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. Anthony M.

    Every time Bill Clinton points his finger at the camera, what comes to mind?

    April 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  2. Brad IL.

    typical Obama. He will have to debate in front of and take questions from the crowd. What no little tv to get the answers from your advisor's. You would look like you were mocking Hillary again. It would finally show the rest of the kool-aid drinkers what a fake you really are. You need to come back and get some control in your neighborhood, your supporters are KILLING each other. You just lost 39 votes. you better hurry or you will lose your Senate seat. I guess if they would have listened to Hillary's Bosnia speech they would have had a chance. but they were on that drug tainted kool-aid you have all of your followers on they kept waiting for there messiah Barry to come save them. Just another DREAMER,LOSER, DRUG ADDICT, LIBERAL, looking to get a bigger welfare check. Come on Democrats and vote for JOHN McCAin Hillary will not win and neither will Omama.

    April 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. virginia

    I think Obama is showing leadership qualities by ignoring offside comments. As to debating again, if Hillary would stick to issues instead of digs, maybe there would be a chance for debate. At least Obama follows the rules of the game.

    April 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Gimme me a break all you Hillary "sniper fire" Clinton supporters who say that if she loses you will for McCain. SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!

    Voting Democrat is about voting for values and what the Democrats stand for, if you call yourself a Democrat, then you side with whoever the leader will be in attempt to prevent your opponent, with a different idealogy from winning. For all you so-called Democrats that are saying you will Republican, give you head a shake and WAKE UP!!!

    I will vote Democrat regardless of who wins because I stand by the party's values. If Hillary "I actually supported NAFTA for many years" Clinton wins then I will cast my ballot for her as she will be leading my party. I won't be happy doing it, cause I don't believe she is the better and definitely not the more moral candidate but I will vote for her all the same.

    So inabilities to manage a campaign budget, stories of mysterious deaths of pregnant ladies, questionable campaign and special interest group donations, Billary will still get my vote as a Democrat NOT as a solid, moral, upstanding, and honest candidate.

    April 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  5. Bitter Allen Hussein, Visalia CA

    >>Bush, clintion, Clinton, Bush, Bush

    Now its time for Clinton again. and then Jeb Bush and then Chelsea clinton.>>

    Careful what you wish for Neil. After Chelsea, we will have 16 years of the Bush twins.

    April 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  6. isis dagmar

    Typical White Person: You say you're a Democrat, but how could a Democrat vote for 4-8 years of McCain, knowing that such an outcome would mean thousands of American and Iraqi deaths, thousands of lives ruined and destroyed and children orphaned? You may not like Obama, and that is your right, but how can you vote for someone who wants American to keep dying in Iraq until no more Americans are dying in Iraq, however long that takes?

    And I agree with most of the rest of you: Obama is a wonderful man, and I have high hopes that he will be a truly great president.

    April 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  7. Ann

    "If I’m going to fight somebody it’s going to be fighting over the American people and what they need.”

    Sure, you found another slogan to cover your cowardly response to Hillary's invitation. How would this guy be able to stand up in international confrontations? Does he believe the world is made of 'hanging out at the mall' youth ready to applaud him? Still don't understand why is this guy supported by some groups in the Democratic party! He is not going to fight anything. Look at the violence in the streets of Chicago. What has Obama done for his own state? Too busy running his campaign of hope and change? Look at the 'change' he brought in Illinois.

    April 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |

    Typical White Person, don't vote at all, just pack your bags and go to Iraq.

    April 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  9. sheri bennett

    What's the point of a bias debate – Obama08 – it is free airtime for HRC.

    April 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  10. Kathy

    He keeps taking hits because the hits exist. If he wants to ignore them and not answer them, they will just get stronger.
    He answers them with his people and with subtle jabs as this article and then tries to sound above the fray. He is a politician and just as negative as the next.
    Vote for truth and Clinton for a better America. She has solutions and not just speeches.

    April 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. Trina

    I don't understand why some pundits keep saying Obama can't close the deal ... well ... why hasn't Hillary closed it? After all ... Obama wasn't supposed to be any competition for the Clinton machine. This was supposed to be over after Iowa. She's the one who is failing to close the deal!

    April 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  12. Rob - BC Canada

    Ever notice that pretty well all of us Canadians are pro Obama.Did I mention we have universal health care.Oh yea, we have one of the strongest economies in the world right now as well.We like Obama types up here.Race and religion and flag pins don't matter to us as long as you deliver.

    April 26, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  13. Indy Dem

    To: Typical White Person:

    You would vote for McCain who doesn't know who's arming whom in middle east, who admits to knowing nothing about the economy, who doesn't think there's a health care crisis, who thinks home-owners should be left holding the mortgage crsis bag. You obviously don't care about the issues. You must be a Typical Racist!

    April 26, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  14. m

    maybe some one at the Obama camp can explain why with all the negative attacks raining from the clintons they don't respond in kind? why not ask how, with 54% of the american people saying they can't trust her we should believe her promises.

    April 26, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  15. catmom

    He doesn't hit back because he allows his surrogates to do it for him. The main stream media for one, and all the blogs for another. Obama fans on the blogs are the most mean spirited, whiney inconsiderate people . The way they talk about the Clinton's and their supporters, talk about negativity. Obama people wouldn't know negativity if it hit them in the face. He doesn't have to hit back since everyone is doing it for him. He is smooth though because he stands there just as innocent while the Clinton's get blamed for everything wrong with HIS campaign. Funny thing too, he can't take a punch either as evidenced by the fact that he is afraid to debate Senator Clinton.

    April 26, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  16. mark

    obama, you are my dream. I will fight for you

    April 26, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  17. Opinion...

    Sharon: I notice you always write bad things about Obama, why can't you be positive for once and stop being a waste of ordinary skin?

    Americans are blessed to have Obama at this time and are toying with the opportunity...I hope they realize it before it is too late! I have a feeling that if the world ever develops to a point where it becomes possible to actually contract a person who is from one country to be President (yes, President!) of another country, Obama or someone like him would have so much job applications on his hands! I mean this honestly having related with people from other countries...

    This same Obama who has such a promise, would have so so many countries hoping they would get lucky to hire him, yet America is choosing someone like Billary or McCain, what a waste of human skin their supporters are??

    April 26, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  18. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    It's almost midnight, and I'm at the age of PMS – don't want to hit the red button instead of mute when Bill ..............

    April 26, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. hong

    show us who you are, all three candidates, and what you exactly want to achieve as a president

    April 26, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  20. Shalini

    Poor Hillary she is so frustated...Obama the man

    April 26, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  21. ST, NJ

    you obama supporters are idiots. i can't wait until he crashes and burns in the general election. go ahead, call me racist now, even though my comment has absolutely nothing to do with race.

    April 26, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  22. Jeanine G

    I am so glad Obama is taking the high road. Its a road the Clintons didn't expect, and one they can never claim. Obama's schoolyard analogy was perfect. The most insecure people are the one's that tend to be the bullies, taking cheap shots, using personal tactics to make themselves look better by comparrison (so they think), but the really strong kids were the ones that took crap from the bullies everyday, but never gave back in kind, and went on to have more friends, and better lives, and real friends.

    Obama '08

    April 26, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  23. concern in CA

    God Bless Sen. Obama. Man of Integrity.

    April 26, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  24. LT for Obama

    Hillary supporters really strike me as just as disturbed as she and Bill are. Why must you constantly attack the character of all supporters. Maybe some of us just did our research, followed his career and made informed decisions. Much like I am sure all you did, right?

    Actually, I was prepared to support Hillary until I found out that Barack, whom I was already familiar with even in California, decided to run and I looked at what he proposes as far as the issues are concerned.

    Now, as for debates, I for one support the No Debate decision for now. He has a short time to meet and shake hands with voters in two states and that is far more important than being attacked over and over again in a debate that really won't be a real debate.

    You want a debate? Ask your candidate to debate the issues, period. Bottom line, no debates until after the convention.

    April 26, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  25. kate, NM

    Obama is a candidate for change. Who cares if the change is for WORSE?

    April 26, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
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