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. Mo Unity

    You are implying that younger voters don't do their research and make informed decisions. That's not fair or logical just as if i said older voters were stuck in their way and as a result – out of touch. Go to http://www.barackobama.com and search for yourself if you are truly seeking the truth. Otherwise, let's not treat this as if it were a football game. You all know if Hillary won the nomination, the opposition would drudge up everything and the kitchen sink. There is a lot of material there regarding the Clintons. It would not be good. Think about it. Just think.

    January 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. mark


    says it all....Bill is turning himself into a joke. I used to like him a lot but I am growing weary of seeing him again campaigning for Hillary.

    It's time to move on. They know it. They don't like it. And they're lashing out.....and, frankly, lying – again – in the process.

    what power does to people......

    there's been no free ride (check out the link)

    January 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. Mary Polleski

    Hilary Clinton is definetly starting to feel the pressure. As a result, Mr. Clinton has to do what he can to stand behind his wife. She became very emotional in one of her most recent speeches. To me, that wasn't a good look. That is not someone I'd like to be in charge of pushing a red button. Bill Clinton was an exceptional orator but Hilary Clinton is lacking in that area with almost a monotone, rehearsed, and disturbing voice. You can't be a president if you can't even communicate in front of large crowds. Look at George W. No one, not even republicans, take him seriously anymore. If she could deliver her speeches a little better, perhaps people would actually take time to listen. Look at Obama. He's saying little to nothing but almost everyone is drawn to his speeches and appeal. He is new to all of this but still has the presence; similarly to Reagan – little experience but presence. And Reagan was an actor. I'm torn between voting Republican and Democrat this year but I can't see Hilary stepping up to the job. Maybe I'll just flip a coin for McCain or Obama.

    January 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Rob W

    It's a sad day seeing the republican-machine steal the elections at the primary stage, but thats exactly what is happening. This blog is full republican blogs or the Democratic Party is full idiots just like O'Reillys Culture Warriers.

    January 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Mark C, Asheville NC

    This is vintage Clinton and illustrates his least attractive qualities: his self-absorption, sense of entitlement, and tendencies to whine and wallow in self-pity. Fortunately in a few weeks both Clintons will be off the national radar screens for good.

    January 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. ROH

    She made sweeping dishonest and categorical statements as to Obama's record. Edwards and Obama set her straight. It wasn't Obama and Edwards who "ganged up" on her. It was only Edwards. Obama was only defending his record from Clinton's distortions of them. Watch the debate for yourself on youtube.

    On another note, playing the "experience" card again when she has voted for what history (and currently) will show as one of the most monumental mistakes in the history of the United States as well as the world MUST be considered.

    And concerning the issue of "specificity", Clinton always accuses Edwards and Obama of being unspecific on issues when they clearly have been VERY precise and detailed and nuanced in their explanations. Again, go watch the debate on youtube and decide for yourself. If "specificity" is such an important issue for her, then she should be more specific about her so-called "experience". Merely touting a word based on having been first lady in the white house and a dubious senate record that was complicit in inheriting a disasterous foreign policy is "experience"?!?!

    January 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. JC, Hot Springs, Arkansas

    YOU GO BILL!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Larry K.

    Arguments against Barack Obama:
    1. He is too inexperienced to be President.
    2. George W Bush was inexperienced.
    3. His speeches are nothing but fluff.
    4. He will be shredded by the GOP machine.
    Then again:
    1. Bill Clinton was inexperienced in 1992.
    2. Really? Is that REALLY why GW failed?
    3. He is uniting many people with different backgrounds. His core message is ALREADY WORKING.
    4. What makes you think the GOP can do it better than Hillary? What does that say about Hillary?

    January 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Liam

    Well, Bill Clinton is an expert on fairy tales. God how I fondly remember when he used to point that finger at us, and spin his fairy tales such as: "I did not Inhale" and that wonderful Clinton fairy tale: "I did not have sex with that Woman".

    Now Hillary is spinning her keep us save from terrorism fairy tale. Remember that Bin Laden attacked the USA several times while HillBillary was in the White House, and because of Hillary's 35years of getting things done, and being ready from day one, Bin Laden got away with every attack, and was able to hit us on 9/11. Now Hillary is ready from day one to stop him. How is that for a great Clinton Fairy Tale, folks!

    January 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. Bruce Taylor

    It seems the Democratic Party is embracing its future in the candidacy of Senator Obama rather than its past in the candidacy of Senator Clinton. This is wise because she would not win in November. Obama will attract swing Republicans and Independents,Clinton will not. Hopefully,the Democratic Party has come to realize that the nation is made up of more than two states,not just California and New York.
    Considering that the only major foreign policy decision ever made by Senator Clinton was to enable President Bush’s headlong rush to war in Iraq ,any talk of experience is rather subversive of the truth. Coupled with her husband’s debacle in Somalia, the pictures of them touting experience leaves the mind spinning to say the least. The segue from the first Clinton adiministration to the Bush White House was seamless indeed and the circle would be complete with the election of Senator Clinton. The methodology,the lack of probity,and the ability to manufacture truth are all there. It is the responsibility of the American people to at some point demand something other than their own indifference and to do something more than simply assuage their vote. Change begins from the people up. Hope would seem to be a good place to start.

    January 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. CM

    By HRC's logic, we should dispense with the nominations and voting. All that is required is a run-off between her and Laura B. After all, Laura can claim years of experience as well. Think of all the money, time, and effort that would be saved, to say nothing of the useless punditry that would be avoided.

    January 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Kevin, Louisville, Ky

    Why are the baby Boomers all screaming foul ..now that the next generation is finally taking over! Obama and Edwards represent the future..the Clintons are so done ...maybe if Chelsea spoke the youth of America will start listening!!

    Obama and Edwards are the present ..Go Guys ..Bill ..so sorry you n hillary are over the boomer hill


    January 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. Maria

    How about a Hill/Obama ticket?? We could have them both!

    January 8, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. carolh11

    One last post on this topic – The Clinton campaign organization is known to be one of the best in politics. What is striking is when Bill was running for the first time, his "out of nowhere" challenge of the traditional dem candidate race was just as jarring as what is happening with the Obama campaign now! If any campaign knows when a surge and a "movement' begins, its theirs! They know exactly what is happening, it's just they don't know how to react to be on the losing side!

    January 8, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. Mo Unity

    Does anyone think that there's something just a little wrong with a Former President coming out against a person of his own party like he did. Bad form Mr. President. Bad form. And i really respect what you did for everyone in the 90's, but you don't get a do over. Let it go.

    January 8, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. Jerry Dorey

    Alice: "We need a qualified leader. We don't need an intern" – Could someone let Bill know?

    January 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Einstein


    Bush Senior = 4 + 8 or 12 (He was VP and oh yes helped Saddam gain power as head of CIA.

    January 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Mark Gassama

    Whatever, Mr. President! What else could Bill Clinton have said? It is completely understandable the he would raise the issues now that Mrs. Clinton has demonstrated that she has no platform on which to stand. Yes, she is an intelligent woman, but the experience she professes to have possessed is no better than the experience a guard with longevity at the White House possesses. If the issues raised by Mr. Clinton were significant, Hillary would have raised them a long time ago. Desperation begets desperate acts! Obama is the future of our nation. We need a leader who has opposed the war in Iraq from the onset as did Barack well before the commencement of the aforementioned war (the "War"). The War is Hillary's as much as it is George Bush's. She supported it when it was popular and politically expedient. When it proved to be disastrous, she made and continues to make every effort to disassociate herself from it. We are not blind!

    January 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Jack

    You the news media ganges are as nasty as any fare minded can imagine. You don't care about our country as an ordinary person. All what you care is scoring points and how much money can you and your employers make. Quit playing politics with our country's future. Be fare!!. You all know how much this country is in a mess right now internally and abroad. You want an entry level person in politics to lead our nation at this time of crisis ? Can't you predict what could happend? Quit gambling with our future and be humen enough to help our country stand on its feet again.

    January 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. Larry Smith Tolland CT

    This really does not matter at all. No France loving liberal left wing loon would win the white house. Vote American, vote Republicain. Lets win Iraq a war every liberal loon sent our troop in. Remember, Bush didn't send us to war congress did! Clinton helps fund the war, and so did al-qaeda lover Obama.

    January 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Hans

    Another showing of why the Clintons are the most polarizing people in America

    Time to Unite

    January 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. denise

    bill you were the love of me life. the best pres. i voted for 2times.but now you are acting like a spoil child. we don't owe you and your wife nothing. so stop crying like a baby.it's suppose to be about hillary not you.

    January 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. observing from MI

    I always thought that Hillary was being treated with kitten gloves...
    all I ever saw was articles that if given tough questions, many will say you're being
    mean to a woman. In a few campaign speeches, she attacks others...but no
    candidates dare attack her because she is a Clinton and a woman making
    her practically untouchable. Hillary's strange background and funding has
    never been questioned.

    Now say it like Hillary, slow so a 6 year old can understand it...

    to a
    to be burst.

    January 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Larry Buchas, New Britain, CT


    You have lost your charm and now have resorted to attacking a Democrat more than any Republican I can remember. How come we didn't hear you come out for John Kerry while he was being swift boated? Maybe because you didn't have a stake in that election.

    These accusations sound absolutely absurd. Give us a break, you need a time out. I get the sense you would resort to anything to get back in the White House. This obsession of yours is sickening.

    You should open a wing in your library for Karl Rove.

    January 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. vince, Phoenix AZ

    (sniiiiiiif.... ahhhhh...) smell that???? that's the sound of desperation.

    January 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 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