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. Marie

    Most of these comments from so-called Obama supporters are disgusting. The people of Pa. saw Hillary as the intelligent, truthful, hard-working, problem solver she is!! She is the one who can save this country. Obama, drop out before you cause any more racial divide!! Some of these comments that are about Hillary's appearance are so juvenile. What is the average age of bloggers tonight???

    April 26, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  2. J

    I'm an Obama supporter. Don't know why he doesn't like the Lincoln-Douglas debate idea though, I think he'd slaughter her there.

    April 26, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  3. DOT.


    April 26, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  4. Blogthis

    "Typical White Person" As I read your comments from week to week I am really starting to think that you just dont like Sen. Obama for the color of his skin. You say that Obama is a "sleazy politician like the rest of them" and that if he is the nomine you would not vote for him but instead you would vote for another " sleazy politician" and a Republican no less, your logic does not make since unless race is the main issue I mean think about what your saying....
    Black sleazy Dem- wont get your vote as a life long democrat but a White sleazy Rep will ??-not making since here.

    April 26, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  5. California Voter

    Obama says he's taken some hits. Well, isn't that what politics is about. People questioning your stand on issues. People asking questions related to your character. And Obama has given hits to his opponents. Obama has been treated very gently by the press and even his opponents. No one wants to be accused of being racist, especially when Obama's campaign and surrogates are so sensitive. People need to know who they are voting for and many are just learning about the real Obama. Someone who considers questions about his character and beliefs as "distractions".


    April 27, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  6. Schmidt Iowa

    Smart move Obama. Let Hillary talk to Jim Carvele or some one on her level. Never argue with a fool. They tend to bring you down to her level and beat you with experience. Stay away from this women. She is not good company.

    April 27, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. Norm

    Good job Obama,

    Raise up the bar and step on the ugly hellary...

    We dont need hypothetical answers, we need solutions nd Obama is the one with solution. Clinton is self-centered and "can't remember what she said"...she will always be in the illusion of "sniper fire".

    If she had a grain of grace in her, she would step aside and let the will of people rule.

    April 27, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  8. blakkmann 51/50

    what they gonna do if we elect obama.
    you tell mee.
    he shut hilary mouth after them lines

    April 27, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  9. Norm

    I bet Monica Lewinsky will have more supporters than Clinton...

    April 27, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  10. Van

    This is why I like Obama. He just seems more..... mature than most any other presidential candidate.

    ***Obama 08!!!***

    April 27, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  11. Lynn in NM

    I agree. If he debates her with no moderator, there won't be a debate. It will be a one-sided harangue. Hillary likes to hear herself talk as much as her husband. Obama won't be able to get a word in edge-wise.

    April 27, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  12. MA


    April 27, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  13. Rebecca

    The bigger, tougher man is the one who walks away.

    Hillary is the bully on the playground picking fights with everyone and has been doing it since she was in college. Deep down Hillary is a bully. She throws tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants and picks fights with anyone who doesn't agree with her positions and then calls them mean names. She has many friends, just as bullies do, not because they like her for who she is but because they are scared of what she will do to them if they decide not to be her friend.

    On the other hand, Obama is deep down a nice man. He will stand up to bullies but he isn't out to pick a fight. He has a bunch of friends because people actually like him for who he is and what he stands for. Obama is the better man who will stand up for the people being hurt and tortured by the bullies in Washington. He may not always win, but he will try.

    April 27, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  14. Fran Says

    That's right! No more debates!

    None of the issues relevant to the people and citizens of America will be discussed.

    Hillary is the worst type of hypocrite! She calls Obama an elitist.

    She claims her values were learned from hard work, self reliance and individual responsibility. Yeah right!!!

    These days it appears that she is working hardest to embellish her experience, invoke fear and mistrust.

    Herr self reliance is rooted in inflicting damage to her opponent so focus will be shifted from what the basis of her experience really is . . . former 1st lady.

    She won't take individual responsibility for her approval of NAFTA, she won't take individual responsibility for telling us she was ducking sniper attacks in Bosnia when she wasn't. She won't take responsibility for the wedge she is creating within our party. She won't take ownership of her role in dividing this country and creating a rift between its people that will take years to repair.

    There was a time when I highly respected and vigorously defended the Clintons. She can take responsibility for changing that for me and many other Americans.

    April 27, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  15. Jeff

    Obama really should debate... McCain. He should ignore Hillary as she's trying to get some free publicity. Anyway, how would Hillary possibly debate like "honest" Abe?? Lincoln didn't have the problem of "misspeaking" that she has.

    April 27, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  16. Ken, San Diego, CA

    How absurd!

    Obama's campaign has LITERALLY been calling Clinton names since the very beginning of the campaign.

    I like Obama, but what I don't like is his and his campaigns absolute political hypocrisy.

    Of course, maybe the general public is just naive enough to buy it....We've been buying it this long...

    April 27, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  17. Edi

    I think it's sad that Obama is not realistic about this presidency as a candidate and maybe as a president. Change is a good thing but you have 4 to 8 years if your lucky to hold the biggest job in the United States. He could never get everyone on the same page, has he not looked at our history. Not to sound pessimistic, but it's the truth and especially when people have their own ideas of what change is and he could never get all republicans and all democrats to think is knows it all or has all the answers and politicians never want to listen to anyone, especially the American people!! Clinton has my vote because she knows how it is and has shown more potential to work with Republican in a bipartisan way, what has Obama done? If Clinton doesn't win the democratic nomination, I will vote for McCain!!

    April 27, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  18. bdiddy

    i'm sorry, but the irony of this thread is just so overwhelming that i can't resist commenting.

    obama-ites: i know many of you are just completing english lit 101, but if we view obama's comments today as a metaphor for you and your brash online communications for...well...pretty much since iowa on, it would actually be you (and then by reference, your candidate, senator obama) that would be in the role of the tough-talking braggart who's all TALK but no FIGHT.

    anyway, i just thought it was worth group consumption.

    you guys keep burning the midnight oil burning up the blogs and comment pages with your anti-hillary diatribes calling her everything this side of satan himself, and just keep coming with the proclamations that the math says she can't possibly win and she needs to just get a clue and drop out.

    and hillary will just keep on doing what she does which is, to quote the great philospher king albert davis: "win, baby! just win!"


    April 27, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  19. sue

    If the debates were substantive, they would be worth it . Hillary seems to be caught in a "gotcha" game. I'll vote for Obama is because he wants to take the "high road" and he lifts people up. Teachers know that "negative" finally numbs the recipient. Hasn't he has ignored her Bosnian gaffe? her inability to document all the meetings and policies she has enacted? her portrayal of Rev Wright as an implanted microphone in Barack's ear? Why, he hasn't even commented on the way she has recently copied his fundraising style after previously supplying money from her personal pot when her campaign didn't have enough!
    I DID start out on the fence when this exceedingly long "media" event began. Listening to Barack encouraged me to believe in something new. Hillary is carrying old messages packaged in old style politics...and the media is doing the same...looking for punches instead of helping us all understand the issues and solutions. I wish someone would come up with a counterpoint to that noxious "day one" thing she keeps trotting out. Where is the imagination? creativity? It's like sour milk. The biggestl blow will be to the superdelegates upon their attempts at re-election if they diss the majority again.

    April 27, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  20. Clinton or McCain, but NEVER obama

    Obama, you lie so much you need to take some hits.
    Boo hoo, poor obama..... people can see right through you.

    April 27, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  21. Glenn, Cary, NC

    More Obama BS. He has waged a divisive campaign from the outset – blacks for blacks only and young against old. The Obama campaign did play the race card before (and after) the South Carolina primary for the same reason politicians have always done – he benefitted from it. It's called strategy – that's different from character.

    Whenever he doesn't "hit back" it's because he's got nothing to hit with. In the debates, in ads and with surrogates, Obama and his campaign have hit Senator Clinton with everything they could at every opportunity.

    People who are blind to the fact that Obama is a politician – not a philosopher king – are setting themselves up for a huge disappointment. With all his gifts, he remains a deeply flawed candidate and is astonishingly inexperienced for a man who wants what is generally regarded to be the most difficult job in the world.

    It is becoming increasingly obvious every day, a vote for Obama today is a vote for McCain in November.

    April 27, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  22. @americans

    Good you're taking the HIGH ROAD Obama!

    Leave Hillary behind in the dust with her low road to defeat!

    Hillary knows that the end of her political future is near and she wants to drag Obama and the democratic party in the mud with her!

    All Hillary needs to do for me not to believe a single word she is saying is just to open her diarrhea mouth!

    This woman is scum; Obama just needs to flush her down the drain along with her kictchen sink!

    April 27, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  23. sakki

    Senator Obama don't accept anymore debates from that woman. It is a conspiracy between the new media. Don't ever accept debates from CNN, MSNBC. Let the media criticize, don't care, it is a set up.

    April 27, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  24. Mary May King

    Lincoln-Dougas? Which one will favor slavery? Wanna guess?

    April 27, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  25. Kyle

    Obama has known from the beginning that he would be taking some hits. So why is he still whining about it? Obama should stop blaming Clinton and McCain for his inability to stick to his "higher ground" campaign. He and his surrogates are tossing around just as much mud. At least Hillary hasn't stooped so low as to give him the finger like he did to her after the last debate.

    April 27, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15