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. Robert in Ann Arbor

    How many Bushes and McCains would it take to match one Obama in a battle of wits?

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    a REAL American:

    For your information, some of the Washington Insiders admitted it was directed at Obama. And McCain was explicitly talking about Obama.

    Either way, Bush was wrong to play politics like this in a foreign country. He overstepped his bounds.

    But what did we expect from someone of his caliber? That's like expecting Larry the Cable Guy to perform brain surgery!

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Robby

    The Bush Administration has united America, not into a "silent majority," but a "SILENCED" Majority! Time to back our government!

    May 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Sam

    Although Obama may not have the foreign policy experience that so meny people refer to, I believe that he has the aptitude and the attitude to negotiate in good faith. It is better to have limited good experience than extensive failed experience.

    May 16, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. patrick


    May 16, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. Chris

    I'd like to add that violence has never solved anything and hate begets hate. The only way to move past this is to talk and negotiate past our differences. Only Obama, the Democrats, Independents and level-headed Republicans (I.E. Colin Powell, Chuck Hagel) will do that. McCain and the majority of the Republican establishment has no clue.

    May 16, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. Copperfield

    No more "Obama 08" or "Hillary 08"

    From now on it needs to be:


    May 16, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. PDT; Austin, Texas

    Let them know who you are, Obama!

    May 16, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Rose

    The fact is that Bush never once mentioned Obama's name during the course of his speech. Why would Obama be upset unless he knows exactly what he said in the debate with Clinton would come back to haunt him. He was wrong then and he is wrong now. If a person feels strongly about what they said then they should have nothing to worry about. He has plenty to answer for, he needs to tell us why his campaign won't release Michele's thesis from Princeton until the day after the general election. They have a lot of gall asking Cindy McCain to release her tax returns.

    May 16, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. libby

    Bush was drunk and McCain forgot to take all of his pills, or maybe Cindy took them. What a couple of old creeps.

    May 16, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Carolyn in Memphis Tennessee

    Does anybody know who writes this crap for W. They shouldn't have given him words with too many sylables. Sounded like he said a piece of me, instead of appeasement. At least Obama has a better command of the English language.George Bush makes all of us look stupid.

    May 16, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Flash

    And Foxnews gets slammed for attracting right wing nuts. It's good to see the screeching left has a forum. I have read all sorts of democratic party talking points, name calling, unsubstantiated accusations, but very little logical debate.

    Interesting, but not enough to keep reading. Save your shots at me. I won't be hear to read them. I'm going where people "think" then talk.

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Mol

    I haven't seen any problem on Bush's statement. He just read what has been written for him. Who is to be blamed, the articulator or the reader.

    I doubt he has a confidence to speak from his own. Thanks to all talk show hosts, he completly lost his mind nowadays.

    Please, at least he is President of the United States Of America. The one and Only nation in the universe.

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    A "real American" obviously has no capacity to think for himself (herself), like so many Bush A#$ kissing Orwellian sheep.

    In any event, January 20, 2009 will hopefully be a day of celebration of the end of this eight year long horrendous nightmare.

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. James

    I would like to personnally thank GWB for making Obama look like the most brilliant foriegn policy since Sam Nunn. He also made Obama look strong, presidential and measured in his approach to the complicated middle eastern problems.

    I guess that is payback to McCain for being the Republican pain in Bush's $$$ during his eight years.

    This is just too good to watch.

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. PJ

    I wonder why all the Obama haters comments seem to be written by people with the intelligence of a 10 year old. name calling and childish comments. What's your problem, you got something against smart intelligent people? Sorry you were born a retard, but that's not Obama's fault. Blame it on your parents for in breeding. red neck hicks. What, say something!

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Barry Obama in 2008


    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Canadian

    Just shows that something funny happens to Obama when Clinton is around, she spooks him...and others too. He's strong confident when she's not around, just the way I like him. However, it does prove Hillary's steely mettle.

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. joey, atlanta

    My take is Bush was referring to another president, Jimmy Carter, who had just recently undertook to negotiate with the terrorists Hamas and who was snubbed by the Israeli leadership. But guilty minds can read things anyway they want.

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. concerned citizen

    All we hear is change, change, change. How about solution, solution, solution. Okay change is great but what is your solution, seriously?

    It sounds like someone is trying to sell us, the citizens a Ford Pinto. You can talk to the talk, but can you walk the walk? Experience counts. Instead of the I'm better than you crap, you see that in high school.

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Eleanor

    This is exactly why the republicans are going DOWN one by one
    three seats lost already because of their *DIRTY* politics play book
    Americans are sick and tired of it!!!!
    Bush and MCCain are part of the dirty politics Americans want *gone*
    Bush and cheney should have been charged with war crimes long ago.Bush made terrorism 10 times worse and has only himself to blame for that!!
    Senator Obama is a refreshing *change*
    not one of us is perfect and niether is Senator Obama but he is a
    man of integrity and thats one quality the republicans sadly lack!!
    Obama 08

    May 16, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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