The year 2008 was politically the most exciting and unusual in a generation. It hosted a long, divisive and drama-filled campaign season that featured the rapid rise and fall of Rudy Guiliani, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee, the unlikely rise of John McCain and Barack Obama, and the eventual bitter defeat of Hillary Clinton.
It brought us an unusually long and brutal primary with emotional charges of racism and sexism, the rise of the Superdelegate, and the explosion of Sarah Palin upon the national stage. All of this was followed by a rough and tumble presidential campaign whose outcome may have never been truly in doubt but was still a never ending soap opera of charges, counter charges, personal attacks, character assassinations, rumors, smears and the occasional, unexpected surprise.
2008 also also brought us a huge spike in gas prices, more political scandals, a mortgage and credit industry in a state of panic and a sitting president who was almost completely politically powerless in the face of such challenges.
Rarely does such an alignment of events occur in a single year and the resulting deluge of memorable political quotes is a goldmine for the blogger, columnist, political junkie, and all those who follow current events. Without further ado I present to you my selection of the 99 most memorable, interesting, and outrageous political quotes of 2008.
1. "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America. God damn America! It's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating its citizens as less than human!" … “And they will not only attack you if you try to point out what's going on in white America, the U.S. of KKK A." – Obama’s spiritual mentor and pastor the Reverend Jeremiah Wright (actually not uttered in 2008 but replayed endlessly during the ’08 campaign)
2. “The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign.” – Barack Obama 3-14-08
3. “Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.” - Barack Obama 3-18-08
4. “I can no more disown (the Rev. Jeremiah Wright) than I can disown my white grandmother, a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe." – from Barack Obama’s “throwing Grandma under the bus” speech
5. “So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” – Barack Obama attempting to explain the minds of small town Pennsylvanians to rich liberals in California.
6. “The country is groaning and moaning and screaming for change.”- Bill Clinton
7. “The idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House with nothing to do is something I can’t imagine.” – Mitt Romney
8. “I can’t make her younger, taller, male, there’s a lot I can’t do.” – Bill Clinton in New Hampshire referring to differences that could not be changed between his wife, Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama.
9. "Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America. Quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me." - Joe Biden, speaking at a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire
10. “It did take a Clinton to clean after the first Bush and I think it might take another one to clean up after the second Bush.” - Hillary Clinton’s response when asked at a Democratic debate in Los Angeles, California on whether it was good for the country to have another Clinton in the White House
11. “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” – Hillary Clinton “misstating” a trip to Bosnia where she was greeted by a friendly crowd and a small child bringing her a gift of flowers on the tarmac
12. The notion that the Clinton campaign would be trying to circulate this as a negative on the same day that Senator Clinton was giving a speech about how we repair our relationships around the world is sad.” - Barack Obama in a radio interview with WAOI in San Antonio regarding the photo on the Drudge Report showing him dressed in traditional Somali attire
13. “You know, I wish the Republicans would apologize for the disaster of the Bush-Cheney years and not run anybody, just say that it’s time for the Democrats to go back into the White House.” – Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania primary debate
14. “What exactly is this foreign policy expertise? Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no. … It’s what’s wrong with politics today. Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected. … She’ll say anything and change nothing. … The question is, what kind of judgment will you exercise when you pick up that phone … In fact, we’ve had a red-phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. Sen. Clinton gave the wrong answer.” –Barack Obama during the campaign on his pick for secretary of state, Hillary Clinton
15. "No way. No how. No McCain. Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be president." - Hillary Clinton backing Obama at the Democratic convention.
16. “Grand slam! Grand slam! Out of the ballpark, across the street. Across the buildings across the street . . . I don’t know how it could have been better. I don’t know how it could have been better.” - Keith Olbermann on Hillary Clinton’s DNC speech
17. “Generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment—when the rise of the oceans began to slow.“ - Barack Obama, June 3rd, 2008 on clenching enough delegates to ensure his victory over opponent Hillary Clinton
18. “He is The One.” – Oprah Winfrey proclamation on Barack Obama.
19. “You are the instruments that God is going to use to bring about universal change, and that is why Barack has captured the youth. And he has involved young people in a political process that they didn't care anything about. That's a sign. When the Messiah speaks, the youth will hear, and the Messiah is absolutely speaking. Brothers and sisters, Barack Obama to me, is a herald of the Messiah. Barack Obama is like the trumpet that alerts you something new, something better is on the way. A black man with a white mother became a savior to us. A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.” – Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan
20. “Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can." – Barack Obama “Yes We Can” speech
21. “Lord - Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.” - Barack Obama’s written prayer stuffed into a crevasse of the Western Wall in Jerusalem
22. “We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for; we are the dream that we seek. It’s a chorus that cannot be ignored, a chorus that cannot be deterred.” – Barack Obama in a speech in Chicago on Super Tuesday
23. “I’ve got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” – Barack Obama
24. "Its part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often." – MSNBC’s Chris Mathews
25. “I think there is a problem, though, with the media gushing over [Obama] too much. I don’t think he thinks that he’s all that, but the media does. I mean, the coverage after, that I was watching, from MSNBC, I mean these guys were ready to have sex with him….It’s embarrassing.” – Bill Maher
26. “Obama had been talking down to black people… I want to cut his nuts out.” -Reverend Jesse Jackson
27. “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times… and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.” – Barack Obama
28. ”Well, uh, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or, uh, a scientific perspective, uh, answering that question with specificity, uh, you know, is, is, uh, above my pay grade.” – Barack Obama at the Saddleback Presidential Forum answering the question “At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?”
29. "Over the last fifteen months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states, I think — one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to … my staff could not justify it." – Barack Obama
30. “We should have every child speaking more than one language. It’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is merci beaucoup, right?” – Barack Obama at a town hall meeting in Georgia
31. “I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face.” - Barack Obama
32. “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” – Barack Obama
33. “You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know…Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad.” – Barack Obama
34. “I’ve got a bracelet, too.” - Barack Obama during a debate referencing his own support for the troops
35. “Obama is an immigrant” – Bill Richardson in espanol no less
36. “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” - Barack Obama
37. “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is making a comeback.”- Michelle Obama speaking about her husband’s candidacy for president.
38. “I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels.” - Bill O’Reilly on his national radio show discussing comment by Michelle Obama
39. “The risk John McCain took last Friday is comparable to the 72-year-old ex-fighter pilot knocking back two shots and flying his F-16 under the Golden Gate Bridge. McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his co-pilot was the biggest gamble in presidential history.” – Pat Buchanan
40. “[John McCain has chosen a running mate] … whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.” – South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler
41. "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick." - US vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin at the Republican convention.
42. “John McCain says he's about change, too. That's not change. That's just calling something that's the same thing something different. You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It's still going to stink, after eight years. We've had enough of the same old thing." –Barack Obama
43. “And I can see Russia from my house”. –Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL in one of the most devastating parodies of a political candidate in modern history
44. "The most qualified? No! I think they went for this, excuse me, political bulls**t about narratives." - Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter, caught on air on MSNBC during a commercial break dissing Sarah Palin as the VP pick
45. "This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America. Our opponent is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. Americans need to know this." - Sarah Palin, accusing Barack Obama of associating with Bill Ayers, a founder of radical Weather Underground, which was involved in several bombings in early 1970s
46. “I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, ‘wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?’ Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.” –Sarah Palin
47. "The nation will live to regret what the court has done today." - US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia after the court rules foreign terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay can challenge their detention in US courts.
48. "Every US President has to have a war." - Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet President, claiming the US military buildup risks leading to a new cold war with Russia
49. "They can examine my pulse, my urine, my stool, everything." - The Dalai Lama inviting Chinese authorities to investigate whether he was behind the rioting in Tibet
50. “Can I explain to you what happened? First of all it happened during a period after she was in remission from cancer.” - John Edwards on cheating on Elizabeth Edwards
51. "I believe [Hillary Clinton] would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee. Our voters and Edwards' voters were the same people. They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama." -former Hillary Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson on the impact of the media's refusal to cover the John Edwards' sex scandal
52. “I'm offering myself up. I'm saying that if I have the background, the capability and the concern to do this and I'm doing this for the right reasons... but I'm not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I'd make a good president. Nowadays, the process has become much more important than I think it used to be.” – Fred Thompson
53. “Thanks, Your Holiness. Awesome speech!” – George Bush after a speech by the pope
54. "I think that, in retrospect, I could have used a different rhetoric. Phrases such as 'bring them on' or 'dead of alive' indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace." – George Bush
55. "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." –George Bush’s parting words to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his final G-8 Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as the two leaders looked on in shock, Rusutsu, Japan
56. "Although we weren't able to shatter this highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before." –Hillary Clinton
57. “I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro back in 1984, and of course, Senator Hillary Clinton who did show determination and grace in her presidential campaign. It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America, but thankfully as it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet and the voters will shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.” – Sarah Palin in Pennsylvania during her second stop on the campaign trail as the Republican vice presidential candidate
58. "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." – former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro
59. "I have to tell you that what I find is offensive is that everytime somebody says something about the campaign, you're accused of being racist. Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up. Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?' – Geraldine Ferraro enjoying the tolerance of the Democratic party
60. If there are allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about NAFTA, and about the continent vs. the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context. That’s cruel, It’s mean-spirited. It’s immature. It’s unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it, taking things out of context and then tried to spread something on national news. It’s not fair, and it’s not right.” -Alaskan Governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on whether or not she thought Africa was a “country”
61. "I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll plough right on through that and maybe prematurely plough through it, but don’t let me miss an open door.” - Sarah Palin on running for president in 2012
62. “John McCain calls himself a maverick, but he votes with George Bush
90 percent of the time. That’s not a maverick. That’s a sidekick.” - Senator Robert Casey Jr. in a speech at the Democratic National Convention
63. "Maybe a hundred...That would be fine with me." - John McCain, to a questioner who asked if he supported President Bush's vision for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq for 50 years, Derry, New Hampshire, Jan. 3, 2008
64. “That wrinkly white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I’m running for president. So thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude, and I want America to know I’m, like, totally ready to lead.” – Paris Hilton responding to John McCain’s ad comparing her to Barack Obama
65. "I think if you're just talking about income, how about $5 million?" - John McCain, after being asked by Rev. Rick Warren to define "rich," Lake Forest, California, Aug. 16, 2008
66. "I think -- I'll have my staff get to you. Its condominiums where -- I'll have them get to you." --John McCain after being asked how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own, interview with Politico, Las Cruces, N.M.
67. “I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.” -John McCain discussing his support of the Iraq troop surge at a town hall meeting in Rochester, New Hampshire
68. “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.” - General Wesley Clark on Face the Nation questioning John McCain’s experience to be president
69. “Our enemies will test the new president early. Remember that the truck bombing of the World Trade Center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the Bush administration.” – Senator Joe Lieberman on Face the Nation describing why he thought John McCain would be better prepared in January 2009 to lead the nation
70. “I think it’s very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States.” – John McCain in a conference call with bloggers discussing an endorsement of Barack Obama by Ahmed Yousef, chief political adviser to the Prime Minister of Hamas
71. “That old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran… bomb, bomb, bomb.” – John McCain at a town hall meeting in South Carolina singing Bomb Iran to the tune of Barbara Ann in response to a question about possible military action in Iran
72. “There was unqualified people in charge, there was a total misreading of the dimensions of the disaster, there was a failure of communications.” - John McCain standing in New Orleans discussing a list of mistakes made by the White House in response to the Hurricane Katrina Disaster
73. “It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.” – McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb
74. “The court got this one right—but only by a 5-4 decision. Citizens of the United States of America [darn] near lost a critical God-given legal right to self-defense by one stinking vote. … Thanks to these three Supreme Court decisions, many conservatives may now feel compelled to return to the GOP flock, hold their noses REAL tight, and vote for John McCain in November.” – political consultant Chuck Muth
75. “This election is not about issues, this election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” - Rick Davis, McCain campaign manager
76. “This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin. For God’s sake, McCain, stop it. For once in this campaign, put your country first” – an apparently hysterical Andrew Sullivan
77. “If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.” - Joe Biden, addressing the National Guard about the time his helicopter had to make a landing due to a sudden snowstorm
78. “Mark my words.It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.” – Joe Biden
79. “Joe Biden wasn’t even on Barack Obama’s short list until August 7, when Russia suddenly invaded the neighboring country of Georgia. That’s the word from key Democrats meeting here in Denver who say the Obama campaign’s need to shore up its foreign policy bona fides helped push the Delaware senator to the top of the pack. ‘We didn’t pick our nominee. Vladimir Putin did,’ is how one Democrat, who professes to be pleased with the Biden choice, put it.” – Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund
80. "Stand up, Chuck, let 'em see ya." –-Joe Biden, to Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham, who is in a wheelchair, Columbia, Missouri
81. “Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative…I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.” – John McCain’s confusing campaign tactic regarding the Wall Street Bailout
82. "Wall Street got drunk and now it's got a hangover. And the question is how long will it sober up and not try to do those fancy financial instruments?" - George Bush's analysis of America's financial services meltdown
83. “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse.” – President George Bush on corporate bailouts
84. "It's not based on any particular data point, we just wanted to choose a really large number." - Treasury Department spokeswoman explaining how the $700 billion number was chosen for the US bailout, quoted on Forbes.com.
85. “Just because God created the world in seven days doesn’t mean we have to pass this bill in seven days.” - Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas on the bailout
86. "It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious." - Congressman Gary Ackerman, on the big three carmakers arriving in a private jet to beg the government for financial aid.
87. “I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Huckabee or McCain]
get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.” - Rush Limbaugh on his radio show, January 15, 2008
88. “I need to know if she really thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago….I want to know that, I really do, because she’s going to have the nuclear codes.” - Celebrity Matt Damon attempting to make a point and showing his ignorance of the role and power of the vice president
89. "That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He's getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him and he -- he dove for the floor." – Mike Huckabee after his speech to the National Rifle Association was interrupted by a loud noise
90. “It tastes like squirrel.” – Mike Huckabee on what squirrel tastes like
91. “It was the most memorable time of my life. It was a touching moment because I never thought this day would ever happen. I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I help him, he’s gonna help me.” – Obama supporter Peggy Joseph at an Obama rally
92. “And guess what this liberal would be all about. This liberal will be about socializing…uh, um... would be about, basically, taking over, and the government running all of your companies.” – Congresswoman Maxine Waters sharing her vision of free market principles if the oil companies didn’t lower prices
93. “Many of the indices for the GOP are dreadful, especially that they lost the vote of two-thirds of those aged 18 to 29. They lost a generation! If that continues in coming years, it will be a rolling wave of doom.” – Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan
94. “If you believe the left is tolerant, open-minded and democratic, you’re in for a rude awakening.” – columnist David Limbaugh
95. “In response to skyrocketing gas prices, liberals say, practically in unison, ‘We can’t drill our way out of this crisis.’ What does that mean? This is like telling a starving man, ‘You can’t eat your way out of being hungry!’ ‘You can’t water your way out of drought!’ ‘You can’t sleep your way out of tiredness!’ ‘You can’t drink yourself out of dehydration!’ Seriously, what does it mean? Finding more oil isn’t going to increase the supply of oil? It is the typical Democratic strategy to babble meaningless slogans, as if they have a plan. Their plan is: the permanent twilight of the human race.” – Ann Coulter
96. “They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs.” – Mitt Romney from his “Faith in America” speech
97. "The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave." -- Patrick Fitzgerald, attorney in Chicago, as Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is accused of trying to auction Barack Obama's senate seat in return for favors
98. ”I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.” – Barack Obama, friend and ally of Gov. Blagojevich
99. "I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly and notoriously. Those who feel like they want to sneakily and wear taping devices, I would remind them that it kind of smells like Nixon and Watergate." – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich the Monday before his arrest on corruption charges
David Huntwork is a conservative activist and freelance columnist in Northern Colorado, where he lives with his wife and three daughters. You may view his bio and past columns at http://DavidHuntwork.tripod.com.