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. Matt, Houston, TX

    This is GREAT! The Clinton supporters are telling us that the Republicans are voting for Obama in the primaries because they know they can beat him and the Obama supporters are telling us the Republicans are voting for Hillary because they know they can beat her. One of you has to be wrong . . . oh, wait a minute, you both are! Do you seriously believe that there is a vast conspiracy by the Republicans to vote for a particular Democratic candidate in the primaries so they get someone they think they can beat? Get serious.

    It would also be nice if everyone would stop lumping me in with their opinions. If you are sick of someone, please refrain from saying we are all sick of them; if you think your candidate is the best, that does not mean everyone who doesn't support your candidate is stupid, evil, brain dead, asleep, etc.

    Oh, by the way, every single candidate has all of their positions and how they will handle the Presidency spelled out on their web site. If you don't know where a candidate stands on the issues, it's not because of their ommission, it's because you are too lazy to research them so stop blaming them when it's really your own fault.

    One last thing, blaming everyone else for your failures is not very Presidential. Every time Hillary tries to blame someone else for her problems, she is showing how she would handle the Presidency and it ain't pretty. What ever happened to 'The Buck Stops Here'?

    January 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Ken Harris

    Hey Melisa: I think it's possible your fears are valid, but backwards. I think the GOP were hoping that hillary would get the democratic nod so they could cream her in the general election. If Obama gets it, unless there is some serious dirt that surfaces on this seemingly fine man, I honestly do not see a republican candidate that can beat him. BTW, I have been a republican (actually more like a RINO at times) my whole adult life and Barack Obama is the first person who has really inspired me. Read the book folks ($8.97 + S/H):

    The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

    This guy is as good as it can possibly get for the leader of the free world in my opinion. He is really something! I think if we pay a little less attention to technical positioning on the political spectrum and talk about what all of us, D & R, have in common and which issues affect us all, we might just be able to solve some problems and perhaps finally do something more than give simple lip service to bipartisanship. He'll make it a reality and perhaps get a jump on fixing some of what is so very wrong in our government. GO O!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Paul Braxton

    I find it humorous to hear Bill Clinton crying low blow for Hilary, can he recall all the low blows he throw or the press chose not to respond to when he made comments that were not 100% accurate or polite on his road to the Whitehouse. Please Mrs. & MR. Clinton you are in a political dog fight for the highest office in the land. What made you think the Democratic Party was just going to carry you back to the Whitehouse on their shoulders? I wonder what other world leaders would think of an American President who cried his or her way into the Whitehouse. If a candidate has not made any lying or deceitful statements or claims in reality, not that which his opposition feels is wrong. Why cry? Hey big guy, suck it up and keep going or get out of the race. In closing, may I ask how truthful is it to say, I have not had sex with that woman, simply because the act did not take place in a bedroom. You were our president, what message does that send to our children about the value of telling the truth? Go Barack Obama!!!

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

    Wow! Deja vu all over again! For a split second I wondered who was running, Bill or Hillary. The former President has no business going on the attack like that. His role should be that of all the spouses, smile sweetly and support the candidate. When will the Clinton campaign get it?? No one wants to vote for "Billary" Clinton.

    January 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |


    January 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. Robert Bell

    Some more fairy tales from Bill Clinton:

    "I did not inhale"

    "That depends on your definition of 'is""

    and the all time classic::

    "I did NOT have sex with that Woman!"

    I guess Bull, er, ah, BILL knows a fairy tale when he sees it.

    By the way, on behalf of all GBLT QRSTUV bi-genderd and queer people as well as the "little people" I protest the use of politically incorrect language such as "Fairy Tale" as an insult to people of lesbian bi-gender and/or the magically enganced.

    We demand a heartfelt apology from Bill Clinton.

    January 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Jan, Toledo, OH

    The media has annointed Obama the next Democratic nominee. I just listened to Wolf Blitzer's show that said that all these comments by the Obama campaign have been covered. When? I listen to all three news networks and have not heard any of these accusations that Obama made. There has not been the scrutiny of his background that other candidates have gotten.
    If you owned a company, which would you hire for a CEO. The person who said that he would make a lot of changes, the CEO with experience, or the person with experience that had the knowledge to make changes? Why do we want anything less for our country.

    January 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. Franklin Cain

    The idea of having this disgraced, disbarred, impeached former President whining about unfair treatment of his "so-called" wife by the media that worships the Clinton's is ridiculous. CNN did not gets it's nickname of the Clinton News Network by mistake. They and all the other old media types have always fallen all over themselves to grovel at the feet of the Clintons.
    Now that an intelligent, young African American has a shot at their percieved prize, they are once again taking the low road and using the politics of personal destruction, deceit and any other immoral or unethical means to achive their end.
    The idea of having these two "trailer park" politicians back in the White House should make any thinking person violently ill.

    January 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Kathy, Roseville, California

    I am glad that the former President said exactly what he said.
    Obama lies.

    Hillary 08!!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. tim

    I think it is doing more harm then good to have Bill Clinton speak for Hillary...

    I am still remembering the great liar in his time and how easy it was for him to distort the truth. At least with a new president I would like to support one who is not a liar or has that history.

    Secondly Hillary is just out of touch with what we are wanting to hear from a canidate.

    I am seeing a doomed effort for Hillary as president...

    January 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Anonymous Vermont Girl

    As usual, the Clintons are dividing the party and the country once again. It's pathetic to see and hear Bill, the king of situational ethics, calling the kettle black. Let's see? When do they go back to wearing their former president and first lady hats? Do they think we will forget this low-end behavior. How sad that they can't let others grow and lead. They are confused and have lowered the bar on the presidency and first lady roles for this great nation.

    January 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Michael

    I Do beleive that American should focus more on our own issues: economy, deficit, social program, plus illegal immigrants. NO countries like US has such a broken border and so many illegal immigrants happily work and live here. No matter a woman, an African-American president, or a republican, kick them out of our country. America is for americans.

    Sudan and Tibet, it's none of our business, for God's sake.

    January 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  13. Peter


    January 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Ito, Yokosuka Japan

    If Obama can survive the Clinton hate machine, he can surely survive the Republican attack machine...

    Bring the heat, Clinton's...keep sounding shrill, bitter, cold, and sore...

    Go Obama...keep faith, honor, and dignity in the process...

    January 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. Dorothy, White Salmon, Wa

    I would like to just ask the Obama supporters one question: What legislation has he introduced or been a co-sponsor of since he came to the senate? What percentage of bills has he voted on since he began running for the job of President?
    He hasn't introduced one bill. Check it out.

    Hilliary has not only gotten medical care etc for injured guardsman returning from Iraq or Afghanistan (which they wouldn't have had) but she also got health care for thousands and thousands of children.

    She is right. She is the doer. He isn't.

    January 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. david

    everyone needs to settle down and look at all the facts regarding each candidate. which candidate will hopefully make your life better concerning healthcare, social security, high energy costs, the war, employment, etc. as for those bashers of the candidates does this make you better than those you bash? i would also recommend looking up the constitution , sherman anti trust act and other laws that were set up to protect the people. see what you have now . and for some of you who comment on this forum , are these your own views? or are you influenced by outside forces that distort the real truth. last but not least this country is at a crossroads but if the american people make the right choice this time and there are no hitches such as what happenned in florida last time may be, just maybe this country can return to what it was and that is the greastest country in the world. good luck to each candidate on either side. just don't give us another 4 or 8 years of the same mess.

    January 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Matt Wong Washington

    I love it how Bill and Hillary are calling Obama's Vision for change a "Fairy Tale" and "Poetic Politics." Anyone involved with supporting Barack Obama knows that this is something extraordinary and no one involved is actually listening to their complimentary attacks. Just maybe when two terms are up President Obama will be defined as the Fairy Tale president who brought to life what no other president in history could and turned Washington government into an act of poetic justice. Each canidate running, even on the republican side is citing "change" as if they have any idea what they are not capable of doing as human beings or leaders. If Bill only knew, and I think he does that Obama represents a new wave of politics and a new wave for Washington government that only he can truly inspire and bring to life. Hillary is a wonderful addition for the United States but don't try and knock down history by writing it off as something you wish you were being accredited for.

    January 8, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. Jack Jett

    Clinton is right. I have never witnessed such a Obama bandwagon. He is a great guy and will probably make a great President. However, the press holds Mrs Clinton to a higher standard and that is NOT fair.

    The media is partly to blame for getting us into this war.

    January 8, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Chris, Denver CO

    I've been a Hillary supporter, but I'm losing a lot of regard for both Clintons as their desparation brings out their nastier side. Blaming the media? Sounds more like Bill O'Reilly than Bill Clinton. I'd be perfectly happy with Obama, and I hope the Clinton's don't do irreversible harm to his campaign. They could have a little more grace and remember that Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment worked better than in-fighting ever has.

    January 8, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. Darrell

    Bill's Complaint about the press is not fair. When Hillary was ahead. No problem with press!

    America has move on from divider type politicians.

    Time for a new Movement for america.

    Experience - ....Bill, Hillary, please give credit to who deserves it. Not you! your administration's hard work. You had very little Washington experience in 1992.

    The Same will happen for Obama and his admin.

    Ride the wave of change by being a democratic uniter, not a divider

    January 8, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. Mark, Toronto Ontario

    Its so sad to see these "Obama is a Muslim" lies appearing time and time again. The people who spread these lies must lead sad, pathetic little lives that they have to spread this misinformation in the hopes that they will be believed.

    Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, you still spread these lies. What is it that you are really afraid of? Are you that ignorant? You can't stand to have someone "different" in the White House? Let me guess, you say you are Christian, but you don't mind spreading words of hate...doesn't sound very Christian to me.

    January 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. no binladen believer for president

    Obama ws raised and educated by radical muslims. Is this what we want for a President???

    Someone have him address this subject

    January 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Jill in Little Rock

    I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around this. How would a "President Clinton" be a change in Washington? Someone help me please!!

    January 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  24. CALVIN


    GO OBAMA 08

    January 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Tom

    The Media and the print and TV Press is giving Senator Obama A free ride in this Election!

    January 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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