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. Montana

    Former President Bill Clinton, I disagree with the statement, "And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now, would be opposing him then." You are giving them too much credit! I would go as far as saving at the very least 25% that oppose simply because of his race and this is coming from a person in a conservative state.

    September 21, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  2. Serge Crespy

    President Barack Obama is fueled by "A+ Type" blood; therefore, he can donate or receive blood from 80% of the American population ...... Why is it that skin, race or religion remain of such importance?

    September 21, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  3. Brian

    Amen. It's nice to see people step up and say what I've been saying for months. The vehemence of the "protests" and the substance of them are the product of racist rant.. There is a significant population of bigoted people who are going to protest anything that the president does simply because he is not white. Many of these same people denounced any negitvie comments towards former pres bush as un-american, un-patriotic and treasonous. Surprising how the tables have turned. Look past the color of his skin, look past the rant from glenn beck and rush limbaugh and accept that the majority of Americans support the president and his policies.

    September 21, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  4. nick

    Bill Clinton your are a poster president for a president!!

    September 21, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. Scott L

    Race card! Race card! Race card! Do they have anything of substance other than the race card? Give me a break...

    September 21, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. Steve

    As a conservative I am proud of the strides our country has made in race relations, particularly amongst young people. But unfortunately there will always be people who discriminate, including Republicans and yes even Democrats.

    September 21, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. James

    President Clinton is absolute right.To prove it go to fox news..Then u will see,Acron did this,A black man did this on every day basis.

    September 21, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  8. DG

    Lets get past the lame Jimmy Carter race statement. If John McCain was in Office instead of Obama pushing the current Obama plans, we who object to a national health care plan and the socialism agenda that is coming out of D.C. would still opose this economic nonsense and degenerating of U.S. society views of how to run our great country. I watched many a Canadian in need of health care they could not get in Canada get on expensive chartered aircraft to be flown to the USA where their money could buy them care being denied to them or unavailable in Canada. Wake up all you healthy fools. When you catch something serious then you will understand where you want to be and it is not in a government run hospital. Think VA hospital do you go there for your heart surgeries or the latest cancer treatment. Wake up you healthy fools.

    September 21, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  9. Paula Lacey

    Clinton and Carter are decent .

    September 21, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  10. The Who

    I believe it is racism loud and clear, If you believe tea party patriots who appear white and who disagree with the president are racist then look in a mirror you qualify as a racist.
    What this is all about is an attempt to mute the honest concerns of the public.
    If Obama could give us a clear and concise plan we could then discuss the merits. If we could hear something other than vague promises and doubletalk laced with veiled threats then maybe the grassroots would stop being so angry.
    Remember nearly 1/2 the country did not vote for Obama

    September 21, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  11. Stephanie

    Mr. President I simply wish to say, "A million thanks to you!" You and President Obama are two of our very best. Bless you and your family.

    September 21, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  12. FL

    Why is it so hard to believe people don't like Oboma because of what he stands for. It has nothing to do with his color. Keep playing the race card. The more it is played the more you drive people away from the Democrat Party.
    Sounds to me like this administration wants everyone to believe any opposition is racially based. In that way everyone would be afraid to voice any opposition for fear of being called a racist. That would be censorship would it not.

    The simple fact is the democrats could pass this health care if they wanted to, they do not need the republicans. They won't because they know it is crap and they don't want their name on it before the upcoming elections. Don't think the American PEOPLE are that stupid not to know. Smoke and mirrors is all this is.

    September 21, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  13. Michael, Pensacola, FL

    The bottom line is Joe Wilson would have opposed Bill Clinton in a similar fashion, but would he have yelled out, "you lie" . . . I don't think so, that type of blatant disrepect from a military trained officer who was a Judge Advocate and definitely knows better shown to the Commander in Chief of the armed forces was absolutely racially motivated!

    September 21, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  14. keith

    listen campers, the USA is one of the most racially discriminatory countries in the world. When I visit the US, I am disgusted by the way whites treat the blacks, Mexicans and mid-eastern folks like second-class citizens. It is as putrid as the ghettos and grottos that many of these folks live in.

    You think you have the best country in the world, well you might want to start travelling around a bit to see just how socially backwards you are.

    September 21, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  15. Ann K. Ward

    Too much is on the news-if less was on the news,we would be better,
    Yes if Obama was white, I think it would be easier to get help for Americans, But what color is he, A white Mother-a black Father-, how do you call him Black, Could he not be called White,
    Give Obama a chance to help America,
    Thanks Pres. Carter. also Pres.Clinton, Ann Ward

    September 21, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  16. Jay Baum

    If I believe someone is trying to steal my money or freedom I will hate that person for what they are. I do not care what color they are or where they are from. I believe Obama's policies are a threat to my money and freedom. Obama is mixed race so when I disagree with him why am I labeled as being racist against African Americans but not Caucasians? He and his radical left wing friends are using race as a tool in an attempt to silence opposition. To use Obama,s logic; if you disagree with me you must be prejudiced against Caucasians.

    September 21, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  17. J.R. Jones

    President Bill Clinton

    I live in your old home state of Ark. and i must say i have seen more racism in the last year, more than in the past 30 years of my life.

    James R. Jones
    Eureka Springs Ar.

    September 21, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  18. Andy H

    I think Bill nailed it. Now lets stop asking the question and focus on the real issues. Those are too important and too complex to be derailed by dialogue on race. No one is going to change a racist's or bigots mind, so lets just move on.

    (from a black guy who thinks there's alot of questions that need to be answered)

    September 21, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  19. Glen

    Though I am a Republican, I have to agree with Clinton's comments. But not only does he disaggregate the issue, he, along with others failed to aggrandize the issue. That is, racist discussions need to be removed from the issue at hand. However, he and others forget to mention the racist comments made when white republicans are in office by the black communities. That would not be to start an argument, but to show that there are racists in every race. Some are racists of self imposed sovereignty and others are racists of perceived victimization. In the end, there will always be people that do not like another race whether it be quietly understood or loudly spoken. In this case, as Clinton points out, it is about taking the color – green – from one group of people comprised of as many races as there are in the group that will receive the color – green – .

    September 21, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  20. Dave, Asheville, NC

    Yes, too bad so many are willing to whip out the race card at the slightest opportunity when there is so much to disagree with regarding policy that has become anything but honest capitalism in this or the last administration.

    September 21, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  21. JS

    I find myself agreeing with this man more and more everyday... I'd love to meet Bill Clinton. I'd love to hear more on his approach to healthcare.

    September 21, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  22. Thinktank

    Right on the point. Great analysis!
    They do not mince their words....

    September 21, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  23. Greg

    Sir, you left out the part about how civility toward Presidents Bush and Obama has been lost and the Office of the Presidency is forever stained by the personal conduct of a former President. Oh yeah, that was you.

    September 21, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  24. Randy

    It's not the color black that concerns people, it's the color red (of His policies).

    September 21, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  25. Derek

    Sure we have racism in America and we need to get rid of it. But this fight is not about race, this is not about ideology, this is all about money, pure and simple. It is about probably the biggest financial stake in the history of the mankind. If the waste is cleaned up from our health care and if we get to the level of spending comparable to other developed nations, someone is to lose lots of money ($1.2 trillion if, for example, we get our spending levels to the "inefficient, government managed" Canadian system). So let us not waste time talking about racism now, because it only detracts from the real discussion. And I am afraid that, with so much at stake, things will get still much more ugly before it is over.

    September 21, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
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