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. pam Eugene OR

    Can you imagine someone calling Bill Clinton a crook! He is the biggest liar, crook and thief out there. Well, maybe a close second to his wife. Go home Bill...we have had more that enough of you and you wife.

    January 8, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Dan, TX

    I would like a thoughtful calm and serious person in the white house. Clinton's arrogance is frightening.

    January 8, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. Brad

    Here is the two big problems I have with Hillary Clinton:

    1. Why should I listen to Bill speak praises about her when he has never shown her any respect during their marriage?

    2. Why should I believe that Hillary will stand up for herself on a world stage when over and over and over again she has let Bill walk all over her and disgrace her?

    I am sure I am not the only person who feels this way.

    I am an Independent Voter and I have yet decided to vote for for president.

    January 8, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Mark tanstill

    Mr President, I love you and your family, but I have to tell you my 19 years old niece need to know that when it comes to the presidency there are other qualified people in this country than the Bush Clinton Bush .... Clinton? clan.

    Once again I love you mr President but it isn't personal.

    January 8, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Noroan Wolfe

    I am appalled but not surprise by the hateful, vitriolic comments posted by persons who seem to be Obama supporters. Why are these hate mongers supporting a person who is working so hard to send forth a message of hope? Their rants belong on the Springer show. Their support for Obama is one of the many reasons I will not vote for him. Just as scary are the comments from those supporting Obama because he makes them feel good – that is not the job of a president. Go get a friend, for Pete's sake!! Something is deeply wrong with the mix of Obama's of supporters and they are not the people I want to run this country.

    I will be supporting Hillary – based on her service to this country, her passion for this country, her intelligence and her far more realistic world view.

    January 8, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Chris

    I think Mr. Clinton has been reading too much of his own press talking about how "beloved" he is in New Hampshire. People do remember him, just not nearly as fondly as he'd like to believe. I also think that there was an absolute conceit in Mrs. Clinton campaign and mind that she was the Anointed One and that her presidency was pre-ordained.

    I am an Independent and what resonates about Mr. Obama to me is that the change he is looking for is a fundamental one about the way politics happens in Washington. I do not think that anyone can possibly think that the current way to doing business is a constructive one so it simply doesn't matter just how much experience in that failed system the candidate has.

    January 8, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Madeline Jackson, Silver Spring Maryland

    Obama has gotten a free ride from the male dominated media. It is unfair and disgusting. In fact Hillary has been vilified by the media daily, while the male dominated media has cheered for Obama. I am a life long democrat and I will never vote for happy talk, free ride, unqualified Obama. I would rather see the Republicans win the the White House again.

    January 8, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Dunga

    The hope for Sen. Clinton to become next US President is squarely sitting.

    January 8, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Mike, Waterbury, CT

    Why are you Obama supporters so quick to yell at the Clintons for negative campaigning? Bill is right. Obama and Edwards have been slinging mud since day one.

    Some say that Obama is above the fray? Why was he making back door deals with the Richardson supporters to ensure victory? How do you think Clinton was brought down to the real world?

    Obama has refused to say anything about what he would do as President, so let's look at his record. When there is a tough decision to make rather than vote yes or no, he runs away (so as to be absent from the voting – like he has done in the Senate), or he votes "Present" (like he did in the IL Senate. DO WE REALLY WANT A PRESIDENT THAT CAN'T MAKE A TOUGH DECISION.

    Sometimes the right decision is not the one you agree with completely, but you still need to make it. I do not want a President that is afraid to make a decision. Despite all the horrible things that Bush has done – you have to give him credit for at lease making a decision, something that Obama is apparently afraid of doing.

    Realize that the glitz and glamour will wear off – and when you get down to it, All Obama is, is a weasle too afraid to stand up and take a stand. How very unpresidential is that?

    January 8, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. wondering

    I wonder how many of the negatve responses are operatives from Obama's campaign staff, or even from any of the Republicans? Politics is politics...and there aren't any of the current candidates that are "changing" that. Look through the hype and propaganda...look at the facts, then make an informed decision.

    January 8, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Amy

    I think Oprah should be more careful about who she supports. Her impact on this election should not be underestimated.

    January 8, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. alcortez

    My experience with Bill Clinton tells me he is the most ungrateful and self indulging and corrupt politician in America. I volunteered over 100 hours as a precint leader for his first presidental election campaign in 1996 and never received a word of thank you from neither him or the Democrat party. Also I strongly believe myself and most other Americans will never forgive him for the dirty things he did while he was in the office and when he was leaving the office.

    January 8, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Amber

    I think that Bill should let his wife fight her own battle. : /

    January 8, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Rosie

    Change, what a thought. I am a child of the 60's and to think that there is finally someone running for office, that has new thoughts, and joing ALL parties together. Gee.. maybe this is the return of Camelot .

    January 8, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Sally, Corvallis Oregon

    Let Hillary fight her own battles Bill – and PLEASE – Show some dignity EVERYONE and rise above the name calling and attack-mode... this country's been through enough these past 8 years

    January 8, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. MM

    Obama scares me more than any other candidate running in both parties. I really have no idea where he stands on any issue. I think the media has turned him into some type of rock star-almost like American Idol. They have not pressed him on one single issue and have given him a major pass as he can do no wrong. I keep hearing about change but change will happen no matter who gets elected. I cannot understand the people in this country and their sheep minded mentality. Maybe it was the Oprah factor-I do not know. I do know for sure I would vote for anyone but him as I do not want a rock star president.

    January 8, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Ashok

    Fellow citizens...
    Time to wake up from the dream of this fairy tale of CHANGE.
    Get a reality check from the dreamweaver...like may be Kenya question.
    Time for every democrat to come out and vote and win over the surge of independentss.
    Remember every vote counts...We do not want another president learning his skills on the job. (the current one does not even have learning skills) We want a president with EXPERIENCE to bring change and ready on day one.

    January 8, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. tq

    What a whiner. Clinton should watch fox news then if he doesn't like media coverage of obama. Sounds like a fox noise pundit.

    January 8, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. AJ, IL

    All you Hillary supporters and Hope-haters, stop repeating Bill Clinton statements that are false. If you live in a glass house, you shouldn't throw stones! This is exactly what Bill Clinton is doing for Hillary. Sorry, but Bill Clinton has lied numerous times as President and recently on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton LIED about not supporting the Iraq War (there is video footage of it). Bill Clinton LIED about George Bush Sr. going on a diplomatic mission for "would-be" President Hillary. And now Bill Clinton is LYING about Obama's stance on the Iraq War. (Sorry Bill Clinton there is video footage of Obama condemining the rush to war with Iraq back in 2003).

    OBAMA in '08!

    January 8, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. LOL in NH

    So Slick Willy is calling the kettle black? Hummm.... sounds like someone already picked out the china pattern for the White House. Sorry Bill, no more cigars in the White House for you!!

    January 8, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Susan

    Yes – it was totally sugar coated. Just like our current regime's campaign. Scary and untrue and shallow. Please, NH, be so careful.

    January 8, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Patrick, Bethlehem,PA

    Sorry Bill, but a fairy tale is when an unkown gets to clean the whistle of the leader of the free world.

    January 8, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. danielo

    Hey Bill,
    You never were aganst the press when the MSM were all about Clinton the inevitable, Clinton perfect mistake free campaign machine, Clinton the front runner, Clinton appeals to women, Clinton all these good things.
    Now you you think the media is unfair. Why didn't Obama or Edwards complain bitterly at that time?
    Tell people why Hillary is the genius president ... Talk about Hillary. Going around with "Obama this Obama that" wont help!

    January 8, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. Natalie

    The truth of the matter is, no matter what Bill/Hillary has to say, the time has come for America to have a Leader who is willing to do something different to get different results. Not the same old "politics as usual" song and dance. He has by far the most integrity of any candidate I've seen in a real long time. It is evidenced by the way he is running his campaign. Do a little more research into what he has done in Illinois and you will find just how capable he is and how much we need a President with these abilities. There are enough resources in this country for each and everyone to get what they need. We just need a leader who can help us to realize this. Believe it!

    January 8, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. KaiserSosay

    Sour grapes.....Clintons = the past

    Obama = the future.

    Bill is tarnishing his legacy! lol

    January 8, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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