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. dcahillusa

    Its interesting that Obama thought Bush's comments were directed at him .. why is he so defensive on this .. cause he knows he is weak on this issue .. or was he trying to make political hay out of it? Interesting also that CNN adopts the Obama line on this, even though the White House said this was not a comment about Obama. Does Obamam identify with the label appeaser or something?

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. Andrew

    Obama for President

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. Go Get 'Em Barack!

    Bush is a dolt. McCain is a bright man, but has little common sense (as indicated by his aligment with Bush). I would love to see Obama debate either of these two idiots. Same with Hillary, if she gets the nod. Either Democratic candidate would kill these guys in a fair debate.

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Fitz

    I think he waited 2 days because he was scheduled to be in S. Dakota. What kinda dribble is that you wrote? Do you have any idea about what is an effective use of time is?.

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. JOSH

    im a poor white hillbilly but im still going to vote for MCCAIN

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. James

    Compliments of Jeff:

    "Who is a more qualified leader:
    a) The guy who sings "Bomb Iran", at a time when the nation is spiraling rapidly into bankruptcy while fighting an ongoing war stretching our military and our budget incredibly thin; A war with people who want to destroy us because we aim to destroy them."

    Hmmm.... Let's see Jeff. North Korea let it's own people starve and it own economy stagnate, and they set off a nuclear explosion last year. So please tell me how your arguement makes any sense????


    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Floridian

    Well Eric, I guess you will be sitting this nomination out, what a loser.

    Obama 08

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. VoteforAmerica

    One thing we have learnt from the election. Obama and the Media will not allow anyone to criticize him. They will cry foul. They will blame the old washington politics. They will define what kind of issues to be debated. No one can touch His Highness!!

    noemi in los angeles May 16th, 2008 1:18 pm ET

    Peace can ONLY be achieved through talking. Period.

    Obama 08.
    Without people like this, who needs enemies!!

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Hillary 08

    WET BEHIND THE EARS, That be Senator Obama. He better choose a well experienced running mate to get me to vote for him for President. However, as a hard core Dem AND should he defeat Hillary, I will vote for Obama, because WE NEED TO GET THAT BUSH OUT OF OFFICE, BEFORE HE CONTINUES THE COURSE TO WW3.

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. so funny

    It's so funny to see some of these obviously fake posts that have the simple objective to try to piss people off. I like the ones that start off "I am a black person and I support Hillary". When they start off like that, I know they more than likely the person writing it is NOT BLACK. It's a faker trying to divide and conquer the party and get a rise out of the readers. People beware of fakers like this.

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Jill

    This makes me smile. When I got divorced, at one point we had to try a mediator. An elderly judge sat down and simply said, why dont you two just go have a coffee and talk it out. The he left.

    We had been trying for over as year to setle our bitter divorce and the first thing I thought when I heard he suggestion was, I wonder if I could poison that coffee or at least throw it in my ex's face. I am certain my ex had similar thoughts.

    Moral of the story: its naiive to think an old fashioned, civil 'coffee clatch' will ease the deep wounds and pain of battle worn adversaries. It is a waste of time, energy and fools nobody. And it helps nobody. Do you want someone that naiive and small minded to run America ?

    This is the big leauges. There is no room for playing these kind of PR, phot-op games.

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. John LeMarier

    Like a child who lives in his fathers house and is not afraid because he feels safe there, Sen Obama says that we are not one bit safer because of the Presidents policies. Yet there has not been one attack on us since the President has enacted his policies. Will that be the case if Obama becomes President? not likely since he knows not where his safety comers from and at what costs!

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. jane in CA

    Are we going for changes? what if terrorists want to change and they want to negotiate, shall we not accept it? just go to war any to kill tem all and us too.

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Uncle Sam

    I would find it easier to consider the merits of Sen. Obama's positions if it weren't for the utter hypocrisy and holier-than-thou attitude than exudes from his lips, especially when he condemns John McCain. These pesky facts keep getting in the way of Obama's transcendent politics:

    *The continued use of the term "warmonger" by Obama surrogates to slander Sen. McCain and no denouncement by Sen. Obama.
    *The continued distortions by the Obama campaign of Sen. McCain's comments regarding possible long-term troop presence in Iraq.
    *Sen. Obama' continued attempt to link Pres. Bush and Sen. McCain, regardless of the truthfulness of the linkage, but merely to be used as a political gambit, likened to the "Big Lie", when something is repeated often listeners may come to actually believe it. (Such as "Change We Can Believe In").
    *Sen. Obama's untruths, distortions, and omissions regarding Sen. McCain's record, policies, and vision for his presidency.

    We have on the one hand a naive presidential hopeful, while on the other we have an experienced, heroic statesman with a proven record of change. Am I missing something?

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Hilary 2012

    Lets all vote Hilary for 2012 when she ruins the chances of Obama getting elected in 2008. After all isn't that what she is really doing? Or is it making money off of her husband giving speeches? Or is it making money off of futures? Or is it whitewater?

    One thing is for sure, she cannot be put in charge of a health plan. If you are old enough to remember, while Bill was in office she was put in charge of creating a universal health plan. Did she accomplish anything? No. Stop voting for Hillary and unite behind Barack for 2008, PLEASE!

    May 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. 58 white old ladies for OBAMA










    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Viva Obama 08

    Yes they do have a lot to answer for them flip-fopped hamas friends.

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Darryl

    The realists and the hard power ( guns and ammo) peeps can see no other way. MCain and Bush are relics. The world is ever changing. Soft power (influence) is the way to go. The world is becoming much too small and there comes a time when we peeps all over the world need to step back, take a breather and chart our course into the future.

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Roshana, TX

    Obama makes a lot of sense!

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Environment

    "Me Against the World" policy that we have now is CRAZY and dangerous. I'm glad we will be changing that!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Karen

    United we stand!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. Christine V from Dallas, TX

    You will now see how the general elections has now been handed down to McCain!!! Cant stand it???
    With Hillary's folks not behind you and the republicans bashing you and your PRODUCT …you will lose…and you deserve it…
    even if Hillary begs us to support obama(especially if she is not vp) …even as we respect her…WE WILL NEVER VOTE FOR HIM!
    like I said before I have a Savior…and it is not OBAMA!

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. Doug R.

    Bush's entire presidency was based of fear and scare tactics. Let's also remember that Sept. 11th occurred on his watch and bin Laden is still at large, Iran is dangerous and al Qaeda is alive, well, and becoming stronger. This all points to his failed diplomacy and foreign policies. He has been lying to, misleading, and deceiving the American people since the day he took office. Grandpa McCain is right behind him spewing out all sorts of falsehoods and flip flops. Bush and Cheney should have both been impeached for their blatent violation of the laws of the land and the U.S. Constitution. Go back to Arizona you old hack McCain.

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. The ONE who tells it how it is

    Lets face it. There is not one good candidate in this election. They all have so many issues its unbelievable how they all made it to where they are now. Be prepared for a new president to be elected in 2012 because none of these candidates will able to get a single vote by then

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. Michael

    So...Mr. Obama does have a tough side. I am impressed.
    I am still not sure he is the right choice, nor do I feel any of the candidates are the right choice, however he mostly certainly got my attention.

    It was nice to see him speak in a more definitive tone and not just in slogans and feel good speech rhetoric.

    The American people may seem at times to be more interested in their entertainment then reality, but I highyly advise all of the candidates not to play us as fools, or as uninformed or uneducated buffons. The public has awakened under the duress of a horrible economy and is ready to seriously question everyone and everything.

    We voted you all in, we can vote every single one of you out. The real sleeping giant has awoken and politics as we know it has been put on notice.

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22