January 17th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
8 years ago

Bill Clinton gets heated with reporter


Watch Bill Clinton get upset with a reporter.

(CNN) - Bill Clinton became visibly combative with a reporter Wednesday after being questioned about a lawsuit in Nevada that is seeking to ban caucus meetings in nine casinos on the Las Vegas strip.

The lawsuit, filed by the state teacher's union - an organization that has backed Hillary Clinton's White House bid - came Friday, shortly after Barack Obama was officially endorsed by the Culinary Union. Culinary Union members primarily work in casinos, and could constitute the majority of participants at caucuses held at those locations.

The teacher's union is claiming the at-large caucus sites would unfairly have more weight in terms of delegate allotment than caucuses throughout the rest of the state. The lawsuit also takes issue with caucuses being held midday at those sites – which could make it easier for culinary workers to caucus than it will be for other Nevadans.

Critics of the lawsuit say it is a clear attempt to suppress Obama’s support, a notion with which the former president sharply disagreed.

"Do you really believe that all the Democrats understood that they had agreed to give everybody who voted in a casino a vote worth five times as much as people who voted in their own precinct? Did you know that?" the former president said, growing visibly upset. (Watch Clinton's back and forth with the reporter)

"What happened is nobody understood what had happened. Now everybody's saying, 'Oh, they don't want us to vote.' What they really tried to do was to set up a deal where their votes counted five times, maybe even more."

Clinton also maintained that his wife’s campaign had "nothing to do" with the lawsuit," and claimed the reporter was taking an "accusatory tone."

"Get on your television station and say, 'I don't care about the home mortgage crisis, all I care about is making sure that some voters have it easier than others should count five times, and when they do vote, when its already easier for them, their vote should count five times as much as others," Clinton said in a raised voice.

"If you want to take that your position, get on the television and take it," he added, as aides pulled him away. "Don't be accusatory with me, I had nothing to do with this lawsuit."

UPDATE: A federal judge has ruled that the Democratic Party can go ahead with the 9 at-large caucuses on the strip. The ruling could have a decisive effect on the result in the state given that recent polls show a dead heat between Clinton, Obama, and John Edwards.

Related: Clinton, Obama battle for upper hand in Nevada

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (774 Responses)
  1. Robert in Albuquerque, NM

    Bill, you ROCK!

    January 17, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Phillis

    Recalling Bill Clinton's Greatest Shame

    It has been 9 years since Bill Clinton sold out poor women and children in return for a little political capital with the Republicans. I haven't forgotten. I haven't forgiven. I still have stories from the aftermath of welfare reform, stories that I collected for years after he signed the welfare reform bill.

    They are stories about children who died because their mom was doing important work at Pizza Hut or Burger King instead of doing the seemingly unimportant work of caring for children. They are stories about moms who were forced to report to low wage jobs even when adequate or safe childcare was unavailable.

    The number one assumption of the welfare reform law (other than that single moms are the scum of the earth) is that caring for children is NOT work. People who do it full time are lazy and deserve your contempt.

    People who do it are almost always women.

    It was an interesting time to study our culture. Under the guise of classism, misogyny was free to rear its hideous head. Day after day, the Great Welfare Reform Debate raged on the front pages of all the newspapers. All the experts weighed in. They wrote books. They condemned the women as lazy welfare queens who lived a life of leisure. They said outrageous things like 'wherever single mothers live you will find crime and drugs.'

    The experts were almost always male. They were people who have never ever been charged with the 24/7 responsibilty of keeping children alive and well. They were people who defined 'work' as something you do for money. In every analysis that counted, any job that paid a wage was deemed of far more value than the work of caring for children.

    After that debate, it is a wonder that there is a woman alive in this country who is brave or foolish enough to be a stay at home mom.

    This post at Our Word, a very cool feminist blog, is responsible for bringing back my memories of Bill Clinton's greatest shame:

    January 17, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    Being eager to help his wife win, Bill is destroying his own legancy. We see the sides of Bill that we did not see before. Maybe there will be more to come.

    January 17, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. bartee

    I am not supporting any one, but I get the feeling that the media does not want to see Mrs.Clinton as the President. Any thing small about is published so much on the news. Media should not be the one to decide who should be the president. Please stop being biased and let the people decide.

    January 17, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Art H

    Frankly, I had no idea that a caucus held in the casinos would carry 5 times the weightage of those that are held in the precincts.

    I don't recall any of the stations, including CNN, as having thrown more light on this aspect. Did they ? If so, then I missed it.

    Obviously if they have glossed over this fact, then I think they should be taken to task for it. Good that Bill "went off" and forced them to drop their sensationalism for a bit and focus on the real issues.

    January 17, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. Brennan - Seattle, WA

    Is this what we want to see for the next 4-8 years? This guy was great when he was president, but with time and success he has turned into a pompous, arrogant jerk. He attacks anything that somehow bothers him. Even George W is not this much of a blowhard. This is old politics. Time for a new day in this country.

    January 17, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |


    January 17, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. Lance Boyle

    Hey Jose,

    I hope whoever gets elected does stop this nonsense of spreading our brand of government to the world. Who gave us the power to do such a thing?
    We can't even agree on our own terms here, how can we expect other countries to follow suit?
    Shoving democracy down other people's throats is not democracy at all, and it's led to nothing but conflict, war and resentment against our country for decades.

    January 17, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Brandon

    Rus- how can a clip support whether or not a vote counts five times more in a specific location??? That's what the lawsuit is about. How can a clip or a person (Bill Clinton) support that claim? It's impossible, do you have any idea what you are talking about? That is why people file lawsuits.....hence the court will determine if the lawsuit has any merit.

    January 17, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Mark C. Eades

    Bill Clinton is an arrogant hypocrite who would do and say anything to get what what he wants. He is also developing the irritating habit of getting angry and defensive at anyone who dares question his and Hillary's entitlement to eight more years in the White House, sticking his finger in peoples' faces and lecturing them as though they were disobedient children. I had no problem with Bill Clinton during his presidency – in fact I voted for him twice – but as this campaign continues I have come increasingly to wish he would just go away.

    January 17, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    concerned in iowa :
    "The real Clinton's are coming out! Do we really want them leading the free world for another 8 years?????"

    Way more than we need Oboohoo to be running it. He's just a democratic version of G.W. Bush – all arrogance no substance.

    January 17, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. David

    CNN using the word "combative" to describe the exchange between Bill Clinton adn the rerporter is more consistent with Fox reporting then CNN. President Clinton was calling him out on a pointed question. This was in no way, "combative."

    January 17, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. Jonimaree

    Bill's right. I'm from Florida – land of the uncounted vote. Believe me, I am sensitive to this issue. EVERY person in Nevada should be up in arms.

    January 17, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. carrol

    Bill Clinton himself was the president who made empathy and personality his trump card. Now, for the past weekend I just find it troubling when he characterised Obama as a dreamer and Hillary as President. Now that is so much troubling and even If I wanted to go and vote for, I will either stay at home or vote republican!

    January 17, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. Len

    It seems that this is what the majority of democrats want. Four to eight more years of devisive and angry politics this time from the Bill and Hillary Clinton show! Haven't we all had enough of this! If you truly want something different vote for Barak Obama.If you cannot find it in your self to vote for an African-American then at least vote for John Edwards.

    January 17, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. CNN Reader

    To all you Clinton bashers :
    Compare 1992-2000 period for this country with 2000-2008. Compare surplus with deficits, compare peace with war, compare job-growth with unemployment, compare intelligence with..

    January 17, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. Joelene Reno, Nevada

    I work on the week end and would love an opportunity to vote at my workplace.

    I am not a casino worker, so I guess I don't count!

    This lawsuit is one based on merit and should be carefully considered.

    If only a select group of minority voters are being targeted, how fair is that?

    I suppose if you're a firefighter, in law enforcement or hospital worker you're out of luck because there is no 'at large' precinct at the fire station, police station or hospital!

    When you disenfrancise some voters, you do a disservice to this country so, make more 'at large' prescincts so we can all exercise our choice or don't have any!

    I do not care who's behind this lawsuit, the reality is that it places more value on a group of individuals while excluding others!

    That does not sound or look like the United States of America!

    A shout out for the citizens who brought forward this important issue!

    January 17, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Santosh-Phila

    The Clinton campaign really needs to have President Clinton keep a low profile. It's like whenever he turns up, there's a problem and he makes the campaign look foolish.

    The worst part is that he's really losing that stature of a former President. He just seems so petty and small compared to Presidents Bush II & Bush I right now.

    January 17, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Red

    As a long time Hillary supporter in Georgia, I'm now fed up and shifting toward Edwards or Obama. Great job!

    January 17, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Christian, Tampa FL

    I am very disappointed in the Clintons. They talk nice and offer olive branches while starting racial campaign spats and trying to suppress democracy in order to win.

    January 17, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. mark

    I agree with the previous posters; I think this was a very reasonable, though intense, response.

    Let me ask CNN, "is your definition of 'going off' not raising your voice and restating the someone else's position, which they didn't appear to disagree with? Is that really your definition?"

    January 17, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. C.K Michigan

    I thought President Clinton handled himself very well. I hate it when reporters take something so minor and insignificant and blow it WAY OUT of proportion (much like the fairy tale comment). The reporter asked him a confrontational question and he received a confrontational response. To say that Clinton has disgraced himself throughout the course of this campaign is simply inaccurate and ridiculous.

    January 17, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. danluke

    way to go, Bill... you really put Ron Burgundy in his place there, didn't you?... pathetic.

    January 17, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. bibihenna

    Hillary you are the light that con make USA and the world a better place

    January 17, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. Meg

    Bill and Hillary have angered Many and it's sickening to see them continue to do do each and everyday. Very sickening to see what is happening again in My country. The gap of devide is wide opening each and everyday with these people around. This is no different to what George W. Bush had done to this country.
    We need a uniter not a devider!
    Goooooooooooo Obama, we have your back!

    January 17, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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