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. marge

    NO MORE DEBATES!!!!!!!!!
    Hillary just wants to debate so she can get "free" TV time. She "claims" her campaign has made 10 mil after PA...but Newsflash!!!!
    She is still broke!!!! She can't compete with Obama's fund raising,so she needs all the free air time she can get.
    How is she going to handle the economy of the US when she can't even manage her camoaign funds????
    I don't understand why NOBODY from the media hasn't asked her that question.

    April 27, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  2. Richey's, Pasadena

    Balogna, Obama. Don't give yourself so much credit. Like your going to get into office and all divisiveness will just disappear!!!
    Your ignorance shows, your lack of leadership in the Senate means you are not, at all, a natural leader. Why do you not vote more than any other senator? Afraid to take a stand and stand by your beliefs? I don't think you really have any to stand by. You learned your tricks from the Clintons: check the political winds and then change your answer to fit the moment. Tomorrow, do it again. Just tell people what they want to hear. Change. Nice word. too bad you'll never have the chance to do anything about it, Mr. unelectable. That's probably better for you because then you can be bitter like Al Bore, I mean Gore, for the rest of your life saying what you would have done if only......

    April 27, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  3. Solomon

    Well said. The only reason Clinton wants to debate is to air her negativity and divisiveness. Obama should not allow her no more.

    April 27, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  4. jt

    Obama said before Hillary is the champion. You have to knock her out to win.

    Well, Mr Obama, you did not knock Hillary out yet.

    Come out and debate and try to knock her out.

    If you are afraid, then you should drop out.

    Hillary is te champ!!!

    April 27, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  5. Zach

    "BTW, I noticed that Obama's schedule for tomorrow hasn't been publicly announced. Wonder what's up….another big endorsement?"

    In response to Sharon, it's possible that Barack is just taking the Sunday off to go to church or spend his day a week with his kids.

    Keep to what you know is right Barack, we've got your back.

    April 27, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  6. working white

    Gross, who are poor whites supposed to vote for? It's not like working white stiffs have anyone supporting us. Hatred from Obama's camp, yuck. Both Dem candidates court minorities. McCain will support the rich. It's no wonder poor whites are scattered. It's not like we have an organization equivalent to the NAACP backing us up. THAT would be "racist" LOL. I think Clinton is our best bet. Anyway, even if no one supports poor working whites, I would like to vote for someone who cares about wildlife and animals. But any of these three people are fine with me. It's not like my finances are going to change regardless who wins.

    April 27, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  7. Trollmaster

    Obama is right. Look at all these super patriot Republicans that wrap themselves up in the flag, but by their actions they're the least American among us.

    April 27, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  8. Montana is Obama Country

    In response to : Spirit of America April 26th, 2008 10:39 pm ET
    "Afraid to debate but no fear in taking hits? What a fraud!
    This is supposed be change we can believe in? We,the People, do not believe in cowards or hypocrites".

    Your right.. We the People do not believe in cowards and hypocrites That is why we DON'T BELIEVE in HILLARY CLINTON...

    Yes... We.. Can.. OBAMA is what independent voters believe in..

    April 27, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  9. Bridget

    I remember the last two elections when Bush was adored by so many. Look at the mess our country and others are in now. Let's not make that same mistake again by supporting Obama and his inexperience. Vote for Hillary. If Obama wins the nomination, many of the Democrats I know are talking about voting for McCain. We don't need any more years of Republican leadership not do we need a President who lacks the experience to make a difference. Time to vote smart, vote Hillary

    April 27, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  10. factsarereal

    typicalwhiteperson......................you have not mentioned any intelligent or civilised reason for not liking obama. only fools are racists.

    April 27, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  11. JC

    I am so disgusted by Hillary's many more lies that it's such a pain to even hear her voice.

    When she was caught with a long nose, she laughed at us as if saying, "How dumb you voters are to even believe me!"

    April 27, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  12. KATHY1

    Once again you block the truth. But yet, you print garbage...,

    April 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  13. factsarereal

    If clinton is the nominee.............then most people will stay at home.

    April 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  14. seah

    He has dished it out from the start of his campaign. He was merciless on everyone. Now he gets a taste of it and he whines and acts innocent. Oh Please give us a break.

    When doesn't he lie?

    April 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  15. April in Texas

    Thats the way to set an example! Pick and choose your battles. I loved that answer as it is exactly what I teach my children to do. Bullies are bullies because its the one way to draw attention, it takes a smart person to walk away. Why stoop to their level it resolves nothing..

    Obama 08

    April 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  16. Stop That Woman!

    Billary just wants to debate because its free airtime and she doesnt have enough money to pay for airtime!

    More manipulative behavior from the Clinton camp.

    April 27, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  17. Hans Solo

    Proud of you Sir. Glad you're back. Hated to see you square off against Hillary. It was a no win situation. Even when she deserves a lashing she manages to play the victim and that leaves you in a tough spot. It is better that you stay true to who YOU are. An honest and decent man, beloved of God and men.

    April 27, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  18. sss in philadelphia

    he wont debate bc he knows that hillary is way better than him at articulating points. simple as that.

    April 27, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  19. Bethy

    I'm sorry but I truly think many people supporting Clinton (not all, but many) are only supporting her b/c they are racist (I am a white female by the way). I think many people in the Midwest (I am from the Midwest–Michigan/Ohio), especially blue collar workers (my own relatives) are already decided that they will not vote for Obama because of his skin color. They use excuses such as "no flag pin" or "rev wright" as "reasons" not to vote for him. But in reality it is his skin color. I find this sad and disturbing that race still permeates society (even in my own family). I think if my own relatives would just shut their eyes and listen to Obama, they may "vote different".

    April 27, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  20. Tony

    Obama you not a fighter......you are the racist, look 92% of black people
    their just vote for black candidate their vote for their own color this is a racist. I know a lot of black guy talk like you but very lazy so you going to be those guy. Other thing we don't need you because we learn last election we elected Bush a little experience so we have a lot mistake a lot
    of problem. So, now we need someone adult more experience to be a President, not like you Obama boy......Obama crybaby get out the way.

    April 27, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  21. Shirley-Ohio

    Good Job. You are going to make a great president. Hang in there and stay touch, walk away, no more debates, save them for McCain.

    April 27, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  22. NANCY

    That, ladies and gentleman, is why this man will receive my vote for President.
    That is the mark of a great man – one we have not seen in the White House in many, many years.

    Bravo, Barack Obama!

    April 27, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  23. donna4hillary

    "If you’re really tough, you just save it for when you really need it,” Obama said.

    yea like break out the "race memo" that was written long ago for the purpose of using it when hillary or bill said anything that could be tweaked to imply that they are racist. please read the "race memo" written by obama. the memo talks about 3 statements that have been made by the clintons, over time, that can be brought to the forfront and give the impression to black folks that the clintons are racist. obama has pulled this card twice already and clyburn is the most recent vessel by which to make the clintons lookk bad. remember when clinton said that obama pulled the race card on him and that there is a memo.? we saw it on tv many times already. well that memo does exist and its called the race memo, authored by obama last year sometime. please go to huffington post. com to read the memo. thanks.

    April 27, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  24. Snapper, Seattle

    HClinton is really pathetic. She doesn't have the money to buy TV time so she badgers Obama for a (guess what) TV debate. The media loves to give her time and based on the last debate, the moderators don't ask anything concerning the real issues but zero in on all the attacks they've written and spoken about in recent months. She out to forget the debating face to face because its not going happen. But thats what she wants, to put it out there and then try to apply pressure to Obama to explain why he doesn't want to debate. Its not going to happen. She's getting desperate folks. Next time she shows up on TV, some camera shot should get a real closeup of her mug and see the strained smile she tries her best to hide. Go away woman! Nobody, except your misguided followers, trusts anything you say or do any more.

    April 27, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  25. John

    I love how this guy time and again chooses to take the high road while Billary always resorts to smearing and slandering. It really shows a dramatic difference in character. You're a good man, Barack. Never resort to Clintonian tactics.

    Obama '08

    April 27, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15