November 8th, 2007
04:29 PM ET
6 years ago

Commentary: Clinton promoting the environment or his wife?

Former President Bill Clinton.

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Former President Clinton was in the Windy City this week to speak at an environmental conference, but it was his presence at a rally, attended mostly by African-Americans, that has Sen. Barack Obama’s hometown talking.

A Chicago-based group of African-American pastors and civic activists, the 21st Century Alliance of Progressive Leaders, hosted Wednesday’s event that attracted nearly 600 people. But the media was kept away, even moved from sidewalks by Chicago police to across the street, according to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell.

Clinton said he would have preferred that reporters be allowed inside.

But Thursday morning on my Chicago-based radio show on WVON the leader of the group said that a collective decision was made between his organization, the former president’s office and the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is Obama’s chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

So did the former president tell the Chicago media one thing, and his staff decided another?

Bishop Tavis Grant initially told me that the event was billed as a conversation with Bill Clinton on a variety of issues, including global warming, but he later admitted that it was a rally for the senator’s presidential campaign.

The issue has caused a dust-up, because the event took place in Obama’s backyard. The rally was in the Parkway Ballroom on the South Side of Chicago in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood, a stone’s throw from the senator’s home in Hyde Park.

Traci Blunt, a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign, said the confusion over the rally, and the failure to not allow reporters in, was theirs.

“It’s a mea culpa on our part,” she told me. “We should have opened it up to the press.”

She added that with the number of people in attendance, especially in Obama’s backyard, “we would have loved to showcase that.”

The ballroom has historical significance, because first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy spoke to black supporters there during their husbands’ respective presidencies.

A Sun-Times article put it this way: “The rally was closed to the press. One organizer admitted some in the largely African-American crowd might have been squeamish about being outed as a Hillary Clinton supporter in Obama's hometown.”

Ah, the beauty of Chicago politics.

- CNN Contributor Roland Martin

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Roland Martin
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Hank, Fort Myers, Fl

    Tyical press mumbo jumbo. Now that Hillary is in the lead...and doing quite well on her own I might add...every time Bill enters a public hits the news w/ sound bites about how efficient the process was. Come on...he isn't running, Hillary is the candidate...and I am certain, his influence in her administration would be minimal...Thank God.

    November 8, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. Who's running,Clinton or Clinton

    Windy City is a good spot for a windbag to let out some air.

    November 8, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Vicky,NYC,NY

    Cnn, are you asking me a question or you are telling me the answer? Just wondering..Looks like there is both ways in everything nowdays....

    November 8, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. David,ill,chicago

    If Hillary actually become the president of united states, then there will be the prime minister who is clinton himself and a vice president...I think it will be bad for this country to have the white house overcrowed!!
    I don't know If I love clinton anymore like I used to when he left the office...Hillary looks lame in my eyes. I want a woman president but I don't think it is this one...

    November 8, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Bob, Seattle

    If it isn't one fuzzy, wishy washy issue with the Clinton's, it's another. Why do people insist on keeping these people held in high regard. They only know how to operate in the grey areas of existence.

    November 8, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. James, Phoenix AZ

    It makes complete sense the press wasn't invited. How can Hillary or Bill be expected to talk openly and honestly with reporters around?

    November 8, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Ann ME

    This man, Clinton, is a deceiver, a power hungry thug who uses thugs to put honest people out of his/her way.

    November 8, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. Mark Columbus, Ohio

    Hey Billy Bob Clinton. You just make me sick, period! I believe the next war we fight should be against the state of Arkansas for giving us President Bubba.

    November 8, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. Robert Wooller

    If America realises how evil Bush is, then at least the 7000 or more troops that died in Iraq didn't completely die in vain. It just goes to show that you don't start a few illegal wars and get away with it.

    November 8, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Karen,ny

    Oh man, he looks so friggin ugly!

    November 8, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. Eric, Walnut Creek, CA

    There he is again pointing that "I did not have sex with that woman" finger.

    Why doesn't he just shut up? NOBODY BELIEVES A THING HE SAYS...EVEN HILLARY'S campaign people are cringing every time he opens that cesspool of a mouth of his (he is the biggest liar there is).

    He's just has to be the center of attention and has some serious psycholigical problems from his childhood.

    November 8, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. Ann ME

    Do followers of this man have any idea of the "wish list" from China this man bowed to while he was in office? Yes, China, they funded his campaign, therefore, they (China) demanded their own agenda be brought to bear on the American people. WAKE UP AMERICA, DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE AGAIN WITH HILLARY/CHU. Leave this comment in CNN!

    November 8, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Paul, grandrapids, michigan

    oh gosh, Bill Clinton's out supporting his wife again. Let's start with all the obama supporters blabbering on about clinton conspiracies and bla bla bla, while they overlook how Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards both go out and support their husbands.

    November 8, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. LinnieFB,Corona,CA

    No big mystery...Bill Clinton is popular among African-Americans....but not popular enough to deliver the black vote to his wife. His coattails aren't quite that long....

    November 8, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Megha, San Antonio, TX

    Roland Martin should not be allowed to write opinion columns, why can't anybody see he is clearly campaigning for Obama. If he is allowed, CNN needs to have opinion columns from biased writers for Hillary, Ed, Biden, etc. Let's play it fair, right Mr. Roland?

    November 8, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. Anon Chicago

    Clinton Lie Detector Test: Were his lips moving and his finger wagging?

    November 8, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. Mike, Panama CIty, FL

    Why is this news ?

    What do you expect clinton the most succesfull president ever NOT tocampaign for his wife ?

    you got to be kidding me

    November 8, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. Walter Perry Lousiana

    how come I can't post comments on Hillarys stories? the women doesn't have a clue, she has learned well from Slick Willy. I hope we don't have to listen to him for another year! arrrrrrrrgh, I was hoping he would disappear like Walter Mondale.

    November 8, 2007 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. Colin742

    I see the "Clinton Haters" are out in force trashing the internationally most respected and admired American political figure. The man who has brought free and low cost drugs to poor countries and saved many thousands of lives. The man who has raised billions for third world project. Peherhaps the greatest American since FDR.

    November 8, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  20. ronnie knoxville tn

    Bill and Hillary are useing the idea of mass media marketing to get people so used to see ing their mugs, that they'll vote for Hill. Think for yourselves if that's possible with all the propaganda being thrown around.

    November 8, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  21. DBC, GA

    An appropriate place for a 'wind bag' to be... the windy city !!!

    November 8, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  22. john williams san diego, ca.

    a poll today by has Hillarys honesty factor at 34% favorable, which is quite low , but she heads Bubba who is at 20% +or- 1%

    November 8, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  23. Lance in Monrovia CA

    600 people showed up?

    Clinton had a rally in NYC, her home turf a few months ago. 2400 people showed up. Impressive huh?

    Not when you realize Barack Obama had a rally in the same spot a few weeks ago, in NYC, and 24,000 people showed up.

    I myself attended a rally in Santa Barbara and 9000 people showed up to see Obama. I'd never seen a crowd as big in my life. Before it was even over the AP released a statement saying that 1,000 showed up.

    Can you say media bias?

    Obama is going to blow the Clintons out of the water. Bill is getting desperate.

    November 8, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  24. Megha, San Antonio, Tx

    Roland Martin should be barred from writing on opinion column, coz he is clearly campaigning for Obama. If he is allowed, then so should other biased supporters of Hillary, Ed, Biden, etc should be allowed to write too. Right Mr.Roland, you want to play fair (or is it just your rhetoric to support Obama and criticize Hillary?)

    Let's see if CNN deletes this comment.

    November 8, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  25. Russell,NC

    The trouble with Hillary being President, she would bring this snake in the grass with her.

    November 8, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
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