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. PLJ

    ERIC WHO Cares If you Stay Home this Election, You must be one of those low income, uneducated voters, the media keeps reminding us of.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Roger, New York, New York

    I agree with Obama that we should appease the terrorist. I think if we give the terrorist what they want they will leave us alone. I would not mind living in an Islamist state. Live is good for people in Iran. At least there would be no George Bush!

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. Fred Mertz

    Curious Barry is a girly man.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Greg Pa

    Do you dems have no world view. The USA dose not negotiate with terrorists, get it through your heads.

    So what did Obama say ? He called Bush and McCain names. Said that they need to answer for something he didn't specify. Obama also didn't say what they said that was wrong .

    The truth is he has no idea what to do about Iran or Iraq. He lied about us supporting Iran. He also made McCain's point when he said he would negotiate with Iran.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Michelle Morfey

    Right on Obama... anytime, anyplace you would blow both Bush and McCain out of the water... in fact, they know it and why they are mud slinging now... Bush has reliquished to school yard tatics of name calling – how unprofessional... no wonder other countries think we are a complete joke when we have a leader like Bush – I won't say he is completely worthless because he has managed to destroy everything good that America is – it will take years to recover from his reign of terror on US citizins and its global allies... get out Bush, you suck! Go back to the ranch and plow something... maybe there you won't send innocent people to their death...

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Steve, New York, New York

    Obama is correct . . .what was that stupid joke McCain made about bombing Iran? Can you imagine if someone made a joke about bombing New York, London or Tel Aviv? There is NOTHING FASHIONABLE about bombing anybody!!! He should understand that.

    For Obama's sake, I hope that he can keep his wife's comments under control.

    Nevertheless, I would vote for either Obama or McCain before I would EVER vote for Hillary !

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Jeff in Denton

    I don't think Obama truely understands what he would be asking for in saying he would debate both McCain and Bush. First of all Obama has been in the senate less than 6 yrs and has absolutely no foreign policy experience. Secondly they repeated his comments that I have heard him make since he decided to run for president. It's funny that so many of you liberals think Bush is an idiot. History will tell how good or how bad of a president he is. "War-Mongerer"???? Did you forget that THEY attacked US?? I can hear you now. "Iraq didn't attack us!!!" Any regime that has ties to terrorism and wants the extinction of Isreal is a threat to us an our national security. I would rather be a "Warmonger" than a "Peace-Mongerer". How do you think peace is established? It's established and maintained through force alone. I know this probably won't get posted but I thought I would try anyway.

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

    National Security is nothing to play with people. Just remember 9/11 and how those two planes destroyed the peace in this country. We need to elect a strong Foreign Nations President. Wake Up and vote Hilliary for the DEmocratic Nomination, or we will be stuck with McCain.

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

    Bush and McCain are showing their FEAR of losing by increasing their attacks on Obama.

    And 'Neutral', if you think that McCain or W haven't rubbed elbows with lobbyists, THINK AGAIN. Hillary voters will ultimately vote Obama for President for one reason: They DO NOT want McCain.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Paul Rifenberg

    The Democrats have been in control of the House and Senate for two years now. Why are we still in Iraq? Whose fault is it now?

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

    Obama will win and then we will see what happens when the Al Queda bombs Israel and then bombs New York and Los Angeles and he does nothing to defend the country because he is talking peace.

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


    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Melanie Ringstrom

    "HATE" is not the answer for anything. Go Hillary and/or Obama!

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

    Silly Liberals.

    Obama is just trying to grab a bit of media attention. He will get trounced in the fall with his lack of experience and weak minded liberal stances.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. Shawn - GA

    Took 2 days to come up with THAT???

    I can't wait for the debates, Obama will not have his writers to tell him what to say.

    I along with Millions will be laughing; watching him trying to take back and/or "clarify" his remarkes the next day or 2 days later once his writers have a chance to fix his words.

    All the McSame and McBush will stop once people realize that he is vastly diffrent from Bush.

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

    First get Obama elected.
    Second get Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld in shackles at the Hague.

    May 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. A citizen

    I cannot beleive how many misguided, gullible, ignorant, racist individuals there are remaining in this wonderful country of ours I've seen people like the late George Wallace see the errors of his ways & thinking and repent and repell the ignorant biased racist attitude that was once prevalent in our country.
    My guy Senator Obama will win this election for President and we'll move forward as the most progressive nation in the world as we once where. We will be respected due to our President having the ability to speak and look people in the eye instead of lying "like a rug",

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. TomK

    Should Obama be fortunate enough to win the primary and the general elections, I hope that he would have respect for the position. He continually called President Bush, George Bush. No matter if you believe he has done an OK or horrific job as President, He is still the President and should be acknowledged as such, no matter what the Gores of the world think. The title is about the position, which he has, not the man!

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Will from Gaithersburg

    This is a true sign of a remarkable president; someone who can run a successful campaign, galvanize the American people to make a change, and take a strong negotiation stand on foreign policy. Sen. Obama will defeat Sen. McBush!

    *Obama 08*

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Don in Seattle

    Truly a Presidential stance and appearance. Love this man and believe that most of Clinton supporters will follow her lead and support him come November. That' reality my friends.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. BDG

    Raphael TX,

    you wrote
    OBAMA STOP AVOIDING QUESTIONS AND START ANSWERING THEM. We are sick and tired of hearing your eloquent speeches of change with no direction of your own?

    Go Hillary, if not Hillary Go McCain

    You really surprise me like anything. You don't even know who to support hillary or McCain– Your stand on voting somebody is not out of their credentials but your pure hatrade against Obama. God bless you!

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Greg Baker

    I’ve never read as much nonsense in my life. I love that most of you believe that if we stay in our own little corner of the world, we can all live in peace with butterflies and rainbows. While we are dreaming, somehow we all deserve low gas prices and health care without paying huge taxes? I really don’t think that a President can control those issues.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Jeff Smith

    I'm tired of hearing how in-experienced Obama is. Doesn't anyone get it, that sound judgement, intelligence, ability to bring opposites together and morals are 10X's more important and if you served on a committee or in the military.

    GO Obama!!!!! 08

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. My two cents

    My idea is this... we are fighting the fight for the bipartisan country that we live in. If that majority of Americans want out of the war- then work together to get out. Vietnam wasn't ended because the government decided it had enough time to play with helicopters, it ended because the public got TOGETHER and demanded that the troops come home.

    This war is about oil. The countries that we are in now, as military, are countries that have been fighting the same way since the beginning, and nothing we can do will ever change that, they will be fighting that way for the next hundred years. We, as people have too high morals and sense of humanity to do what it would take to win a war like Iraq. We are not guerrilla warfare. We are better than that.

    So if you really are looking at what politicians are saying to win the vote for nomination, do a little more research. This will be Americas next four years. Decide carefully. I don't want to bury more friends.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. I Believe

    McCain and Bush don't stand a chance in debate with Obama on policy, foreign or otherwise. Barack is a brilliant mind and possesses leadership skills that neither McCain or Bush have or even can comprehend, Brute force does not solve the issues in play in the MIddle East.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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