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. Anna, IL

    Dustup? Defend her? Is Bill implying that she was attacked?

    I love it. Every time Bill Clinton opens his mouth, vile spews out of it.

    February 8, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Veronica Ward

    A lot of people, senators, govenors, the media – - have said that there are NO real difference between Obama and Clintons policies and values. So, it really does come down to leadership skills and yes "CHARISMA." So, you Clinton supporters can claim that all Obama has is charisma, well that's all he really needs at this point.

    I have to point out that being a visionary is very important as well and Clinton, just doesn't have it. Going for the "devil you know" is just as bad a being afraid of change. Do you dare to dream of a better America? NOT JUST FINANCIALLY (those of you voting for Bill, oops I mean Hillary) BUT MORALLY AS WELL.

    I for one would prefer a more morally correct America as well as an economically viable one. If we could bring some of our troops home (carefully) and not spend $9 million dollars a day on the war, we could get somewhere. Our safety is important, don't get me wrong but so is our economy.

    It's not just about Obama's judgement not to go to war, but he knew it would be economically unviable to stay there forever. That's why he received my vote! It takes a visionary to understand how economics and the war go hand in hand.

    GO OBAMA!!!!

    February 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. DDRbc

    LOVE Bill! He's the only WHITE MALE in the media who has the huevos to call Obama out on his hypocrisy and misleading statements.

    The Bill Clinton years were the BEST America has ever had in my lifetime: Peace, prosperity and liberty. Who cares who he slept with? JFK was a rabid womanizer. It's time to give Bill the props he deserves. – PLUS he's not afraid to back a woman candidate for President.

    February 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. gloria

    can the media stop pandering to obama? obama makes huge claims and the media buys it all. can obama even prove his birthday to the media, some reports state he was born before the born as a citizen date was permitted?

    February 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Gavin

    GEEZ LOUISE WOLF AND CNN....

    DROP THE "BILL CLINTON" STUFF ALREADY....

    HILLARY IS RUNNING, NOT HIM.

    If you and the Inside D.C media are bored, hate, or don't want to cover the Clintons again, THEN GET ANOTHER LINE OF WORK...

    WE – THE VOTERS – DECIDE WHO WINS.

    Hillary 08

    February 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. Sam

    Because Bill is an astute politician and former President, I find it amazing that Obama is not only keeping his head above water, but actually winning this thing. Obama has the most pledged delegates and he is winning the money race. All this against not only one Clinton, but two Clintons. With Pres. Bill Clinton, obviously being an unfair advantage. Go Obama!

    February 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. JJ -TORONTO

    WELL WOLF , I ALWAYS ADMIRED YOUR JOURNALISTICAL STYLE – HOWEVER, ALLOW TO STOP YOU HERE- CLINTON IS EXACTLY THAT IS THE KIND OF POLITICIANS THAT WE ALL ARE TIRED OF. THE LIFE OF THIS NATION IS NOT A CHESS GAME WHERE STRATEGIST COME TO SHOWCASE- WE NEED TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE- NOT PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE GIFT TO MANIPULATE US– I KNOW YOU WANT TO HELP YOUR FRIEND BUT YOUR LOYALTY SHOULD FIRST GO TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

    February 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. A in Iowa

    That old dog Bill Clinton will never shed his spots. He just simply can't be trusted.

    February 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  9. JCL

    With the exit polls from Super Tuesday showing that 71-72% of those who voted in the Democratic races are fine with either Obama or Hillary as the nominee, hopefully we can get the divisive 28% on both sides to chill out and stop tearing down the other candidate.

    February 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. ash

    Agree with Wolf. Strange you are a sheep with a wrong (right) name.

    I wish Dem unite and though I am from africa I support Hillary for obvious reasons.

    All prompting up of Obama is dividing the party and interest groups are achieving waht they wanted to....ENSURE REPUBLICANS WIN.

    Divided Dems, whosoever is finally selected to represent Dems loses as the divided Dems voters will not abstain but vote for republicans!!!

    UNITE MY FRIENDS AND VOTE FOR HILLARY. She is strong and can handle the manipulators!!!!

    We need an iron Lady like Margaret thatcher or Indira gandhi in White House to get us out of the economic mess. Time is not for experiments!!!

    February 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  11. Aj

    liability

    February 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. whoseyourdaddy

    Wolf, why don't you and the worst political team in America just go away? What a dope!

    February 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. Sandra

    Bill Clinton tried to change the constitution to allow for a third term. Look it up. Hillary's campaign is just a cover for a third term for him. This country would really regret, with all the scandals and coverups, allowing the Clintons back into the White House. Rome will really fall if that should occur.

    February 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. donna

    He's good at damage control because he's had a lot of practice.

    February 8, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. ash

    We need a strong Dem President like Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi and not a person who can fall prey to praise and sits on top of a bush thinking he is king

    Vote for Hilalry!!!!

    No time for experiments and leaders who are asking for sacrifice knowing very well that if by chance he gets in there he might fail and hence preparing in advance for sacrifices. That is typically what happens in Africa.

    history is going to repeat??????

    February 8, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. bpk

    Politics as usual. Bill is sorry he defended his wife? Hillary had to loan her campaign her own money? I don't feel sorry for them.

    Notice the large Hillary Campaign ad on the CNN politics front page. I don't think it's an unrelated coincidence that the Clintons are getting a lot of attention today.

    The manipulation continues.

    February 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. Theresa

    I don't want a third term for Bill. Not now or ever! That is all this campaign is about.

    February 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. Cathy

    I wish Bill Clinton would just keep his mouth shut. I really don't think I could stand him in the White House again.

    February 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Sharon

    Wow,
    That was really nice of you Wolf......In watching all the coverage lately, I thought EVERYONE at CNN hated the Clintons.....
    Those were really nice words overall.........congratulations. You've earned a little respect back :)

    February 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. Darren

    Who cares! Haven't you already run through this discussion several time on the air?

    Having been discussed to death already, it is clear that he is a liability to her campaign. Otherwise why have they muzzled him?

    Personally, I say let him keep talking because it merely demonstrates what will happen if he happens to make it back to Oval Office. The past is the past and we should move on with Obama, the future of the progressive movement in the US.

    February 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. ash

    since it is a DIVIDED situation and such situations call for survival and rebuilding relationships later. I am going for:

    Mothers vote for another mother
    Sisters vote for another sister
    Daughters vote for another daughter.

    If not now, when, and if we fail this time, it may be many many years before another woman will gather courage to stand and be counted.

    Hillary has taken the step and now it is up to us to support her and be counted.

    February 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. Carlos Nevarez

    Remember, this Election will be marked down in the History books. Not only there might be the First female or african american President. If Hillary wins the Election, that will be the First of its kind. Now it's obvious that Bill Clinton is just trying to defend his wife. People make mistakes in life. I sure ain't perfect.

    February 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Shirley Davis

    Hillary is her own woman. She will be a wonderful president, clean up the mess left by Mr. Bush, and make History. Who cares who she is married to!! lLeave it alone.

    February 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Cheryl Roberts

    Bill Clinton can never be a liability to any campaign. Including Hillary's. The reason Bill Clinton's remarks were construed to be negative or about "race" was the soundbite the media wanted. Barack and the media wanted to stop the influence that Bill Clinton has so they have made up a negative view. Guess what ? It isn't working. As Gore knows if he had asked Bill Clinton to help him in 2000 we wouldn't have had the mess of the last 7 years with Bush.

    If Barack wasn't running against Hillary he would have asked Clinton to support him.. wouldn't he?

    Barack continues to negatively attack Hillary yet he is not being called a sexist – why not? Why did he get away with placing his hand on Hillary during the debates without being called sexist?

    February 8, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. gene

    The only people complaining about President Clinton campaigning for his wife is the media and Obama supporters. You have Obama's wife out on the campaign trail and saying all kinds of comments that have racial overtones and derogatory things about Clinton. When President Clinton defends Hillary its a sin and a outrage, because he was a former President. CNN, MSNBC and FOX has been relentless in anti Clinton bias (I will say, not quite as bad as MSNBC, they are shamless. ) . I no longer watch MSNBC and I think that everyone that thinks the same as me, should quit as well. I am staying with CNN, because the are the best of the worst. I just will turn it off when Cafferty , Gloria and Martin are on. This is a really ugly bunch. Not for their looks, but because of their extreem bias.

    February 8, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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