Barack Obama: U.S. presidential election, 2008/Senate attendance, missed votes

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Barack Obama, U.S. Senator (D-Ill.)
This article is part of the
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of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and
the 2008 presidential election
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Democratic ticket "top tier"

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) "has missed the most votes of any Democratic presidential hopeful in the Senate over the last two months, including a vote on an Iran resolution he has blasted Sen. Hillary Clinton for supporting," CNN reported November 2, 2007.[1] Since September 2007, Obama has missed 80 percent of Senate votes.

Glenn Thrush reported September 24, 2007, in Newsday "Since January 2007, Obama "has racked up three times as many missed votes" as Hillary Clinton, who has missed 28 votes or 8.3 percent, "according to roll call records."[2]

"He's missed 23.7 percent of his votes, according to vote-tracking databases. The issues he did not cast ballots on ranged from the symbolic to the significant, and included measures on abortion, homeland security, bridge safety, foreign aid, the alternative minimum tax and a failed no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in June [2007].

"Obama has been absent for 82 of his chamber's 346 votes during the current two-year session, a measure of how much time he's been spending in the crucial campaign states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina," Thrush wrote.[2]


Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey

Obama's campaign told Hotline "that he would be missing the Mukasey vote, as he was busy on a bus tour through Iowa [on November 8, 2007] when the vote was called on short notice.

"'Sen. Obama won't be going back to DC tonight to vote for Mukasey,' said Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs. 'He's already announced his position on it. I don't think the vote will be close.'"[3]

Kyl/Lieberman bill

"Obama’s been hitting Hillary pretty hard over her vote on the [non-binding 'sense of the Senate'] Kyl / Lieberman bill[4] back in September. Well... since October 4th anyway.[5] He was pretty quiet on it for the first week or so. Not sure what the reason for his initial silence was - might be because he missed the vote (along with a LOT of other votes, apparently)," Alegre wrote November 2, 2007, at The Daily Kos.[6]

"Well according to CNN – Obama (along with everyone else in the Senate) was informed the night before about the upcoming vote."[6]

"Yes... Obama’s missed a lot of votes[7] since the summer break, as noted in the above video clip (don’t ya just LOVE YouTube?). The thing that always got me about his attacks on Hillary over a vote he skipped out on is that he tried to pass the buck on all this. Somehow, it’s someone else’s fault that he was campaigning up in New Hampshire when this vote on Kyl / Lieberman took place in DC on Sept. 26th.

"When challenged on his missed vote, his campaign blamed in on [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid. They claim he was told the vote was put off. I’ve always had a problem with the way he passed the buck and blamed others for his failure to cast a vote on a bill he’s describing as a green light for attacking Iran, but that’s neither here nor there. I’ve always suspected that he really did know that vote was coming up – he’s a US Senator after all and has a staff of something like 30 or 40 people working for him, and I’m sure at least ONE of those staffers are charged with the job of keeping track of when votes were coming up," Alegre wrote.[6]

Note that, on September 26, 2007, 98 Senators were present to vote on the bill, which passed 76-22.[8]

Taylor Marsh commented October 12, 2007, "Regarding 'Senator No-Show'":[9]

"As I've been saying for months, given his votes in the Senate and his behavior throughout the campaign there is no reason to assume Mr. Obama wouldn't have voted along with Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Dodd and the rest on the Iraq war. He's not distinguished himself once on Iraq while in the Senate, having the same record as Clinton.[10] He skipped on the Cornyn vote.[11] He also just recently, in the Dartmouth debate,[12] refused to pledge to get troops out of Iraq before 2013, just like Clinton and Edwards. This latest action with Obama not only missing the Kyl-Lieberman vote,[13][14] but not making a statement for hours afterwards, is puzzling. But that Obama also skipped the chance to call Clinton on it at the last debate, when Edwards made a point of doing so, seems even more troubling. It's not enough to attack opponents when your own actions don't pass the test.[15]"

If this is not enough, Jake Tapper reported October 8, 2007, for ABC News that, on April 24, 2007, Obama had cosponsored the [binding] Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007,[16] which, like Kyl-Lieberman, would have designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.[17]

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake wrote December 2, 2007,[18]

"A couple of things stick out. One -- I'd still like to see any indication made by Obama prior to the vote that he opposed the Kyl-Lieberman bill, because I just did not hear it. He doesn't get to campaign now on opposing it after sticking his finger in the wind -- at the time, many were watching that vote as a way to measure how sincere his desire to challenge the foreign policy establishment really was. He didn't vote. For him to pretend now that his opposition was full-throated and sincere is probably the most cynical move I've seen on the Democratic side of the ticket in this campaign."



  1. "Obama making less than a quarter of Senate votes," CNN, November 2, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Glenn Thrush, "Obama misses more senate votes than Clinton," Newsday, September 24, 2007.
  3. Eric Kleefeld, "Obama In Iowa When Mukasey Vote Was Scheduled," TPMElectionCentral, November 9, 2007.
  4. H.R.1585, Amendment 2011 (Kyl-Lieberman, et al.) posted by Laura Rozen at War and Piece Blog.
  5. "Obama: Clinton's vote for Iran measure repeats Iraq mistake," CNN, October 11, 2007. Includes video clip.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Alegre, "CNN: Senators Had Ample Notice on K/L Vote (w/ Video)," The Daily Kos, November 2, 2007.
  7. The U.S. Congress Votes Database": Barack Obama, The Washington Post.
  8. Greg Sargent, "Kyl-Lieberman Iran Amendment Passes By Huge Margin," TPM Election Centeral, Septmber 26, 2007.
  9. Taylor Marsh, "Regarding 'Senator No-Show',", October 12, 2007.
  10. Taylor Marsh, "Clinton - Obama have Same Votes on Iraq,", April 6, 2007.
  11. Taylor Marsh, "Obama Skips Cornyn Vote,", September 20, 2007.
  12. Taylor Marsh, "2008: Who Wants Out of Iraq?", October 7, 2007.
  13. Taylor Marsh, "Obama Slams Clinton For Iran Vote He Skipped,", October 8, 2007
  14. Taylor Marsh, "Obama Ducks Vote then Attacks Clinton,", October 11, 2007.
  15. Taylor Marsh, "The Talented Mr. Obama,", October 10, 2007.
  16. "H.R. 1400: Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007," introduced March 8, 2007,
  17. Jake Tapper, "The Obama Dissection," Political Punch Blog/ABC News, October 8, 2007.
  18. Jane Hamsher, "Obama hits Clinton on Kyl-Lieberman, ahead in Iowa poll," Firedoglake Blog, December 2, 2007.

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