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. Barbd

    Let's hope the American public is not duped by Hillary like the great state of New York. She promised 200,000 jobs. What? She couldn't produce those jobs? She has done absolutely nothing in the senate. How can you expect her to do anything if she is elected President. In her first term, she promoted her book and traveled the country raising money for the Democratic Party. When the stupid people of New York voted her in again (after she said her first duty was to the State of New York) – she started her run for President. Wake up and smell the coffee. The Clinton machine is all about power. I say ABH (anyone but Hillary)

    January 8, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Casey, Minneapolis, MN

    I just wish someone would actually ask Obama what he's going to do!! Yes, we are all ready for change – HOW are you going to do it?!?!

    January 8, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Sue, Granville OH

    Sounds like the Clinton political machine is getting a little desperate!

    If she felt entitled to become the nominee, she's getting exactly what she deserves. Sure, it'd be nice to see a woman president–but after eight years of Bush, I'd really like to see a GOOD president, and that would definitely be Barack Obama.

    The traditional Democratic base must take their Clinton blinders off and see who this man really is–the best possible hope for our country and the party. Enough is enough, Bill–the Clinton era is over.

    January 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Lou Winsky

    Incredulous! Bill, it's time to pasture that old nag.

    January 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. Patrick Oliver

    I have nothing against Obama. He seems like about as decent a person that's run for president in the past several years. But I do think the Clinton's are totally right: the media hasn't been nearly as tough on him as Hillary Clinton. Personally, I think this campaign is making it obvious that sexism is a lot stronger in this country than racism.

    As a voter and as a citizen, I am completely disgusted with not only our country in general, but our ridiculous political system. Why should the people of Iowa and New Hampshire (2 small states that aren't representative at all) have SO much power in the presidential race??? It's bad enough that every state has completely different rules about who can vote for which party. And caucuses are so different from primaries.

    The only thing that would be fair is a national primary day. Then all American voters would have equal access to the candidates and an equal vote. Regardless of what candidate you support or like, I think we can all agree that it is just EGRIGIOUS for the media to basically be declaring Obama the winner of the Democratic nomination when literally 12% of the Democrats in 1 small state (Iowa) have voted! Since perception creates reality, the other 100 million of us have basically had our votes disenfranchised by the media! Hillary Clinton had a national lead of 20 pts last week. Now it's gone. And after NH (one small state), likely Obama will be the national leader tomorrow. Whether you actually like her or not, we can all agree that after 35 years of public service and almost a year of campaigning, Hillary is basically getting ripped off just because Iowa (the ONLY state that's NEVER elected a woman to a statewide or national office, by the way) got to vote first and Obama got 8% more (of the 12% of registered Dems that chose to caucus - which is not that many actual) votes. That's just as unfair as Al Gore being elected president by 500,000+ voters, but not declared the winner.

    This country isn't a democracy at all!! The presidency is not decided by 300 million Americans. Their votes can be overridden and the election decided by 540 political appointees (i.e. the Electoral Colleage). And we stand for this!! The expression "Popular Vote" doesn't even exist in other actual democracies! The highest vote getter wins.

    It's all so disgusting, no wonder so many people just tune it out. If he does win the nomination, I sincerely hope Obama can get elected. But I can just see McCain and the Republican machine scaring everyone against voting for someone with so little experience. And we'll have 4 more years of Republican rule by an old white guy. Just watch. God help us!

    January 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Patrick, New York,Ny

    Wow! Would you all listen to yourselves. This is exactly what Obama doesn't want to happen. Save it for the opposition. OH, wait, if OBAMA were the nominee, there is no opposition. There is no us against them, only us. How beautiful is that?

    Mo Unity_ get out of fantasy land and into reality

    January 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. Joe

    I agree 1000% with Bill.

    How can any of you sit here and defend Obama when he changes his opinion everyday. Everything he says is only to manipulate you so that he gets into office.

    It's ludacris. Someone steps up and points out the FACTS and the first thing you want to say is "join the Obama express"?????

    How about saying something meaningful and asking why Obama didn't retort with an answer on why he's covering up his lies??

    January 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. A.S.B.

    Clinton's beware.... American's are tired of the fighting, back-biting and distastefulness of Washington. The Democrats have for the most part, remained focused on the issues we face as a Nation, while the Republicans came out of the gates swinging at each other. If either Hillary, Bill or any of the Democratic Candidates resort to negativity and mean spirited rhetoric we may as well buckle up and get ready for four more years of the same old crap.

    a.s.b.

    January 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Sandra

    Free Ride- Fairy Tale?

    Hillary has 34 years of experience as what elected official? Oh, that's right, she has only been in elected office for 7 years. Obama has been in the US Senate for 3 and the Illinois Senate for 8 years (and the state of Illinois is far bigger than the state of Arkansas). Which reminds me, why didn't Hillary go back to Arksansas and run for office? Less I digress-

    Hillary was declared the front-runner and the nominee before she put her hat in the ring. Even now on CNN she has been projected to recieve over 169 delegates and we have only had primaries/caucuses in two states thus far- and you're talking about favortism.

    The free ride was given when she moved to New York and won the Senate. The fairy tale was the hype given on the Healthcare Reform that she didn't complete during the Clintons 8 years in the White House.

    Hillary Clinton is not entitled to the White House- she has to earn it.

    January 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. obamaalltheway

    I'm sick and tired of the same two families having control of the White House for over 20 years (Bush and Clinton). It IS TIME FOR A CHANGE.

    Enough about experience already- iThe President doesn't actually execute- they just need to inspire others to do the execution for them.

    GO BARACK!

    January 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Ashok

    You all OBAMA followers...Don't be puppets in wrong hands.

    You are being led by republicans and right-wing masterminds to fall into their trap.
    They are trying to mis-lead people making them think that supporting a black candidate is IN because it would be a CHANGE.
    JUST WAIT and SEE...
    If this republican agenda (which it won't) succeeds, they will expose real OBAMA in his true colors (of course monochromatic black) and steal away the presidency and this time they won't need the Supreme Court because they will have the misguided throngs of OBAMA supporters to do the dirty work for them.
    WAKE UP and SEE THE WORLD IN BRIGHT LIGHTS not the dreamy halo.

    Hillary for 08 and 12

    January 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Dan

    In my opinion Mr Bill Clinton Needs to have a seat and simply watch .
    He is trying to fight for another 3rd term in office indirectly .
    He needs to Leave Mr Obaraka Obama . The Voters have decided whom they want . The voters have decided and Mr Bill clinton has no right or doesnt need to remind Us of Iraq . Enough is Enough .

    January 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. Judi

    Hillary has my vote, no matter how CNN and FOX news.

    The bias ummistakable. CNN is trying to back the winner before the winner is declared.

    Can we have some objective in journalism?

    January 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. Tyrese Gail Williams

    Does anyone really care what this sleazy, lying, philanderer says? Obama will unite
    us, Hillary will divide us. The choice is very simple – unity or polarization. OBAMA 2008!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. DMT

    Both the Clintons should pack up and leave the country, he's a complete discrace and shes stupid enough to stick by his side. I guess money can buy anything if you are a Clinton.

    January 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. Teesha Jackson

    First, let me start off by saying I am black and I have voted both Republican and Democrat. The discussion is media coverage for Obama. At present, I am not drawn to one particular candidate yet and I don't want to make a big race deal here. But hypothetically, let's eliminate the fact that Mr. Obama is black. Would he be receiving the amount of coverage he is now if he was not black? What is in his message that sets him aside from everyone else. In my opinion, almost all of the candidates, Republican and Democrat, are discussing the same things and trying to convince us they can make "changes". So considering that they both could be making American history here, why are they not receiving the same equal coverage? Or, is it that one just has less presidential appeal? Because I don't see much difference in their messages. Teesha, Michigan

    January 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. Hans

    It's hilarious to read so many uninformed people on this message board...im glad the people of Iowa and NH decide the fate of this country and not u loonies

    January 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. john mith

    FLEM WETHER BILL CLINTON RETURN TO THE WHITE HOUSE OR NOT BILL WILL FINE. PEOPLE THAT ARE NOT GOING TO BE FINE ARE THE AVERAGE AMERICAN. SO YOU CAN MAKE YOURS NONSENSE COMMENTS THINKING THIS IS A JOKE. GUEST WHAT? IT IS NOT.THE MADIA IS ABSOLUTELY UNFAIR TO HILLARY. BUT LETS THEY GET BEEN NOMINATED THEN YOU PEOPLE WILL FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR MISTAKE. OBAMA HUSSEIN BARACK IS RUNNING ON THE WORD HOPE. WITH NOTHING IN IT. SHE STANDS BY RECORDS WETHER WE AGREE ON IT OR NOT THAT'S A DIFFERENT STORY. HUSSEIN BARACK OBAMA SHOULD NOT RUN AWAY FROM HIS RECORDS. THE SAID THAT HE IS AGAINST THE WAR BUT 300 BILLION TO FOUND IT HILLARY VOTE AGAINST. HE VOTED 70 TIMES PRESENT AS STATE SANATOR ON ISSUE LIKE ABORTION,ENERGY BILL, SOME SOCIAL PROGRAM. HE DID NOT VOTE YES OR NO BUT PRESENT. HE SHOULD BE ASKED AND HE MUST EXPLAINED WHY. I THINK THAT'S BEEN FAIR. BUT NOBODY IS ASKING THOSE QUESTIONS. IT IS A GENERAL CONSPIRACY OBVIOUSLY.

    January 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. CALVIN, GREENVILLE SC

    I THINK MOST ANTI- OBAMA POSTERS ARE MISSING THE POINT. I THINK THAT WHAT BRINGS PEOPLE TO SUPPORT OBAMA IS THE PERCEPTION THAT WE WILL FINALLY HAVE A PRESIDENT THAT WE CAN HOLD ACCOUNTABLE. PEOPLE REALIZE (IF COMMON SENSE IS USED) IS THAT THE FACT THAT THE CLINTONS HAVE SURVIVED ALL OF THESE INVESTIGATIONS, SHOWS THAT THEY ARE UNTOUCHABLE. BEING PERCEIVED AS SUCH DOESNT PROMOTE THE THEORY OF AMERICANS TAKING BACK THEIR GOVERNMENT.

    January 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  20. observing from MI

    More on bad Bill...
    if someone other than Hillary gets the democratic populations acceptance for being
    the democratic nomination, will others forgive him for how he is blasting the other
    democratic candidates? As head of the Democratic National Committee, he is
    being too biased. To support Hillary, he should have stepped down from the DNC
    to avoid the conflict of interest issues. But no, power is everything to the Clintons.

    January 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Liam

    Well, Bill Clinton is an expert on fairy tales. God how I fondly remember when he used to point that finger at us, and spin his fairy tales such as: "I did not Inhale" and that wonderful Clinton fairy tale: "I did not have sex with that Woman".

    Now Hillary is spinning her: keep us save from terrorism fairy tale. Remember that Bin Laden attacked the USA several times while HillBillary was in the White House, and because of Hillary's 35 years of getting things done, and being ready from day one, Bin Laden got away with every attack, and was able to hit us on 9/11. Now Hillary is ready from day one to stop him. How is that for a great Clinton Fairy Tale, folks!

    January 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. Ken Harris

    Hey all you Hillary supporters, repeat after me... Hillary Clinton is NOT, I repeat NOT automatically entitled to the Whitehouse. Her experience, attention to detail or not has not earned her this position. In fact, it is her vast experience that is the real fairy tale here as it is hugely overblown by all of her supporters including the king of all blowhards, her loving but wandering husband, Bill Clinton. Please tell me what she ever did that qualifies her more than anyone else in the race including Obama. You know as well as I do that it will be a very short list and if not, it will certainly be no longer than Barack Obama's list of accomplishments. Have you even looked at Barack Obama beyond what the media that supports the Clintons tells you? Have you read his book? Do you want a female president soooo much that you you would put Hillary Clinton in the race so she can have her clock cleaned by the GOP during the general election? Does it not bother you at all that she "cries" foul for a fraction of what she herslef has pulled already in this campaign? Does it not bother you the way she panders to you? Can you not see her say, do, change, twist anything and everything to secure your favor? If not, than you are truly the ones with the clouded vision. Hopefully it will clear up for you with an object lesson in democracy very soon!

    Barack will win this thing and hopefully the Clintons will fade into their rightful place in history!

    January 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. Pot & the Kettle

    Shouldn't the Dems throw this type of mud toward the other party? Isn't it the other party that got America into this mess in the first place? How can ANY candidate preach unity when each one of them is dividing their own party? For one, I would rather hear how each candidate is going to take action and make America what it was intended to be, a democracy of free choice for the betterment of all Americans and not what it is now, a land of fear, greed, benefits for the rich while the poor get the shaft, corporate greed, special interest running the land, injustice, and the blind eye to all men created equal to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Stop telling me why I shouldn't vote for a certain person, and tell me why I should vote for you!!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. John Adkisson, Sacramento, California

    President Clinton is veering close to a breakdown of his former credibility as a world voice. The over reaction to his spouse's poor performance in primaries makes him look like a hack bent on power–when he has always enjoyed a statesmanlike place in the political lives of Americans and non-Americans alike.

    Perhaps if he gets a grip soon, he can return to the elder statesman role and really accommplish something. He is clearly not going to become "First Gentleman" by ranting and raving about Obama - who has simply out-campaigned the Clintons this time around.

    January 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. rh

    any support i ever gave former president Clinton have just went out the window,you do not wait until the 11th hour when your wife is down to say that trash, i like fairytales there is no carreer polititians in them.Thats what happen they count the young people of America out of all political decisions for so long,now when a cadidate comes along and say come one come all it shows up the candidates who think they own shares in the whitehouse.We all want to stop giving away this country in free trade,the bloggers need to keep up the pressure with all the information they use to expose the frauds,experince polititians have continually sunk this country into the whole we are in now,so let the a new man take the wheel this time.If Hillary did the math that would mean two family ruling for the past 20 years,well i thought that was the reason the founding father sailed away from England some of them leaving everything they owned.All Americans are due a a stronger dollar a better economy a trust worthy government and a president that can think for himself,when other country are refusing our currency wow that a new low.

    January 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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