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. suzzy

    The only way Obama gets the nomination will be that he capitalizes on Hillary's sleazy money machine using bundling to illegally sidestep the campaign contribution limits. But that's not in the works since Obama is probably doing the exact same thing, just look at the wads of money he is getting as well. But then Dems are famous for engaging in PROJECTION to cover their own misconduct.

    January 20, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  2. Patrick, Atlanta GA

    Bill Clinton is a liar and will do anything to have his wife win. We have all heard his lies in the past.

    January 20, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  3. The Record

    To a degree, he is running against both Clintons, and that is what makes them such a bargain- two for one!

    I think Barack Hussein Obama is "likeable enough," I just like the Clinton's experience more. In the great spirit of American compromise, however, I am going vote for Obama- in 2016- after his 8 years as Hillary's Vice President.

    For the record: those who say, "if Hillary wins, I'm voting Republican" I say go ahead! You will lose there also. In addition, isn't voting for a Republican like cutting your nose to spite your face? Do you really believe you will be better off with a Republican in office, and vote for them, just because the Democrat you wanted didn't win?

    And for those who say, "blacks are not supporting Clinton because....." Wrong! Yes we are! For those of us thinking blacks who learned from Clarence Thomas know that we shouldn't just vote for someone because they are black.

    Anyway.... Hillary can skip South Carolina if she wants, take Flordia, California, New York and the like, and let's start planning for her return to the whitehouse.

    Peace

    January 20, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  4. kwame

    RUNNING AGAINST BOTH CLINTON? YOU HAVEN'T SEEN ANYTHING YET

    January 20, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  5. senior chief

    Here's my game plan: Cheney/Rice in '08! Guiliani, Romney or Thompson will not beat Hillary. Huckabee might, but he need lots of exposure and $$$.

    January 20, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  6. Barney

    Shut you face Bill and get back with your Floozie's
    They need you

    January 20, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  7. Deanna Woodham

    I am quickly losing respect for former President Clinton. I voted for him in 1992 and 1996, but recently I have observed a mean spirited, vindicative person who will say and do anything to return to the White House. We do not need this in the Democratic party. Senator Hillary Clinton and former President Clinton are divisive politicians that will not unify our country during these perilous times.

    I urge all Democrats to understand that Senator Hillary Clinton will unify the Republicans and alienate many Democrats thereby losing the general election to the Republicans in November. Then, we'll have possibly eight more years of the Bush policies.

    January 20, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  8. Mike T

    He IS running against both Clintons – they've said it will be a "co-presidency." Never mind the law, let alone the Constitution, the Clintons think neither applies to them.

    January 20, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  9. Alice Jones

    I've always said Bill Clinton was the best President I've ever seen run this country (Bobby Kennedy would have been the best ever), but the way they are going after Senator Obama reminds me of a WWF tag team, where fake blows are thrown at each other, just to make them look better. Senator Hillary was once someone I really looked up to, until she gave into the Republicans on a very much needed HEALTH CARE REFORM for the people who really need it.

    Barack All The Way
    Alice Jones (South Florida)

    January 20, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. michael, grand prairie tx.

    These people are sick, They will do and say anything to get more power. I say enough is enough, if she wins this nomination ill say good ridance to the democratic party.

    January 20, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. kz

    I totally agree with Obama comments....the Clintons will say and do anything to get back into the White House. Bill Clinton complained about the votes at the Las Vegas strip caucus locations being counted 5 times more than those off of the strip. Does he feel the same way now that Hillary won majority of those locations? Bill Clinton should be ashamed....the more I see him on television the more I lose respect for him!

    January 20, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  12. Gf

    you’re not helping Hillary by trying to play up xenophobic feelings with Obama. It may work if she was running for the Republican ticket, but this is the fight for the Democratic nomination

    January 20, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  13. Barbara Ellman

    Former President Clinton has lowered himself to disobeying the 150 feet distance from a polling place in Nevada. He actually was standing at the entrance to the polling facility and urging people to "come in" even taking them by the arm. Why has this not been reported and Bill Clinton chastised for his actions. It is alarming to believe that in his zest or panic, he is actually disobeying the law to make sure by hook or by crook his wife will fill his old spot. Were people blindly intimidated by this person? Dishonest then, and worse even now.

    Sick and desparate individuals. Please wake up, see the reality of their characters and think before encouraging their manias. What's ironic is that only one of them, Hillary, is actually on the slate and two people are battling for her survival. Sick.

    January 20, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  14. Jake, Las Vegas, Nevada

    It's not surprising Bill Clinton has always been a liar.

    January 20, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  15. nelson

    Well, Obama, maybe you should ask Ronald Reagan 's family to help your campaign since you think he was such a magnificent president.

    January 20, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  16. Patty, somewhere

    You know, I am getting tired of this "I am hard done by" sounding routine.
    Perhaps Bill is trying to set the record straight on some things since the media refuses to scrutinize Obama as closely as they do Hillary. He should be pleased that he has had practically every station on radio and TV or paper being critical of her and he hasn't had to open his mouth.
    Perhaps Obama supporters can do the same things they demand of the Clinton campaign. They wanted the Clintons to denounce a comment about drug use by one of their supporters but would not renounce an ad from a union supporting group that endorsed him that called Hillary shameless and against a whole race of people for something she had no part in.
    Perhaps Mr. Obama should learn that getting to the Presidency is not an easy job nor should it be, and you have to learn you can't get through the process without some criticism. It seems he has supporters who openly come out and defend him against Hillary and that seems to be acceptable, so why should he not expect Bill or anyone else to come out and defend Hillary.
    Sorry, but if Obama wants to come forward and rebut Bill, then feel free and do it. No one is stopping you. But then you should not attempt to try and silence him either by following the latest media mantra buzzphrase that we are now hearing constantly of "good cop bad cop". Or, do we get to call the ones who support Obama on the airwaves being critical of Hillary bad cops as well?

    January 20, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  17. cedric

    I think people are stupid if they think they can relive the "Clinton years." It's 2008, we now live in a post 9/11 society, the economy is totally different. Remember it was Clinton who signed NAFTA and thats why most jobs went to Mexico. I can see Bill Clinton drooling at another chance to get into the white house. I just got one question for all you Hillary supporters, if she wasn't Bill Clintons wife how many of you would vote for her? If she wins the Nomination she wont be getting my vote, and i can bet the african american turnout will be at a all time low.

    January 20, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  18. Brian

    January 20, 2008

    CNN please do not delete this again. If you do not want negative feedback on Obama why report these foolish stories?

    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 20, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  19. Ted G

    As a democrat, how can President Clintons actions do the party any justice in the long run? Why cant he merely obstain from being critical of any Democratic candidate? Maybe the only thing that matters is that his wife is the nominee over a Democrat winning the White House?

    January 20, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  20. Sam

    It is dynasty, they own the country. We had Bush then Clinton then Bush then Clinton. After Clinton it is Chelsea Clinton 2016.

    January 20, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  21. c martin

    I finally glad somesome else is reporting this. I have to say given Obama's campaing experience...he is holding up good agianst both of them. If Obama doesn't win....we could possibly endure 8 year of this kind of politics.

    I look forward to hearing additional comments.

    January 20, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  22. Mike

    The Clintons HAVE GOT TO GO!!!!! I have had it with them attacking and lying about obama. When will it end??? When will America WAKE UP and stop this 20 year bi-partisian division of the clintons and bushes. Who is running for president HIllary or Bill? As you can see he is like a loose cannon with diarreah at the mouth about Obama. Why are they not talking about Hillary mysterious 35 years of experience? Why are they so bent on trying to prove these lies about obama. She has no experience so they try and make up stories and lies about obama which is totally ridiculous. Hillary and Bill are a disgrace to the Democratic Party who don't care about anybody but themselves. They dont' care about polarizing the democrats, the african american community as well as Washington DC with their bi-partisan tactics as long as they get what they want. These two dimwits seem to loved obama when he was 30 point down, now they see him as serious compeition they have launched and all out hate attack on him which is downright disgusting. As an african-american who is 110% democrat who have voted democrat for over 30 years and who despise the Republicans BUT this DEMOCRAT will be voting for McCain if this lying coniving woman is elected the presidential nominee because of the dirty campaign she ran. Anybody who is supporting Hillary and her DISGUSTING Lying Husband ought to have their head examined. If you think she is ruthless now in this campaign she will be worse being in charge of a governing country. NOTHING will get done!

    January 20, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  23. Michael from CT

    Senator Obama is wrong about both Hillary and Bill Clinton. Senator Obama opened himself up to questions by claiming he has been against the Iraq war from the very start yet in 2004 he said there was little difference between his position and President Bush. Perhaps Senator Obama should explain why he said this. At least Hillary admits that if she knew what she knew about Iraq back then that she would've voted different and I believe her not just because she said that but because of actions last year when Hillary voted against giving President Bush another blank check for Iraq without plan to withdrawal but Senator Obama is trying to say he has been against the Iraq war from the very start and it seems like he doesn't like it when questioned about being inconsistent in any way. Another problem that Obama supporters don't like to hear is his lack of experience but what don't realize is that if he ever got the nomination the Republicans would turn up the heat of his lack of experience especially on the national security issue but they can't do that to Hillary Clinton because of experience and knowledge. Not only that Hillary was already in the Whitehouse as First Lady and knows how things work, Republicans can't use the politics of fear like that against Hillary like they can to Obama. If Obama supporters really want to see a Democrat in the Whitehouse then they need to look at the big picture and start shifting their support to Hillary. Bush has been the divider but Hillary can bring us back together. Hillary has the experience and strength to bring us real change and reverse the damage done by the Bush administraton.

    January 20, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  24. wesfromGA

    I hope the campaign and the media will scrutinize and fact-check all statements by both Clintons.

    Today, for instance, in Harlem, Senator Clinton claimed that meeting Dr. King when she was a young person was a "transformational moment" for her. This statement seems exaggerated since Clinton maintained her support for anti-civil-rights Senator Barry Goldwater for several years after she met Dr. King.

    This claim seems akin to Governor Romney claiming that his father marched with Dr. King. After some basic fact-checking, newspapers reported that this was not in fact the case.

    January 20, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  25. Michelle

    Bill Clinton is doing a real disservice to his reputation, in my opinion. Maybe it will help his wife win the nomination, I don't know. What a shame, if it does. Who wants the first woman President to have won that most important title by taking advantage of every dirty trick in the book? I certainly will not feel moved or inspired or vindicated or proud. A woman, like anyone, should be able to win on her own merit and vision. As if the Clinton legacy weren't sleazy enough...

    January 20, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
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