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. JoeBrown

    Clinton is right.. one day everyone will see Obama for the fraud that he is.

    January 8, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. BillTheSaxMan

    Hey Billy Boy, if you think Hillary's so great, why don't you marry her?

    January 8, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. SteveJobs

    To Open Eyes,
    And everyone else who keeps defending Bill Clinton for his "private life issues". Clinton was impeached for sitting upright in the Oval office, looking me, you, and every American right in the "open eyes", then telling a LIE....Not for any of his personal issues.....Be real.

    January 8, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. Marsha, Portland, OR

    People who can't figure out Hillary's 35 years of experience must be illiterate because I've read about it in three books already. Go to the library.

    Or, go ahead and vote for Obama because then you're going to have another Republican in the White House. I know I will not vote for him in the general election. I have at least 10 friends who refuse to vote for him in the general election. I honestly would rather see a republican win the white house. With a republican – at least I know what I'm getting – the status quo – nothing will change for another four years. And if by some chance he does win the general election, you will not get any change for the next two years, because he's going to have to read books about what to do for the first two years before he knows what to do. Oh yeah, I forgot, I'm the only one that knows how to read...Obama supporters don't know how; otherwise they'd be voting for Hillary or Edwards:

    In a Rolling Stone interview in early 2007 Obama stated that when he first got elected to congress he knew very little about international relations so he had to spend a lot of time reading everything he could get his hands on.

    Oh yeah – this is the guy on want negotiating our international agreements – some guy who has had NO EXPERIENCE and got all his knowledge from books.

    Learn how to read Obama supporters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stop thinking with your ears and remember your brains!!!!!

    I know what I will get with Hillary because she lays out the specifics or were you too busy not listening in the debates because you were mesmerized by Obama rambling?

    With Obama, all I know is that I'm getting hope? Hope for what???? Oh, and please, oh please don't tell me to research his website again. I've looked at it a million times.

    Hope is a WORD. I want action. I want experience. I want know how. I don't want some man that stands on a pulpit, sounds like a preacher, and delivers me a sermon about hope and change.

    January 8, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. NEWS ALERT NEWS ALERT

    Hey everybody you know it takes money to run a campaign. Everybody should give something to the Obama cammpaign.

    January 8, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  6. Tip

    Anti- Christ....Uhhh do you know what Hilliary really feels about Christ? I think not. You must by the tears as well... By the way the Anti-Christ won't be married with children. Read your Bible.

    January 8, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. Mackenzie

    is no one getting this? Obama and Edwards are working together, thats going to be the ticket. Obama sits on the sidelines while Edwards acts like his attack dog! The republicans could beat this ticket, look at there voting record and get a grip people! The right wing media are pumping Obama only to drag him down and get there guys back in!

    January 8, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. just a voter

    HEY AMERICA! if you don't like the media slant, blame it on ol' bill clinton for passing the 1996 media deregulation bill that allowed the ALL TIME LEAST AMOUNT OF PEOPLE to own (and project their views on) ALL MASS MEDIA. kinda sucks when they're not on your side, doesn't it? hope those corporate kickbacks were worth it, clinton family.

    January 8, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    To Dave:

    Comparing Hillary's pedigree to Laura's is like saying Ronald McDonald and Emeril Legasse are kindred spirits of the kitchen.

    January 8, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. Jim

    Are you kidding me. Obviously Bill has not been paying attention. We no longer wish to hear about how bad someone is! This has been a positive campaign, that is why Obama leads, everyone has had enough of your 1990's politics. Sorry that your wife is losing but that is life, to stoop to this level you are pushing those people away who really admired you. That includes me, I loved what you did in the past despite your other activities. Now, shut up and go to the corner, let the wave ride into the future, sorry but you and your wife will not be part of it.

    January 8, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  11. CensoredByCNN, Roxboro, NC

    Bill never shot his mouth off when the candidate of "inevitability" was stealing,,,,no,, make that granted all the ink.

    January 8, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. Mackenzie

    is no one getting this?

    Obama and Edwards are working together, thats going to be the ticket. Obama sits on the sidelines while Edwards acts like his attack dog!

    The republicans could beat this ticket, look at there voting record and get a grip people! The right wing media are pumping Obama only to drag him down and get there guys back in! Start to think with your head and not the hype.

    January 8, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. Carrie

    My dream ticket, Obama/Edwards 08!

    January 8, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Craig

    I am not quite sure if I missed something about all the pro Clinton hype coming into the primaries.
    Each time Obama made a stride the media made a pity plea for Hillary and I understand why. The issue of experience is a "NON ISSUE" Hillary has none to really speak of if we are assessing both on the same basis.

    They have both simply watched th emachine work and now want to run it, the only difference here is as is proven when the status quo holds on to power nothing changes its the same "good old boys" in the smoke room with Bill if Hillary is in.

    Obama offers us one thing and we need that a country run by politicians who have to feel the weight of the people they govern they are representatives not rulers and they meet machinery and modify not create.

    Nothing from Bush to Clinton will change it remains the issue of money and friendships back-door arrangement and podium smile.

    We need to bring the people's burden to bear on the politicians who think they are untouchable.

    Bush's high disapproval rating meant nothing for him to thumb his nose at us.'
    Lets start it now remind them a snow-job is not enough to lead us further into the mire, we want accountability and genuine concern, not circular rhetoric and repeats of old decisions the old club has lost it CHANGE is not only the buzzword it is the REQUIREMENT for us to move forward and grow.

    January 8, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. South Carolina

    thankgod no HIllary in 2008.

    January 8, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. Former Clinton Supporter-Iowa

    A bit of advice for Bill..... shut up and go home.

    January 8, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  17. J

    Mmmmmm, did he flip the bird at the camera??? This was really funny. When you loose your cool you show your dumb side, and on TV yet......wow

    January 8, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  18. MT

    Karen M. Jenkins – I agree that Obama's record should be looked at but the problem here for Bill Clinton is that he is failing to disclose fully what Obama said. Obama had said that he could not say how he would have voted had he been in the Senate at the time of the vote and therefore had a chance to review the NIE documents(i.e. maybe there was something in there that prompted people like Hillary to vote for the war authorization) but then added that from his vantage point (i.e. no access to NIE document) the case for war had not been made. The fact that Hillary and others voted for the war authorization without actually reading is NIE document is a complete travesty. And because she did not read the document she technically had the same vantage point as Obama – his take was "no war"; her take obviously was quite the opposite.

    This smear attempt by Bill Clinton is not going to work – Obama is not such a fool that he is going to repeat something throughout his campaign that can so easily be refuted. The Clintons for one are reeling b/c they are getting beaten by someone who insists on playing nice.

    January 8, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  19. Marie

    I'm angry about the media coverage too Bill!

    I'm angry as hell that Edwards isn't getting his fair share of coverage - the media has been turning this into a Hillary vs. Obama election for the past year.

    Clearly, Iowa was a wakeup call that somebody who has clearly been discriminated against by the media (Edwards) can vie for electability with the media's darlings (Obama and Clinton). He came in ahead of Clinton, and Obama's lead wasn't all that significant.

    I will support Edwards all the way!!! He at least remembers that the president is supposed to be on the side of the average citizen.

    January 8, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  20. Marsha, Portland, OR

    MIKE IN KENTUCKY – Excellent point!

    I Agree 100% if Abe Lincoln had been more experienced maybe we could have avoided one of the bloodiest wars ever to have occurred on American soil and settled it in a more diplomatic matter.

    January 8, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. jessi

    He didn't get knocked around AT ALL and he certainly isn't now.

    January 8, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  22. Pat, NY

    First of all, all the HATE talk from the Obama supporters, is kind of odd, don't you agree? Very scary, narrow minded, right-wingish isn't it?

    Secondly, doesn't it scare everyone that the G.W. Bush supporters are now supporting Obama? Considering that all the independents went for Bush, before, why would we follow their lead, here?!

    Thirdly, can we really afford another "Uniter, not a divider" like Bush? Are we really that stupid?

    Iowa and NH are not exactly representative of the rest of the country. Let's all chill a little.

    January 8, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  23. MR

    Wow you all claim to be Democrats? You look like the same attack dog fascist republicans that went after the Clintons in the 90's. Oh the 90's. Remember? That was a very awesome time with the greatest president ever. The middle class grew at an unprecedented rate because of the Clinton economic package of 19 94. You people in here are a disgrace to the Democratic Party. Well you can't fool me most you fascist in here are really Republicans. And you Democrats jumping ship like a bunch of rats to support Obama are in for a rude awakening come November. I can't wait to see this.

    January 8, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. NEWS ALERT NEWS ALERT

    steve, this is for you
    China will likely replace the USA as world leader, said Bill Clinton in a recent Washington Post interview. It is just a matter of time. Clinton should know. He has personally done more to build China’s military strength than any man on earth.

    Don't be coned by the Clintons.

    January 8, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  25. Carrie

    Pat, NY

    I am not scared of change. If anyone is acting right-wingish, its Bill Clinton.

    January 8, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
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