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. Al

    Bill the world does not have respect for you they laugh at you, make jokes over you. You would had been better in Hollywood. But then again with all of your illeagal activity and sex scandals there you would not have stood out. Dont know yet if Obama is the best, but in every form better than you two. Why do we even give this has been any air time? Ron Paul has alot more to say for the better of the US.

    January 8, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  2. Janet S. Lahm

    I agree with the others abut Bills comments about Obama; I would LOVE to hear interviews on TV from the man / woman in the streets about Oama and people of color everywhere; working people and the poorer folks, people of color who have got to be so proud. This is one interesting election.

    January 8, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Erik

    Same song, "it's someone elses's fault!" "Wer'e being attacked!", "Coverups!", "republican attack machine!", "Obama attack machine!". It's the same story over and over with the Clintons. They are the dirtest players in the game, and I for one can't wait for them to fade away. Bill wasn't great, and Hillary can't even get close to his shadow. A last name does not a president make.

    January 8, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Call for a National Primary

    Republicans are running an unethical campaign

    Republicans are voting democrat in favor of Obama to tilt the scales because they know Hillary in unbeatable, as she is the strongest/best candidate in their opposition

    Obama is a chameleon and in the pocket of the vested interests that are bankrolling his campaign.

    We should just have one national primary! Iowa and New Hampshire do not represent mainstream America folks! It's all a media frenzy circus and with convoluted tactics!

    The latest New Hampshire Suffolk University Research poll this morning shows Hillary 34% to Obama 30%

    January 8, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. linda, OKC OK

    hahahahhahaha slick willy trying to come off as the good guy and then viciously attacking OBAMA again. just think "i did not have sexual relations with that woman," "i did not inhale" and "i was against iraq from the beginning." he himself has credibility issues.

    if u watch that video you can even tell the sad sappy audience was forced to light applause here and there. pathetic, cheezy and very desperate!

    OBAMA 2008!!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. Mr. Kiz

    MORE hot air from the Clinton's....Go away Bill, you KNOW that Hilary is finished. She should take a cue from YOU and pull out!

    January 8, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. Ryan

    Go away Slickmeister.

    January 8, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. OfficeFan9

    I would like to see a ticket of Clinton/Obama in '08. I like both of them, but Obama lacks experience and Bill is right, he is promoting fairy tales.

    January 8, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. april

    Why is Bill Clinton–who is not a candidate–standing up and trying to sling mud at someone like Obama. I understand that Hillary Clinton is running for the nomination, but like a lot of other voters, I realize she is not her husband and her personal experience in politics has only been since her husband left the presidency–unless it was actually her and not Bill who was running the governments in Arkansas and the the United States without the public being aware of the deception. When people actually listen to candidates and see which campaigns are mud-slinging and which are running on their platforms, I think voters are smart enough to see through the mud and look at issues. I mean hasn't the Clinton campaign been connected to several "accidental" mud-slinging incidents which the candidate later said were not her fault. Come on "Give me a break!" I mean, the party must present unity and not give Repubicans any ammunition for the election in November.

    January 8, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. TK

    I wish the Clintons would just go away. GO AWAY. Take a trip to the moon real soon. Billary is being Obamanized............boooooooooooooooya!

    January 8, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. Billy

    Hillary and Bill are Evil and I hope they never occupy (defile) the White House again. Anyone but Hillary in 2008 !

    The voice of the people.

    January 8, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. mike

    sounds like sour grapes to me. All Bill Clinton and his wife know how to do is negative campaigning. When will they grow up and stop whinning about being picked on.

    January 8, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. Obama

    Bill is attacking the media, his wife attacked the Iowans when they lost, what kind of politics is this?

    No politician is perfect and I believe majority of them are just there but Bill and his wife take it to another level of low that I hope never to see again. I really don't care if Obama, Edwards, Mac, etc get into the white house but I will campaign again the Clintons and Romney, they are just plain crooks and thank God, everybody seems to be seeing that.

    January 8, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. ebp

    The Clintons are the King and Queen of dirty politics, not the royalty they think they are. The Clintons would really be in trouble if Obama WAS running a negative campaign.

    January 8, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Jan, Evergreen, CO

    Bill tell Hillary to put her big girl panties on. What a joke, you are always coming to Hillary's defense when the going gets rough. Go Obama!!

    January 8, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Mike

    I personally agree with Bill on this one. The media coverage seems very slanted towards Obama. I have listened to several debates and still do not quite know where Obama stands on anything. I am not sold. Furthermore, New Hampshire is hardly the last stop in picking nominees.

    People need to think long and hard on this one and not just accept Barak because the media says so.

    January 8, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. Howard, NY

    The "Punjab" thing was 7 months ago, and Obama repudiated it. Contrast this with the smears that the Clinton campaign has been pushing in the last month and you'll see who's doing a better job of running a positive campaign.

    January 8, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. Emit

    Roger, I figure that HC is paying BC out of the campaign money. Nice way to make a few million bucks.

    Where is the candidate that will sit down and calmly discuss what the issues are that they see, and what they will propose to do about the issues. You want change. Talk what you will change.

    I will have to hand the Leadership nod to Barrak at this point. He came out talking Change, and now they are all doing it. There is a true leader.......

    January 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. cah - ia

    I've been following these candidates for months (I'm from IA) and have been wondering why Obamba has been "handled with kid gloves." I'm not a fan of the Clintons but I say "Go Bill" – someone better start asking this man some serious questions and expect detailed, "can do answers." Yes, Obamba is a fantastic speaker but borrowing from a past election "Where's the beef?" And did I miss some info along the way but where is his Kansas mother and grandparents who actually raised him? Interesting...

    January 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. PCM 01

    Mr. Clinton, your past beheaviour is not just a liability for this country but also a liability to Mrs. Clinton desires to become the presidential candidate for the Democaratic Party.
    Mr.Clinton do not sweep away the last grains of repect that this country has for you.

    Move on Mr.Clinton. Our country wants to do the same. Support the new generation of political leaders appearing at this election. We do not want to go back of the tyranny of the last 25 years of the Clinton/Bush experience.

    The Political Spring is in the air... we do not need dark clouds from a muddy past.

    My best wishes to you , your family and friends.

    January 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. S in Texas

    Well, this is one Democrat who will not vote for a candidate based on appearances and sweetness. I pray Hillary wins. If she doesn't I'm staying home on election day. I will not vote for a candidate I do not believe in. I do not believe in Obama and he will never get my vote! Let the Republican win–you will have no one to blame but yourselves you Obama lack of intelligence supporters.

    January 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Kevin, Atlanta, GA

    I'm just sick of this whole thing. Too much double talk and trickery on both sides of the aisle. I just want it all to go away. I'm sick of this whole darn thing...

    January 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. Bill-Will from Chicago

    Rebulican want to see Mrs Clinton win becasue they know it is a sure victory in November. The Rebulican will amp up their war on terror and other scare tactics to place fear in the hearts of voters. Power hungry republican would like to see another terrorist strike on America soil so they can lie how strong they are on terror, which will lead us to another war on terrror or for natual resources (oil) and further isolate us around the world.

    OBAMA 08

    January 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  24. Ryan G.

    Someone actually called Ken Starr an "honorable man"? That's a first.

    The guy lobbied for the tobacco industry before he went after Clinton. There's no honor in that.

    That said, go Obama.

    January 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. lilarose

    I hope the media, which I think IS leading viewers into Obama's camp, will realize that not all of us are ready to throw Hillary out of the race.

    I have talked with my female (older women) friends here in Oregon, and we are quite willing to vote for Hillary Clinton if we have the chance.

    Are the eastern states going to decide for us whether or not we can vote for her in our primary?

    About reporting that women might not be "ready" for a female president, I say that if we aren't now, we never will be. I am personally so ready to kick the guys out of the White House and let women have their chance!

    January 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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