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. Concerned

    This is silly. Iran wants to kill us. If you meet them make sure you watch your back.

    British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with and signed a paper with Hitler agreeing peace just months before Hitler Invaded Poland.

    Yeah meetings really help amybe you can bring him some M&M's.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Art A

    After Bush and Cheney are out of office, several Countries will go after them for War Crimes and will go down as the most arrogant , Greedy and Stupid Pres. & VP in the history of the U.S. I will support the Countries that bring charges against them. Talk about international Criminals.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. Fred Mertz

    Hey, Neomi in los angeles – "Peace can ONLY be achieved through talking. Period."? Yeah, that really worked during the second world war. It's really worked in the middle east. Yeah, Margaret Thatcher got the Falkland Islands back by wagging her jaw. The history of peace is the history of blood. Peace can ONLY be achieved through killing our enemies before they kill us. Period.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. Bev


    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Mfelder

    It makes sense that we talk to Iran and others. Not that I am defending Iran, but it is only natural that people might want to protect themselves when a superpower like USA invade their neighbor's country. Why wouldn't Iran think we won't do to them what we did to Iraq. We had no real justification for invading Iraq. It's understandable that a country would want to protect themselves.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. Sam

    The problem with talkng is one side normally doesnt want to talk. Remember their values are not our values.

    Trust me none of these people value human life or any kind of individual rights.

    Talking with them is a waste of time.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. Sylvia

    Peace is not in the vocabulary of Bush or McCain. What Obama need to do is pressure Mr. McCain on where Osama Bin Laden is? They -Bush and McCain – can talk tough all they want to, but they have nothing to show for when Osama Bin laden and al queda is at their strongest. Bush never won the war that never should have been started. He is a failure and McCain running on a failed policy of the past 7 years. There is alot of questions that remain unanswered that we as American people deserve to know and make the republicans accountable for their failures at the taxpayers' expense.

    Obama is right on track. Go get them, Barrack!! Stick to your guns.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. Jesse

    America, I will put it this way, VOTE YOUR INTERESTS!! The Republican party has made a living by bringing up issues that have no relevance to a campaign, RELIGION, GAY MARRIAGE, ABORTION, but the biggest one is FEAR. Don't let this happen, all accross the country in 04 people voted for Bush because of these issues and now the same people are paying $4 a gallon for gas, losing there jobs to other countries, having their homes forclosed on them, we have a 9 trillion dollar defecit in this country, so please people wake up and VOTE YOUR INTERESTS. As for these comments thank you G.W. you are now pulling our party together to Unite behind Obama, thank you.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. David in the US

    Give me a break! Those of you who criticize Obama for having a lack of foreign policy experience should remember that Bush had never even traveled out of the country before becoming president! I know 10 year olds who have a better grasp of the world than this President. If we elect someone like Obama, who uses words with more than 1 or 2 syllables, we will have made a leap in our leadership. And it sickens me that people who support Hillary would actually rather vote for a third Bush term then support someone whose policies will be almost in-line with Hillary's. In my book, anyone who supports Hillary and then decides to not support Obama should he get the nomination, is almost certainly a racist. If you're not a racist than you are certainly not voting on substance. What is it? If not Hillary, someone else who looks older and experienced? Give me a break. I guess if Obama dyes his hair grey you would vote for him? Maybe so if you're that dumb. In the end I look at how, before we went to Iraq, we had a mission to find bin Laden. then what happened? Bush decided to murder 5000 more Americans in Iraq. As I said before, a 10 year old would tell you that if bin Laden attacks us you... drumroll please.... GET BIN LADEN. Only an idiot takes out his problems on others who did not cause them to begin with. That's like someone hitting me and me turning around and punching someone else. Makes no sense. Please do not criticize Obama's foreign policy when what we have now has got to be the worst foreign policy ever, perpetrated by one of the stupidest Presidents this country, or the world, could have ever elected. You know why we don't sit down and negotiate with our enemies, because Bush cannot be taken seriously. McCain may talk a bit more intelligently, but then again, he would rather have another 5000 Americans killed in a war we should have never started in the first place. I choose intelligence, I choose thought and consideration, I choose common sense, and I choose a human being. Obama. The end.

    May 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. BDT

    Hey Eric, go ahead and sit this one out,we can do this without YOU !!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. VINCE RUELAS # 57

    go hillary i love you! like i love big dick in my mouth. oh yes!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Fletch in WA

    YOU LIBERALS ARE NUTS! Obama and you libs think that you can convince a person who is willing to strap a bomb to himself/herself and walk into a crowd of innocent men, women, and children.

    If that's what you think, you're just as CRAZY as those who strap on the bombs. That was the point that Bush was making. How can you possibly disagree?

    May 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Tom

    " May 16th, 2008 1:12 pm ET

    Come on everybody and unite with the Obama Campaign!

    Hate Hate Hate 2008
    Hate Hate Hate 2008
    Hate Hate Hate 2008

    Hate Hillary
    Hate McCain

    Hate Hate Hate

    Obama '08"

    Well spoken! Promote hate! Obama the Great Uniter leads a party whose supporters want everyone to unite behind Obam than put Hilary Clinton on their hate list! Incredible. Although the media would have you believe otherwise, the gap between Hillary and Obama in numbers is not that great. Hillary has a lot of supporters and if we don't get behind Obama he has no chance. Posters like you alienate us more. I don't want to unite with the likes of you 🙂

    May 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Keoni Koch

    "You may not like Mr Bush, but he is very smart"

    Anything you say loses all credibility after making that statement.

    May 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. Patrick

    Oh poor Obama,
    Are they all being mean to you again? Did your 2 years in the Senate not give you enough experience in dealing with criticism? Poor you.
    Well don't worry, go over to Iran and wow the President with your rhetorical nonsense about change. It works great on Democrats; why wouldn't it work on genocidal maniacs?
    Good luck trying to get out of debate with McCain like you have with Hillary. It's a great plan, if I didn't have anything to say I'd wouldn't debate either.

    May 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. kennedy

    obama is just scared because he dont want american people to find out the truth about him and his involvment with terrorist leaders and him being a muslim him self so he try to play mind games with american people so he can win and destroy america and the white house !!!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. Stick To The Issues

    Neutral May 16th, 2008 1:18 pm ET

    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?


    Didn't Maggie Williams – Clinton's campaign manager – make over 6 figures last year sitting on the board of a sub-prime lender in NY?

    How about you like/dislike people based on the issues, because you seem to be full of crap.

    May 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. William

    Neutral you are what they call a sick puppy. i shouldn't insult the puppy AH

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Greg Pa

    Obama ,

    If we build forts in Iraq we can control Iran without even talking to Iran.

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Cleve Leonard

    I think it is "laughable" that some people think the only way to negotiate is through bombing and war, like the Bush Admin and the Republicans think. The current US policy is no more thatn the big bully policy. Obama offers to talk through peaceful and diplomatic means only, with war being a last resort only. Why does the US government see fit to stick their nose in whatever they see fit in the name of American interests.

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. The Lone Ranger

    Here's the winning strategy for McCain:

    1. Pick Huckabee as VP, and put him on the road in the old Confederate states and rust-belt states. His theme song will be Onward Christian Solders. His issues will be moral decency, making child molesting a federal crime. The forces of light attacking the forces of darkness.

    2. There is a lot of racial anger in the South and Midwest. If Obama is the nominee, the Republicans need to make Obama's minister the center of conversation. They are already running hate ads asking local Democrats to repudiate Obama or explain why they hate America too.

    3. Obama has a wife who speaks her mind – a fatal flaw. Run ads over and over of her saying something critical of America. Put lots of flags and eagles in the background as the announcer says, "Are you for Mrs. Obama or are you for America. It will make Black people angry, but they're going to vote 80% for Obama anyway.

    4. Have some off-the-record chats with oil companies. Persuade them to lower prices until November 10th or so. They can make the money back later.

    5. Get out the libertarian drum and start beating it: "Free Market vs Socialism" Vote Democrat and you will no longer be able to choose your own doctor, your child's teacher will be gay, homosexual marriage, etc. etc.

    6. Get sponsors to whip talk-radio into line. Make them all mouth the Republican talking points exclusively for six months.

    Americans usually respond very positively to a campaign like this. Republicans all know the script, so they know their parts. Democrats will waver, waffle, and meander, terrified that they will say something controversial.

    I will be voting for the Democrat, since no Liberal (read, Harry Truman) is in the race. A Democrat in office is better than nothing. A Republican in office is worse.

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. M J Curry

    Finally, a front-running Democrat who calls McCain and Bush on their strategy of lies and smear tactics. Finally a front-running Democrat who puts the focus back where it belongs: Bush and now his clone McCain have too long been allowed to ignored the fact that the Republicans didn't go after their first demon bin Laden (because he's not hiding in a country with vast oil reserves?)– in favor of destroying the lives of over 8 million Iraqis and several thousand American soldiers.

    Soon, I hope, Sen. Obama will remind us that 14 of the 17 9/11 terrorists were Saudis and the other 3 were from Yemen and Egypt! NO Iraqis.

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. WeBoDave

    Senator Obama did well. Some of it was off the cuff. He is obviously superior to Bush in non scripted remarks and probably better than McCain. I wish Obama had done a little better to be honest. It is an absolute joke that the White House press secretary, Perino, denied these remarks were directed at Obama. Who were they directed at? Gates? Don't fall for these lies in '08.

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. The Oracle

    Neutral, how can you be so delusioned??

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. tim

    RE: Darth Vadik, CA May 16th, 2008 1:15 pm ET
    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.

    I guess the ignorant follow the ignorant should we also throw all the Democrats who voted for the Iraq War in jail too, here is a list for you:

    Grouped By Vote Position – YEAs

    Baucus (D-MT)
    Bayh (D-IN)
    Biden (D-DE)
    Breaux (D-LA)
    Cantwell (D-WA)
    Carnahan (D-MO)
    Carper (D-DE)
    Cleland (D-GA)
    Clinton (D-NY)
    Daschle (D-SD)
    Dodd (D-CT)
    Dorgan (D-ND)
    Edwards (D-NC)
    Feinstein (D-CA)
    Harkin (D-IA)
    Hollings (D-SC)
    Johnson (D-SD)
    Kerry (D-MA)
    Kohl (D-WI)
    Landrieu (D-LA)
    Lieberman (D-CT)
    Lincoln (D-AR)
    Miller (D-GA)
    Nelson (D-FL)
    Nelson (D-NE)
    Reid (D-NV)
    Rockefeller (D-WV)
    Schumer (D-NY)
    Torricelli (D-NJ)

    Hindsight is always a great way to lead the country. Obama won't be able to just vote "present" if he is in the White House

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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