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. Andrea Correa

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    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 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. democrat

    1988 – US gov't under Reagan sells arms to Iran and the higher ups like Oliver North were indicted.

    "Mr. Shultz reiterated that the United States continues to have indirect talks with Iran through third countries. "And we're certainly prepared for direct talks if the setting is right," he said. " NY Times, 1988

    Republicans either don't know their history are don't care – Americans have always confronted their allies wtih measures other than outright war. And mostly to good effect.

    War should always be only a last resort, when ALL ELSE fails. we haven't tried the ALL ELSE yet. Iran is stronger than it has been because of BUSH/CHENEY. And McCain agrees with their ways of doing things. Can we expect a different outcome if McCain gets in?

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

    Any grown man who will not look their enemy in the eye is a COWARD.

    The leaders of the current administration can pretend to be "tough" all they want, but when you really think about it they are actually a bunch of cowards.

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Blackwoman, Ohio

    God forbid anyone say anything negative about the "Chosen One". They should all be shot. I cant believe it but I actually agree with Bush on this one. Obama is just too inexperienced to be President. He needs to wait a few years and develop bc now it would be scary to have him as our president.

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. Julia Warren

    Go Barack! Finally someone asking the ultimate question, why hasn't the US found, tried and hung Osama bin Laden? The US put Saddam Hussein and his sons and other followers to death for what? Bush/Cheney killed Saddam in the name of greed, not terrorism. The tragic events of 9/11 and the lost lives were used as a diversion to go after Saddam. If we concentrated our military effots on Afghanistan bin Laden would be dead. As long as bin Laden is alive, the Republicans can continue to use him to put fear into Americans.

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. An American living in Germany

    People living in America have no idea how much we are disliked around the world. It wasn't always like this, we used to be the nation other countries looked to for leadership, but since Bush came along people have no respect for us anymore. And it will be the same with McCain. What a shame.
    However I do have hope in Obama, I believe he can bring about the change we need, it is time to go in a new direction.

    Go Obama !!

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Stephen C

    Hey Greg in NY – I am a loyal Dem, will vote (and give money) for Obama and I watch (and read!) the news. I ALSO watch "America's Next Top Model." Show some luv to Ms. Tyra and the girls. It's a guilty pleasure, I admit.

    American Midol, on the other can dis that all you want.

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Chuch

    Man this is getting good. Its going to be fun to see Obama lose it when they play his comments in the debate over and over about how he will meet with Iran with no pre conditions.
    I cant wait to hear McSane and nut job Bust's come back on this.

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Mr. Jaraski White

    Obama is very capable of holding a debate with both Bush and McSame present and he would literally crush them on the issues. Barack Hussain Obama is a real world leader who can literally relate to everyone on this planet. He is a diverse figure who will be able to sit down and deal with Iran and the Saudi's. He will end turmoil in the middle east and he will be the greatest president who ever lived.

    Hallelujah Barack, praise the Lord, Shabach!

    May 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. Paul

    Seems to me that Bush should hold his tongue when comparing others to "Nazi appeasers," considering the fact that that's how his Grandfather made a lot of his fortune. Bush was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but a gold one, and it was likely forged from the fillings of Holocaust victims.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. Chris

    Obama is quick to point fingers at others for needing to answer and clarify certain policies............I suggest he answer is own proposition of talking to such dictators as the Iranian president. Obama insist as presidents, he will talk to the Iranian president without pre-condidtions but with preparations....what does that mean? Considering the Iranian president have said that he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth can they are corpes in the middle east....what exactly is Obama planning as his coversations with the Iranian governement? Appears that Obama is the one that have created over-inflated rehorics that has little specifics. And so who is more cleared on their positions? and who needs to clarify and answer? Is it Mccain who has made it clear that he will not talk to terrorists without pre-conditions or who have vowed to kill all people of a nation? or is it Obama who have said he will talk with terrorist with preparations but haven't said what that means and how that differ to pre-conditions.....nor has he provide specifics to what exactly the objectives are along with the strategy and goals of a non-preconditioned talk with terrorists. Give me a break! No spin can hide the overwhelming inexperience that Obama has shown on foreign policy....this is scary stuff!

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. michael minorgan

    Jim................"Bush is smart"??????? What planet are you from.."Smart" is not a word I would equate with Bush at ANY time.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. wilberforce majaji

    History has informed us that only sticks and carrots will cause rogue nations to give up nuclear weapons research. Examples include North Korea and Lybia. I'm certain Iran is a perfect fit in this category. the US military is over stretched and both McCain and Iran's ahmadejad are aware of that. The question is how best to deal with Iran. I say Obama is right. Have a tough talk with them while you strengthen and regroup your military by withdrawing from Iraq.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Hri, Chicago

    It took Two days for Mr Obama to condemn Bush’s comments. Where were you? Is your script writers are not ready for you to answer? It shows this guys lack of experience. If he becomes president, we just have to pray god and live here…..we don’t know where we are going…..

    Get Hillary guy! she knows how to screw and get it done.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Lori

    @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."

    McSame reads from a teleprompter and can't even do that well. And it doesn't take much to counter the Republican attacks because there is nothing that they can say that compares to the mess that they have created in the past 8 years.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Vincent Ngoka

    Selfish desires empowers the ego and that creates arrogance and misuse of power which delivers its product of war.

    We are tired of the politics of war, it is not helping, it is demeaning us.
    Lets us starts the politics of peace and reconciliation. We cannot do this without coming together as one people; to reach compromises, to share and appreciate our humanity.
    President Bush, please give peace a chance in our troubled world.
    I strongly support Obama’s principle on this.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Jan W.B.

    It's amazing how a President with the lowest approval rating of any President that I've known 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 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Steve

    The Democrats are playing right into the hands of the Republicans on this one. Defense of Israel is a very important issue for Jewish voters in the U.S. Any hint of appeasement in the Middle East, whether justified or not , wil raise the hackles of American Jews. Obama has been set up like a bowling pin and he's thrown another gutter ball.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Brian

    Bush-McCain 0 Obama 3. Good for him. I love how Obama is getting the Repblicans to scramble to make any sort of argument that Bush is a smart, strong leader, but make no case to say this country is better off after 8 years of the moron. The republican policy is wrong, their support of this president is wrong, and as we saw in Mississippi, the people of this country are not going to take it anymore. Republicans GET OUT and give us back our country.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. J Chisolm

    This Obama guy should answer for the gang killings in Chicago he does nothing about. Home town hero thet he is! It is safer in Iraq! Obama and the rest of the Dimocrats should answer for $5.00 gasoline along with their veto of ANWR! Pay for it you idiots!

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Indi

    As an Independent, I would like to make the following points and anyone who wants to say something to my points please do so intellectually rather than swearing or calling names and do so point by point.

    1. If you are interviewing some one for the Job, would you select on basis experience or basis of what he or she has plans for the future?
    Answer: If you want a proven record then you would pick experience as you know experience cannot be achieved in the future.

    2. If you are interviewing some one for the Job, Would you select some one who stood firm in times of trials and tribulations or some one who plans to stand firm in times of trials and tribulations?
    Answer: I would select some one who stood firm and shown character.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. J.C.

    A lot of these comments show just how polarized this country is which is not productive and doesn't create much hope for change.

    However, there is NO hope for change without the effort to make it happen. Such is the case with Obama's interest in meeting with our enemies. I don't think he plans to "negotiate," but talking face-to-face in an attempt to change the present course is still better than pontificating from a distance and accomplishing nothing.

    Obama is smart. He seems to be cool under fire. He isn't fond of incidiary rhetroric. He doesn't have a "cowboy" mentality. He may fail, but it won't be because he was afraid to do something different than that which has failed in the past.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. The Oracle

    Whooooo!!! The Obama hating sissies are out in full force. Sounds like they need to be burped then given their naps.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. foreigner in US

    Neutral is a clown.

    May 16, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. Greg Pa

    Noemi in La ,

    That is exactly what appeasement is. Talk is why we didn't stop Hitler when he entered Poland. Talk is why we were stuck in the clod war for 20 some years. Learn some history before you post crap like that .

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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