April 22nd, 2008
10:27 AM ET
7 years ago

Bill Clinton: Obama camp 'played the race card on me'

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Former president Clinton campaigned for his wife in Pennsylvania recently.
Former president Clinton campaigned for his wife in Pennsylvania recently.

(CNN) - On the eve of Tuesday’s critical Pennsylvania primary, former President Bill Clinton accused Barack Obama’s campaign of playing the race card against him.

After the phone interview with Delaware radio station WHYY Monday night, a stray comment of his on the issue was also recorded before he hung up: “I don’t think I should take any s*** from anybody on that, do you?”

The former president had been asked whether his remarks comparing Obama’s strong showing in South Carolina to that of Jesse Jackson in 1988 had been a mistake given their impact on his wife Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “No, I think that they played the race card on me,” said Clinton, “and we now know from memos from the campaign and everything that they planned to do it all along.”

“We were talking about South Carolina political history and this was used out of context and twisted for political purposes by the Obama campaign to try to breed resentment elsewhere. And you know, do I regret saying it? No. Do I regret that it was used that way? I certainly do. But you really got to go some to try to portray me as a racist.”

He added that the way Obama’s campaign had reacted was “disrespectful to Jesse Jackson” and that the former presidential candidate had told him he was not offended, and that “we all know what’s going on."

UPDATE: At a Pittsburgh press availability, Obama was asked about Clinton's charge that his campaign had drawn up plans to use 'the race card.'

“Hold on a second,’’ he said. “So former President Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson and he is suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it? You better ask him what he meant by that. I have no idea what he meant. These were words that came out of his mouth. Not words that came out of mine.’’

Related video: Watch Obama respond to Bill Clinton's 'race card' comment

soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. George from Minneapolis

    Yes, Bill we do all know whats going on. Obama is running a better campaign than your wife. Democratic primary voters prefer Obama to your wife. Thats whats going on Bill.

    April 22, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. Doris McGovern - AllenTown, PA

    WHAT, is he (Bill Clinton) talking about? He's ALWAYS stirring the pot! I pray PA along with me shut the door on this and the Clintons once and for all!

    April 22, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  3. pbj

    Memo from Hillary to Bill: STFU! Bill, if you're wondering how your wife went from "coronation" to "fight for her life," take a look in the mirror. So much for the most brilliant politician of our generation.

    April 22, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  4. Beca

    CNN, you are doing this because NC election is coming up, what a shame!

    April 22, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Lou

    Why can't he just let things go? Just like bringing Bosnia up again after it had died. Letting it go would be much better for Hillary...but he has to make sure everyone knows he thinks he is right. Totally full of himself.

    April 22, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. HFS

    This is disgusting. I thought he repented for his remarks to the black community. Now he is scapegoating. Shame on you Bill Clinton. Your ego is too big for your greying head. We once loved, but now see that all you were was a sham.

    April 22, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. Jeff

    I suspected this all along – Obama is the biggest politician of them all – with the bonus of not having the track record to know what he's doing. It's the worst of both worlds!

    Go Hillary, you'll do it champ!

    April 22, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. Sam

    The he goes again...does he want his wife to win? I think there are some deep psychological issues here. Seriously.

    April 22, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. oliver

    I'm one of those who had some respect for Bill, even though he had no morals.

    However, over the the course of the last year, I think I'm down to "zero" respect for Bill.

    He's really pathetic!

    April 22, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  10. Glenn

    I'm not buying it. Clinton's comments were basically saying that Obama won South Carolina, not on his own merit, but strictly because of his race. He underminded Obama, the voters of South Carolina, and in some regards the entire Black race.

    April 22, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Heidi from okc

    This seems to me like another attempt to smear the frontrunner and try to propell Hilary to her birthright presidency.

    April 22, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. Lisa

    Who cares?

    Really. He's not running, it's not about him and I wish he would just go somewhere and sit down.

    It's amazing how much this political spouse whines! I don't hear it from Michelle or Cindy, so what gives him the right.

    I really haven't felt that the Clinton Camp wanted to change the country as much as they want to be in the white house, who is this bid for, The Clinton Ego, or the American People?

    April 22, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Clinton L.

    This is why there will be another "Clinton" int the Whie House.

    April 22, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  14. GJ

    No one forced him to say what he said.

    And even then – all he had to do was come out and explain that a day later but he didnt.

    Thats the big question.

    April 22, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  15. cicero

    Let's see . . . there's the Race Card, the Age Card, the Gender Card, the Bill-Clinton Card, the Stupid Card . . . .but I grow redundant.

    April 22, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. Dave

    Clinton you invoked Jesse totally unprompted. It was plan and calculated. Also, stupid.

    Edwards won South Carolina...why couldn't Hillary!!

    The Clintons messed up and continue to underestimate Obama.
    Lets hope McCain does the same.

    April 22, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. Ted van Tol

    GOOD MORNING PENNSYLVANIAN VOTERS.

    Be the change today and vote for Obama.
    He will be the best President ever!

    With love from the Netherlands.

    Ted van Tol

    April 22, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Hillary 2008

    This is exactly correct!

    Anyone but Obama can be our president!

    2008 Hillary

    April 22, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. SL

    Let it go Bill!! YOU played the race card and it backfired. You sound a little bitter to me!

    April 22, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Bill is delusional. Obama never "planned" for Bill Clinton to try to pigeonhole Obama as the candidate for those who previously supported Jesse Jackson.

    Obama all along has tried to break out of old stereotypes, and Clinton all along (or as soon as it seemed a good campaign strategy) has sought to reinforce those stereotypes.

    April 22, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. Kareem from Hampton VA

    There ya go Bill....Kill your wife's chances even furthur!!!

    April 22, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  22. justin

    suprise???No it helps get votes right?

    April 22, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. burt

    GO HOME BILL! He is a Democrat, like yourself! We cant get past race because it "somehow" stays in the news!

    April 22, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. LIz in ATL

    His recollection and explanation is as twisted as his explanation of his wife's experience in Bosnia ... I never know what story to believe anymore....

    April 22, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  25. GoHillary

    I just wonder if Cnn has noticed the ratings drop and the lack or responses from Hillary fans? We vowed to never watch your biased channel again.

    April 22, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
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