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

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

CNN

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. FL

    Jeff, dictators don't do diplomacy. Duh. Read history, find the contrary, and MAYBE give a model to your "hope" for future reference. If they DID, a Dem would have had this solved 10 years ago. Try again.

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. One4Obama08

    Peace can only be attained through Diplomacy! Iraq could have been avoided and so could have 9/11!

    We need to pull out of Iraq and send the troops home. We could be spending money that goes to our military on FREE HEALTHCARE FOR EVERYONE!

    Also, with money spent on the miliarty, we could eliminate poverty in this country and all of the middle east. With Obama, we all COULD BE EQUAL!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Republicans have gone mad and they are just idiots and keep thinking that force is the solution for every problem. Being the richest nation, and being the leader country in many aspects in the world, USA should rather follow a humble approach and be a model to other nations. Obama has a quite a bit potentials to prove that. He doesn't have any selfish reasons to become president as Bush and Dick Cheney did, who have the companies to earn money from the back door.

    Luck to Obama and curse to McCain

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  4. Buffalo Bill

    GOBAMA and take your finally proud to be an American wife with you to Iran. Maybe they will take her hostage and set you free.

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. James, Virginia Beach, Virginia

    "Bush is smart"?!, how foolish some people can be.
    Lied to at every turn with childish bullying postures and simpleton smirks. Bush makes a joke of our Presidency every time he speaks, in private or public.
    At least our next President will be able to speak the english language within intelligent conversation.

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. AB

    I will choose hope over fear!! I will choose diplomacy over war mongering!! I will choose peace over war!!

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Jeremy

    I dont really support all of Bush's policies BUT one comment made on here is false. Faye from NV says that Bush did nothing to go after Bin Laden after 9/11. Its interesting to me that I remember being at Ft. Bragg when Special Operations soldiers left mearly days after 9/11. The public wouldnt know this cuz you dont need to know. Period. Worry about your Iced Lattes and going to the mall and let us fight the war that we only truly understand. Also, have you ever went thru CHANGE at your work. Can be pretty uneasy times. Hope your ready Obama. Do you have contingency plans for failures? Im not voting for you because I have yet to hear in DETAIL how you plan to CH ANGE America. DO TELL. I dont care if your black, white, muslim, mormon, or anything. I want a President that will work with Congress and vice versa to get us back on track. Good Luck

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Go Get 'Em Barack!

    For those of you spewing hate about Obama or Clinton, you remind me of that baby that screams in the back bedroom while you're trying to teach it to just take a nap. If you want to spew hate take it somewhere else. if you're not educated or thoughtful enough to give reasonable opinions in a political blog, go to MySpace. I'm sure the kids there will enjoy your nonsense.

    May 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. dblzap

    The end of the greedy war mongers are numbered

    No more neo-cons in the whitehouse!

    They have caused more death and destruction then any adminstration since the Nixon years

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Tim SD

    How would anyone know whether talking with Iran works or not? We haven't tried since '79.

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. Margaret

    I wonder who wrote this speech.

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Beatrice

    GO OBAMA – Let them have it. I have heard enough from this administration. For Bush to say these things on foreign soil is almost a crime.

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. Nguyen

    Not sure what you can do or just talk.

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. beachgirl

    OK Obamba! get ready!.....this is just the beginning for you and all the fools that support you and your ideas. Changes? give me a break! Bush said the same 7 yrs. ago, and look at us know! The GOP will eat you alive and you have not experience, no personality, no nothing to survive the attacks......just wait!!! HA

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Montana

    Mr. John Mcshame
    "Flip-o-con"

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Matt in Cleveland

    is there any way CNN can have a idiot filter and get rid of some of the comments from "neutral" "bj" and especially raphael from texas

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. Sal Akpos

    Bullies talk tough. I heard this kind of talk when Bill Clinton was running. But he did not HESITATE to strike when needed, but he LEARNT you dont win by talking tough. You are safer when you learn to LISTEN to others, no matter how difficult it is. Then when all else fails, you stike. People respect you then. ANYBODY can talk tough. It takes you no where. Be honest, is the world better of because of the MESS in Iraq? So id Bush tougher than Clinton? OBAMA uses wisdom ..just like Papa Bush & Reagan. Reagan was an actor. Does that mean he was weak? Lets talk intelligently, please. Go, OBAMA!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. NOBAMA in North Carolina

    The country you love???? You mean that you love if you are elected because you have not always shown your love for this country. I am sure you will talk with Iran but will it be to the people of this country's benefit?

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. Sharon - NC

    And you wonder why Michelle Obama said that for the first time in her adult life, she is proud of her country! To the rest of the world, and our own citizens, our government and more specifically, our President is representative of 'our country.' What do you think other countries thought of that ridiculous comment? Are you proud? To further comment on Michelle Obama's comment, she is, what 46? For the past 20 + years, we had Bush, Clinton, Bush administrations. For the past 16 years, we had Bill Clinton and George Bush. Were you proud of what the world saw of Bill Clinton and the legacy that people will remember? Are you proud of what the world saw of George Bush? Give the woman a break. She's right. She's not talking about our citizens. She's talking about our government in her adult life – Clintons and Bushes.

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. TALITHA ROBINSON

    BUSH WAS A LIAR WHEN HE WAS FIRST ELECTED AND REMAINS A LIAR TO DATE. MCAIN IS JUST A PUPPET ON A STRING!!! HE DOESN'T HAVE A CLUE WHAT HE IS DOING. WHEN OBAMA DEBATES MCCAIN HE WILL AVOID THE ISSUES JUST LIKE HIS PUPPET MASTER. THE WORLD IS READY FOR CHANGE. I AM A VETERAN...THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT SUPPORT THIS WAR ARE THOSE THAT ARE NOT AFFECTED AND COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE NUMBER OF LIVES LOSS. IT'S TIME TO GET OUT!!!!!!THEY'VE ALREADY KILLED THE GUY THAT TRIED TO KILL YOUR DADDY--BUSH!

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Independent

    You bet they hace a lot to answer to! Not only foreign policy, but the high cost of food, gasoline and not to mention to so many people that are in foreclosure because they kept a blind eye to the robber barrons. It is about time the Republicans are called out for the shape this country. The only answer is Republican greed!

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. gettin lucky in kentucky

    Didn't Obama say exactly what Bush repeated?
    Does anyone really understand what Obama stands for? And the Clintons are the worst hypocrites of them all. They will literally say what they think people want to hear. Step outside of your parents Democratic box and observe the facts.

    May 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. MIRIAM Moran

    BUSH AND MCCAIN ARE LOOSERS. THEY MAKE ME SICK. I WISH BUSH WOULD GO AWAY AND STAY AWAY AND I WISH MCCAIN WOULD RETIRE TO SOMEWHERE FAR, FAR, FAR AWAY.
    GOD BLESS AMERICA, OBAMA AND THE WORLD.

    LUV & PEACE TO ALL.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. NEVER obama

    Bush is telling the truth and so is McCain. You're not fit to even live in this country let alone be president. Everytime you open your stupid mouth you lie.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Karl

    I don't like Bush anymore than anyone else, but you people are all idiots. Try him for War crimes??? Borderline retarded.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
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