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. Ralph B.

    If Hillary was "co-president" as she virtually claims, wouldn't electing her be a violation of the term limitations imposed by the Constitution of the United States? I know the Constitution of the US is pretty much dead but that amendment should live and Hillary should go away.

    January 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. Ptucker

    Pres. Clinton is absolutely correct. Eer since Orpah Winfrey and her millions came out for Obama the press has been behind him 100% and nothing has been brought up about him or his previous comments that hasn't been over looked by the media at large. You should be proud Oprah! You really CAN buy an election. Only problem with that is, you're turning REAL democrats away from the party and we'll back a Republican before we back Obama.

    Senator Clinton: Fire your campaign guy! Start over and don't look back! We're not licked yet! Let me know what I can do to help! I refuse to let another big Purse buy the White House like the Bush's bought it last time!

    January 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Dr. George M.D.

    Mr. Barack Obama is an intelligent, highly idealistic and compassionate human being. His ingenousness and clarity of speech is both refreshing and earthy. What most concerns me is his personal safety. The dangerous elements remain most powerful in this country. The corporations still will continue to pursue their greedy interests,and power,at the expense of all Americans. Assassination attempts against a leader that can't be bought or do their evil bidding won't be a new phenomena. Lobbyists can influence and pursue the pharmaceutical companies , and health care agencies ,in providing commercial care to humans and universal health care will be blocked. Organized crime, from several ethnic groups has permeated all service related areas,hollywood,and drug peddling,insurance, and no doubt murder if money or power is involved;Thirdly,but who's counting,white supremists,may seek to assassinate this beautiful black man,with ancestry still living and working on farmland in Kenya. We need to exponentially provide high security for this young leader! I love Hillary and Bill Clinton too. Hillary's recent crying jag moved me., and her beauty and femminity are rewarding.

    January 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. kelly

    Ok, enough!!!
    I urge all of you Democrats to take a long hard look at: RON PAUL!!
    I have always been and independent/democract, and Dr. Ron Paul is the only candidate from either party that actually knows what he's talking about. He cares deeply about each individuals civil liberties, our economic condition, and stopping the american empire that wants to police the world instead of making sure it's citizens are free and happy!!!

    Please check him out...go to google or youtube and type in "ron paul"

    January 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. thechiefschief

    The bottom line is that people are simply not interested in "Diet Clinton" this year ... Hillary is NO Bill Clinton ... and voters have had ENOUGH after 28 years of trading back and forth between the Bush and Clinton political "dynasties" ... they have answered Ronald Reagan's seminal question "are you better off now than 4 years ago" (this year that calculation is x 7 from 1988 to today) and concluded that the answer is NO and that we need a COMPLETELY fresh approach ... not more calculating by the same old tired political hacks. Hey Bill ... remember what they say about the "best laid plans." 🙂

    January 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. nick

    lmao....like bush never cheated.or kennedy or eisenhower?....get a life,do your homework.what is baracks change? he doesn't say.next year we will be in kenya with oprah.why do you think she wants him in there?and the 90"were productive...this whole thing baffles me.people make all these coments without being in formed.

    January 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. J

    By the way, Hillary is still the front runner nationally. GO HILLARY!!

    January 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Robert

    What a bitter, arrogant speech. It is always interesting to see how powerful people react when they are not in control of the outcome. I like Bill Clinton and expect a more rational tone. The reality is people have vetted both candidates through 15 debates, 100 talk shows and endless campaigning and they like Obama more. He and Hillary will need to get behind the Democratic ticket no matter who it is. They don't deserve victory just for showing up. I am voting for Obama.

    January 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. M Lowe


    GO-OBAMA 08

    January 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Alice, VA


    It should now become apparent that America is not in love with you and Hillary as much as you would like to believe. Look at the primaries as a referendum on you and your wife....they are sick of the bickering and partisanship that started during your Administration and is ongoing through the current one. ENOUGH OF THE OLD STYLE OF POLITICS...ENOUGH OF THE CLINTON/BUSH ERA. Obama represents a new era....accept it and PLEASE go home!!!!

    January 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. Wufpakmom, Illinois

    Whoa. That went ugly in a fast direction, didn't it?

    January 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Bernard

    Bill please, I'm begging you as a lifelong Democrat JUST GO AWAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!

    January 8, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Valerie

    Old Bill needs to get out of the way and let his wife speak for herself. He is doing her more harm than good. Also he should keep in mind his own glass house.

    GO OBAMA! '08

    January 8, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. Gloria

    Bill stayed at the party too long.

    The meltdown of the Clintons is both painful and embarrassing to watch.

    January 8, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. RBaker

    Can you imagine Hillary as President?

    *sniff* "I am so saddened by this invasion" *tear*
    "I feel so sorry for those people" *sniff-sniff*
    "Their mothers and children" *tears-cry*
    "The poor and innocent" *crying"
    "Oh it's just so sad" *balling her eyes out*

    January 8, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. Mary Bailey

    It's not the advisors Stup*d, it's YOU Hill! People do NOT want YOU! You are corrupt, you are a KNOWN liar, you are entwined in corrupt partnerships, corrupt money, corrupt people.

    Bill, you have stole millions of dollars from the American taxpayers. I for one am TIRED of paying for your limousines, your caviar, your multiple homes, vacation resorts, your thousand dollar suits, your security, your girlfriends. Bill, you Suk.

    The best advisor in the world would tell you ONE thing. DROP OUT and GO AWAY!

    January 8, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. Debbie Bent

    OMG!1 I can't believe the Clinton campaigners are so desperate, even Bill will start attacking Obama. Shame on you Bill.

    The only Hillary supporters are those who think it is a way to get Bill back into the Whitehouse. I've got news for you, he won't even be able to give her an opinion on anything including the meals the staff should prepare.

    January 8, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. Common Sense

    Sour Grapes. Wah Wah Wah all the way home, in Ar-kan-sas.

    January 8, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. Pacheco Power

    When it comes down to it, what experience does Hillary have? If I have to settle for a democrat in office, I would rather it be Obama. Hillary needs to stay as far away from the podium as possible!

    January 8, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. Mike

    Ah, last thing we need is a black president. Sorry. Don't need someone who is backed up by Oprah based on "fluff" when it's really because he is black. But really in the end the electoral college will decide who wins. Think this year I'll go republican.

    January 8, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Kris Shanahan

    I don't know which is the better candidate. This is because I don't know much about OBama other than he has a pleasant personality and it optimistic. He seems OK. What I think is the problem is not Hillary or Barack -but is the ignorant public AND the lack of effective or even in some cases biased news coverage.

    US citizens are so unaware of the world arround them and so easily led by the spin machines of all sorts. They readily agree with the negative ads and spin, considering all politicians as inferior. Instead of thinking thru the issues (which really haven't been discussed much) – the independents always want a fresh face. Then they are always making us take a gamble with their fresh face-sometimes the results are OK and sometimes the results are really bad -as with Bush. You guys were idiots not to vote for Gore but you didn't like him because he wasn't new.

    The party entrenched reliably vote their ticket which recently has been more republican especially in the south-where everyone thinks the same and they are strongly influenced by their conservative minister. But it is the independents that will decide this thing -so it looks like a gamble again. Hope it works, you haven't been doing very well lately.

    January 8, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Eric in Massachusetts

    David, we all know why Oprah has gotten into this race..... race. She has always stayed out of it until now. It's odd, when she was campaigning in SC, her accent and dialect changed too. It was more ebonics. Just weird. I wish people would keep this race about qualifications and not race. Too bad.

    People just don't seem to understand that Obama is not electable. He will do worse with our country than Bush has.

    January 8, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Karen Whithers

    I live in Florida and majority will be voting for Barrck Obama. Sick and tired of the way Washington is run. Nothing new, each administration is just like the last. Rubbish idiots in Washington should go. The world is changing and so is America. The money and influence can not change peoples hearts.They will take the bribes from the Clintons etc and still vote for Obama. We are a new generation devoid of racisim and we will not allow our nation to be led again by old geezers like Clintons or racists like Oreilly , who can scream untill their heads explode for alli care.I am white and this black/white divide will end.That stupidity belongs to days past.Obama come to Florida, you will get our votes too, this is your state, you are our next president.

    January 8, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. Melvin Banks, Royal Oak, Michigan

    Bill,Bill take it easy. I love you, I think you were wonderful for the country, I even have a picture of you on my desk at work. However your wife is not going to win. Mr. Obama is best person for the job. Change is coming to America, And I can't wait.Obama 2008. No one can stop this wave of change and hope. Change and Hope oh what wonderful words Go Obama Go this country is with you all the way.

    January 8, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. davidvoter08

    Hillary Clinton has the intelligence, strategies, experience and passion to change this great country to a great DIRECTION!!! She has the power and will achieve what she said! Not only an excellent orator who promises anything only for cheating voters to support for him. Unfortunately, he never considered whether he can keep his promise or how to realize what’s he said. If a person says he can do anything, we should doubt his honesty, such as Obama! Change is good, but can change to a positive or negative direction! We should reminder 8 years ago, Bush also said changes. Let’s support Hillary, because we love this country! We will not allow this country suffer another disastrous presidential term! I find the similarity between Barack Obama and George W. Bush!

    January 8, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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