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. Jon V

    Peace through diplomacy, not war.

    Obama '08

    May 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Democrat for McCain

    No, Obama, YOU are the one who has a lot to answer for:

    Your unimpressive senate record
    Your questionable affiliations
    Your duck-and- run approach to questions from media and everyday citizens
    Your inability to progress beyond empty rhetoric and state what you actually plan to do and how you will do it

    Notice how Hillary responded first in defense of the entire Democratic party.

    Obama cannot respond in the heat of battle. He gets upset and has to regroup and ask his advisers what he should say. He relies on speeches and scripted answers.

    He wants to debate Bush? Bush isn't even running!

    Obama's afraid to debate Hillary or McCain. Obama's even
    afraid to be interviewed by Bill O'Reilly!

    The Presidency isn't a speech-giving contest. It requires a leader
    who can react in the heat of crisis and to solve problems.

    Obama does not meet those requirements.

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Rick

    John McCain singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, – bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" is analogous to a drunken Ted Kennedy throwing breadcrumbs at the Press Core on that airplane oh so many years back when he ruined his chances at the Presidency. Obama is the only mature talking adult in mainstream Politics.

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. cynthia rendon

    Finally, the Democrats have grown some nerves!

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Jennifer from Kentucky

    Bravo Senator Obama,

    A person who stands up for him self against smear attacks is a person I want for my President!

    I am so proud of you....

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. goawaymongers

    The absurdity of the republicans continues, despite McBush's promise to run a clean campaign.
    This type of hate and fear mongering worked well for them for a long time- but the American people have had enough of them and enough of their "stuff". Go get em Obama!

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Allen

    And again divided we fall. It appears nothing changes. Let's not forget we all sent those boys rushing to war starting 9-12-01 with our flag waving action now attitude. We didn't want to wait on a plan (not saying there was one). We all carry the blame and have blood on our hands. We know the problem let's stop fighting ourselves and demand solutions. I haven't seen one detailed plan from Hillary, Obama or McCain. Just politics as usual. Let's unite again like we did 9-12-01 and demand a real plan not a pointless speech. All of these canidates are in positions of power Let's tell them to shut up and get to work and let the work they accomplish do their talking for them.

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Tom, St. Paul

    Wow! We've got a guy here who shows he knows something about diplomatic relations and whose agressive in taking on the BS'ers, even when a lot of poeple belive the BS! I could *really* vote for this guy, except, well, he doesn't wear a flag pin every day, and his wife said something about not being proud of our country, and his former pastor used the D word in church, and his middle name sounds like he's Muslim, and... just too many negatives that prove without a doubt that he's an unsuitable candidate. Oh well... now what was McCain saying?

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. DR

    This guy is laughable. McCain will tear him up in a debate on foreign policy!

    And the President never mentioned his name in his speech. What a bunch of crybabies. Obama and his crew must all have guilty consciences or they wouldn't be acting so defensive.

    Bush is right - you can't sit down with Iran. It is a country that sponsors terrorists and is supplying weapons that are killing
    our soldiers. You never hear about that, do you? No - because the mainstream media is protecting this buffoon.

    November is going to be a cruel and painful month for Obama and his zombie supporters (especially those women sitting behind him in the above photo).

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. not neutral

    Will Hillary PLEASE stop posting here as Neutral??

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. chuks

    There are republicans posting as Obama or Hillary supporters to make us hate each other. Democrats please wake up and stop being fooled by them.

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. Ryan in MN

    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. That is not an ideal situation to be in.

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Simpson

    Bush, McCain and the rest of these so called republicans are incapable of telling the truth...Where's the VP been? I bet McCain would love his support and words of wisdom to help his cause!!!
    Go get'm Barack...

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. conservative

    Golly perhaps with his incessant gift of gab maybe Obama could make the bad guys surrender ! "Nah" to gullible and elitist ! Just lob a few errant cruise missles at the wrong target and retire for the day! ( a democrat security for America tactic)

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. FL

    DJ, by the way, check YOUR history of Israel. This "ragtag" country should be long gone by now, but isn't?? Why?? History says – this is not something we want to drop and run from...even Dems know that.

    May 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. genie

    This is for Sean S, he say's he can't wait for Obama to tear into McCain, he will as soon as his writer's write his speeches so that should be the turnaround time since Obama cannot speak for himself.

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. KMAN

    Barrack ... that might be a tough match up for you ... after all, the two of them have such outstanding mental acumen and they are certainly more articulate than the average high school dropout! Hey, send one of your kids ... it would level the playing field for the old-timers!! I'm with you my friend!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Judy, South Carolina

    Hey neutral are you sure you have the canpaign correct. That was Hillary campaign who has the Lobbists and Subprime Lender who left her job. She became head of the campaign when she fired the Latino women. Get it straight. If I am correct her name is Maggie Williams.

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. Eileen

    Obama is weak and we will be attacked again. Why else would Hamas be supporting him? We have been safe for the last eight years. Nobama.

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  20. Ronnie

    I hope you are all Republicans !
    Ronald Reagan

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. Stupid people

    Funny how people forget the past or say they want to not make the same mistakes twice. Yet again the American people will be stupid and follow whatever the main stream media is pumping out there. As a nation we can't get anything done because the people we elect won't stand their ground when the crap hits the fan. Right after 911 we wanted people to pay, those elected wanted people to pay – but yet nothing happened. We didn't learn from Nam. We sent in our troops without bullets to fight and try to win a war. Once again we sent in our troops without the backing and support to get it done. I served in the first Gulf War in the US Navy and proudly so. Under Clinton many things happened and he had the opportunity to end some things that could have prevented the attack on the USS Cole as well as 911 but he was to busy being "serviced" in the White House to take care of business. I am sick and tired of our men and women going abroard to take care of issues but that is what we have always done. The UN has almost control over our troops as our own government does. Anyway you want to look at the issue both sides have issues. I for one have family that served with McCain and he will do as much as he can under the congress that we have. This is not a one man show as many seem to think it is. I am a woman but no way am I voting for Clinton – heck she even changes to her Southern drawl when she goes down South. She is totally fake! For those that don't vote – you have no room to talk – if you don't take the time to due your duty to this country – then just keep your mouth shut. If you want to change things – get out there and do something. But do some research on who you are voting for – not just what the networks tell you. Look at the person's voting history!!

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. NickNas

    GREAT SPEECH!!! He is not talkingto a member of his own party so the gloves are OFF! ( Hillary could have learned tons from this guy) He STRAIGHT OUT calls BUSH AND MCSAME TO THE MAT!!!!

    Bush is reaping what he sowed and so will McSame.

    They have earned NO Respect and are DUE none. Obama will ROAST them .

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. Susan

    Maybe depends on who is telling the truth.

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    President Bush did not address the Democratic party nor Obama. If you support someone who would sit down with the President of Iran, which whom denies the Holocaust ever occured, and has been cleary linked to the killings of Americans then Obama is your candidate. As an American citizen I just can not support that method of diplomacy.

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  25. anymouse

    How stupid does the GOP think the American public is?! First off we went into Iraq, and deposed Hussein. Osama bin Laden hated Saddam Hussein and called him an "infidel." In fact, bin Laden hated Iraq so much that he is on record as calling the Iraqi people, "socialist infidels." So where is bin Laden now, dancing in the streets in Pakistan?

    Then when the US had intel that bin Laden was going to escape from Afghanistan an extemely small group of Special Forces was sent to capture our supposed most wanted person. If we really wanted to get him, shouldn't we have sent every available hand?

    This admin has said one thing and done another, time after time. We need change, and now.

    May 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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