April 25th, 2008
03:52 PM ET
7 years ago

Clyburn: Bill Clinton's behavior 'bizarre'

 Clyburn has been critical of both Clintons.
Clyburn has been critical of both Clintons.

(CNN) – The most powerful African-American in Congress again scolded former President Bill Clinton for comments he made over the course of the Democratic presidential race.

In an interview with the New York Times late Thursday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn called the former president's conduct "bizarre," and said several of Clinton's actions had deeply upset many African-Americans.

Clyburn told the newspaper that many African-Americans believed the Clintons were trying to damage Obama to the point where he could not be elected. He also made similar comments in an interview with Reuters Thursday.

"There are African Americans who have reached the decision that the Clintons know that she can’t win this," he told Reuters. "But they’re hell-bound to make it impossible for Obama to win.”

Speaking with the New York Times, Clyburn said such actions could lead to a longtime division between the former president and his once most reliable constituency.

“When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar,” Clyburn said. “I think black folks feel strongly that this is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation.”

Speaking to reporters Friday, Obama said he does not believe in "irreparable breaches. "

"I am a big believer in reconciliation and redemption," he said. "This has been a fierce contest. I am confident, come August there are going to be a whole bunch of people standing on the stage with a lot of balloons and confetti raining down on the Democratic nominee and people are going to be excited about taking on John McCain in November."

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Filed under: Bill Clinton • James Clyburn
soundoff (347 Responses)
  1. Bjorn Iversen

    I think it is naive not to believe the race card is not an issue. I am certain that when we go to the polls and vote, in the quite and private time, most Americans will not vote for a black potential president. Most people will either vote for John McCain or not at all. I can't possibly see how Obama can win in the general election. What is going on now is just a Democratic party showdown. Do I have a racist attitude? No, but a realistic attitude of what will take place if Obama is the Democratic candidate. It is a waste of an opportunity for the party to take back the White House.

    April 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. semp

    The more 'bizzare' Bill is ... more money is thrown his way. Bill's not nuts, those who love him are. Can I get an 'Amen' ?

    April 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. shirley

    Bill has been in North Carolina this last week. Does the news media not do investigative reporting anymore? It is obvious that the Clinton's have something to do with the ads being shown by the Republican Party, and Linda Daves.

    April 25, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  4. no faith no law

    CLIntons are no faith no law people...

    they dont beleive in anything...dont have morals and principle. They has a psycho way of thinking wich is that " what they do is right or becomes right at the very moment they decide to do it ".

    That 's why they say something, and the day after something else. They twist the reality in their favor and that's alright to them.

    That s a basing characteristics of psycho personnality.

    April 25, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. wwf

    Again, you have Bill inserting foot and then blaming Obama. I agree totally with the article. I believe that if THEY can't have the Presidentcy, they are going to make sure that Obama can't win in the fall. That way they can say,"See", "We told you he could not win".

    April 25, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. Kay

    It is sad that this primary has stirred such a racial divide in OUR country. We are not as divided as OUR politics suggest. We must look past color and gender. We need change in this country and that means moving past OUR divides to strengthen OUR future.
    WE are ONE.

    Change=Obama 2008

    April 25, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. julia

    can the Hill-Billys please just go home. you are a disgrace to this country. just leave and stay away.

    Obama for president 08

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. Billy Sayles

    The only person that is damaging Obama is Obama, and the Judas likes of Congressman Clyburn. They are using racial overtones and utilizing reverse psychology to blame everyone else. Obama will not win It's just as simple as that. It's not about race, it's about patriotism. He has been placed in the scales and come up wanting.

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  9. Stupid Americans

    Billy Should go to hell.

    i could never forgive him, when he had a chance to get bin laden,
    he was too busy w/ monica, jeniffer flower, and many others.

    shame on Clintons.

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Chris, Erie, PA

    For Clyburn to suggest that President Clinton owes the black community something for backing him during impeachment is absurd. If that's true, then Governor Richardson certainly owes the President more for appointing him to his cabinet and paving the way for him to go on to the governorship, presidential candidate, etc...

    The fairy tale analogy and the Jesse Jackson comment are based in fact and are fair game and are not in any way, shape, or form racist or insensitive in nature.

    Clyburn is a washed up, bitter old man whose interpretations only serve to fuel the deep divide between blacks and whites in this nation.

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. important issue

    If Obama's campaign had said that Clinton was trying to use the "Gender card" against them it would have been rehashed time and time again by the Clintons, and the media. I read about President Clinton's comments on the same day as the Pennsylvania Primary and then never heard anything else about it.

    I love the fact that Obama is trying to take the high road during his campaign, but just once I would like to see him give Hillary a little taste of her own medicine.

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  12. Justin, Chicago

    Bill Clinton is trying anything he can to win for his wife. Obama is playing the "nice guy" so there are topics he cannot touch. Hillary's side is not restricted that way so they can play every dirty trick available.

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. John in NC

    It was Bill Clinton's personal attacks against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's manipulative "You never . . ." remarks, "if looks could kill" stares and "slum-lord" accusations that began my retreat from the Clinton camp. When Obama won South Carolina by doubling up on both Clinton and Edwards, I knew I had found a winner. Next, Hillary claimed victory in the unofficial Florida primary and I knew I had made the right decision to abandon her and support Obama. Soon, I fully grasped the Obama campaign message: America needs to be better than what the Clintons represent. America needs a new direction and Obama is the only candidate going "my way."

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Rick in California

    Bill Clinton craves the spotlight. He'll never take a back seat position and that is why his wife can't be president. America does not need 4 more years of Bubba Clinton.

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Marty

    If these African Americans keep making comments about race it is only going to hurt Obama which is fine with me. I am for Hillary.

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. David, Charlotte, NC

    I've observed Clyburn for years. His behavior has always been considered bizarre. He is only attempting to distance black voters from Hillary and for that he should be ashamed.

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Molly

    A racist is a racist know matter what color race nationality or gender they are. Everyone should look to their own heart to see if they are a racist. Just a tipical white woman's thought

    April 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. F Rahman

    I don't think either Bill or Hillary Clinton has to apologize to anyone. Both of them have worked tirelessly for African Americans for several decades and it is a shame that less than 10% of them are supporting Hillary. As a resident of Illinois, there is nothing concrete that Senator Obama has done for anyone of any race.

    April 25, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Chuck in Alabama

    What a WEAK shot at trying to deflect attention away from Reverend Wright's "comming out."

    Hillary '08, '12

    April 25, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. Chris

    Bill day is coming, maybe sooner than he thinks, if billary is not the nominee, Bill is out of there. The only reason oh Bill been there this long, is because she needed his name, for the black vote. Not to say it's helping. Maybe for those old senoirs, that don't know there but from there head. Believe me It's gonna be Pay Back for Bill.
    You will read about it. Ha Ha Ha! What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    April 25, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. Mary, Chicago

    Who is playing the race card? I guess I had better ask John Lewis.

    April 25, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Left and Gone

    Why is it when Reverend Wright speaks his ridiculous blather, it is a matter of context, and when Bill Clinton makes statements that are far less offensive and outrageous, he is acting "bizarre"?

    April 25, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. Barb Canada

    What Bill said is true, the media has always been known to show snipets of conversations, isn't that the complaint Obama made about his own pastor?? If this wasn't a race issue, there is now way in Hell Obama would have 90 to 95% of the black vote! If Obama was a white, hardly known candidate, do you think he would have 90 + percent of the White vote??

    April 25, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. Sick of Her from Another W/Woman

    Bill Clinton is a sick man and Hillary is just as sick if not more so. They are both consumed by greed and power but Hillary is also a bitter scorned woman.

    She will never win the GE if she wins the nomination with her crazy antics. Her negatives are enormous and growing daily.

    April 25, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. SLKWLY

    What Bill and hillary are showing us is exactly what the "other side" has been accusing them of all along-they will say or doanything to win. Or as most folks see it, showing everyone your 'real colors'. If Hillary either continues her tactics and regardless of wheter or not she manages to break and create the rules as she goes along and gets the nomination, as one who doesn't like to speak for millions of people, I would say its a fair bet that she would not get what the media calls the 'balck vote in November.

    Sure, her percentages maybe higher than McCain, for obvious reasons, but turnout will be extremely low for her, and for the democratic party, you can not win without the strong showing of the most loyal constituency you have. But, maybe this is a wake-up to that constituency, which i am a part of, that when it comes down to it, as far as the black community goes, the VIPs in both parties really don't think that much of us until they need something from us, so maybe we should start looking at the third party candidates, or even republicans alot more. That includes not only in the presidential contests, but every two years from the congressional contests and every six for the senate contests as well....

    April 25, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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