January 20th, 2008
08:20 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama: I feel like I'm running against both Clintons

Obama is striking back at Bill Clinton
Obama is striking back at Bill Clinton

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) - More tit-for-tat on the campaign trail – only this time, it’s between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

After losing the caucus tally in Nevada, the Obama campaign took aim at Bill Clinton and the comments he made during his many campaign stops in that state on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton.

Now the Illinois senator himself is taking on the former president, telling Good Morning America that he feels as if he’s running against both Clintons.

In the interview, Obama reportedly says that the former president has been misrepresenting both “my record of opposition to the war in Iraq” and “our approach to organizing in Las Vegas,” as the controversy over Saturday’s Nevada caucus vote continues to grow.

Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod did not back away from the remarks after they became public Sunday night, telling CNN the Clintons “have a good cop, bad cop thing going” in which “he comes with a negative message she stays positive.”

Axelrod accuses the former President of “doing slash and burn stuff,” and slams the Clinton campaign, saying “there’s a philosophy of saying and doing anything it takes.”

“It’s very clear that Bill Clinton is playing fast and loose with the facts,” says Axelrod, and unbecoming of a former president: “It’s been a little crass, as someone who supported him and respects him, I think it’s disappointing.”

And Axelrod vows Obama will continue to hit back. “As long as he’s out there, we aren’t going to let him distort the record,” he says. “We’ll aggressively challenge him when he misrepresents the facts.”

He also calls on the former president to stop distorting Obama's record. “If he wants to help his wife, just be honest - don’t parse words, don’t truncate quotes to make your case.”

The ABC interview with Obama has yet to air, but the Clinton camp is already fighting back.

“We understand Sen. Obama is frustrated by his loss in Nevada, but the facts are the facts,” said campaign spokesperson Phil Singer. “President Clinton is a huge asset to our campaign and will continue talking to the American people.”

The new brawl comes as the battle between the two camps over the Nevada vote shows no signs of abating, with both sides accusing the other of voter intimidation.

On Sunday, Obama’s Nevada State Director David Cohen said there had been a “clear-cut disenfranchising” of voters in the state because of actions by Clinton supporters, and the campaign's general counsel, Bob Bauer, said they were asking the state and national party to investigate.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson called the allegations “absurd” and “laughable,” and spokesman Phil Singer responded charged that “Sen. Obama’s allies in Nevada engaged in strong arm tactics and intimidation against our supporters.”

Singer also repeated former President Clinton’s charge that the senator’s record on the war had been “inconsistent.”

–CNN's Jessica Yellin

soundoff (653 Responses)
  1. Seth

    What a big baby Obama is, and this is the man who wants to be the next president? I think everything President Clinton has said about Obama has struck a nerve with the American people, because they are starting to see Barack as most of us do, a phony, worthless, inexperienced fraud! Don't vote for this man America! He will make George Bush look like Abe Lincoln. We can't afford to have another president try to learn on the job and bumble through the presidency in the process. I think Barack would be in way over his head, he isn't ready today, maybe in eight years, but I seriously doubt that.

    January 21, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  2. Marcus

    And what about the strength of women??? This says something to the character of Hillary Clinton and all those feminists. With Bill trying to " gang-up" on Obama with Hillary it looks to me as if she's crying for help. Seriously you women talk about strength but she's running to her husband after her emotional break down. And you clowns think that this will be good for America. lol. Nobody will respect that and on a bad day what will she do ?? Ask Bill to steer the horses??? Give me a break here's the fairy tale. The Republicans will destroy her and black voters who already see this as a weakness won't vote for a woman who runs to tell her husband on the mean old black guy. I don't see Oprah or Condoleeza Rice tattle telling when their criticized. I know for a fact the Black base looks down on this given that our women many times are very strong and independent. Moreover a former President who's wife is " supposedly running on her own merits" crumbs and needs Bill. Haha you Hillary fans are a joke. If you think she's a shoo inn think again. Let's see angry black voter + shaky record + liar husband+ impeachment+ ties to lobbyist+ flip flopping= Republican president.

    January 21, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  3. Greg

    If Hillary was really upset enough to cry and get emotional over her loss to Obama in Iowa, she proved that she is not qualified for the job. The last thing we need is to turn on the evening news and see our president getting teary eyed because she did not get her way, or got her feelings hurt.

    January 21, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  4. Mike

    An Obama supporter to the end, I'll vote for McCain before I vote for Hillary. I think there are a lot of us out there.

    January 21, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  5. timriveranewmexico

    Enough of the past. Twenty years of the devisev politics of the Clintons and the Bushes is enough for one lifetime. Why recicle the past when we can change the future.

    Que Viva Obama and a hope for a new future!!

    January 21, 2008 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  6. Ree Tanjuatco

    The campaign strategy of the Clintons is ill advised however they still have the better experience and the the better solutions to at problems of America at hand. Edwards could have been a better choice but I doubt he has any plan at all.

    I'd be worried if you're gonna elect someone who is relatively unknown, limited experience, has organizational issues and is a self confessed past drug user.

    January 21, 2008 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  7. concerned citizen, Mesa, Arizona

    It is his wife. What do you want him to do let Obama insult her and not respond? He is such a whiner. His wife attacks Hillary every chance she gets when out on the stump. She also is playing the race card when she gives her speeches telling the african american community they have to vote for Obama to prove there is no racism. Get real about who plays dirty. And Obama supporters we are sick of hearing about things that happened 10yrs ago. If you want to vote against because you disagree with her policies do so, but the personal attacks on her are disgusting. You Obama supporters are just nasty people on the blogs. Why don't you try acting like adults. Bill did not call Obama a fairy tale he called what he was saying about his Iraq votes a fairy tale. It is easy to say you were against something when you didn't have to vote. And if I remember correctly the american people were behind Bush on this until it went south. I was against from the begining too so what we are there. He didn't vote in Illinois half the time so what makes you think he would voted no on this.

    January 21, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  8. DAVMON

    What are we becoming here in the United State of America, are we voting to become one of the Oligarchy system of government or a mornarchy. Wake up fellow Americans, for the past years we only see the Bushes and the Clintons, we can do better by bringing in a new name, vote no more for the Clintons. Bill and Hillary are too greedy to return to the white House
    Since 1988 we had being voting George Bush 4yr
    Bill Clinton 8yr
    George W Bush 8yr
    Hillary R Clinton 8yr
    Jeb Bush 8yr
    Chelsea Clinton 8yr
    that isgoing to be 44yrs of the Bushes and the Clintons, we can do better by voting no to the Clintons and telling then to stop being too greedy over power.

    January 21, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  9. Jake, California

    Without Obama, the democratic party will lose this year's elections.

    IF Hillary and Bill continue these voter manipulations and distortion of records, and get the nomination, ALL Obama supporters will simply vote Republican or for an Independent candidate or not vote at all. There"s no way we will ever vote for Hillary.

    But WHEN Obama gets the nod, we'll go with our suppoters, plus the independents and some Republicans as well as thousands of others from Hillary's side to face the Republicans. They won't have much fighting to do...

    Vote Hillary and the Dems lose
    Vote Obama and get a Democratic president.

    January 21, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  10. b

    politics is rough and tumble – republicans will be worse – deal with it!

    January 21, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  11. Everett Harrell

    You know, for all you diehards out there bickering over campaign nonsense, I would hope that for as much attention as you pay this election, you'd pay more to what your kids thought about it. You all might come to a realization. A realization that they came to awhile ago, whos picture is at the top of this page, speaking the same message a younger democrat once spoke before he was elected to the presidency. A democrat who turned out to be a great leader.

    January 21, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  12. Jake

    When Obama started playing the race card he lost my vote. Hillary may be guilty of a lot of things, but to imply that she is a racist is a joke. Obama is the one who is unelectable!! Hillary could win in a national election.

    January 21, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  13. Arleen Benson

    Obama's reps need to quit whining about tag teams... He seems to have his own tag team with his wife being less than admirable on the stump. It is what it is. Politics; something we're supposed to believe Obama has a little experience with... at least at the state level. Obviously this is an engaging nominating process for all the politicians. If he can't stand the heat – get out of the kitchen.

    January 21, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  14. Brian Metzger

    What our country needs is someone to unite us together after 8 years of Bush's divisive politics. We need someone that everyone respects to a certain degree. While I am not confident Obama can accomplish this herculean task, I am sure that Clinton cannot. Even if she is electable in the general, another Clinton presidency would be despised by half the country as much as Bush was by the other half. Clinton's rhetoric is always 'us vs. them' while Obama's is about bridging our differences; while naive, its clearly the message our country needs right now. Unfortunately, with the insiders in the Democratic party supporting Clinton, Obama has always had an uphill battle. The dems always shoot themselves in the foot by sending their inside favorite to get shot down (see John Kerry).

    January 21, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  15. Realist

    Obama is an empty suit. He has nothing to offer to the voters, so he whines and complains that politics is too rough for him.

    My advice: "Quit, baby before your diaper stains show though your pants."

    January 21, 2008 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  16. Hoodi - CA

    I wonder how people can be denial to facts. It is simple Obama is a big bang of the moment. As I see no one wants to admit that fact. He is smart, educated man who deserved to run of president. Be honest to your self and ask what you did so far to lift this country up. If you ask about him he did a lot, he is a SANTOR. Who has been elected by his state people to stand for them. That is clearly indicate he has something to offer. He is the sun that rise and very one will see it! He is a noble decent man America will remember for years to come. Please don’t let gender or color blind you from seeing that we are human beings who happened to be a American, caring about each other and want the best for our beloved country

    January 21, 2008 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  17. EMELIA Tagoe-Ofori

    Clintons are just getting on my nerves, they are so FAKE.............if we don;t take care we all be polarized.

    January 21, 2008 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  18. brad, florida

    lol obama is a whiner, .... he cant handle the truth, if u listen to his speeches he says same thing over n over differ words.... he hasnt given a detailed plan on nothing... u cant be president without layed out plans... also he needs to quit hating on hillary, he is embarassed he cant get the popular vote....... everyone should sue the govt for violating our right bye not having the voters decide who wins an election.... for the people by the people...??? go mcCain win the election.. whoot whoot

    January 21, 2008 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  19. roberto

    Most of the people writing comments here come from the younger generation. Look, you need to start looking at the record of BILL CLINTON and see the great things he did for America. During his presidency there were more than 22 million new jobs, the highest homeownership in American history (up to that time), the lowest unemployment in 30 years, the paying off of $360 billion of the national debt, the lowest poverty rate in 20 years, higher incomes at all levels, the conversion of the hitherto largest budget deficit in American history into the largest surplus, the lowest government spending in three decades, the lowest federal income tax burden in 35 years, and more families owning stocks than had up to that point.
    DONT YOU PEOPLE SEE THE ECONOMIC CATASTROPH HAPPINING RIGHT NOW. WE NEED THE CLINTONS TO GET AMERICA IN THE RIGHT PATH AGAIN.
    So big deal he cheated on Hillary. Thats his personal life, people dont care about that stuff.

    January 21, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  20. N

    Why don't you just take Bill Clinton on if you think he is so baseless instead of whining to the media about it? It is because you are fuzzy on your facts and President Clinton's attacks, though said with anger, have some substance to them. You claim the Clinton campaign is distoring your record on Iraq? I beg to differ. I know I have heard Senator Clinton say that you opposed the Iraq war as a STATE SENATOR in 2002, and she said she wants to give credit where credit is due. HOWEVER, it is incredibly disingenous for Obama to claim that he is the anti-war candidate. He spoke out in 2002 saying the war is a bad idea when he had no skin in the game, no responsibility for what happened. In 2004, he said he is not sure how he would have voted were he in the senate. Obama does not deny that he made this statement in 2004, but says that he made it to protect John Kerry, who was the nominee and voted for the war. If that isn't playing politics, I don't know what is. And most importantly, let us look at what Barack Obama has done to stop the war since he has been in the US Senate...NOTHING. Now, Senator Clinton's record is, of course, the same as Barack Obama's, so she has also not made a radical move to stop the war, but she admits this. The problem with Barack Obama is he spins facts like crazy...the fact is you spoke against t war in one speech in 2002 when you were a state senator and had no national voting privileges. You claimed you may have voted differently in 2004, and since being in the Senate you have supported the war. Those are the facts, anyone can check them, and any claim otherwise is just false.

    Obama is upset that Bill Clinton called out the Culinary Union's tactics? They were clearly strongarming their workers. Though I am willing to bet the Obama campaign was not directly responsible for these tactics, he should have been willing to investigate them and denounce them. And there is significant evidence that they were occuring. Salon's reporter, Joan Walsh, has spoken to several members who say they were intimidated:

    Bill Clinton was not wrong for calling the Culinary Union out on these tactics. And if the Obama campaign wants to talk about baseless and divisive politics, let us talk about the UNITE HERE advertisement run on his behalf (and he refused to denounce it, basically saying Hillary got what she deserved) that said "Hillary does not respect our people" in Spanish. As a minority, I took GREAT offense to this ad. It is one thing to criticize policy, another entirely to suggest a particular candidate does not respect others as human beings...no one else on either side, democrat or republican, has stooped this low.

    Of course, as soon as Obama loses, he claims that there were indeed voting problems and fraud, which the Clintons have been discussing for days. Ironically, the lawsuit filed by the Teachers Union (NOT THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN, AS HAS BEEN FALSELY ALLEGED) would have benefited Obama had he forseen losing 7 out of the 9 Caucus sites...he is acting like a sore loser, has refused to concede the loss despite a 6 percent lead by Senator Clinton. Using his logic, he and Senator Clinton tied in Iowa since they walked away with 18 delegates each (incl. super delegagates, otherwise she came in second, even though Edwards won the popular vote). It is poor sportsmanship to whine and change the rules of the game the second they don't work in your favor.

    And finally, for a politican who talks a lot about hope and change, can we stop with the mean spirited mocking stup speeches? Personally, I don't want a candidate who makes fun of his opponents, but rather one who takes them on with serious candor on the issues. This is not a high school election, and it is time Senator Obama took his role as the potential commander-in-chief a bit more seriously...

    January 21, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  21. Tracey

    I live in Las Vegas and I was at the rally at the Student Union that Doug, CA is talking about.

    Senator Obama made one joke about the debate and the answers the other candidates gave as a way to make the point that Edwards and Clinton didn't really answer the question. Most of the time he talked about the story behind his "Fired up and Ready to go" slogan. He was giving us all a look at the real man behind the name and I applaud him for it. He spent part of his time telling us what he wanted to do for us and then gave us a look at a real person, not just a politician.

    I was lucky enough to see him speak twice in Las Vegas and both speeches were very different and talked about different aspects in his campaign and different parts of his plans if/when he becomes President. He doesn't just give the same old stump speech and I feel like I'm seeing a real human when I'm watching him. Not just someone who wants the job for themselves, but someone who wants the job for all of us.

    I was very pleased to support Senator Obama on Saturday and he won in my precinct, taking 8 out of 11 delegates. Senator Clinton won the other three.

    I hope that people start doing some fact checking for themselves about the candidates and make an informed decision when they vote. I looked at the candidates and I feel I made the best choice. You may see things differently but the one thing I think we all can agree on, is how pleased we can be with the overall turn out from the Democratic party in Nevada. Things are looking good for Nevada in November if you are a Democrat.

    January 21, 2008 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  22. Tunji

    Clinton needs to support her wife in return for her support in an adultery acts he committed in the White House ( the House that need to be clean instead of going against the seventh commandnent of God) and also lied to an OATH. The Bills a liar is always a liar, Obama the Truth will always prevail. dont turn American to a Monarch State.

    January 21, 2008 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  23. Janice

    It's ok to speak the truth. Obama is absolutely correct. Bill & Hillary will do anything to win, even if it means playing the race card!!! I looked at the overall vote in Nevada, and of 17 counties, Obama won 11. In Clark County, where the strong arm tactics of voter intimidation by the Clintons has been detailed so clearly and continuously at the Daily Kos site, is where she had the greatest lead. I believe this was strategically done. It is repulsive that a former President is willing to get down into the dirt and grime to obtain POWER.

    The Clintons will do anything to obtain and maintain power. However, I believe this will backfire on them if she does become the Democratic Nominee. I for one will stay home on election day, and I have consistently voted Democrat for 30 years. I've also spoken with many others who will sit this one out if she's the nominee.

    January 21, 2008 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  24. aware

    All candidates are subject to scrutiny, and Barack is no exception, now.

    Obama has done a lot of obfuscating, some ill-advised Reagan commenting and some less than stellar debating – including the "disorganized" weakness confession. Then he used ridicule of his opponents in an attempt to cover his hiney. Now he seems to be trying to catch a ride from MLK.

    Barack has a long way to go. It is not enough to incite fans to anger. Many young people are already angry at the establishment – too bad Barack is a part of it!

    When Obama fans start talking about how they are going to make a difference, when they show love and respect for all candidates, when they become positive and issue oriented, when they stop the personal, racist and sexist attacks, I might think Obama has something to say. So far, the message of ? doesn't seem to be bearing good fruit.

    January 21, 2008 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  25. carol

    Bill and Hillary have been right on. You and Michelle have played the race card. You and the media have distorted every comment and achievement they have made. Your phoney speeches remind me of your mentor when she stands up and has her phoney South African accent.

    Quit now before you show your complete backside. You couldn't even handle your own finances a few years ago. How are you going to take care of the economy?

    January 21, 2008 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
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