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. nazirmo

    American love something that rhymes. 9/11 came Osama and no one yet knows where he is – Bush second term will end 2008 and Osama will be still in hiding somewhere. They haven't even got hold of the mumber 2
    And then start 2009 – Americans will have put Obama in the White House.
    So after Osama , Obama – can anyone name the next ?

    January 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. Karen, MN

    Bill Clinton is right.

    Sad thing is that most people don't really research on candidates. They believe whatever they hear from the media, and media worships Obama like GOD.

    Do the homework, research on Obama's record.

    Obama won't last through the first round in general election.

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

    Well, Mr. Clinton can call Mr. Obama's campaign a fairy tale and he can accuse him of underhanded politics,but, at the end of the day, It is doubtful that all the disparaging remarks will not translate into a win for his wife.It simply goes to show how desperate the Clinton's are and to what extent they will go to preserve the status quo.They are now majoring in mudslinging. The republicans could probably learn a few tricks from them.

    January 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. lw

    These days I am just learning and knowing better about the Clinton's. Wondering how can Hilary run the white house and be a President of this great country?

    January 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. Thinkaboutit

    It is silly to read comments about how Republicans are all for Obama and their easy victory over him when, actually, Obama has 'publicans running for shelters to escape the coming landslide. Good grief, see Obama for what he is -a bright light for a change.

    January 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. Donna Kassman

    Hillary Clinton is a very intelligent, selfless, hard working, patriotic American, always working for the good of all, was a wonderful First Lady, has been a very successful Senator for New York State, and who could certainly run our Country starting on day one. She will clean up our Country image here and abroad and will build the United States into the country it was before the bush-destructive-years.

    You hateful people, with your double standards, who live on the dirty edge of life, need to stop trying to shipwreck the United States of America, and you need therapy. Your stupid and you should be ashamed. Our Country deserves a President Hillary Clinton and I'm thankful she cares that much.

    You lame, rotten, stupid people, America doesn't need your low life attitude. Slamming Hillary and Bill Clinton doesn't make you special. You are an insult to the United States of America. Thank God there are people like the Clinton's who want the United States to be all it can be.

    (May I add "he who casts the first stone"–remember you could very well be the target of hatred–and how would you like it.) You don't even personally know them and yet you judge them. Give me a break.

    January 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. theangryblackman

    Listen to the Pot Calling the Kettle....
    Bill didn't complain in the early 90's when he was the darling of the media and the press gave him a pass. Never asking him the questions it should have. Now he has the nerve to complain! He sounds like a whining 3 year old.

    January 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Dwight

    Let's send them all to the showers and leave the post open for 4 years. We might find that we do not need any of them!

    January 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Roger

    No, artseafartsea, it isn't because she's a woman. It's because she's a con artist.

    January 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. charles

    It is doubtful that all the disparaging remarks "will" lead to a win for Hilary.

    January 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  11. LaYoya

    What Bill said is correct! The Republican will have a field day picking apart Obama, so I think if there are any skeletons in the closet, it is alot better for Obama to come clean now.

    Also, everyone wants CHANGES! Does anyone really know what are the changes that the candidates are proposing?

    The most important thing, is that the next president has to be strong enough to pull America out of the current situations:

    a. Iraqi war. How are we going to end this war without much more "children & women" getting killed?
    b. Recession (I know no one wants to talk about that). How is the president going to pull America out of the recession?
    c. Deficit (the amount of money we Americans owe the Chinese ... hey Americans ... we have to pay all these back!!!). Where are going to get the money to pay the Chinese? (we are the credit card Nation)
    d. Social Program (Healthcare for the children & elderly, education, etc).
    e. Foreign View of US (We are viewed very positively outside US...have to change the image). What are we going to do to help poor nations, e.g. Sudan, Tibet.

    So the next president has to strong and experience to deal with all these major issues; not just someone out there calling for change. Change is great but there has to be a great leader that drives these changes!!!

    January 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. Chumley Newhouse

    Who is the 'our' in that last statement? I have a difficult time believing that you are meaning everyone in the United States. For some I do believe that Obama is the correct choice. For others not. Let's every one vote our hearts and souls. The United States immediate future wanes in the balance. Let us vote with a clear un-biased concience for the person that will lead our homeland for better and for worse into the future world. And please, let us give those oil barons their sand and dirty land back and vote for a president that has a priority to mandate alternative fuel by a future date that they may not even need to shoulder so that this can happen.

    January 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. Arlene Hoffman

    Dear Bill,

    Thanks for speaking out. I'm behind you 100%.

    January 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. JRS

    Barama is a great speaker, poised and confident. His young age is attractive to many voters as well. Jimmy Carter also embodied change. He's a great man but he wasn't quite able to show a lot of follow-through as president. I will get behind Barama if he wins the Democratic primaries, but I want change with experience. Go Hillary.

    January 8, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. BrY

    Almost everyone that has commented on this thread is proving Clinton correct – The media tells you who is the good one and who is the not-so-good one... and you all parrot it. Start thinking for yourself.

    January 8, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. Amy

    Here is all your Obama research. Not hidden and open to all at: http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/ObamaBlueprintForChange.pdf

    January 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. Sandra

    Obama is too inexperienced and I think he is very arrogant. He thinks he is charismatic and I suppose a lot of people think so, too. I don't. He makes claims that he has not and most likely cannot back up. He recently compared himself to John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. - that made me laugh out loud! He has won Iowa and maybe he'll win New Hampshire, but I don't think that means anything. In prior elections it did, but times have changed. Obama is NOT a shoe-in - he might lose whether he runs as a democrat or an independent. Has anyone heard what "changes" he plans to make?" I haven't. The conventions are a long way off and a lot can happen.

    January 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. M. Smith

    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't almost everyone in the country backing Bush when the decision to go to war with Iraq was made? I'm having a hard time understanding Bill's point when I know that this was indeed the case. Everyone was looking at the same intelligence information and Democrats are just as much responsible for us being in this mess as Republicans are. So what the heck is Bill talking about? Congress, with the Democrats help, backed Bush when he led us to war.

    I'll say it just like Bill Clinton said, "Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there." Bill Clinton is a master at using creative spin, I fear that Hillary has learned too much from him. Lets move away from Bush,Clinton,Bush,Clinton and elect a real agent for change. Lets not elect someone with so much baggage. Lets elect someone who will be ready to lead us on day one without having to first deal with paybacks for special interests groups and lobyists.

    Forget all the new candy thats being dangled in front of us and lets fix programs we already rely on like medicare and social security. We have to get our financial house in order before we elect someone like Hillary. Simply put, we can't afford her at this time. Do we even care about our childrens economic future? How easy will it be for them to pay for things like food, clothing, shelter? Hillary will promise wonderful things, but there is always a price and its called higher taxes.

    January 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. Jerry Dorey

    It's not right to say Hillary has only 35 years of experience – actually, it's quite a few more than that.

    Year 1, I hear she was acting assistant milk monitor in kindergarten. There hasn't been a lot in years 2 thru eleventy-five, apart from Chairmanship of the Procrastination Committee; but I'm sure that by now, she's rested and ready.

    January 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. Mike, Fort Washington, MD

    Someone needs to ask Bill what's his definition of the word "fairy"!!! Don't believe a word that is coming out of his mouth. He and Billary have been lying to the American people for years and THAT WILL NEVER CHANGE!!!

    January 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Robert J.

    Mr. President just think about how you came into power in 1992, and 1996. You were supported by the black community which Senator Obama comes from. Now that he brings a vision of inclusion of all Americans of all backgrounds you wish to do all in your power to destroy it. You have just show us your true color. Just think about your wife. What is she doing? She is running on experience fairytale just as Senator Obama. All she have is ambition to be the first female president. All you politicians are nothing, but faker. 28 years of Bushes and Clintons running this country is enough. I love you and your wife before but, now I don't because of target media coverage of Obama. That is dirty politics, dirty game, and that is how a dictator acts. Give me a break, this whole thing is the biggest fairytale of you and your wife I have ever seen. Both of you want to be President?

    Husband and Wife want to be President? Is it Fairytale?

    January 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. Kay

    Bill needs to stay out of this. His wife ought to be able to run her own campaign garbage. Funny how none of these details came out BEFORE Iowa and BEFORE the surge in interest in NH. Shame on you both.

    January 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  23. RBaker

    To: Carroll Johnson: Bill Clinton isn't about 'change' – he and Hillary are in the same club as Bush – The Bush's and Clintons are friends:

    Look up the "Bilderbergs" or "Bohemiam Grove", or do some research on the "Council on Foreign Relations". – They're all in the same 'clubs'....

    January 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  24. C-dogg

    I for one remember on several occassions and networks hearing "Hillary is going to get the nomination there is no doubt about that" or something along those terms. I also don't remember her getting grilled when she was the front runner. Before Obama one the media was obsessed with Clinton.

    January 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. David

    Good lord people, the NH isn't even over and all this "nail in the coffin" is well wishing; until Super Tuesday, anything can happen. As for whatever Bill did in his day – I voted for him twice – he isn't totally off base with his comments. The media HAS been playing softball with Obama and he has NOT presented anything viable beyond saying "I'm not Clinton". Yes, I read his health plan – P.U. Can you really image this guy at a Middle East Peace Summit, I mean really? Character is a part of the presidential equation but a candidate must have experience. Heck, the Hand Puppet – who I did NOT vote for twice – even had some qualifications. Whatever else anyone thinks, there is one irrefutable fact – Clinton is more qualified. As a Repub who is supporting McCain this go round, I'll tell you this – if Clinton gets the nom at the convenstion, I'll be up all night come election night anxious for the outcome regardless of the Repub she's up against. If Obama gets it, I'll turn in early on election night with a smile on my face.

    January 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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