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. lena, Ca

    HILLARY is weak and who needs a president that is having break downs in front of the jihadist in the world.

    January 21, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. nana

    Yes, I sympathize with Obama's statement about running against both Hillary and Bill Clinton. It is unecessary but Bill Clinton is attacking Obama very hard. Is it Bill's fight? No it isn't. Just goes to show that Hillary cannot hold her own. GO OBAMA!

    January 21, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. Tim Stidham

    Boo whoo !!!! Poor Obama !!! Grow up and talk about the issues that face this country .Sympathy card will not work !!!!

    January 21, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Hill-Raiser

    Oh, poor Obama, being ganged up on by the Clintons. If you can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen. What's gonna happen when he's got all the different terrosit groups around the world on his a...? Whine because he's being ganged up on? Please, give us break. This guys is not president material.

    January 21, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Robert LaShay

    Please don't publish the comment I made a short time ago.

    January 21, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. chris

    The media continues to be soft on Obama...while they dissect every word, tear, tone of voice and body language of the Clintons....Obama continues to get a free ride. How much more important for voters in a presidential election then to know that a candidate may have ties to a soon to be indicted 'Political Fixer'. You hear me...a 'Political Fixer'. Obama claimed Rezko was just a close friend who helped him out on a purchase of a 2 million home where he got a $300K discount....uhmmmmm, interesting. I call this an incredible coincident where a politician just happen to have a friend who is soon to be indicted for 'Political Fixing' and who also just happen to be so so so overwhelmingly generous that he gave Obama $300K....uhmmmmmm. Makes you wonder what other incredible coincidences this man has if the media were playing fair and dumpster-dive into his trash the way they have been doing to the other candidates. BTW, 'Political Fixing' is where one intentionally perform acts, favors, events illegally to ensure a positive outcome for the candidate he/she is working for. I rest my case, Obama is a fraud perpetrated on the public and the shame here is that he is harmming the african american community and perception in the progress.

    January 21, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. frank

    i never sought Bill clinton was an honest man,or a man which i should respect ,now i proove my self right by seeing all what his doing with his dirty game which is playing just to come back to the white house.

    January 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. swede

    Stop it! YOU GOT 60% of the black vote and Hillary has her Husband. GEEZE!

    January 21, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Wayne

    The Clinton's are no different than many other politicians in Washington. What was the Country's deficit when Bill was President? Bill didn't do it on his own and hopefully Hillary would have sense enough to get some of those same people on board if she became president. The Clinton's get a lot of bad press for their tactics but when you swim with the sharks you need to be a shark. Obama talks change but I'm concerned he wouldn't have enough or know how to get enough power to do anything. What has he done in the Senate up to this point? I haven't heard of much of anything.

    January 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Sue

    YIKES, IF the likes of all the Obama supporters and Clinton supporters keep this up. Guess what we'll have: Another 4 years of Republicans. Not that it's all bad but can you imagine 4 years of Mike Huckabee??? Help!

    Please get over it, get back to details on issues. Forget the religious stuff, forget the racism. Both sides are using it to their advantage. Democrats, wake up and remember this:(which helped Democrates win the last time) "Its the Economy Stupid". Lets hear the facts on how Democrates would help the economy. Because if the economy is weak, guess who gets hurt first? Women, Minorities and Children-Not Republicans.

    January 21, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. swede

    Who wants change?? THE MEDIA WANTS CHANGE so they have someone fresh and new to cover! That's why all the soft balls are Tossed to OBAMAMA and the coverage. They want the change MORE than anyone. NOT FAIR!

    January 21, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. malik

    Obama will win!The comments Bill Clinton made were inapropriate. BIll is the REAL fairytale!!!!

    January 21, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. michael

    I've heard many inspired speeches in my life time. However, some stayed with me for a day or two while the others have remained imprinted in my mind and my heart until now. Why is that? when I thought about it, I realized that the words that stayed with me are all from people who have acted according to the inspiration they gave me. My guidance counselor in HS said that I can be anything I want to be because he believed in me. This stayed with me til now because up to that point, he had been there for me for 4 years...always available and ready to help or talk when I come by. My speech teacher in college made an inspiring speech on immigration as an example and that stayed with me for a day or two because I know nothing about him and have no histories on what he's done on the immigration topic. So I used this to gauge what all the hoopla that's happenning in this Democratic campaign is all about. I realized that Obama DOES try to portrait himself as MLK. However, there are much differences. When MLK made that powerful 'I have a dream' speech, the words and sentiments can not be denied or questioned because the man had lived the life, walked the talk and did the deeds. This is why his words remained with us til now. Obama talk much of change and it is inspiring when the words are tied with the posture, tone of voice and expressions. However, when I found myself asking what has he done that can be equate to drastic inspiring changes, I was left with nothing. When Obama claimed in a debate that he drafted a legislature policy where politician can no longer accept lunches from lobbyist.....and had to conceed that it only applies to sit down lunches and not standing up lunches....I was knocked over. If all he has to point to as great, drastic and inspiring changes is a legislation where politicians can not accept sit-down lunches then what do voters have to be inspired about. Debates are where to highlight the best of the best in things that you've done...and if this is all he has to point to...it told me that he really haven't walked the talk, done the deeds or live the life. The comparison of Obama to MLK is...in my view an insult of Dr. Martin Luther King.

    January 21, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. najee

    hilary is not the right person for the job. she had no emotion when she supposedly "cried" ha hahahhahahah! that is really fake tears she is fake matter o fact she didnt even have any tears. oh wow she had a crack in her voice that doesnt mean anything. obama will change this country bill shouldnt even be in this. is he running for president now NO I dont think so. he should just back off and let hilary do some work. she is nothin without billl as her husband. hes the only reason she is even in this. watch out clinton obama comin through!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    January 21, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Rudy Garcia

    Bill Clinton happens to be Hillary Clinton's husband. That he campaigns on her bahalf should come as no surprise to anyone and that he forcefully defends her is neither unseemly or wrong. Given the way she stuck by him through thick and thin, one would expect nothing less. The fact that he is a former President does not diminish his status as the husband of a candidate. The truth is that Obama had been getting pretty much of a free ride as the second coming of MLK but now that he is being challenged he has resorted to whining. Of course he is running against both Clinton's just as they are running against both Barack and his wife, who he trots out whenever he believes she can be helpful to his campaign. Obama`s record on the war in Iraq prior to the past three years when he has held office in the national legislature is of little consequence in terms of being meaningful. He had no vote that counted. And, if his votes since being in the Senate are a bit inconsistent with what he says his position was prior to being elected to the Senate, well, that's how it goes. There does not seem to be any misrepresentation there. All that happened is that the Obama ox now has been gored and, as the old saying goes, it all depends on whose ox has been gored.

    January 21, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. janet

    Poor little baby Obama. Looks like he's getting his supporters out to intimidate Bill from telling the truth. Where was the cry for fairness when Hillary was dragged through the mud, mocked and critized from all angles. Where was the cry for fairness when her experience and records were minimized on the national stage because she is a woman. Poor Poor little Obama. Perhaps he needs his diaper changed. Quick! Oprah, Michelle, who's on diaper duty today?

    January 21, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. Lou

    As I read the comments I can tell that more and more people see just how much Slick Willy rubbed off on Slick Hilly! The Clinton's are a disgrace! For Hillary to want to be president after being co-president for 8 years is very arrogant to me. They are definitely Slick politicians. I certainly hope Barack Obama will keep exposing their lies and confronting them and just as MLK had to fight for Civil Rights in the 1960's, Barack needs to stay positive in the campaign and let "The Slick Clinton's" negative campaign ruin their chance at being president and co-president for another 8 years.

    January 21, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. lynne

    How is it with all the underhanded things the Clinton's have done, there are still people that would consider them for the country's highest office? It's mind boggling.

    January 21, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. Charlene

    African americans should be proud at how well all americans are embracing Obama. This country has come a long way with regards to race.

    Female americans should be sad at how sexism continues to exist with the sad attacks, minimal respect and shameful ingnorance on a woman's hard work, experience and accomplishments. Such as all has done to Hillary in this election. This woman has been punched, knocked down, disrespected, minimized and criticized in an appalling maner and as a woman I am sad to see what I have seen in corporate america play out in this campaign.

    I'm standing up for once and will cross party line and vote for Hillary. Stay strong Hillary, we know what's happenning here. We know all too well.

    January 21, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. Louis, New York

    What amazes me is that anyone believes a word Bill or Hillary say. the facts speek for themselves. But people refuse to listen.
    Did Bill Clinton really graduate from Rhodes? No he did not. But will people check on that? Nope. They believe he graduated.
    is Hillary the "smartest woman of our time"? Well i would think she could have passed the D.C. bar exam if she were, but she didn't.
    Was she really named after Sir Hillary? Well people believe she was, however he wasn't even popular for climbing Everest till after she was born!

    Bill Clinton lost his license to practice law because he committed perjury! he lied to a court and was disbarred for 5 years. But he sure will tell you the truth when it comes to getting back into the white house won't he?

    he didn't have sex with that woman. he didn't inhale and Hillary will make the best president he assures us ... yeah right.

    ANYONE BUT HILLARY '08.

    January 21, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. Lilia

    I watch the news and the ones fueling the dispute IS THE MEDIA...THE MEDIA.
    Please stop it. Let the race go on...report the SPATs but don't just go over them over and over and over again.
    The debates happen and since Clinton wins most of them, you just gloss over them and continue to push the race and divisive issues.
    PLEASE STOP you are hurting the country, US MEDIA!

    January 21, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  22. mike

    Obama, you poor thing, what were you saying when Oprah was helping you, if you can not stand the heat get out, were running out of kleenex.

    January 21, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  23. Judy

    PEOPLE PEOPLE SEN. BARACK OBAMA IS NOT A MUSLIM. I THINK YOU SHOULD BUY HIS BOOK AND READ ABOUT HIM AND STOP LISTENING TO OTHER STUPID PEOPLE. USE YOUR BRAIN READ ABOUT HIM.

    January 21, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  24. Mike T

    If Hillary's last name wasn't Clinton and she hadn't been married to Bill Clinton, nobody would even know who she was and nobody would care one iota what she says or thinks.

    And if her husband hadn't come out and campaigned for her: first, she wouldn't be a Senator, and second, she wouldn't have won a single state in this primary. I really think that most of the people voting for her think they are voting for Bill Clinton, and do not understand that he can't be president again. They need to read the Constitution.

    Clinton also gets help from the media, including CNN. Ever notice that every time there is a story about the 3 candidates, like the one on the CNN homepage right now – Hillary's picture is first, Obama's is second, and Edward's is third. Is that supposed to be subliminal, or what? Further, they always seem to choose a flattering picture of Clinton, and the worst pictures they can find of the other two. Is that not bias as well?

    January 21, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  25. Emmanuel

    Well, well, well, It's no surprising that Bill Clinton has to do any thing in recompense to Hillary for his philandering and dishonour to thier marriage while in the "Oral" office.....em sorry, Oval office. She stuck with him through thick and thin, so it's expected that Bill will have to play tough love even at the risk of his own legacy to spport the wife he so let down while president. They have survived together, so they will fight together. Sorry Obama, you are running against both Clintons. I respect Bill Clinton, but I think he should calm down a bit and let Hillary project herself and fight for her presidency. If the Clintons are not careful, thier tactic will backfire! and how long before Bill Clinton's asset to his wife becomes a laibility? you wait and see.

    January 21, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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