February 8th, 2008
03:26 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: Bill Clinton - asset or liability?

CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer.
CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton is still out there actively campaigning for his wife. He has toned down his comments in the face of some severe criticism, especially in the days before and immediately after the South Carolina primary. In defending Hillary Clinton, he was accused of going way too far in criticizing Barack Obama. The argument was that other campaign leaders should do that – not a former President of the United States.

“She’s the best qualified person to be president I’ve ever had a chance to support, and I feel strongly about that,” Bill Clinton told a reporter from WCSH in Portland, Maine on Thursday. “And I think there’s nothing wrong with me saying that.” He then added: “But what I learned from that whole dustup, and all the things people saying that I didn’t, is that as long as I’m promoting her no one can have an objection; but I can’t defend her. Someone else has to do that.”

There is no doubt that Bill Clinton is a huge asset for his wife’s campaign. He remains extraordinarily popular among Democrats. But there is also no doubt that he can – and probably has – hurt her chances by aggressively defending her record. He now openly acknowledges that. Other surrogates and supporters will have to do the defending for him.

I started covering Bill Clinton in November 1992 – just before he was elected. I then stayed in Little Rock for nearly three months during his transition to the White House, and then became CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent for seven years. It was clear to me then – and it remains clear now – that he is one of the most astute political strategists out there. Politics is in his blood. He truly understands the process even as he occasionally makes some serious blunders. When he does, he is among the best in damage control.

– Wolf Blitzer


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. For Hillary

    To all of you who bash Hillary – what have YOU done? She has quite a Resume. You could not hold a candle to her. She is running to be President of the United States – that is not exactly a small accomplishment.

    As far as the Clinton's past goes – what's in YOUR past!! Give it a rest.

    February 8, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. marie

    For the life of me, I cannot fathom why anyone thinks putting Hillary in office will magically bring back the golden Clinton years. Yes, times were a whole lot better. Yes, I voted for him myself. But she is her own person, and more importantly, the world is a very different place. Vote for her because you believe in her, her stance on the issues that matter to you, and her ability to make change happen, not because of what life was like when her husband was president. To those who think Obama is all about sunshine and rainbows and silly dreams, I say returning to the '90s is the one dream we can safely say is IMPOSSIBLE.

    February 8, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. JOYCE GILLIAM

    FROM ARKANSAS
    LET THE VOTERS NOT FORGET THE CLINTON YEARS IN AND OUT OF OFFICE, LETS GO FORWARD WITH OUT WITH THE OLD,IN WITH THE NEW, OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT.CAN'T BE ANY WORSE THEN THOSE YEARS.I WORKED IN HUD REPOS.THEN AND HAD MORE WORK THEN EVER IN MY LIFE.PEOPLE LOOSING HOMES TO MORTAGE CO

    February 8, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. Scott, Royal Oak

    Carl -
    Glad to see you've joined the 900 commenters crying about the alleged CNN bias against the Clintons. Thanks for showing me how to be an "original" poster. Keep crunching those numbers, big guy...

    February 8, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. sg

    Wolf after long ttime I have heard some positive about Clintons from CNN. You have already damaged her before super Tuesday and we were very disappointed with CNN. CNN constantly bringing Gloria and Rollin Martin. As soon as I see Rollin I already know what he is going to say. Lou Dobbs is really fair and balance. Clinton does not deserve to be treated like this. This country was prospor when clinton was president. We are given one more chance and we should welcome this.

    February 8, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. Anita

    Another Canadian for Clinton

    February 8, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. Dana in Maryland

    Clinton was an effective ( notice I didn't say good ) President because as has been mentioned above, he is a master manipulator and though I have slightly more respect for Hillary, She is not above the same tactics. Both like to take credit for things they really had nothing to do with. But hey, that is politics right? I don't see that sort of person in Obama and while as an independent I've voted republican more often than not when confronted with the worst choices the democratic party could dish up, in Obama, I feel like I can support his social ideals and his natural respect for others. The Clintons lost my trust long ago. and I'd vote for McCain who I disagree with on many issues before I'd vote for Hillary because I feel like he can be trusted. With Obama, I get both trust and a sense of someone who has his priorities straight and for whom being president is about our country, not about him.

    February 8, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  8. Ashley - Bay Area, CA

    Bill Clinton, although liked by just about everyone I know, ruined any chance of Hillary ever getting my vote! When he decided to cheat on his wife in their house, in Americas house, he humiliated Hillary & our country. It's as if everyone forgets that happened! Hillary couldn't keep track of her husband in her own home, & I am supposed to somehow believe that she can keep track of an entire country?! Her husband cheated on her & she stayed with him. That shows she is a weak person! I want someone strong in office, that's why I voted for Barack Obama!

    February 8, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. Bimmer

    Wolf:

    Why do hate Hillary?

    February 8, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  10. Seattle for Hillary!

    Bottom line. More substance to Hillary. And Universal Health Care!
    Go Hillary 2008!

    February 9, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  11. Nobama

    Bill just tell it as it is. But Media and Obama campaign are more than happy to spin his words. Shame on you!

    Love Bill!
    Love Hillary even more!

    HIllary for President!
    Nobama for talk show host!

    February 9, 2008 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  12. Dusacre

    For November 2008, ABC (Anybody But Clinton)

    February 9, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  13. Sandra Compton

    Hillary is the most experienced an understands the issues better.She will win a debate against mccain.In this time of crisis here an around the world no one has the experience and background she has to tackle these problems. cnn has always been my news station,but why are you so in favor of obama? This totally shocks me that you can be so unfain toHillary.

    February 9, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  14. mmy

    I just read interesting articles in New York Times about Obama's earlier years. Has anyone done a thorough check into this person? He may have much to hide........

    February 9, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. steve

    hey u venomous obama supporters dont eva abuse him, see for urself wat ur how mny women have u ditched and slept with!!!!Atleast he realized his mistake and now is playin role of a heroic spouse to a heroic woman
    GO HILLARY GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    MADAM PRESIDENT 08

    February 9, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. BW

    I have vigorously supported the Clintons all my adult life. I have given money, campaigned, and voted each time Bill was on a ticket (and dragged anyone I knew along with me). I was equally delighted to see Hillary join the Senate from my former home state of NY. I have supported him; I defended him; and I forgave him for allowing his personal indescretions to divide our nation.

    I have since become enlightened and learned from my mistakes (unlike Bill). The Clintons lack integrity and will do ANYTHING to WIN.

    QUESTION: As a taxpayer, we pay (and rightfully so) for Bill's Secret Service protection. Now that Bill is campaigning around the clock for his wife, is the Hillary Campaign reimbursing the federal budget for the extra agents, travel, and numerous overtime hours–must be in the millions by now !!!

    No more votes for the Clintons and I AM NOT COMING BACK!!!

    Anyone but Hillary

    February 11, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. Sandra

    Wolf, why in the world don't you report that the republicans are voting for Obama in every state that has open primaries or caucuses to defeat Sen. Clinton. Your bias against Sen. Clinton is appalling.

    February 12, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
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