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. Jeffrey, Apoka FL

    The Republicans are using the same fear tactics that got Bush re-elected. When all else fails "it's the terriorist" Since he cannot lead by intellegence he will lead by fear. This has to be the worst administration in the last 100 years. States are cutting budgets at alarming rates, a recession is at hand, foreclosures are at record high and climbing and gas will be close to $5.00 by the end of the summer and the best the current adminstration can come out with is the terriorist are coming....give me a break. PRESIDENT OBAMA.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Zach B

    News Alert, Sec of Def Gates agrees with Barack Obama. Gates has stated that we must speak with Iran. Is Bush comparing his own Sec of Defense to Hitler appeasers? Also, McCain has said negotiations with Hamas makes sense. Now he tries to strike it from the record. Too bad McSame, we already heard it. Try not to fall asleep while listening to Barack tear you and your party to pieces. Good luck trying to get back all those House seats you're losing!

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Chris, Sparta NJ

    I'm being 100% honest here: I am a Republican. But I've been so disgusted with the current administration that I'll be voting for Obama come November. I honestly think Obama is so "green" (inexperienced) that he'll actually present a positive change because he'll be able to look at the cancer Washington has become with a fresh mind.

    If Hillary wins the nomination, though, then I'm moving to Europe.

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Donna Kolcz

    personally I would like to see Joe begin run with Obama. I know I am Canadian but I am concerned with who gets elected, because what happens down there matters to the Canadian people. These two are about the smartest people you have. And I like Edwards to He could be very useful to Obama

    May 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. Nikita D. Williams



    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. Justinian

    Can anyone really believe that some moron wrote a comment that begins, "You may not like Mr Bush, but he is very smart." and apparently with a straight face? I cannot believe that there are people who exist who actually believe that. George Bush makes many chimpanzees look staggeringly brilliant. For instance, many of them have a better comprehension of language than he does. He is a evoloutionary regression, wait maybe he's just self-aware enough to realize that and that explains the real reason he doesn't believe in evolution. Calling Goerge Bush "very smart" is a great way of signalling to people your own idiocy.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Craig Nazor

    Maybe, finally, intelligence and honesty will win the day, instead of the fear and lies that have been perpetuated by the recent neoconservative leadership. W.'s statements were full of projections without logical backing; it was designed to scare voters away from the facts, and ultimately it seems, away from the truth, and McCain jumped on the bandwagon. Not this time!

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Jeff Berry

    Peace through surrender is the only answer. Or to steal a saying, "If you eat with the Devil have a long handled spoon."!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. mike

    To all you " if not Hillary , McCain" people

    Listen to Hillary Clinton when she says voting for McCain would be a mistake. It's more important for the country to defeat the Republicans.
    There is little or no difference between the platforms of HRC and BO.
    So don't be spiteful with your vote-it's not what the democratic party wants or needs.

    It's time to stop the ugliness in this discourse. And CNN, you should do a better job filtering out blatant hate speech(from all sides) from these comments.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. toby hill

    October '07 Iran said that the nuke program was not up for negotiation. Who is Obama going to "negotiate" with and other than appeasement what is he going to bring to the table that Iran wants?

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. TimeToUnite

    Bottom line...McCain is too old, sorry he has health issues also , we need a younger president who knows how to bring up our economy as well as get the heck out of iraq and broker more friends in that region so oil will go down... They are squeezing us out yet we pretend that it's not so. That region feels there are more ways to kill a mocking bird, we have to figure out there are diplomatic ways to get oil, and waging war is not one of them. We need to bring troops home and shore up our own borders, and improve our own infrastructure. 911 happened on the republicans watch, now it is time for them to step down.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. BX

    This is Obama's Achilles' heel...he's stuck on this one and won't be able to convince the American peeps that being the nice guy with Iran is the right approach.

    To quote Patton, "All real Americans love to fight."

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. American Public

    Senator Obama has a lot to answer for too, since we do not really know who he is and where he really stands in terms of immigration, health care, guns, gay marriages, energy, etc...

    While in the Illinois legislature, he voted ‘Present’ too many times on
    tough issues rather than take a firm stand of YES or NO on them.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. Rlewis Tx

    Leadership is a journey of discovery. It is the expression of a person at his or her best whose aim is to transform something for the better and to develop this potential in others. It is not a solitary pursuit but one that harnesses the energy of those around you. let's get on the OBAMA wagon...

    Obama 2008 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. 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 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Patty

    It really is refreshing to see all the educated Obama supporters bashing someone instead of Hillary. It truly amazes me how you all think you have all the answers. gosh you should run for office.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. oldie 4 Barack

    Georgie talking about "appeasement", isn't that what he did when the USA gave Saddam Hussein those WMD"S? He knew that Saddam had them, we gave them to him!!! Remember? And Georgie can't do anything to another country, he has to take Bagdad first! And this super power cannot do that! And do not blame the boys on the ground, these kids are super, our leaders are not worth a crap. So you had better talk, and keep talking, and keep talking. The world knows that we cannot take Bagdad, so you had better talk.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Tony - NJ

    Bush and McCain – They are such losers........ Oh and McCain is against Labeling Genetically Engineered food just like Bush is because they don't want us to know that 75% of food in the USA and Canada is genetically engineered to create slowly poison us with all those toxic chemicals... Oh yea, they are really protecting americans, I don't know how people can be so stupid to vote for these morons.
    what have they done to to even educate people ? Ohhh yeah they allow Splenda , it's made from sugar so it tasts like sugar ?? It's made with Chlorine bleach !!!! How can people be so gullible ?? But yes, Bush and McGAYne, they are always on the side of big pharma and big corporations and we are supposed to trust these thugs ??

    They claim to protect our people but always side with companies like Monsanto who Genetically engineers and poisons all of us with their growth hormones in our milk and poisoned corn so that Monsanto can spray more round up ready herbicie insecticeds and pesticed because the corn is genetically engineered to be resistant to that while the rest of us when we eat it get poisoned over time.. Yeah and Remember Ashcroft ?? He got most of his donations from Monsanto...Ohhh and the EPA, most of the big wigs on EPA were with Monsanto, hmmm any wonder why they haven't done anything good lately to help our environment lately ??? It's the Bush admininstration which give power to companies like this and you think I will vote for McCain to continue Loser Bush's path ??? Hellllll Nooooooooo..

    Obama will win and I'm glad he lashed out at those 2 old losers....We need a younger person to run this country....

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. Billy from NJ

    I see Obama as a Babe Ruth type who knows that he is up against an inexperienced pitcher and every pitch he throws will get hit out of the ball park. Keep throwing Bush/McCain I love waching home runs! I almost feel sorry for the Republican party but not really, they already had their chance and they blew it! Go Obama! Just a final note If people are offended 'Hussein' is his birth name then why aren't they upset that the name 'George' should only be used with great presidents!

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. E.V

    Good God JIM, I cannot believe you think BUSH is smart. That tells me how dumb you are along with the idiot we got for president. Thank you republicans for sinking the nation, well he stole the first election,we dont count that one, but then you go and vote for him again. OMG I cant believe you would even consider McCain. Keep it coming OBAMA, they will mess it up. Just remember, he is the decider, lol.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. mike

    for the first time in the history of the USA we have a democrat running for the presidency – unopposed.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. Lisa

    They sure do have a lot to answer for, but who really wants to hear 4 more years of George Bush coming from McCain's mouth? Its time to turn the page. That was shameful of Bush/McCain to use Isreal and their celebration as a political agenda. Barack Obama is supported by Jewish people!

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Deb

    "Peace Can Only Be Achieved Through Talking."


    Please please make this part of the Democratic platform, 'kay??

    If you knew any history, you'd know that the ultimate goals of Adolf were not compatible with peaceful talks conducted by the ever-hopeful pacifist Chamberlain.
    If you were paying attention, you'd know that Saddam was given plenty of diplomatic opportunities to abide by the UN resolutions.
    If you had a clue, you'd know that Europe has been desperately trying to talk and persuade Iran for some years now, to give up the nuke development.

    Holding hands and singing peace songs only works on the enlightened and rational, not thugs. Grow up.

    May 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. Jay Badger

    So... CNN is Fox News for Democrats...

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. Bill

    He speaks the truth!

    Bush and other conservatives wish to DIVIDE us rather than UNITE us. McCain has flip-flopped on several issues due to pressure from the extreme right and I'm certain we'll see more of that as the presidential election nears.

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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