August 25th, 2008
11:02 AM ET
6 years ago

Bill Clinton not happy with convention role

 Bill Clinton would rather discuss economic issues than national security, sources say.
Bill Clinton would rather discuss economic issues than national security, sources say.

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) – Bill Clinton is perplexed and, frankly, not happy that he was asked to speak about national security Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention and not about the economy, the issue that he rode to the White House at another time of economic peril, a source close to the former president said Monday.

Some close to Clinton are encouraging him not to stick with the night’s theme of national security and add language about the economy in his remarks, in a way that Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, would frame it, the source said. It’s no secret that Clinton considers himself a highly effective communicator on the politics of the economy.

Watch: The best and worst of convention history

As word of his displeasure was reported Monday, aides tried to suggest it was being overblown. It’s a pattern strikingly similar to reports of Hillary Clinton’s unhappiness with the way she was treated by Obama during his running mate search, which has contributed to intense talk of tension between camps Clinton and Obama leading up to a convention that’s being billed as a chance at unity.

Another Bill Clinton associate contacted CNN to dispute one report that he is angry about his speaking assignment, but that source also said the former president “believes there would be a lot of power in a Clinton/Bush/McCain economic contrast and might mention that a bit anyway.”

If history is any guide, it’s unlikely the Obama staff will know exactly what Clinton will say before he says it.

Another Democratic source who is involved in reviewing the convention speeches this year, and has in years past, said that unlike most other speakers, Bill Clinton's speech generally “comes in when he does - on a detachable drive and into the prompter.”


Filed under: Bill Clinton
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Vietnam Veteran

    I am getting sick and tired of being sick and tired of hearing how Bill and Hillary was disrespected, not placed on the ticket , not given prominent rolls etc.. Get over it, HRC lost, she nor Bubba is entiled to anything. If they wanted to stop this maddness they could have a long time ago. Obama pick the right VP, the race is not that close, you wonder who the polister conducted the polls with. Those HRC supporters who advocate their support for McWar were not genuine democrats in the first place. I say good riddance to you, help HRC retire her excessive spending debt. if you want to do something positive. Go Obama/Bidden

    August 25, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. wcme

    "Bill Clinton is perplexed and, frankly, not happy..."
    "If history is any guide, it’s unlikely the Obama staff will know exactly what Clinton will say before he says it." – Is there ANY WONDER, PUMA's, why we don't have these guys in tow to the White House?!? I really hope that you "18 million" will get your shorts washed out over these next few days, and align to get Bush's 3rd term aborted. If you don't, we don't need you in this party. You will all get what you deserve. "Hell", we all will then. (Cue future apocalypse vision from Terminator 2 or Hellboy".

    August 25, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. Debra, Alton

    Who cares? Will somebody stop the Clintons. Listen! The Clintons and their supporters can sabotage this election if they want. If Obama loses you better believe that the Obama supporters will not be supporting her in 2012. This is ridiculous! This convention is supposed to be about Obama/Biden and all of the coverage is on the Clintons. Quick playing and move on... Good grief! So what he didn't vett her! Get over it! It was his choice.

    August 25, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. Lisa

    Bill tell Hillary not to give her delegates to Obama, she earned them, he didn't!!!

    August 25, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Debby

    Oh gosh more bogus stuff about the Clintons, this is getting ridiculous already. This is one of the main reasons voters are going to McCain because of this negativity of the Dem. party. Romney/McCain were bitter with eachother during the primary but Romney gave his support and delegates to McCain right off the bat. I have to say the Repulican Party doesn't diss their own like the Dems. do.

    August 25, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. Brenda of Saginaw ,Michigan

    Enough already !!!, did anyone hear Bill Clinton say that he was not happy?. This is just another way of upsetting the Democrated party.Listen people use common sense and remember we did not hear Mr. Clinton say or do "JACK". Give the man a break and stop trying to make him look like a sore loser.

    August 25, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. The One

    Why does Obama's staff continue to pick fights with the Clintons? Bill was the President for crying out loud. He knows a few things. If Obama doesn't trust Pres. Clinton enough to let him say what he wants, the Obama should just not let Pres. Clinton talk at the Convention.

    August 25, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Bob, NY

    Obama just doesn't care about the contribution the Clintons have made to Democrats. It's personal to him. But he can't just snub them and expect everyone else to fall in line.

    August 25, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. John in Ohio

    These people are still not able to understand that Clinton lost the primary because she had the wrong message, hired the wrong people, could not manage her finances and, let's not forget about her Bosnia lies. Remember, the sniper story was not simply an exaggeration, this was a completly made up story. How could she possibly be President? By the way, why aren't all her supporters sending her a dollar each to pay her debt? Simple, because they are really Republicans that want her to stay in debt.

    August 25, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. Economy 08

    He should be talking about the economy... thats a dumb move by the DNC

    August 25, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. linda from South Dakota

    if bill doesnt want to speak then he should decline,, i sure dont want to hear what he has to say especailly when hes upset,,, could be a bad situation,,, he just wanted exposure through hillary and with him speakin could be a ba scene,, someone stop him,, its time the clintons move on,,,,

    August 25, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. Terry

    I guess Obama thinks he doesn't need President Clinton's help....

    August 25, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Tom , Flagstaff, AZ

    I used to like this guy. Before I learned what a self-centered prima donna he is.

    August 25, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Neutralizer

    Millions of registered democrats are abandoning their party. Dems are IMPLODING!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. Republican for Obama

    When this election cycle began I was excited to have a candidate that I actually supported and was enthusiastic about for the first time in ages. As this year goes on I am beginning to hate our process and disappointed be the citizens. The campaign of negative attack ads that McCain promised he wouldn't run and now is. The Clinton supporters that are going to vote for the candidate with the absolutely worst record on women's issues out of spite.

    I am again ashamed of American politics and am failing to see any optimism to bother getting out to vote. Thanks my fellow Americans for helping to kill my enthusiasm this election year. :)

    August 25, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. James From Chicago

    I hope Bill Clinton gets up there and tell the American people
    the truth, that Obama is not qualified to run this country, and he is a pompus jerk. Remember Clinton is known for speaking his mind,
    and no one is going to tell him what to say or what not to say.

    Hillary 08

    August 25, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. misanthropicus

    Some excitment in the air, isn't it? Why the Hope'n Change crew is so anguished? Do they expect the Clintons be good sports when they treated them like dirt?

    August 25, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. Heather

    He's the former Pres of the US.He deserves to and is entitled to be treated as such with proper level of respect. Let him say whatever he wants. Sen Clinton will always be the former First Lady and needs to be treated properly as well.

    August 25, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    The Clintons. Gotta love 'em. They'll make this convention all about them yet.

    August 25, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. james

    I wanted to get something off my chest that I heard how rowland martin and others are saying it is Dumb for the Clinton supporters to be upset, But what is Dumb is how the Democratic party has treated the Clintons – One He didn't pick her after half the country voted for her, second all the positive things the clintons did by helping many get their start and they turned their back, third making the clintons racist after all they did for blacks, hispanics, etc., third the media making obama this God and the clintons terible people, so that is dumb for the Democratic party to not think they didn't create this problem.

    August 25, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. GiGi

    Bill Clinton is such a gifted speaker that he may well talk about Cinderella and he would make it interesting. The fact that national security is what the Republicans are running their campaign on, making it a national issue & putting themselves as the protectors of the American people against the"evils of the world", is the reason why he's being asked to address this issue. This is campaign in full speed, and strategy is what counts, not desires.

    August 25, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. Mike from CA.

    Ther goes CNN trying to manufacture news again. This is really getting old CNN.

    August 25, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. fella from Chicago

    Dang it, I like Bill. I voted for the elder Bush the first time around, but for Mr. Clinton the second go around. Yes he's a womanizer, but he's also an intelligent man and smart politician to boot. No one's better than Bill when it comes to the economy and the Democrats should have let him speak where his strength lies. Why keep alienating both Clintons? It doesn't make sense.

    August 25, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. Jim

    I'm for Obama but I think Clinton is right, I hope he does talk about the economy that would be a much more effective speech and that is the number 1 issue and the biggest difference between Mcsame and Obama.

    August 25, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Done with Dems

    Clinton: Thanks, bu no cigar!

    August 25, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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