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. Darth Vadik, CA

    God I hope Attorney General John Edwards investigates these bastar*s and throws them in jail, McCain too, he's as guilty as all the other crazy Republicans.

    May 16, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    Go Obama. Intelligence and reason are on your side. Only the lowest end of society are susceptible to ignorant fear tactics and blatant pandering.

    Let's bring America back to her former glory and respect!

    May 16, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Eric

    It's about time that Barack is being vetted on his foreign policy experience. Which he has absolutely none! I'm an African-American supporting Hillary Clinton and if Obama is the nominee I will sit out this election. We need a President with substance and he lacks lots of it.

    May 16, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Douglas Rivero

    Democrats are not Nazi appeasers. We ARE fighting Nazis! They are called right wing republicans who want to destroy civil liberties, push for corporate dominance over everything, and create vicious lies to instigate war. Bush should also remember that his family aided the Nazis!

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

    To use a Knesset meeting on the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel to criticize a US persidential candidate is wrong in so mant ways and is a new low for the Clown Prince. This is an administation that , once out of office, can and should be tried at the Hague for war crimes.

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

    Great response, Mr. President. Expose them for the war criminals they are.

    May 16, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Linda Esen

    This a taste of what to come..through Obama – We will take back our country...

    May 16, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. No Bush

    Israelis are smart people and understand not to believe an outgoing president with the lowest approval rating in the US history.

    May 16, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Greg, NY

    a REAL American,

    You prove that you are a REAL American. You were probably too busy watching American Idol and America's Next Top Model than to actually watch the news.

    If you did watch the news, you'd know that top White House officials confirmed that the speech was geared towards Obama and other Democrats.

    So, who got voted off last night?

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

    if he flip flops. he can never be McSame now can he?

    May 16, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. faye, NV

    Yes, Bush has a lot to answer for and Mccain as well. It is time for him to let the USA/Int know why he did not persue after Osama and started a war that had nothing to do with 9/11.

    Mr Bush sold out the USA AND MCCAIN WILL DO THE SAME.

    May 16, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. proud army and navy mom

    Thank you, Senator.
    Bush lies and distorts the truth so much, i highly doubt he could recognize the truth if it bites him.

    mccain is a milly-mouth old liar, that changes his position everytime the wind blows. i know he served this country well. he needs to gracefully retire and let the capable people take over and get us out of the holy mess that Bush generated and Mccain endorsed.

    Gas was $1.72 a gallon when Bush took office. Cheney said if we invaded Iraq gas prices will go down. I never bought into that lie, but a lot of people did. How's it working out for the idiots who put him in office?

    May 16, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Priscilla for Obama

    Keep standing your ground Obama! Bush and McCain are such hypocrits. He is the reason we are in this mess and if anyone votes for McCain they are continuing Bush's old, pathetic course of action.

    Go Obama!! We love you!!

    May 16, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. George

    Hit them hard Barack, they are the latest gatekeepers of a fifty year old boneheaded foreign policy that has resulted in an unnecessary loss of American lives from Vietnam to Iraq and points in between. This "me against the world" idealogical supremacy is outdated and dangerous and will only increase the ranks of our enemies.

    May 16, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. BJ

    David Axelrod of Obama's campaign will now have to use a lot of their campaign funds to hire all the writers from tv's "Boston Legal" to write his speeches and have prepared responses for Obama, to counter the Republican attacks.

    Otherwise, we will hear to many ers, ahs, ums...

    May 16, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  16. Devon Ft Myers

    Thats right Obama, don't let them swift boat you like they did Kerry. Hit them right back in their mouths EVERY TIME they go into that swift boat mode of politics.

    Obama 2008

    May 16, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. Joshua Brown

    I agree with Obama how can Bush talk about any body at his time of great failure.

    May 16, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. The Truth DOES Hurt!

    Nobody's name was mentioned in President Bush's speech. However, if you can't read implication, you can't read subtlety, and therefore, you have no business commenting on politics. Politics is one part blunt populism, one part subtlety, and one part prostitution.

    May 16, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Nancy of Minnesota

    WOW...I can just see John McCain asking for an apology from Obama for some how hurting his feelings. Finally we have a competent Presidential candidate. Thank God!!

    May 16, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. Bitter Allen Hissein from Visalia

    Bush may well be the gift that keeps on giving to Obama. With all the bad blood between the Obama and Clinton supporters, it is nice to rally against the worst president since reconstruction and the party he prepresents. I hope Obama takes it too him and I hope Bush is stupid enough (without Turdblossom minding him) to keep responding!

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. Senior from San Jose, CA

    Watch out, McCain, Your temper will flair and when that happens, you
    react with rage. Not righteous anger, but irrational outbursts, which make us wonder about how mentally health you are.

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  22. DJ, LA, CA

    All too predictable and is what we have come to expect from the corrupt Bush/Cheney propaganda machine.

    Bush's speech writer(s) need to take some history lessons. You don't compare a rag-tag 3rd world nation that can barely get spare parts, poses no threat to even its own neighbor after 8 years of a disasterous war (Iran/Iraq war) to the most powerful war machine of the early WW2 years.

    It was a horrible analogy and maybe the first time a U.S. President went on foreign soil to complain about our own government.

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  23. Kate Thompson

    Well said, Obama. Well said!

    The Republican's misinformation smears and fear-mongering won't work this time!

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  24. Sissie in NC

    A couple of those lady behind him look like they are in love. LMAO

    Democrats 08'

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Neutral

    Obambi, it is YOU who has a LOT to answer for. How's your bundlers like Oil Executives, subprime lenders and your THREE LOBBYISTS actively working in YOUR campaign and IN YOUR PAYROLL?

    Obambi, you're an EMPTY SUIT, you're full of PLATITUDES, that's all you have to offer. You're full of promises, like you've done when you were a state legislator in Chicago.

    BTW, You'll NEVER be President, you won't be the nominee, and IF you are, DNC will go down the drain with you; 60% of registered democrats are WOMEN. You've insulted Hillary, attacking her because she's a woman. Hey Bro, we have mothers and sisters!

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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