December 18th, 2007
02:20 PM ET
12 years ago

Bill Clinton: I wasn't criticizing Obama

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux got one on one with Clinton Tuesday..

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bill Clinton caused a stir late last week when he seemed to say Barack Obama is too inexperienced to be commander-in-chief, but the former president told CNN Tuesday that's not what he meant to suggest.

“I am trying to say that I agree with what the Des Moines Register said that Hillary has the best record of positive change making in other people’s lives, and I think it is important and I think that this is why they endorsed her,” the former president told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

“I bragged on all of them," he continued. "Sen. Obama, Sen. Edwards, all of them - I like them, I think she has the best record of making change in other people's lives in the most different circumstances and I think that's very important for the next president.”

On PBS’ The Charlie Rose Show Friday, Clinton emphasized the fact that Obama has only been a senator since 2004, and said the Illinois Democrat has not had enough experiences to make a mistake.

“If you listen to the people who are most strongly for [Obama], they say basically, ‘We have to throw away all these experienced people, because they have been through the wars of the nineties,’” Clinton said in the interview. "'They made enough decisions and enough calls that they made a few mistakes, and what we want is someone who started running for president a year after he became a senator because he's fresh, he's new, he's never made a mistake. And he has massive political skills, and we're willing to risk it.'"

Also during the PBS interview, Clinton compared Obama to himself in 1988, when he was a young governor of Arkansas who decided not to run for president yet.

"Even when I was a governor, and young, and thought I was the best politician in the Democratic Party, I didn't run the first time I could have. I had lots of Democratic governors encouraging me to, but I knew in my bones I shouldn't run, that I was a good enough politician to win, but I didn't think I was ready to be president."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. adickerson

    lst let me say ok we all know the buzz word by now! But, change for what?
    What has Obama done in his lengthy 2 years of political experience?
    I watched the last debate twice and frankly thought he looked "weak" and
    "small," constantly looking downward and letting John Edwards "speak"
    for him in rebuttal. Is this what we could expect from him when faced with
    the big global issues and the forces that want to destroy us? I don't know
    how many of us there are (democrats against Obama and Edwards) but
    give me the experienced, well-articulated Clinton and Richardson any day!!
    Yes, EXPERIENCE does matter in the world the next president will inherit.
    I totally agree with Michele from LA Obama needs to do America a favor
    and wait until he has some hefty experience behind me before he jumps
    out and makes senseless comments like "let's go invade Pakistan."
    Immature, Inexperienced, Weak in international affairs–all good
    reasons to say N O to O.

    January 8, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Black Pride

    Sorry Bill, but a Black female I took your comment to be an insult, and after super Tuesday I will register as an Indie. The Democrats have taken minorities for granted to long. We are no longer our parent's children where we will vote for Democrats no matter what. We are more informed and involved in the political process. Fairy tales do come true and it could happen to you because we live in the greates Country in the World. We can live happily ever after, If you believe. I will never allow anyone to tell my grandchildren anything different.

    I am from a famliy of eleven children, all went to college, and now are productive citizens, tax payers, and active in our congregations and community. The same goes for our children and my cousins and their children. This was our parents dreams and it did come true.

    So long Democratic Party.

    January 9, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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