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. dan

    I'm sorry, who is running for president again? Maybe Hillary isn't winning because she has her hubby taking all the cheap shots at her opponent. Lame. Opposing the war and then voting to fund the war once we're there isn't flip flopping.

    January 8, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Walt, Belton, TX

    Hillary and Billiken Clinton must not be allowed any more access to power. They abused what they had when they quickie pardoned all those felons for profit. Consider that Billiken was a felon himself for evading being drafted until another Billiken, none other than good ole boy, Jimmy Carter, the worst President in the last 100 years, pardoned him.

    Don’t put these two crooks back in the White House.

    January 8, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. Ron C SCarolina

    Obama..Obama...you kiddin me? Read up on his REAL religion!! Belongs to group where zero whites are not accepted!!!

    January 8, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. DMON

    Yeah keep hating instead of working to make this country better! Number one, Bill Clinton lied to all of us...this is a fact and so why should he be "the grand speaker of truth". Fact? The fact is you lied and ruined our country with your own personal indescretion so your baseless. Calling Obama "Hussein" is a name and if you took your head out of your racist blinders you'd know that it is a common name throughout the Middle East and Africa. Nice to know your not Xenophobic while our brothers and sisters in the armed forces are over there defending you! Get a Clue! It's also nice to know that the truth of the matter is that "you don't want change" for the better! This is the 21st century so deal with it, like McCain said "I look forward to debating the issues with Sen. Obama", if you don't know that this is what you vote for than move to another country because it is obvious you do not know how to and that is just sad.

    January 8, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Karen

    Typical Hillary tactic–let Bill spew the venom, while she cries crocodile tears with the ladies. I am a member of what should be her prime demographic target, but I do not trust the woman, do not like her, did not vote for her for either senate run, and do not want her to represent Democrats in the presidential race. She has done nothing for New York State (yes, I live here) that did not involve her tagging on the coattails of Chuck Schumer.

    January 8, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Darren, MN

    Ok children it is time for a reality check. I would venture to say that 95% of you are not aware of Obamas true believes and political record.. Take the time to read and research just a little, don't just jump on the media band wagon. My assumption would be your all new to politics or your on the far left hand side of the spectrum. Both being equally dangerous. I must be living in fantasy land, but I seem to remember the 90's as one of the most productive decades of the past century.

    January 8, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. cal al

    We expect all of this politics-as-usual fear mongering (Hussein/Islam/ Kenya/ who is Obama really??) from the Republican xenophobes at Frontpage and Fox. It's quite shameful when it comes from fellow Democrats – especially a fellow Democrat who says that she's about change.

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

    Sounds like there is more " vast right wing conspiracy" going on here

    January 8, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. JA Cook

    The Clintons are all about the Clintons and ego. As things look a bit tougher, they're turning to slash and burn and bringing up issues they should have brought up a long time ago – if they're real issues at all.

    Re: Rick Abrantes comments – warn me if YOU ever run for an office. Your kind of reasoning is frightening. What kind of name is Abrantes anyway? Has anyone run a background check on your parents and grandparents?

    January 8, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Theo

    So what's Obama gonna do besides looking all pretty & smug?
    Bush won that way, look at us now..

    January 8, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    To Eric: It is visually obvious that Obama is black that's why people are using their "ears" and "intelligence" to determine who is the best candidate. Oh, and by the way, Obama's mother is a white woman from Kansas and his father is from Kenya. My DNA probably shows I'm related to his father from Kenya.

    January 8, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. ALB

    The Clintons need to quit slamming Obama and focus on themselves. They have been slamming him non-stop since Iowa which is funny considering Hilary seems to be plagiarizing Obama's very words as her own.

    Obama is no wind bag, he's the breath of fresh air this country is dying for. And for those of you feel differently, you clearly haven't paid any attention. He has democrats, independents, republicans, men, women, whites, and blacks behind him. If he isn't the best representative of the American people/American dream, I don't know what is.

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


    God here. Sorry about Jesus. I thought he was sitting here at the right hand but you know how it is with kids – look away for one second...

    Anyway, don't sweat it. Free will rules the day, and no matter what Jesus says, we're not taking sides.

    By the way, you may want to review that list of commandments I sent down 😉

    Love, Peace, Out...


    January 8, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Shrek

    I am totally diappointed with Bill. There is enough violence and hatred in the world. We don't need him creating more within our country. Especially as a former President. Mr. Clinton, Perfessionalism is paramount. I feel that a Comander and Chief should be able to stand and be able to fight strong. At times they may be alone in their fight. If H.C. becomes president will B.C. have to rescue her from other heads of countries who will fight against her? If you take a look at all the past Prseidents from when they entered office to the time they left, you can tell that the Job has taken its toll on them. These were very strong men. Is H.C. physically able to stand and fight for the next 8 years? I just don't think so. I will be casting my vote for Mr. Barak Obama.

    January 8, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  15. Mike in Kentucky

    A quote from Senator Obama on CNN's election coverage page today on the New Hampshire primaries:

    "My job is to be so persuasive that if there's anybody left out there who is still not sure whether they will vote, or is still not clear who they will vote for, that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany ... and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama," the Democrat said in Hanover.

    I don't know about you, but I will not require a beam of light to persuade me how to vote nor do I expect an epiphany to make up my mind. For those who might need a little help with this..."Epiphany -(adj.) A realization. Theophany , darshana . any religious or spiritual apparition or vision."

    We've already had one fool who thought God wanted him to be President and look where we are today.

    Every word that Senator Clinton utters is scrutinized and parsed to death by the media, every gesture she makes or emotion she shows or does not show is analyzed by the talking heads and quite frankly not in a flattering way.

    Let's see if Senator Obama's remark about divine intervention in these elections gets any air play.

    Bet it won't.

    January 8, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |


    January 8, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Yan

    Bill is right on!

    I am not saying Hillary's campaign is not negative, but Obama used all dirty tactics on Hillary and no one is paying attention to! Obama needs to be exposed !!!

    The Republicans will knock Obama down in the first round if he becomes the Dem nominee.

    January 8, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |

    Bill, Bill!! I would have never ever used a disparaging word against you!! I was in your corner when u took it to the Republicans and fought your way back from near political ruin. But to say that Obama's story is a fairytale?? Ha what a crock!! Are you really in the best position to be talking about fairytales....i mean "It all depends on what the definition of IS...IS"???? LOL You are doing what I know you think is best for your wife and the second reincarnation of your political life but give us a BREAK. Hillary is toast and the more YOU and the clinton wagon play politics to smear Obama...the more, in the off chance that Hillary does get the nomination, I will be sure and vote Republican for the first time EVER!!

    Hillary has gotten in the mud...she has given us half truths and as the old folks say...thrown the rocks and then hidden her hand! So again give us a BREAK with your ridiculous comments and face the facts that arrogance does not always ensure success!

    January 8, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. 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 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. JUAN

    I did not have sex with that woman !

    January 8, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  21. Michelle

    Interesting coming from someone who is a huge liar. "I tried marijuana, but didn't inhale..." Oh come on! At least Obama, being the honest man that he is, admitted he did inhale. The Clinton pair is a joke. Can't stand them anymore.

    January 8, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. OMan

    Mr. Clinton,

    The reason Obama is being potrayed by the media as hero of the democrats is simply put in the following ways.

    1. Economy is not at is best, Businesss including the media organizations do no want to pay additional taxes and nor do the people of USA.

    2. People would rather have a president who will not raise taxes and make the military establishment rich by spending and increasing the deficit under the hope that organizations will hire more if they are not taxed and are profitable due to economic wars such as the one going on now.

    Do is sound true. I am sure you and many would agree in part.


    January 8, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. mab

    I'm very concerned on how far right Obama is, is connections to Islam, as well as
    Kenya. With the situation in Kenya as it is how can he make sound judment with his grandmother and family living there. To many unanswered questions about this Man. I might have to go with Hillary just because of his stance on immigaration.

    January 8, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. willowood

    What the former President forgets is his role in helping the Republicans take the White House for 8 long, unproductive and very destructive years. His 'numerous indiscretions' gave the Republicans all they needed to stop the progress of any necessary legislation addressing real problems. But impeachment proceedeings were the call of the day. Neither Bill nor Hilary deserve another chance to lead this country. Once burned your fault, twice burned MY fault .

    January 8, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. LGardner

    I believe that it is totally unfair and unjust that a former president–husband or not can get up in a public forum to speak on behalf of another candidate. The other candidates are in this race without a president influence behind them. This is a very high profile and history making campaign this year, so it is going to be ugly, however Clinton (like Bush) shouldn't have "Daddy" coming to the rescue.

    January 8, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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