September 21st, 2009
07:37 PM ET
9 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. Madcap

    Blah, blah! Yeah, everyone who disagrees with Obama is racist just like everyone who disagreed with Bush was UnAmerican.

    How about anyone who disagrees with you is actually able to think for themselves and really doesn't need to be led around by the nose? That goes for ANY politician, btw. Not just those two morons.

    September 21, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  2. Eric

    As usual when things are not going right just sit back and point racism.

    September 21, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. Hay

    I think that while President Obama has tried to not exhibit racial prejudice, he has in a few instances demonstrated his own. Remember, prejudice is also doing things FOR one group!
    However, Rep. Wilson's comment may have bore NO prejudice. Time will tell if illegal residents get coverage. Then we may owe Mr. Wilson an apology...I hope Mr. Carter will be first in line to apologize.
    You see, the question is who will pay for medical costs of illegals if they are not covered?
    You see, President Obama did go on record saying that illegal immigrants WILL NOT be covered! As an electorate, let's hold him to that promise.

    September 21, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Yep play the race card everytime anybody speaks their mind.

    September 21, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  5. Nick

    The entire government of the United States is in serious trouble if we keep creating these tangents and do not address the issues at hand.

    September 21, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  6. N-fectious Beats

    Racist people will always exist, doesnt make it any less wrong. Its sad that people still focus so much on the color of someones skin and not the substance of what they say and do. Anyone who is racist is very small minded and prob under educated, doesnt matter if they are black or white.

    September 21, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  7. vaughn vos

    Gee, anyone who looks at this issue fairly would have to admit that racism is involved, just look at the footage on T.V. That doesn't mean that everyone is a racist, but there is that element among the tea party people and the republican party. After all there are still many in the conservative movement that fight racial equality and the Martin Luther King holiday.

    September 21, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  8. GreenBeanInPA

    I don't think that any white person has the right to say that something is not racist. President Obama has said that none of these protests are fueled by racism, but he is saying that, because to NOT say that would be political suicide. For the record, I am white, and I have listened to enough people personally to say without a doubt that there is A LOT of racism at the bottom of all of this. So sad.

    September 21, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  9. M. Nelson

    why is it that every time there is differences and an African American is involved, it is racism against blacks? Can anyone object to an issue without racism being brought forth, even indirectly? Why is it that some believe that anyone against President Obama's reform or ideas is considered racist?
    Carter proved himself the worst president in the 20th century by his remarks 29 years AFTER he left office. Willie followed suit with the race card. I am so sick of the race card, I am so sick of this bipartisan bickering that Congress is more interested in demoralizing the other party than serving the citizens of America.
    I am trying to figure out what is worse, the Congress we voted in or us FOR voting them in? What a joke. America is but a shell of what it once was.

    September 21, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  10. Ruby

    When Hillary tried this, was it anti-feminist or was IRA Magaziner's efforts stopped by anti-semitism? Just because someones opposes a view, please do not automatically call that person a racist.

    September 21, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  11. Dino, Washington, D.C.

    What Jimmy Carter said was not too different. He probably didn't clairfy enough that not ALL the detractors and opponents of President Obama were motivated by race as Bill Clinton did. Please tell me that the birthers and those carring signs of President Obama made out to be a witchdoctor and/or the joker don't have a shred of racism in them. PULEASSSSE!!!!

    September 21, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  12. Carol B.

    While I do agree to a point with President Clinton, I believe a lot more racism is out there than he and others care to address. How about all those despicable signs at the D.C. protest week before last that show President Obama as a spear chucker witch doctor, and a "white face" caricature, etc. Are these not a sign of blatant racism? Are we to ignore this? What I don't understand is why someone, anyone, has yet come out to condemn this.

    September 21, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  13. Steve, Columbia SC

    I agree that some of those who oppose the president do so because of racism.............but that fraction is so miniscule. Let's not try to run that up any flag pole guys. It is so LAME.

    September 21, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  14. jr

    he is right on!!!

    September 21, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. Slick Willy is still Slick!

    So Clinton's health care plan worked because he's white? Oh yeah, it was an utter failure.

    So what's his angle on this one?

    He's devoted his life to getting rid of racism???? No, that's what conservatives have done – starting with Abraham Lincoln (a Republican). Instead, he's used the African American vote for his own gain – then goes around telling everyone else they're racists. Trust me, this guy is a racist as anyone!

    September 21, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  16. logtaads

    Agree. Some folks are racially motivated when commenting, but certainly not all people that complain about the current administration are racists.

    September 21, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  17. Dave in Cincinnati

    Finally- common sense from a past president. Carter is the worst president this country has ever known....useless then and useless now.
    Health care is a debate that has nothing to with race. The only principle I care about regarding reform is : "Do No Harm" and until President Obama can display that will be the case, I shall remain against his and Congress proposal(s).

    September 21, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  18. Hawkeyez

    The day of the race card has run out. It is whites and Blacks and youths who voted him into office and who watch Oprah. The race card has worked for so long for so many and they haven't figured it out yet that it's over. Jesse J., Big Al Sharpton, Charlie Rangle, all have made a living off of it for years, but it's time has come and gone. The American people are better and smarter than that now. Clinton, Carter are all from that era trying to revive it. Loosers then and now.

    September 21, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  19. stan

    Bill Clinton doesn't even know the definition of the word "is".

    How would he know the definition of racism.

    September 21, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. DRS - Washington, DC

    Exactly. Unless and until you walk in the shoes of a minority, you'll never know.

    September 21, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  21. lila

    Why is this the only clip you are showing? Bill Clinton is still unmatched in his rare ability and genius to be able to take complex issues and make them seem perfectly simple to understand. He has spoken about a whole host of very important subjects. Lets see those clips. Those are brilliant.

    September 21, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  22. Perusing-through

    BILL CLINTON IS CORRECT – – AGAIN. Yes, a significant percentage of Obama's evil opposition is due to race. This should not be a surprise. Several independent exit polls taken outside the precincts during the democratic 2008 primaries, revealed 10%-to-27% of white southern voters (depending on state & district), admitted they voted for Hillary without hesitation because they refused to vote for a black President. So Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama are all correct to acknowledge racism existence; but they also acknowledge that the Democrats cannot allow this evil to distract them from implementing the CHANGES we voted for in 2008.

    September 21, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  23. RB

    We all need to stop accusing people of racism when they disagree with someone who happens to be black. If the American people are open-minded enough to elect a black president, we should be able to have a debate without resorting to racial accusations as a tactic.

    September 21, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  24. Art Michaelson

    The deep down dislike for Americans who are black/partially black which is not usually verbalized in a civil polite society is coming to the surface stimulated by the HATE speech of people like Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity Reilly (FOX NEWS) and the people they invite on their programs to add more oil on thefire. Just look at the insulting slogans and signs people display at gatherings. Also the vocal attacks leveled at OBAMA during the SARAH PALIN campaign speaches. There is a tragedy in the making.

    September 21, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  25. Heather

    The same folks against this health care bill now are the very same folks who were against it when the Clintons were in office. We were not racist then, and we are not racist now.

    Just because we don't believe in the policy, we have a right to voice our opinion without being ridiculed.

    September 21, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
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