Americans have long been keep ignorant as to how our government really functions, except a few of us.

    SORRY "HILL" YOUR ANTICS DON'T WORK WITH THIS LADY

    April 13, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  25. sharon

    for those of you who have not seen sen. obama in person, he does not use a teleprompter, he speaks for himself. it's amazing to me that this has gotten so much publicity, given that it was a closed to the media event – how, then, did the media get ahold of it? sen. obama has a knack for telling the truth in ways that say he gets it, comprehends the average american who continues to struggle and suffer after 8 years of the bush monarchy. we have got to choose someone who gets regular folks. my vote goes to him.
    yes, we can!

    April 13, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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