January 8th, 2009
11:54 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama not giving up BlackBerry without a fight

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/08/art.obamabb.gi.jpg caption="Obama is finding it difficult to give up his BlackBerry."](CNN) - Barack Obama faces a host of challenges when he assumes the Oval Office later this month, but the hardest personally for the president-elect might just be relinquishing his cherished BlackBerry.

Those who follow Obama on a regular basis know the president-elect is constantly on the addictive e-mail device. But the Secret Service, as well as Obama lawyers, are concerned it could easily be hacked and are demanding the new president hand over the BlackBerry before he moves into the White House.

But in an interview with CNBC Wednesday, Obama made clear he's not giving it up without a fight.

"They're going to pry it out of my hands," the president-elect said.

"You know, this town's full of lawyers. I don't know if you've noticed...and they have a lot opinions. And so I'm still in a scuffle around that, but it–look, it's the hardest thing about being president. How do you stay in touch with the flow of everyday life," he added.

The Secret Service also made President Bush give up e-mail when he assumed the presidency, and former President Clinton, during whose term e-mail became widely-used, sent a grand total of two e-mails while president - one as a test to see if it worked and the second to former Sen. and astronaut John Glenn before he went back into space in 1998.

But in the interview Wednesday, Obama suggested keeping his BlackBerry is one way he could stay connected to the real world.

"I've got to look for every opportunity to do that – ways that aren't scripted, ways that aren't controlled, ways where, you know, people aren't just complimenting you or standing up when you enter into a room, ways of staying grounded," he said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (502 Responses)
  1. Steph I.

    Well well well here y'all are again crying and whining. We are in a New age; one where you can send a message by cellphone download music while eating lunch and watch video via blackberry while at a meeting.
    In the day and age of the newspaper vanishing; we have the blackberry, iPhone and other types of communication in which we didn't have 15 years ago.
    New times are upon us; everyone that posted to this blog ( or article) used technology that we didn't have growing up. I am almost 45 years old; a woman of color; the only child of an US Serviceman who served his country for 27 years. WW2, Korean conflict & Viet Nam)
    I grew up learning to respect the president; not agree all the time with him; not like him but respect him.
    Now I have the luxury to like and respect a president. I have the luxury to see a new time in our history as an american I have this time right now to sit here and read rhetoric, puns, jokes and hatred about anyone and anything all via the internet. I can watch tv via the internet. I can pay my bills now via the internet.
    So if it is a true story or just a funny one about the President-elect parting ways with his blackberry, what most of you all should realize is that while he the youngest President to take office he is also very smart and reaches out to people.
    No matter your race or party affiliation we cannot sit here and constantly pick and poke at what he does or proposes unless you can walk a mile in his shoes, you can criticize and you can disagree but the majority has spoken our country is failing globally and we need for our kids to be back on top in school in college and the job market and well it looks like from his story Read it on wiki) he has walked a little bit in ours already
    Peace; I am your and you are mine; in this new day we become whole again, not to divide not to conquer but to build to live and to be one.

    January 8, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. elle

    amen to the iPhone. why not let him keep it for personal use? as long as there is no confidential info going through it, whats the harm?

    January 8, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Brett

    I know that we are in technology world as I have blackberry. ( i used to have sidekick, Wyntell, Motoralo in 10 years..I understood him! Only way, White House need to make new pager for top staff (president, VIce pres, etc) as their own custom pager. It is only way to protect from hacker.

    January 8, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. Krinkle Krinkle

    It's know it's tough to step away from the Crackberry, but I agree re: the security aspect... with people around bored enough to hack Lindsay Lohan's MySpace page, the President would be a prime target. BB's are not secure and most likely won't be soon. Take the politics out of it and try to look at things objectively – this finger-pointing nonsense achieves nothing in the end, and everyone – especially the guilty – know who is responsible.

    January 8, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Barbara

    HIs intentions are noble . but his safety must be the priority. I suggest he hands over the blackberry and relies on Michelle to keep personal things current.
    I love that he is so "current" but he needs to step back in time and
    understand there was "life" before blackberries

    January 8, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Shari, NY

    In this age of technology, can't something be done to make his device more secure? If he has something to hide, as some people say, shouldn't it be the other way around? Duh!!!!

    January 8, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. John

    Not sure where you have been living, but there ARE terrorists groups trying to kill us. Or, is it that you are one of the nutcases who think 9/11 was an inside job?

    For his own safety, he needs to be smart enough to listen to the secret service and others with the responsibility of keeping him and his family safe.

    January 8, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. former republican

    Let him keep the Blackberry. Its not like he is going to be talking about top secret stuff on it.

    January 8, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Lynn in DC

    I see the haters are still at it. You people are amazing to me. You will try to find ANYTHING to criticize the Pres-Elect about. Even when you surely know that the man knows he has to give up the Blackberry for national security reasons. You all wouldn't know humor if it came and bit you in the arse. Majority of the people who have Crackberries know the addictive nature of those things. It's simply humorous to know that the PE is no different than anyone else. But instead of simply laughing at some of the human folly we all have...yall take it to a whole new level of pointless drama. How sad...

    January 8, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. Island girl

    Let him keep it!!! KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!!

    January 8, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Turquoise

    Barack needs to keep his blackberry, so when an ER. comes up he won't have to go thru 3/4 people and wait while "they" decide what to do !!!! If I wanted to move to this country and listen to some of your
    complaints I would not want to move here. If you have nothing POSITIVE TO SAY ABOUT THE US. PUT YOUR LIPS TOGETHER !!
    PS. I LIVE HERE !!

    January 8, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. Kimberli

    Why not just disable the email function, or trade it in for something comparable but not with email. I'm sure the CIA or someone can come up with something that is more secure and unknown to the general public that looks and acts like a Crackberry but more secure. Why not use the advance of technology to his advantage? Don't halt the use of it, be on the cutting edge of it. Its harder to hack technology that isn't already out on main street. There's a happy medium for both sides here.

    January 8, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. Toorey

    Don't take away His direct link to HAMAS, please. How will He be able to operate without those advisors?

    January 8, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. Observant


    January 8, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Mike

    I know a good place he could store his blackberry for 4 years....and he will always have it with him....

    January 8, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. John

    Chuck, there are many people who did not vote for him, yet want him to succeed. How anyone could want a president to fail is beyond me (of course, I see and hear liberals all over the place hoping Bush just keeps screwing up and making bad decisions - they were against everything he ever did and that is just as stupid). I hope Obama succeeds, helps put this country back on a good track, and in effect, helps us all.

    The hate is uncalled for whether is Obama, Bush, McCain, or Palin - I hear liberals today talking about how no one should hate this new president because we should never hate anyone, yet they are the same ones that espoused hatred constantly on a woman they never even knew anything about [Palin]. Both liberals and conservatives need to grow up a bit and practice exactly what they preach.

    January 8, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Amy

    One thing I have learned from this man – it is his way or no way. He will win. He does not have to follow any previous or new rules that he does not like. He does not play well with others. The rules are different USA. Get used to it.

    January 8, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Kim

    Barack Obama is the first young president we've had in years. He's shown that he understands that information technology is an important tool in communicating with his constituents. He's a smart man, and he'll use the Blackberry and the internet as the tool that it is ~ and I believe he'll do so as safely as possible.

    Let him keep it!

    January 8, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. oh no she didn't

    I'm just happy to not have to read how Sarah Palin is going to be Vice President. People getting worked up about Obama's Blackberry is just nonsense in the 24/7 news cycle.

    January 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. Kevin

    Be happy that Obama even knows how to use a blackberry and email.....McCain, didnt even know what an email address was......


    January 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. irishmcd

    Love all the clueless folks here who forget that there is a law that requires all e-mail correspondence to be made public record for all Presidents serving in office. If he is willing to have every e-mail on his blackberry be made public record after his term ends then go for it. Here's hoping it does get hacked, the late night shows will have a riot with the leaked information.

    January 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Ken in NC

    GPS capabilities make it easy to track a unit from tower to tower or satellite to satellite thus giving the exact location of the person holding the Blackberry. This is a National security issue as one can cause a destructive device to piggyback the signal from the Blackberry and use it as a guide to that target.

    Also, by law, on 20 January, all communications of the President are documented and archived and that includes cell phones, computers and like devices. I am a supporter of PE Obama but I agree with the Secret Service on the issue of the Blackberry.

    January 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Monique

    Let Michele have it....he can borrow it when he wants to get connected....or he can just read the blogs!

    January 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. J Kirkbride

    I think it's great that we FINALLY have a President who wants to stay connected with the REAL world and the REAL issues, not the filtered ones handed to him thoughtout his day by advisors who are trying to garner his favor. Yipee, for Obama. Keep your Blackberry Mr. President-Elect.

    January 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. oh no she didn't

    I'm just happy to not have to read how Sarah Palin is going to be Vice President. People getting worked up about Obama's Blackberry is just nonsense in the 24/7 news cycle...

    January 8, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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