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. kaijoe

    I am asking CNN not to censor my comment if you are democratic

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. RuthieM

    You go, Obama, extract the lies and bring truth back to America!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. M.Nathanson

    The only way to fight these low life Republicans is to use their words against them. and it must be done quickly, frequently and aggressively. McCain is a 'war hero' but that was 40 years ago. In the here and now he is a cheap politician who conveniently changes positions without knowing or admitting it. Besides, he displayed on several occasions serious lapses which call his alertness into questions. Yes, his age should be an election issue even if his wife protests to the contrary.

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Obama Edwards 08

    Obama slapped the CRAP out of McRAT and Bush.

    PACK YOUR BAGS GOP because Nov 2008 will be a new day in the US.

    The American people will NOT allow you play these silly high school games on ANY democrat or ANY American!

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Devon Ft Myers

    Neutral............SHUT UP
    Obama hasn't attacked anybody but the retarded Republicans so stop trying to make more Hillary supporters not like Obama. That is why you sitting there yelling so much because you don't have a clue what you are talking sound just like Kevin James did yesterday with Matthews

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Jim

    Did I read someone in this blog named Jim say "George Bush is very smart". I think I will change my name because that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Highly Gifted

    Does anyone realize that USA's foreign policy instigated 9/11, that before this date, newspapers around the world were calling us, the globe's bully. USA is hated around the world and viewed as murderers for power and blood-lust. Exactly, what is wrong with meeting at the round table and talking peace?

    Perhaps if Americans were to evaluate their thinking on bullying and wars and why we glorify warring, then maybe we could experience a few years without blood shed and the sacrificed lives of fresh, new generations of America's kids. Aren'l all of our religious icons practioners of peace and love? It is time to change the paradigm of kill first and talk later. Personally, I abhor bullies.

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. jr

    As an older white independent voter I find President Bush’s speech in the Knesset yesterday regarding appeasement to be in fact, right on the money. This is an issue, which in the end will cut Obama’s legs from out underneath him. We are in this situation because Jimmy Carter appeased the Ayatollahs allowing Iran to fall under their control. Every one of us whether we are republicans, democrats, or independents wants to give peace a chance However, it is important to recognize that we are not engaged in a struggle against the peoples of the Middle East we are engaged in a struggle against Radical Islamic Fundamentality ruled countries or governments. The extremists, utilizing their narrow view of Islam would rather wipe us and our way of life out then conduct fruitful straight talk with us to create a lasting universal peace in the region. If what Bush said yesterday offended some democrats then maybe, just maybe, he got it right and has outted them and their plans for our future (if it walks like a duck, etc, etc). If allowed to become the regional powers in the Middle East countries such as Iran or Syria and their henchmen Hamas, Hezbollah, anf the Taliban in Afganistan will have won a major battle in their Jihad against democracy and America. Moderate Arab nations would cease to exist as we know them today. The state of Israel and all of Europe will also be gravely threatened.

    As I read numerous blogs it’s become apparent that most posters have no knowledge of history, have an extremely distorted view of it, or believe some revisionist clap trap version. It’s one thing to talk to these rogue countries through diplomatic channels as we now do. It’s another completely different thing to extrapolate that we can alter their extremist’s views if we just sit down and try to talk some sense into them face to face. We cannot make the same naïve mistake with these people that Jimmy Carter made during his presidency. If we ignore history then we are doomed to repeat it.

    When countries such as Iran and Syria, and organization such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban show us through their actions and deeds that they truly seek a lasting universal peace in the region, then and only then, should we consider sitting down with them face to face to discuss how to make that happen. To do otherwise, would be the gravest of errors.

    Don’t get caught up in the campaign hype there’s a much bigger picture to consider.

    May 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. Jake Jamahl, Atlanta

    Bush's vacuous word's not only violated the time honored tradition of not bringing partisan politics beyond America's shores but once again proved Bush's ignorance about history with his pathetic rhetoric.

    The "the false comfort of appeasement" to Hitler was Chamberlin's signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler NOT sitting down negotiating with another nation. Given Bush's erroneous comparison, Bush himself has appeased Russia, Libya and Iraq. This is a continuing display of the Bush administration using ignorant comparisons and bad history that dampens America's prestige throughout the world and Bush's own approval rating at home. Frankly, America and the world are tired of this one-trick pony.

    What is even more ironic is Bush's grandfather was a director of a bank seized by the federal government because of its ties to a German industrialist who helped bankroll Adolf Hitler's rise to power according to government documents. Prescott Bush was not only a war profiteer but in 1933 went so far as to subsidize a coup attempt in order to achieve his dream of a fascist America.

    Face it Georgie, America is tired of your politics, your mistakes and your presidency. When the alleged leader of the free world breaks a time honored political tradition, used bad history then ignores his own family skeletons it's time for you to ride into the sunset and order extra crayons for that presidential library.

    On second though, keep talking. Every time you open your mouth, it's more votes for change, more votes for Obama...

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. Greg

    Obama=Jimmy Carter

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. Obamacrat

    Shame on Bush, Shame on McBush! There are so many reasons why their comments were inappropriate. McBush on one hand is a hypocrite for stating 2 years ago that he believed that talks with Hamas was necessary, meanwhile, Obama has went on record stating that he would not talk to Hamas. Wait! Wait just a second, maybe Bush was talking about McBush in the first place. Ok then, never mind my post.

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. Brian - Trinidad

    Oooooooooooohh! Mr Positive is going negative! He taking page from the hated Hillary! Wha happen?

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. sumrzz


    249 Days before the children are out of the white house.

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Kris In Atlanta

    Mccain's foreign policy stance is similar to Bush's in that it is based on arrogance and aggression. We cannot continue to believe and act as if our will supercedes the needs and concerns of all other nations. This breeds resentment, and thus we have the foreign policy crises and image problem we have now. Obama understands this, and he also understands there was a time when America was respected and regarded as a world leader because we led by example and possessed a global sense of community. George Bush has changed all that and McCain has been along for the ride and this is something he must not be allowed to shirk away from. Foreign policy is about more than sending troops. It is about diplomacy and mutual respect.

    Obama 2008

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Zoey

    For anyone who says Obama has not been clear on his position obivously has been hiding under a rock. Go to his website or do some research on their priorities. Don't run your mouth about something you don't know about. Stop being lazy and letting the media spoon feed you. Obama is and will be a good leader.

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. T-Bone

    Yeah Obama can speak until he actually comes face to face with people and then he has no idea what to say. He just rides the coat tails of people like Hilary Clinton. Yeah – keep using your money for these little speeches to the public, where no one has the opportunity to rebuke or discuss what he's saying. Can't wait for the actual debates

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. The Voice

    Wow!! this is going to get interesting come November!

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. Larrywp

    Obama is trying to play Big Bad Boy, but he hasn't got a clue. McCain has got more experience and more CAHONES, in his little finger, than Obama will ever have in his scariest nightmares, which I am quite sure are numerous.

    Go away little man. The drumbeat has started.

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Ben

    Let me just get the republican view straight here –
    Diplomacy is bad.
    Destroying a nation's infrastructure and exploding it's citizen's just to end up worse than you were before is good.
    OK, got it, I think I'll vote democrat.

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Debbie

    Where's Cheney? What does he have to say about all of this!!!!!!!!!! This administration has been a joke and McSame offers just that, the same.

    May 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Roryryn

    Hey jim, do you have any idea what your talking about? MR. Bush smart.......? " the fact still remains, Obama does not know what he is talking about". Are you saying you do? Maybe you should run for President. You seem to have a plan ready for all that ails the US. Tell us more JIM........

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. Jane

    Obama's not even president yet, and he already has a lot to answer for.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Neutral – I'm a woman and know a lot of other women – we despise liars. When a woman is president, she should have integrity. Someone we can be proud of.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. TSD from Houston, TX

    Jim, how is Bush smart? The man mangles words on a daily basis. Every year, there is a Bushisms calendar full of new and foolish things that have come out of his mouth. To Neutral, remember, that not all women in the democratic party are white. For a dem to win the white house, they have to win all minority groups and independents. Also, are you saying that the amount of HRC supporters aren't attacking Obama because he's black?

    Obama transcends race, gender, age, orientation. Obama is right. Talking it out is better than going and bombing people. If Iran wants to at least talk, then it's worth a try. Al Qaeda didn't want to talk, so they deserved like retaliation.

    Dems, unite. As a woman, I don't want Roe v. Wade to be overturned. It's our right to choose, and some old man isn't going to make that decision for me. So, for all the people out there that don't want Obama, realize what you will really get if McCain is elected. It's not roses. Vote for the better of you, your children, friends.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. InTheTrenches

    "I wanted to sit down and negotiate " – Rookie!


    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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