January 20th, 2008
08:20 PM ET
6 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. Brian

    I, for one, am getting a little sick of the Clinton's. I did not get to vote for Bill's first term (too young) but voted for his second term. And as someone who almost always (so far always) votes Democratic, I find their arrogance about their rightful place in the White House to be insulting!

    This is not the 90's anymore, and Clinton, although a good President, was the beneficiary of many things beyond his control (internet boom) that caused the great economy of the 90's. YOU CAN'T GO BACK!

    I am afraid that we are going to nominate someone based on their HUSBAND'S record from the past, instead of looking forward at whom would be best to lead our country in the future! If you want an arrogant micromanager, find vote Clinton, but we don't need a micromanager. We need a leader with the ability to inspire, the ability to bring people together, instead of divide. That is Obama.

    And I know alot of people say this, but if it is Clinton that get's the nomination, I will hopefully be voting for McCain, or a third party.

    January 21, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Amy in Cincinnati

    I think it's hilarious that the minute Obama stands up for himself, and calls Bill Clinton out on the carpet, people are calling him a crybaby. LOL! The Clintons are toxic, as anyone who is really being objective can see. Obama is just stating an obvious fact that it's not the Hillary and Bill tag team in '08.

    Here's the thing...the moderate Republicans and Independants will not vote for Hillary in the general election, especially if McCain is the nominee for the GOP. In fact, if McCain is the nominee, many life long democrats will consider McCain over Hillary. Do the math. She's not gonna make it in the long run.

    Check out the head to head polls between Democrats and Republicans on RealClearPolitics.com. Obama blows Hillary out of the water in every matchup. America, it is up to us. Let's not blow it for another 8 years.

    Go Obama!

    January 21, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. Omar Norfolk VA

    SO can Hillary not stand up on her own two feet without Bill??? NOPE! She is not fit for the White house.

    January 21, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. jp/michigan

    IF YOU THINK THINGS ARE BAD NOW, WAIT UNTIL THE REBUPLICANS GET A HOLD OF YOU. YOU AI'NT SEEN NOTHING YET!

    January 21, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  5. Pamela

    Hillary's endorsement by the Black church in Harlem is rather comical. She wanted it to look like the Black community is behind her only---how Black is Harlem now? There has been so much gentrification that you can stand on the subway platform at 110th and Lenox and see more whites than Blacks at certain times. Oh Hillary, you are so sneaky. Your husband was one of the wealthy people who bought into Harlem and made it next to impossible for most Black Harlemites to even DREAM of buying real estate. Yeah, sure Harlem is behind you.

    January 21, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  6. w00t w00t

    Hillary is not ready to be president

    January 21, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  7. Jonathan

    Rus said: " 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)."

    I could not have said it better myself.....anyone seen "Wag the Dog"? Or remember "it depends on what your definition of 'is' is"?? Or maybe everybody just loves them cause he plays the saxophone, and she cries...
    "

    January 21, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  8. Nobama No Way

    "I see Clinton has gone to a black community in New York and asked her black supporters to make an announcement, with her standing there, to not make their decision based on color."

    Well can you blame her? The media is totally focused on how much the black community has backed Obummer, and how she lost the black vote in Nevada...making it sound like no blacks in the USA will vote for her.

    You Obummer backers must be a bunch of male chauvinists and just can't stand the thought of a woman being in charge of this country, regardless of the FACT that she's the only person qualified for the job. Tell your daughters they can't really grow up and follow their dreams, because they're girls. Get with the 21st century people!

    HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT 2008

    January 21, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. Walt, Belton, TX

    Hillary and slick willie Clinton must not be allowed any more access to power. They abused what they had when they quickie pardoned all those felons for profit. Consider that slick willie was a felon himself for evading being drafted until good ole boy, Jimmy Carter, the worst President in the last 100 years, pardoned him. Don’t put these two crooks back in the White House.

    January 21, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  10. Desiree

    Obama sounds like a sour loser. Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama also campaign for their spouses and say things about the other canidates so are we going to start attacking the spouses now? If he can handle the Cintons then the republicans will bury him. He's not vetted yet, he will crumble to the republicans if what Bill Clinton says gets him all rattled the republicans will pull out everything and won't care. Even though some people don't like Bill Clinton he still has a huge following and if Obama starts attacking someone who's not running in this election like Bill Clinton he may separate the democrated party. So much for the polictics of hope. Are we also going to attack people who endorse canidates also?

    January 21, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. BobW

    Watching the Clinton political machine at work, reminds me of some sort of South American dictatorship. The reigning despot is forced by world opinion to step down and to hold “free” elections. So, the dictator nominates a candidate and then goes out and campaigns for the candidate. Nobody is surprised when opponents disappear and the dictator’s candidate wins. Is this what we want in America?

    The office of President of the United States has been intentionally and constitutionally separated from the legislative and judicial branches to preserve undue influence in the operation of government. I strongly believe that the same should hold true as it applies to political campaigns. We don’t need to return to the days of political bosses and political intimidation. It is absolutely disgraceful that Hillary has to use her husband’s station as a former President to gain political advantage. This gives her “special access” and privilege not available to the other candidates.

    Of course why should privilege be a problem for the Clintons? They have generations of white privilege behind them and will not hesitate to use it while claiming to be champions of people of color. Bill Clinton has been anointed “The First Black President”. I find that title patronizing and insulting but it seems many prominent black leaders are comfortable enough with it to parrot the title every chance they get.

    Hillary wants to keep race and gender from the campaigning but is quick to use both to her advantage. If it isn’t the spontaneous moments of female emotion, it’s her reminders that this is a historic time because a black and a female is running for office. If that black should take issue with something, Hillary’s attack dog, Bill-the-First-Black-President is set loose.

    So America in Bill’s own words-“Give me a break!”

    January 21, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. sophiek

    stop crying and get over it!!!
    welcome to the big leagues obama.
    this is the world of politics and only
    the strong survive.

    January 21, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. TINA ny, ny

    short answer- yes we want BIll too. happy now

    __________________________________________________
    Susan January 21, 2008 8:25 am ET

    Think about it people ….if you vote for Hillary …you get Bill too!!! Do we really want another Slick Willy in the White House? Come on People………Bill Clinton should keep his mouth shut……….He does not sound like a supportive spouse on the campaign trail……….he sounds like he is running for president himself……….Do we really want more of the same politicians in the White House…..we have been there and done that……..Please people ……..wake up!!!!!! Hillary is full of it.and so is Bill………..WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  14. BobW

    "If Obama can't handle two Clintons, how can he be expected to handle the agressive governments of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China, to name only a few."

    Well, I guess that puts the Clinton in good company!

    January 21, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Eric in Massachusetts

    Amy,
    There is nothing for Obama to call Bill out on the carpet for. Anyone can campaign for anyone else. Last time I checked, we still live in a Democracy. Is Obama and his supporters so far left that you all think we live in a communist state? Is this what we have to look forward to?

    January 21, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. Mike T

    "People thought Hillary was too involved in Bills campaign."

    Really? I don't recall that – at all. Is this more of the "experience" she claims to have?

    January 21, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  17. Scott C.

    Please, someone explain to me how Hillary represents change in America.

    How can you have change when the listing of past presidents goes Bush > Clinton > Bush > Clinton? Hillary represents entrenched Washington business-as-usual and people should recognize that fact.

    Does anyone realize that terrorism grew into a force capable of striking the United States under the presidency of Bill Clinton? Does anyone else realize that Bill Clinton gave us the mess that is NAFTA? And Bill Clinton weakened our military in both numbers and morale.

    While I will conceed that the economy was good under Clinton, you cannt give him 100% of the credit for that. There are WAY too many other factors at play in a global economy to lay all the praise at the feet of Bill Clinton.

    I have voted Republican in the past 3 elections. I wont be this year unless the Democrats run Hillary as their candidate.

    There are some things that are important to me that I dont agree with most Republican candidates on:

    Ending the war in Iraq
    Gun control
    A fair tax plan that treats all Americans equally
    An energy policy that doesnt rely on foreign oil
    An immigration policy that doesnt break apart families and provides a means for people here illegally to stay here legally
    Privitizing Social Security

    While there are numerous issues that I generally dont agree with Democrats on, I have come to realize that most of those issues are moral issues that cant be solved with legislation. So, when I looked closely at each candidate on both the Republican and Democratic side I am choosing to vote for Barack Obama. I will not, under any circumstance, vote for Hillary Clinton.

    I could care less that Hillary is female. I have no qualms about casting my vote for a female president. I just cant stand the thought of casting my vote for Hillary. She and Bill will say and do anything to win. Even when it involves being dishonest, disrespectful, and deceitful.

    We need change. We need someone with fresh ideas. We need someone who will speak to the leaders of nations we have alienated over the past 10-20 years. We need someone who isnt tied into speical interest groups. We need someone who can unite America (stop talking about JUST uniting the Democratic party). We need someone who lead us into a future filled with hope, not fear. We need Barack Obama!

    January 21, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. Eeeeer!?

    Yet again CNN, you post the same anti-Clinton story twice on the ticker!!!

    Oh Dear.

    January 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  19. Greg in OH

    toni, how is Hillary ready. Where would she be without being the wife a former president? That is not sexist, that is just fact? Obama is here on his own, unlike Hillary. Hillary sold out Kerry in '04 bc she wanted to run in '08 which could not happen if Kelly won. Those are the types of people you are supporting.

    January 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. Bukky, Balt MD

    I think its funny that people say Obama is whining when Hillary quite literally CRIED because it was "so tough" Please!!!!!

    The Clintons are playing good cop bad cop. Plain and simple. Ever since she cried he says all the negative things and she just smiles and makes jokes.

    January 21, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. Lisa, Texas

    Africans Americans do need to open their eyes. Everyone benefited when Bill Clinton was in office. There was no special treatment given to any one culture. The only thing Bill did was shadow his Presidency and the African Americans fell for the oldest trick in the book. "Let's hire a lot of African Americans to keep them quiet"

    The Clintons are not the "Great White Hope" of the African American community. They never have been, and never will be. Neither is Obama, nor Romney, nor McCain or any other candidate running for the seat..

    This Presidential election is extremely important, the race is not over, our country in in turmoil. Issues below are the importance for EVERY FAMILY:

    1.) Health Care
    2.) Education Reform
    3.) Employment
    4.) Tax Reform
    5.) Protecting America

    Open your eyes America......vote for the candidate who will address your concerns, not their own agenda.

    January 21, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. Michael Mogilev

    Hillary stayed in the marriage because of just one thing – Bill would make sure she got elected QUEEN!!!! If she loses, she'll dump him in my opinion.

    I am a registered Republican and I am voting for Obama. He is the best chance we have to have another JFK! And like JFK did with LBJ, why doesn't Obama recruit John Edwards as his running mate and together they gang up on Hillary??????
    Of course, Edwards would have to bow out of the presidential race, wait a day or two then announce his teaming up with Obama!!

    Hillary must not get into the White House! She is nothing but White Trash who thinks she is superior to the average person. She thinks the country is a bunch of sheep and she is our savior!!!!

    You can say you want a woman to be president – and it may be good for our country to EVENTUALLY have a woman president – JUST NOT THIS ONE!!!!!
    Also – we would have to have two qualified women running against each other – that would be an appropriate match up!

    Right now our country needs a black president MORE than it needs a woman president. Obama will have a healing effect on our society. Too many people – at least 50% HATE HILLARY anyway!!!

    GO OBAMA!!!

    January 21, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  23. Jerri Noble

    I thought we were in a democracy, not a dynasty. We've already had the dynasty of Bush's, now the Clinton's (who are fast friends with the Bush's, especially former President Clinton) want to take their turn. It's time for something new. Obama can beat the suits off of Hillary, if he runs against just her. She cannot win by herself. I never thought the Clinton's played such dirty politics. It makes me sick. I had a lot of respect for the family. But then again, she is originally from Little Rock, AK, but became a senator of NY. It's a lot of twisted stuff going on. Then again, being from SC, a lot of our people still live in the mindset that Bill Clinton is the Black moses–he's the first Black President (Bull). Perhaps he feels threatened (ha!) They should open their eyes. I am surprised at the so-called elite, professional leaders, clergy and even some southern civil rights leaders standing up for Clinton. Grinning and skinning, almost slobbering at the mouth. Most of them think that if they get Hillary, they're getting Bill Clinton back in the Whitehouse. They don't really believe this woman will run the Whiitehouse on her own. Have they forgotten this is a man they voted to impeach for all his lies. This is an evil man who has shown his real face to America with his mean unsolicited tactics. It's all a front. I'm still believing they stole the votes in NH–they had to. A page from the Bush's playbook of Florida. I'm for Obama. He's the best man for the job. He's fresh, he believes in change and togetherness across the isles. He want's to merge the red and blue. I'm for Obama.

    January 21, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. kamissa

    not two clintons: one philosophy...
    interestingly enough, it's a philosophy that is much like obama's, only he has yet to develop the connections, the skill set, or the track record to get going on "day one," as they say...
    HILLARY '08!!!

    January 21, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  25. Dan - Austin,TX

    poor baby. ROFL.... Obama is that why you ran off to you house instead of making a statement in NV after your loss. Has anyone even asked obama about his affiliations with Syria and the Bushes??? Research people , you have the internet find out the truth about all the candidates.

    January 21, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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