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. Citizen

    Hillary's biggest mistake? Tying her political hopes to Bill, a long time ago. She wanted the benefits, but she has to deal with the negative consequences, too. Unfortunately, the country has also had to deal with the consequences. We've had Bush for eight years because of Bill's philandering (Gore would have won if not for all of the fallout around Bill). Finally, what kind of feminism is being promoted by Hillary's example? She should have ditched Bill long ago....

    January 8, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. Dave

    Hello?!Bill Clinton sounds desperate.All the Clintons do is point fingers...By the way Bill Clinton should know all about fairytales....

    January 8, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. aware

    Obama, you are just plain wrong. Your face and your platitudes have been plastered over much of the media constantly and in glowing terms. I was initially curious, then bored, then disgusted and now totally turned off. I thought you stood for honesty and fair play? If you read the blogs, you will see the hateful, mean spirited comments your inspiration produces. By their fruits....

    January 8, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. Misha

    Obama is not fighting for the average American – he will raise our taxes. Right now only the poor and the extremely rich can afford housing and those of us who are working taxpayers have to pay the bill to subsidize both. He will absolutely continue the downward slide of the middle class while taxing the heck out of us. Bill is right – Obama is a fairy tale – and one that will become a nightmare quickly.

    January 8, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. david mccluskey

    No, Bubba, Give ME a break! Clinton never got a majority of U.S voters to elect him, lost the Congress in '94 because of his ineptitude, his wife becomes a Senator from New York with no creditials. He overpromised and underdelivered as President – a presidency full of promise, but not a lot of accomplishments of significance.

    Your time in the spot light is almost done!

    January 8, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  6. Marlene

    This is getting very, very painful for the Clintons, as I knew it would. It is sad but they are truly bewildered. They really feel so strongly that they are the smartest, most qualified people alive to run this country. After all, they did for 8 years, right? Never mind they were 8 of the most dysfunctional, distracting years in the history of American administrations. Still, they got away with everything so what's the problem? One shining example that people don't seem to connect the dots to is that while Ken Starr and the rest of the country were consumed with the shameful problems of the Clinton administration, terrorists and extremist groups were gathering strength, training and planning.

    No one will drag Obama down. He is a born leader and will be our next president. Obama will go down as one of the best presidents in our country's history.

    January 8, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  7. Mike in Kentucky

    "SteveJobs January 8, 2008 6:10 pm ET

    To Open Eyes,
    And everyone else who keeps defending Bill Clinton for his "private life issues". Clinton was impeached for sitting upright in the Oval office, looking me, you, and every American right in the "open eyes", then telling a LIE….Not for any of his personal issues…..Be real."

    I don't think President Clinton's legal troubles were about anything he said on television, but rather what he said in Court under oath.

    Lying under oath, about a personal sexual affair was the legal issue.

    Telling a lie about a BJ or two on TV is not impeachable and in the end the Senate decided the entire matter (including the entire and exhaustive Ken Starr investigation, including the perjury ) did not amount to an impeachable offense. He was aquitted by the Senate.

    Be real.

    January 8, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. Kennedy

    We do! We do! We do believe in fairies!(tales i.e)

    January 8, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. Paul

    Well done Bill

    It was about time for you guys to speak up. Obama may have the willingness but you also need the experience. That s a republican strategy in chich leaning republican "independents" would vote in the democratic primary so that Hillary wouldn't be nominated as our front runner.
    Is it that they are scared of a First Female President who besides being smart would change the status quo. Let us see clear, because besides McCain no other republican candidate could possibly stop her from winning.

    Go Hillary!!!

    January 8, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  10. Stan

    Obviously, Bill sees his chance for a Supreme Court nomination vanishing quickly.

    January 8, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. Robin, L.A.

    CNN: I am watching your "political analysts" pan and taunt Bill Clinton for this well-stated defense of his wife (which all the other candidate spouses do regularly, esp. Mrs. Edwards).

    This is not news, hate to say. This is CNN's effort to entertain viewers so they won't change the channel and go to Fox.

    Your finger is not on the pulse, Wolf. Whether you like Hillary Clinton or not, people agree with her husband. You guys sitting around that "situation room" do not have a clue.

    Come on journalists, do your job. We demand it!

    January 8, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. GaryO Virginia Beach

    No question about it, the press is definitely going easier on Obama. Not only that, the national media is united in doing whatever it can to ensure Obama WINS the Democratic nomination. And Why? MONEY!!

    Face, it the news media is part of the entertainment industry, and it competes for audiences. An Obama victory creates drama, bigger audiences, and more advertizing revenue as Obama faces off the Republican challenger.

    The national press, the fourth estate, is completely dominated by the profit motive. CNN, the all-news network, has no compunction at all against sacrificing our country for a few ratings points.

    January 8, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. Stop the Iraq war NOW

    Well, let's see if my blog today gets posted.......last night I wrote one and it did not.

    In last nights' blog I brought up the fact that Obama has not clearly told his position on some things-–namely, Gay Marriage. Does Obama support Gay Marriage? Well, I actually researched that, and he related in a recent interview that he supports Gay Marriage, but does not think socially that it will "work"--he suggests that marriage is more about religion, but that "Civil Unions" and giving Gays and Lesbians the SAME LEGAL RIGHTS that straight married couples have, just calling it "Civil Union" instead of "Gay Marriage".

    In the meantime, Hillary is AGAINST Gay Marriage, but is FOR Civil Unions.

    We need to get specific and talk about what else Obama "supports". AND what Hillary supports. Can anyone tell me specifics about what Obama wants to "Change", besides being for legalizing "Civil Unions" for Gays and Lesbians? Please, I'd like to know, really....

    January 8, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. Kim, Dallas, TX

    Wow, my respect for Bill Clinton just bottomed out. To think I used to feel he was the greatest thing that ever ran this country and that he was treated unfairly when impeached. I am very disgusted with how he and Hillary are running their very corrupt, smeared campaign. He needs to make a point of showing the support Obama has from Bill's very own government. Many of his inner circle are supporting Obama, not Hillary. Also, Hillary was applauded in the news for months and months on end. I thought the slant towards Hillary would convince all to vote for her instead. I really felt the media was going to determine who would win. This show in Iowa and New Hamshire have renewed my faith in the whole election process.

    January 8, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  15. Oliver

    Bill. Please respect yourself as a respectable President. Do you know that your attacks against Obama may hurt your wife's candidacy? Please, Mr. President, we love you but do not force us to elect your wife? We do not like the idea of you becoming First Man in the White House. We care much about integrity of our beloved White House.

    January 8, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |

    All of these blogs prove why we need Obama and not Hillary.

    January 8, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  17. Tyler in Raleigh, NC

    Hey Willy!!!!


    Until you can answer those questions, anything you say about what Hillary "is" and "is not" does not mean anything.

    He sounds tired, wiped out and old. Parading out there like they are innocent and why is the media so against us? He goes negative and trashes other and then claims they are the positive and not depressing campaign? Do people actually believe either Clinton when they speak anymore?

    January 8, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  18. blackman


    January 8, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  19. Andrea

    The theory that a manager can manage anything often goes along with The Peter Principle where one is elevated beyond one's level of competence. I don't believe, though, that Obama has managed anything directly, so where is he ref. his level of competence? I think the public rallies around Obama in part because they want to believe that they, also, can do anything they want without experience. Perhaps that is part of the thinking ref. the . . .what was that book . . .The Secret. If you wish it it will be instead of if you work for it and gain experience and have the education in various areas it might happen. Oprah also promoted that book, did she not?

    A need for change . . . of course there is a need for change. That isn't a revelation. It is too bad that Al Gore isn't running. He has been saying that for years.

    January 8, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  20. Patrick, Bethlehem,PA

    Now we know what is going to happen if Hillary becomes president. When it gets too hot in the kitchen call Bill.

    January 8, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  21. David Stacy

    I think everyone is forgetting that Obama won the Iowa Caucus so I think he deserves a little extra media cover. Whoever wins New Hampshire will get extra coverage. And let's face it this is a historical election for the Democrats no matter who wins.

    January 8, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  22. Indy Dreamer

    It is refreshing to see all of us, the frequently silent majority, engaged in this election.

    Charles, picture this: Barrack Obama/ Ron Paul as independents. I'd vote for that!

    January 8, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  23. Jacqueline Carter-Matsapola

    I am embarassed that a former President ( or maybe I should make that with a small "p") is behaving in such a biased, unabashedly shameless manner. Bill CLinton was the President of the United States, not the president of Hillary Clinton. THis whole idea of her running is evidence of her poor judgement as well as Bill's. As a former President, you don't choose sides in a primary campaign unless it is your running mate. Otherwise, it is in poor tast to appear so partisan. Thank God for Obama! We can see that the "Hill/Bill show" merely offers more partisan and divisive rhetorical bull___!
    As a President, he has let me down and I gave the guy $3000 during his effort. I must be forgiven for flip-floping because he has really, really disgusted me with his behavior!!

    January 8, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. Edwards gurl

    Obama Hussein is a snakeoil salesman. It's so disturbing to me to see people backing this joker. He is riding the wave alright,,,wait until it CRASHES! Edwards is going to be the next President, not some Muslim that attends a church for blacks only. Edwards would never attend a white only church with a minister (like Barack's inspirational leader he writes so kindly about in his book) who blames white america for 9/11 or blames the israelis for the so called pal misfortunes. Give me a break! Want a racist in the house, vote Barack, want a man that will embrace you no matter what your background is and that has experience! vote Edwards!

    Edwards 08!

    January 8, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  25. Sinead in Ireland

    Mindy Chatsworth, California

    Well Said!

    I am in awe, all these Obama posters cannot all be REAL democrats, if so then the country is in BIG trouble, and the vile posts are unreal! For people "claiming" to support a man who has a mantra of unity, and who wants to "unite” people and "unite" the country?? With all the HATE flying around this board from those claiming to be Obama supporters, such an idea IS a Fairytale!!! I believe some Obama supporters are posers on here; also I think Republicans are pretending to be Democrats on here as well. The Clintons are possibly the MOST investigated politicians ever, save for Nixon! Millions of dollars spent, years of investigations and NOTHING!! All of that came from the right wing eejits (that is irish for idiots!), led by Ken Starr, right wing republicans and FOX et al………

    My personal belief is that the media IS manipulating this election more than usual, it is disgraceful. Sadly I only get FOX news (pity me!! but my cable is owned by the same right wing freak who owns FOX in American Rupert Murdoch!!!) and I do get CNN Europe (I live in Ireland at the moment) but they only report on the USA very little!! I am watching both channels constantly since the election began in Iowa (watch one and record the other) I can tell you that the majority of Election coverage is about Obama, the majority of photos/videos are showing Obama people, Obama rallies etc. I have to ask myself one thing, if Bill o'Reilly "loves Obama" like he said the other night, and FOX are talking constantly about him in such a "loving" way and trashing Hillary CONSTANTLY then there HAS to be an Ulterior Motive, they are die hard Republican Right Wing Christians. Does this not seem just a wee bit odd to any normal thinking Democrat??? I believe they want him to be nominated because they think he can be taken down by the Right wing moral majority and they can cast just enough doubt on his background and religion, his experience, his voting record, number of missed or absent votes in the senate to sway some independent or converted supporters away and get a Republican win. This would be the worst thing for American and the world!!! Remember, it is not just young people who tend to jump on the band wagon, they probably wont be bothered much when the mud begins to fly, but, the older Obama converts may be swayed, it only takes a tiny doubt to make people think. The same media frenzy that is all in support of Obama now, can change when FOX begins to sling the mud. Then what? Last night on Bill O'Reillys show he interviewed Huckabee and actually asked him what democrat he'd like to go up against if he was nominated, his reply? Obama.............say no more....

    And to those complaining about Bill Clinton speaking out? Well, he has a RIGHT to speak out and reply because people like you continue to make claims about his administration and transferring his job as president to Hillary, I say fair play to him! This gives him the right to speak back! All the wives of the others speak out, and so does Oprah:) Fair is fair! Oh and by the way, I am married, but I can assure you that I am NOT my husband, and Hillary is NOT bill!! We are not all extensions of our spouses!!

    Democrats should think with their heads right now! Hillary can BEAT the Republicans, no more dirty laundry, already investigated! If she were elected this time, Obama could work in the Cabinet, gain more experience, he can deal with the mud slinging and hard personal questions that eventually WILL come up via the media. He can get though it whilst he is working in an important role, gain some solid experience, demonstrate himself, continue to grow and Then when Hillary vacates, Obama can win the next 8 years, then we get 16 years to attempt to undo the world wide mess the “Shrub” and his evil doers have created!

    Finally, I'd like to see the USA bin all the polls one month before elections begin so human beings on the ground can and will be forced to talk and actually think for themselves! Novel thought, doing the research and thinking for yourself!! The media is out of control and has become WAY too powerful!! Scary, very scary......... Also, the government should allow each candidate the same amount of time on Television for campaign adds, then no more!, Followed by a republican debate, democratic debate and then one final debate with both candidates. No need to waste millions and millions of dollars and force ALL candidates to take big money from corporations and lobby groups etc. This is fair and think of the good that all those left over MILLIONS could do for Americans needing health care or children in need or more homes in New Orleans etc...........
    Democrats, if you ARE democrats on this board! Stop the hateful and personal remarks against other Democrats, argue your points with facts (if you have them!!) When people start attacking others on a personal level it is because they have NO facts to back themselves up….full stop!! So fellow Democrats please start thinking for yourselves, do the research, ask the questions, then you can change the world

    Hillary 1st for 8 years
    Obama 2nd for another 8
    Democrats for 16 years

    January 8, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
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