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. Virginia

    Thank God for the federal judge who exercised some sanity into this process. The Clinton machine might get slowed down a bit – hopefully a lot! They have been use to mowing down everyone in their paths for years and maybe for once they can take out five minutes and reflect on their tactics. I am a "Yellow Dog" Democrat – but will never in this lifetime vote for Hillary Clinton!!!

    January 17, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. John

    LYNN said:
    I still remember having to explain to my 13 year old daughter and her friends that 'oral sex was really sex.'

    Oh,,,,LYYYYYNNNNN, explain to your daughter why Republican Foley waits for interns to hit 18 and why Craig taps his shoe in airport restroom, or why a republican judge has a lubricant and a doll when he was arrested.

    Oh please, please, explain that to her.

    January 17, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Ito, Yokosuka Japan

    Bill Clinton is a dope. HRC is right there with him. Team Billary is just a sad combination.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. A vote for HRC is not a vote for change, but a vote for the same. You like what Bush is doing? You want more of it? Vot for HRC and you got it. More lies, more spin, more people saying stupid things, more people not accepting responsibility for their actions, more controversies, more unreleased documents, more finger pointing, more, more, more...BS.

    Please do not vote for HRC. Washington will not change Washington and to think it will is living a fairy tail.

    January 17, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. pjonathan

    I agree with George Will's comment: "Speaking of the boomers' inexhaustible fascination with themselves, Bill Clinton has transformed his wife's campaign into his narcissism tour. As the New York Times dryly described a New Hampshire appearance the day after her Iowa rejection: "He talked about his administration, his foundation work and some about his wife.""

    However, it talks only about tactical campaigning. There is something of more concern.

    Running to redeem a father and now, a husband, is a story worth writing.
    Much has been written about George W running to redeem his father's "failure" to "go to Bagdad".
    Some has been written this time around about Senator Dodd running to redeem his father's failure-ethical lapses- and Governor Romney running to redeem his father's failure-his brainwashing comments.
    The press has been nibbling around the edges of Hillary running to redeem Bill and herself. That story, however, is the most intriguing of the bunch.

    In addition, an article written about all of these "redemption" runs would probably convince us that voters should never vote for a presidential candidate who is related to a president or presidential candidate. I think with just my information it is fair to say that redemption runs lead to poor judgment in the political decisions of a campaign and in presidential decisions, clouding both. An experienced political writer or writers would be able to fully research and present clearly the results of that research.

    I think that Hillary Clinton would still be leading if Bill Clinton had been kept in the background. What I am seeing and what I believe the press is starting to report is that Hillary's race is all about Bill redeeming Bill and Bill's legacy and Hillary redeeming Bill, Bill's legacy, and Hillary's legacy. Obama and Edwards have been clearly stating for a long time that their presidential race is about America or about the middle class or about the other America, not about them. Hillary in NH is just starting to say that her race is not about her. But she just said that the race for her is very personal, suggesting policy but in reality much more telling.

    January 17, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Lulu, Tucson

    Can someone explain what he means by 'votes counted 5xs'. Where is he getting that from? I thought caucuses are not based on the exact numbers, but based on percentages.

    January 17, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. John D.

    The former president is right on this one ... This casino caucus arrangement is pretty slimy. It definitely creates an unfair advantage over non-casino workers and voters. Please, Nevada, there's got to be a better way to run a democracy.

    Don't like to see Clinton all fired up, but who else is going to shine a light on this strange arrangement. Somehow the media just seems to take it for granted.

    January 17, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Joe UCSD

    I don't understand what Clinton meant by the votes being counted 5 times? Is he solely talking about the ease of the Culinary Union to vote or do some votes have more weight than others?

    January 17, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. z,new york, ny

    Clinton: Liar liar pants on fire!

    January 17, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Jason

    And the raised voice was when, exactly? Or the combativeness? I'm not sure if I see either one in this clip.

    January 17, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. Steve

    WHO cares what Bill says or does...obviously not his spouse.

    January 17, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Howard

    Speaking of Bill Clinton's legacy, does anyone remember the Cox Report of 1999 (www.house.gov/coxreport)? VERY interesting reading.

    January 17, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. John

    You go Bill! I am so sick of the media ignoring all the real issues (war criminals in the white house, mortgage crisis, crumbling roads and bridges) while playing obvious politics against Hillary's campaign. It's so clear that the media, including CNN, has a very strong bias against Ms. Clinton, apparently they are worried they might have to start paying their taxes again.

    January 17, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Courtney S.

    I am an Obama supporter, voted for Bill and still like Mr. Clinton. But Bill is Bananas! If this was such a major issue it would have been addresed sooner. I can only imagine this suit wouldn't have taken place if Senator Clinton received the endorcement. I don't know or care if the Clintons are behind it, but their major supporters in NV are. I have almost always voted in schools and I have NEVER heard this crap before. Get over it, no one said they were all going to cast their votes for Obama, free will is still alive and its a 3 person race...

    Bill take a valium, calm down and SHUT UP!

    January 17, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. Sidney

    duh, I want to go vote where my vote counts as 5 votes instead of just one. Sorry Bill but never ever will I believe the guy that said on National TV "I did not have sex with that girl". Nice trying to pay back Hilliary all the disrespect you showed her but it Ain't working here Buddy.

    January 17, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. Arthur A. Roberts, Ashford, CT

    Get's heated? This is going off on a reporter? Man, these whimps should come to some of my families political discussions. We'd melt their ears.

    January 17, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. pam , s.c.

    bill pipe down what are you thinking about ? hillary needs to fire you prompto

    January 17, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. John D.

    Just watched the video. To suggest that Clinton is "lashing out" or raised his voice seems to be a real media whine in this case. This story is very unfair. And it seems that reporters these days have very week backbones and thin skins.

    January 17, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. stefan


    January 17, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. Al in Wpg

    Hillary's new campagne slogan:

    what Barack said

    I can't take credit for that one, Colbert Report.

    January 17, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. JACK, NY, NY

    CNN's Alexander Mooney and Rebecca Sinderbrand- please take yur grade 10 english class again so you are able to report the story with correct description.

    CNN- are you really hiring high school drop out for these non-sense blogs.

    January 17, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. Josh

    Does ANYONE actually believe that Billary had nothing to do with this lawsuit?!? Is it simply a coincidence that the Teachers Union files suit only after the Culinary Workers Union endorses Obama?!? Please... if anything Billary should be challenging the lawsuit for DISENFRANCHISING Nevada voters... I guarantee that they would have had the situation been reversed...

    If Obama loses the Democratic Nomination it will be only because he hasn't taken a lesson from the "Bible of Dirty Campaign Trickery" authored by the Clinton Political Smearing Machine, Inc…. seriously folks, will we ever elect a president that wins without having thrown the most mud?!?! I HOPE that the message of HOPE wins the day for once in our nations history, and that we finally kick the fear card to the curb…

    Barack is the inspirational leader our country so desperately needs. Ask yourself this question: when was the last time a President of the United States of America inspired ANYBODY? JFK?!? Certainly not in my lifetime...

    OBAMA '08

    January 17, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. frenchync

    exactly who believes anything clinton – the perjurer -as to say!

    let's talk about sandy berger...the documents he stole from the national archives – which shoved down his pants and destroyed..the guilty verdict....the $50K fine...the three year suspension of security clearance (yes – folks -thats right – the man who should be in jail for is given a suspension!!!)....and now sandy is working on "billary's" campaign!


    January 17, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Don

    Some of you people should read what you write and then have a good, healthy laugh. The Clintons are attacked at every turn. What do they do? Stand up for themselves and state the facts. They are constantly under scrutiny because they are the "Rock stars" of this election cycle. Bill is a former 2-term President. OF COURSE they're going to be more open to attacks and I commend them for standing their ground. You people can keep ranting, but as I've said before, Hillary's supporters are the only people I see being constructive and civil on these boards. We state the facts and are prepared to back them up. We don't need to diminish your candidates to feel good about ours. You are all so textbook.

    January 17, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. Jordan, Seattle WA

    I'd buy Bill's argument a whole lot more if this lawsuit had come, say, anytime between August and when Obama got so much union support.

    The Clintons, as well as the teacher's union, knew about these rules long before Obama was backed by his various unions. The fact that the lawsuit only came after is a little more than suspicious timing...

    January 17, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. Ali

    Way to blow things out of proportion again, CNN. Raised voice, huh?

    January 17, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
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