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. Mad At Bush

    I wouldn't count and listen to Bush on anything. What did he do as president besides bringing this country down? From economy to Iraq war. From budget deficit to trade, to education... You name one thing that Bush did right. He is the worst president in modern time. So why do we care at what he said. Just ignore the guy and wait until January.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. Nikki, Florida

    I'm glad he grew a set and threw that challenge to them...way to show your conviction!

    What's even bigger is that he pointed out how much of a no no it is for a U.S. President to air our domestic issues at a foreign event

    SHAME on Bush and shame on McCain for agreeing with him!

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. r. poliseo

    Hey I got it, Maybe Obama should bring the Reverend Wright with him to Iran, that will take care of everything. His claim that we should have diverted our forces into Pakistan to go after Osama is ludicrous. He does't have a clue about the sensitive nature of that region. How about 20 mllion Pakistanis blowing up American interests?

    He is wonderfully misguided with his clever rehetoric. No doubt he is will win over tons of mis-informed Americans. Beware folks you may get what you wish for. All talk, no substance.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. Roger

    Bush was exactly right on this one.

    We should not repeat history! Is there anyone else running? Too bad there isn't another Ronald Reagan out there to fix America. I guess the people are too stupid. Obama is going to win. Get your escape plans ready!

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. REAL American for Obama

    To Neutral:

    Thank God people like you are in the minority. You are a tool and a fool. Obama didn't insult Hillary. Grow up, take off the Huggies Pull-Ups, and get used to President Obama. Stop reading blogs and go out and get the TRUTH. You moron! No wonder Hillary's losing and the White House will go to the ONLY candidate who can get this country back on the right track.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  6. Epluribus

    I believe there is a weakness in the Democratic Party that makes them want to sit down with Terriorist and talk. I wouldn't have anything to say to Hamas, Iran, North Korea, or any other nation. Diplomacy is one thing which is a cause in effect to bring about harmony before issues get out of whack. Terriorist have agendas, and bringing about harmony is not one of them. I would support Hilliary in the Democratic Party, but not Obama, he likes to talk to much for me.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. Chitown in Chicago, IL

    Neutral, wake up! Obama "attacked" (and I hesitate to use that word, because he has done nothing NEAR what Billary has done to him) Billary not because she is a woman; but because this is POLITICS. It's a tough game; and if a candidate or a candidate's supporter can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. You're beginning to see the strength that Obama has as he blasts the Repugs; he showed great reservation (and continues to) towards Billary. Oh, and by the way, I'm a woman. I've been a strong supporter of Obama from the get go; and have never liked Billary because of her tactics and her divisiveness. To follow the "women must vote for the woman candidate" ideaology is absurd. People, not just women, should vote for who they feel is the best person to lead our contry in the direction that it needs to go (in the total OPPOSITE direction that we're headed right now, btw); and from what I've seen, read and heard (including her "White House years"), Billary is NOT that person.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Rick Jeezy

    This is hilarious! I find this entertaining of George W. Bush to come out here like he has some say. If He and Obama had a debate, Obama would put him to shame. And McCain... what a joke. You just hurt yourself big time buddy. And why are some people still on this Hillary thing? Its time us Dems unite! John Edwards put Obama over the top!

    Obama 2008!

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Dave Hanks

    Obama is doing exactly what he is accusing McCain of ...politicizing an issue. I though Obma sttod for change and a different tone ... here he is doing the same old thing ... taking some little snippet of something Bush says and using it to attack McCain ....

    And he compalined about being attached to RFeverend Wright? And that fraud guy? And that Hamas guy ?

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Jim

    Let's heal our nation, Obama in 08.

    May 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Emma

    Yippee! Bush/McCain finally met their match..........a straight talking presidential candidate.

    America, can you smell the fresh air?

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |

    That what I am talking about, get them Obama.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Kiran


    He wants to have a fight about foreign policy...bring it on!!!

    He wants to smear Obama and align himself with Bush....bring it on!!

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Adele

    The problem with the Bush administration right now is that they do longer can rely on the WAS colors to scare up votes. Do you remember when they would change from Yellow , Orange, to Severe and that was when bush was running for re-election. I could vividly remember every flipping time on go to CNN they would change the colors because a threat was imminent. The moment the Repubilcans won the white house, it disappeared. So what do they do now to scare up votes they attack Obama so people would think that terrorist likes him. Do they ever stop to think that maybe other countries night prefer to negotiate with someone else other than Bush and MCcain.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Carl

    Elect someone honest for a change and yes Obama will win so dont hate.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Shane

    Obama's right - Refusing to talk to your enemies is no better than running and hiding.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. cheryl

    Leave it to Obama to be both eloquent and tough on the issues.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Republican In The White House


    Democrats can't even unify for their own Primary. No matter who gets the Democratic nomination, we will at least get 30% off the other candidates following.

    McCain is the real deal. We got this election in the bag. How can you expect a Democrat to protect our country, and be true to what we stand for, when they aren't even loyal to their own party.

    A vote for any Democrat, is a vote for losing the war in Iraq, a vote for letting Iran get nuclear weapons, and a vote for high tax's.

    Senator Clinton Or Obama


    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Rob

    the repub policies have been a failure of historical proportions. it will take someone with keen senses and integrity to restore Americas standing in the world and quite frankly with its own people. especially if you realize bush has sent more Americans to die in Iraq then died on 9/11.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  20. Vin

    Many people in these comments and in this country are as stupid and naive as Obama.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. Enrico

    Watch for a miniature receiver placed in John's and George's ear to prompt them with answers.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. Go Get 'Em Barack!

    Barack, stand your ground. Good man. I hope you or Hillary get elected, but I fear for this country. Electing Bush once was excusable. Electing him twice was a disaster. The people who voted for Bush the second time are still out there, still waiting to choose. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Dan from Minneapolis

    Bush's ignorant comments were a godsend to Obama since they bind McCain to Bush's disastrous foreign policies. Obama will easily win one on one debate with McCain vis-a-vis foreign policy. It's amusing that there are so many smug repubs out there who seem to think that this is a McCain strength. McCain was dead wrong on the most important foreign policy decision in decades: the invasion of Iraq. Experience is only an advantage when your decisions have been validated by history; if they are not, it is your greatest weakness.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. David Parker

    In 2004 election, Bush got re-elected after scaring the American voter that there was going to be an attact in the US. Since then, all we've seen has been "failure A to Z". To me I don't see any difference between Bush and MCcain. The old style of scaring voter and they took outside the US soil to scare the Jewish voters. What a disgrace.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Jeff

    I cant wait till the debates. Mcain is going to stumble so much and Obama is going to wipe the floor with me.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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