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. Kate

    Carroll Johnson ... what changes did Hillary make again?? .. and what EXPERIENCE does she have (apart from the NY senate seat) ... someone please respond!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO FAR THERE HASN'T BEEN ANY RESPONSES ... I GUESS THERE'S NOTHING TO REPORT??????

    January 8, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  2. Jeff from Jersey


    Your non-vote is really a vote to not participate.The "system" admittedly sucks but non-voters have helped get more terrible people elected than voting for the wrong choice ever did.I do not agree at all with your assessment of Hillary Clinton nor that of Obama but I'm so confident in my assessment of the candidates that I'm willing to stake my vote on it.

    Hillary is most certainly not a war monger.Lots of honest decent people were suckered into that vote by false and illegal means,none more than the people that voted for Bush!That is as baseless and vicious as any of the candidates has ever said .I thought that you say you despised that.

    Like it or not we are part of a global economy now.Free-trade agreements actually keep more people working in their own countries instead of sneaking into this country illegally and taking those jobs without putting a dime back into our country.Those jobs were leaving anyway because "corporate america" would no longer pay americans a decent wage or benefits to do them and they were using child and slave labor overseas to do them long before there were any agreements,free-trade or otherwise.I know because I was an auto worker.I knew those jobs were gone when I first saw an ad that the newest GM cars were being imported from Korea.Those agreements were to try and protect children and slave labor overseas from being abused.

    .Non-participation and apathy will never change anything for the better.That's been proven a hundred times over.That is when special interests truly thrive and the people suffer the most.I'd rather see you make the wrong decision than to make an even bigger mistake by not voting at all.As I am reading these posts I can plainly see just how "united" Obama has made things.....not!

    January 8, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. dave


    January 8, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  4. California voter

    Everyone needs to take a chill pill. Get some perspective on this. Remember CNN and other media stations spent hours/days/weeks talking about and rehashing stories on Anna Nicole Smith. Was she worth all that coverage? Are the results of Iowa and New Hampshire really that meaningful among the 50 states? Yes, they are first to vote in a primary or caucus. How many votes does that mean for each candidate? To make a sports analogy, would any team with their salt quit in the first five minutes of a football game because they are behind 6 to 7?

    I agree with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama needs to be challenged and questioned by the media like they did in covering Anna Nicole Smith. He is running for President of the most important country in the world. We need to know who he really is and whether he is really ready to be President of the United States.

    January 8, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Ryan, San Mateo

    It is obvious to me that the 'Right' is trying to manipulate even this Comment board.

    January 8, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  6. Z, St. Louis

    Hillary is as phoney as the polyester in her pantsuits..I too would like to hear about all of this "experience" she has..Doing what? Being a shady lawyer and
    campaigning/fundraising for Bill is about all she really has done. Her Senate time so far has been making grandiose statements, and then kow towing to president
    doofus.Where is all that "fight" for what people want? Instead she panders
    to her party..Forgetting that she represents PEOPLE NOT PARTY...
    And lets not forget she's been very cozy with the money people. She's
    tied too much to the K Street Lobby people and the big doners. We have
    that kind of bunch in power now! Where would the change come in Hillary?
    Her message has been that of change my way and no other. We've had 4 years of current president dumbass doing the "take it or leave it" policy., we dont need another person that thinks they know it all and won't listen to advisors that arn't politically motivated. or even worse the people of this country as whole.

    Her presence is that of a plywood cutout wrapped in a brown pansuit. She has
    absolutely nothing charisma wise. Her message and tone of her speech is
    that of arrogance and smugness. Again, we have that now. And it doesnt work.
    There isn't really anything about her I like..And i pity Bill for having to come out
    like a bruiser for her. He's really putting his reputation on the line for her,
    and i think its going to backfire.He's trading in his general likeability for that
    of a negative ad-man.Chasing pudgy women is going to be his downfall yet,
    since he now has to do this crap for Hillary..

    My vote is for ** NONE OF THE ABOVE! ** Time to dismantle the two major parties.. They are useless and corrupt..

    January 8, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. Bukky, Balt MD

    OK people stop the hate. I NOT A HILLARY supporter. I support Obama but if he should happen to not WIN the nomination I will vote for ANY ANY ANY ABSOLUTELY ANY other democrat. Hillary is not my choice, neither is Edwards, but I will vote for any democrat just to keep the presidency from a republican. ANY democrat running would be better than ANY republican running.

    So stop the hate people. Vote for your first choice in the primaries and if they dont win the nomination put on your big girl panties or big boy boxer briefs and vote for the nominated democrat. The ultimante goal is not get Bush and his republican cronies out.

    January 8, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. Matthew Passaro

    I am deeply disappointed in President Clinton. I wish that he would realize that what Barack Obama is doing, is exactley what he did in 1992. He is reengerizing the masses that have felt out of place since January 19, 2001. I understand him coming to the defense of his wife, and can truly appreciate it, but their time is over. It is time for a new generation to take the lead. For god sake Mr. President, let us have this one.

    January 8, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. reader-of-many-sources

    We don't need a Clinton Dynasty. Relax, Bill. You are becoming desperate. Hilary couldn't unite Legos. I'm more interested in seeing Barack get the nomination. It's better to take a chance on greatness. I also believe he has a stronger chance of beating a republican candidate in the main election. He can swing more independent votes. Keep up the good work (outside of your wife's campaign). By the way, did you even compare your wife's speech to Barack's after he won Iowa?

    January 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. ab

    What the hell is Bill doing? Who's campaign is this anyway? Let your wife fight her own battles (which she is losing, by the way). Tired of the Clinton's and God forbid if Hilary is to win! Bill should be ashamed of himself. I'm actually embarassed for the Clinton's. What a poor display!

    January 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. Jen, Cedar Falls, IA

    Bill Clinton is sounding a lot more like Chavez and Musharref lately.

    Telling us citizens what we should do.

    You've been in the White House for 8 years, it's time for someone new.

    You're looking like a dictator and you have some people eating right out of your hand! That's scary!

    January 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. change again

    OK...so Hillary wanted to run this thing her way. Bill stepped back, stayed out of it....and let her run with it.........until now..... Her decisions, her strategies and choices for staff.....HUGE MISTAKE.... This was supposed to be a coronation, a shoo-in.

    Now today we are hearing that there is a "major shake-up" in her campaign. Apparently with Bill's recent involvement he now will bring in James Carville and Paul Belgata to save the day......THESE ARE BILL'S GUYS!!! Everyone knows that, or should if you are a true Clinton supporter. Most importantly, Hillary wanted no part of 'em before..... Out with Hillary's choices.. in with Bill's.

    BIG BIG BIG warning sign.

    Her choices, her decisions, her strategies even as early as her first caucus and first primary were wrong. She was making all the wrong moves. She was moving towards losing it all for the Clinton machine. The last eight years of preparation and fund raising were not done by Hillary alone. Now that she had to get out there and do things all by herself..... disaster.

    BIG WARNING SIGN.........

    How in the world could you think she could run the country?! The answer....She couldn't and she wouldn't be.

    BUSH.....CLINTON....BUSH....CLINTON..... Simply more of the same...this is NO CHANGE. Did you hear that? NO CHANGE...

    Let's take back our country!!!!!! I am not telling you WHO to vote FOR...just give each and every one of the others on all sides time and consideration...without party affiliation, if you can.

    Hummmm.... I wonder how many AMERICANS (first) we have out there......

    January 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. RBaker

    MARGIE – You want an 'intelligent' reason NOT to vote for Hillary?

    Study the "Bilderbergs" or look at the "Bohemiam Grove", or do some research on the "Council on Foreign Relations".

    (But most people are not 'intelligent' enough to do it....)

    January 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. Chelsea Garen, Vista, California

    I agreed with Bill Clinton's view, Media is too much covering for Obama's "band wagon", it is not right, and not ture !

    Obama has only one year senator experience, he wants to be command-in-chief ! COME ON, AND GIVE ON, and GIVE ME A BREAK !

    Hillary is the best, qualified person, to be command-in-chief !

    January 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. John, Oakland, CA

    Anyone who says Obama supporters are jumping on a bandwagon has head their head in the sand - or worse - for the last year. HRC has been the media favorite for the ENTIRE election year.

    Americans are getting to know Obama better, and they like what they see. The truth is that the Clintons are not capable of seeing that, and certainly not capable of conceeding it, because they are in this to win, NOT for the best interests of the American people.

    It's time to move on folks. I know it's painful, but it's time.

    The "network" Obama will bring to the White House is US. You, me, and everyone else. It's OUR turn to govern this country. That's how it was always intended to be. Of the people, for the people, and by the people.

    Here we come. GET OUT OF THE WAY BILL.

    January 8, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. artseafartsea

    It seems everyone loves Obama. I haven't seen the scrutiny of him that is happening with Hillary. Hmm, wonder why that is? Could be that she is a woman? And most of the media pundits are men? Interesting.

    January 8, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. Tere

    I agree with Mr. Clinton, the press has been extremely kind to Mr. Obama. I would like to see harder questioning of his accomplishments and plans. I know that Mr. Obama is promoting "change" but I'm not convinced he can deliver, I get un uneasy feeling thinking of his inexperience and facing the world as it is with him in the Whitehouse.

    I am a Nevada non-partisan citizen and would love to see harder questioning of Mr. Obama by the press, including CNN.

    January 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Max, NYC NY

    I'm not an Obama fan, but would those of you who feel compelled to use his middle name at every opportunity ("Barack Hussein", "Hussein Obama", "Obama Hussein" etc. ad nauseum) mind telling us all what exactly you think you're adding to the conversation by doing so?

    Other than demonstrating your xenophobic ignorance, that is.

    January 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  19. Sandra

    New term: Clintonboating

    Obama will now be subjected to the vicious, vindictive and downright malicious Clintons. As an African-American woman, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. I will vote for any Republican running before I would cast a vote for Clinton. I have never voted for a Republican in my life. I am 60 years old and have voted in every election.

    January 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  20. Ramona Ford

    You go Bill;

    I think both you and Hillary should relax and continue to point out her record; spend more on commercials to get the truth out on Obamas' record.

    You are both great and just what this country needs to pull out of the bottomless pit created by Geo. Bush Jr. and the republican party.

    I pray for Hillary to stay strong, but be her sweet and pleasant self.

    Clinton in 08!!!! YEAH!!!

    January 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. Everett Bell

    It's obvious now the Clinton's are desperate and using under handing comments towards Obama the best Canidate Bill need's to examine his own moral record and his mis-handling of Osama when he was in the White House, he could have prevented 911 if he wasn't soft on terrorism after today Hillary should pack it in, that fake crying proves she's to weak to be the cheif and commander of this nation.

    January 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  22. Me

    Why in the world would I want to put the Clintons back in Wash., DC? Bill Clinton is a cheater. To me a cheater is a thief of the truth. Who can trust a cheater? Hillary has a game plan and it is called: "Getting Even"! I am not interested in the family shenegans of a woman who declares that the man she is "standing by" NEVER once cheated on her!

    Nope, not once! But MANY times! This couple needs to find a quiet way to just go away! I am NOT interested in being a victim of the "Clintons" ever again!

    Maybe, that is why so many people are willing to back Huckabee and Obama? They are tired of the same sleazy game players with agendas of "getting mine"!

    This country is in horrendous scarey times. We are facing a lot more people virtually living on the streets because of the disasters that Bush put in place.

    God Help Us, if the Clintons rise again! Time for fresh faces with good hearts. What happened in ARK with White Water and the aide that committed suicide because of the Clintons???

    Nope! I don't want to see them again!!!!!

    January 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. bob

    I'm just not sure how someone being different and saying they will change things means they are qualified for President. Obama basically says he is going to change things because he is not Hillary. Yet he doesn't really say much else and some how people have fallen for this emotional appeal. I'm not saying he isn't an intelligent person who couldn't some day be a great leader, but at this point in time I just don't see how he is ready. At least he could explain how he will be a strong leader, without simply saying over and over again he will change things. That just doesn't tell me much.

    People are upset because Bill says the media should be more critical of him. I say better now than in the Fall with the Republicans doing it. Let's face it, he will be attacked severely by the Republicans.

    January 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    if the Hillary-haters get their wish, all I have to say is "be careful what you wish for" you all are trying to put down (2) very intelligent, giving individuals. President Clinton's work after his days in office is nothing but remarkable, he has done so much good for so many people around the world. you all choose to forget that and that is the sad part, Sen. Obama is constantly attacking Sen. Clinton on how truthful she is and how transparent she ought to be and what a liability she is? that is your idea of a positive campaign? when the dust settles and we all choose a president we may remember again that the Clinton's are contributing to the betterment of this society I just hope is not too late when people realize this.

    January 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. Jesus Jones

    Bill Clinton needs to get a life. Period.

    January 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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