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. ray

    poeple want change we are tired of struggling,no jobs, high prices effecting everyone.tired of seing the same old people in office doing nothing but pocketing their money.

    April 14, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. bitter in IN

    Barack Obama was right! I'm bitter as H*LL after having my job sent over seas!!! Meanwhile Hilliary just laughs off questions about Columbia! Barack, dont stop telling the truth, We are with you!!!

    April 14, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. Harry Moyer

    Shame on all of you losers that are grasping at any possible thing to bring your candidate into the White House. That's one thing that is wrong with this country, "poor losers". When I was growing up you did yourself a serious disservice by not being gracious to the winner. But in this day and age it's all about ones self. Obama isn't going to be able to wave a magic wand and everything is going to be fixed, but I feel at least he'll try.

    April 14, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Jenny, TX

    Don't try to flip flop your own words, Mr. Words. We are wise enough to know what you meant.

    April 14, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. OlvrWhit

    Ramussen has already done a poll. 56% think he was wrong.

    Obama should be applauded for politics as usual as he has spun his own distasteful remarks and completely ignored that he called many americans bigots.

    Arrogant, un-apologetic and condesending.. Obama's true self is coming out and you all know it.

    April 14, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. ObamaSupporter

    Please google "The company Obama keeps". Read the article and have Obama spin the story too.

    April 14, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  7. DF

    OBAMA supporters don't have their heads buried in the sand, they have their heads buried somewhere else where the sun doesn't shine!!!! NOBAMA for all the "Wright" reasons

    April 14, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. typical bitter white woman packing a bible

    The true person rarely comes outin the open with most people ,but we have gotten a glimpse not once but twice with this bigot. Clinton is clearly the only clear choice to vote for. Hillary, we love you and you will make the best president ever.

    April 14, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. Now for Obama

    I'm just curious as to what Hill's supporters are going to do when Barack becomes president??? Move out of the country, commit suicide, start a riot??? You should all start making plans now, because a CHANGE IS COMING!

    April 14, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. Joel

    Why are the democrats wasting their time in Pennsylvania? Do they seriously care about that state? It has absolutely no redeeming qualities and will be but a state full of ghost towns when the rest of the people who live there finally wise up and finally leave it.

    April 14, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. typical bitter white woman packing a bible

    obama fans bury their heads and minds to the bigotry he speaks and now they try to make excuses for this bigot.

    April 14, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  12. typical bitter white woman packing a bible

    The only change I see is a change back to the race riots of the 60's

    April 14, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. Big Tex

    Hillary Clinton is the reason why Bill Clinton had and is still having so many Affairs , wouldn't you. Just think about waking up and looking at that face

    April 14, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. candi

    What the press and other candidates failed to realize is that the American people are in fact bitter. We are bitter about how the past 8 years has gone with the governments attack on us economically and emotionally. We are bitter and with good cause.

    April 14, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. Mary

    I was shocked to hear how your detractors have made an issue of this 'bitter'. The first time it was discussed with the best political team on tv, Gloria and Tubin expressed their disappointment at Sen Clinton's reaction to Obama's statement. Obama did not mean any harm by his remarks and I hope Americans can see through the lines and know who really cares for them and who has also had a hard time in the early parts of their lives.
    Sen Obama should not loose sleep over this. It will turn out to favor him.

    April 14, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. H.B.Nielsen

    while I am not from Pa.(Dayton,Oh.) I am BITTER. Having to vote for what I consider the lesser of two evils every four years.

    April 14, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  17. Independent-woman-voter-for-Obama

    I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY OBAMA'S COMMENTS ARE BEING DRAGGED THROUGH THE MUD?! It TRUE that people are BITTER! ITS TRUE that SOME PEOPLE CLING TO GUNS because they are afraid that their rights will be trampled.

    Its SAD that WE, Americans, can not HEAR the TRUTH! Let's get over ourselves, set aside our EGOS so we can discussed the REAL ISSUES, like 10 TRILLION in DEBT, the mess in Iraq, the economy and the growing number of our children who are dropping out of school!

    April 14, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. Tony

    Billary uses pardons for votes to get elected to the Senate, but proclaims to be the ethical one?

    Billary makes $800,000 off of the columbia trade agreement and $300,000 for her campaign strategist, and helped push NAFTA through, but somehow stands up for workers against free trade?

    Billary is tough on terrorism while her husband commuted the sentence of terrorists to get her elected in NY?

    Billary tells you that Obama is elitist, while she thinks Arkansas isn't good enough to run for Senate and instead moves to NY to sip lattes on her hundred million dollar fortune?

    Billary has proven she will say anything (sniper fire, hunting) and do anything (play with election rules, pardons for votes) to gain power, but won't change anything as the people of PA can tell you as they continued to watch jobs leave rural America for overseas under the Clinton presidency while they took jobs as cashiers at Walmart instead of good paying factory jobs.

    April 14, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  19. North Carolina

    You'll be eating your words come the general, loser. Check out SavagePolitics.com for the REST of Obama's recorded comments. Bitter isn't the issue here.

    April 14, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. Lee-- Dallas, TX

    Bitter… Really? Why would we be bitter? Maybe it’s because the bankers who offered predatory loans are now "retiring" with multi-million dollar packages? Maybe it’s because we are struggling to pay our mortgages while the banks get bailed out by DC? Maybe it’s because our jobs have been shipped overseas, some by Bill Clinton. Yes, we are bitter, and there is nothing "elitist" about speaking the truth!

    Still can't figure out what was untrue or false about what Barack said. It's just like most American's not to like what we see when we are shown ourselves in a mirror that reflects what truly is before someone is able to cover it up with falsehoods.

    It's good to have a candidate tell America exactly what it needs to hear. It appears to me that his rivals are a little 'bitter' that they didn't expound on this issue first.

    Ultimately, we all have reasons to be embittered, having seen our government hijacked by those who seem entirely divorced from our aspirations. Small towns are occupied by some of those who deserve to be most frustrated of all. Barack Obama recognizes that our bitterness is not cured by ignoring it or dismissing it. It is cured by talking about it - and working to replace it with hope.

    April 14, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. Ronda in Oregon

    We can all move forward when Obama and his supporters admit they are "bitter" also! If everyone in America was given the opportunity to correct their statements two and three times we would all be great speakers.

    April 14, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  22. Catperson

    Congratulations to commenter "Chris": You are the first one to spell "Colombia" correctly!

    April 14, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  23. Ted

    Isn't the fact that he bowled a 37 all you really need to know?

    April 14, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  24. Demo Craxy

    I dont know about the rest of voters, but I am exhausted of listenign and hearing billary every day in CNN

    just to listen to her is demeaning, belittling, and just plain exhausting.......if not insulting and I am a regular woman and voter......
    not an elitist, i just want something different from same old same old, polictis,

    April 14, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. HP Boston

    Obama is getting the sweats, he is sweating his cance at the GE! The supers have to be smarter than than the bots and KNOW he can not win the GE!

    April 14, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
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