May 16th, 2008
12:35 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: Bush and McCain 'have a lot to answer for'


Watch part of Barack Obama's remarks Friday.

(CNN) - Barack Obama struck back hard at President Bush and John McCain Friday, accusing them of hypocrisy and of distorting his position on dialogue with nations hostile to the United States, telling a South Dakota crowd that “I’m running for president to change course, not to continue George Bush’s course.”

“I want to be perfectly clear with George Bush and John McCain, and with the people of South Dakota,” he said at a Watertown campaign stop. “If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America, that is a debate that I'm happy to have any time, any place and that is debate I will win because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for.”

In his comments before the Israeli Knesset Thursday, Bush seemed to equate the Illinois senator’s foreign policy views with those of Nazi appeasers in the years before World War II, though he did not mention any names. Obama strongly criticized the president for the remarks Friday, calling them “the kind of appalling attack that's divided our country and that alienates us from the world.”

On Friday, Obama also fired back at McCain for saying Thursday that the Democratic senator was not qualified to protect the nation. “[John McCain] talked about elevating the tone of debate in our country. He talked about reaching out in a bipartisan fashion to the other side. Then not an hour later he turned around and embraced George Bush's attack on Democrats,” said Obama, who called the Arizona senator’s Iran policy “naïve and irresponsible.”

“He jumped on a call with a bunch of bloggers and said that I wasn't fit to protect this nation that I love because I wanted to sit down and negotiate with tough diplomacy with countries like Iran. Accused me of not being fit…[or] being able to protect this nation,” he added.

He said both Bush and McCain “have a lot to answer for” over the war in Iraq and the failure to find Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s continuing strength, among other continuing foreign policy problems. “They are going to have to explain why it is that Iran is able to fund Hezbollah and poses the greatest threat to America and Israel and the Middle East in a generation. That's the Bush-McCain record on protecting this country.

The McCain campaign said Obama’s speech was a “partisan rant.”

“It was remarkable to see Barack Obama’s hysterical diatribe in response to a speech in which his name wasn’t even mentioned,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. “It would be a wonderful thing if we lived in a world where we don’t have enemies. But that is not the world we live in, and until Senator Obama understands that, the American people have every reason to doubt whether he has the strength, judgment and determination to keep us safe.”

Related video: Watch Obama take aim at McCain

soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. Chuck


    You can have a sit down with anyone, including Iran. You can take them aside after dinner and tell them this is the way it is going to be. This is what they have to do if they want peace and don't want the US breathing down their necks. You can speak softly, firmly in a diplomatic way yet carry a big stick. The problem with Bush and McCain is that they always want to start the process threathening with the big stick without knowing what it is they will be getting themselves into, i.e. Iraq. . If you think the terrorists and the crazies in Iran or Iraq or Syria, etc. are scared of that big stick talk you know nothing about these people. They would sacrafice their own people before they would give in to the threats made by Bush and McCain. Always, always keep your enemies close and in your hip pocket, as Obama suggests, so you know what they are up to when, why and how. Then you can give them straight talk ultimatums right from the horses mouth (the President of the US) and you can act when and if necessary with approrpaite and accurate intelligence as to what they are up too.

    Learn something about how to always maintain a step or two ahead of your enemies and how tro play them instead of allowing them to play you lol and you would be much better off in your comments.

    Obama knows what he is doing.

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. Bobby

    I am an African-American, educated, and can clearly see that THIS MAN is the worst President in my 34 years on this GREAT EARTH! @!!?#%$ I can not wait when November comes so BARACK OBAMA can finally work towards a plan to CLEAN UP this mess BUSH continues to display and MCSAME wants to continue!!!!!!@#$&!!!

    OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2008

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. dodgey winger

    Man I thought Obama would be more interesting than that. Why is it that whenever he has a difference of opinion, he starts of with this diatribe of' 'it is shameful' or something like that 'it is sad', I mean heck all Bush was refering to was the fact that Europe had not stood up for the Jews in 1939 and there are still many people out there who believe that hardliners like Aheminijad will not do what they say. It almost seems that Obama is suggesting that it is sad that US didn't pick Obama for president for life. All that Bush has done is wrong, that is an opinion that a lot of people hold but in denouncing Hillary as much as he has it almost sounds like all that Clinton did was also wrong. I mean where does it stop and for his credentials all he offers is debates. I think over all Mr. Obama has very inflated opinion about his argument making abilities. And he might be right but the President of the United States doesn't just make arguments, he has to negotiate, cajole, push through, threaten, use force and still govern.

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Axl

    Apart from being completely correct on the substance in this case, Obama is a brilliant strategist. Bush's comments in the Knesset were directed at Jimmy Carter but by mentioning a Senator in his Nazi appeasement statement, Bush opened a gap for Obama wide enough to drive a semi through.

    McCain's afternoon response supporting Bush tied him to the matter and his video today showing that he was for talking to Hamas before he was against it were the perfect combination for a great gift. McCain is on video. He cannot say he was misquoted.

    Nothing unites Democrats more than fighting against Bush. In their fumble, Bush and McCain gave sufficient ammunition to Obama to attack them while uniting Democrats.

    -McCain was for talking to Hamas, a terror group, before he was against it. Obama has never been for talking to Hamas. You can't be misquoted on video.

    -Bush negotiated with Libya and North Korea, state sponsors of terrorism and WMD proliferators and sends letters to Kim Jong -Il addressing him as "Dear Mr. Chairman..." Libya killed more than a hundred Americans on Pan Am 103, including children.

    -Two very senior members of Bush's cabinet, Condoleeza Rice (State) and Robert Gates (Defense) say we should engage diplomatically with Iran. Perhaps Bush should fire the appeasers in his own Cabinet who do things in his name before he goes before a foreign parliament to smear another American with Nazi paint.

    Bush has insulted the intelligence of many supporters of Israel with his foreign policy and his undignified smear in front of the Knesset.

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Maggie

    I can't believe the stupidity of some of the people on these blogs, especially the Obama supporters who claim that Clinton's only supporters are uneducated. Most of the Obama supporters on here can't even spell correctly or write a proper sentence!

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. Yolanda/S.A. Texas

    Come on! those of you who think he wasn't talking about Obama!!!!

    But I gues if you have never been in a conversation with an enemy then I guess you would not know how to negotiate for your best interest. That's what this all means..Has anyone heard the saying, keep your enemies closer??? This way you always know what's going on in their backyards.

    The problem we have had through this 8 year term w/Bush is that he has destroyed any relationships we have had with foreign countries. Why do you think they're always wanting to do us harm? I would rather have a president who keeps his eyes open even if he is asleep. (Always watching and paying attention to what's going on, NO MATTER WHAT)

    If your not for change and something better, why not move to one of these countries and see just how better you have it over here. The Rebublicans are for self, the Democratic Party has always (History supports this) looked out for the People.

    Come on folks grow up, get educated on your history and really learn who has your back.

    If it's Obama or Hillary a Democrate is better any day.

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. Franky

    I'm not gonna lie guys but I just can't wait for the playoffs.....

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Clark

    Finally! Some backbone against that status quo. Very refreshing and very necessary. I am very encouraged at Barack's willingness to go on the attack. He is exactly what we need in order to restore our credibilty as a world leader.

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Shah Nawazm Seattle

    If you pay attention, you will notice that Bush uses the word enemy in almost every speech. Him and many neocons rae raised with the belief that having enemies is a must for life. Our goal should be having no enemies, biblical, economic or otherwise

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. Sam C

    These Republicans keep talking about "Pre-Conditions", what are the "Pre-Conditions"? Does Mr. Bush want a full surrender or dismantling of the so called "Axis of Evil's" military before he saddles up to the bargaining table? Seriously, I want to know what these "Pre-Conditions" are. I realize they must very from Regime to Regime, but what does the Bush Regime want?

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Marcus

    Darn straight, Oback, thanks for telling it like it is!

    The failed policies of the past have wrecked our country.
    What would any sane thinking American not embrace change?

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. FactCheck

    > clearly obama's not experienced enough to realize you can't have a
    > sit down with iran.

    You might want to check with Defense Secretary Bob Gates on that one. Here, let me help.. who said the following: "We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage . . . and then sit down and talk with them"?
    a) Defense Secretary Gates
    b) How should I know, I was watching American Idol.

    May 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Neutral you are stupid.

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. speechWriter

    very well said Oh Bama. You gotta expensive speech writer.

    All 2nd graders reads written scripts quite nicely like you,
    but you add emotions, thats your experince working.

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. Dupe in Mesa

    I can wait until the redneck republican generation is gone. The same people who burned a cross 50 years ago are the same people who will continue to support republicans like Mcain. Wake up America! Bush is the reason we have burried 4000 people for a war that never should have been waged.

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  16. kay

    For people that said it took Obama a day, you are wrong....he was the first to address the incident even before Bush finished his speech and that was the main reason other democrats joined in.

    Before you start believing what you read, please do some research!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. Bri in Charlottesville, VA

    To lol's post at 1:09, it is ridiculous to think and even more ludicrous to say that violence is the answer to solving a problem. And that's basically what you said in critizing Sen. Obama's logical and humane idea of a firm sit down.

    As for Obama Supporter's "hate" post. Don't spread hate. As a country we should all be more focused on coming together. As Democrats, no matter who you're supporting individually we all want change.

    Kudos to Noemi in LA: very well said.

    Barack Obama holds the key to unlocking all the greatness the United States of America is capable of. Stand behind the man who is the biggest advocate for change in this race.

    **Change in 08**

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. White Male -CA

    It's getting harder and hader to call myself an American thanks to Bush.

    Bush is McCain's attack dog, and McCain is Bush's puppy.


    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. George W

    You Dems...go ahead and root for Obama...he doesn't have a chance to win in November!!! He is a nice looking guy that speaks well but no substance....McCain will destroy Obama in the election. Your best bet is Hillary so you better jump ship!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Really

    It is funny how Barrack name was never mentioned but everyone is sure that Bush was talking directly Barrack. Barrack must be pretty insecure or believes the World revolves around him.

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. An Independent

    Bush was speaking to Israeli officials. He was dead on in talking about the past founding of Israel, its past struggles, and its future enemies. Bush did not name Obama or anyone else. He had a perfect right to talk about conflicting ways of dealing with rogue governments.

    Whining demos: Obama and all the other complaining democrats are, in this instance, acting like whining little children. They must be hiding inner guilt.

    I would like to debate Obama. He has talked about how he would welcome talking to any foreign govt leader. His web site talks about ridding the world of nukes. Does he want us all to sit around singing Kum Ba Ya? He talks about his previous opposition to the decision to go to war in Iraq. I was opposed too. That is history. What do we do now?

    Obama is the epitome of a packaged, marketed product! I would to debate him because when his is not giving a canned speech, he bumbles and stumbles. 3 months ago I was strongly behind him. Now I know what a charlatan he is. In the year of the democrat, they are losing me.

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. kelll

    I think president bush and mc cain need to watch there back because obama wants to be in the white house. And obama is right about those two . Vote for obama in 08 for better president

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA

    How is it that we always end up w/ 2 weak candidates for the general election? Check out Nader (Green) & Bob Barr (Libertarian).

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. Blue in the face

    Those who equate diplomacy with weakness are fools.

    Military solutions are always an option, but not to be abused as the ONLY solution- If the Iraq debacle doesn't prove this I don't know what does.

    Want more of the same? Vote McCain!

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. Elliott R

    A call for genuine dialogue about how to best protect our country. This is unprecedented!

    May 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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