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. Mike, Denver, CO

    Billie's remarks indicate the Clintons are getting desparate – they see Obama as a real threat to their latest ascendency to power, and have nothing of substance with which to counter him. I am not necessarily pro (or anti) Obama, but I am certainly anti Hillary, one of the most disengenuous candidates in recent memory...not because she is female or a democrat, but because she has no real platform other than to say or do whatever is necessary to win.
    It appears as if the electorate is beginning to see through her, despite the media's fawning over her. Hopefully it will continue.

    January 8, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. mike

    Stop and think. Look at your posts so much anger and hate. You should all be ashamed.

    January 8, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Zack Lear

    High school popularity contest eh sir?? Folks don't know what Obama stands for? Mr. Mohinder Suresh you very confused little man, wake up. Don't allow your bad highschool memories effect your judgment. That was years ago when you lost your student council election in a landslide. Don't let your bitterness blind you. Obama 08 and beyond.

    p.s. Stop acting like reading Time magazine makes you more informed on issues. It makes you sound like a Republican when you do that.

    January 8, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. Jr., California

    Re: Hillary's 35 years of experience


    And thanks to you all for attempting to justify her 35 years of experience. She would of gotten my vote, but it seems that she is lying. So sad.

    January 8, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. Dee

    Wow...this is getting embarassing for the Clintons. This is the kind of politics Americans are sick of.

    January 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. RT

    Bill Clinton is the first president I have ever voted for. I have always held him and Hillary in the highest regard. Right now I am so disappointed with him and the Clinton campaign. We obviously do not need more of this in the White House. Go Obama.

    January 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Peggy Ledbetter

    I am so disappointed in President Clinton. Clinton has been the darling of the media. He has used his charm to win popularity with the media. His wife has not been under critical scrutiny. She is never held to account on what she says she has done. Being married to a President does not make you able to be president. Very eye opening to see what one will do when they see their dynasty faltering. Very self centered these two.
    What shame to try to bring down a person like Barack Obama who inspires us to truly reach 'The American Dream ". Never since Kennedy have I felt such inspiration from a candidate. And Hillary and Bill want to take that away from me?
    NO WAY!

    January 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Silvio Renzulli

    I got one thing to say enough of dynasties. The public has had enough of Clintons and Bushs. Its time for a change, a fresh face and Obama is it. Get over it Bill, Hillary will not get in. Her likability is lower than Bush's approval rating. Thats pathetic! People want a president they can like. Obama has touched something in people that transcends party, gender, age, race or any other affiliation. He can bring the country together, your wife can not. He has what the public once thought you had, a kind of magic. Only difference is Obama's is genuine. You're comments show your true colors.

    January 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. JAN

    Obama?! If Obama is elected, I am moving to Amsterdam where the people there actually have rights and freedom. I thougt America was "land of the free"? NOT ANYMORE! We the people have no rights anymore. We are all robots doing exactly what we are programmed to do with no say-so anywhere. We don't protest anything like they did in the 70's, and we are scared to take a stand on anything! Who cares if Hillary lies? I'm sure Obama does too, he just hasn't been around long enough for people to figure it out. Bill Clinton probably does need to shut his mouth, but I was a big Bill Clinton fan. He's the only one lately that has done any good for our country. So he lied about his own personal business. BIG DEAL. That just makes him human. Doesn't effect what he did for our country! If you can sit there and tell me you have never made a mistake, then you yourself are a liar. Just because you cheated on your wife/husband doesn't mean you shouldn't get that next big promotion at work, does it? A divorce, maybe. But it's none of your work's business. Maybe Hillary cheated on him too...who cares?! I just want what's best for our country and Obama does not have the experience. If there's going to be any hope for our country, Hillary is it.

    Good luck Hillary!

    January 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. get truth guy

    All the news media are trying so hard to manufacture a president of USA, so bad we have such a group of pure political motivated people doing our news report. They are trying to manufacture a elected Hossin Obama as this nation's next president even before the people cast their votes.

    January 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. Maryann Faith IA


    January 8, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Einstein

    Matt from TX:

    Just look at the numbers!

    NH is a republican state and has been for years. Currently there are about 350,000 Independants there a number we have seen rise during the past 12 years while the number of registered Republicans has dropped during that same period.

    It doesn't make sense that the numbers would change so drastically without a reason.

    January 8, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. James

    It's incredible how uninformed and ignorant some of you are and how easily you believe what the Clintons tell you. Tim Russert, Keith Olbermann, Brian Williams and many other journalists have vetted Obama and asks those same questions about Obama, and got answer from them. Clinton's assertions are absurd and now I can see why a lot of people simply dislike them.

    January 8, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Eric

    If you do "not know anything about Obama" it is your own fault. He has written 2 biographies and his website is full of the specifics of his policies. Don't fault Obama for your own ignorance

    January 8, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. Speedkidney

    Why don't you let your wife speak for herself.

    Maybe she'll just start crying:

    "Obama is so mean to mean."

    January 8, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. Dee

    If you look at the Media coverage Hilary gets far more coverage than Barack especially after she tear up..she got an entire days worth of coverage. What Barack is getting is more votes.

    January 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. JJ

    I am still trying to figure out how the Clinton's count up to 35 years experience for Hillary – I count only one term as a carpetbagger US Senator who initially won election because her opponent came down with cancer and then won a second term on a promise to stay the entire term???

    Another thing that is bothersome is how she and her husband can try and lay claim to a "change" label – if she became president it would mean two families would trade the position of president for 28 years!!! I do not see how that is good for the country and somehow = "change" . . . I do not know of any precedent in American History – it rivals changing dynasties in old Europe!!!

    January 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Hill"08

    Thank you, Mr. President! The media has dogged Hillary Clinton since the race began...actually for nearly 15 years. Obama has been given a pass by the media....no hard questions. He is a media creation...and change? Not one supporter can tell what his programs are. His healthcare proposal sounds alot like an adapted version of Hillary's plan. How can he talk about changing the world when we have so much misery and crime in our own country. Americans want a leader who can first deal with America's problems. I have yet to hear how he will pay for anything. Exactly what are his views on the dealth penalty, social security, taxes, the economy, Americans losing their homes in droves in this mortgage crisis? He needs to explain to the people exactly what his views are on illegal immigration andwhat and how he plans to deal with these issues. Has he got any ideas how to solve our education mess in this country? Who are the people who will surround him if he is elected? We need real questions from the media...not free passes. Free passes were given in previous election with nothing substancial being asked by commentators in debates and around the country. We must not allow ourselveo that route.

    January 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Amazed!!

    I am just AMAZED at the Obama craze. Come on People! Wake up!! Just think of all the inspirational people some good, some not so good. Cult leaders too like Jim jones drew a large following but did not have the true heart. (not comparing anyone here directly) but smooth talking is also a weapon. Look at the times we are in War, threat of resession, Al Keida, etc... Do we really want to take the RISK of Obama for a hope and a dream. I'll tell you what Hillary WILL give us hope especilly the economy!! It's proven! I am very worried! I don't blame Bill for reacting. Obam has not been inspected or torn apart in the media (including) CNN like Clinton has at EVERY turn. Are you going to let the media make your choice? Hilary is a good hard working American who cares.

    Are we entering into the Matrix?

    January 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Ken Harris

    Oh I see john mith... When things aren't going the way the Clintons think they should, then we have a conspiracy? Is that right? Well, thanks for clearing that up for us...

    January 8, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. Bill Curtis

    it's Simple BUSH/CLINTON/BUSH... enough is enough! it's time for Hope!

    January 8, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  22. kris

    mike January 8, 2008 4:52 pm ET

    Stop and think. Look at your posts so much anger and hate. You should all be ashamed.

    MIKE MIKE!!!!!??
    people get angry for a reason..just as bill clinton is angry because his wife is a loser.

    January 8, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. johnson

    Obama has lied and that's what this article is about. Lets stick to the topic people. The topic is Obama changing his opinion. Why is he covering up his prior views.

    If you try to turn the blame towards someone else who ran 8 years ago instead of being open minded then you're only hurting yourself because your neglecting to see that persons flaws..

    January 8, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  24. wheresthelove

    This board has turned into some sort of sick journey through the twisted psyche of American Politics 2008. I am amazed at the amount and intensity of the vitriol, especially from you Obama supporters – isn't your candidate running on uniting people and breaking from the politics of the past?

    Many of you seem to be missing the point. The electorate is moving towards rejecting the politics of division, invective and insider power plays – we've had way too much of that for the last 20 years. Let the candidate win who shows they can give us something better than that.

    January 8, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. Samuel,Blackfoot ID

    As a nation we the people of the United states should really look into who we want as a president. It is like if you are going to hire someone for a job. Seriously look at their education,public records,honesty. It is all there for us to read called Public record.

    January 8, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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