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. ex illinois man, now a pennsylvanian

    I agree completely.

    September 21, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  2. bawana

    Way to go Bill

    September 21, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  3. Mr Moderation

    Is Mr. Clinton a wolf in sheep's clothing? Can anyone really believe anything he says? Wasn't he found guilty of lying, impeached and disbarred?
    There seems to be a lying pandemic coming out of the presidency. Was there really an existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. How was it possible the Bin Laden family was able to get out of the country so fast after 9/11. Is it possible the presidents of this country believe the citizens can't handle the truth?

    September 21, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. Keith

    Very well stated! Mr. Clinton, you were a wonderful president. Thanks for all you did to move this country forward, and thanks for your continued efforts against racism. Very well done!

    September 21, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  5. mississippi librarian

    I am extremely proud of both Presidents Carter and Clinton who have the courage to address the 'elephant' in the room. They are correct that some of the criticism is because people legitimately feel that they have a counterpoint, however, a significant portion of the criticism is racial in nature. The republicans along with their leaders- like limbaugh have succeeded in whipping their party's illiterate into a frenzy while couching their own racist agenda. Kudos of President Carter and President Clinton for having the courage to speak out.

    September 21, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  6. Joshua College Station Texas

    well said Bill Clinton

    September 21, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  7. Carl Justus

    I am from South Carolina and I would bet you a hundred dollars against a wooden nickel that Wilson's comment was because Obama is an African American.

    It is under the covers all over South Carolina to this day, but the laws of course keep in under the covers .

    Sunday's the most segregated day of the week. I know people there that says the African Americans go to Chuch on Sunday to find out how to get on Welfare or something from the government for nothing.

    I also know white people there that will say they hurt their backs and get crocked lawyer and doctor and about a year later they will throw away the cane and those that know him will say he got his social security supplemental income check he threw away the cane and laugh about it when they know it was a farce.

    September 21, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Obamis trying to lead this country alright, into bankruptcy.

    September 21, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  9. D

    I think President Bill Clinton is right. We ought to move on from our pasts. After HE is the one man that made the impossible possible. That is rescuing the two journalists from N.Korean clutches. I do not think that President Obama would have been as influential as him.

    September 21, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  10. krazy

    Why does everything have to about race these days? The president is black. There were white, brown, and all other races that voted for him. I hope they are enjoying the change that he has brought upon this country. I do not say this because he is black; I say this because the man doesn't know anything about business, the security of our country, or health issues. How could he? He has never had to do anything for himself or family. This country is starting to rise up against stupid politics. I say amen. The people need to take this country back from the government, and start again.

    Give our country back....

    September 21, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  11. jayjohn

    Obama is trying to lead this country alright , into bankruptcy.

    September 21, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  12. Enough

    Oh give it up, Clinton has really turned into some angry WHITE guy. He seems to have gone off the deep end.............or his medication!

    September 21, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  13. Amazing

    How is "YOU LIE" a racist comment? Obama lied.......and was called out, I really can't see what that has to do with the color of his skin. Are black people considered liars? There must be something the rest of us are missing with this phony racist uproar.

    September 21, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. Jack Ruby

    I dont think the hard right will understand the term disaggregate as it is not in King James. I think the President is being very presidential in his handling of the racial issue. Whether real or not, a lesser person would have taken the issue as bait and let the distraction destroy any headway on the main issues the President has said are his goals, healthcare, and making jobs and doing our part to try to clean up the earth. Probably no President was handed such a basket of worms with no notice upon taking office. He is skillfully handling the basket of worms given to him at the last hour as well as moving forward with regaining American stature in the world. People who say they dont care what the rest of the world thinks do not realize how small the world has gotten lately.

    September 21, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  15. MR

    could not have said it better Mr. President

    September 21, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. No Hillary = No Obama

    Michelle Obama should be thanking the Clintons instead of dissing Hillary since her husband can't seem to fend for himself in any effective manner.

    September 21, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  17. Johnnysnot

    I aways say, "Call a spade a shovel"
    Which of course, could also be taken many ways.

    That way, there's only misunderstanding.
    Politics 101

    September 21, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  18. Bill in California

    BELIEVE IT OR NOT RACISM IS A TWO WAY STREET. Please don't attempt to color one group or race as having the monopoly on racism. Minorities tend to vote who they relate with be it skin color or ethnic background. Two wrongs certainly don't make a right but pointing to one side and calling foul is certainly not objective is it?

    September 21, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  19. Inga

    I agree one hundred percent with former President Carter & Clinton.

    September 21, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  20. James Ralph Dickason

    Right on the Money–Wish he were still President

    September 21, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  21. mary

    we all know that racism exist.it raises it,s ugly head in so many ways and places.president Obama has more pressing issues to address at this time ,therefore we all should be supporting him 100% all the way. the racism issues should be address by CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS AND ADDRESS THROUGH PROPER CHANNELS.THE MEDIA IS NOT THE LEGAL PROPER CHANNEL FOR A SENSITIVE ISSUE OF THIS SORT.

    September 21, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  22. carly

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

    Sorry, Chief, but Obama is just as much white as he is black. Hello? Didn't you get the memo on that? His father was black but his mother was WHITE. He is not a BLACK president, he is a BI-RACIAL president. Is my explanation black and white enough for you to understand? If the "right-wing extremists" are racially prejudiced, just which of Obama's races are they prejudiced against?

    September 21, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  23. LacrosseMom

    Unfortunately, racism is alive and well in our nation. Of course, the GOP reject that they are racist! But the truth is the truth.

    September 21, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. paul

    Racism does this to our nation- We are no longer United State of America we are a Divided State of America- this is the 2nd civil war for this generation- red states vs blue states- god help us all...

    September 21, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  25. Dan

    Stop the nonsense, any criticism is motivated by many factors, Bill himself was played the race card in the campaign... now playing it on others. White politicians are not liked by people from other races as well, and so are any other group.
    This is NOT the main factor in criticism of Obama, his health care, his inexperience, him trying to be everything to everybody. It has nothing to do with race.
    There are racists of all races!

    We always in a democracy need a president we can criticize without being called names!

    September 21, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
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