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. noemi in los angeles

    Peace can ONLY be achieved through talking. Period.

    Obama 08.

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. true demorcrat in monterey ca via memphis tn

    The GE has begun FINALLY!!!! We can know focus on the republicans and have debates on the issues and start heeling our party . Because when we debate the repubs on the issues we walk in the white house

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Yasriel

    Wonder why Bush made those comments he made yesterday? Check your gas price today for the answer.
    McBush made those comments knowing it is going to stoke tension in the Middle East and as such drive the price of crude oil higher. Thus, Halliburton and his oil buddies would be able to make more profit from the high price of oil. The is the same why he sent us to war in Iraq.....
    Tension in ME = Higher Crude oil Price = Record Profit for Oil Companies = Higher gas price for us her at home.
    Bush is a complete disgrace.

    May 16, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. pa voter


    May 16, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Matt

    I would love to see that debate.

    May 16, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Debby

    Obama's ego better not get to big he hasn't been to Iraq yet to even see whats going on there vs. him saying oh bring the troops home. Its easier said than done. This man is so clueless on foreign policy its scary. McCain has his faults but he has served and his son has or is and McCain and Clinton have been to Iraq a couple of times already. I can't wait for the debate with Obama and McCain especially about Iraq. Maybe Sen. Obama the big community organizer should revisit how many people are getting killed in the city of Chicago yearly since he touts himself as a unifer there.

    May 16, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. Democrat in Des Moines

    Hmmm... I'm going to be watching Obama. I'm a Hillary supporter that was not happy she didn't get the nomination...BUT... If Obama can show he can take the heat and make sound decisions, I might change my mind about him.

    Show us your stuff, Obama! So far you haven't convinced me you're strong enough yet.

    May 16, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Venus


    Thanks Bush! Hey – don't come back to the White House- Obama will be moving in!

    Go Obama!

    Nice way to shout and tell the WORLD what a complete failure Bush has been with the war in Iraq and Bin Laden – still running around and making new videos!

    Great way to tell the world leaders that Mc Same is another Bush and warmonger!

    Can anyone believe Mc Same – 5-more years in Iraq?m That would be 10-years!

    May 16, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Helen

    Now run and tell that.

    You go Barack. Yall heard him...anytime....anywhere.

    Watch out...its starting to show. See, yall thought Barack was soft. He was just being a gentleman to the "Monster" I mean Hillary. But now the table will turn and McCain and Bush will feel the wrath of his frustration with a failed government.

    Allow me to introduce the future President of the United States of America. President Barack H. Obama

    May 16, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Shawna

    McCain is such a flip flopper that I don't know where he stands on issues. He changes his stance depending on how politically successfull the position will be for his campaign. On one hand they say they are working with these rogue nations to get them under control and then on the other hand they say democrats are like Nazis sympathizer. This is not what a President does when they step onto center stage and speaks to the world. The entire World is listening, there are thousands of children dead in China's quake, 100,000 dead in burma and the country won't accept aide, even emergencies going on here at home, but instead of speaking to the disasters Bush wastes this moment speaking like the idoit he is, who ever wrote this speech is incompetent and another example of how the administration is full of incompetence. Bush's own leadership is right now working on communication with these terrorist nations, and the terrorists in Iraq to maintain a low level of truce. Bush and McCain really have no common sense and that is why his approval ratings are so low

    May 16, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. Doug

    Thank you! Bush has spent the last 8 years damaging our once great nation in every possible way (world standing, economy, national security, etc...), and now McCain wants to spend the next 4 following the same pattern.

    I love America, I thank God to be an American, but I am NOT proud of what Bush and the republican government have turned this country into. It is time for change, and whether that change comes from an Obama administration, or a Clinton administration, I will be able to again hold my head up high and be proud to be an American.

    Democrats 08!

    May 16, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. Obama Independent

    Obama displays strength in countering Bush and McCain at the same time. This will be a critical posture to maintain from Convention to the General Election. If he continues lump their arguments together and blend their images into one, undecided will be drawn to the strength of his campaign, and power of his message, and hear what he has to say.

    This Independent votes Obama.

    May 16, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    Good job Obama!

    May 16, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. jane

    Wondering why Obama didn't fire back to Bush's ridiculous remarks yesterday? Took his advisers all night to write Obama's speak he was reading off his note cards. SUCH A TALKING HEAD. It was more laughable when he asked the S Dakota Farm woman what type of Health insurance she had??! Elitist, and OUT OF TOUCH with average American! And then furthered his ignorant remarks with"You look Healthy"
    I was expecting-"you look healthy Sweetie! You don't need health Care!

    PLEASE stop this nomination before it is too late. Hillary is not far behind.
    We can't afford a president with Training wheels! He is not prepared for the white house!

    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Cesar

    We need Hillary!!! A real leader!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. USAF Sr. Airman

    Seriously, "Obama Supporter", you "hate hate hate" posts aren't helping unite anyone. Same post on every story.

    Obama '08.

    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. Steven in Oregon

    So McCain is somehow responsible for Bush's comments, but you, Mr. Obama, are not responsible for Rev. Wright's comments?

    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. Obama v McCain

    GAME ON.


    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. M.E.M Kansas city

    Hey republican It's on LET's GO.

    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. carolflowery

    ummm, uhhhhh, Bush aint running, and that was stupid thing for him to say he would debate Bush and McCain, LOLOLOLOL has he lost his mind, besides Bush never called his name or the democratic party on this issue, he made a general statement, funny thing is, like Obama does in every speech, and I would really like for Obama and his speech writers to tell me exactly how it is we are less safe, I want to know specifics

    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. Concerned, Chicago, IL

    What about a Senate resolution to censure "W" for injecting partisan politics into an international arena. Is "W" going to work for Halliburton in Dubai after his term is up? Does he need McSame to get elected so he can line his pockets a la Bill Clinton?

    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. Lutisha BeeBranch Ark

    Why Did McCain give January 2013 for the end of war, Bi Landen capture or dead, economy turn around does he honestly believe we want to continue to see our soilders return home dead and injured, and gas and economy continue to increase for 4 more years he is delusional if he thinks he will get a bite out of the electional apple a second time if he gets elected in 2008. Tell us how you will get it done???????????

    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. Mmimi de la cruz for OBAMA








    May 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. dave

    did Bush, in his remarks to the Knesset, once use the word DEMOCRAT? or did he say OBAMA? hell no.... the dems have such thin skins that they are tripping all over themselves on this, like a bunch of goons who chewed too much LSD.....bush could just as well have been referring to politicians in EUROPE who would coddle the Islamic terrorists until they put a bullet in the average European's head... so get off it obama, bush was not talking just about the Dems who would coddle terror, but also europeans, and arab politicians, and certain segments in Israeli political society as well,,,, show me in the speech where Bush said Dems and I will buy you lunch!!

    May 16, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Unknown

    OBAMA you are right! of all people, Bush shouldn't have anything to say! Look at America today! And you tell me that's a man who cares? America,if you put another Bush in the white house, please don't start complaining..just remember who stood in the cold casting the votes!


    May 16, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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