April 17th, 2008
03:13 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama brushes Clinton off his shoulders—literally


Listen to Obama’s remarks on Clinton Thursday.

RALEIGH, North Carolina (CNN)-–Democrat Barack Obama said Thursday that rival Hillary Clinton was "in her element" at Wednesday night's debate, telling a North Carolina crowd she "took every opportunity to get a dig in."

He used his hands to motion brushing his shoulders off. "That's her right to kind of twist the knife in a little bit," he said, before adding that he understands why she's using what he calls the tactics of the GOP.

"That’s the lesson that she learned when the Republicans were doing that same thing to her back in the 1990s. ...So, I understand it," Obama continued.

"When you're running for the presidency then you’ve gotta expect it and you know you’ve just gotta kinda let it—" He paused, brushing his shoulders off with his hands before doing the same to his knees and pant legs.

"You know, it's what you gotta do," he said, to wild cheers from the Raleigh audience.

Obama's attacks echo a theme his campaign has been hammering, as well.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday morning, campaign manager David Plouffe said Clinton's recent negative ads in Pennsylvania are part of a "relentlessly negative campaign."

But before Obama directly took on Clinton, the Illinois senator took a swipe at the debate itself, sarcastically calling the back-and-forths the two have been having lately "inspiring events." He added that Wednesday's set a new record in his book.

"It took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people."

All this at a time when it remains unclear whether Obama will commit to an April 27 debate in North Carolina. Coincidentally, an audience member asked him why he hasn't committed to that one yet.

Obama, as he has in the past, downplayed the relevance of recent broadcasts.

"I’ll be honest with you," Obama started, "you know we now had 21, and look, I mean the previous three, you know, we did very well, so its not as if we don’t know how to do these things."

soundoff (431 Responses)
  1. Stacy Clarks, TX

    I LOVE OBAMA!!!!!!!


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

    April 17, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Joe Ossai

    I could only watch the debate for about 15 minutes. It was joke, what a pile of crap by ABC. Give me a break.

    I'm not alone, drudge poll who won.

    Obama = 57%
    Hillary = 43%

    April 17, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Rashida #1 Obama Supporter

    Go Obama!
    The dirt they were slinging at him in that debate, seemed as if they had taken questions from Fox News and Conservative talk radio! Who cares about the "elitist" comment! How can someone who had a summer cottage as a child, and has been financially stable know what we the working people are feeling? I want someone like Obama who knows what a student loan is and worked public service to help people and not make his resume look good!

    April 17, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Sam

    Chris Welch, learn how to accurately title your articles, because you give an inaccurate message: it's not that he brushed Clinton off his shoulder, as though he was demeaning her, but that he brushed her negative comments off his shoulder. These two sentenses may seem close, but they are worlds away in their interpretation. And while you're at it, remove that stupid link to "will the E word stick to Obama", you've had it up on your site for days now, and you seem determined to make it stick. What's up with CNN anyways?

    April 17, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. Mark

    Wait for the Clinton Campaign to claim that this gesture is "elitist" and "condescending" 🙂

    I think Hillary won a Pyrrhic Victory yesterday. She won by points but probably did not win voters and might even have lost super delegates.

    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Rachel F.

    I love how Obama can just brush off these ludicrous attacks by Sen. Clinton! He can literally brush them off. Go Obama!

    I also want to note that the debate moderated by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous was a sorry excuse for journalism and I love that Obama responded so forcefully today against the politics of old. Its time for us to focus on issues people actually care about.

    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Obamacan

    Obama = realest politician of all time

    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. scbrown








    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Nick in Las Vegas

    Yeah.... I'll vote for him... that was a joke!

    Hillary or McCain '08, experience counts!

    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. JC, Orlando

    Obama was doing the "wipe me down" dance. LOL!

    OBAMA 08!

    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Gary of CA

    Obama: Close the deal for one big blue state like PA, I'll abandon HILLARY!

    The Debate last nite showed that you are not even at par with HILLARY's experience & wisdom.

    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Noah

    Obama and his supporters are compalining about the debate last night. Wow, were was this integerity when Clinton was bashed in the last 20 debates. How hypocritical to start whining now, when all you Obama supporters have done nothing but bash Hillary over everything and anything. In the last four months I may have seen one nice Obama supporter who actually talked about issues, the rest of you have played gutter politics while claiming you want hope and change.

    Obama is the front-runner. The questions asked were valid, even though he failed to answer anything directly.

    So If you want to talk issues, I dare all Obama supporters to stop bashing Hillary and start telling us what Obama will do as President, and please not that tired line that he will bring us together..Do you even know where he stands on the issues?? I will say Clinton supporters know.

    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. jl



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

    Keep on Obama – expose the right, bring their tactics to the forefront which renders them virtually ineffective. I truly think his honesty on their tactics will put a target on him, but he's got the upper hand. This is where Kerry failed. He's got their number!

    April 17, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |

    Why should Senator Obama go in a DEBATE and find out that the debate will consist of 45 minutes of Bull Crap and 2 minutes on the issues... Doesn't make any sense to give Hillary any more opportunities to just go Negative...as a matter of fact that's where she lives....NEGATIVE LAND.....

    April 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Val

    yep he sure is a Jay-z fan. He once said it that he listens to some Jay-z tracks. I bet "Get..that..dirt of ur shoulders is one of his favorite tracks. He keeps brushing Hil off his shoulders but she just dont get it. It's like, theres something so good about him that Hils can't get enough of. After Obama beats Hils on tuesday, he should rename the month April to ObamApril.

    Obama...Next President of the United States

    April 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Angelo

    Getting pummeled in last night's debate is nothing compared what the Republicans will do to him if he is lucky enough to get the Democratic nomination. He shouldn't worry, he will have Cafferty covering his back.

    April 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Jude

    It was a joke debate last night....I agree with Senator Obama that it took some 45 mintues before I heard anything that was of any important to this nation...this country...to me as an American. Seriously...the first 45 mins were a joke. I've heard the same stuff said at debates...its time to campaign...forget the debates...I could recite to the american people what both candidates would say

    April 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. mike

    I thought Obama was going to stay away from personal attacks. I thought he was the captain of the new way of doing things of change. He seems to be getting more and more negitive. What makes that ok now? Thoes of you supporting Obama is this OK? Can Obama be negitive and make personal attacks now that he is out in front? How do you all feel about the Kid Gloves that the media is using with Obama. What hapens when the republicas come out swining. They have no problem using anything at all. What has the media failed to cover/reveal in regards to Obama adn his past that will end up giving the Oval Office to the GOP. Don't you want to know. This happened once before and it gave us four years of Bush....Stop think ask!

    April 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Chipster

    Wow, Obama and his Obamites can dish it out but they sure can't take it. Even moveon.org is whining about ABC and what a bunch of meanies they were to Obama for daring to ask about the distracting issues that really aren't about the issues.

    Sure, they aren't about the issues but, judging from the blogs, they continue to be distorted and exaggerated about both Clinton and Obama. The candidates deserved an opportunity to address them. Even yesterday morning, there was a letter about the flag pin nonsense in the local newspaper and Clinton's trip to Bosnia was exaggerated but there was substantial truth to the events. This sort of stuff needs to be put in its place.

    I thought it was the best debate so far because the candidates were able to fully respond, follow-up, and even ask questions themselves. Viewers walked away with far more than sound bites. As so many Obamites have said about Chelsea, if you can't take the heat . . .

    If Obama is our candidate in the fall, he'll look back on this debate as a walk in the park compared to what the Republicans will dish out.

    April 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Lisa

    Brushing off his shoulders is big in the African American Community. He changes up everywhere he goes. He's black in North Carolina, He's rich in San Francisco and thinks people the rural areas are dumb.

    April 17, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. John

    So its really Hillary & Bill who are mocking (laughing) at their own supporters.

    Hillary says, “To my supporters”,

    I will tell you the Bosnia LIE. Did you fall for that one folks?

    I will tell you my husband likes NAFTA and I don’t. Did you fall for that one folks?

    I will tell you I am for everything positive that my husband Bill did and NOT the negatives. Did you fall for that one folks?

    I will tell you I am the best bowler until someone (Ellen) really puts me to the challenge. Did you fall for that one folks?

    I will tell you I did not have sexual relations with that woman. Did you fall for that one folks?

    I will tell you that I was really the first person to criticize the Iraq war that I voted for. Did you fall for that one folks?

    I will tell you all in every state/city that I was at your city/state when I was a kid and pretend I did every activity that state/city does. Did you fall for that one folks?

    April 17, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. smokesignals

    Agreed! Let's get on with it. Overwhelming public support should already be convincing the not so super delegates to get off the dime and commit to the obvious front runner.
    The debate was ridiculous and I am sick of the media garbage as in....
    CNN's own headline of whether or not the elitist label will stick. Well, of course it will, if you continue to publish the headline day after day.
    Give me a break!
    Obama has once again proved his presidential qualifications to me.

    April 17, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. honkey white guy from cali

    That is the way to handle things like a president! I wonder how come there is nothing in the ticker about the fact he has picked up 5 new endorsements including one the defected from DC because he was being hammered by the people whom elected him was 83% for Obama CNN is either running slow or something else is up! I just hope she goes out with some grace and dignity she deserves nothing of the sort after last night! a set up debate he went to knowing was a set up and he still went for the high road were Sen Clinton went straight for the gutter and stayed the rest of the night! He even let her slide on the Bosnia lie! that she finally said she was sorry for after all this time yet still refused to admit it was a lie!

    Go Obama 08

    April 17, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. CHANGE

    Meet Barack Obama, the next POTUS!

    April 17, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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