January 8th, 2008
04:10 PM ET
12 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. Charles T, VA

    All you Obama haters be careful what you wish for. Obama will go independent if you guys steal his nomination with lies and money because he has nothing to lose knowing he is fighting for the average American. And Obama knows he won't run again.

    The Independents have a press release that they won't run if Obama wins the democratic election. So picture this, you nominate Clinton and Obama goes independent case closed. Hillary will have no chance in hell coming close to winning and the country might just have its first Indepenent President.

    Clinton is so selfish and greedy that she is ready to split the democratic party, and she will because more than half of democrats and all independents will go to Obama.

    So either way Clinton will lose, if you want a democratic president then stick with Obama because our time is now for America.

    January 8, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. BCNU purple state, usa

    A bit of anger from the "first laddie?"

    Wrap up this Barnum and Bailey sideshow and move over for the Obama Express!

    January 8, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Gbryant

    Go Bill. It is about time someone talked more about the sugar coating of the media and why Obama Hussein has not been interrogated like everyone else. Let's start with his family in Kenya. There are so many unanswered questions. Everyone is starry eyed over the cocky smooth talking about CHANGE. Let's get to what is behind the fairy tale. Another cocky president, would be too hard to take.

    Go Hillary.

    January 8, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. scott

    Go away Bill.

    You are a crook, a liar , and the list goes on !!



    January 8, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. ekw

    He (Clinton) added, "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."
    ever SEEN, mind you.
    not ever told.

    January 8, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Flem

    Oh please, Billy. Give it a rest. Now that your wife isn't the shoo-in you thought she was, you have to get bitter. Memo to BillyBoy: Bitter doesn't get votes and it certainly doesn't rejuvinate a dying campaign. Through the months he was behind, Obama never resorted to underhanded and mean rhetoric like the drivel you're spewing.

    Does anyone else get the feeling that Bill is getting nervous that he won't be living in the White House again anytime soon? Put a sock in it Bill. Why don't you let your wife speak for herself? Oh, she must be in disposed, re-inventing herself again.

    My God, what a liar she is!

    January 8, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. Steven

    "This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." "... suggesting that Obama's campaign had employed underhanded tactics. Sound alot like the Clinton playbook to me. I guess they got beaten to the punch! Let's see how the Hillary lovers explain away this one!

    January 8, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Dan

    The Clintons are on a full offensive. Bill's biggest strength was the ability to get down in the mud with the Republicans and fight. Now he is trying to drag Obama down there too. Thus far Obama's message has resonated due to his ability to stay above the fray. As the Clintons get more desparate, they will make this much more difficult to do. I hope Obama stays true and that the Clintons to muck up the Dem primaries to the advantage of the Republicans in a general election.

    January 8, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Brian

    With a little luck, we'll be rid of them both.

    January 8, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. matt chris

    Sorry Bill, I love you but your wife ain't winning.


    January 8, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |

    Well, well! Old Billy Boy is getting back into stride. More Clinton B.S.

    January 8, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Jesus Christ


    Jesus here. I think you need to calm down. Have a Chai latte. Obama is taking it all the way. I know this because I am Jesus.



    January 8, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. Praveen

    clinton will make a good president, obama we have to see, he talks great but has nothing to show in his record to support his words, this is for the grownups of the nation, haven’t we seen dreamers talk before, its very easy and stimulating. look at all these young kids getting wooed by hope, we all like to have hope a good happy talks about future, but at this difficult time in this country we NEED someone with some ability, someone who have done something before in there life, USA is a great nation we cant let someone experiment with it. Please people think why you are making decisions, what is influencing you to hate or like someone. its us the people who have the responsibility to direct this nation to the right direction.
    Life is difficult we don’t like many things that goes around but will it change if we just talk, look at everyone’s records. don’t get carried away by speeches. a speaker is not a doer. i am not a citizen of this country, still a green card holder, but i feel scared when i think how these people have elected 2 times a man who was an alcoholic and dint have any experience in foreign relation 2 times in a row. Please don’t do the same mistake again. I want USA to be no 1 , cas I know from my own experience that this nation is the only hope for this world and human dignity. Elect a person man or woman with proper credentials this time.

    January 8, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Dan B, CA

    This comes from someone who consistently cheated on his wife, disgraced the office of the Presidency, and is a habitual liar. I absolutely detest him, and think it is the height of arrogance for him to employ this continuous, finger-wagging mentality upon the American people. Bill Clinton's fifteen minutes are up. Shut up and go away, and let some fresh blood enter the picture.

    January 8, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. Evan

    Bill Clinton is starting to sound a lot like Bill O'Reilly.

    Spin Fair Spin Balance Spin....

    and talking about fairy tales – has Bill been talking to Obama's Kindergarten teacher again?

    January 8, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Karen

    CNN comes up with the best questions!!!!! It's so Jerry Springer! Lean back in your chairs and bring out the popcorn. It's going to be fun.....

    I hate Hillary. They are such hypocrites. They get what they deserve. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.

    Oh, before I forget....... Obama Obamas Obama. OBAMA OBAMA OBAMA. When Obama Obamad (look, it's a plane, it's a train, it's change, -it's a verb now!). Once Obama Obamas Obama Obamaing the Obama will Obama.

    To you Obama supporters... in case you didn't get the e-mail, please note the slogan for your candidate has changed. It is no longer change, it is now WAVE.
    As in: he's on a wave, you know what happens when your'e on a wave, (here's my favorite...) WAVE wave WAVE wave WAVE (get it? it's an actual wave). When you are really passionate about your candidate, club rules now require you to regurgitate the phrase TIDAL WAVE. Just a side note: caps, bold and exclamation points are still mandatory. Name calling is no longer mandatory but strongly encouraged. Thank you.

    January 8, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. PW Va

    Bill, you just lost any respect I ever had for you. The "Clinton machine" has now derailed.

    January 8, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Mike, Orlando

    Sorry Bill...too little too late.

    It's time for Hillary to start singing......your time is done. Take your millions and enjoy your retirement.

    January 8, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. Jr., California

    I am still waiting for someone to tell me about H.C.'s 35 years of experience. I am still waiting after 6 requests.

    I'll tell you what, if someone can answer the question, I'll vote for her.

    January 8, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Roger

    Sort of an aside - does Hillary have to pay Bill $50,000 per hour for these speaking engagements, or does he only get that kind of money for the ones he participates in at universities and dinner parties?

    Fighter for the working man, indeed. As long as that working man is in/from some third world country, and is doing a job an American worker used to do..

    January 8, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Warren

    Bill & Hillary. We loved you both. But this isn't about either of you - it's about Obama. Be smart enough to see and feel the difference. He's what all us '70's folk hoped would happen some day. Take comfort in that fact and jump on the positive bandwagon otherwise you're gonna loose the respect of the folks that still care about you.

    January 8, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. Michael Guinn, Port Hueneme, CA

    Predient Clinton: Thanks so much for your service to our Country- Don't tarnish it with campaign rhetoric that you KNOW isn't true. It's OBAMA Time and you've had your day in the sun. I thought our country was much better off when you were President- and it will become even better under President Obama.

    January 8, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. FL on the 29th

    Glad to see someone finally putting on the boxing gloves. Not that poor little baby Barack has the backbone to get into the ring with the Clinton's...

    All you Obama dreamers need a reality check.

    January 8, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. E F G

    What the heck is he even talking about?

    Senator from Punjab? This reeks of sour grapes so far.

    January 8, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. rmsk

    u are right Billy. i pray Hillary wins

    January 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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