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. Josh (Miami, FL)


    January 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Iowan NObama

    Do a Google search on "Illinois Caucuses" and see what really happened in Iowa. NObama found the loophole, and exploited it to "win" Iowa. People in caucuses all over the state of Iowa had "new residents" who did not belong in those caucuses, or in Iowa for that matter, and they caucused for NObama. So all this hype for him is artificial. He's the Ryan Leaf of this election. All hype but nothing to show for it.

    Too bad people in New Hampshire can't vote "Present" on their ballots today huh? NObama can tell them exactly how that works since that's the only thing he's done in the senate!

    CLINTON 2008

    January 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. GB

    I can't believe Mr. "Ididn't have sex with that woman" can call someone, or anyone else a liar.
    After 9/11 everyone was on the band wagon for revenge, and with the support of Congress we waged war on terrorism. We were told the war would be a long and tedious one, again everyone said fine. Now everyone blames Busch, what a farce. Why is it whenever the Democrats aren't in office they always campaign on change, when in fact the only change they really want is to their address. I think Obama scares the Clinton's becasue as Charles stated, he is for the American people and honestly there's smething about him I trust. I can't asy them same for the rhetoric out of the Clinton camp.

    January 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. tgrier

    Sorry Billy boy, but you are a crook. And the Punjab comment...come'on. 1.)that was during this summer, try not to bring up old news that was actually reported on 2.) while it might have been in bad taste, Hillary made the joke that she could run in Punjab and win. How can you get angry when someone puts "(D-Punjab)" after your name in humor after that.

    January 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Al in Wpg

    I think it all depends on what your definition of IS is.

    January 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. David, Dallas Tx

    Bill says his wife's campaign isn't negative? Maybe he should visit:


    'Nuff said.

    January 8, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Mark

    The Clintons are starting to make the sick with all of this crying and moaning about not being treated fair. Hear comes the old Clinton dirty politics we are so used to seeing. You can't make people like and believe your wife Bill!!!

    Obama 08!!!

    January 8, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Snyggast

    I love how Hilary would twist Obama's words or put words in his mouth. She accused him of comparing himself to JFK or MLK. If you listen closely, Obama was only trying to explain that ideas and dreams can turn to reality if people work together.

    January 8, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Nalla

    Bill does not have to go so low and ruin his reputation for his wife. Enough of this nepotism. If he really thought Hillary was so good, why didn't you run with her in the first place.

    Go Barack ! You are an inspiration, not only for us here, but millions across the globe.

    Hillary, you had your time as a first lady in the white house and the US senate in NY was your retirement package. Time to say "hello" for the paradigm shift that is happening, right here, right now.

    January 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Patrick

    Hey Bill, lets not forget the biggest fairy tale ever told; "I did not have sex with that woman...." That to me would be the biggest fairy tale ever seen! Where are your cigars kept now?

    Maybe the second biggest fairy tale I've ever seen is Hillary's welling up with tears and how CNN covered it as "legit," even though it was shortly after many critics had called Hillary to cold and unemotional. Never mind the fact it was so close to today's primary. Reminds me of days of old with the Clinton News Network.

    January 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Bill wants a new free meal ticket to his playground the whitehouse. Obama is better than Hillary any way you look at it.

    January 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. E. in Dallas, TX

    Hillary Clintons states that she is the ""agentsof change" but now they (her camp) are playing the same negative politics that are nothing but the same thing that has not changed! They are not making sense! Geeze, please can we bring in the new school of politics and pull our country together with some unity? Obama supporter or not, this is ridiculous. They might as well be getting on their knees begging for votes. No one likes a pity party.

    Americans are smarter and we're going to show it this year.

    January 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. Kathy Krock

    I'm sick of seeing Hillary & I'm sick of her voice. She's a poor loser.

    January 8, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Andres

    Just because Bill was the greatest President of this generation doesn't necessarily mean Hillary will be. They are two different people, but you can't fault Bill for showing support for his wife and clearing up the facts.

    January 8, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. BJ Williams

    There is a new time in America that is shaking up old politians. IT IS OVER FOR THE CLINTONS.

    January 8, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Kenneth Hemsley

    Well, now I have lost major respect for Bill Clinton. I have always had respect for him and for what he did for the USA. However, today I am even more moved to make a push for Barack Obama. For President Clinton to refer to Obama's President campaign, his win in Iowa, his surge in the polls and the impending winning results in New Hampshire as "the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen" is demeaning. What is the fairy tale?

    The United States of America is set and ready for a President who cares about the average American. He is not part of the past establishment. People, our country is not a corproation that can be passed from generation to generation. Nor is it a dynasty!

    I am heading out to get others to join the Obama movement!

    I had already begun to feel disdain for Hillary. She has no entitlement to the most powerful seat in the world. And, believe me! I once was so excited about her as a President. I thought I liked her. Now, I have seen her true colors! And, Bill's too! I guess he doesn't believe we can have a real African American President. Perhaps, the notion that he was our country's first Black President has gone to his head. Again, what is the fairy tale?

    January 8, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. Dalton, MI

    I understand that Bill Clinton is trying to assist his wife in her efforts to win the democratic nomination but I have to say that his comments were very unbecoming of a former President.

    Furthermore, Bill Clinton's presence on thwe campaing trail only reminds people of the past and the partisan political bickering that was standard during the Clinton years. At a time when voters are thirsting for change reminding them on how you are a candidate of the past and the status quo isn't a very smart move.

    January 8, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. mcnabb

    It looks as though desperate times call for desparate measures. I think this election may be different, I believe people are tired of listening of 'hate' speeches about other candidates.

    January 8, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Ron, TX

    Actually, he was asked that, during an interview on Meet the Press on November 11th. And honest press coverage has more than once pointed it out. However, Bill Clinton is NOT being honest. Does Bill know what the sentence AFTER Obama said he wasn't sure how he'd vote? What did Obama say following that mischaracterization of his 2004 DNC comment?

    "What I know is that from my vantage point the case [for authorizing the war] was not made."

    Considering Hillary, and 90+ other senators NEVER EVEN READ the classified reports, it appears Obama had the same exact information that they had. He made the right choice. They didn't.

    And that's the honest truth.

    January 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. G. Robinson

    The former adulterer/President should be quiet.

    January 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Josh

    Everyone loves Bill Clinton. Best President of our lifetime.

    January 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. LSD Saint

    Obama 08" Perfect Love casteth out all fear...

    January 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Greg, NY

    Sigh... already within the first 5 comments someone just HAD to mention Obama's middle name. Why? Why do you feel the need to dislike someone because of what their mother named them? Entirely out of his control.

    Honestly, I don't see how you can support someone named Hillary Rodham. Whoa, that name just makes me wanna not vote for her. (end sarcasm)

    January 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Jeff

    Enough Bill/Hillary, go away! Like neither one of you ever changed your story to get elected, lets see Bill was almost impeached! Hillary and the whiteland case. Enough of the same old Blab, Blab, Blab. Time for someone new, someone fresh, someone who can relate to the people. Obama in 2008

    January 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  25. kelci

    Can someone help me with this question? Hillary says she has all this experience but the only thing that I know she was a senator. Is she counting the year that her husband was in a office?

    January 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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