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. John in Ohio

    "Don't flatter yourself, BO. Millions of us would never compliment you or stand when you enter a room. And I'm a registered Democrat!"

    I could be a registered Republican and it wouldn't make me a real Republican. Maybe I just want to spoil the primaries. You morons who act like registering with a political party gives you some kind of special credibility are hilarious. I'm sure there are a lot of registered Dixiecrats out there who claim to be Democrats but have backwards conservative views.

    January 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  2. Matthew

    He's addicted to his Blackberry. He's addicted to cigarettes. The guy has a highly addictive personality which can only signal danger to the country down the line. People with addictive personalities often exhibit compulsive behavior and are risk takers. Is this the kind of guy we want with his finger on the button? Did we learn nothing these last 8 years from Bush the alcoholic (another addict)?

    January 8, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. Daniel

    Maybe we should just let him use the "go phone" instead. Or maybe one of those phones for kids where you can only dial 911 or your mom and dad.

    I think we are smart enough to figure out how to make his blackberry secure, as long as his bill gets paid on time.

    January 8, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. Will

    How can the Secret Service and Obama's lawyers "demand" that he hand over his BlackBerry? How can the "make " him give up email? Obama is their boss, correct? Email and BB is the most effecient way of communicating in this day and age. He should be able to communicate in the way that he deems best for his job. The Secret Service needs to take a look in the mirror and realize exactly what sway they have.

    January 8, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. BV

    Boy are the losers coming out on this one. Still not over it are you. If the Blackberry is a part of the man then let him have it. It's not like he's going to be sending top secrets on it. If you think about it maybe he shouldn't be allowed to use a cell phone, computer and any other device that could be challenged in many ways. I'm for him having it . If it keeps that smile on his face than let it be.

    January 8, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. richard rohde

    Mari, you sound very similar to those you are blasting, just another case of liberal hypocrisy?

    January 8, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. Roger

    I think in this case the President-elect needs to heed the advice of the Secret Service and his laywers and give up the Blackberry. I full well understand his desire to maintain some semblance of normalcy, but there is nothing normal about the Presidency as I'm sure he will soon find out. Perhaps as he goes about the business of the nation, he will begin to hold various town hall style meetings across the country where everyday Americans can present their views and questions to him in a more relaxed atmosphere. This is a smart man; he doesn't need the questions prepared in advance so he can respond to them!

    January 8, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. Dan

    If we can't secure a blackberry, a device commonly used by many executives, then there is something seriously broken with this technology . This is part of a broader cyber-security issue.

    January 8, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. maudyfish

    It's really simple folks........ The President needs to have his own communication satellites!!!

    January 8, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Dixie

    PE obama please give up the BB. Perhaps the makers of this device can produce something more secure especially for you. Citizens are depending on you now. I don't worry much about you remaining grounded. Michelle will make sure you stay as grounded and sweet as you are now. (Smile)

    January 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Contrary Mary

    Hmmmm Nobama seems to have a very addictive personality...first cigs and now a blackberry. And he admitted to doing cocaine and smoking doobage. Makes one wonder what else he might be addicted to, of course what else is left eh?

    January 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. JaneW

    Ok now, blackberries are truly addictive and yes, a way to stay connected. Obama is President now and unless someone can guarantee that there will be NO hacking, he is going to have to put his blackberry aside for the sake of our security. I worked hard to elect Obama but now it is time to become the President, we have needed you for 8 years!

    January 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  13. Soccer Nana

    Give up the Blackberry Mr. PE; just give it up. Keeping the Blackberry will only give people who want to see you fail a reason to hack or hire hackers to infiltrate your equipment and "rearrange" whatever they want to. Give up the Blackberry and live by your on slogan – No Drama Obama!

    January 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. CrownSeven

    Umm, how are blackberry's NOT secure? Heck India wanted Blackberry to give them an access key to their network so that they could spy on every blackberry user in the country, because they couldn't figure out a way of hacking in themselves. Blackberry said no, part of the reason being that because of the way the system is designed, they couldn't provide them one.

    Blackberrys are one of the most secure devices out there. The phones connect directly to Blackberry servers only which are very secure. Why do you think businesses love them? They have security features built in like if a Blackberry gets lost, it can instantly become disabled.

    January 8, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. Mike Jones

    Someone compared Obama to JFK. Wow. The only fresh ideas of JFK were going to the moon, which was pretty much already under way. He just made a grand speach about it. He screwed up the starting process of Vietnam. He screwed up the Bay of Pigs. He could not truly handle Cuba because at the end of the day, it was Americans who were hiding under their desks in fear of little ole Cuba. So, in regards to what I mentioned, Obama is like JFK. No experience and just a nice little poster face. He will do no good for this country and the next president, as did Bush, will have 8 years of mopping duties. Everything Bush delt with was due to Clinton neglect. It will be the same for the guy after Obama.

    January 8, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  16. Julio Vasquez

    If it can be hacked – it can be tracked.

    It is not that he may be texting away state secrets, but that the location of POTUS is a state secret. It is not worth the risk. He may be chafing at the bubble, but it comes with the job and we all wish him the best.

    January 8, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. Former Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    It is refreshing to have a President that embraces technology and the ease that it provides to an otherwise hectic daily life.

    January 8, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. kevin

    i understand the addiction to the blackberry, i had a blackberry for 1 year and everywhere i went my phone went, but as a president, i agree with the fact that he needs to give up his phone, the reason being why is the way that people now know how to hack into people's info is crazy to me, and i dont want my president to land in a scandal because of a phone, so Im sorry President-elect but i think its time to hand it over 🙁

    January 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. Janey

    the people who want him to keep his blackberry are obviously not concerned about terrorism–anyone can hack into his berry anywhere in the world. Makes me think thy really are living in a dream-world. The presidency belongs to all of us–not just him.

    January 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Tony

    Are you kidding me? He doesn't understand the National security Risks? Also, he will be in touch with the entire world at his fingertips. Did he not understand the job description before he applied? Grow-up and be the world leader we need!!!

    January 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. cool onlooker

    Why so many thick-minded people around him? Isn't president also a human being?

    21st Century now. Please adjust yourselves. Let him keep the blackberry. Create something to prevent hackers. Period.

    January 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  22. Bob

    BO Get over it and grow up and be a President and ditch the Blackberry. This just goes to show how much BO does not have a clue about what is going in the world and that it is for his own safety.......Now he is again showing his immaturity and inexperience......God Bless the USA and we are going to need with this so-called President coming to power. I am prepared to protect myself as BO wont be doing this!! We will be thanking Bush soon who has kept us safe for eight years!!!!!

    January 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  23. Jon P

    I like how when Obama diverges from the "norm" or tradition of past presidents, critics cry that he isn't playing by the "rules" of being president. I didn't know there was a rulebook on being president in the first place, and after G-dub there's probably nothing left anyways.
    To call him immature for not following the most arbitrary of "rules" only validates his divergence. I don't even see this as a political act.

    January 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. Larry in Houston TX

    G.R.I.T.S. & Proud American, You guys took the words right out of my mouth !
    Thanks !

    January 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. Clay

    Imagine, a president who wants to stay in touch with reality outside the Beltway...What a novel concept... and one which is sure to threaten those more comfortable hiding in their ivory towers...I say let him keep the BlackBerry...He can send me an email question anytime and I'll be more than happy to respond...

    January 8, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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