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. Amber

    HILLARY CLINTON- Vice President
    JOHN EDWARDS- U.S. Attorney General
    JOE BIDEN- Secretary of State

    Talk about a DREAM team!!!!!!!!!!

    Whoo hooo.... "Get 'r done, Democrats"!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. David - NYC

    Excellently done Mr. Obama......right on point as always.

    McBush has no chance in November.

    Obama 2008!!

    May 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. ABB

    Yes, heed the warning posted earlier about Republicans posing as Democrats and posting their comments that Bush/McAin are right!
    The desparate repubs are doing anythingthat they can to defend their boys, but you cannot deny the truth! Bush embarrased himself and all Americans with his ridiculous diatribe yesterday, as well as displaying partisan political campaigning as a sitting president. It's totally amazing how these mislead sheep can still believe that this presdient has done anything good for this country in almost 8 years! (McSame means "same as Bush").

    May 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. The ONE who tells it how it is

    Wow! Its amazing how all these people can be persuaded by obama with his lame speeches, cause thats all they are. He doesn't mean much of what he says...its just to get the young vote who like hearing those big long words and such "eloquent" speaking. Obama does not have a foreign policy. He would never be able to protect this country. And yeah, Obama wants to help the economy by making more government programs...hmmm...and how will he do that? He'll raise taxes through the roof to pay for all of it. I don't know about you, but im not going to give more of my hard earned money to the government. Obama is nothing but a dreamer living in a fantasy world and all of his followers are too. At this point, id rather see clinton win.

    May 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Spectacles

    Make them (Bush/McCain) substantiate their claims. Make them give the American people proof this time. They have been accusing Iran of arming those in Iraq and the LA Times reports the hundreds of thousands of weapons they were going to display turned out to not be from Iran at all.

    Find the truth Obama, I know you will do it and I know that you will act with diigence and good faith.

    May 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. LBowie

    To all Bush and McCain supporters, please do your research. While Bush is over in Israel making us look like war mongers to world and relating Obama's stance on foreign diplomacy, he should have been giving us a history lesson about his grandfather's part in financing the Nazi party when Hitler was in power. His bank helped launder money for Nazis that financed their war. Very interesting. Look up Prescott Sheldon Bush..

    May 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Yo

    This is a Blessing to Obama.
    There more Bush and McCain gang up on Obama with such Rediculous Statements, the more John McCain can forget getting the votes of DieHard Clinton supporters.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |

    If we indeed want to protect America, Israel and all our friends in the world then we must keep all options opening including talking to the so- called enemies of ours.

    Dropping bombs on our enemies isn't working and our great military suffer intolerable casualties. Why don't we try talking to the enemies, after all the cost of negotiating will be far less than military action.

    We could also fight them better if we understand why they hate us. Words are mightier than the barrel of a gun.

    God Bless America!!

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Richard

    Obama is a socialist that will not completely and unwaveringly support israel. which will bring WW3. No Jewish person or lover of Israel should ever support him.. his willingness to speak with and work with Iran, syria, Hizbollah and Hamas legitimizes their bad behavior and weakens israel. I truly believe that unbeknowest to Obamaa , all that money he's getting for his campaign...a lot of it's coming from Arab nations and muslims and terroist organizations. They are very much for Obama winning, if he wins.. the US pulls out, Israel is weakened..,nothing has been taken out of context...his election helps Hamas, hizbollah, Syria and iran..period. All jewish people, and also Jewish people on the Left coast should suspend donations to his campaign until he comes out and says he will not entrat with people who'd sole goal is the destruction of Israel.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Dennis Clark

    This time we might have a candidate that isn't afraid to mix it up. Kerry
    wouldn't go after the swift boaters until it was too late. If you call these
    idiots everytime they attempt to play their usual gutter politics it takes
    away their whole game. The war, the economy, health care, all the issues that voters want to hear about are not where the repubs want to
    go. Next thing you know we'll hear Boehner bringing up flag burning, and McConnell start his anti-gay agenda. I can see a rout in November.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Mike

    I look forward to Obama being the next president!!!!

    We will finally have a president who is intelligent and someone who can help the USA gain back the respect and power we once had around the world.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. Michael Nordine

    Awesome to see him not backing down from their vapid comments.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. TK

    No democrat will hate either Hillary or Obama (or Bill Clinton) that is a fact. Those who say they do are just pretending to be republicans trying to divide us (you know the devide and conquer policy). So lets just remember that and unite behind whoever is our nominee.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Look how well we did not talking to our enemies – we bombed, invaded and conquered two sovereign nations.

    And as a result of Bush's foreign policy, the world does not like us, the world does not respect us, and the world does not fear us.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. Go Get 'Em Barack!

    I would love to see Bush and Obama debate in an open forum, in which the questions weren't carefully crafted so that Bush could not only give scripted answers, but could actually (hopefully) understand what was being asked. Barack kept quiet during the Democratic debates because he didn't want to enter into the pettiness that Stefanopolous (Bill Clinton's former staff member) was trying to generate. Now that the gloves are coming off, Barack is going to beat the hell out of Bush, verbally.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. tom anderson

    I simply cannot believe the posts I have read here, the comments by Obama and the support he has gathered. Obama talks about unity and 'rising above it' yet attempts to lump McCain in with Bush and feels justified in stating "Bush and McCain have a lot to answer for in the Iraq war." How is McCain responsible for Bush's mistakes? How is Iraq McCain's fault?

    Then to read the people of America calling McCain "McSame;" Wake up Americans, that is the game Obama is playing...getting you to think McCain is the same as Bush since 70% of Americans don't like the guy therefore you'll vote for Obama.

    Quit being spoon fed false hopes and ideas and start thinking for yourselves.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. Dont deceive yourself

    If democrats are going to vote for Mccain because of revenge, I believe you are taking away your right to judge someone else. If you are going to put your own bias over what is good for teh country at this time of distress, then you really dont deserve a good president..u do deserve MCcain and more wars to come. Clearly, Clinton might not win the nomination as it appears to be, why would I then vote against having a better economy by voting for MCcain.

    You all better recognize and get over yourselves and not vote for someoen who is going to laung a 3rd war on iran when he gets into office...keep fighting wars and cutting taxes...common American people (think about it) How woudl we get money to strenghten our economy, maybe from teh profits John Mccain's wife gets, huh??

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Environment

    Nice work Obama. And can have a sit down with countries that are considered to be our enemies....that's what a president is SUPPOSE to do. MMEND TIES!!! About time we get some smart people in office. Out with Bush and in with Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. John

    Wow some people are a little touchy… I saw that as a swipe at Carter for talking to Hamas, I didn’t hear any names in that speech. Obama said “I will talk to our enemies without conditions.” Now he isn’t going to???? Where does he stand??? Where does he stand on anything?? Thats right, he has nothing to stand on.... Just cause he is a good speaker we should vote for him??

    Anyone but OBAMA

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Tim

    Oh Please!!!!! Obama wants to debate Bush and McCain but not Hillary. He lost to Hillary in the debate forum because he can't think without a scripted version and he wants to challenge someone else? It takes a big man to challenge a local politician and not a terrorist nation like Iran. Obama can't handle the truth and that's why he is crying today. Bush never said anything about democrats or Obama but hey if the shoe fits wear it. Amazing how quickly some forget 9/11 and want to simply play nice with those who wish us harm and some have forgotten JFK's speech about those who wish us ill and that we would answer the challenge. I'm sorry that was real men back then who were not affraid to stand up to those against this great nation.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. dalri

    Why is talking with our enemies a "mistake" and a "gaffe"? You supposed "conservatives" need a refresher on Realpolitik.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  22. mitchell from arkansaw

    i love it!!! nothing 'fancy'.just the facts.bush and mccain have so much to answer for,they'll have no time to campaign.bush should be impeached.he's worse than nixon ever was.GO OBAMA '08

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. Tea Party

    Actually Noemi, 5,000 years of recorded human history have shown that peace can never be negotiated, or acheived through talking. It must be begged for by the loser.

    Peace has never been the natural state of the world. The only periods of peace the modern Western World have ever enjoyed is immediately after we've had to smash an aggressor (see Germany, Italy or Japan). And the only reason those aggressors didn't rise up again, is that they were hit so hard the first time, the didn't dare raise their heads again. And thus, you have periods of peace.

    The only thing aggressors (or terrorists) understand or comprehend is an aggressive display of force, power and brutality. Defend yourself by hitting them hard enough with this, and they respect you for it. Act like a wet noodle (see Bill Clinton) and aggressors come to see you as a paper tiger and weak (see basic aggressor dog pack behavior).

    Futher, many people claim we had "peace" during the 1990s. Peace is not defined as the "absense of out-right formally declared war." We were hit repeatedly in the Nineties.

    The difference then, is we acted like Tina Turner and said, "Hit me again, Ike! And this time, put some STANK on it!!!" And they did on 9/11. But alas, we have quickly been lulled back to sleep by Democrats who put their own political agenda ahead of national security. For shame.

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. DeeNC

    John McCain has lost t the republic nomination at least 3 times. He lost to our current president ( enough said). that shows you what republicans think of him. Now all of a sudden he is supposed to be a better candidate than Bush. He could not beat out either Bushes or Bob Dole.. wake up!!! He is a joke

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. AJ, IL

    Thank you GW Bush for speaking against Obama and the Democrats in Israel! You have re-energized the country in wanting to see America turn the page on Bush and his polices. McCain defended Bush's comments in Israel as well as defends many other Bush policies. As hard as McCain tries to distance himself from Bush, he will not be able to!

    Obama in 08!

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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