January 8th, 2008
04:10 PM ET
12 years ago

Bill Clinton targets media coverage of Obama

Watch Obama react to Bhutto's death
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. Anna

    Will the people who keep saying his grandmother lives in a shack, please shut up!! She lives in a modest home on her own land. She lives a simple life and seems very humble. It is killing all you loving elite corporate/republicans isn't it? You just don't get it do you? Obama comes from humble beginnings and that is why so many people are drawn to him. He is the common man. We need a guy who would care about the working class man and not the elite families of America.

    As for Bill, well he hurt Hillary more than helped her with that fiasco.
    I don't belive the teary eyes Hillary is showing but if it is sincere, than just wait until Obama wins in her home state Illinois. I can't wait to see the mental melt down on T.V.
    The days of the elite good corporate old white boys are coming to an end.
    Obama is going to be president.

    January 8, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Ryan, New York, NY

    get truth guy January 8, 2008 2:57 pm ET

    If Hossin Obama is elected, I will move to other nation. This is the worst we could see if the greatest country on earth is in the hands of Hossin Obama…

    Don't let the door hit you on the but on the way out, bigot.

    BTW, which country do you plan to move to where your poor grammar is going to be accepted along with your intolerance? Just remember, it's got to be a country tolerant of Americans, but intolerant of Muslims and with our world standing, those are few and far between.

    January 8, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. teri

    Stop whining, Bill. Hillary is losing because she is the biggest phony, not the media. The media had been very pro-Hillary and now you got the nerves to diss them. CNN has been so good to your wife from day one. Give me a break!!! The Clintons make me barf.

    Bye-bye Clintons. Take your wife with you and do America a big favor.

    OBAMA 08!!

    Biden VP
    Edwards AG

    January 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Randall, Knoxville, TN

    Gee, I t hought the Clintons liked minorities. Maybe just when they're in their place.

    January 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. Ken Harris

    Hey Darren, MN... As for being aware of Obama's true beliefs, as much as it is practically possible to ever really be aware of what someone truly believes, I have read his book, The Audacity of Hope, and therefore feel that I know as much as there is to know about how he looks at the myriad of issues facing this country and the world, as well as his outlook on life in general. I challenge anyone to point to a single elected official and tell me they knew everything there was to know about him or her before the votes were cast. We can only digest information that is known so that there's always a certain seat-of-the-pants factor.

    Aside from the book, the app on the DM Register site that was made available during the Iowa Caucus is an excellent way to compare the candidates on a variety of issues:
    Insights Into the Candidates

    In addition, the Brian Williams MSNBC Interview from yesterday is another very good source.

    If one can take a good look at the two aforementioned sources, then simply read the book, even just first 42 pages (chap 1), and then not vote for this man, something is seriously wrong in the universe!

    January 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. Scott, Madison, WI


    The media was helping the country coronate the Clintons until just prior to Hillary's disappointing 3rd place in Iowa but then it was O.K. to drink the koolaid. Right? They just didn't see the Edwards and Obama coming to double-team them. Edwards couldn't have said it better in the debates about speaking out to power, and (big surprise!), here it is playing out just as he stated. Case closed!

    January 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Gary


    January 8, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  8. Gbryant

    To: Wood Kanampiu

    There are lots of different kinds of MOVEMENTS.

    January 8, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. Nancy

    All you Obama supporters are doing is turning people off from him. Did you ever think that if he is elected President he will need Hillary's votes. Only one thing makes sense to me YOU ARE STILL SCARED TO DEATH OF HILLARY. You need to tell all the wonderful things Obama has done,: his experiences using drugs while in High School, his muslim upbringing, You should find all kinds of good things to talk about. But for some reason you prefer talking about Bill and Hillary. AMazing This goes for the media too.

    January 8, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. Lisa, Corpus Christi Tx

    I find it extremely disturbing that a former president would come out and essentially trash another candidate, especially when they share the same party.

    Yes, he has a right as Hillary's husband to campaign for her, but it would be logical for him to stay positive, and share her accomplishments with the voters instead of attacking a fellow democrat who might very well get the nomination. It would be impossible for him to back pedal now if Obama does receive the nomination. Everyone will see him as a hypocrit, especially the republicans.

    This Machiavellian philosophy is exactly why Americans are weary, and need a change. This may have worked in the past, but Americans are a great deal wiser now. The Clinton campaign sees this election only in terms of what will get Hillary elected, not what is in the best interests of Americans.

    Obama is not even my first choice, I am leaning towards Edwards. But, I still find it extremely sad.

    January 8, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. Neil

    Well I guess this time I hope that our electoral college does the right thing and vote for the right candidate....Hillary Clinton. This popular movement is based upon emotions because GW has done such a poor job during his tenure in the White House. If Obamas people succeed we WILL have another GW in the White HOuse...one without experience or back up from Congress. Do you know what lame duck means? Look it up under four years in the White House and you will see Obama's picture. Get a grip...Hillary is the only viable candidate.

    January 8, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. Sharon

    It's time for the Clinton's to take their fairy tale's and head back to Never-Never land! On their way tell them to say hi to Michael, Wendy, and Peter Pan of course! I can't speak for everyone but I am so sick of their tall tale's and so is the rest of America.

    I don't know who I will vote for President of the United States, I only know I will not be voting for Senator Clinton.

    Sit down Bill, Hillary has done a fine job messing up her lines and getting her statements wrong she doesn't need you adding more damage than she is.

    January 8, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. karen

    I have been a supporter of Bill Clinton for over a decade. However, it appears now that Hillary is behind Obama in the polls, they are pulling out all stops – expressing anger during the debate, in tears yesterday, gettin endorsement from blacks, and now Bill attacking Sen. Obama the day of the first primary. Shame on them. I had more respect than that for them.

    January 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. Colie Brice, Asbury Park, NJ

    Let it go Bill. Don't betray your dignity any further. All we are saying is give change a chance.. Obama/Kucinich 08

    January 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. Arlene

    Bill and Hillary spouting that she has "experience" is tantamount to saying that your physician's wife is capable of treating you because she's a nurse and has worked in his office for years. Sorry, but being a First Lady does not qualify you for the Presidency. If change is what the people really want, then we need to get away from the old boys/girls club and start fresh. I'm totally undecided, but in my opiniion, Hillary Clinton is not the answer to this Country's problems.

    January 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Mireille, Charlotte

    Please stop using the word 'Slam'

    It's so over the top harsh most times. It makes an article sound so much worse. It's lesser than the actual word needed.

    January 8, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. TEE


    January 8, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Nicole, Birmingham, AL

    What's wrong with beleiving in fairy tales; what is wrong with wanting a safe country to live in, wanting a war to end, wanting gas prices down, wanting to be able to send your kids to college or even provide your family with a nice affordable home to live in and food in the fridge? Hilary is getting desperate;the other night during the debate, she says "lets be realistic" or "lets get back to reality". I'm sorry but I live in reality everyday and it ain't pretty. I guess it's easy for someone who has millions in her bank account, but for this single parent, I struggle with reality everday. I have lost all respect for Bill Clinton; she's your wife, but even you know her being president is self serving, a ego trip. It is funny how you seem to be so loyal to your wife now, but you couldn't remain loyal to her during your marriage. What is even more ridiculous is why she stayed after causing her so much embarrasment! I know why she stayed and this is coming from a female perspective; she stayed because she knew she needed to get to the White House and she would need you to get there. Any other woman would've dropped your behind then and there!!! Bill you came from a very poor background you know how hard life can be for the middle class and poor. To say that Barack is only providing a fairy tale, I say it's about time someone provided this countr y with something other than despair ,heartache and empty bank accounts. It sounds to me now that you've earned a few million dollars you and Hilary are the one's that have lost touch with reality!

    January 8, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Mike Smyth, New Orleans, Louisiana

    As a Democrat who voted for Bill Clinton both times, I'd like to say 'Shut up Bill."
    Your time is up, and every time you open your mouth your wife's poll numbers drop. Don't these two get that?

    January 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. Jen

    He is right! In answer to some people, Bill Clinton never lied to America about politics, he lied to them about personal matters, that were none of their business anyways. He was a great president, and got our country out of debt, when everyone said back then that it couldn't be done. And inregards to Obama, there is no difference between him and Clinton in voting, and nearly no difference on the issues, so if you hate Hillary so much, don't vote for Obama! It does scare me how little experience he has, because he can lie and noone will know the difference. Bill Clinton just pointed one thing the republicans will certainly use against Obama in the months leading to November. I don't think he will win in 2008, and if he ran as an independent, he would be handing over the election to the republicans. Which, I think he has already done. And who ever wins you have to realize it would more likely be a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket. If they are serious about any chance of beating the republicans anyways.

    January 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Marianne Beasley

    I am a Yellow Dog Democrat from Arkansas. I have voted Democrat for decades. But if Obama takes the nomination, I will switch in independent and do everything I can to see him defeated. Sorry, Obama, but you ain't presidential material. And if you cause us to lose the chance to have Bill Hill, then I'm going forever from the Democratic Party. That's what the Dems want? Obama? Then I am no longer a Dem.

    January 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. john

    I definately doubt Senator Obama's saying that he is quite ready on day 1 to clear up the mess infact i am not sure if he would be really be able to bring in some change atleast in his 1 year of presidency .Its kind of really sad that we say that we are the Superpower but still hesitate to elect a women as the Commander in Chief where as someof the 3rd world countries have already had Women Commander in chief probably 20 years ago!! As far as War In Iraq goes come guys grow up one question to all those senators who say they did not vote for it Well what have you done to prevent the or help in minimising the damage during past 4 years (just political speeches!!!)
    Its a big mess we have a whole of veterans who have problems with Health insurance..the increasing budget deficit just to name some i truly do not think Obama would be an opt candidate ready on day 1 (reason no plans revealed to date what is the action plan ) Atleast with Clintons i am sure former president Clinton does have a good track record of balancing the political act either in middleast or balancing the balance sheet with surplus...At end it matters is peace and respect for us in the world .....
    just a thought!!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. Jerry, Tampa, Florida

    Ahhh – The Irony – Bill is slamming Obama for the very same voting record as his wife. The morons in the clinton camp will say whatever they have to in order to get elected. I’d be crying to if I were them! We'll all be glad when they're sent packing!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. Glenn,B'ham,Al

    "I did not have sex with that women" I'm so tired of looking & listening to Bill Clinton & George Bush that I could break down & cry!!

    January 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. Dorothy, White Salmon, Wa

    Bill Clinton has every right to call Obama on something that he has done that presents the wrong picture of his past position and voting record. And, CNN shouldn't think that unusual just because he happens to also be the former President. I don't like the negative comments put out by CNN. I think your Wolf Blitzer's' comments are unbecoming a television news network that is supposedly unbiased.

    January 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58