April 26th, 2008
07:51 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: 'I've been taking some hits'


Watch Obama explain why he sometimes takes political punches without firing back.

(CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama used a question during a campaign event Saturday to explain his unusual approach to politics.

“How do we get rid of that huge divisiveness in this country?,” a voter asked Obama in Anderson, Indiana.

“The president sets the tone,” the Illinois senator said before explaining the bipartisan approach he’d take if elected to the White House.

“But, I’m also going to try to show this during the course of the campaign,” he added. “Sometimes you take some hits. Even during this campaign, I’ve been taking some hits.”

“One of the things that I learned in the school yard was: the folks that are talking tough all the time, they’re not always that tough. If you’re really tough, you’re not always looking to try to start a fight. If you’re really tough, sometimes you just walk away. If you’re really tough, you just save it for when you really need it,” Obama said.

“I’m not interested in fighting people just for the sake of scoring political points.” “If I’m going to fight somebody it’s going to be fighting over the American people and what they need.”

Obama’s effort to explain his sometimes non-confrontational approach came on the same day that his rival Sen. Hillary Clinton proposed a Lincoln-Douglas style debate. Prior to Clinton’s challenge, Obama said in a television interview set to air Sunday that he would not agree to any more debates with Clinton before the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. After learning of Clinton's proposal, the Obama campaign maintained that the Illinois senator would not participate in any more debates until after May 6.

Related: Clinton to Obama: Let's debate like Lincoln

soundoff (353 Responses)
  1. Mary in NC

    Obama is a wimp.

    April 26, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  2. JimS.

    It doesn't matter if they debate anymore. People's minds are already made up and they won't change it anyway. I think most "Undecideds" stay undecided (allegedly) until the very last minute just for the attention.

    April 26, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Elizabeth, minnesota

    I love Obama! He's inspirational and a teacher even in the midst of this insanity. Hillary may claim to have experience and "be a fighter" but I doubt she appreciated all the Republican attacks against her in the 90's and she is not a role model from what politics _CAN_ be.

    Do unto others as you'd have done unto you. EVEN IN POLITICS.

    Obama '08

    April 26, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Another Typical White Woman

    Obama's Rev. Wright implied that Obama was saying what he had to say as a "politician" and not how he really feels. It will be played over and over and over again.

    Obama can not win in November.

    April 26, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. GS

    Obama certainly knows what toughness is!

    After all, he's married to Michelle, and one can say he's "seasoned".

    April 26, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Matt NE

    Oh come one - please? Just a little question to Hillzilla? Ask her how the election fraud trial is going...

    April 26, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Ck Canon

    Obama can say they have had enough debates and refuse, but then he looks like a coward to all but the most bias. Or he can face up to her and get blown away.

    HRC's proposal is surprising and brillant. Obama only chance in Indiana is to debate, but you know he won't do it. Why is that America?????

    Hillary '08 or bust!

    April 26, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. michael g

    He's been throwing some pretty big punches himself.
    A debate isn't the same as bullying someone into a schoolyard fight. 11 million Americans are interested in them, not because of policies, we've gotten through those in 21 debates, but how he handles and carries himself.
    Instead, he decides to stay out of the kitchen.

    April 26, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. mick

    I for one is still trying to figure out if he is really Jesus Christ

    April 26, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. Jon, Los Angeles

    Yes, those who shout that they are tough are actually worms....They get tough for the wrong reasons. I have heard that empty barrels make the most noise.

    April 26, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. May

    Clinton is really desperate. We should be suscipious of her motive. Knowing her Carlrovian instincts, she probably plans to put her own moderators in this debate to trap Obama like they did during the last debate. No more debates! 21 debates, that's enough.

    April 26, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  12. Neutral

    How's the hits of HAMAS people in Gaza strip doing with your campaign? Palestinians in GAZA STRIP controlled by HAMAS are calling UNAWARE AMERICANS to vote for YOU during primary in their state!!!!

    How much of your campaign by the MILLIONS from the Middle East?

    April 26, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |

    Humility and self control always pay off. Those are virtues we need in our next President. Excellent statement Obama.
    Instead of asking for more debates,why don't you contact Cindy McCain for a fashion makeover,HRC. You may need that in the upcoming weeks to win over the reputation you've lost in so much of America. !! Cindy, you do look mighty sharp always!!
    Obama 08

    April 26, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  14. terri

    Glad to see that Sen. Obama is getting back to the tenor that brought him this far. My spirits are lifting a bit. Now if the rest of the candidates would just do the same. I saw this town hall meeting streaming live and his pronouncement of this approach brought the crowd to its feet, cheering.

    April 26, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. Connie, Richmond, CA

    Obama is the strongest candidate, with the strongest character.

    April 26, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |


    April 26, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  17. uniter

    Well.. would love to see Annie Oakley shoot you off your high horse.

    More power to Hillary Clinton.

    April 26, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  18. Neutral

    When you talk of "divisivenes", your man Axelrod stated you do NOT need votes from BLUE COLLAR workers!

    If unity is your middle name, I have a bridge to sell you @peestick, Kentucky!

    April 26, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  19. brushing

    Should have thought about the childish hits you threw:

    The mocking and jeering Annie Oakley comments.

    The dismissive brushing of Hillary Clinton off your shoulders.

    When you brush her off and mock her... you are losing 14 million votes.

    Keep it up.

    April 26, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  20. Charles

    I certainly hopes he does not debate her: they have the same positions on almost everything. All that can come from another debate is more personal attacks.

    I am sooooo over debates and this primary. Tired of her screeching.....

    April 26, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  21. Ladyleo

    Great response, mature adults should know how to resolve problems without fighting, that is what I teach my children.

    April 26, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  22. Rob

    exactly Sir. Hillary truly is not worth it. She has already lost. save it for McLame.

    April 26, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  23. Laura, Pennsylvania

    Whether or not you like Sen. Obama as a candidate; you have to respect the fact that he has not flip-flopped to support to Sen. Clinton's new debate proposal.

    April 26, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  24. Montana is Obama Country

    Yes,,, We,,, Can....

    We can UNITE for the sake of Americans.

    Barack Obama is the BEST we vote for..

    No more Washington Politics anymore.. We can grow from our poor economical problems through POSITIVE and SUPPORTIVE LEADERSHIP..

    We can be seen Worldwide as a country with courage again not a country of bullies. (not speaking ill of the courageous men and women who are fighting the wrong war brought on by egotistical maniacs like Bush and Clinton (who voted for the Iraq war).

    Yes.. We.... Can...

    April 26, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. Still Shaking Head

    Baby Barack is still whining.

    If this man is nominated, he will be another Democratic pansy. Let's nominate another Kerry. Another Dukakis. Another McGovern.

    Ultra-liberals have worked so well for the Democrats in the past.

    I usually identify with the Dem party, but I'm glad to not be a registered Dem as I watch them rush to nominate another unelectable.

    April 26, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
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