September 21st, 2009
07:37 PM ET
5 years ago

Bill Clinton weighs in on charges of racism against Obama

'I really think that we should disaggregate lingering problems of discrimination from the attacks to which the president is subject,' Bill Clinton tells Larry King.
'I really think that we should disaggregate lingering problems of discrimination from the attacks to which the president is subject,' Bill Clinton tells Larry King.

(CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton told CNN Monday that he thinks some of the criticism directed at President Obama is racially motivated, but added that not all of Obama’s detractors are racist and urged his fellow Democrats to remain focused on trying to enact health care reform.

“I believe that some of the right-wing extremists which oppose President Obama are also racially prejudiced and would prefer not to have an African-American president,” Clinton told CNN’s Larry King in an interview to air Monday evening. “But I don’t believe that all the people who oppose him on health care – and all the conservatives – are racists. And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now, would be opposing him then. Therefore, while I have devoted my life to getting rid of racism, I think this is a fight that my president and our party – this is one we need to win on the merits.”

Clinton later added, “I really think that we should disaggregate lingering problems of discrimination from the attacks to which the president is subject.”

Clinton was reacting to Rep. Joe Wilson’s, R-South Carolina, outburst when he shouted “You lie” at Obama during the president’s joint address to Congress and former President Jimmy Carter’s assessment that racism is an issue for Obama in trying to lead the country.

Watch Clinton’s entire interview on CNN’s Larry King Live Monday night beginning at 9 p.m. ET

soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. jurgen blandet

    so basically whenever obama cant pass something they start calling everyone a racist? i think hes done this on everything he's tried passing so far and i doubt this comment will be posted as cnn.com is currently in bed with obama like most major networks

    September 21, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. nigel

    Good. A reasonable analysis. I oppose a lot of what Obama wants to do – I need to be able to voice my opinion without being concerned that my disagreement is deemed racist. It is McCarthy-ism all over again – but instead of communists it's racism. Not saying that racism does not exist, that elitism is dead, etc, but argument without quarrel needs to be possible and the racial slur mitigates that option.

    September 21, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. Christine Smith

    Let's do a poll on this. While there are significant issues of historical and political interest, CNN does an online poll on whether or not we think our dog is smart, or did we watch the awards show. Such nonsense. Please do some polling on the issues of the day and see if we all think that conservatives are racist...I certainly don't, but it's always a good excuse.

    September 21, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  4. todd

    It is about time cooler heads prevailed. I just spent eight years being told I was "unpatriotic" by the former administration for not agreeing with every policy that went forward, I wasn't looking forward to 4-8 more years of being told I was a "racist" if I dared disagree with the current president.

    September 21, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. Ed

    and I believe that some of the left-wing extremists are so racially motivated that they cannot believe that anyone would dare oppose a man's politics for any other reason than his race.

    September 21, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. jerry

    obama is'nt even certified to run this country, clinton is an idiot. end of story

    September 21, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. Josh

    Nor every Republican I know is racist, but every single racist I know is Republican (or at least Conservative). Overall, most Republicans are not racist – except for perhaps in the South.

    September 21, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. Stacey, California

    I think he's redeemed himself from the primaries he battled with Hilary's candidacy.

    September 21, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. sean d

    Obama needs to come out and tell the media to stop calling everything racist.
    People don't like him because his "change" is leaving us with little "hope". I voted for him... and I feel cheated.

    September 21, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. Libby

    Nicely put Clinton. It is not always about racism. CNN why are you so hung up on race? I mean if you always want to paint a sob story of some poor victims, why not look at other groups rather than race motivated hate (and obviously by race you mean blacks vs whites) why not do reports on women, gays, orphans etc. Why always on race? I am getting tired of reading these boo-hoo stories all the time, but if you must, please find other groups to write about.

    September 21, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    If there is any racism in the disagreement with President Obama's performance, it has got to be only a very very small part of it.

    I'm certainly one who disagrees with much of what is being done by the administration and congress right now, but to tell you the truth I would pick Obama over Hillary Clinton without a second thought.

    But then again, I would pick Condoleeza Rice over either of them for President in a heartbeat. She's brilliant, experienced and has the right perspective of the role of government in America.

    September 21, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  12. GuyInVA

    President Clinton is right on this one. However, I don't believe the president's (or congress') plan for socialized medicine can win on the merits. There are too few. Even though I am very conservative and usually disagreed with President Clinton on political issues, I always found him personally likable. Politics aside, for sheer entertainment value, I sure do miss that guy.

    September 21, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  13. Sandy

    Poor Jimmy Carter is hurting not helping these issues over racism and President Obama. Lets stop harping on this and keep focused on the issue. I am caucasian, was Republican, voted for President Obama and I like many , many other caucasians don't give a hoot what color a persons skin is as long as we can make some progress in our country and our president leads us. Let's be positive about this issue and get rid of negative comments and influence. AND can't we count on the media to help this get off on the right foot? No more racial issues, PLEASE.

    September 21, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. Mark

    But it was ok for him to go to racism when Hillary was being beat. Hypocrite.

    September 21, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  15. Rob

    Clear as mud Bill...

    September 21, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  16. obama the liar

    Don't worry Bubba, Barry makes you and Hillary the most HONEST people in America. You don't need to lie for him anymore.

    September 21, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. Terry, TX

    To quote Clinton...."And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now, would be opposing him then."

    This is the only thing I can say I agree with Clinton....ever since his whoring days of his 2nd term....I have had no respect for the man....still don't.

    September 21, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. rm

    disaggregate – wow not theres a 25 cent word – does 99% of the world know what that really meant?

    September 21, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  19. a Republican

    Get the Joh Birchers out of the party and we'll have a Conservative Republican party. In case you don't know, John Birchers don't want our Constitution, nor do they want Unions or democratic institutions. THE SOCIETY is fashioned after the COMMUNIST only they want it in the secret name of FASCISM.

    September 21, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. Deborah

    Finally the voice of reason. President Clinton is so right. NOT everyone, NOT even the majority of people who disagree with President Obama or do not approve of his agenda are racist. We need to stop this insanity and stop perpetuating the problem of racism. This tack that the media is on is only going to make problems where we do not need problems and widen a gap that we as a nation have been working to bridge.

    September 21, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  21. PhiDeltNMA484

    ". . . we should disaggregate lingering problems of discrimination from the attacks to which the president is subject.” Former President Clinton isn't in goverment any more, but he sure hasn't lost his accent.

    September 21, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  22. Rob

    Mr. President, I'm not really a huge fan of yours but there have been a number of times I've admired you for your stand, and this is one of them. I'm a white guy and oppose Obama's health care agenda, but because I truly believe it's not the right way for us to go, NOT because he's black. I couldn't care less what color he is...he won the election and he's our President. ALL of us need to take a big ol' chill pill, listen to each other, recognize that we CAN have genuine differences in philosophy, values, etc. and RESPECT each other for our differences even as we try to find compromise. The problem today is that both sides are so polarized and so busy yelling at each other that they're not doing what Steven Covey said to do as a basic principle... "Seek first to understand, THEN to be understood".

    September 21, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  23. henry Mayer

    hte racism that has surfaced targeted against President Obama is a disgrace, and is an embarassment for the Country.

    September 21, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. Eric

    Clinton was in idiot (and a proven liar) when he was president and he remains so today. He was unfaithful to his family time after time, wagged his finger at me as a citizen and lied to me, and now he wants to say that "some of the people opposed to obama are racist." No duh Bill. Some of the people who support Obama are racist, so what does that matter.

    Please just retire to Arkansas and try your best not to become the next Jimmy Carter. There is still some hope you can do that.

    September 21, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. Linda

    Enough of making Obama a victim of racism. Hasn’t it already been told that he is more Iranian and white than African American? People oppose him on his healthcare bill because it is not a good idea for the American people. It certainly is not good enough for Obama and his family. The president is under attack because he is not doing a good job. Simple as that. If he was white it would be the same. He is in way over his head. He is making very bad decisions that our great grandchildren will still be paying for. He is very typical democrat big government mentality. The benefit to him is he will have more people to blame, unfortunately we have to pay for them. Obama said Americans were arrogant?? He is the most arrogant of all. He is only in that office because of his color and his lies.

    September 21, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
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