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. McThuselah The Crypt Keeper

    Mr so-called "Neutral"

    Great Grandpa McThuselah is not going to win this election. This election is about the future...our future, not his ancient past.

    Move over Great Grandpa and let the new generation of this great country fix all of your failed and bigoted politics of the past.

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Ron

    Well Jim I have to say that I have never heard your point of view; Bush is smart you say? Very interesting point of view you have. Have you ever heard of Iraq?

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Dan

    Bush has no right to lecture anyone on foreign policy. In agreeing with Bush, McCain just forfeited legitimacy. McCain's continuous confusion about middle eastern groups and his G.W. style anti-diplomacy will not get us off this terrible path we're on. Only a Democrat can start to fix these republican foreign policy disasters.

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Trekkie

    Yes. The policy of ignoring enemies doesn't work, and just serves to further aggravate tensions.

    Obama's words are very strong and powerful.

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. geoff

    Refreshing, at last, to see someone who thinks rather than reaches for a gun and a contract with a political fat cat. Obama will make a fine president.

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. sly

    To Jim, you call Bush smart? Man, stop smokin that stuff and come down to reality. Dubya, is the worst and most feeble minded president we've ever had. Look around you einstein, is the world safer? is the economy booming? Are we better off now that eight years ago? Come down and face reality.

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. jim bone

    IF any one thinks either of these morons will help us or our country fooooooooslih people. They all turn GREEN when in the white house

    May 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. SRI

    OBAMA, like they say is naive and inexperienced. He does not have a clue about World-wide radical islamic threat. America is not ready for Obama, no not in these dangerous times. and Obama is not ready for America. Let us not put our country through insecure times when we are already reeling under various problems – domestic and international.
    America cannot afford to step back in the war on terror. There is no one good answer to handling terrorism. But Obama is not the answer. He is weak. He will set us back.
    Thank You,
    A concerned Indian American.

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. lorax

    You may not like Mr Bush, but he is very smart.


    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Angel, McLean, VA

    Obama talks about hypocrisy, when he knows and everyone knows what he said at the time.
    It is easy to look back and say-oh, I did not mean that. However, he made it very clear during the debate that he will, personally and without pre-conditions, talk and negotiate with terrorist leaders such as Chavez, Castro, etc.
    So I am wondering who is the one practicing spin-hypocrisy, and he is not even the nominee yet. I can not imagine what kind and how many back paddling he will be doing if he become President.
    By the way, I am an independent and I am not planning to vote for neither one of them.
    As a matter of fact, the first things that they should do is reimburse the American people for all the salaries they have collected in the last 2 years without doing nothing-except for being running around lying and cheating the American people.
    All of them are a disgrace!

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. vw

    Yes, You are right. Bush and John McCain have a lots to answer for because they have done a lots for this country. Well, you have nothing to answer for since you have done nothing thus far for this country.

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. Jackson

    I can't wait for the General election. Obama and Clinton will tear them apart.

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. Eolia Bell Cooper

    Obama, Read the 58th Psalm verses 6-9 specifically titled ' A PRAYER FOR GOD TO PUNISH THE WICKED. " This is what I pray for all that mistreat me directly/ indirectly. It's perfect for "you know who." I have seen God honor this when the petitioner remains obedient and allows God to handle things. He's the biggest liar Ever from the "Texas Miracle" lies regarding education in Texas to lies regarding the war w/ the blood of thousands on his hand. He probably thinks it's "fingerpaint!"

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. Jason

    When will everyone realize the comments Bush made were aimed at CARTER!!!!!!
    He sat down with the leaders of HAMAS!
    He can't admit it because it is bad form to bash a former President. but Obama is so insecure he has to make everything about himself! and he is not even the Drem. Candidate yet!

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. Democrat from NC

    I'd like to remind the President of what happened to a politically insignificant singing group known as the Dixie Chicks when they too went to a foreign country and bashed someone.

    I'm just sayin......................................................................................................................

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Erik

    Obama debate? Don’t make me laugh!! An Obama Bush debate would be like having Two four olds debate. If Obama wants a debate why dose he keep running from Hilary? Oh that’s right because she destroys him in them.

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. noemi in los angeles

    Total Delegates
    OBAMA – 1904.5
    CLINTON – 1718.5

    Obama – 32
    Clinton – 17

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. You can't fix Stupid.

    I love how people on these blogs are so tough behind a keyboard. Truth is, nobody knows who is really who, or who really stands for what. If anybody is swayed by a blog post, they are proving how simple minded they are. If anything, most of the posts prove how scared the GOP really is. It's not hard to pick out those who are simply trying to spam hate.

    Face it GOP, you are history.

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. Sanity '08

    Yes, let's just have a conversation with this mean men with missles in the Middle East. That'll solve everything. Osama meet Obama - let's just get along, OK? Please!

    Obama will have us praying five times a day on our knees and beheading Christians if he thinks pandering to terrorists through diplomacy is a solution. They understand one thing and one thing alone: FORCE. It will be a rude awakening for the bed-wetting liberal if he somehow manages to dupe the nation into electing him.

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Vincent from Ireland


    Now, THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what is called a BEATDOWN!!

    Go get them war-mongers, Bama!

    Overheard in January 2009 right after Obama takes the oath of office:

    "Don't go too far George, tell that to Dick too", Obama says as he shakes Bush's hand a bit more tightly than is comforatable.

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. It's A No Brainer

    If you want more of Bush then, vote for McCain. If you don't want more of Bush, vote for Obama. It can't get any more simple than that and you don't need a cystal ball to predict the outcome of the general election. Obama will win.

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. C-lee

    I'm so tried of hearing these idiots back George Bush's stupid war! If you're so Gung-Ho about protecting our country, the Marines are always looking for a few good men! Don't talk about it, be about it. Go fight the war and stop emailing stupid, lame comments! You should be embarrased that you wasted your vote on the worst president in history. What does that say about you! Obama 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Kathie, Ontario . Canada

    If Obama wasn't so painfully transparent he would be comical.
    There he stands with his newly acquired flag pin in his lapel(forced to wear because of losing voters not wearing it)
    touting how patriotic he is .. How much he wants to debate
    Bush (an insignificant in this race) and McCain. Tell me Mr.
    Obama where was all this fire and desire to debate when Hillary
    has been challenging you them? You have one lousy debate
    where you feel you weren't treated fairly and you run off and hide
    and refuse to debate her.. You didn't mind debating when you
    and Edwards were double teaming her.
    The fact that Bush was able to rattle your chain so easily and
    get you all fired up just proves how inexperienced you are and
    not ready to play with the big boys of international politics.

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. GP

    For over eight years now we've witnessed this game of semantics by Bush and company. Whether it be organizations sympathetic to Bush or members of the Bush administration, there is always a convenient escape route in the event of a firestorm over remarks or comments.

    True, Bush did not use Obama's name, but it is obvious and by no means accidental, who he was talking about. And on foreign soil none the less.

    The Dixie Chicks were lambasted for voicing a political opinion on foreign soil. Bush mixes domestic politics with an international event and because he didn't name anyone he didn't say or do anything wrong.

    Just wearing a lapel pin or using a patriotic sounding online name does not make on a patriot. It is time for true patriots to awaken and hold those that have hijacked our nation and it's once powerful image, to account for the careless, reckless and malignant abuse of power.

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Mike in Orlando

    It amazes me how a man can go on a podium, vie for peace and diplomacy, criticize the warmongers, and be lambasted for it.

    It amazes me to no end, and speaks volumes about the nation we live in.

    Obama 08.
    I hope he wins, but I bet he won't.

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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