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. Marie in California

    Grow up, Obama! You have absolutely no idea how to conduct foreign affairs or deal with terrorists. You are a total novice.

    You might play well with the "American Idol" crowd, but that has nothing to do with reality. Having you for president would be like having a first year medical student doing brain surgery.

    If you are the nominee, my vote will have to go to will the votes of several of my Democratic friends.

    Hillary or McCain – 2008

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. Hanging Chad


    John McCain has defended this nation and paid a very high personal price for it(Hanoi Hilton). What does Senator McCain have to answer for regarding the war in Iraq that Senators Clinton and Obama don't have to answer?


    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Dennis

    Good response from Obama. If you are claiming that President Bush's comments weren't directed at Obama, then you aren't keeping up with the story. Senator McCain certainly believed they were and then said he agreed.

    Senator Obama had to respond. One of the greatest criticisms of Vice President Gore and Senator Kerry was that they didn't push back when these types of attacks were made on them. They weren't decisive enough, and they didn't look tough. Senator Obama is not letting that happen.

    This whole "he had to wait for his speech writers bit" is nonsense. He doesn't need to call a press conference every time he has something to say. He had an event scheduled in South Dakota today. The press was going to be there. That was as good a time as any to address the issue.

    Give me a man that is willing to try diplomacy over a politician that is quick to make bad judgments using faulty data or the man that sings about "bomb, bomb, bomb...bomb, bomb Iran" any day.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. A buckeye

    Which is it John, stuck in Iraq for 5 or 99 years? When will draft dodging Cheney send his family?? We know the Cheneys and Bush's won't be stuck in Iraq.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. Russ C, Seattle, Wa

    This debate, like so many others, highlights the fact that sincere compromise is drastically needed. The rhetoric has grown to the point that nothing can be settled unless someone is willing to listen with an open mind. Even our own country is in deadlock over people taking extreme positions and stubbornly refusing to yield an inch. Is this the vision you have of a great nation? It's not mine!

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Matthew

    Man.. you Hillary supporters are down right nasty. It's like those jerks who still wave the confederate flag and scream "The South will rise again". It's over... she's lost. If you want to be pissed off and use it as an excuse to jump parties than be my guest. It'll be blood on your hands come this time next year when the body count overseas is closer to 6,000.

    Obama is my no means a perfect or greatly experienced politician. He's the opposite.. any everyman who still shops at Target. There was another politician from Illinois once upon a time who didn't hold very many public offices before his presidency and he's considered the greatest leader this country has ever had! If I could only remember his name...

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. Linned

    Thanks Senator Obama for getting right on it and not letting the two buffons get away with trying saying things which are not true. One word of advice for Senator Obama. When you debate John McCain make sure you have security on stage. Surely he will get angry and stand on a foot stool and try to smack you.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. jennifer murphy

    these people are so threatened by Obama. Picking on him for every little thing and working into a big thing. Now even a President, what right does he have to even say anything? Look at the situation we're in right now, thanks to Bush, not Obama. I mean are the republicans blind, they really just need to sit down and be quiet. Let the democrats fix this mess were in, and we really don't need any help from them, thanks.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Giorge

    The hipocracy of Bush-Macain failed diplomacy is coming to light. They know that Obama has common sense foreign policy and they are using their fear mongring rhetoric that shapes their policy to acuse him of the same thing they are advocating behind the seen. I an glad this is a CHANGE election.

    May 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. Okra Mouth

    Hamas has not changed its position on any issue.
    But John McCain changes his positions to suite the current political climate.

    McCain is a people pleaser, willing to say anything to win.
    He should change his slogan from Straight talk express to FLIP-FLOP EXPRESS

    The GOP knows very well Bush has made a mess of the economy, in Iraq, and our current healthcare is broken. So their plan was to focus on Rev. Wright's comments against all Democrats.

    Now that the GOP has lost 3 important elections to the democrats, in Republican’s “strongholds” by using Obama’s former pastors comments as attacks, against Democrats, what are they going to do in November? ...... talk about the economy ? ........Iraq?.....or Healthcare? They can't !!!

    Americans are maturing politically, and GOP should the prepared to face the issues instead of hiding behind useless attack ads.

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. Hmmmm. - Chicago

    Mcain gives a nice speech to distance himself from Bush, then Marries him in a heartbeat. You know.. Cos, Mcain is like the king of flip flop. Appease everyone to get elected, is the Mcain motto.

    The general is gonna rock! And watch out for more new voters. OH OH!

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. C. Hankins LV,NV

    The bible clearly states: THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST! Argue with that. Go Obama!

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. michael minorgan

    I GUARANTEE McCain will show his true colors soon, especially in a debate. He is guaranteed to lose his cool...then watch the sparks fly. Just wait America he is just as phoney and war mongering as GWB!

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Susan

    Hillary will be the best President for the country. Obama pack up and go its time.

    What Bush/Mcain mentioned is truth and reality. Truth hurts. Obama cannot manage the country against terriost threats.

    He cannot face a debate against Hillary how will he face the heat in the White house. If Demo want to win this time. Hillary Should /Must be the nominee. DNC will go down the drain Dean will be gone. Republics will come back to power if Obama is the nominee.

    Good luck Dean and ur DNC rules and Superdelegates who do not have brains.....

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. Andrea Correa

    George Bush is an idiot. Could I have said it more eloquently? Maybe. But I'm too tired to phrase my words with more style. I'm too tired of us spending 16 billion dollars a month in Iraq. I'm too tired of people dying. George Bush is an idiot.

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Hanging Chad

    noemi in los angeles-

    Peace through superior firepower!

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Eddie, NYC

    Why hasn't the MSM picked up Biden's remarks about President Bush sending him to speak to Qadaffi? And why does the current president address Kim Jong il as "Dear Mr Chairman"? Is that not appeasement? North Korea has the technology to make WMDs. They are far more dangerous and yet it's "Dear Mr. Chairman". In Senator Biden's words "Bull***t!"

    Mccain will never make it to the White House without a formal invitation from PRESIDENT OBAMA. The GOP is done for good.

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. Harry

    'Neutral'??? Hardly. Why don't you change your handle to 'Delusional'. – and find a blog more suited to your ilk...This one's taken. GO OBAMA – Straight to the White House!

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. raul quintero

    i totally support barack obama because i am gay and want to get marry with my boyfriend and i love him go obama

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. Andrea Correa

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    George Bush is an idiot. Could I have said it more eloquently? Maybe. But I'm too tired to phrase my words with more style. I'm too tired of us spending 16 billion dollars a month in Iraq. I'm too tired of people dying. George Bush is an idiot.

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Albert

    There is a article where it's written that McCain's codename while he was "captive" was "songbird". Why songbird? Because of his willingness to tell all to avoid torture. A former Vietnam veteran with top secret clearance says he has personally spoken to numerous POW's who dispute John McCain's claim that he refused to provide information after he was captured and tortured in Hanoi. Jack McLamb served nine years in secret operations in Cambodia and other nations before going on to become one of the most highly decorated police officer's in Phoenix history, winning police officer of the year twice before taking a role as a hostage negotiator for the FBI.
    "I know a lot of Vietnam veterans and a few POW's and all the POW's that I've talked to over the years say that John McCain is a lying skunk," McLamb told the Alex Jones Show.

    And you still want him to be president?

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Chris

    To: a REAL American
    You really think he wasn't talking about Obama or the Democrats?

    You dillusional Bush and McCain supporters kill me!!
    After 8 years you guys still believe this man and the GOP are the next best thing since slice bread!!!
    This man has pretty muched turned the entire World against the United States yet you guys support this idiot and you want to put another idiot in after he leaves!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Dem Dame for Obama

    Sure, 60% of Dem voters are women – That doesn't mean that 100% of those women are naive enough to vote solely based on gender. Hillary is caustic, offensive, untrustworthy. It's a real shame that she was the first female presidential candidate.

    May 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. pat geraghty

    shrub will do anything to keep the war drums pounding as GOD implores HIm to.It will be a national day of relief when hes finaly gone.

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. I Believe

    Neutral – you sound so neutral.

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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