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. ann beauchamp

    I hope all of you Hillary haters realize that the independents that are
    voting for Obama are really "closet " Republicans that are voting
    for him because they know that he can't win the general election
    and that Hillary can. Don't be fooled again by the Republican
    machine!!!!! You may hate Hillary, but you will hate even more
    another Republican in the White House.
    Hillary has alot of integrity. She has done alot of good for
    you unappreciative folks!!
    And don't believe the media. They are SPINNERS that will
    tell you anything to get ratings and earn there big salaries
    while you all get minimum wage or less.

    January 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Hot Air

    All these financed obama bloggers have nothing concrete or intelligent to offer but hateful remarks about others . Just shows the caliber of constituents or followers the preacher has.

    Sorry, this is not obama's time, maybe in the year 2050!

    January 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. P.S.

    Why do people keeping repeating or mocking Bill's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" statement? I feel now as I did back then. I did not care if he did or didn't! It doesn't affect me in anyway. I'd rather worry about issues that affect me and the nation as a whole. Too bad most of you would rather roll around in gossip. You voted in Bush for 8 years. Sure he didn't cheat on his wife, but he dragged us into a War with thousands of innocents dead. Good call.....

    January 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. L Summer

    I simply don't understand how anyone in this country can forget what Bill Clinton did by signing in NAFTA. For God's sake, look around! Our jobs our leaving so quickly, we can't even prepare for any future. People are losing their homes, their livelyhoods, and their sanity - because of Bill Clinton and NAFTA! Ross Perot said during the campaign that if we allow NAFTA, we will "hear a huge sucking sound of our jobs leaving this country!" Apparently Bill was not listening. Obviously, someone made it worth his while to screw us over. I want no part of any Clinton in office. They are out for themselves only!

    January 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Karen

    Posters on CNN negative on Clinton? I'm stunned! Disappointed CNN would committ sin and even mention her? Can't get enough of Obama? Watch Fox.

    January 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Mario

    Bill SHUTUP!! YOU ARE A CROOK!! nobody lied about that! you were impeached, you lied about that, you didn't have sex with that woman, you lied about that, you said you released the documents, you lied about that, right along side of your crook wife at your side, don't make stupid allegations about Obuma when you look as stupid as ever, you are the one that told the fairey tale!

    You think that the media is against you and they treat Obuma different, no they don't you lying fool. Your mad becasue you can't upset Obuma, he is cool and collected and you stew and steam over it, your old lady is finished and so are you, thank heaven for that!

    Get on board the Obuma express!

    January 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Don (San Diego, CA)

    I like Obama a lot, but is this 'wave of change' a justifiable reason to elect him to run our country? Let's be honest here, regardless who is elected, he/she will not be able to change the way Washington does business. Remember, the President still has to contend with Congress to get the job done. I believe both Clinton and Obama can work across party lines to accomplish this, but let's be honest here, it's going to be challenging for either one when it comes down to getting the dirty work done. While I love Obama's enthusiasm and leadership ability, Clinton appears to be to be READY candidate to tackle the issues facing America today and tomorrow...both on domestic and foreign policy. For me, the ideal Democratic ticket is Clinton/Obama(though this probably won't happen) because I believe that ticket represents where America stands......seeking a President and Vice President who can lead, inspire, and bring about change with EVERY issue through experience. One last thought........and 'wave of change' hype asside..........CAN OBAMA HONESTLY BEAT McCain or Guilianni for the Presidency? Can he?

    Best of luck to both Obama and Clinton.........they are both excellent candidates, but PLEASE do your homework and don't allow the media to vote for you.

    January 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. Alesig

    It's amazing how desperate The Clintons are, whether he wins or not, Obama has brought into the race something that we had not seen, two seasoned politicians scared of loosing the power they had come to believe belongs to them. The funny part is that there is not strategy to combat this Obama -thing, if they use offensive attacks, it will only backfire and make them look like the people w'eve come to despite so much, but if they do not attack, they would then have to see how the circus leaves town without them. Tough situation, but that's the game of politics folks, and both of you are professionals.

    January 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. Chris, Middletown, CT

    First off....I don't believe that Jesus actually wrote the note above....secondly – and before we implement a "universal healthcare system" – can you name a single well run government program...that is fiscally managed effectively? (yeah...me either....)

    Would you agree that part of the issue with affordable healthcare are lawyers suing doctors/hospitals and drug companies on a daily basis.....and since nobody has talked about this...we would be just making a bigger target for these scumbags....and the costs would continue to rise??

    Lets elect the ONLY social liberal/fiscal conservative in the race – Giuliani...(you may not like his divorces...or his relationship with his kids....but he is a proven leader hated by the unions....that fact alone is good enough to put him in the White House)

    January 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. Andrew, florida

    I'd like to see Bill and Hill keep going in this negative personal direction. Just keep adding fuel to the fire.

    I personally hope they again bring up the fact that Obama has a lobbyist as his New Hampshire co-chair, so Barack Obama (tired of the Clintons' incessant whining) can respond by explaining that Hillary's chief strategist and pollster, Mark Penn, is the worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller, which currently represents Blackwater (fact).

    If you don't think this is a big deal, you should check out the firm's other work. Three days after September 11, Saudi Arabia re-hired B-M to protect its national image. The firm has supported many oppresive and corrupt regimes.

    She can try to poke holes in Obama's record and maybe persuade a few voters, but she's running a dangerous path. If Obama decides to go negative, which probably won't happen until just before Tsunami Tuesday, he could very easily destroy what little credibility still has.

    January 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. KT



    January 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. DD, New York

    You mean to tell me that somebody who is preaching....oooops I mean campaigning about change, can't change the status of his grandmother and uncle and somehow make life a bit easier for them? Maybe he and Oprah can open up senior citizens centers in Kenya.

    January 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Stephen

    I'm praying for Obama vs McCain. The independents in America can't lose then and civility and honor have a chance to be restored.

    January 8, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. South FL for OBAMA

    It's time for change. and us young people are going to use our power to vote too!
    I know my history and there's nothing monumental Mrs. Clinton has done!
    OBAMA 2008!

    January 8, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. God

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

    Bill, I guess you missed that day of Sunday school.


    January 8, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Kate


    January 8, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. BringItHome

    In case you Clinton supporters haven't noticed your getting your butt's handed to you on a plate!

    People don't want more of the same old BS from the "old gaurd" the same corruption, the same lies, the same BS. Billy boy is just mad because his carpet munching wife losing will mean he can't "diddle" interns in the white house again.

    Experience doesn't mean SQUAT! Do you think some of our first presidents had eleventy jillion years of experience as politicians? NO! Read you history books. Obama is a younger person with new ideas of change and that is what this country needs.

    Every other candidate be they Democrat or Republican started on the bangwagon of the "change" message AFTER Obama had been saying it for a long time. Give it up! It's time for a new type of leader for this country! It's time for a leader like Obama to clean up the mess the "old gaurd" has made.

    January 8, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. JC

    Um, the polls are still open...maybe he should have waited. If I were an independent in NH I would register a protest vote for Obama against Clinton for this comment.

    As for the underlying assertion, she _voted_ for the war, she now wants to end. Does Clinton really expect Obama is going to vote against the troops we already have in the field? As for 2004, Obama didn't want to embarrass Kerry on the eve of the Convention, which shows a bit more party loyalty than Bill is showing now. I can hear the stump speech now in S.C.: "we said we wanted change, and they said they wanted a reality check; we said we wanted hope, they told us that our hopes were false; we wanted to send a new message to washington, they told us change was nothing more than a fairy tale. That Kennedy and King were very nice, until they were assassinated."

    I think the Clinton's make their worst mistakes when they sense the wheels coming off the bus; they are just proving Obama's point that when you actually give people something they can believe in, that the people will go to the polls for, the establishment will tell you your head is in the clouds, they will try to send you to bed without your supper.

    January 8, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Gobama, NY, NY



    Let's wager on how long it will be before this Southern boy, Bill Clinton, plays the race cared? LOL

    Bill Clinton is angry; because in his Southern head, he's supposed to be in the role of Black's savior. LOL

    January 8, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Margo

    I hope people really think long and hard before they vote on one of the most important elections in our lifetime since we have so many critical issues on the table for our country. The devil is in the details. Do not have your eyes glazed over by charm, wit and what Obama thinks you want to hear. Look for substance. So far lots of talk, little action. I am from Illinois and I have not been impressed with what he has done here. If he had so many changes that he thinks are so important why was he not successful here. You can look online and see what he has voted for and against. Look at the history of the person and not just the short exposure. Instead of telling us after the fact what he would have done differently -why does he not give us a detailed version of HOW he is going to do all the wonderful changes he speaks up. At this point I am not impressed. I won't go as far to say I would not vote for him. This country needs an overhaul done to it and I do believe we are looking at someone who will just run out of gas after the lights are dimmed.

    January 8, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Eric

    The Republicans are truly scared of a John Edwards nomination. That is pretty obvious. The Republicans disguised as independents are trying to fix the general election. They know they can beat Obama.

    January 8, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. Ken, Suitland MD

    "Victor in Tampa": if Bill and Hilary are Stalin-Socialists, then you people living in Dumbf**kistan must be Hitler-Neonazis (better known in today's political world as neocons).

    And poor Ken Starr, the Honorable man??!!!....destroyed???!!! $70 million, and he still couldn't get to the so-called "truth"? If you think he didn't perform well, then he is incompetent, and I'd merely suggest that Starr's poor showing is quite on-paar for the incompetent repubs as a whole. Spending lots of our money, with nothing to show for it. The deficit and debt at an all-time high....and nothing to show for it. It must be Bill Clinton's fault, right? He left you morons with a SURPLUS, and you screwed it into the ground. Its sooo unfair that Bill Clinton set you up for failure by doing so well for the American public while he was in office. BOOHOO for the current morons-in-charge, and all those neo-morons who voted for them.

    Victor, you are an outright liar: with the kind of Limbaugh-Rovian rhetoric you displayed, there's is no way you are truthfully an Obama supporter.

    You muck-raking repub-bots return to your TV sets to view your O'Rielly and Limbaugh shows, and allow the rest of thinking America to correct the rupugnant problems you created by voting for the current disaster-in-charge, 2 TIMES!!

    You heard me! Now git!!!

    January 8, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Helen NH

    Hillary is lucky that neither John Edwards nor Obama has pointed out that she HAD the chance to get health care done and she didn't. Why didn't she get it done then? Why should she get another chance now?

    All this makes me even more sure of my vote. Maybe I'll even volunteer for the general election once he sweeps the country.

    January 8, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. M. Marcotte

    Hey, if Hillary were not running, both Clinton's would be on their knees kissing Obama's ass.

    January 8, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |




    January 8, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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