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. Carrie


    I have a mind of my own. My whole life, the Bushes and Clintons, have been in the White House. I am tired of it. We live in a country thats better then this. Since 2004, I have been an Obama supporter. The media or anyone else doesn't influence me on who to vote for or like.

    January 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Matt Davenport

    I don't know what you all see in Obama!
    He's a quick talker... That's it.

    You attack the clinton's, claiming they're splitting the party apart. Grow up!!!
    By attacking bill and hillary... you show the world you are no better-than they are.

    Edwards all the way!!!! If obama wins the nomination, then I'm voting for the republican.

    January 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. Mid America

    The Republicans will eat Obama for breakfast, and Edwards would be a pop-tart.

    January 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  4. Chris

    Hey Wood, what do you have to say about Edward's wife talking???? I don't see you remarking to that! He just stands there with his hands folded while his wife keeps on jabbering on! If you want fairness, then talk about the others also.

    January 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Bob

    Hey Bill..! I'll take an Obama fairytale over a retake of a Clinton nightmare anytime..! Why don't you both just go away..?

    January 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. Melissa

    Bill Clinton has the right to be angry with the media. It has all but elected Obama. Haven't we had enough of "resume light" in the WH?

    January 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. Frank Penna

    It seem a bit strange that Bill Clinton has such a remarkable memory about what a individual stated and doesn't know when he had sex.
    Statement that "I don't know how I would have vote in 2004" does not mean that he did vote. Senator Clinton did support the war. Now she claims to be against it.
    Her remarks are demoralizing to are men and women in the armed forces.

    Clintons are pros at smear campaignes and Bill Clinton, who in is glory days as
    president , was impeached, and disgraced the office of the president leads the pack.

    If Senator Clinton should be elected who will be President Hillary or Bill?
    Seems that Bills roll is one of special consulant to the President as per Senator

    Mrs Clinton should run on her credentials and stop with the mud slinging by her
    self and by those she chooses to surround herself with.

    January 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Alexandra

    Bill to the rescue. Again Hillary shows that she can't stand up with control of herself and "Personal Goal". I guess it si payback time for when Hillary "stood by her man". He will fight for the White House and control over her. How cowardly!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Jason

    Obana still a mystery, Clintons are HISTORY

    January 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Miss Smith

    I'm voting for Obama's wife in this election.

    OPRAH/OBAMA in '08

    January 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Paul TN

    January 8, 2008 12:52 pm ET

    The Clintons are starting to make the sick with all of this crying and moaning about not being treated fair. Hear comes the old Clinton dirty politics we are so used to seeing. Do you want Hillary as the Commander-in-Chef of the Military that will have her finger on the nuclear trigger for 4 years when she can’t even take a few negative comments with out crying?

    January 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. Mike in Kentucky

    Joanne McCann says:

    "Abe Lincoln was a 2 year Rep. of the house before becoming President and he united this country. JFK was a young wide eyed Senator with little experience if you all remember and asked us not what our country could do for us but what we can do for our country. It is that time again. Not to sit back and let business as usual prevail."

    It is interesting that you would reference these two Presidents.

    Abraham Lincoln presided over the most convulsive four year internal event in American history, in which the country tore itself apart and battles took place on our own soil, between Americans, in which tens of thousands died in a day or two. He lived to see the Union healed, but as you know, was murdered at the end.

    John Kennedy was elected in 1960 and was murdered in 1963. He was a young and inspiring speaker and he proposed that we go to the moon in the "next decade or before" but he barely lived live to see the process started much less finished and Americans actually set foot on the moon during the Nixon administration.. Lyndon Johnson picked up some of his adgenda and carried it out in his term as President Kennedy's successor Kennedy also ordered the ill fated Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. I know this will be unpopular, but the myth of Camelot is not the reality.

    January 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Sandra

    You go Bill for sticking up for your wife- but both you and Hillary are trying to build a dynasty just like the Bushes- I would expect this level of negative campaigning from the Republicans, but from you it is disturbing.

    And you wonder why Obama is leading! Obama '08

    January 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. Phil Kessack

    Hillary says she has "eight years of White House experience." So did Sox, but that didn't mean he was competent to be President.

    January 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. jean

    Fantastic! It was great to hear Bill Clinton stand up for Hillary. Every other candidate's spouse has the right to do this but none of them would get the mean and hateful response that Bill gets for doing so. There is no sense in trying to change the mind of those who hate the Clintons. But, for those with an open mind, who truly do want to elect the best candidate – and this includes those who cover this election. Be fair, be forgiving, be real. Nice job Bill.

    January 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. jerromme

    I think Clinton should retract his comments. Obama is a symbol of hope for many and an honest man. How about all the Arkansas dealing you had Mr. Clinton. And all the coverups in Arkansas while you were governor. All the coverups under the Rose Law firm which happens to be Hillary's. Clintons past was well covered and he went ahead to dupe America to put him in office for 2 terms. So please Clinton shut up and let an honest man speak.

    January 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Richard Alan

    Mr President (Clinton),
    You have one of the most supported and respected legacies among liberals. Are you really such a believer in nepotism that you would blindly risk the American Dynasty of the Clinton name in order to attack the new progressive leader of America? I am sorry to see it, sir. I have been fond of you since I was a child. I am sorry to see it.

    Richard Alan, 23, OR

    January 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. john

    Hope and change comes from within each individual.
    Don't rely on a politician for something that is so intangible as change because it can mean too many things.
    I an still waiting for Bush to give me my Lifetime Savings Account (LSA) where I don't have to pay any management fees and my interest isn't taxable. Guess in his pushing home ownership he forgot some need help saving a downpayment.

    January 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. House Mouse

    Obana, still a mystery...
    Clintons, our dirty History !

    Never knew Bill was so crazy about Hillary.
    He certainly didn't help her...just same old. Forget it and get on with it.

    January 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. Exasperated

    Yes, President Clinton has it right! The Press is the one that is promoting Senator Obama
    and the Press is responsible for helping destroy Senator Clinton's campaign. That poor woman cannot say or do anything only to have it portrayed unfairly and negatively by the American Press. What gives??
    I thought the Press was supposed to be unbiased, but CNN is getting as bad as FOX News!
    Senator Clinton is a brilliant woman with brilliant ideas. I had planned on backing Senator Edwards, but the way the Mrs. Clinton is being treated, makes me wonder if she isn't the best candidate???

    January 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Christian, Tampa FL

    The country is tired of not only the Bushes, but the Clintons as well. Both families, while politically different, represent an era of divisive politics that we in the electorate just can't take anymore.

    Obama made clear his disappointment with the "D-Punjab" memo, and we've never seen anything from his campaign like it since.

    January 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. Shackafella

    Bill, Bill, Bill...

    I understand. You gotta do something, after all Hillary stood by you through the toughest of times. You know it's difficult to have someone's back when the DNA is on the dress!

    I'm not mad at you. You are simply trying to swing the pendulum back in your direction. I just want you to know that, you are wasting your time. Go out with dignity.. oh yeah, you don't know anything about dignity otherwise you woulda simply said " I have had and inappropriate relationship with a White House intern and and I am guilty as charged. I am sorry."

    We the people respect honesty, and repentance. We know that man is not perfect. You are a smart guy, I'm not sure how you missed that class.

    Go down fighting! I love a good fight. The fact of the matter is... U & Hillary are going down! It's a wrap. Obama 08 is the best thing to happen to America in decades.

    January 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. Teddy McC

    Wouldn't it be neato if one of those reporter thingys could tell us if there's any TRUTH to BC's claims when he said of Obama '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,"...

    I want to know if those two claimed quotes are true and fair, but I can't find ANYWHERE where Hillaryclinton.com OR any of the "news" reporters who have even addressed it! The reporters are too busy doing "That guy insulted her," That women insulted that guy" stories to bother with facty stuff. Wouldn't be as cute or as appealing as the pap they're putting out of NH right now, though.

    And why does no one else here seem to care about whether it's true or not? Everyone is just bickering over why Bill did this, or how hopeful Barak is. Can we PLEASE know if one if these people actually is a liar?

    January 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. Andy, New York, New York

    Bill Clinton as President is one thing, but Bill Clinton as a stumper on the campaign trail for his wife is another thing. If Bill keeps this up long enough he is going to erode whatever likeability he has with Americans who definitely don't like his wife for President, and definitely question his sincerity as her stumper after all the years of cheating on her.
    If she is such a good person for the presidency, as he claims, why did he spend all those years earlier wandering after other women? The more I watch them together on the trail the more I am convinced their marriage is one of political convenience.
    To me, she supported himin his political endeavors because she knew the favor would be returned one day. It was a marriage based on a political arrangement. And that is why she broke down and said 'it is personal! Her entire life's work is wrapped around this moment, and the American people, not Obama, are sending her a cold message that matches her personality.

    January 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. The Chris

    i am not surprised by Bill's lashing out at Obama. That would come standard from any spouse of a presidential canidate.

    What i find funny, is that earlier in the race, she proclaimed to join the "change" bandwagon, but Bill is using the same negative attacks that have plagued our country for as far back as i can remember.

    i believe that it takes away from Hillary when she stands for change, but has her husband do the same old politics game.

    Obama is standing for change, that is why we indorse him. He doesn't stand for change and then do the same stuff.

    sorry Hillary, back to the senate with you...

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