January 8th, 2008
04:10 PM ET
5 years ago

Bill Clinton targets media coverage of Obama

Watch Obama react to Bhutto's death
Watch Bill Clinton's comments Monday night.

(CNN) – On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, former President Bill Clinton criticized the media for not pressing Barack Obama more fully on Iraq, and accused the Illinois senator of shifting his position to reflect changing attitudes on the war.

"It is wrong that Sen. Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war," Clinton said at a campaign stop in Hanover, New Hampshire.

"And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since."

He added, "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

Clinton's wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, is battling Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former president briefly acknowledged that his wife's senior campaign advisor, Mark Penn, was mistaken to claim that Obama had no bounce out of Iowa after winning the state's caucuses because the poll numbers on the day after were relatively unchanged.

Then he abruptly changed the subject - suggesting that Obama's campaign had employed underhanded tactics.

"What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the senator from Punjab? Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook. Scouring me - scathing criticism over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million and indicted innocent people to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon.

"So you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want. It wasn't his best day. He was hurt. He felt badly we didn't do better in Iowa," said Clinton. "But the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true - and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months - is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there."

He added, lightheartedly, "Otherwise, I do not have any strong feelings about that subject."

The former president made the remarks as polls showed his wife trailing Obama in this important first-in-the-nation primary state.

Update:
Responding to the comments later Tuesday, Obama said the Clinton campaign was "frustrated," and he dismissed the notion the press has gone easier on him.

"Maybe I've been missing something, but it seems like you guys have been reporting on me the entire year," Obama told reporters. "I remember this summer when we were down 20 points, we were getting knocked around pretty good. And I didn't hear the Clinton camp complaining about how terrible the press was."

Related video: Watch John King and Jessica Yellin on Bill Clinton's comments

– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (1,430 Responses)
  1. Jojo

    I really think that Americans who believe and vote for Obama are not only stupids,but do not think.
    Let be realistic:Obama says he "is going to change the way business is done in Washington."That's fine.What has he changed since he has been there?For the record,he voted to fund war in Irak;voted for the patriot act;voted for the energy bill that has special interests,...
    He is going to bring change:Is education going to be free?Is health care going to be free?Are we going to have free debts,free taxes,free this,free that?Is he going to change the color of the white house?
    Also,who is he?Where is he coming from?His father is from Kenya and his mom from the US;so what does Indonesia has to here?
    Those are the questions voters have to ask themselves.Discus on issues,not on a slogan,words or dream.Also,don't forget that after that,the Republicans will be waiting and will not give him a free pass.They don't care,they just want to win elections.Be very careful.Yes you hate Hillary or Bill,but remember that on November,they will be aside and the Repubilacans will kill your dream once for all.

    January 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. Virginia-Broward County FL

    Hillary, you still have my vote! I think that you have worked hard to prepare for this day – gained valuable experience along the way. From your college days at Wellsley/Yale to your days as first lady in the governors mansion in AR. Than as first lady in the White House you were involved and supported Bill even when the going got tough. You prepared yourself to be a NY Senator and have worked tirelessly on children/womans issue and health care. I think you have the sincerest intentions to make this world a better place. You have been a roll model for woman across the nation and especially for Chelsea! Politics is a down and dirty business and the "good ol boys" feel threatened that a woman could become President. You Go Girl-don't give up!

    January 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Petra Fuhrmans

    Agree with President Clinton. The press is treating Hillary horribly and Obama is all of a sudden viewed as the answer to all our problems. He can not do any wrong in the eyes of the media. Where is the objectivity? He may be a great inspirational speaker, but it is unnerving that this country may actually fall for a feel-nice candidate instead of an actual leader who can fix our problems. Hillary is a can-do candidate for this can-do nation. Obama is mean-spirited in calling her campaign "depressing". It is downright "depressing" to see us go for fluff once more instead of substance and dedication from Hillary.

    January 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. PSK Lakeside, AZ

    Did Hillary get emotional on you, Bill? Stay out of it- if she sinks or swims it should not be dependant on your intervention- I think she can sling her own mud.

    January 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Chris, Orlando

    Time for new blood…..look at the HRC stage in Iowa…Bubba…Albright….McAuliffe….Gen. Clark….doesn’t look like change to me.

    She talks like that if she is not President (teary-eyed phony), the whole country will go to Hell. How narcissitic can one get?

    There is no basic policy difference among the Lib candidates…the question is who can get things done…..we know Hillary has accomplished nothing and she would get nothing done as President.

    January 8, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  6. Lee Chang, Surrey, Canada

    Charles T, VA: You are naive, misinformed and arrogant. And America deserves its destiny in the drain, if all are more Americans like you.
    Lee Chang, Surrey

    January 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Adam

    Whats wrong with a representative changing his views and opinions especially if it just happens to reflect the publics?

    January 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. TheTruthHurts

    I'm sure someone has said it before, but what is this amazing record Hillary is running on? Isn't she a second term senator who's never been elected to anything else except class treasurer? She was FIRST LADY for 8 years. Surely, she was an activist first lady, but where is this 35 years of getting things done in politics when she's never been a candidate before New York.

    That is a little disingenuous I think. Obama hasn't said a word about it and he is probably saving that one and a few others if needed.

    She and he are making it easier and easier and they don't even see it.

    January 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. L.M.

    GO BILL! GO HILL!
    It is about time someone tells Obama like he is. Sugar coated? You betcha. What happened to Oprah? Hunh?

    To Frederic: We ALL built America – black, white, red, yellow, brown. Don't be so racist. It appears to me that without coming out and saying it, Obama is trying to make this all about race. "Look at me." He totally forgets his "white" side! Oh, and so does Oprah and Tiger (who is after all 1/4 white among others).

    It is NOT about race – It is about who can do the best job as President. Anything is an improvement over what we have now, but we need someone strong who can say what they are going to do as opposed to "we need change." I need change too – about $10,000 a year would do it for me!

    January 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Gary

    Billy's desperate now. His hopes of babysitting the Interns is slipping away.

    January 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. curtis

    Bill, you may want to move out of Harlem you have officially lost your ghetto pass

    January 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Daus

    Mr. Clinton

    Let your wife fight for herself againt mr Obama.

    January 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. andy

    I think the man should have run as a Independent and not a democrat ! ands von I cant wait till new york and california thats where Im from and Im latino and she still is who we would like :) !

    January 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. Missy

    Bill Clinton is right on the fact that the media is playing with kid gloves when it comes to Barak Obama he has'nt been asked any real tough questions. I wonder why that is the media to afraid of Barak Hussein Obama to ask him any tough questions. At this point I don't know who I am going to vote for but I know it won't be Barak he's got a sneaky kind of way about him.

    January 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. Kwaku Daako

    Bill Clinton just makes me sick. Listen to the kettle calling the pot black! The Clintons are for the past. They had their time! Good Bye! Obama is for the future and that's what America needs – someone who inspires Americans to higher ideals and a sense of optimism about their future.

    January 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Robert

    To Bill Clinton: :Go fish!"

    January 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. greenplant

    The media wants Obama to win the nomination so he can get crushed in the general election so that they can do specials and montages about how racist america still is. Pathetic.

    January 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. aware

    The inspirational Obama certainly inspires a crowd of very hateful bloggers. This is not the influence America needs. I thought the message was supposed to be unity/love not division/hate?

    January 8, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. Fred

    I see some people thinking that the independents who are voting for Obama is some kind of GOP plot. Well you have got it twisted, because it is a Hillary nomination that conservatives were ready for. All you had to do was turn to Fox news and see they had their attack dogs ready to pounce. But this surge for Obama put a monkey wrench in their plans, and now they have to go back to drawing board. And you can talk all you want about how much love Obama is getting from the press now, I am sure a couple of months ago when Hillary was on top you didn't have any problems then. What we are seeing now is the system work as it should, and for the first time in a long time voters are saying we Don't have to settle, we decide who we are going to back. This isn't Obama, or the media pulling some con job on the public, this is the will of the people here, standing up for something, instead of settling for the status quo. I am sorry the Hillary supports aren't getting the benefit of that movement, but you, Bill, whoever can't stop of the will of the people.

    January 8, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. Steven Furtado, Kunkletown PA

    @ Charles T, VA

    I should point out that the country HAS had an independent president before:

    George Washington.

    January 8, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. Gbryant

    OH GREAT. NObama just made a statement that we need to be partners with Kenya? We need to help stop the violence, but how is Kenya going to help us with national security? Going to hear a lot of this if he is nominated.

    January 8, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. Tee

    The funny thing is.....the clintons wants to pit dems vs rep.....obama wants to try and get all working together. i guess when all you see is dems vs reps it's a fairy tail mind you most of us are indy voters. reps better start paying attention or obama is going to run away with the election.

    down with the good ole boy system!!

    January 8, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  23. manny james marietta ga

    I will be voting Replubican this time around. My party is so stupid. We are caught up in a wave of no return..Between the Media and the Replubicans, they are finally getting their way..Getting Hillary out of the way has been a priority from day one.. That's why I am changing my party to the Replublicans. They are so much smarter. They understand that all they have to do is put the negitive tone out there and the MEDIA will pick it up. Especially if it involve Hillary. We are watching a successful execution of Hillary and the DEMS can't see it. I am and African American who will never vote for Obama. If Mike Huckabee wins the nomination, I will be voting for him.. You will see a huge split in the party if Obama win. It will turn out to be one of the lowest turnout in quite awhile. Hillary Supportes are very angry!!!The Clinton supporters see and understand the one sideness of the debate. Now I understand why some country's gag on the press. Dan Abrams said it best last nite. " If 70% of the people in this country get there news from tv, and it's all bad news for one canidate, it's not fair. Everyone should receive the same treatment. Even Mr Obama would agree with that. Afterall, he said he's going to bring this country together. Race doesn't matter to me. The only thing matter to me is getting the right person in the white House. Do any of you Obama supporters know what he stands for. Please reply!!! Wake up america and don't be fooled again..

    January 8, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. ppgallini

    Last I remember, we voted not once but TWICE for a president we'd "most like to have a beer with". And look how well that turned out!

    Look at EXPERIENCE. Look at PAST ACCOMPLISHMENTS. The best barometer of future performance is PAST PERFORMANCE.

    Keep personality out of it people. Obama may or may not be likable. Who of you acutally knows him personally??? You believe him but you have no proof that he is what he claims to be. Its the classic example of the wolf in sheep's clothing. Or leading the sheep to the slaughter. So gullible are the American people and caught up in media hype.

    This is not a popularity contest. This is about leading and getting things done. Hillary's record, if you ever care to look at it, shows she gets the job done.

    Obama is a child. He talks a good talk. But has no substance. You'll see.

    GO HILLARY!!!

    January 8, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. William

    At one point in my life I had great respect for Bill Clinton. Now, recently, I clearly see that he is as much Conniving as those that attacked him during his presidential Bid. GO Barrack. I have researched his stance on the issues and his background as far as his childhood, and I am pleased!!!

    January 8, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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