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. can't believe Jim

    This is to Jim who said that Bush is a very smart man. Do you know a different Bush? If you honestly believe Bush is a very smart man, you are as deaf, dumb and blind as they come!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. Nancy

    Obama is a cry baby when the questions get tuff!!

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. Zoey

    McCain needs to stay away from those dang internets. hahaha

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Darius

    The talking heads of the Republican party are at it full strength today... and thank god FINALLY the media is showing they have America's back.

    Check out on youtube, Chris mathews hardball, may 15th... You will laugh at how stupid these republican talking heads can be.

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. ron

    It amazes me that Obama believes he can and has slammed President Bush for the Presidents policies and beliefs. When President Bush disagrees with a group of people that believe it is possible to negotiate with extremist and cites historical examples of way this would not work Obama publically states the President is not playing fair. What is good for one is good for all.

    In addition CNN has become so biased that this morning one newscaster reffered to the President of the United States as Mr. Bush. Am I the only one that sees both of the above mentioned practices as abuse of our system of government and unetical business practies.

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


    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. Jeff

    Hows the current plan of attack working?
    its really scaring Iran and stopping them.
    This converted REP is looking forward to a new kinder gentler direction.

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Was a Bush fan

    It takes a real man to address his enemy face to face and command respect and attention. George Bush is a cowardly boy pretending to be president in his make believe game of "I declare war" and McCain is simply an angry crony attempting to avenge his unfortunate past on any country accessible. I respect President Obama's courage and judgment to do what is best for me, and my country, unlike Lil’ Bush.

    I like the sound of that, President Obama.

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. SJM

    There's an old Shakespeare saying that has been said by a few people on CNN the past 2 days and that is "thou shall not protest too much", which is exactly what Obama and the Dems have been doing the past 2 days. This just gives credence to what Bush said about negotiating with Hamas. Bottom line is Obama did say he would have talks with Hamas and other hateful nations/groups without preconditions. He can deflect all the negativity he wants to Bush and McCain, but he still needs to answer to what he has said about having talks with these types of groups. He and Dems know this is a sore spot for him.

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. TAN in London

    For 3 1/2 years, Bush's own secretary of state has been trying to get him to understand that we have to talk with Iran because Bush's policies have made Iran the biggest winner of all in the Iraq war. For the past year, his own secretary of defense, Gates, has been urging discussions with the enemy, since the enemy is made stronger by the day by the Bush policies in Iraq. But it is the Democrats that Bush rails against, not his own experts.

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Indiana Voter

    So... it's okay for a democrat President to go overseas and attack the sitting President several times, but not okay for the current Republican President to go overseas and make a general statement about many people past and present? What a double standard the democrats have. They don't even see it because of their blind hatred for Bush. How sad.

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. HP Boston

    Obama is such a pile of dreck!
    He is an empty suit with out a clue about foreign policy or any judjment on his far left or his pastor wright!

    May 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. Obama v McCain

    No Jim..Bush is not very smart. I would be willing to bet that Obama wrote most if not all of his soeech.. while on the other hand is Bush had written his it would look like this:Hee_haw!! Ride'Em Cowboy Get Them there IraqsHee_haw!! Ride'Em Cowboy Get Them there IraqsHee_haw!! Ride'Em Cowboy Get Them there IraqsHee_haw!! Ride'Em Cowboy Get Them there IraqsHee_haw!! Ride'Em Cowboy Get Them there IraqsHee_haw!! Ride'Em Cowboy Get Them there Iraqs..oh and BOMB BOMB BOMB BOMB'EM GOOD..this one's for my Daddy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(ya'll forgot about that huh?)

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Michelle in Philly

    All Obama's got is a speech, and a speech and a speech, I'm really sick of his speeches.
    All talk and no action, shut up already your voice is as annoying as Bushes

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. Blogmaster 3000

    Its all you closed minded GOP, war mongering, want to destroy the world (with us in it) have just been put on notice!!!! Be prepared to loose the White House by an unprecidented margin and loose Capitol Hill as well, and once we can nominate a few sane open minded liberals to the Supreme Court.....some of you will finally be prosecuted for your political treason and crimes against the USA and humanity in general........I HATE old fashioned Republicans.....there needs to be an island for you to live out your fantastical vacum sealed visions......

    OBAMA '08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |

    to: A (supposedl) Real American...


    Also, it was confirmed on background that the comments 'were' aimed at him.

    you must be one of those 'low information' voters we keep hearing about....

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. barbie

    It comments like these that make foreigners hate americans. If you hate the president of your country so much then move to another country. He might not be the best or as horny as Clinton or crooked like the Kennedeys but he is our president and negative comments about any of them should be kept in this country......... That is the number 1 reason people hate americans it's our attitudes.

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. noemi in los angeles

    Neutral: He NEVER insulted Women. I am a woman, and I have never been offended. You are simply sexist and cannot cope with the fact that Hillary is losing. Quit complaining, we have a Republican to crush this November.

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. jimmy

    I agree that Bush was a big mistake... I did vote for Gore then Kerry.

    But, I will NOT vote for another mistake in Obama.

    Hillary supporters have been insulted and bullied...
    Payback is, you know what they say.

    The MOVEMENT is on...
    McCain '08 for Clinton '12
    Obama, well, NEVER!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Ann

    Oh no, call me a flip flopper !!!

    I used to have respect for Obama and would have liked to see him president. But all he has done is prove how inexperienced he is. Is his head so large that he thinks Bush used a speech to Israel on an historic day to have a dig at a junior senator.

    Grow some balls Obama. Even Hillary called your idea of 'talking' to Iran as Naive in the debates.

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Alan in Nashville

    Since when did being diplomatic mean being weak on security? We must stop confusing these two. It's the same as equating Iraq to 9/11. The two are not related!

    Being diplomatic might have actually INCREASED our security instead of heightened the chances for another attack.

    But then again, the GOP does not seem to be the best at speaking to another group with a differing point of view.

    But as for Obama and the rest of us:

    YES, WE CAN!

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Mike Dallas


    You complain that it took Obama days to come up with a comment? Do you actually believe in single functioning brain cell of yours, that Bush gave that speech off the cuff???? Bush is not capable of speaking coherently, much less come up with an original thought! Please, he has been prompted for days, if not weeks, on that little gem. It was very calculated and scripted. Thankfully, the speech writer proofed it and omitted the word "nuclear".

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Roberto N. in Orlando, FL

    The potential for a debate on foreign policy and the Iraq war between Obama and McCain has me feeling giddy. Obama has just laid out the challenge, I hope the Republicans accept.

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Eddie

    Americans need to wake up,the onlyreason others want to hurt us is the policy we take with other countries.When you try and govern by the gun,you also die by the gun.We as Americans need to realize that we do not have the right to dictate to others how to govern,but allow ourselves to work peacefully with those who have different idioligies.

    May 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. The Truth Hurts

    What? Obama got his feelings hurt again? Of course, he's upset ... McCain is simply stating the truth ... Obama isn't fit to lead our country if he thinks sipping tea with terrorists is going to change their minds. HOW NAIVE!!!

    And Indy for O'Drama ... I'm sorry but it would only be an ignorant man who would say there was no Al Qaeda before the war ... Al Qaeda was bombing U.S. Naval Ships in the middle east while Clinton was in office.

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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