January 8th, 2008
04:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Bill Clinton targets media coverage of Obama

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Watch Bill Clinton's comments Monday night.

(CNN) - On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, former President Bill Clinton criticized the media for not pressing Barack Obama more fully on Iraq, and accused the Illinois senator of shifting his position to reflect changing attitudes on the war.

"It is wrong that Sen. Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war," Clinton said at a campaign stop in Hanover, New Hampshire.

"And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since."

He added, "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

Clinton's wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, is battling Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former president briefly acknowledged that his wife's senior campaign advisor, Mark Penn, was mistaken to claim that Obama had no bounce out of Iowa after winning the state's caucuses because the poll numbers on the day after were relatively unchanged.

Then he abruptly changed the subject - suggesting that Obama's campaign had employed underhanded tactics.

"What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the senator from Punjab? Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook. Scouring me - scathing criticism over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million and indicted innocent people to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon.

"So you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want. It wasn't his best day. He was hurt. He felt badly we didn't do better in Iowa," said Clinton. "But the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true - and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months - is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there."

He added, lightheartedly, "Otherwise, I do not have any strong feelings about that subject."

The former president made the remarks as polls showed his wife trailing Obama in this important first-in-the-nation primary state.

Responding to the comments later Tuesday, Obama said the Clinton campaign was "frustrated," and he dismissed the notion the press has gone easier on him.

"Maybe I've been missing something, but it seems like you guys have been reporting on me the entire year," Obama told reporters. "I remember this summer when we were down 20 points, we were getting knocked around pretty good. And I didn't hear the Clinton camp complaining about how terrible the press was."

Related video: Watch John King and Jessica Yellin on Bill Clinton's comments

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (1,430 Responses)
  1. reggiewho

    I'm watching the debate right now and I like to see both of them talk about how they feel and what they want to do for everyone but when they start doing he said she said that turns me off all the time, and I'm getting sick hearing Hiliary's come backs, Grow up

    OBMAM 08

    January 31, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  2. Brenda

    Go Hillary for the election today. I no longer think of Ted, Caroline,Oprah and others that have endorsed Obama to be nothing than just their opinion. This does not mean because these people endorse him that is good. Most people if they are voting have a right to make up their own mind and not be influnced by others. I feel like Hillary is the best choice to walk into this mess that she will inherit from BUSH. Believe me I would not want this mess, but it will tak a strong person with experience to create the change we need to get us out of this mess....recession included. Bush has done nothing in the last 7 years but spend money and go into a war that was not worth the lives or money that has been lost.
    Wake up people we do not need another person in office that is not qualified.
    Vote Hillary 2008.

    February 5, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Brenda

    You people that are voting for Obama are going to be very suprised IF he should win the nominee as there will be a change again only worse that BUSH. He doesn't have the experience needed to hold the most important job in the country. We can not go thru another President that has to learn on the job. See what a mess we are in right now with BUSH!
    Hillary is our only chance of hope. She will be come the best President we ever had if only given a chance to prove herself. She has the experience, qualification and ability to bring change to our great country once again. Obama has not been tested and will have to learn. We don't have time for him to learn on the job. Our country is in a real mess. We are in war, in debt, in recession, loosing jobs, too dependandant on oil from other countries. Take a good look at what BUSH is leaving the next President. Stop talking about Bill he is not running! Bill is not saying anything any different than Michelle is of Obama. All the media is scared to really get the low down on this Obama character. They only put out there what you want to hear. He will say anything to get elected. Hillary has been tested in all areas of her life and will lead the country to a great victory. She will make history becasue she will be the First Woman President.
    Get off the tidal wave of Obama or drown. Vote Hillary 2008

    February 5, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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