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. T

    When wives of other contenders campaign for them, no one complains or tells them to "stay out of it". Bill Clinton is Hillary's husband, and I don't see the big deal in him campaigning for her. Hillary '08.

    January 8, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. your a bunch of crazies

    A lot of you have false hope. Obama will not become president. If he does become president..how long do you think he REALLY will be president for??

    ......Clinton is right on the money when he talks about his lies.

    January 8, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. walt taylor

    It is unfortunate that Donna Brazile is speaking for the Democratic Party on the Situation Room. Since she is a black American,she is no longer objective. It is easy to see that because she is an African American, she is for Obama, even though the Clintons have stood for Black people over and over. It appears that this election is turning into a racial situation. Too bad !

    January 8, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Ann

    I, as an African-American, have always wanted to meet former- president Clinton in person some day. I no longer have that desire. Not after his "Nasty" put-down of Barack Obama today. I've always held higher admirations of Bill Clinton. Now, I see his true colors. Why can't he just continue to help Hillary, fighting "fair", instead of slinging nasty remarks at Obama!!!! I have been for Obama 100% since day one, and I hope he wil be our next president.

    January 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. Stephen

    I wish we could have a rational discussion of the serious issues facing this country and make a decision based on facts and valid political answers. However, it only appears as if we have sunken to a very, very low place, and 99 percent of these blog entries seem to prove it. Inflation is here. Health care is a mess. The gap between the rich and the poor is gaping, and the middle class is becoming an extinct species. Oh, and go ahead and throw in a potentially never ending state of war, but all people can do is denigrate each other and the candidates. We seem to have become a weak, permanently divided, self-indulged culture of talking heads spewing nothing but insults and hate speech. All I can say is: "God save America" because it's obvious we Americans aren't up to the task ourselves!

    January 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. MRS. PENA

    I am sick and tired of hearing about comments from black political figures or just in general. Is this about the white and the black winning at the poles? It sure feels like it. Everytime there is an african american speeking out on behalf of obama, all you hear. AS A BLACK AFRICAN AMERICAN { Donna Brazile speaking to Wolf Blitzer,} why say that. you don't hear AS A HISPANIC AMERICAN, AS A JEW AMERICAN, AS A WHITE,ORIENTAL,OR ITALIAN AMERICAN. I WOULD NEVER VOTE FOR OBAMA, BLACK BLACK IS ALL THEY SEEM TO SPEAK ABOUT. ITS SICK TO HAVE TO HEAR THIS ALL THE TIME WHEN THERE IS A BLACK AFRICAN AMERICAN RUNNING FOR SOMETHING. STOP WITH THE LABELING OF YOUR ETHNIC RACE YOU ARE. DO YOU HEAR HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN SAYING, AS A WHITE FEMALE AMERICAN. SOUNDS DUMB,HUGH. RUN A CAMPAIGN, NOT WHAT RACE YOU COME FROM.


    January 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. get truth guy

    What is wrong for a weman who married a former president to run a president? are you saying if you run a public office ONLY under the qualification of your family members were never working in any public office positions? You are so narrow minded.

    January 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. owl

    It is unfortunate that experienced politicians such as Bill and Hillary still believe that the voters will believe what they say when they attack Obama. I agree that they are experienced politician, but that does not necessarily mean Hillary can lead this country to the right direction today. Just like its because a man has been working as an executive manager for 20 years does not necessarily mean he deserves to become a CEO. The problem that I have with Hillary is that she doesn't seem to have a clear vision.

    January 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. Paul J

    Hold the horses! Is Bill Clinton running for President again or is it Hillary Clinton trying to be the first female President? It is understandable that the former lady husband would stand up and fight for his wife but unfortunately I believe that just shows how desperate they are in their failing strategies. Hillary campaign has never been about her policies but about looking towards the “other guy” meaning the person who is leading and giving attacks. Their attacks will not fool voters like myself and they must strategize other alternatives and focus on policies rather than attacks. Bill Clinton has stuck his neck out because of his own frustration with his wife campaign and its has nothing to do with Obama or any of the other candidates. He is frustrated and very well should be. Again, only one word can describe their presidential campaign; DEPERATION!

    January 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Philip Dumas

    Hillary LEADS in delegate count!


    Nothing in NH will CHANGE this!

    Onto Super Tuesday!

    You go girl! And throw some more elbows!

    Obama is the Carter for '08. Big smile. Big promises. No substance!!
    Remember the gas lines, recession and hostages!

    Go Hillary Go!!


    January 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. alex

    Obama don't have the experience to run the country. He just want to talk sweet to have the vote he wants. But look at the national poll, Hillary is winning.

    January 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. david

    I think it's time you move your reporters around they are becoming biased to the candidate they are fallowing around. The woman who is fallowing Obama should join his campaign. She starting to sound like his campaign manager not a reporter.

    January 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. Amy

    I am getting sick of seeing the clip of Hillary gettting so called upset. She took Edwards main idea, it is personal, Then Obama I am for change. She needs to get her own ideas and words and stop taking others.

    January 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. moggyman

    Cmon Pres Bill get out of this it is not your campaign- remember when the press built you up to win. So this is Hillary fight and she already shedding tears so she admits she is loosing but you of all people must get it clear, So be Mr Clean and clear out buddy you did your best leave the media alone . We just love the reading.

    January 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. DrC

    This vague concept of "change" with no concrete plan or experience to back up his slogan, should concern everyone.
    Let's turn this slogan into what it really means:
    Obama is calling for "change we can believe in". Voting for a substance deprived slogan, will produce exactly that for working class Americans – change. Hillary will produce Dollars for hard working Americans and has the skill and experience to manifest her plans.

    January 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. Carrie Fugett

    I get the feeling I am watching a "Survivor" show or "Dancing with The Stars". I thought we were supposed to be hearing from each of the candidates on where they stand on issues and seriours problems facing our country at this time. Am I wrong or have I just gotten lost thinking that things are not really being addressed or if they are, a great deal of critism? I do think we are smart enough to hear where each candidate stands and make our own decisions without all the bells, whistles and rhetoric that is being tossed about.

    January 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. SteveJobs

    I have been doing research all day. I still have not seen where Hillary Clinton was President of the USA before. Where is the experience? Performing duties as Senator, Governor, Foreign Affairs Rep., or Puppet in a Monkey suit is not the same as being the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. Not one candidate running, Republican or Democrat, has ever walked into a meeting holding the title of Commander and Chief and had to make decisions for and about America's future. Every one of them talks a good game, but All-Stars are made in the game not in practice.

    January 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. Brenda

    Well it is true that everyone needs to see all the accomplishments of those in running for office to be able to make a qualified decision on how to vote. I think the press and TV are ganging up on Clinton. You say she is negative when she is trying to bring out her accomplishments against others. Then when someone cares about her and she shows her true side you you complain about that also. Do you want someone that has no heart and feelings for others in office. Do you want a person with not enough experience in office. Give me a break...Look what happened 7 years ago and we are still paying the price. Bush didn't know how to be President and still doesn't. Wake up America. Terrioris are going to taget us again and we can not have someone that has to try to learn while in the office.
    I am not just referring to the only the democrats. This Mike Huckebee is another smooth talking character. He is no saint and believe me I have lived in Arkansas....America doesn't want this man in office at all.
    I would like to see the accomplishemnts of each of these canidates up front so we can compare. No one likes negative ads, but we NEED to know what they are talking about. Because just like the Huckabee....he only tells what he wants people to know. If others in Iowa knew what we do in Arkansas he would have not even made the top 5. Please this election is important to all of us Americans. We need experience no another new comer. Your talking about CHANGE. A new CHANGE would be Hillary Clinton for President in 2008. First lady President that is a change. The only qualifiedon in all the 10 that are running to become President and that this mess that Bush has made and begin to clean it up.

    January 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. Karen M. Jenkins

    Even though I am voting for John Edwards, I resent the bad reviews Bill Clinton is receiving for his very legitimate observations about Barack OBama. I remember a lot worse being said about Clinton (and Hillary) when he was running and holding office... no one of you came to his defense or thought the people throwing stones were frustrated, mean awful people.

    My oh my, how things have changed... I thought you were there to report news; not make judgments and set the pulse of voters. You are getting as bad as FOX- they are fair and balanced, too. If you had spent more time telling me what OBama has accomplished in his life besides two or three beautiful speeches and making a friend of Oprah, I might be voting for him, too.

    Regardless, we have impeached Bill Clinton once; off the President's case! If OBama is fit to be President, he can defend himself. He is sure to fall out of favor with people soner or later.



    January 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. AB

    Obama is running on a change and united platform. He is already showing what he can do. Independents, Republican and people who have never voted before are excited about the electoral process. Barack is doing exactly what he is saying he will. He is changing this nation. Even the Republicans have adopted his "Change" message.

    January 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. Jake

    This thread truly exhibits the ignorance of the "educated" voter.

    My guy is better than yours. blah blah blah

    Nothing changes except more friggin' money comes out of my pocket to go into the hands of crooks, liars, thieves and generally people who are completely full of poop.

    January 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |



    January 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Lettie Riel

    I think Mr. Bill Clinton is 100% correct. I'll be scared if Mr. Obama will win .this election. America should probably examine who really he is before committing themselves to vote for Mr. Obama.

    January 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. donna

    It's unfortunate when the collective voice of the deregulated media backfires on you, isn't it?

    January 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. Mo Unity

    "Mo Unity_ get out of fantasy land and into reality."

    Fortunately, i can think beyond how the mainstream media would like me to think. And reality is- the right person is winning right now. And America, is not as divided as the powers that be want us to believe. You on the other hand can benefit from some of that reality. Don't be scared. Take the "red pill". Live an examined life. It's time.

    January 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
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