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. Sorensen

    Obama is right and honest. Occasionally he forgets to put his
    language into fake Hillary-type speech. And so what.
    He is the next President. That is becoming more and more obvious
    to more and more people. Including Bill.

    April 13, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. SharonR

    Bitter as in cruel,harsh,resentful maybe toward him because we can smell a fake a mile away Obama feels out of place in small town america so we can't count on him he is much more happier in SF

    April 13, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Juan Grain

    For those that feel like hillary and feel that barack needs to explain what he meant, please watch the Nov. 23rd 2004 Interview he did with Charlie Rose. you can find it on Google Vids or U-Tube. it explains clearly as to what his views are and what he meant even as far back as 2004. if you just want to slam him for this, then enjoy the short flame because the facts will be comming out soon and all you haters are going to be very disapointed.

    April 13, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. franco

    I have a question... if Obama's campaign is suppose to be a non-racial and non-gender effort, why is it that supporters seem to identify
    themselves as white-female people? Perhaps, these are non-white
    supporters identifying themselves otherwise. I have no doubt any tactic will be used from a candidate who appears very manipulative.

    April 13, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. Cory FIsher

    What is your people's problem?

    People are bitter about the government. Thats what he was saying. He was saying people get bitter about the economy and since they know nothing will change from politician from politician, they vote for other things that matter to them: Guns, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, ect.

    He wasn't trying to be elitist, he was trying to level with people. He's telling the truth, and those that misconstrue his remarks as somehow "elitist" then to take a step back.

    People (McCain and Billary) are trying to make this into something it is not. Typical Washington.

    John Locke 08

    April 13, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. Smitty

    I went back and listened to the context.

    I think he argued that it's hard to ask people to switch to a Democratic candidate who promises a better economy, but doesn't strongly support traditional republican values like
    1- upholding the second amendment and
    2-being conservative on faith based issues (pro choice, gay marriage, etc.)

    What he was saying is that these promises didn't come true for them in the past, so why should they give up the stuff that matters to them?
    And I don't blame them.

    He was in the process of refuting Governor Rendell's argument that rural pennsylvanians wouldn't vote for a black man, (essentially calling them racially prejudiced). So how is Governor Rendell's comment not condescending and elitist?

    April 13, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. Danny

    Any way BHO you going to worst President like you cousin JWB. Can you
    just stop to campaign because you not going to get our vote in general
    election if you win a Democratic nominee. You makes some stupid comments so, you going to be stupid president too because we know that you going to follow your cousin JWB and your flip-flop John Kerry.

    April 13, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Barbara Wells - Astor, FL

    Barack Obama used the words bitter and frustrated exactly right. The American people are bitter about the wars and the economy, frustrated with the price of gas and food. Crime is up in most major cities due to the lack of ways to make a living for families. What else can men do who have families at home and no way to support them: they turn to robbing and stealing.

    April 13, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    April 13, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Tobias

    It's so typical that Obama's followers are trying to somehow blame Senator Clinton for the fact that their candidate has just rendered himself unelectable. It's over and the Super Delegates can see it. They will have no choice but to vote for Senator Clinton. I think y'all should ask for your money back but his is what happens when someone who is not qualified tries to run for president. I'm afraid he has ruined his chances of ever becoming president.

    April 13, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. T Baker

    A person who makes $109 million in eight years calling someone else 'Elitist' is simply amazing. The Clinton's are so very much a part of the 'Elite' – they don't care about the small town vote beyond getting the vote.


    April 13, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Rodney-Dallas TX

    Obama is an IDIOT!!!!

    April 13, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Alex

    I don't know what is wrong with people. I guess it is a crime to be honest in this country. I am going through bankrutcy right now and if you don't think that I am not bitter about that, then you are sadly mistaken. If you think that people in small town America or anywhere in America who have lost their job or house, or everything aren't a little bitter then you are blind. If you think Senator McCain who is worth tens of millions of dollars and is one of the wealthiest people in the Senate, who by the way said that people losing there homes should blame themselves, cares about you and smalltown America, then don't have a clue. If you think that Senator Clinton, who with her husband made over 100 million dollars in the last 6 years, lied about what happened on her trip to bosnia and feels that the is owed the Presidency, cares about you or small town America, then think again. The people that lash out at Senator Obama are the same people that attack him for everything. These are the same people that spread rumors about him being Muslim and tell people behind close doors that we shouldn't vote for him because of his skin color. I personally am tire of these people who use every excuse to try to bring him down, but never say the real reason that they want him to lose. Your choice here is to think for yourselves who will actually help you. Someone who has been in your tax bracket most of his life up to maybe the last 5 years or so, or two very very wealthy people who just want to be President and are so wealthy that they fall into the top 1/2%-1% of the richiest tax brackett. Who do you honestly think will car about you.

    April 13, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. SharonR

    Is Candy Crowley an x hippie

    April 13, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  15. Snafu


    IF he insulted your intelligence it was because you have none. Obama is correct on the fact that people are bitter, I hear it every day especially when people have to pay for higher gas prices, higher utility cost, high food cost, and their incomes remain the same or they lose their jobs. Your intelligence is lacking if you cannot grasp that concept that this economy under George Bush is tanking.

    Yes, rural America will cling to their guns and their religion for they distrust the gov now more than ever and just take a ride and you will find out that what he said is true. Talk to these people they are bitter, angry and fed up. And they have every right to be.

    You need to look up the word "elitist" and you will see that Clinton and McCain sure fit that bill to a "T".

    April 13, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. ekissodde

    Something tells me that the Obama camp probably has something nasty there are going to toss at Hilary this week.The fact that they have left Hilary to run with this bitter molehill tells me they probably figure voters are smart enough to spot Hilary's tales of which they are many.

    April 13, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Tired of the old way of life

    Since people feel that guns are not used because a lot of Americans are bitter do too the lose of jobs, homes and other situations, then i think that no one should have any more problems with people who get guns and kill because they are bitter and angry. Crime in America has increased so much in the last 10 years, mostly due to families not be able to make ends meet and you don't think they are not angry when there job is now overseas. Some of use religion when we are angry, so stop with the fact that every one only prays to good when they are happy.

    April 13, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Tom,des moines

    Barack Obama, U r way out of line with your remark about people in the midwest. I truly hope people in the remain states will reject you,your remark and send you packing. Go Hillary!

    April 13, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Matt Oklahoma

    Senator Obama is at it again, belittling the working men and women of PA. One would think that since he graduated from Harvard Law School, he would have gained some WISDOM and not be insulting Americans. He is an elitest and considers himself to be the solver of all the problems of hard-working Americans. This proves that he lacks intergity, judgement and experience to be a nominee for President.

    Hopefully, the voters will wake up and see this man for what he really in, someone who simply wants political power and will do anything right or wrong to get it. He sure did not improve his district in south Chicago. It has economically declined since he has been in office.

    April 13, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Caroline

    HRC is the bitter one. She's bitter that Obama is ahead and better liked and will probably get the nomination. She's so bitter she's resorted to drinking in public to boost (?) her public image as a common guy. LOL The duck hunting story is precious as well.

    April 13, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. Robert IL

    Cheryl, I've had about enough of your comments. You Hillary supporters are so blind it makes me sick. You put your support behind a woman who WILL DO ANYTHING to get into the white house.

    Here's a reality check: when people lose their jobs due to outsourcing, they become BITTER. Read what people from PA are writing in the blogs. THEY AGREE!!!

    Your precious Hillary dodged a bullet by not having to answer questions on the bosnia flap or the penn situation. Talk about Obama getting a free ride, this is ridiculous! Hillary makes a bold faced lie, and the media lets her get away with it? It just makes me sick.

    Thank you Hillary for dragging the party down and making a mockery of this election and your voters who bloindly give you money that you don't know how to manage.

    April 13, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. Alex H

    Spider – he never said racism (Gotta love how people like you put it in wherever you find it convenient though).

    What he was saying, which was poorly summarized in the beginning of the article, is that because of the failed policies of the Bush administration it's hard for people who are dealing with a failing economy and a housing crisis to believe that the government (mainly the presidential candidates) will help them with the economy. So they look at the things that they view as most important, gun rights and religion. It's no coincidence that Hillary has since then has proven me right by now stumping about gun rights. You know why you're offended? Because people have told you to be offended. Americans need to learn to think for themselves and stop using a politician's propaganda talking points in their comments and learn to formulate their own opinions and not the opinions they're told to have. All I hear from people who are 'offended' on this site are the same things Hillary said and what they've heard on the news... nothing more.

    April 13, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. judasgoat

    you,ve got to be kidding me you were warned that ANY ANY ANY anything you say is going to be twisted and misconstruted. and this is only the beginning hillary smells blood . after rev. wright your stock has gone down. YOU HAVE MANAGED TO SCARE THE HELL OUT OF WHITE FOLKS. MAN WHAT IS YOU AND YOUR CAMPAIGN'S PROBLEM? NOW THE MISTAKE IN PENN. man you people are slipp'n. STOP trying to jump at every question before you can ponder the backlash .because from here on out you will encounter nothing but I GOTCHA QUESTIONS. do you want to campaign from the defense all the time? GET P-R-O-A-C-T-I-V-E NOT REACTIVE. YOU SHOULD NOT BE GETTING COMFORTABLE. cause them clintons are gain'n on you. "CC"

    April 13, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. kaywood Hopkins Seattle, WA

    It is nice to hear his honesty and his ability to quickly see when he "misspoke". I wish the other candidate had that ability.

    April 13, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. Nina, NYC

    "embrace an antipathy toward people who aren't like them"???
    The fact that Obama uses this kind of language alone shows that he is no different from any other bs-ing politician out there as he claims to be. where's the "change" here?

    furthermore, how did his campaign let that kind of statement slip by when they were drafting his speech??? (besides the whole 'typical white person' jab)... sloppy politics. I prefer the president of my country to be a more polished diplomat.

    why doesn't he just talk about his policy plans instead of making condescending remarks toward the people he wants to vote for him? or does he have policy plans...? wouldn't know cause I haven't heard them.

    I am a young woman with grad education for Hillary and have several colleagues my age voting for her as well, just to show that her base does extend to our demographic.

    April 13, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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