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. Kerry A. Bordere

    George Bush used the American people in the worst way. He lied about weapons of mast destruction and waged a war to benefit his rich oil buddys.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Deborah WV

    Thank You Obama!! Bush and McSame DO have a lot to answer for. Thanks for holding their feet to the fire!! I used to be a registered Republician, but no more - I'm now going to the Democratic party. By the way, there are plenty of voters in West Virgina for Obama, we want change too!

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. bmaggiemay

    Hey Neutral...afraid to sign your name. Many thanks to all you angry women; it's because of you guys that Hillary won't get the nomination. Take your mothers and sisters and vote for McCain and Obama will still win. In the end the monster that Hillary created ( that would be you)
    will cost her the election and Presidency.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. Redneck

    You Obama lovers just don't get it do you. This Country is run by Congress, not the president. If you want to place blame, blame congress and their ability to do nothing. Remember, the opposite of progress is congress.

    I would love to see Obama succeed with a Republican congress. Would not happen.

    And to all of the Hussein-Obama sheep, remember, "CHANGE" is NOT always for the better.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Bob Witt

    Bush and McCain continue espousing the same failed policies , year after year. Surely enough people now realize the Bush admin policies are wrong and will reject Bush's surrogate in November.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. Indiana Politics

    George Bush just sealed McCain's fate with that deplorable comment. Interesting to note here is the willingness of the Bush Administration to negotiate with a terrorist and tyrant like Kim Jong il and North for years, yet they somehow have a problem dealing with Iran. In the meantime, Iran has gotten stronger while Iraq has turned into a full-scale quagmire.

    Seems to me Bush and McCain really don't have a leg to stand on. Obama's lack of 'experience' may be just what the doctor ordered to restore our reputation in the world – not to mention our floundering economy.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. DemocratInTheWhiteHouse


    What questions is Barack avoiding? He's been one of the most forthright candidates of recent years.

    Why don't you ask McCain why he advocated talking to Hamas a few years ago; the same thing he's accusing Barack of advocating (which he isn't).

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. Bah ma !

    Sen Obama is always godo reading scripts.

    Wait till he gets into the real world, his supporters are blind.
    And some even worship him every friday , uh. unAmerican.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. Alex

    Bush is not the smartest man on earth and has messed up everything. No point talking about him.
    However Obama needs to come up with concrete policies. All i hear from Obama is Im going to Change this, Im gonna Change that, Im gonna Change my Pants after tonight. However, No substance in Most things he says. Just retoric.
    Obama also says he is willing for a debate anytime anywhere – but he ran away fromt he debtate when HIllary challenged him for any debate in Indiana and NC.
    Finding fault with others is not enough. You have to come up with realistic solutions also – in that area both Bush and Obama are not very different.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. Addled

    Didn't Reagan negotiate with the "evil empire" Soviet Union in the 1980s? What the heck are Bush and McCain talking about?? You've got to get out of your Oval Office chair and engage these people or they will aengage with each other and unite against us. When the sun sets on the Bush era, we'll finally have a chance to have meaningful dialogue again with other world players, whether we like them or not!

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. CCrand


    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. mnzr

    Never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate. Why does the GOP steadfastly refuse to talk? Maybe because they are so totaly incompetent in diplomacy that they are afraid that they'll only make matters worse. (if that's at all possible)

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. noemi in los angeles

    Enlightened Voter May 16th, 2008 9:23 am ET

    Obama, you shouldn't even have to dignify those outrageous idiotic remarks from a madman like bush but I understand that as president this will be part of your job. I fully support your diplomatic tactics in trying to talk to our enemies. We need peace in this world and visionaries like you will make it happen. Dialogue has to start somewhere.


    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Fla Sam

    You tell them Obama!

    We should never be afraid to first talk to our enemies!

    Obama 08!

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Johnny G

    This is directed to Jim. How do you expect anybody to take your words seriously when in your first sentence you state that Bush is smart? Are you serious? Give me a break.

    To the rest of you Republicans... I sincerely thank you for revving up your hate machine because your actions will result in bringing the Democratic Party back together.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Joe Mallon

    Well...this time something was clear... having watched him read and read and falter as he read we can be convinced he reads what others (who?) put in from of him when there is any substance in his verbage...he only looks up when he is using his usual generalities and standard campaign rhetoric

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Darshan

    " May 16th, 2008 1:09 pm ET

    obama saying he'd debate mccain on foriegn policy is laughable. clearly obama's not experienced enough to realize you can't have a sit down with iran. you think the democrats would have learned this after nancy pelosi had a visit with syria, while they were making a nuclear facility. democrats like to say it's the politics of fear, no it's the politics of reality. people want to hurt americans, quit pretending there not out there obama and pelosi."

    Uhh "lol" have you thought about WHY "they" want to hurt Americans? Let me guess, you think its because we're the "beacon of Freedom" and they "hate our way of life."

    I "lol" at that and you. Go read some history books.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. RS

    Obama Rulz!! I am sick and tired of people playing politics etc. – i want a clear thing and Obama's message since beg. has been clear about what his group wants to do. Bush/McCain are just stupid to even play politics – they are not reading people's mind – same goes with Hillary!

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. SPOT


    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. Darth Vadik, CA

    Are we getting it yet?

    130 REPUBLICANS voted PRESENT on the hose bill to further fund the occupation in Iraq. Do you know what this means, of course they were cowardly, but until few days ago these guys were breathing fire out of their mouths, and yesterday they voted present.

    Has the tide turned over yet?

    Do you think things will be better in Iraq, after 5 years? 5 YEARS?

    And some people think McCain can win?

    Get the HELL OUT OF HERE, McCain is as lame as a 30 year old horse, Obama will destroy him.

    May 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  21. CJ

    SO... when is the first debate for Obama-McCain?? This one will be a doozy!! I'll bet McCain walks off the stage within 30 minutes.

    Take those gloves off Barack!

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

    I think Bush and McCain have forgotten that Biblical saying," You reap what you sow." If we just trust, they are going to get their just reward.

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Glen,

    Oh poor Obama. I wonder when he watches sports and the teams get into a huddle, does he think they're talking about him. Talk about cheap politics, from a cheap politician, desperate for a little bit of air time.

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. James

    So wait a minute. Since the policies of McCain caused the issues with Iran, doesn't that mean the policies of Obama caused the same? haven't they both been in congress for the past few years. Wouldn't they both have to take credit for the current situation? Oh I get get it. LadaladalaBAMA only takes credit for good things in congress and not bad. That part of congress was McCain's fault. Typical forked tongue politician. Hey Obama, why don't you go invade Pakistan like you mentioned a few months ago?

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. Whitney

    i hope Obama obliterates them!

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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