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. illinois209

    Finally, a democrat with guts! Get them,make them answer for everything they've done ,by the way ...where's Cheney?

    May 16, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Ted (NC)

    Obama will say anything to get in the White House.

    May 16, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Robert from Washington

    John McCain is embracing the very position that got the nation in the helluva mess it's in, and in so doing has tied himself foolishly to the failed policies of George Bush. I would remind Mr. McCain that Ronald Reagan talked to Gorbachev, Nixon to Brezhnev and in fact all presidents before Bush recognized the need to speak to the respective boogiemen of their age. Bush equates mere diplomacy with appeasement, but they are two different things. Neville Chamberlain's error was not talking to Hitler, (diplomacy) it was giving away Czechoslovakia (appeasement.) Fine nuances like that are beyond Bush's, and apparently McCain's, grasp. But I can see Obama gets it.
    Obama 2008

    May 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. dave

    The sooner Bush is out of office and replaced with Obama the better our standing in the international community and hence the less threat of terrorism! Pretty simple stuff if you ask me. When Obama wins the presidency it is "Mission Accomplished".

    May 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Larnyx

    Can't wait for the debates when McSame goes off and throws a punch at Barack on the stage. It will be his downfall.


    May 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Adam - TX

    Lord, Obama, stay out of the controversy! You're terrible at spinning it. The Dems, unfortunately, are already going to tank in November because of you.

    May 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Venus

    Not only is Mc Same caught on one tape talking about talking with Hamas – he's is also on another tape about... Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!

    Go get em' Obama!

    May 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. Jeanne

    I hope, in Novemeber, the 80% of Americans that say they want change, show it in their choice for president. I like McCain but I don't like where is double talk bus wants to take us.

    May 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. ash

    well stated President Elect Obama


    May 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. georgia

    Bush smart ??? Jim you obviously are writing a Sat. Night Live skit ! & who could ever be more of a puppet than W. lol,lol,lol
    He was govenor of one of the few states where the govenor has no power except to sign execution orders. W, lol

    May 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Eric – sweetie – so considerate of you NOT to waste gasoline on election day. Thank you – the rest of it need it because of the 8 previous years.

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. Tracy---Indianapolis, IN

    To JIM


    OBAMA 08

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. faye, NV

    Herman in LA, please, anyone knows when someone is trying to call you out. Are you smarter than a first grader? No, not even Bush or Mccain.

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. jdp

    Typical "Bush" league statements. From day one he's said one thing and done another. Why should he change now?
    What a disgrace he's made of "our" country.

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Samian

    Why are there only pro-Barack Obama comments on here?
    I really don't think Obama would make much of a commander-in-chief, personally...

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Dal CA Republican

    Lets look at it objectively. Bush did talk to Libya before Gaddafi pulled out of nuclear reactors in Libya. Bush did talk with North Korea as well. We need to talk to everyone and understand why they are angry with us.
    We cannot live in vacuum at all.
    Who ever becomes the President of USa will have to talk to the rouge nations of the world to understand where they are coming from so that we can make adjustments to bring them back into the fold.

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. George

    At least this country's enemies would fear McCain. The only Obama they would fear is Michelle.

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Jan from Boca Raton FL

    If I were Obama I wouldn't be so fast to agree to a debate, Hillary
    made him look like a school boy.

    McCain isn't as stupid as he looks, and I don't think Obama will
    be able to stand up to him any more than he did with Clinton.

    Obama is causing all this to free PR, and is putting words into
    everyone's mouth.

    Obama has bashed McCain every single day, does he think he is the
    Golden Child and untouchable?

    Obama is one of the cockiest men I have ever seen.

    We are all in big trouble if he is our next President.


    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. Heldenbrand

    War has not worked, period. For everyone who claims to be a real American, read the history books and tell me at what point in history the tribulations with the Middle East began in the world. From the early 1100's to modern day there has never be a lasting peace in that region despite countless wars.

    It is time that someone tried something new, that instead of resorting to violence to resolve the differences between two opposing cultures, we reason and talk amongst one another. Anyone who wishes to continue the failed foreign policies, McCain, is not fit to be a president as they obviously have not learned from mistakes.

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. noemi in los angeles


    A lot of Repubs posing as Democrats are posting hate mail. They're trying to drive a wedge between us!


    The "Obama Supporter" spreading Hate is a Republican.

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

    Go get 'em Barack. Let's face it a manhole cover would be a better President than Bush or McCain. Let's elect someone with common-sense like Obama to turn our country around.

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. paul from jersey

    John Edwards for SUPREME COURT JUSTICE !!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. ScoJo

    "Let's put Obama in office in 2008 so that we can say we changed American politics!!!"

    – Terrorists all over the world

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

    You can not discuss nuclear disarmament if you can not pick up the phone and ask someone how there wife and kids are. Diplomacy is a long road, Not a quick lap around the track, It takes time to build relationships especillay if you havent had a conversation in about 30 years. Does it hurt to sit at a table and listen to someone other than yourself? Does it hurt to sit at a table and dicuss options?

    The second strongest force in the world should be the US Military. The first should be the US State Department.
    Perhaps then the USA will regain the moral authority that led us to prevail in Europe, Over Communism, and Yes in Irag in the early 90's.

    May 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. Kenneth M

    It is really sad to see the state of the REP Party. They use to be so bold. They had fire in there belie. Now look at them. 28% approval, loosing 70 seats this Nov. McCain spinning around in circles trying to come up with a plan after 3 months of running against himself, crying to Rush, “what we going to do now”? Roves going to jail soon, you guys are a mess. And you have the nerve to think Bush did not know the impact of his statements in Israel? Funny thing is the more you try to make Obama look bad, the dumber and dumber you look. Notice all of the tactics you try only turn your seats over? Its because you are trying to take someone down instead of build yourself up.

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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