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. Shirley

    They cannot call him an elitist if he came from the a similar background if not a worse background. He was not looking down on anyone just made a statement that is actually true. America is bitter. It is sad that he has to fight off both the Repulican nominee and his democratic rivalry. Hiliary needs to just go so that he can deal with John McCain. She is done. She needs to stopped trying to win. Anybody in their right mind is not going to see this the way Hilliary sees it.

    Shirley

    April 13, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. Change

    All of you that are writting I lost faith in you because he told the truth, were never Obama supporters. People, he will win the Democratic nominee. GET OVER IT!! Americans don't want Hillary/Bill or McCain in the White House. We are smarter and want real change. Obama supporters be calm this will all be over soon. PEACE

    April 13, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. pam from Canada and Proud to be Canadian

    People can not handle the truth. So you people will turn on a candidate because he is being honest.

    What a conception a politician that says something truthful.

    You people can not handle it!

    Obama 08 The world is watching!

    April 13, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. White, Female Boomer for Obama

    People commenting on these correct sentiments of Barack Obama should say where they are from. Something tells me they are not from people in small towns who are struggling.

    April 13, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. CHERYL FOR HILLARY

    THIS GUY IS UNBELIEVABLE AFTER HIS LAST COMMENTS HE SHOULD BE OUT OF THIS RACE!!!!!

    HE CANNOT EVER ADMIT THAT HE WAS WRONG!!!!!

    FROM THE COMMENTS ON HERE, I THINK THAT THE PEOPLE ARE FINALLY GETTING WISE TO HIM!!!!!!!

    VOTE FOR HILLARY AND LETS GET RID OF HIM!!!!!!!

    April 13, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Are you Serious-Atlanta, GA

    Edd, the only faith you should have is in God. Senator Obama is honest and he is willing to stick his neck out for America that has been outsourced without work. So if you want to vote for someone who will always tell you what you hear and get in the whitehouse and do the total opposite, vote for McCain and Clinton. If you want to get some work done, then vote for Senator Obama.

    April 13, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Bryan

    My biggest problem is that he did not want us "Typical" people to hear these comments. He said them in a closed door, no media talk. Someone recorded it, actually a Obama supporter for the Huffington Post. She debated for several days and finally decided to post it on the web site. Even some Obama supporters make the right choice, now just change your vote to Hillary and we can all get along.

    Hillary 08

    April 13, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. rusty

    This happens when Senator Obama finally use his "own" words.
    GOTCHA!!!

    Hillary 08!!!

    April 13, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. M. Rubarts (Texas)

    Obama does not need his opponents to dig dirt on him – he is digging his own grave. Stay tuned there will be more of the "real" Obama coming to surface. Go Hillary!!!

    April 13, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. Dan J

    SO he admits he didn't spin and mask his elitist, pretentious, social bigotry. He's learning about theis politics stuff pretty quickly

    April 13, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. ostriches burying our heads in sand

    Godspeed Barack! Keep speaking the truth...Hopefully, people will start pondering on reality and the true meaning of your words, instead of being swayed by pandering and 'soundbite' politics..........

    April 13, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. DM. Arlington Texas

    Obama, he said that he not perfect,

    He owned up to using the wrong words, so what do we do now?

    History is agreat teacher. My fellow American. we needs a leader to work on building a bridge for all american to cross not just the few and the well connected.

    We'll I encourage everyone to read Carl Bernstein article on AC360.

    Than you make up your mind.

    April 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. ellianna

    Barack Obama has told us from the very beginning of his campaign that he would tell the American people what they NEED to hear, not what they might wish to or want to hear!! This is just one example of his CANDID AND HONEST COMMITMENT to do so!! I believe our focus on this day should be forwarded on to HILLARY CLINTON, BELLYING UP AT THE BAR!! What a message that has sent to our youth, our young adults, those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol -being POWERFUL dictates to USING SUBSTANCES to enhance lifestyle???? I believe the Obama campaign needs to jump right on top of this BITTER public relations stunt!! We must remember - Bill Clinton's life has been FULL of all kinds of addictions, alcohol and sex to name a couple - and of course the most important addictions that BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON display are POWER, AUTHORITY, AND NARCISSISM!!!

    April 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Obama was only trying to tap into their pain. Hillary takes the negative
    and twists and turns it to fit her nasty campaign. Anyone still standing
    for Hillary must be a woman or a racist. Who in the world can sit back
    and watch her lies. Obama has a heart. He knows how to tap into these peoples hurt.
    Hillary takes the good in our country and stomps and wrecks it. She
    calls Obama an "elitist. That dirty lousy no good idiotic woman!
    She knows by calling him an "elitist" that is what they called Kerry
    and he lost. Bush was not an elitist? Hillary and Bill are not elitist?
    She will continue to slander Obamas name and she coverts with
    the people like Carville, Penn, Geraldine, Rendall, Bayh, and she
    joins a prayer group consisting of all the Republican Senate
    Big Wigs. I hate Hillary.

    April 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. prakash chand

    Grow up Obama you are running for the President not city mayor.

    April 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. Cynthia

    That was a true "misspeak" – unlike sniper fire.

    April 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. Marlene

    What is all this fuss about Barack Obama.s speech in San Francisco afterall is he not speaking the truth...People in times of hardship turn to different ways to relieve their frustrations! Hillary Clinton is just grasping at straws as her only hope to win! Go Barack ...Canadians love you!

    April 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Justification

    They must be stupid to take this comment so far, is the truth...

    April 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Kim

    As a Gun owning, White, Religious, Resident of a small town. I forgive Obama for this minor verbal gaffe. I wish CNN was not playing Hillary's sleazy game at manufacturing a contrived controversy just before the PA primary. This is the exact same game that Hillary pulled just before the Ohio vote. Hillary is truly the master of manipulation and CNN is her lap dog. Bottom line is, only Obama is not tainted by the crooked Lobby groups that have run this country for the last twenty years of Bush / Clinton. Only Obama is not profiting from the war in Iraq and is truly committed to bringing our heroic troops home.

    April 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. jay

    I and many, many americans appreciate a Presidential candidate that would dare to tell the truth. Many of us can handle it.
    I am a small-towner and agee with senator obama.

    April 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. Nate

    Let me first say that I am a card carrying Democrat. I have been since I started voting. My family taught me that voting and involvement in the electoral process was critical to democracy and was my obligation and duty as an American. So when I began listening to the candidates this primary season, I was curious to see who would BEST motivate and engage ALL Americans to participate in the dialog of our political process this season. I found that candidate to be Barak Obama. No person, in my political lifetime, have I seen encourage and motivate Americans the way he has. That said, as an American who believes in the fundamental principals of the Democratic Party, I was none the less prepared to vote for Hillary should she win the nomination. But, after her reckless and self-serving attempts to take advantage of the political mailstrom brewing over Baracks recent comments about disenfranchised middle America, I will NOT vote for Hillary. In fact, I hate Hillary now. I didnt really feel an affinity for her before, but now I just hate her. In fact, I now hate the Clintons, period. I will boycott this election should she win the nomination. I am so angry over her brazenly political opportunistic attempt to get milage out of what were clearly just poorly phrased comments meant to communicate an empathy for a politically, socially, and economically disenfranchised segment of OUR American Family!

    April 13, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  22. Jean

    I listened to Obama's speech and I didn't hear him say people turned to guns and religeon. He said that because they didn't believe politicians would do anything about the economy they cast their votes on gun & religion, etc. issues. Did I hear wrong??

    Even if he did miss speak, its minor compared to Clinton's lies about Bosnia and McCain's confusion about who we're fighting in Iraq.

    April 13, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. sarah

    It truly amazes me how people are so easily distracted by pettiness. It is equally amazing how some individuals cannot or will not use the power of discernment. Just wave a carrot in front of your face and by gosh – you will follow it.

    It is more than obvious that both McCain and Clinton are feeling rather insecure to stoop as low as to create such mindless distractions.

    Yet, the real problem is many buy into it (which clearly has a lot to do with the fact that we as a nation have had to endure 8 years of political travesty – they have WMDs so support me in unilaterally bombing them, create a large American deficit, while my friends benefit from sole source contracts in Iraq).

    I wish to take my opening statement back – I am not amazed – the vast majority of you are simply willing to accept propaganda and distortion as a way of life. I suppose it’s easier to have someone else think for you…

    April 13, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. Peter in Oregon

    Many of these CNN commentators and other members of the media seriously frustrate me by consistently cutting out parts of speeches Obama or his supporters make in order to show him in a dasparaging light.

    He explicitely said American "people then turn to things that THEY CAN COUNT ON" and then he said that people turn to their faith, gun control and other things when they feel the Government won't do what's right.

    I'm tired of CNN and the rest of the media taking statements out of context intentionally. I'm waiting for some intelligent, and informative reporting, and not the gossip and spin machine that the media has become.

    This is reckless and irresponsible. Even if you're a Hillary or Mccain puppet you owe it to this country to report the news as accurately as you can.

    Peter, an American voter in Oregon

    April 13, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Hillary and Bill sells America down the river with Nafta, Cafta,
    Columbia and makes sure she intitiates a big rotten fight over
    the word"Bitter"> Obama was tapping into their feelings, which
    Hillary is not capable of doing. You have to have lived it, to be
    able to understand. And Obama understands pain and hurt.
    She held the storey forthe weekend, just when Obama was pulling ahead in PA..
    I am bitter. About the state of our country because of the last idiot
    decisions and lies of the last 8 year. And I will ever be more bitter
    if this liar ever makes it to the Whitehouse. Why, after all she had
    done, with her lies. America will be the laughing stock of the
    World if we are stupid again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 13, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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