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. Steve

    Hillary can't do it without Bill. Bill needs to ride off into the sunset. Obama will win out.

    January 8, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  2. Mike, Land O Lakes, FL

    As much as I love Bill, right now I prefer anyone but Bush/Clintons. This isn't about family dynastiy. I think the Clinton's are getting a little too desperate with Hilary crying like a baby yesterday and all!!

    January 8, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  3. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Remember this Obamites:

    1) Bill Clinton lost Iowa and New Hampshire in 1992 – and went on to the White House!

    2) Bill Clinton is not the one you want to engage in forensic debate – he tore Bush, Sr. a new one and anybody else that got in his way!

    3) The Clintons have shown that they know how to win!!!

    January 8, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. MImi Penaranda

    You go, Bill. I am voting for Hillary no matter what Obama has to say. The man was so arrogant about his win in Iowa, can you imagine how he will react if he wins the White House? He reminds me of George Bush!

    For me Hillary is the only candidate, Democratic or Republican, that cannot be pushed over and who will stand up for my rights and everybody else's when the push comes to shove.

    January 8, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. Adam

    Is there no limit to Bill and Hill's belief that they deserve the White House? Refering to Obama's campaign as a "fairy tale" shows their belief that a rejection of those two is so beyond belief that it must be fictional. Is it at all possible that people are finally saying WE DON'T WANT YOU!? I think you are the one living in a fantasy world Bill.

    Plus, aren't these same issues of outright supremecy over detractors and self-righteousness that cause people to hate Bush?

    I can't understand why people still like these two. My vote is for a man of dignity.

    Go Barack

    January 8, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  6. SteveJobs

    I am so tired of people, the media, and opposing candidates saying that any of the other candidates are "Not experienced enough", to run the country. Last time I checked, there is , NOT 1 SINGLE FORMER PRESIDENT running in this election. And as far I know NOT 1 SINGLE PRESIDENT, From George Washington to George Bush Jr., ever ran a country before being elected to run this one. So give it a break with this not experienced "CRAP". No one running is "Experienced" at running a nation.

    January 8, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  7. PR

    People! Obama is a FLASH IN THE PAN! He is not ready for prime time. I do not want a repeat of on the job training, that is what Obama will require. Even with OJT Bush FAILED. In MN, when Jesse Ventura got in for gov. it was due mainly to the younger vote AND IT WAS A BIG MISTAKE!! Obama must be highly impressed with himself to run for president with his current experience. Hillary and Bill are a team, a good team and they give a rip. America was not in the gigantic SINKING pothole that we are now when they left the White House. Bill's personal discretion history are his to own. Bill harmed himself and his family not the whole U.S. and generations to come. Hillary has worked hard for many years, she is the RIGHT PRESIDENTIAL CANIDATE!

    January 8, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. Fred, TN

    Bill, we are tired of hearing all the static. JFK was the last true Democrat in the White House. How many years of Bush Clinton can we endure.

    The Dems have had their chance to end the war and have neglected to push for change. I am disgusted with both parties and it looks like Ron Paul is the only
    true change agent on the trail.

    January 8, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. vicky long island

    Few posted comments are based on emotion instead of logic. Those who take the time to study ALL of both Clintons' achievements would realize that both have done a lot of good for our country. No candidate is stronger than the media. Before a broadcast last night, about two dozen N.H. were gathered together by a broadcaster. I think CNN. When asked how many had changed their mind, most hands went up. And, when asked who would they vote for now, most said they had changed to Obama. Anyone with a pea brain could see through the pre broadcasting criteria!!! This primary is not about who will do the best job – it's about the power of the media.

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  10. Kim B

    Obama will win the nomination... and ultimately the White House... Obama08'

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. sabrina01

    THE PEOPLE ARE SO EASILY MISLEAD BY BILL AND HILLARY SHE ONLY SPEAKS PART OF THE TRUTH...OBAMA VOTED AGINST THE WAR HIS OPPONENTS WERE FOR IT WHEN IT WAS TIME TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS THAT ARE ALREADY OVER THEIR DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT HE WILL NOT SUPPORT THEM.....SHE AND BILL DOESN'T STATE ALL THE FACTS JOHN EDWARD STATED HIM AND MC CAIN WORK ON A BILL OF RIGHTS FOR THE PEOPLE AGIANST HEALTHCARE COMPANY ....IN HER RALL SHE SAID " YEAH JOHN SAIDS HE'S FOR THE PEOPLE BUT HIS BILL DIDN'T PASS! WHAT SHE DIDN'T MENTION IS WHY BUSH AND HER HUSBAND REJECTED IT....ONE VOTER WAS FOR EDWARDS THEN WENT TO CLINTON BECUASE SHE SAID HE DIDN'T PUSH THE BILL OF RIGHTS ....WHO CAN SUPPORT A UNTRUTHFUL PERSON IF SHE HAS TO STEEP THIS LOW ...SHE HAS NO CHARACTER AND ITS ABOUT THEM THEY THINK THE WHITE SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN TAKINGFROM THEM WELL THANK GOD THE VOTER GOT MORER INFO AND WENT BK TO EDWARDS .....GREED IS THEIR DESTINY

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. rick

    hey folks, Obama has bheen running this campaign for nearly a year, he never attacked Hillary and Bill when he was behind. And if Clinton is so concerned that the nation does not know what he stands for, why don't they direct everyone to Obama's web site?

    Realty is Clinton =the past, and you cannot change that, they are from the 90's.

    I hope they don't make fools of themselves but I see it coming

    Obama 08!!!

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Mike

    If Obama is a Fairy Tale, then Bill Clinton is in it and playing the part of Pinocchio

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. Brad Allen

    I'm so sick of people claiming we need Hillary because of her 'Experience'.
    We've had people with this so called experience in the White House and Congress for years and all they keep doing is screwing up everything!
    I am ready for Real Change, not the same ol' politics we've had for so many years (like the dirty tactics the Clintons (whom, I used to like) are using now).
    Go Obama!

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. jane

    Its a shame to see Bill Clinton scramble like this. Its not like his wife isnt still the front runner. its just two elections so far, there is still a long way to go.
    Obama must be doing something right. This early in the game and Hillary calls on Super Bill Clinton to the rescue.
    Give someone else a chance, enough of the Clintons and Bushs, they have had there chance.
    They need to realise the people want hope and not just another Old washington insiders.

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. RealityKing

    Bill is pissed because this is his last best hope for a somewhat dignified legacy.

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. Eric

    "We expect all of this politics-as-usual fear mongering (Hussein/Islam/ Kenya/ who is Obama really??) from the Republican xenophobes at Frontpage and Fox. It's quite shameful when it comes from fellow Democrats – especially a fellow Democrat who says that she's about change."

    Couldn't have said it better myself. It saddens me that Democrats are using the politics of fear and hatred against eachother on this forum... When did liberals begin to believe that this was ok? Or, were the republicans right about the Clintons all along? Barack is now more than a candidate, he is a movement, a dream to many.. .

    January 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. Paul

    I voted for Obama in Iowa. Now I'm sorry that I did, I think I was influenced by all the marketing, hysteria and hype of Obama-mania.

    I am so shocked that so many of Obama "supporters" espress so much hate and partizanship (even if inside the Dems), which is exactly he's running against. Just read the thread above... It's amazing how someone so cool and presumably nice can have supporters like that. It's as if Ann Coulter has been cloned a million times and set on the loose. The more I watch and read this, the dirtier I feel.

    I spent all day yesterday reading his website again for details on his position on issues. He has the same core view that Bill Clinton had in 1992 and later. Obama is just a "new and improved" version, with a marketing gimmick of the moment (what "change" has now already become).

    January 8, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. Gideon

    Can't wait to see the "Clinton-Bush" dynasty to vanish
    from the American politics.

    The Clintons are running for their ego and hunger of power!
    Not for the Democratic party or the country!

    January 8, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. av3

    WE HAVE HAD A BUSH CLINTON DYNASTY THE LAST 20 YEARS. THIS TYPE OF INCUMBENCY BREEDS COMPLACENCY AND CORRUPTION. GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW THIS, HE TURNED DOWN A GUARANTEED THIRD TERM. IF THE CLINTONS LOVED THIS COUNTRY SO DEARLY, AND IF IT WASNT ABOUT POLITICS, THEY WOULD SEE THIS AND DO LIKEWISE. THE EXPERIENCED ESTABLISHMENT IS RUNNING THIS COUNTRY INTO THE GROUND WHILE PADDING THEIR OWN POCKETS.

    TO THIS THERE IS NO DEBATE.

    January 8, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. Sue, Michigan

    DMON-Clinton lied about what should have been a personal issue-GWB lies about things that matter to all of us-our personal freedoms for one. I'd rather have the former than the latter, thank you. You do realize that your favorite President can have you taken from your home, lock you away, give you no lawyer, no rights, on his sayso? What? You don't think he could? He's done it already–all those nifty little Executive orders and signing statements have given him more secret power than any President in history.
    And to those who discredit what Clinton says just because you don't like him-take a little time to get to know your "transparent" candidate. There isn't a man out there without something to hide, or something to spin...Obama is as much a politician as Hillary or anyone else-he's just softer spoken and seems like the guy next door. Well, we have that now, and look where that's gotten us.
    The guy next door hired every Washington insider he could find, and they proceeded to dismantle everything good about the US.
    Taxes? Let's see, if the Feds don't have tax revenue, then the states don't get any except from their own people, and here in Michigan, that isn't quite cutting it, since our economy has totally tanked under Bush. A good friend of mine put it this way "Taxes are the dues we pay to live in a civilized society." I'd rather tax and have a balanced budget than be in debt to the Chinese for decades. How about you?

    January 8, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. Joyce Mosier

    President Clinton is so very, very correct in that Obama is spouting nothing but daydreams and fairy tales. He sticks his nose up in the air as though he is just too far above anything nasty, but he like everyone else is fighting for position and he just isn't that clean. Besides, what specific "changes" is he going to make? Paint the White House pink? Get rid of Congress? No, he'll have the same everyday options that everyone else has had in the government.

    And wasn't it coincidental that he visited his "roots" when he did. So he can give a good speech. There's lots more to being a president than that. I do believe Hillary has the wherewithall to be a good president and the guts to withstand any kind of attack and the mentality to decipher the problems in the world and better our position. Lord knows that after Bush our position is lower than it has ever been! Actually, I feel sorry for the next president. He really is inheriting a mess, both at home and abroad. Two wars looking like it might be three or four and even a country not accepting dollars? China owns us right now and heaven help us if it calls in the debt we owe–or sell our IOUs to an enemy country.

    Good luck, Hillary! And, Bill, it would be good to see you around again. And bless you for sticking up for your wife and partner!!

    January 8, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. jack, ny, ny

    Can someone answer me what does Obama stands for. He says hope and change. What does he mean? I bet none of the obama supporter knows anything about it.

    January 8, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. MIKE

    HILLARY AND BILLS OWN STATEMENTS WILL BE THE REASON WHY SHE LEAVES THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. AS AMERICANS WE MAY FORGIVE, BUT WILL NEVER FORGET.
    OBAMA MAY NOT HAVE GONE TO PRESIDENTIAL SCHOOL TO EARN HIS DEGREE IN EXPIERENCE,BUT AT LEAST HE GIVES AMERICA A REASON TO BELIEVE.ALL HILLARY WANTS TO DO IS RELIVE THE PAST.THAT’S NOT CHANGE NOR IS HER PLANS FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE,JUST ASK THOSE WHO LIVE IN NEW YORK AND THEY WILL GIVE TELL YOU WHAT HER PLAN INSTILLS.I BRING YOUR ATTENTION TO THE ARTICLE IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL DATED JANUARY 5, 2008,TITLED “A QUESTION FOR HILLARY”.THE HIGHEST PREMIUMS IN THE NATION AND REFUSES TO ALLOW LOWER COST HEALTH CARE,13% OF WHICH ARE UNINSURED.
    OBAMA HAS BROUGHT YOUNG VOTERS TO THE SPOTLIGHT AND ARE SPEAKING WITH THEIR VOTES.SOMETHING THAT NIETHER CLINTON COULD ACCOPMPLISH.IF THAT’S NOT A SIGN OF CHANGE THEN, I DON’T KNOW WHAT CHANGE IS.
    THOSE IN WASHINGTON AND SPECIAL I NTEREST GROUPS HAVE BEEN GIVEN FREE REIGNS LONG ENOUGH.IT’S TIME WE HAVE SOMEONE WHO WORKS FOR THE PEOPLE.

    January 8, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Barbara

    Have people forgotten what happened to Bill Clinton because he lied, and lied under oath? And he and Hillary would always blame someone or something for their mistakes and poor judgements? Bill should fade away, his opinions don't interest me at all.

    January 8, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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