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. MT

    The gall of Bill Clinton to call anyone else a liar...wow.

    And the rest of you who are so frustrated and incredulous about the Obama support...you just don't get it...Washington is full of experience and what we have is a complete mess...so to keep putting the same players in power(with different chairs as one candidate put it) and expect a different result would make us fools, don't ya think?? What we need is a wipe of the slate – a new start – out with the old and in with the new.

    And to act like Obama is some fresh faced kid right out of college is completely ridiculous. Sure he doesn't have a long resume like Biden and Dodd but we know he is smart and to date, he has made the right decisions. So if you Dems who support Hillary want to be bitter and say that you will NEVER, NEVER vote for Obama in November, that is fine. Go ahead and cut off your nose to spite your face. Obama is the most unique candidate in the entire presidential field – you should be proud to have such a candidate represent your party.

    January 8, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  2. just a voter

    actually, many of us are just YOUNG (under 40) people fed up with both parties' failing self-interest methods of running our country. we're inspired by anything that we perceive to be the OPPOSITE of modern american politics. and like it or not, our numbers are only growing. if you'll notice, it's THIS article, NOT obama, that's provoked the comment negativity. my mind's not made up yet, and neither are many others, and undeniably this kind of activity is no service to hillary.

    January 8, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. dehlia

    I'm so very glad I'm an independent! However, I've got to say that I'm surprised by the amount of people who are buying what Hillary is selling! She has always come across harsh, hard and brash (unless she's playing "1st lady to be"). So, how is it that so many people have fallen for the fake tears and a deep heart – we've never seen that before & it sure came at just the right time!
    If so many people want change and want a new dynamic in Washington then perhaps some people should be more accepting of the fact that you won't get everything in a candidate that's campaigning on change! But, honestly, what do we have to lose at this point?!
    Obama & Edwards seem sincere, determined, and undoubtedly different. I would really like to see that ticket.
    Meanwhile, Clinton (H) is becoming (or coming across) too much like Clinton (B)!

    January 8, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. Kathryn Fuller

    This country is in SERIOUS trouble. Not only do we have the war in Iraq that is out of control, but we are at the doorstep of war with Iran and Pakistan.

    Our economy is about to go bust. The housing market is in the toilet, and I can NOT remember when our world has been in this bad shape.

    I have a SERIOUS question for all of you. Who can pull us out of this mess? Who has the strength, experience and diplomacy to do what it takes to make our world a better place?

    The question is not if we want a woman or a African-American man in the White House, it's about who can do the job.

    When Bill Clinton finished his 8 year term, we had a balanced budget and a 3 TRILLION DOLLAR SURPLUS. I don't care about his sex life, they ALL are sleeze bags as far as I'm concerned. Look at the people that scream the loudest about homosexuality, they are homosexuals!!

    Come on people, WAKE UP! Pay attention, who ever takes control of this next 4 years will determine the FATE of our great United States.

    In my opinion a Freshman Congressman/Senator just doesn't have what it takes, not for what we need now.

    I pray for our country if anyone but Hillary Clinton gets in office, she's not perfect, but she is the BEST person for the job!
    Kathryn Fuller

    January 8, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  5. Mike in Kentucky

    "Anti-Christ Question January 8, 2008 6:03 pm ET

    Hasn't anyone read the book of Revelations? Or, maybe the Left Behind series? Obama fits the Anti-Christ description; a leader who rises up from no where with a promise to unite the world through change. He is already dabbling in international politics when he has no experience or authority to do so. I love what he is saying but are we all falling under his smooth-talking spell? It is a bit freaky how he has risen from no where to possibly become the leader of the free world. At least with Hilary, we know what we are getting."

    Hahahaha!! I wondered how long it would take for someone to bring up the image of the Anti-Christ! I am an athiest and a secular humanist and I have read the Book of Revelations, more than once. It seemed only a matter of time before subject came up.

    Remember, he's gonna run against Evangelical Christians. Expect more of this!!

    January 8, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |

    We don't owe Hillary or Bill Clinton nothing. We are not apart of the status quo.

    They are worried about how they are going to pay back all those people they took all that money from and can't deliver the country too.

    January 8, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. californian

    Obama's credentials and background????? Please TV people report it. I'm hungry for to know the facts. I've known hillary through ups and downs as if I knew her personally because of TV. For Obama only from Ophra hahahaha and you're for him? PLEASE DO A BACKGROUND CHECK........

    January 8, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. architecture

    Bill Clinton is absolutely right. I have followed media coverage for months. Obama has been given a free ride by the media. We don't know "how" he would bring about change because he has not been asked the question. Maybe it would be a good answer and then again is might be an unrealistic answer based on inexperience. We don't want a Rock Star for president; we want a proven leader. If we want to ride the waves, we should go to the beach.

    The media picks on every little thing Hillary does if they think they can put a negative swing on it. They don't talk about anything that they can put a positive swing on. They don't do that with any other candidate. Lets consider the gender card that Gloria Steinem talks about in her recent article unless you think it is something even more sinister.

    Look at what the response is to Bill's comment--desperation some call it. Let us be honest. If her campagin is passive, they are attacked; if they defend themselves, they are attacked; if they are assertive, they are attacked.

    January 8, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. judi a

    I love seeing the Clinton's on the defense. His comments about Obama is classic Clinton. If anybody knows about "a fairy tale" it is him.or them.

    January 8, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. Alex

    This is why we, America nation will lose our edge as a the greatest nation on earth.
    People listen do not confuse Potics with the Entertainment, Politics ain't no entertainment, we are so emotional, shallow and gullible, we are plain dump and stupid.

    January 8, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  11. West, Anaheim, Ca

    Where does Bill Clinton get off saying the Obama has changed his view on the war. His wife did the same thing, she voted for it and then changed her views down the line to make sure the democrats didn't come down on her. She knew she was going to run for president so she changed mid stream also. Sometimes people make the wrong choices and change their mind mid stream. That doesn't make them bad people, but Bill Clinton shouldn't make Obama out to be this bad person when his wife did the same thing. We aren't stupid out here!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. René

    Obama is taking the cigar out of Hillary

    GO OBAMA 2008

    January 8, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  13. Mari Fernandez, Salt Lake City, UT

    I voted for Bill Clinton, and like the man. But after hearing his tirade against Obama today on CNN I am disappointed in him and his wife!

    Hey, Bill, be careful how you criticize Sen. Obama, he may well be the next Democratic candidate for the presidency and YOUR word will be used against him!

    Bill's tirade, Hillary's emotional reaction to a question...... and seem like desperation to me. I am a 54 year old woman, I would LOVE to see a woman president, BUT NOT Hillary!

    What don't they get about the word, CHANGE? God bless Obama!

    January 8, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. Geri E. Villegas

    It's only 2 states and they are primary votings at that – Hopefully experience and passion will mean enough to people to keep Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket for the (November) election that counts! Wouldn't it be nice if her choice for VP is Obama – he'd get the experience and, with his eloquence and drive, be perfect for the next term as the President – after President Hillary Clinton cleans up the current state of affairs!

    January 8, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. Sandra Clark, SC

    I feel sorry for Hillary. I hate to say it, but Hillary is done. Even Bill can't save her now.

    OBAMA/EDWARDS 08!!!!

    Sen. Obama, please choose Edwards as your VP. You guys will steamroll over the Republicans. They have no chance.

    I donated to Obama's campaign, and will give much more if he picks Edwards as his VP.

    January 8, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  16. Alex

    and what do we know about this obama guy, do we really know him, his records !
    Last time I remember from tv on 2004 election was the comment that the news achor made which is " American men are more likely have beer with mr. Bush than Mr. Gore ! Now look what he has done for last not 4 but 8 long and meaningless years ! People please get smart and stop being emotional for the last time, please !!!!!!!

    January 8, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. jeral

    The cable news media has targered Hillary since day one. Scrutinizing every wrod she said – every gesture she made and has given Obama a clear field ' cheering him on without questioning anything he has done or said. When he didn't vote recently not once did we hear he did not vote because he would have to give account of his vote.The news media gave Bush a free ride in 2000 and 2004 and look at mess the country and the world is in. Nor did the news media question or infvestigate him if he just said he was not going to answer.
    It should be appauling to all informed intelligent voters that the 18 to 30 year olds are for Obama because he is cool as reported today. 18 to 3o year olds have no idea what is going on in the world, -what a deficit is – or most of them don't even know who the first president of the United States was and think its cute and funny. My 4 grandchildren 23, 19, 18 and 16 and their friennds,who make 3.5 in college and A,s in school don't know and care less because they troo are only interested in what's cool. – Certainly not interested in a serious person who would like to heal the probems for a better america for all of us. SAD DAY IN AMERICA.!!!!!! Have you forgot how bad everyting was in "92 and how good they were during the 90's and excellent at the end of 8 years, SHAME ON YOU!!!

    January 8, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  18. Felicia

    Everyone is talking about who did and did not vote to fund the war. HELLO PEOPLE we were all ready to support the war the day of and the day after 9-11, we stopped supporting the war when we found out that we were looking for sadam and not binladin. Lets just be real, we all came together to support a common cause and we where decived by the president

    January 8, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  19. Stop the Iraq war NOW

    Mike in Kentucky,

    While some of what you suggest is "out there", I have to tell you this: my friend and I (we are both middle-aged women, sick-of-bush democrats) were discussing the fact that "charisma and good speech delivery" are what seems to attract people to Obama---such a shallow decision or reason to admire a person and want to vote for them to be a leader. We said that some of the world's leaders were elected or "swayed" by just the charisma and good speech delivery........one leader that came to our minds was Hitler. People were drawn to his charisma and charm and awed at his speechs..........what I am saying is, people need to look PAST this "charm and charisma and good speech delivery" and see what kind of substance is behind the "first glance". Things just can't be taken at face value--that's a dangerous road to go down for our country--to just pick a leader because they are "better-looking" or "they give a good speech". That's even why bush was elected, I would submit--he was "more likable and better-looking"

    January 8, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  20. John Chicago

    Obama may have the willingness but you also need the experience. We are engaged in a challenging reality. The goal has been to avoid Hillary's Nomination, and if you have not realized among core democrats nationwide Hillary remains strong. The advantage of Obama seems a clear republican strategy where so called "independents" would vote in the democratic primary. There s where Obama's advantage comes from.

    But what would happen on the election day if we lack of a strong candidate like Hillary , let us see if Obama can be even be a threat for a Republican contender. Hillary can do so, and that s what we do not see. It is not about how much we like her or not. It is about our future and if you compare the Clinton's administration to todays' you can see that they did a better job in multiple areas. The economy was better.

    It seems that sometimes we forget about reality and allow ourselves to be carried out and be misled by emotions.
    If we want change, let us not think about the one who sounds poetic but about the one who can bring the democrats back to the White House after a disastrous era that has characterized the Bush Administration.

    God bless you Hillary

    January 8, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  21. Anon

    Amen to that Bill.

    Hillary is the most experience and most capable of leading our country.

    I want another TRILLION DOLLAR SURPLUS and a balance budget.

    One must not think of the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton names are the only President known growing up or fed up hearing the names over. You first think of economy. Booming economy bring jobs. We need an experience candidate.

    Mr. Obama couldn't even fulfull his duties as a US Senator. He missed 80% of senate votes and there are times he is present in the senate but he doesn't vote. He's scared that somebody might attack him of his votes.

    Shame on Obama voicing about the Iraq war and the votes. He wasn't even a senator then. As a senator, he did not cast a vote on Iran. He's scared?

    January 8, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  22. Robert Wooller

    There has been too much coverage of Obama, maybe if there was more coverage – and positive coverage at that – of Hillary, she would be doing better in the polls.

    January 8, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  23. Sinead in Ireland


    Funny thing. People who are writing about Obama making all these huge changes and how they hate the "politics" of Washington, should catch themselves on.........


    All those Washington Politicians are not going anywhere, neither are the pressure groups and political lobby groups, they are VERY well funded!! The senate and congress will still be there too. So, how can people think Obama, or ANY president can get in office and just do exactly like he/she wants? Without support from those same people/groups the president’s bills will NOT pass! So no matter who gets in, compromise and the traditional "you scratch my back and Ill do yours" will continue, it's the American way, like it or not! You want change start with the system first. Obama or anyone else will face the same. If he were to be elected and tried to be a hard nose, he'd get nowhere, then what change will you get? none:) Then people will have had such big hopes they will complain about Obama not delivering. At least Clinton has experience dealing with these people and getting the best possible outcome. Aside from the personal situation that happened to Bill Clinton, he did a great job for the country, economy and the world. He just should have kept his trousers up, but that is not the most important thing in the world to me, I’d rather have a prosperous US, a safe world and a smart leader who can say three syllable words:)


    Reality bites!

    January 8, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  24. andydiaso

    give it up Bill. Obama is the new kid on the block

    January 8, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. Mike in Kentucky

    "SteveJobs January 8, 2008 5:10 pm ET

    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."

    Your sports analogy is interesting but without intense and exhaustive practice, even All-Stars do not get into the game.

    Hillary Clinton's years as Bill Clinton's closest advisor and confidant gives her a unique perspective on the office of the President and how it works. Her years in the Senate give her the knowledge of how to get things done on Capitol Hill. She is not, in any measure, inexperienced in the ways of Washington and how to make it work.

    She is the best hope we have to influence change in Washington that will benefit us all. She knows how to work the system and that's why the Republicans fear her...Many Republican commentators are singing the praises of Mr. Obama....ever wonder why?

    January 8, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
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