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. Jeff

    Jose Card, I support Obama over Clinton and agree with your notion that Hillary is Bill's proxy for a 3rd and 4th term, but I have to respectfully say that your argument is mistaken.

    Term limits weren't set on the presidency until after FDR, which was well after women's rights and certainly not in the 1700s. The founding fathers had decided not to impose term limits (actually, Alexander Hamilton wanted Presidents and Senators to serve for life terms).

    That being said, I agree that this type of political manuevering is bad, but then again look at John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Clearly one's familial connections were considered at the time. The Bushes were a bad example of that purposeful omission...the Clintons might be another....if Hillary was electable!

    January 17, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Carol

    The problem here is that, as with the fairy tale rant, he's not telling the whole story. The "vote counting 5 times" bit is a clear exaggeration, as the original television report attests. And, as others have noted, the Clinton campaign helped set up this plan back in March 2007.

    January 17, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. California Lady

    To E.C. Houston – I could not agree with y ou more about CNN being for the Clinton's. I too am sick and tired of seeing the favouritism from a lot of the media towards the Clinton's but especially CNN.
    To CNN: I used to love your program but if you keep this up I will definitely turn you off.
    It is time for the Clinton's to retire and let someone run this country who can do a good job. Obama has what it takes.
    Hillary – you are an Iron Lady and would run overtop of everyone you can if you ever get into the White House again. The horror stories about you are just too many and to awful. Good-bye Clinton's

    January 17, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. James Izzard

    Why is CNN disecting every move Bill and Hillary Clinton and Britney Spears makes, yet is giving Huckabee a free ride?

    The man want to rewrite the constitution. Are you paying attention?

    January 17, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. JimS.

    Why is nobody focusing on what the REAL power struggle probably is here? I.E, the power struggle between the Teacher's Union and the Culinary Union.

    I don't know Nevada politics-but I'd be willing to bet these 2 groups have a history of going head-to-head against each other. All thse p.o.s. rporters expending all this energy to stir up drama stories, but no reporter has bothered to outline the history between these 2 unions? Is that where the real story lies??

    January 17, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. AJ, IL

    Bill Clinton is trying to sound defensive to deny any connection to the lawsuit. We all must remember, my fellow Americans, Bill a lawyer by profession. How dumb do Hillary and Bill take the people of Nevada to be?

    FACT 1: The Cuminary Union's plan was endorsed by the Nevada Democratic Party back in March 2007.

    FACT 2: The Democratic National Committee ratified the plan back in August 2007.

    FACT 3: The lawsuit was filed within two days after the Cuminary Union's endorsement of Obama.

    This whole lawsuit is a waste of time and money. It better not be a waste of taxpayer money!!!!!

    OBAMA in '08!

    January 17, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Sal

    Obama – do you think double standards apply to him? Does his history ties in hate groups not wake people up?

    January 17, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. curious...

    I have been trying to learn more about the facts and history behind this lawsuit. It seems important – why is it not getting more coverage in the news?

    January 17, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. DJ, Missouri

    Does anyone understand what he is talking about when he says the vote would count 5 times as much? I'm not following.

    January 17, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Angel

    Richmond, Va.: Is it just me, or is Bill Clinton getting a bit too much into this race? Here's how I see it: Obama is pretty much having to take on both Hillary, the candidate, and Bill, the candidate's husband - it seems like a bit of overload. The question then becomes, is Bill really supposed to be doing this or Hillary? How is Obama supposed to stay afloat all this mud?

    January 17, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. j-dog

    In this clip, Bill Clinton simply stated the facts as they are so I am kind of taken aback by the headline... who came up with that one anyhow? The casino workers should not receive "preferential treatment" in Nevada or anywhere else. I am going to make the assumption that maybe there are more than a few Native American casino's located in other states where the same rules would need to be applied for their employees since they are open 24/7 as well. If the caucuses are allowed in the Nevada casinos then a precedent will be set for other states down the line. Does anyone else realize the fact that the delegate count will fall to Hillary regardless of the results from Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada and maybe a few other states? Florida, New York and California will be the true measuring stick so all the Obama-Heads need to get a grip, jump on the Clinton ship and get used to calling their man the V(i)P!

    January 17, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. Eric

    Nice headline CNN! It always a joy to see the media put a slant on the news. It is obvious that the reporter asked an accusatory question and from the video it is obvious that Bill Clinton defended himself from the accusation. I see nothing wrong with that.

    January 17, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. CNN

    You must be a politically correct moderator because you won't put the comments about the facts on Obama but will slam others...

    January 17, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. Ray

    So when Obama does it its ok? He was getting heated, he was just getting tired of people blaming them. Wake America!! Hillary 08!

    January 17, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. Mary, Michigan

    Bill Clinton is a master politician. However, I don't think he has figured out yet how to campaign for someone other than himself.

    I feel like I'm watching an ex-president implode before my very eyes.

    This is all so strange...

    January 17, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  16. Maryann - Orlando, FL

    I am supporting RON PAUL for president, but I must comment about this.

    Did everyone here watch the video and read the report above? It says that the TEACHERS UNION filed the lawsuit. NOT THE CLINTONS.

    This is why Bill got annoyed. He did not raise his voice, he just strongly voiced his opinion of this when asked.

    I don't get all the hate for the Clintons on this thread in this particular story.

    Could someone explain it to me?

    January 17, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. S

    I am guaranteed at least 2 or 3 good laughs from the Clintons everyday.

    January 17, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Jessie

    Obama – double standards?

    January 17, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. bibihenna

    Obama con be a good first grade teacher NOt a leader of the world.
    Go HIllary.

    January 17, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. jak

    How about Bill Clinton gets off the campaign trail and lets the little lady do her own campaigning...I mean, after all, HE doesn't want another term, and HE certainly wiould have NO influence over her decisions in the White House.....and hey, I have this bridge I'd like to sell you.......

    January 17, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Tipton Dodge

    Wait to go Mr. Clinton. Standing up to the media, accusing you of doing something wrong, and which you had nothing to do with, is absolutely the correct thing to do. I admire your tenacity on what you believe to be correct!

    January 17, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. My Comment Deleted

    First it was in Moderation, then you deleted it. Why?

    No profanity, and it did not violate any rules.

    The vast majority of the people heading to the Strip caucuses will be the underlings of the Culinary - dishwashers, hotel room maids, cooks, etc. - who are the least paid, and most vulnerable to intimidation. And the Culinary leadership has always used them to organize other hotels and vote for their choices.

    The Culinary has full time paid organizers bringing in its masses of members working the low-paying jobs, who will HAVE to raise their hands at the caucus sites for Obama, under the watchful (and threatening) eyes of the Culinary organizers.

    I hope those Strip caucus sites receive a lot of media attention because the Culinary's tactics there will resemble something out of the old Soviet Union, when people casting ballots in boxes under the eyes of Communist Party operatives had to use a special-colored ballot for the Communist Party leader, and another type of ballot to vote against him, making it obvious whom that voter was for.

    It seems obvious that intimidation will be a factor in the voting process at these precincts. Voters who wish to support a candidate will have to do so in front of the watchful eyes of their union reps. These people can then either dismiss or help them with, an harassment claim, a grievance, forced overtime, unpaid labor, or dangerous working conditions etc. etc.

    Democratic leaders insist workers need only show an employee badge. If they don't have one, a party spokeswoman lamely says "we'll somehow accommodate them, hence many illegal immigrants will be voting.

    Many of these immigrant workers are also new citizens and have come from countries where voter intimidation is the norm. So, for them, it would also be expected. If they want to support Clinton or Edwards they will just not go, if they even feel they are able to do that and not place their jobs at risk.

    People should not be caucusing where they work, unless they have secret ballots, again a central tenet of democracy. It is too open to intimidation. There is too much pressure to vote the way the boss or the union wants you to vote.

    I don't think anyone can pretend these polling places would be neutral or unintimidating for those who want to support Clinton or Edwards. Plus many other groups/unions don't get this preferential treatment of setting up special caucus' for a special group, thus others are disenfranchised.

    They should be shut down. A primary with ballots should be conducted.

    January 17, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. California Lady

    To marge Hibbing – start reading and make sure you know what you are talking about before you speak. The reason the press doesn't go after Obama is because they don't have nothing negative to go after him for. Believe me, if they did, they would. Obama could have really come out blasting the Clinton campaign on a number of things they have done but he is not going to fall into their habitual nasty ways.
    He is in this race for Presidency because he knows he can bring some good back to this country. For too many years the rich old white boys club have run this country and it is time for a refreshing change.
    Oh – by the way, I am a 58 year young caucasian woman.
    Go Obama Go

    January 17, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Bob, Florida - RFO

    Team Clinton speaks with one voice, thinks with one brain and acts for one purpose and that is to get the Clintons back into the White House.

    I don't care whom you support this does not pass the gut check.

    The voice of the people is the strength of America!

    January 17, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. WallyWutMD

    Whoa... calmn down Billy! Can we get some of those animal control guys with the tranquillizer darts in here!

    January 17, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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