April 14th, 2008
03:27 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama makes light of 'bitter' comments


Watch part of Sen. Obama's speech Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) –- Democrat Barack Obama continued to tweak his explanation of what some in the media are now referring to as "bitter-gate" by saying he now feels his comments have served as a "distraction."

"I regret some of the words I chose," Obama said Monday at The Associated Press annual conference in Washington, D.C., "partly because the way that these remarks have been interpreted have offended some people and partly because they have served as one more distraction from the critical debate that we must have in this election season."

At a closed door fundraiser just over a week ago, the Illinois senator referred to some small-town Pennsylvanians as "bitter" people who "cling to guns and religion."

At the top of his remarks to the crowd, which included a significant number of journalists, Obama made an attempt to turn what he calls his badly-chosen words into a joke.

"I know I kept a lot of you guys busy this weekend with the comments I made last week. Some of you might even be a little bitter about that," he said to soft laughter.

Reading from a prompter, the White House hopeful then began wielding attacks at the presumptive GOP nominee, saying John McCain and the Republicans will use his "bitter" comments "to argue that I'm out of touch" with average Americans.

"I don't blame them for this - that's the nature of our political culture, and if I had to carry the banner for eight years of George Bush's failures, I'd be looking for something else to talk about too," Obama said.

"If John McCain wants to turn this election into a contest about which party is out of touch with the struggles and the hopes of working America, that's a debate I'm happy to have. In fact, I think that's a debate we have to have."

In a response, McCain senior adviser Mark Salter said, “It’s hard to keep a straight face when you’re accused of being out of touch by a guy who thinks the whole country is worried about the high price of arugula or that you hunt ducks with a six shooter.”

Sunday, Obama used harsh words to criticize Hillary Clinton for her attacks on him calling him out of touch with Pennsylvania voters. He mocked her, implying she is falsely creating the image that she's a bigger supporter of gun rights than he is.

"She's talking like she's Annie Oakley! Hillary Clinton's out there like she's on the duck blind every Sunday, [like] she's packin' a six shooter!" Obama said.

The McCain response also draws a parallel to a past Obama faux-pas: at a campaign stop months ago in Iowa, the Illinois senator asked a group of farmers if they'd "gone into a Whole Foods lately and seen what they charge for arugula." Whole Foods is a more upscale grocery chain, and they have no stores in the state of Iowa.

soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Stacy Clarks, TX

    GO OBAMA!!


    OBAMA 08!!!!!!!!!!

    April 14, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. Bill, Albany, NY

    Its funny how conservatives went nuts after the bitter comment. If a right wing commentator or a politician said something about minority neighborhoods they wouldve said "Deal with it" to liberals who cry foul and moved on. What happened to "You dont have the right not to be offended"

    Double Standard anyone?

    Libertarian in 08

    April 14, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Kiyomi

    This from a man who wants to sit down and have a little chat with the leaders of nations that the US does NOT have friendly relations with and harbors terrorists. Oh gee, I can't wait to see how he fumbles those conversations and what kind of blind second chance those countries give the US. Call them "typical" and "bitter" and let's see where that goes Obama, you can't have a script with you there!

    April 14, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. Jacob

    If Hillary Clinton is the nominee I will have to hold my nose and vote for McCain

    April 14, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. Kay, Charleston, WV

    He can make light of his comments all he likes but until he explains exactly how Religion, Guns, Xenophobia, & Racism ever belong in the same list he has not gotten to the heart of the offensive nature of his comments.

    April 14, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Venus

    Go for it Obama! Heck Hillary laughed about the snipper shots on Jay Leno –

    April 14, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |

    How could ANYBODY support Hillary after she said she got shot at in Bosnia and the video got released PROVING SHE LIED?!?!??!??


    April 14, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Ridgeway

    The only comment he should regret is (sic) " I am running for President of the United States." Although it is nice to watch him make Hillary sweat. She's earned it.

    April 14, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Joe Smith

    Mr. Obama if your not elected in Jan – I will move to Canada

    April 14, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. SNOBama

    This man is Seriously not qualifed to be President if he thinks a comment like that is only a "Distraction"

    April 14, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. Helene

    Obama is quite right. The media is manipulating us and making sure that we are distracted from real issues, like poverty, recession, war, etc ...
    Hillary C. has lost the nomination. She should concede defeat honorably and gracefully ... if she can.

    April 14, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. jd

    You are right Barack, A distraction named BILLARY BITTERNEST BECAUSE YOU ARE WINNING. OBAMA/08

    April 14, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. SN from MN

    Distraction! Hardly! His true feelings and attitudes slipped out in an unguarded moment. He's done.

    April 14, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. Cat, Costa Mesa, CA

    Unfortunately it's too late to start this thing over.

    Can we start the primary over again and get all three yahoos off the stumping block? They're not fit to run a chicken coup let alone the country!

    April 14, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. Tennessee

    "Barack (McGovern) Obama" in '08. Republicans must be very happy!

    April 14, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Jim Shimmer

    Hillary is a liar. She truly is.
    Mccain is a fool.

    April 14, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Venus

    YES! John McCain has a HUGE banner to carry after Bush! And, I am not worried about him winning! He can't! Too many Americans are bitter about jobs, food, gas, and heating oil!!! Hell John doesn't even have any plans yet! Who cares about his book or his stats- about a war? Bring the troops home and let's get Americans-back to building and working!

    April 14, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Claude Calgary AB

    Obama is doing the rite thing and proving to the world that he is the best canidate to lead Democrats in the next election. I wish Obama would have handled the Red phone ad the same way. This is the best approach to deflecting the kitchen sink tactic and staying on board with his message.

    April 14, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. akaDoug

    It's always silly season for the Hillary campaign...they can pull their head out of the sand quick enough to see that she is in trouble!

    April 14, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. NickNas

    Obama IS treating this like the silly situation that it really is. The People of PA are NOT stupid and they know what he meant. In fact I have yet to see any REAL people not affiliated with the Billary camp say they were offended PERIOD.

    NOW before one of you paid bloggers claim to be" lil ms PA hurtfeelings" I will require PROOF ok? I am not a Hillabot and we need FACTS. We dont just believe everything we are told like you people often do.

    April 14, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |

    one question:

    why did obama lie and say he didnt make these comments all week long and only admitted to them when the audio was released to the media?

    obama is doing damage control because like the speech on race, he's been backed into a corner.

    April 14, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. Dem08

    First, Obama made those remarks and has spent the weekend trying to explain what he said.

    We have the audio, that he was not aware of. We know what he said and what he meant, not the new spun version by his campaign. Obama is attacking because he knows that he called millions of rural americans bigots who cling to guns and religion. He did not say people turn to religion in a time of need. He said they use it as an excuse. Obama is lying. His supporters are distorting.

    This man has proven himslef to be arrogant and condesending. When he made those remarks, the laughter in the background is disturbing. Ask yourself why Obama did not discuss this on the campaign trail, until it was an issue.

    He is now distorting Clinton's record and acting childish by calling her Annie Oakley. He makes fun of her in a bar when just a few weeks ago he was in a bar, downing a beer for all to see, then went bowling.

    Barack Obama has used retoric to drive this election. He can not apologize, he can not admit he is wrong. Well Obama, you are wrong.
    People are defending him on the word "bitter", but bitter was not what he said.

    April 14, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Susan MO

    Obama is now trying to laugh off what he said to the people of Pennsylvania, making it sound unimportant. To us, that is being even more critical & rude to the people of Pennsylvania.

    SHAME ON OBAMA........we thought about you at first, but not after you slammed Pennsylvania people.

    Now For Hillary Clinton

    April 14, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. Allen, Lubbock, TX

    Ridgeway - how did Hillary earn it? did she fight for every state and caucus? or did she think she was going to win, start losing and now throwing the kitchen sink to try and win something that she should have won....if she had tried!
    i call that arrogance and she got just whaat she deserved

    April 14, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Angela

    When Senator Clinton steps in it – it is proof that she can't be trusted?

    Why is it that when Obama steps in it – it is merely a distraction?

    It is not a distraction – it is proof of an inxperienced politician, once again making a blunder, and providing the republicans with more material for the general.

    April 14, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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