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. mnzr

    Look at it this way. . . 70% of the nation disagrees with Bush. Bush disagrees with the Democrats. Why pay any attention to the moron in chief?

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Independent law student

    Facts: Obama is inexperienced and it clearly shows. All he can talk about is "4 more years of Bush". He offers no substance whatsoever. When will he stop blaming Bush and give us some REAL ideas???

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Edy from NJ

    I don't want to see a wold war III. The only way that can be stopped is to communicate with your enemies. Obama is moving America and the rest of the wold in the right direction.

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Tobias

    I wish he would just go away. He's nothing but a lying hypocrite and he will never be elected. Senator Clinton still remains the most qualified candidate. Obama is not qualified and he is unelectable. This race is not over even if we have to go to the convention. Vote Democratic smart, vote Clinton.

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. Really

    Okay, why is he challenging Bush to a debate? Blah, blah, blah, blah.... change.... blah, blah, blah... change... (oh wait I forgot to turn my head and peer up in the distance to make me look good.) Blah, blah blah. Bush and McCain... change.. blah

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. freedom guy

    its all about the people and what they choose to do .if there is people telling eahc other what to do they will all go crazy and do what they are told.

    keep on Obama ur doing the right thing about Bush

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. Cas

    Come on AMERICANS. Lets be better Americans, I as an American, Is sick and tired of the non-sense that we see and hear on the cable news. We should be one America. Don't let certain news members or political analist confuse you. It hurts my heart to see how some of the NEWS MEDIA AND COMENTARIES DISPLAY HOW THEY REALLY ARE. You know exactly which ones are hateful. These are people we invite in to our homes daily. Some you really like (the honest ones) and others we need to pray for them. They make the news statioins look really bad. I love Anderson Cooper, John King and Larry King and Mr. Cafferty himself. Thank all of you for your positive image.

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. W. T. Moses, Boca Raton, Florida

    I think it is time to get rid of Obama HUSSEIN before he gets a chance to sell America out from under us, He is pulling the wool over some of your eyes my friends – better wake up before it is to late. God bless America one nation UNDER GOD forever. AND his Michelle is no better.

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Kim, PA

    for the love of God....
    we are going down hill here.

    Hillary 08'
    Take a BIG SHARPIE to the polls and WRITE HER IN!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. mike tess


    OBAMA 08, 12

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. John Ainsworth

    Barack Obama is the steel core inside a velvet glove. His intelligence gives him the wisdom to be patient. He is not afraid to lead us to a future where the USA takes a solid role in joining the rest of the world in moving toward peace and away from atomic bombs and war and isolationism. He will not arrogantly try to dominate and force our beliefs on the rest of the world. No wonder we are currently so hated by the majority of the rest of the world. We should be ashamed that Bush has represented us for the last eight years. THAT is our biggest shame.

    Currently Republicans are arrogant, warmongers. McCain/Bush is like the communist old guard in the Soviet Union and China refusing to turn over power to a younger, more positive generation of the future....who grew up on acceptance of differences and not fear of them.

    This is an incredible moment in history. This is our time.
    Barack Obama is not perfect, but....he is strong, intelligent, unafraid and can do the job.
    Vote Democratic 08

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. DemocratInTheWhiteHouse


    Please explain to me how "Barack attached HIllary because she is a woman"?

    I dare you to try to provide any evidence of this.

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. Matt

    What has Obama done to protect the United States besides missing 40% of his Senate votes? Nothing!
    All he has done is ramble on about the faults of our leaders! He doesn't sound like much leader that I want running our country!

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. justin

    Since when are we not all fighting for the same cause.....GIVE UP the BS and put some smart American thinking into your posts!

    Ponder that for a moment instead of all this instant backlash!

    May 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. Shaik

    Bravo, Senator (and future President). GW is the last person to give foreign policy lessons to anyone after a disastrous 7+ years that have left the us and the world in a miserable state.

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

    What's so wrong with wanting to practice diplomacy? The last 8 years of not doing so is what have gotten us into this awful position in the first place. Time to try something NEW... and at least seeing how talking works out doesn't lead to thousands dead. Always the best place to start. If it doesn't work, fine... we can try something new. Instead, the Bush/McSame logic has us stuck in Iraq for how long... 100 years???

    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. David Goldman for OBAMA




    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Robert

    I hope all of these republicans who have a problem with Obama's policy of talking with our enemy would be just as willing to call Reagan and Nixon names as well.

    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. rb

    Yes. The so called experienced people got a lot to explain – from Iraq to Katrina to osama to economy to gas prices to no-child left behind to failed diplomacy in every part of the world and so on. Our own NATO is not with us on Iraq!!. Thats enough!!

    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. Jackson

    CNN, will you log "Obama Supporter"'s IP and deny his comments. This person obviously isn't a Democrat let alone an Obama supporter and his hateful message is being printed on every single blog entry.

    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. MD Houston

    Obama's total lack of international experience is fully illustrated in naive statements regarding internatioanal affairs. The absurd fact that he cited his time in school overseas as part of his international experience shows how ridiculous his claim to be "ready" really is.

    It is laughable that the democratic party would all unite behind someone so gullible.

    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. NCH

    Way to go, Barack! Bring it on! Enough of this BS from the Republicans. Bring it on! Just watch the American people stand up. We are not going to take this crap anymore.......This is OUR TIME.......

    Bush and his Republican buddies have done so much damage.......please just leave quietly and


    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. Mar


    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Dal

    Bush should be "White House arrested" for rest of his term.

    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. Pexster

    "America is still unclear on his positions." If you are unclear, it is because you are lazy, illiterate, or both. Read his platform or STFU.

    May 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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