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. LAS

    Totally unfair. Bill.... stay the heck outta it!!!!!

    January 21, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  2. bian

    January 21, 2008 8:38 am

    Good cop/bad cop? Now they are using CNN headlines? LOL. I'm laughing so hard my stomach hurts.

    misrepresenting both “my record of opposition to the war in Iraq” and “our approach to organizing in Las Vegas,”

    What record??? I was against the war, but I wasn't in a possition to hear what was said in the Senate neither was Sen. Obama. He was not Senator yet. With his voting record of Not Voting, 113/383 times chances are really good he would have NOT voted or voted like 2/3 of the Senate voted. Also, need I remind everyone that it passed in the Senate 77-23, these men and women were lied too by our current adm. Hindsight is a beautiful thing isn't it.

    His organization in Las Vegas would of been just fine if he had won, but since he lost all of a sudden it's a problem to blame on Bill Clinton.

    He's campaigning for his wife. Just because he's a former president doesn't matter. Obama's wife is campaigning for her husband. Obama has Oprah, it doesn't matter. Bill's not the one running, Oprah is not the one running.

    This is no way to run a campaign. He's coming off as childish and spoiled because he didn't get his way. Has to blame it on someone, hey, why not the Clintons. Let's not blame it on the Union who supported him and ran those negative ads about Clinton. In my opinion, that ad and his using the spanish slogan, "yes we can", hurt him alot more than anything Bill Clinton has said.

    The blame game never works.

    January 21, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  3. Maxi

    Barack, when I first listened to you, I was really impressed. However, more and more I am beginning to see that you are just the same old, same old. The first time I felt that you may not be what I thought was when you made the comment “you are nice enough, Hillary”. It was not the words itself, but the way they were delivered.

    As I democrat, I am happy to see that you are able to mobilize so many new, and mostly young voters. Now I am beginning to feel that many of these voters are only “interest” in Barack, and not the issues. Otherwise, how can they say that they would rather vote for the Republicans than for Senator Clinton? Obviously, they don’t understand the fundamental differences between the two parties. I sincerely hope that when the Democratic candidate is chosen, whoever it may be, the other two top candidates will encourage their supporters to rally behind him/her. The US, and the free world, needs a strong US President, and in my opinion, the best person for that job lies within the democrats. To me, any of the three democratic front runners is better than what the republicans have to offer. Yes, the campaign is getting heated and somewhat dirty right now. This is understandable, to a certain extent, considering what the stakes are. I don’t think either camp can honestly say that they are better than the other in that regard. But please folks, keep in mind what this is eventually all about: determining the next PRESIDENT of the USA. Obviously, I would think that Obama would like it to be him, but I cannot believe that he would prefer a Republican to another Democrat.

    January 21, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  4. Tim Phillips

    I am tired of hearing how all Hillary has is Bill. What has Bill Clinton really said that is untrue about Obama's comments about the war? When Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards were attacking Hillary where was Bill? He did not attack them. It is stupid to think that Bill being Hillary's spouse would not defend her as the others have done for their spouses. I am concerned about issues instead of the mudslinging. On the issues Hillary is the winner hands down. Obama has no substance or at least I haven't heard it yet. Change is good but it takes more than just talking about it. We may not like our system of government but it is what you have to work with. Hillary can work in that system to create the change we need. I believe Obama would be eaten alive by the republicans.

    January 21, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  5. Dan, Minneapolis, MN

    As a Democrat, I don't want a talking head spewing rhetoric as a form of policy. You only need to look at history, both US and World, for previous examples. The Obama supporters insist for the need for change. Well, I was reminded of change by the 60's Hippie movement; change by the feminist movement; or change by the sexual revolution. What are the results of such euphoria for change? A majority of Americans beguiled by that same word have installed George Bush twice and are complicit in this national political fiasco. Experience trumps rhetoric.

    Clinton 08, time for measured and thoughtful change!

    January 21, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  6. Rus, Whitburn

    At the start of the campaign (when HRC was well ahead in the polls), Bill Clinton said 'the nice thing about this Democratic primary is that I don't have to be against anybody'. Bill at that time liked all the candidates, and he said this repeatedly. When the Clintons are down they fight hard, no matter who the opponent is. Everything that's happening just now confirms my feeling that Obama's tendency is to unite and look forward, and the Clinton's tendency is to do whatever it takes to win. I'm much more comfortable with the former. At the same time, I'm delighted to see Obama respectfully defend himself against false accusations, rather than take the high road to failure (like Kerry).

    January 21, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  7. Daniel, Minneapolis MN

    It's so unfair!!!!

    Thank god Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards haven't been on the campaign trail attacking other candidates!

    I have advice for Mr. Obama, who I respect a great deal, and his supporters. Stop playing the victim. This is a presidential campaign, not Sunday school. It didn't look good on Hillary, who I also respect a great deal, and it doesn't look good on you.

    The only thing it will do is disenfranchise you.

    January 21, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  8. Sue, Michigan

    You know, people, GWB has committed so many worse acts than what happened in the Oval Office with Bill, and he is still not impeached because the rabid Republicans who spent time and money LOOKING for something to impeach Bill with turn their heads while Bush laughs at the Constitution. Personally, I will vote for ANY Democrat to keep the santimonious, free-spending, power-grabbing, lying Republicans out of the White House. Why in the world does everyone keep bringing up Clinton's "horrible" lies? My God, do you think that nearly every president before him and after had a perfect personal life? Did anyone think JFK was having tea with Marilyn Monroe and other starlets? No, but the Congress at the time realized there were more important things than delving into a President's personal life. The Republicans could find no other reason to get Bill than to trap him into lying about a personal (yes, bad, but no one died because of it) affair.Meanwhile, most of the accusers were having their own affairs. And you'd think from some of these posts that Bill is the worst person ever to cross the threshhold of the White House. I don't agree with adultery either, but given a choice, I'll take that over the fascism of the current group.

    January 21, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  9. Sue, Michigan

    sanctimonious, it should have said

    January 21, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  10. Dave, TX

    earth to Obama, earth to Obama.....you are!! too obvious this is what would happen. it was expected. Bill does the dirty work (though they've both been involved with dirty work for many years).

    January 21, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. TINA ny, ny

    I hate to admit this however I do feel Bill Clinton is quite active in this. I feel main reason is that Hillary is among the big boys who were really roughing her up. After all it is boys club. I have seen men do that at workplaces first hand. This is exactly what is happening. Men are territorial. Both Edward and Obama were ganging up on HIllary. It has been seen during debates. Fortunately Bill is there. He is coming into this game to tackle boys club.
    I hate to admit this however it is true. Obama has done everything and anything to play dirty in this campaign. Now rules have change with Bill in the picture. Bill is like a wall protecting Hillary from the Boys and it is working. All of sudden Obama is starting to feel the heat.

    Obama- yes you are against two clintons just the way Hillary is against two Obamas.

    January 21, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  12. R. CHARLES

    WHAT I WROTE BEFORE IS NOW CLEAR. CLINTON BENEFIS FROM ANY RACIAL HEAT AND THE CLINTONS HAVE SUCCESSFUL PUT IT ON THE TABLE. I DONT FEEL THE ARE BIGOTS BUT THEY HAVE NO QUALMS ABOUT USING THE LATENT BIGOTRY IN A LARGE NUMBER OF WHITES TO MAKE THEM STOP LOOKING AT OBAMA AS AN AMERICAN AND SEEING HIM ONLY AS BLACK. WHAT OBAMA SAID ABOUT REAGAN WAS IN FACT SO. SO DID HITLER CHANGE THINGS FOR GERMANY IT DOESN'T MAKE HIM ADMIRABLE IN MY EYES BUT THEY BOTH PRODUCED CHANGE. WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE THE CHANGE OF A BRIGHT IMAGINATIVE PERSON OR A PHILOSPHICALLY STERILE WONK. THATS WHAT YOU WILL GET WITH CLINTON – A LOT OF FAILED PROGRAMS LIKE THE MEDICAL EFFORT.

    MD,NY

    January 21, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  13. elaine

    I think Hillary only stayed married to Bill so she could become a Senator, and then eventually take her shot at the White House. Can you imagine what his life will be like if she doesn't win? There will be hell to pay from Hillary. She is running on the fact that her last name is Clinton. She is running on her husband's record, not her own. It is sad that the first woman running for president is doing so on the coattails of her husband. Her cheating husband no doubt. What a weird, twisted, dysfunctional relationship they have. Do we want to bring that back to the White House again? It's as if Bill is running for his 3rd term. America, please wake up and move on from the Clinton nightmare. The Bush and Clinton families have been in power for 20 years. Let's move on and have a fresh start.

    January 21, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  14. Seth

    Where are my comments? I was the first to submit it last night and I could view my comment after submission but it disappeared suddenly.

    January 21, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  15. Hakim Rasheed, Pittsburgh, PA

    If the Clintons get elected based on this kind of campaigning it would be absolutely shameful. For either Clinton to accuse Obama of inconsistency on Iraq- the same Bill Clinton that said HE opposed Iraq from the beginning despite being on record as having supported it; the same Hillary Clinton that voted for the war then insults the intelligence of the American people by saying it wasn't a war vote--if we elect this, we get the government we deserve. This is blatant deceit by a pair of politicians I once admired, but have increasingly shown themselves as being willing to do or say anything to get elected.

    January 21, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  16. Eric in Massachusetts

    :-) Baracka Hussein Obama, the great uniter, is on a crash course to self destruction. February 5th my friends. He and his campaign are already starting to crumble. He's tearing apart the party. His supporters are mean spirited people, it's really sad.

    What's wrong Baracka? Is Oprah and Usher on your campaign trail not enough for you? I can't fathom that a political candidate is complaining because his opponent's spouse is involved in the campaign. He's crying foul. Unbelievable. Well, at least the American people are beginning to see the real Baracka Hussein Obama. The crybaby. Is Hillary crying to the press that Oprah is stumping for Obama?

    The Baracka Hussein Obama campaign is showing their inexperience and lack of class. They nevere put a stop to the racist ads in Nevada. Obama never congratulates Hillary on her wins. Too bad. This is the guy you want to run the largest super power in the World? I don't think so.

    January 21, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  17. VincentJ

    That's why this should be called the Billary Clinton Campaign !!!

    January 21, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. Seth

    Since my first comment was suppressed , Here are my comments again:

    I think Edwards and Obama are in race against two Clintons . This is rather unfortunate moment in Politics. I would say Clintons are running dictatorship in democratic party. When the Nevada caucus debate was going on, Bill Clinton was in LA at the same time speaking to group of people. Clintons can be in two locations at same time.But Obama and Edwards cannot do that.How can anyone compete against them in fair and justified manner?

    January 21, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  19. Ernesto

    And : I feel like I'm running against both Actors Obama and Oprah Winfrey

    It could be Hillary!

    Susan

    January 21, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  20. betty

    maybe Bill Clinton will do anything necessary to keep a Black man out of the white house, maybe that 's what all this is about . not so much that he wants to be president again . He may have did a little for Black people while in the whitehouse . i don.t see nothing that he did so special for Black people. somebody please tell me , what he did so special for Black people .Black people need to open their eyes at the game He played and Hillary is the same as He. I Beleive that if the American people put them back in the white house there will be NO CHANGE. I beleive in my heart that these people are more about making history. IN the white house they are going to do as little as they can get by with. This is not a game .eight years they were there in the WHITE HOUSE and what did they do?

    January 21, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  21. Tim

    It is pretty obvious to everyone that the good cop / bad cop thing is what is going on. And it is very unseemly for a former President to be so negative, and to lose his temper as he did in Nevada when arguing with a TV report about the Nevada caucus. Also, Clinton's campaign manager was on the CBS morning show yesterday and he was obnoxious - talking at the same time as Obama's campaign manager...and why Bob Schieffer didn't stop that and let Obama's manager speak without being interrupted is beyond me. I hope Obama wins the nomination; if Clinton wins, I can't see how she could offer Obama the vice presidency (which would only make sense since Obama is such a strong candidate) with a straight face after all this negativity. If she does not think that Obama has the experience to be President (which is her clear messsage, although I don't agree with that) then she'd have a very hard time explaining how Obama has the experience to be vice president, since the VP needs to be ready to assume the President's responsibilities at a moment's notice.

    January 21, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  22. Lisa, Texas

    If Bill has this much involvement, could you imagine what he would do if she were to win?

    This is a clear way of getting around Term Limits.

    January 21, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  23. Diane

    If anyone has been whining it has been the Clinton TEAM. I can't believe that those of you that are praising Hillary really think she can win against McCain or Romney, she can't. Because many of the Democrats are fed up with the Clinton Bush Dynasties. I for one will register as an Independent if Hillary gets the nomination. I hear that from other Dems as well, this is how devisive she is. I couldn't bring myself to vote for any of the Republicans running, but I may have to sit this one out.

    January 21, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  24. Nalla

    BUSH (Sr)-Clinton -Bush (Jr)-Clinton

    If my son is going to read his history book like this that may span 28 years of US presidency, what will I answer when he asks me..."Dad, why two families administered us for that long. Weren't there any other qualified candidate?"

    "Son, it is not about qualified people, it is about how media plays who is qualified and once you get into the door, you stay there as long as possible and get your wife, son...."

    Folks, wake up-father-son; husband-wife– we are not living in the middle-east or some autocratic regime. It is the US and I resist to be ruled by two families.

    Enough is enough.

    Obama '08

    January 21, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  25. toni

    More proof that Obama is not ready for the big show. What a whiner! When is he going to run on his plans? All he does is think he can get in on this dream speech alone, and the rest of the time he's whining about his opponents! What's he going to do when there's a world crisis if two terrorist leaders are against him at one time? Whine? Talk about a man who's just not strong enough to hold the office of POTUS! My husband and I won't be casting our votes for him.

    January 21, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
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