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. john colvin

    Obama is right. Th Clinton campain is frustrated, but if it weren't for Bill's frustration to start with there probably wouldn't be HIllary campaign. I hate to think of Bill back in the white house acting as HIllary's mouthpiece to the rest of the world the way the campaign is using him now. I don't wand a president who will stand by her man when he releases his frustration on the international stage. Nor do I want a president
    who causes a partners frustration. In the white house, on the international stage, frustrated partners usually blow something up.

    January 8, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. Dan

    Did you just say "i do think it's damaging, especially for young people, to perceive our democracy as being run by just a few political families"? Are you serious? If you believe otherwise, please go to your nearest gun shop, pick up a gun and shot yourself in the head. Politics in our beautiful U.S. of A. is not only controlled by a few RICH families, but also by the businesses that their RICH friends own. Let's just keep it current so you can follow: Bush (junior & senior) = Zapata Oil, Arbusto Oil, along with all the contacts they ever made in the oil business. Dick Cheney= Halliburton Company and all the contacts that he made in the engineering and contracting business. You really think the average citizen really means anything to these politicians? They have to pay back all the little favors and large contributions that got them where they are at today and trust me, they do. This whole election fiasco that comes around every four years is just to give the average citizen the illusion of involvement in the political process. For the most part, every one buys it. They make you root for a Democrat or a Republican, but at the end of it all, who decides what really goes on in government and what direction it takes (domestic & foreign) policy, are the people that have a lot of zeros in their bank account. Reality sucks, I and hate to be so blunt, but it is what it is. For giggles, do some research on all the politicians in Washington right now (from the party of your choice) and tell us which one is not rich? Until we can start electing politicians on merit and that actually care about the citizens of this country and not because they have a pretty face or a lot of money in the bank, we are doomed to follow in the footsteps of every empire that has ever roamed this earth. Like the Roman Emprire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, and the Byzantine Empire, we are bound to self destruct. Mark my words.

    January 8, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. keep the peace

    The Clintons sound like a bunch of drunks. They are continuing to embarrass the Nation. Lets all pray for them.

    Now I am beginning to understand what blacks must live through everyday of their lives. I'm going to pray for them and myself too. I'm sorry African American People for the way we have treated you.

    January 8, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Another Steve

    Oh please Bill, for months the press all but announced your wife Hillary as the Democratic Presidential candidate. It was a forgone conclusion and all you had to do to become the 1st ladies man was sit back and watch. Well now the momentum has changed not because of the press, but because the voters don't like what they see with Hillary. She will polarize the Democrats and we will more than likely get either a Republican President or possibly an independent if someone like Obama runs when and if Hillary got the nomination. The VOTERS don't like Hillary, plain and simple. You can whin all you want as all this is doing is showing your true colors and what you Clintons really think about all of us voters.

    You are a very smart man and love history. This is history in the making. Obama is way more intellectual than Hillary. Way more chrismatic, way more articulate, way more able to work with others, way more electable, shall we go on? You know all this yet keep trying to derail his campaign for your wife. Well us voters only see desperation and that is a sign of weakness and we do not want that in the next President. If you truelly want to help Hillary step aside as you look like a fool.

    January 8, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. ANYONE BUT OBAMA

    ERICA....ID LET THE WIFE OF A SURGEON OPERATE ON ME......IF SHE WERE A SURGEON....

    DUH

    January 8, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. Nicole, Birmingham, AL

    First, just a few months ago Hilary was unbeatalbe in the press; now that the people have spoken everyone is saying the press is going easy on Barack; no their not going easy on him, but they are giving him a fair shot, one every candidate deserves. Next Hilary doesn't have as much experience as is being claimed. She was a lawyer, she was first lady of Arkansas, then first lady of the U.S. She may have met dignitaries and held deep conversations with them, but that doesn't constitute experience in foreign policy. Besides the president doesn't make decisions on their own, they have cabinet members and members of their administration that help shape this country. No one can ever have experience being president unless they have already been president. Now unless Bill will actually be the one running the country, Hilary has no more experience than anyone else! I am starting to wonder what the Bushes and Clinton's are really gainging from holding the highest office is the country, because no one has benifited from them being in office besides themselves and their friends and some of these special interest groups! As far as Hilary's experience with healthcare, her so called plan she came up with while Bill was president was not brought down by republican's and special interest groups alone, she helped to torpedo it because she was given and offer she couldn't refuse.

    January 8, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. C. Bercier

    First and formost: You go Bill!!! You are the Husband...you should stick up for your Wife!!! Good For you! My Husband sticks up for me even if I am wrong!

    Second: Women of the U.S.: Get your act together! We have come a long way baby! We cannot stop now!! If you do, then think about this: We dont want to hear no whinning when you, as a woman, dont get as much pay as a man or maybe treated different.......

    We have had male Presidents and look where we are!!!! Lets try a Woman....Hillary is a strong, smart Woman who has the experience we need and does hear our need for change... SHE IS CHANGE!

    Let's change the world together!

    January 8, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. davidvoter08

    Mr. Barack Hussain Obama is all hype, not substance!!! I finally understand why Americans elected Gorege W.Bush twice!

    Because they want a nice guy they can have a beer with, not a leader, not someone strong but less likable.

    January 8, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. Is_Real

    The Clinton machine is done. I am glad of it. Bill has no relevance in questioning anyone's integrity, look at his track record. I am not really into Obama that much either. ( I am so-called African-American as well) I question the fact that most of the candidates are in the Council on Foreign Relations which in turn means they all have the same interest. Obama is the lesser of the two evils we all know this. This whole pulling the troops out of Iraq is a joke. Our military will remain in the middle east. This is their plan whether we want to believe it our not. Besides why would they give up our position to invade Iran. The only thing they have to contend with is China and Russia interest in Iran. This may be the catalyst for WW3 as we know. We are in some perilous times people...please wake up.

    January 8, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. VJ

    Go for it, Bill!

    January 8, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. Steven Stewart

    You people are amazing! First you denounce Clinton for throwing mud when both Edwards and Obama have been using dump trunks for six months before the Clinton campaign even began to activate its "machine". You attack the woman as a literal ice queen with no basis but with serious hate. I once thought that Obama could have been a possible choice for me, and I was estatic for a Hillary/Obama campaign. But now knowing the supporters of this man and what they are capable, all this illogical hate, I pray that Hillary Wins for the safety of this nation. I might even half to back some other person in the major election because I will not follow a person who allows such debauchry and destruction to thrive. You people are disgraceful.

    And for all polite followers of Obama Ideology, I do not intend to offend you, though I do not understand any of your reason. I think your letting passion control you, rather than reason. I have done a copious amount of research on every major person, and there really isn't much to go on with Obama. Passion is what got in this mess in the first place, we need some who can rationalize and be a problem solver. Obama has a message, but no really achievable goals. I know he seems like an amazing person, but please don't make this mistake.

    I love humanity, and the world, not matter its faults.
    Every question has an answer.
    Every problem a solution.
    Love Everyone and Love the World

    Thank You.

    January 8, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  12. Hessie L. Harris

    I can't tell whether I am watching a political campaign or a Britney Spears meltdown! Hillary, who formerly claimed the "Miss Inevitable" crown lost Iowa and is falling apart. She looks highly stressed and a lot older. In debate, she comes across like a shrew rather than a candidate giving opinions and defending her positions. Her crown, once without a hair out of place, looks stringy. Worse yet, she tears up. The last thing a woman running for the highest office in the land should do is cry at adversity. She has just played into every "goil" stereotype currently for or formery in existence.

    Then she goes on to claim that she should be elected because she should be president as she would know what to do from day one. Why would she know that? Does that come from her previous experience as co-president? Voters are understandably uncomfortable about such allusions. While many would love to see Bill Clinton in office again were that possible, no one is comfortable having him make or influence national policy through pillow talk in a very strained marriage.

    Furthermore, the role that Bill Clinton is taking in the campaign is not helping. He is attacking Obama as if he, not Hillary, were running. Is he?

    She states that some people are "ready " and some are not. Isn't that for the voters to decide?

    January 8, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. Felicia

    I think that hillary has lost alot of voters because of her mudslinging, I was undecided until the NH debates, after the debate it was clear that my vote is going obama. I us to have respect for the clintons. NO LONGER

    January 8, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  14. Tip

    Adultery, Scandal, China, Osama, etc....Please!

    January 8, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  15. jason of indianapolis

    How about Obama/Clinton

    January 8, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  16. blee

    desperate times call for desperate measures. apparently that includes standing up in public and punching yourself in the face.

    January 8, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. Liam

    walt taylor January 8, 2008 5:05 pm ET

    It is unfortunate that Donna Brazile is speaking for the Democratic Party on the Situation Room. Since she is a black American,she is no longer objective. It is easy to see that because she is an African American, she is for Obama, even though the Clintons have stood for Black people over and over. It appears that this election is turning into a racial situation. Too bad !
    ------------------
    You are the one who is a blatant racist. You are claiming that because she is black she has no right to support a black candidate. By your logic, then all those white people who are supporting white candidates are acting in a racially biased manner.

    So, by your rules Blacks should never support anyone of their own race, but whites are free to always support white candidates. Sounds like the spirit of Strom is alive in you. What a Maroon!

    January 8, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. TPatton

    I am a young first time voter and the "fairy tale" comment form Bill Clinton has definitly made up my mind. I will be voting for Obama. Bill Clinton in my mind is hurting Hillary at this point.

    January 8, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  19. keep the peace

    What Senator Obama said is that WE can bring about change and WE know that WE togather as a people can bring about change.

    January 8, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  20. John Luxon

    I am a canadian following the race. I find watching Iowa and NH like watching the NFL playoffs. I'm almost standing at times cheering for Obama. I will hand it to CNN, the coverage is no less than top notch. As far as the Clinton comment, I'm sorry, I thought it was Hilary that was running...I was not aware that Bill was running..is he confused..wouldn't be the first time. The perception created here, is when it gets tough, hubby speaks out to protect 'the wife'. We didn't hear Hilary responding, and is it now that all the candidates will come as a 'tag' team. Does Bill know his place as 'First Gentleman'. You have to wonder who will be making the decisions at the White House if Hilary was to win. You have to also wonder if he would sabotage her position, again.
    If it gets tough in the White House, is Hilary going to cry and Bill step in to ward off the bullies.
    Just a question, 'if Hilary as President were to die, would her successor be the 'First Gentleman'...maybe this is what Bill is thinking...get a 3rd term.
    Obama is THE answer, Huckabee is a good alternative as for the rest...Hilary wants to be the first woman president, Rudy is another Bush, MacCain is 71...Romney is John Kerry, Edwards is a good Vice Pres. selection for Obama and good luck with anything different.

    January 8, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  21. Fred H. Lockley

    All this moaning and groaning by that wimp Clinton. His wife is losing and he stands in front of people and just whines. Why don't he go back to NY. He's not doing Hillary any good.

    January 8, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. Dave

    So much for Bill Clinton the "political genius" . Nothing plays into Obama's narrative more than Bill Clinton whining about what, "a vast left wing conspiracy"? Add to that the return of serpent head and Bergala to crank up the attack machine. These clowns are clueless. All that will be left of the Clinton base by Super Tuesday is a bunch of octogenarians that are a week behind in reading the news because they're waiting for their large type editions!

    January 8, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. Robin, L.A.

    Bill is doing what the other spouses are doing: speaking up on behalf of their candidates.

    More to the point: he happens to be right. The media has given Darling Obama the Lite treatment.

    And commentators on this blog are right: CNN, you need to rotate your reporters. The woman covering Obama's campaign is probably wearing his button just below the camera line.

    To all you people who say that Hillary should not take credit for Bill's years as president, I would turn the tables around and ask you this: If you don't give Hillary any credit for those years, then why are you associating her with those years? Judge her on her own merits as a senator, which is what you want us to do with Obama, right?

    And one final thought: why is Obama an "outsider" and Clinton an "insider" when they both work in Washington at the same place?

    January 8, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. ANYONE BUT OBAMA

    OBAMA STANDS ABSOLUTELY ZERO CHANCE......IF HE WINS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HE WILL BE STOMPED AGAINST THE REPUBLICANS

    WITH HILLARY WE HAVE A SHOT...AND WITH HILLARY COMES GREATNESS...

    January 8, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. OBAMA

    Obama should win because he's black

    January 8, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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