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. W

    As Nutter said – Al Quaida wouldn't last 5 minutes in West Phila. Personally, I don't think BHO would either.

    April 14, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Erik

    $10.9 Million per year avrage income for the past ten years and Clinton calls OBAMA an elitist?

    April 14, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. Jan in Virginia

    Please Obama. She attacks you on what you say and the issue. You resort to name calling. How juvenile can you get! You have become such a whiner.

    So typical of you to make a joke about your comments with the "boys". The old "good ole boy" network is still alive....

    April 14, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  4. ObamaSupporter

    Every time thngs do not work out the way Obama wants, he blames it on Hillary for playing politics. How clever!!!

    April 14, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. Rj

    "J U S T W O R D S"

    Pennsylvanian are "BITTER PEOPLE!!!"

    I kind'a remember when Obama said That

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

    Bitter??? Jobs moving to other countries.....
    Bitter??? $4 a gallon for gas....
    Bitter??? over 4000 kids killed in a stupid war....
    Bitter??? cost of feeding a family going up every day.....
    Bitter??? A pres and vp who couldn't care less what the American people think.....
    Bitter??? Hell yes!!!!!!

    Obama is the only choice in 08

    April 14, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. PA Hick Chick

    Did NObama really think you hunted ducks with a 6-shooter?
    Yeh – and I sip my latte grande with a sippy cup

    April 14, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. BOG in Mississippi

    I was truly sadden by the comments made by Lou Dobbs regarding Obama being an elitists. That is soooo not genuine of him. The media is playing this up soooo much because they don't have anything more news worthy to report on. Let it go, let it go. We are ready to hear about something else... More on the issues not on a political side shows of canidates making each other look bad just to win votes. If the news media wants to hang on words then they need to stay with Hilary's words about Bosnia. We are all smart enough to look at Obama's life growing up at a child and say to all that has slammed him..... "GET REAL".

    April 14, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. Ronda in Oregon

    Who Am I? I am a Typical White Person I am a Devisive Woman I am a Gun Toter I am a Church Goer I am a Disenfranchised Voter I am a "Bitter Citizen" Does Obama know? I am a G.D.American and have always been proud of it!!

    April 14, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  10. barb Canada

    I keep seeing Obama supporters say well it's true, I am bitter.......Well I guess the Media must be easy on Obama, cause it's not about the bitter, it's his other hateful remark! Antipathy extreme dislike or hatred.........do you recall the line where he said people cling to their Antipathy for people who are different from them??? Well if you do then start saying.....Obama is right, I am Racist!

    April 14, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  11. Patrick

    John McCain, proof why America ranks 30th in Education.

    April 14, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  12. ObamaSupporter

    Please google "Obama's Billionaire Backing". Read it and ask Obama how he raised his record-breaking campaign funds. Did he say they're from small donors?????

    April 14, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  13. C. C. Wallace

    Why is it that the media continues its attempts to hang the candidates by taking their words out of context? Similar to the Jeremiah Wright issue that fizzled when main stream American heard the entire sermon, the media continues its relentless hammering of misrepresentation and are doing the same with this so called "bitter" issue. Be fair by playing the entire speeches from which these sound bites are taken so that America is privy to the complete message and draw its conclusions based on the facts, not by what is taken out of context and decisively spoon fed and fueled by the media.

    April 14, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  14. k.m.k.

    I really wish some investigative reporter would check out the women who taped these remarks in San Fran. I bet her bank account has grown in the week she waited to release the tapes to the media!!!!

    April 14, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. Paul



    April 14, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. Sandy Hagan

    Come on, what he said was true. I knew what he meant. I am one of the people that never did much in the political aspect because I never felt compelled to, until now. He inspires me and I hope he makes it. I have not had real hope for the last eight years and now I do. I wish I had the money to donate for his cause. I get my social security tomorrow and I just might send him a few dollars.

    April 14, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. Tom

    It's not funny (expletive)!! First your "spiritual advisor" rages at the entirety of America (ok, maybe your wife was first) and now you're doing it – an interesting pattern is emerging and you WILL NOT be allowed to laugh it off or to blame it on Hillary like you already have tried or to turn away from it by trying to defend it with sarcasm and arrogance toward others (Annie Oakley was an incredible shooter and a great example of a strong American woman, neither of which you understand or respect). Yuk it up while you still have time.

    April 14, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  18. Kumi

    Of course Hilary is going to use this as a distraction. Than McCain and Hilary are double teaming Obama. She has lied to the public so many times. Obama tells the TRUTH and get slammed by white America. I don't get it. White America rather has someone white lie to their face than a black person telling them the truth. Racism at it fullest. I always find it strange just we get close to the election date a bomb drops on Obama. He was catching up with Hilary on the polls. If this is the only way for Hilary to win by using the White card. I feel sorry for her. A Gallup poll indicates that 80% of Americans feel we are heading in the right direction. Don't tell me these people are happy and merry. People are losing their homes, jobs. Gas prices are sky high and solider are getting killed in the war. Do you really thing Americans are not bitter about these things. I am bitter. I am a single mother of one. I have to health care. I can barely make ends meet. Obama is telling the truth. Win or lose. Obama is a winner in the black community and among some college students. Can you say that about the other candidates? No. You can. Plus, the governor of PA said many white voters aren’t ready for a black man as president. I rather have Obama tell me the truth than like to me like Hilary Rodham Clinton. Go Obma!!! You are in my prayers.

    April 14, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. JCB

    Obama is a millionaire. He is not poor, and he never has been. He is not the person that he tries to claim he is - he is just show for the political circus. In the past two days, he has called Hillary "Annie Oakley" because she stated in Februaury that her father had taken her hunting. She said that in February before he made his big gun blunder in April - April. Now he is making fun of her for drinking a shot in a bar after the bartender offered her one. Wow! He is really trying to stay above the dirty politics now - and failing miserably. The man is a liar and not fit to dust off Hillary's shoes. Stay in there Hill. If the demcrats would count the votes of Florida and Michigan, you would be in the lead. It's Obama and Kennedy that are fighting to steal those votes! Why should he get votes that were not cast for him. Why should she have to split delegates when he did not win those votes. He is dirty!!! Hillary 2008

    April 14, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  20. John, NC

    Seeing Hillary on TV makes me sick at my stomach.

    April 14, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  21. Donna

    barb canada is right on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    if you read the whole transcript and the context he had the relgion and gun cling in the same sentance as bigotry. it was in a negative context.then he really spun it to get out of it and yes 50% of democrats are stupid enough to fall for it.

    April 14, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. Vivienne

    Every single democrat who says that they will not vote for a democrat regardless of who it is in November.... you are stupid.

    Unless, you have a very secure job and very secure way of life... you will be totally screwed.

    Aparently, you don't believe Colin Powell when he said last week that we can't sustain a war in the middle east much longer. That would be in both places. That is very scary. He has said that we need to build up our military and re-deploy in a smarter way. I can tell you one thing, if you are a kid 18 and older, male or female, you should be very afraid. John McCain is going draft your butts into his fighting Army. And, your parents, or children or spouses, they will be back here in the good USA.

    I guarantee.... you will be bitter and you will be clinging to your religion, your guns.....

    You family's back home will also be bitter clinging to their religion and their guns all awhile living in a homeless shelter or out in the streets.

    Mark my words. Go ahead and be stupid

    April 14, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. Art, San Diego,CA

    Obama cannot have it both ways. He argued persuasively that "Word matter." Accepting that, one also has to acknowledge that the risk of inserting one's foot in one's mouth goes up considerably once one places such a premium on words. The surprising thing is how frequently this is occurring.

    April 14, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  24. William

    I live In PA and don't know one Obama supporter. We support HIllary and if she's not nominated it will be McCain for us.

    April 14, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. Ardnuas

    All SMART people UNDERSTAND that we DO cling to the things Barack said when we have lost our jobs. Barack is right, he just said it the wrong way.....FORGIVE him.....We are a forgiving people, thats what makes America so GREAT!!!!

    April 14, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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