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. clara

    you men are you going to let somebody like oboma take your guns and religion and every thing you stand for. this is america not africa or were ever he came from i think he's the antichrist and making everone think he's wounderful vote hillary not oboma

    April 14, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. Tyler

    Stop apoligizing, the voters know what you meant

    OBAMA 2008

    April 14, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. clara

    i think alot of people on here that are leaving comments are from obomas church and rev. wright and his wife let see if you put this commit up so others can see it i bet u won't

    April 14, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Harry Moyer

    Why are all the news organizations still harping on this "bitter" remark when we have another racist republican, Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis, calling Barack a "snake oil salesman" and a "boy"??? Obama is around 46 years old, (my own age), and I don't believe he'd be calling my white behind "boy". It's pretty obvious that calling a black man "boy" is almost as bad as using the "N" word. It reminds me of a question posed to McBush the other day asking him if he realizes that he's going to benefit from some folks that just won't vote for Obama because of their prejudices. McBush responded by saying that he didn't believe that would be the case. Talk about "out of touch"!!!!

    April 14, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Tim Burgess - in CA

    I support McCain for President, but don't see any problems with what Senator Obama actually said. If you read or hear the full quote, it is actually a sensible statement about voters who have been turned off by politicians promising lots and delivering little. In a way it was a bankshot at both the Republicans as well as at the Clintons, so it makes sense that Senator Clinton's campaign is trying to use it to their advantage.

    In the end, talk to us about your solutions, not about someone else's mis-statement. The American people want results, not the same old cheap politics.

    April 14, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. Logic Magic

    Harry Moyer: Get a life. If you are back u can get away by saying anything. If u r white if you call someone boy that is equivalent to something else. Are a dimwit? Wait... since I am black I can call you a dimwit and get away with it.... Maybe I can even use "other" words. What an idiot.

    April 14, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. Dani

    Get real, Obama is no different than any other politician except that he is better at telling people what they want to hear....not necessarily what he will do or can do, and not necessarily change. Believe what you want, he's no different.

    April 14, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  8. Nathan

    I sooo wish Obama hadn't spoken this way. It's so out of character with everything I have read or heard from him the past few years. My hypothesis for now is that it was a stupid mistake. All the candidates have made them. he will have to suffer through these attacks. Let's see which of the candidates keep with the attacks and which of them succeed in moving forward with the real discussions of the real issues.

    April 14, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  9. Rj

    Most people are not bitter, they turn to religion because it is part of who they are not because they're bitter, they have guns for hunting not because they're bitter. He did not say they find comfort in their culture he said they become anti-immmigrant or against those not like them.

    This is a "Man of Words That Matter" – he knew exactly what he was saying.

    – He could have talked about PA small town people as the backbone of America. That even though times were hard they still continued to raise their families with values, they still have HOPE for the country, they are still interested in the the candidates ideas on the economics.

    He said none of those things instead he talked about ...


    – He was playing to his audience...

    – I think it would be interesting if he gave the same speech to a town hall full of people in PA.????

    April 14, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  10. Brian T.

    Senator Obama, you hit the nail on the head! Voters ARE bitter.
    After 8 years of the Bush administration basically looking down upon America from their thrones in Washington, what else is to be expected?

    Americans, such as myself, are bitter about fighting and unjust war....bitter about higher gas prices....bitter about the economic state of the richest nation in the world....bitter that their voices are NOT being heard.

    I commend you sir for telling it like it is. Being called bitter, in this situation, is spot on. It is NOT a negative comment. It's the truth, and I belive that the American people know the difference.

    April 14, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. Hillary Shmillary!

    Watch Sicko! She stopped her efforts and gave up then took money........Dont get me wrong. Im not one of those idiots that will vote for Mc Cain if Hillary gets the nomination. I vote the party ticket. And if it is Hillary I will vote for her. People better realize what a vote for Mc Cain does and says to the world. Obama is a reflection of the world right now. Vote Obama and you will see! My republican friends are voting Obama! I couldnt believe it!

    April 14, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  12. Nanc, MN

    I agree with Lou Dobbs, Obama really needs to apologize to working Americans. But it all gets blown off as he didn't say it quite right. That may be the understatement of the decade.

    April 14, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. ignorance

    Sure... let's see how that goes over.

    People do not like those who brag and blow their own horns.

    They do not care for people running down others- especially other Americans.

    We despise airs of superiority and arrogance and self-centeredness.

    We do not find mockery and jeering and other childish forms of belittling others attractive.

    Sir... or should I say boy, your goose is cooked.

    April 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. he who laughs last

    Obama, who constantly courts the media, just this morning criticized Clinton for having the press with her.

    Now he tries to keep the Media loyal with jokes about his elitist attitude.

    This dude don't learn!

    April 14, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. Marilynn, Wilmington, NC

    Someone PLEASE share this with Lou Dobbs. I guess it does NOT count in his book as an apology. "If I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that," Obama said in an interview with the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal." This came from the Charlotte Journal.com newspaper website.

    Enough already!

    April 14, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  16. Come Get Some

    For months we've been waiting for Obama to start fighting back against the Clinton machine and the GOP. That day has arrived.

    Obama for President in 2008.

    April 14, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  17. Newman

    If Hillary is the nominee, my family and I will move to Australia and renounce our citizenship. The American dream will have failed us once and for all. Don't let this happen, vote OBAMA!

    April 14, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. Indra in FL

    Hillary's getting pretty good at this – whenever something negative about her campaign comes to light, she deflects attention by attacking Obama.

    She is so desperate now... of course, if she wins the nomination, I would vote for her and not McCain. But I have to say that it will be one sad day in history when record-breaking young voters, African Americans, and others who do not normally participate in large numbers are completely overlooked.

    I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

    April 14, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  19. Jenny

    Before the campaign and before I read Obama's book I was willing to move out of the country for a better way of life. I was bitter, Bush has torn us down! We have hope and encouragement now. If old politics wins this next election I will be looking for a better place to live, perhaps where I can save $450 a month on health care, $600 a month on child care and not lose over $1600 in taxes a month...why I am working again?
    OBAMA 08!

    April 14, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |

    OBAMA IS DONE!!!!!




    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!

    April 14, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. Ziggy

    Ronald Reagan once said about Third World countries ruled by cruel dictaors that "people deserve the leaders they get". I guess that, looking at all that's going on today in American politics, in a country in recession, when people have been lied to over and over again by the same governments that got them in this situation in the first place, and nothing ever changes, I guess we can say that we Americans deserve the type of government that has been in Washington and has made us "bitter" and "frustrated". And the problem is that we still don't know that we are bitter and frustrated.

    April 14, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. Geez...

    I still want to know why Obama made his bitter remark in private? Why didn't he make this statement to the public?

    Also, do you all relate being an elitist to being rich? Haven't you met a snob that doesn't have millions? Do you think that Ted Turner is an elitist...he's got plenty of dough? You don't have to be rich, it goes beyond that.

    April 14, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  23. Jack

    I really don't appreciate the fact that Sen. Obama would joke about these comments......

    some Democrats in PA did find them offensive.....

    some of us may have to now rethink who we're voting for Tuesday

    April 14, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. Carol

    hmmmm... small town people cling to guns because they don't like those that look different?.... uhhh? How is he expecting to win votes when he called them bigots? Typical white people just don't understand him. They are too stoooopid.

    April 14, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. Obama mama, Grayslake IL

    Hillary is like a chicken trying to find a good spot to lay its eggs. She does not know that the more she attacks Obama the more he gets more support even superdelegates. She behaves like a little kid.

    The voters made up their minds a long time ago. Hillary should just accept her defit, how does she close the gap between her and Obama? Hillary has a lot of garbage in her hands,Iraq she did vote for war, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Nafla, Colambia and many other lies. Obama was telling the truth, when Bill was in the office he was for Nafta, and he did nothing for people in PA. Now she turns around and said she did not know what Mark Penn was doing? Come on another lie. She went to tell her husband to stop covering her lies.
    When Oprah supported Obama it was a song, but when Bill is supporting Hillary it is okay because he is a former president.

    April 14, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
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