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. holly

    oh please please go away Bill and Hill. We've had enough.

    January 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Texas

    Bill, You were an empeached President that would't step down. Did you forget all the ugly stuff you took into OUR White House. You coming out for Hilliary today just reminds me that you will be back in there if she wins...You must think that she isn't qualified to be President either, or you would let her speak for herself .

    Let the empeached man go his way and takes his wife with him..we need to build a new America that can be respected by the rest of the world and this will take new people.

    January 8, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  3. Anthony

    So this is what it looks like when an old political machine dies out, huh? Ugly.

    I don't care if Obama or Edwards wins. Anybody but Hillary. The fact is, Bill Clinton was a master politician. Hillary Clinton is no Bill Clinton. Heck, Bill Clinton is no Bill Clinton these days! Your 2nd string QB doesn't get an automatic bid to the Pro Bowl, just because the 1st string QB retired.

    Goodbye Hillary. Hello Hope!

    January 8, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  4. Ed, NH

    I will vote for Hillary today. I am old enough not to be confused by all this media franzy about Obama. He may be the next best thing in politics, but he is NOT ready to lead!

    January 8, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. Spencer

    What I find fascinating is how desperate and vicious Bill Clinton is as a result of the slightest possibility that he and his wife may not be in the political spotlight anymore. Is is scary to watch.

    January 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. nazirmo

    American voters have been blindsided. All they care is hope and inspiration.
    Running the affairs of a major super power needs someone who can deliver on
    issues, not hope and inspiration.
    Hillary Clinton has been talking about issues. There is talk of recession.
    Hillary is the best bet to do something constructive. Americans wake up and
    see the best potential . I still believe that Hillary Clinton can do something about
    the economy the way Bill Clinton did. Give her your support.

    January 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. sandra, corona, ca

    Last time I checked Bill C. was/is a disbarred atty.......b/c he's a liar and a disgrace to the office he held. Now he's using lofty rhetoric to smear Obama, who, to my knowledge, has never been disbarred for lying. Bill, how can anyone take you seriously? You held the highest office in the land and arguably the most powerful leadership position in the world and you didn't think enough of it to show any self-control or respect for your wife or your country. Move along. No one cares what you think.

    Put the fork where it belongs b/c you two are done.

    January 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. Frank Rivas, Rockville, MD

    what a pathetic figure this man has become. this man is making a disgrace of himself. all the good feelings that one could have for him are going down the drain because of his delirious, crazy arrogance, thinking that the Clintons and only the Clintons know what is better for the democratic party. he is being worse than the narrow-minded republicans. wake up, mr. Billy; sorry she can not turn into queen Hillary.

    January 8, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Bob Lipsett Sr. North Attleboro, MA. 02760

    Face it "AMERICA" $70 million dollars to try to nail Bill Clinton while you say that $6.2 Billion dollars to kill or mame our All Volunteer Army and Citizen Soldiers is worth it. West Clark said the UN invited the USA to interviene in Bosina . About Sandy Berger, he migh have taken a document or two that didn't relate to National; Security, only to the YTK if you can remember that occassion.

    America must remember that not by dirty tricks, as did this current leader against John McCain, did America know who they were voting for. It amazes me that these Mitch McConnoll, Dan Burton, Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde relentastly dogg his presidencey, much to the point that it took a government shutdown to avoid any more of the GOP agenda being shoved down our throat.

    A former friend at the start of this invasion in Iraq said to me "Thank God that Al Gore wasn't president. He said it took guts to bring the battlke into Iraq. How did it take guts to throw our "All Volunteer Military and send Reserves and National guardsmen for 3 & 4 deployments and it took guts for that more to kill 3,909 of our miitary and why did Rep R-OH John Boehner say at the time, 3,700 of our military sacrificed their lives was a "SMALL PRICE" to pay for our position in the Middle East. Even now as we defend Israel Olmert has been quoted as saying a two nation state in the Middle East would be the end of the Israel domonition.

    Hillery is not the best choice, sorry about that Bill, I respect you for having the courage to walk down the streets with Chelsa in hand talking and mingling with the Vietnam population and the "Heros" welcome you get all over this world.
    Sex is prevalant all around this globe and to think that the USA was tarnished by SEX well how about the lies that took over 220,000 Iraqi lives and how about the lie that Cheney at the end of Desert Storm while still sec. of def. told the Shi'ite minority that if they were to overthrow Saddam they could expect help from the USA. Saddam got wind of this coup and immeditaly dispached troops to slaughter 10s of thousands of Shi'ites that later in '04 we saw the horrible sites of people being dug out of the earth, men women and children slaughtered just for a broken Cheney promise.

    Then the stories of Judy Miller dictated by Ahmad Chalibi the pet of the Pentagon that there were stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq. Being greeted as liberators? didn't these wize kids read about "Cinco de Mayo in 1862" against a well armed Nepolean army??

    Clinton did not give nuclear secrets to China. GWB did that when he gave a non signature of the nuclear non policication treaty with out reservation to INDIA.
    Say what you will about Clinton, in this world they would choose Al Gore and Clinton to lead this country so it would be the greatest with someone who has fought the big government and won many times the ticket that I as a Independent would support is Edwars/ Dodd in 08. Dreamer, I guess but they could egnite the American spirit that is so lacking in our America, as Chris Dodd said "Where is the spirit that all americans sharded shoulder to shoulder during WWII fighting three well armed nation and came out victorious.

    Now these fools are giviing away our country by the basketful. Watch the prices of the grocery stores as the Oil Companies consort with Archer Daniel Middland and Cargil with the planting of corn being the largest since the end of 1944. Hold on to your wallets, lets have some real discussion about the fixes of our problems and not only say "CHANGE"

    January 8, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. ***Yawn***

    Billary needs to pack it up and go on home to Arkansas; wait for Chels to get married and give them some grandbabies and then concentrate on being the best Granny and Boompah that they can be.

    January 8, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. Eric Finkbiner

    We need a change but not another Clinton. Do you really think she stayed will Bill for any other reason than her own political agenda. I think Bill need to remember what a scum bag he is. We need a drastic change in the country and his name is OBAMA.

    Hillary is getting more scutinized because of who she is and who her husband is.

    They are both Washington insiders to the nth degree and only want the prestige and power that comes with politcal office.

    January 8, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. MEB

    All the Hillary supporters wants to give Hillary credit for when Bill was the President as if she helped run the Oval office. What in the world makes you think that since her husband was the President during a time when the economy was good, that she somehow will be able to get us back there. Thats like saying that since I'm a good engineer that somehow my wife (who has never been an engineer) will make a good engineer just by being my wife. Utter nonsense. Hillary has just as much experience as President as the other candidates......NONE.

    It is all about hope. Thats how people vote. The vote for the candidate that they HOPE (because no one knows for sure) will bring them and the country what they want.

    Keep in mind people that Clinton rode the .com boom of the 90s. That is what carried the ecomony. The internet (not the one that Al Gore invented, but the real one) is what stimulated the economic growth. The economy started a downward trend in 1998 (still under Bill). Although he gets credit for the good times of the 90's he had little to do with the investment boom that was going on then. So since we are in different times, she does not have that luxury and raising taxes (which is her plan) has never stimulated growth.

    January 8, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. bearable

    Hey, give Bill a break! He did alot of good things for all of us.

    January 8, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. Carrie

    Bill Clinton sounds like a bitter old man. Crawl under a rock and retire! I can't wait until the day comes that there isn't a Bush or Clinton in the White House.

    January 8, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. rich

    May I offer some entertainment after Hillary concedes the race.

    From all Fire Stations around the country, I propose the Wizrd of Oz song--–

    Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, ..........................

    We should all have a sing along.

    And then immediately into " Happy Days Are Here Again."

    Are we in agreement?

    January 8, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. Erik in NC

    If anyone is confused on where Obama stands on issues and what his plans are for CHANGE, you can visit his website. It's not like he hasn't spelled it out right there for everyone to see. Yes, he emphasizes change in his speeches because he wants to inspire people. With a slowing economy and mindless war, America could use some inspiration. But don't go saying he doesn't have substance and a plan for change...he has a BLUEPRINT FOR CHANGE on the issues tab of his website for cryin' out loud! READ before you JUDGE!

    January 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Peter

    Hello America.
    Bill is right as allways.But you don't get it.
    Obama is cold,arrogant and powerhungry. That,s why he will win!
    On the losing side will be,Democracy,America and the World.

    January 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Donna, Saratoga Springs, NY

    Atta boy Bill.
    Say it and say it loud.

    January 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Judy

    What's the matter with Americans??? Can't they SEE the trouble we are in both foreign and domestic affairs... We need somebody in the office of the President who knows what is going on... We need somebody that has seen the shinanigans of Iran Iraq Afghanistan etc... We need somebody who knows the score... We must have Hillary Clinton as president... She has seen first hand how the game is played... All other candidates have experience with affairs of their home state... Mr. Obama is a new player to this game. He lacks the experience needed to handle such a difficult job. Don't fool yourselves into thinking he can make change... Congress won't let him do much... Please, please please.... VOTE FOR HILLARY!!!!

    January 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  20. Deb O'Connell

    America needs a CHANGE alright ....Hillary Clinton in the white house.

    January 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  21. PG

    Well it's about time. Obama is not being questioned at all. Everyone wants change however we need to be realistic, what change has Obama accomplished? What has he done for the American people? What has he done in the Senate or for Illinois? I agree he is a motivational speaker and has some ok ideas........but then again so does Kucinich! Lol. How do we know he can actually bring about change when he has no track record? I look at it this way, when you’re up for a job you come prepared with a resume that shows your qualifications and what you have accomplished.
    The next president will inherit many things including a War and a Deficit.
    Can our country afford to hire someone without a proven resume? If you had a Business that was poorly managed and needed change, who would you hire? Does experiance count? Until Obama or Edwards can prove otherwise, Hillary is the only qualified candidate.

    January 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  22. Greg Kochenash

    Can someone explain why Obama will not hold his hand over his heart when reciting the pledge of alliegance?

    January 8, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. L. Anderson

    Tell Bill to quit blowing smoke. I can't believe his past history makes him a positive for his wife, they question Giuliani about his past indiscretions, which are nothing compared to Bills outright lies, and Hillary stands by her lying husband. She is ultimately doomed. What a manipulative try to gain support with a planned teary so called emotional play to show she's human, she's human I'll give her that, but compassionate-no way! It's all self-serving and she has that "never ending axe to grind".I turn the channel whenever I see them.

    January 8, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. nancy

    The very idea that President Clinton, a democrat would attack a democratic candidate is disgusting. Whether his wife is running or not, it's completely unconscionable. Yuck!

    January 8, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. Mag. art. John Chacko Pallikunnel M.A. Fine Painting Mural Design

    The American White house is a great house for a right President and not a place for Bill boy to play arround. The women need respect too. So I do hope the American people will choose a better candidate other than Mrs. Clinton because she has proved that she could not manage her betterhalf and how she will be able to manage others in American House of senat and Parlament? I do believe in the cause of Abraham Lincon and John F kennedy they all stood for better cause and done great deeds for Americans and it's in American history too. Even Bush families have kept moral values well. we all know Benazir Bhutto is a martyr of democracy and loved by millions of gods loving people. Indira Gandhi had also done great things for her people many people of the Earth feel not well with the Clintons because of not acting as the President at his office. I know the Americans have greater values and stand for values . I feel like many others in the world Bill has sacrified the American values for mere pleasure. The Americans need a better president .

    January 8, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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