October 15th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama calls 'bitter' comments most 'boneheaded' move

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/15/art.obama.gi.jpg caption="Obama said his 'bitter' comment was 'boneheaded.'"](CNN) - It’s a presidential campaign during which Barack Obama has noticeably made few damaging missteps, but the Illinois senator says one in particular was downright "boneheaded."

Speaking to the New York Times in an interview set to be published Sunday, Obama said his now-infamous comments at a San Francisco fundraiser last April - during which he said some small town Americans "cling" to guns and religion - was "my biggest boneheaded move."

"How it was interpreted in the press was Obama talking to a bunch of wine-sipping San Francisco liberals with an anthropological view toward white working-class voters," Obama told the Times. "And I was actually making the reverse point, clumsily, which is that these voters have a right to be frustrated because they've been ignored. And because Democrats haven't met them halfway on cultural issues, we've not been able to communicate to them effectively an economic agenda that would help broaden our coalition."

The comments, first reported by a Huffington Post blogger 10 days before the crucial Pennsylvania primary, immediately set off a firestorm of criticism and charges from Sen. Hillary Clinton that Obama was "elitist and divisive."

"People don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them," Clinton said at the time of the comments many political observers thought had the potential to derail Obama's candidacy.

John McCain also called the comments elitist, though the Arizona senator has made little mention of them in his general election match-up with the Democratic presidential nominee.

Obama went on to lose the Pennsylvania primary by nearly 10 points, though it's unclear if the "bitter" comments specifically contributed to his defeat there. Exit polls showed Democrats didn't view Obama any more out-of-touch than they did Clinton, suggesting the New York senator’s elitist charges didn't stick.

soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Cam

    Okay, is America ready for a President who can actually admit when he makes a mistake and take responsibility for himself? Or would you rather have McCain and palin who get angry and cry about the biased media whenever anyone questions them?

    If you really want a President who is "just like you" then realize that in regular life people have to own up to their mistakes and answer the tough questions. Just imagine if you told the IRS you weren't paying your taxes because they were wrong about you owing them........you'd be wearing the orange suit faster than you could imagine. Accountability is an important aspect of someone's character, and only Obama and Biden have shown the ability to hold themselves accountable.

    October 15, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  2. Rob indetroit

    This is the reaSON OBama is ahead unlike bush&MCsenile, when he is wrong, OBama will admit it and fix the problem, that's the sign of a real leader. MCbush is eratic and all over the place changing his views like he changes draws&palin is a hypocrit, Bush was is a very dangerous person.

    October 15, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  3. G

    I always thought those comments were taken out of context. I can bet that everyone has at one point said something that has come out wrong. Its okay Obama I come from a hard-working family my mother works three jobs and my father two jobs. No offense was taken we are not that sensitive lol.

    October 15, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. Biff

    Dummies for Obama...

    you can't call REPORTING WHAT HAPPENED as being in the tank for a candidate...

    the media reported that Obama is running an awesome campaign.

    the media is reporting that McCain is running the dirtiest campaign in history.

    Besides... please don't overlook the fact that you guys had countrol of all three branches of government til 2007. please don't pretend everything was AWESOME til now... well... you are a paid writer, so that is EXACTLY what you will do.

    October 15, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Unbelievable

    People are scaring me to death talking about how "I can't wait to call you President Obama." Things are about to get scary for the US. Look out Civil War II.

    October 15, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  6. yvonne challieh

    obama can't take care of his own crooked state of ill.. we the most has crooked and elected offiials than other state and if he gets in it will get worse. he doesn't take care of his own state 3 unarmed men killed in police custody in 6 week time. 1 was my son barefoot and in his pajamas i call 911 medical asiist. for helpand they hogpiled him and beat him to death on 7-2-2008 and i still can't get a police anr autopsy report . i hired bennet omalu to do a 2nd autopsy, becuase they lied here and said no physical signs of injury.they lied please help obama has terrorist for cops here in illinois. we are doomed if he is president
    yvonne challieh 815-601-5135

    October 15, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  7. Independents for McCain

    Far to the left liberals are so mesmorized by a snake in a suit. How many times has Obama changed his mind on issues depending on who is in the audience.

    Obama is going to be the most hated man in America if he is elected President. He will never be able to measure up to all the lies that have come out of his mouth. He will be a failure.

    Obama _ Ayers_Wright= Radicals

    Country First
    Go McCain

    October 15, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. Purple Alaska

    I really don't think that now is the time to be engaging in the minutia of Freudian slips...because there have be ample on both sides of the track.

    Proves that we're all human...NOW can we discuss some REAL issues!

    October 15, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. leah

    He just keeps getting better. One by one the voters of this country are learning that intelligent and dignified do not mean elitist. They mean good leadership.

    October 15, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  10. kw

    David- the nasty and vulgar comments are coming from you racist whites- Barack and his supporters have kept race out of this until your racist candidates, and supporters, kept using race to put fear in ignorant whites, which you obviously are. It amazes me that people like you put yourselves on this high and mighter stage and make it seem like blacks are the ones who are so bad, please I have never seen more ignorance and nastiness until I started reading the comments from you McCain supporters. You people are disgusting and should move to Alaska, you should be very happy there.

    October 15, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  11. laura

    Umm that was last April. Move on. Non-issue, especially that Wall Street lost what 700 points. There goes my husbands 401k .

    October 15, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  12. Suem

    Once in a while everyone slips up, but McCain and Palin seem to slip up everyday.........McCain has been known to make some stupid remarks........and Palin? When has she every said any thing sane..........

    October 15, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  13. Erika, KS

    We don't need the boneheaded Obama "leading" our country.

    The only fear this man. I fear his inexperience. I fear his close and dubious friendships back home in Chicago. I fear his American hating mean-spirited wife. I fear his "present" votes. I fear his lack of accomplishment in Congress. I fear his questioning the questioner and claiming everyone who disagrees with him as being a racist. I fear his clear examples of not knowing how the real world works ("I'll go to Iran")!!!

    Yes, I fear him. After eight long years with Bush, Obama HAS NOT demonstrated he can handle and resolve the problems. Plus he wants to tax me more because I make more money. Well, guess what buddy? I'm sick to death of being taxed to death! There's no way I will support Obama.

    Too bad Hillary was stabbed in the back. She was just right.

    October 15, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  14. S. Boatman


    October 15, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  15. Pepou

    For Alice who thinks that Palin's satire is pornographic, What I find pornographic are the racist, abject remarks and incitement to lynching by Ms. Palin and her gang. To hear people in this country scream to another human being "kill him" and "off with his head" is beyond the pale. And THAT should shock you no end, not Ms, Fey.

    October 15, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  16. NJ


    October 15, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  17. aware


    If you want an informative, enjoyable read, try "Rules for Radicals" and "Reveille for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky. You will recognize themes and phrases! 🙂

    October 15, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  18. Wisconsin Voter

    To David that said: "The reason that this election is so "vulgar and nasty" is because more Blacks and young people are involved in this election than ones in the past. This should answer your question."

    That was the most idiotic and racist thing a person could have said especially since it was John McCain and the Republican party (most of whom are White by the way) that decided to get into the mud because they knew taking the high wouldn't work for their candidate. David, it is people like you that makes Blacks like me never want to join the GOP. I always have to laugh when some "boneheaded" republican out there says Blacks are going for Obama because he is Black. For starters, he is half Black and half White and secondly, us Blacks are going for Obama mainly for his policies. Remember, over 80% of us vote Democratic and the reason that is is because of tactics the GOP has done (i.e. look at McCain's campaign) and how obviously bigoted an astonishing number of republicans (non-politicians) are. So, David, if I was you I would take a harder look at yourself and at your party. Also, review the footage at the RNC and all the GOP rallies... you will see an awfully lot of White people compare to the DNC and their rallies.

    October 15, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  19. the other jd

    I cannot wait until "Yes, we can!" turns into "Yes, we did!"

    October 15, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  20. Sifa

    To David,
    That is the most ignorant analogy ever. you mean to tell that, Blacks and young people make this election vulgar and nasty? you need to get educated and stop the insults. I can read racism in your mention of why this is nasty because of blacks. People like you are the ones taking the world backwords.

    October 15, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  21. David

    LOL, the same idiots who where defending his comments, are now saying how wonderful he is for being able to admit his mistake.

    Distribute that wealth !!!!!!!

    October 15, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  22. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    When will McCain unseal his military record? Why is it sealed?

    Why is McCain still buddys with G. Gordon Liddy and embraced him dearly on his talk show last November?

    How did McCain escape prosecution for the Keating 5 mess?

    And on and on and on and ..................

    October 15, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  23. Kasey

    Finally! A politician who is willing to admit that he was wrong. I would love to see McCain and Palin follow suit. I won't hold my breath.

    October 15, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  24. Lo

    To David who wrote: October 15th, 2008 6:25 pm ET

    To Alice. The reason that this election is so "vulgar and nasty" is because more Blacks and young people are involved in this election than ones in the past. This should answer your question.

    You are a disgusting, racist, bigoted individual and coming from a WHITE non-young woman, you had better get used to it you racist old fart because WE are about to elect our first bi-racial president and guess what? YOU'RE along for the ride, Jim Crow! I'll bet your grandfather used to string them up for kicks... too bad no one raised you better

    October 15, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  25. Biff

    i love the blinders these paid posters on here have on...

    now I see where Palin gets it...

    a report comes out saying you abused your authority... say Nuh -uhhh.

    You guy is proven to run the sleaziest campaign in history. (and that's sayin somethin after the bush campaign fiascos)....

    just deny it... and say..... never happened.... and POOF! NEVER DID!

    October 15, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
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