January 17th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
9 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. veronica

    Nothing goes on in some of the media (and especially this board) except Clinton bashing.
    It's ignorant, and I'm thoroughly disgusted with it.
    This is a real turn-off to decent people out here like me.
    I am thankful that I am not that hateful a person!

    January 17, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. George, Billerica, Mass.

    Gee, I dunno. Is the election fair? That's the question here. It's obviously not. Caucuses are intrinsically not fair for voters. Primaries at least give voters at least twelve hours to haul their butts down to a polling station. Caucuses intentionally (I believe) limit themselves to the most dedicated party people. Not democratic. So we get a lot of political garbage and non-news because of them. Madness.

    January 17, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. John Karsten, Virginia Beach, VA

    I wonder why he got REALLY MAD.......I think deep down they DID have something to do with the lawsuit.

    But of course, I belived him when he said "I did not have sex with that woman" and my favorite one "I did not inhale" Yeah, billy boy I believe you this time around.

    I WISH THE CLINTON's WOULD GET OUT OF politics, they had their turn.......good grief!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 17, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. Eleanor

    Bill Clinton really needs to get out of the limelight
    He is coming across as very desperate and it does not reflect well on Hillary
    He needs to "let his wife run her own campaign"
    Also he is not looking well ....very tired and ragged looking
    He needs to think of the stress and the impact it could have on his health problems
    Go relax Bill, Hillary is quite capable of running her own campaign!

    January 17, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. rehcaet

    Today’s journalists act more like paparazzi than responsible reporters, as indicated in this article. Too few reporters, certainly here at CNN, seek to gain new information and share it with an equally informed or at least intellectually engaged public. Too many seek controversy, looking to incite the public and/or create a problem when one didn’t exist. Pay attention to what this article is focused on: that Clinton was “visibly combative”; he doesn’t appear combative at all but the very use of that word makes you think something is getting out of control. Note that the writers don’t even deal with what Clinton was saying: THAT THE CULINARY UNION WAS TRYING TO MANIPULATE THE VOTING PROCESS. A responsible journalist would have reported on the issue first and the emotions, second.

    And for crying out loud, it is the Teachers’ Union who took out the lawsuit, not the Clintons. Yes, the Teachers’ Union supports Clinton. Yes, the Culinary Union supports Obama. Step one in information land. But do we then get to make the assumption that everything the Teachers’ Union does is scripted by the Clinton campaign? If that’s the case, then we also would need to make the same assumption – that everything the Culinary Union is doing is scripted by Obama. Since there is a lawsuit involved, you probably don’t want to go there. Besides, it is sloppy thinking.

    Do not let the cheesy sensationalists at CNN influence you. Insist on honesty and accuracy from the media. It is incredibly dangerous for a country, or a person, to settle for anything less.

    (note: revised to take out an inappropriate word...)

    January 17, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    You need to check your facts....


    The only ID required for the voting of the kitchen workers and maids–is a union ID...or a employee ID...and they're in.
    Isn't it nice to know perhaps 2/3 of the votes will be made by illegal aliens. Must make us proud as a nation.

    Not a legal document like a voter registration card or drivers license-dunderheads.

    January 17, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. American

    Bill Clinton you are a hypocrite & a liar;

    If you are genuinely concern about some people's "vote worthing five times.. more than others…as you put it”, why didn't you say that since March last year when the rules was made?

    Oh! I know the reason, your wife Mrs. Clinton was the front runner then, so the rules benefited her then and as far as you are concern it was cool then.

    Why accuse the rule & the timing of the Caucus; 24-48 hrs after the Culinary Union had just endorse another candidate?

    Or the rule is only good when it favors the Clintons and bad when it favors someone else?

    Thank God the Judge saw through the lies & disguise and OKed the caucus.

    January 17, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. larry buchas, new britain, ct

    Hey Bill,

    Who gets to vote 5 times? You're not saying our democracy is at stake, are you?

    Since you're at it, how about an audit on that New Hampshire result? A 16-point swing that everybody (but Hillary supporters) still question.

    You must be listening to Rush. Do us all a favor. Keep talking how proud you are of Barack. That's what you did for one day, at least.

    January 17, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. S Williams, Tampa

    Steven Klein

    I really think you brought up some scary, but very valid concerns about Bill Clinton's potential miscues in the future!!

    Bill can't help himself.

    January 17, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Tunstall, Barbara


    January 17, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. AJ, California

    Nevadans, this is your chance! If you have people left over in your (Obama) group after beating clinton, be sure to send Edward's group some extras for him to get second place.

    January 17, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Frank

    Regardless of the appropriateness of clinton's remarks, the former president is not running for a third term. It is Hillary Clinton who is running for president. He is becoming a liability for the clinton campaign. Obama has to run a clean campaign and refrain from topics of race and discrimination. In regards to his drug abuse as a teen, the daughters of the bush family are no saints. If Republicans target obama's drug use as a kid, Obama can talk about the daughters of the bush brothers. So the republicans need to be careful.

    January 17, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Greg in OH

    mike in cleveland,

    Please stop making Cleveland look bad, I grew up there. Bill didn't have a point, this was agreed to by all parties in March and I thought they were not part of it. They are just annoyed the union supported Obama and not Hillary.

    January 17, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. Jacik form WV

    This is politics the Clinton’s way. Have we forgotten how Bill demoralized the Presidency? I am a retired Veteran and I like others did not respect him at all. She will not bring anything to the White House other than problems.
    I hope the America sees this for what it is, sleazy politics the Clinton’s way doing anything to get elected, well she will not get my vote at all

    January 17, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. PJ

    If you can't win fair and square win any way you can. That is the Clinton way.

    January 17, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. Smedley Butler,

    Contemptible hypocrite and a childish, playground bully to boot.

    January 17, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. PJ

    When the Clintons lose just watch how they and their supports claim the election (any election) was rigged. Takes one to know one.

    January 17, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. Michael, Orlando FL

    Don't get mad Bill. You should have tried the crying trick. It worked for Slick Willary in New Hampshire. Those gullible people believed every tear.

    January 17, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  19. S

    Inquiring Mind

    ***I have noticed that also and wonder why she's still talking about him. I swear I think she's gonna vote for him, it's always, Obama this or Obama that. *****


    January 17, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. Truethis

    The Clintons instigated this hold thing. They are playing dirty politics. They approved for the workers to caucus at the casinos10 months ago but once union endorse Obama the Clintons get one of their supporters to file suit two weeks later after the endorsement. Hillary kept her mouth shut but o.........no his conscious start bothering him that's why he got upset.

    January 17, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Steve

    I don't know enough about the details of the dispute that led to the court action to take one side or another, but in regards to Bill Clinton, I didn't hear him raise his voice or even use an accusatory tone, so I don't know where the "combative" description comes from unless there was an additional exchange not on the clip.

    January 17, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. Craig of Salisbury

    Bravo for the judgment to allow the culinary union members an opportunity to participate in the caucus. This whole issue has from the beginning been the Clinton's playing politics, with the goal of enhancing their chance of garnering the bulk of the delegates awarded by the caucus. Their idea is that winning is more important than encouraging and promoting citizen participation–which, by the way, undermines a free society.


    January 17, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. Amy, Kazoo

    Maybe Obama can find the Culinary Worker's Union legitimate papers while he's at it.

    January 17, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. Brady

    Congratulations to Mr. Mooney and Ms. Sinderbrand for the stupidest media report of the day! Watching the video report, it did not appear that Bill Clinton raised his voice, it looked more like he wanted a chance to explain his position. The verity of his explanation is another issue altogther. CNN staff: why not work a little harder on your fair and balanced coverage? Give the Clintons a break and go follow on Michelle Obama's heels for awhile. She might get a little testy with you too.

    January 17, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Marti, San Diego CA

    Thank heavens a court has blocked this nonsense!!! I was completely sickened to read that the Billary political machine would stoop so hypocritically low to try and keep people from voting–primarily minorities.

    Wake up Democrats. That's what you're getting if you put Billary back in office.

    Bill, take a sedative or something. I know you want to be back in control of everything, but back off. You're fighting against the American people and their right to vote.

    January 17, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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