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. True American

    Bush and McCain are middle of the road Republicans – they are not anywhere near conservative except for a few issues – those of you calling them conservative are only showing your ignorance. Since obama is the most liberal senator in congress, he pretty much has no shot at winning. You liberals better pray Hillary wins your nomination because that's the only way the dems have a chance in the general election.

    Just like last time, you all get worked into a frenzy thinking everyone hates Bush because you hate Bush and the media hates Bush. You think that makes it obvious that you can't lose the election. Get ready for another dose of disappointment. I only hope you don't continue down your divisive path like you have for the past 8 years.

    The liberal spin machine (Biden, Obama etc) keeps distorting the truth and then accusing the republicans of being divisive. The liberal definition of bi-partisanship is for people to agree with them. I guess if you don't hold the same opinions a liberal, then you are divisive. Obama is a joke.

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    The Liar-in-Chief said he gave up golf once the war started. Now it turns out he was golfin in the fall of that year. Boy, I'm sure the parents that lost their kids really feel your pain, Dumbya!

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Sam7

    Neutral – You are truly a certified MORON...

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Lucas

    To those who say you should never talk to your enemies, perhaps you should take a course in history. Diplomacy was the only thing that saved the US from nuclear annihilation during the cold war and specifically during the Cuban Missle Crisis. The ability to call your enemy and talk them down from the perch is of supreme importance.

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Billy J Austin,TX

    I would like to remind everyone that although Bush has been in Texas for awhile, he is NOT a real Texan. And we are NOT all that stupid. I love my state and the cowboy way... but this guy is a soft handed, headed dolt.

    all hat ... no cattle

    I would have preferred a populist to run for president, but I will settle for Obama... I hope he gets Edwards to be A.G. Hillary as Secretary of State, and Wesley Clark to look over the military and pentagon.....

    And there has to be somewhere that Biden fits into our foreign affairs... he is smart and forthright

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. James Santon

    Mr/Ms Neutral:

    What is your problem? Obama never attackedHillary. It is quite the other war around. Stop inventing excuses to hate someone. At least be creative in that.....

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. Jean-Luc

    Who thinks that the U.S and Iran never talk since the Islamic Revolutions broke out? Get real people! Your politicians may want to make you believe that they do not talk at all to "States Sponsoring Terrorism" but the truth and nothing but the truth is that they talk to them behind closed door and even cooperate with them when necessary on matters of intelligence that are beneficial to their countries. Iran helped the US in the war and the defeat of the Taliban in Afganistan but not because they love America but because it is beneficial to their national security, people. They are the only strong Shia governement in that region and they feel threatened by all those Sunni governements around them. The US and a lot of "Terrorist States" do talk a lot when it is necessary and beneficial for both parties. The Bush administration was sending terrorists captured on the battle field or snatched in the street of foreign countries to Syria and other States sponsor of "Terrorism" to be "Interrogated". And this proves that they do not talk, hein? They are in bed together with "Rendition" without talking to each other? Grow up people and for how long are you going to be lied upon and duped by your politicians.

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. BH

    Obama takes too long to respond he has to wait for his worker bees to find the right words for him to spiel to the American people.

    The man is unfortunately clueless and not experienced enough to run the county as President and McCain is just as bad.

    Go Hillary...................

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. kevin


    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Alex

    To Jim:

    I've heard Bush called a lot of things, but SMART has never been one of them! We've never had a president who is more incapable of uttering an intelligent thought without a speech in hand. And he can't even make that sound intelligent!

    The Republicans can no longer make any claims about having a superior foreign policy. We're not fooled, you had your shot and you blew it! Let's see some Change in Washington!

    OBAMA 08!

    May 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Jan W.B.

    It's amazing how a President with the lowest approval rating of any President that I've know a President who's done nothing for our economy, nothing to help our people here, nothing as far as trying to bring our troops home and most of all nothing to help our depleting relationships with other countries caused by his stay in office.
    We really need a new beginning and continuing to follow that same path we are on with President Bush is not the answer.
    No matter what anyone thinks I believe Obama or Clinton will do a much better job then the current fool we have in office right now.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Steve Bennett

    Are you folks watching and listening? This has got to be the worst travesty in U.S. history that this man could possibly get elected as the President of the United States of America!

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Staghelm Horde

    Obama won't win because white's won't vote for him, period. He's an elitist, racist, rookie politician.

    It will be Hiliary or McCain in Jan '09. But GG for all the fanatical raving, it was entertaining.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. Chris

    I find it funny that people on this blog bash Obama for his "inexperienced" stance on diplomacy with foreign leaders.

    I think it shows maturity and an acknowledgment of reality on the part of Obama.

    What authority or experience do the people on this blog have to say it's a bad idea? These are the people that would love to bury and ignore these issues so someone else has to deal with them.

    McCain will not talk with them but you bet he'd be content to blow them back to the stone age killing many innocent civilians in the process.

    Obama 08

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. Crush Rush

    Its time to expose Limbaugh for the subversive he is and get his sponsors the heave ho,just like they did to Imus.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. Ty

    I smell a lot of fear. Don't be afraid of change, embrace it! The status quo is finished. Go Obama! We need you more than ever...

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Big Daddy

    McCain is a lock to beat out little boy Obama. The naive thinking democrats sem to believe McCain is Bush and it will be a land-slide victory. McCain would struggle against Hillary but your typical democrat states will vote for McCain. Looks like we get another Republican for 8 years and we continue to dominate the liberal left!! We can all be happy we will have a president that won't raise taxes, isn't afraid of a strong military, won't turn our country into a socialist poverty pot and push capitalism and independence. Long live more freedoms and smaller gov't and shame on liberals wanting to take all our money and increase "hand-out" progrmas.
    GO MCCAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Derek, Riverside CA

    Wow, Obama is a potentially dangerous president. Hopefully, reality will strike if he becomes president. Then maybe he'll understand the world is not a textbook. It's not all roses and puppy dogs. Hopefully. Otherwise, we are all in trouble.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. N Smith

    Obama 08

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. wyliffe

    Bush-Mcsame foreign policy 10000000 years of Iraq war.

    1000000000000 billions lost in war.

    Lets have that debate

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Letha

    Stupid Obamanation groupies make me want to laugh. Obama has no idea what he is doing or you don't sit down to tea with the enemy and change their minds after years of feeling angry and the American bullies! We need to stop being the world police and we don't need a rookie in the white house.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. ann for obama 08

    It's getting hot !!!Can someone just convince HRC that she needs to get out of the picture so that we can start the real deal

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  23. Obama-08

    If your brain does not work but your muscle does, you depend on the latter. If you are confident on your intelligence, your judgment, and your skill, you will not be shy to deal with rough leaders diplomatically. 'Diplomacy' stands for that.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Tony

    “[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.”

    I know you're a big egomaniac right now, Obama, but just because McCain doesn't think you're not fit to protect the nation or even qualified to run it doesn't mean he doesn't want to reach out to Democrats; he just doesn't want to reach out to you.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. Dissapointed in president yet?

    Wow Is Bush still a president, i wish he could of act like one. What a shame. As a smart nation why do we have to have a idiot president?
    Well can't wait till Obama come to power.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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