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. j-dog

    My Fellow Democrats,
    Wake up and smell the coffee you liberal pansies! Do you really think that the Rove-Publicans are going to simply step aside come November and "play nice" with a new Democratic President?
    The Clintons have fire in their belly, they have gone to to toe with Pubyas and won at every turn which fires me up as a Democrat! The political arena is exactly that... it requires battle in the bloodies back rooms and in the dark corridors of Washington.... we all know that... UNLESS you are one of these utopian society geeks that believes in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and fairy tales. Sending a young, inexperienced lamb into the lions den will only land another Pub in the White House the next go around. We have the opportunity to have a Democrat in office for the NEXT FOUR TERMS if we play our cards right... Hill for Eight and Obama for Eight... Would that not be great? Get some backbone and get someone in there now that has experience in the fight... then, after Obama has a little time under his belt he will hold his own in due time. Go Dems 08'!!

    January 17, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Don

    Joelene Reno, Nevada – Thanks for speaking up here. No Dem knew what they were getting into when voting for this change and instead of including more people in the caucus, this has made it more exclusive.

    As for the video, Bill was standing his ground and stating the facts. When will you people get over yourselves? Prove to me that he was being hostile or overly aggressive. I know a thing or two about psychology and from what I saw, he is a man who wanted to set the record straight and avoid dancing around the issue. With anyone else, this would be exactly the interpretation, but because some of you don't like Bill, he's being combative. Pitiful.

    January 17, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. Russell

    I must say the American media thoroughly enjoys blowing things out of proportion with their excessive and bloated vocabulary use. Clinton "lashes" out at the media. If you guys can seriously call that an angry rampage, I'd love to see how you would react to true emotional outbursts given by politicians in other countries. Try sitting down in a parliament, or the House in your case, and listen to how politicians speak. Clinton is one of the few American politicians with widespread support in Canada simply BECAUSE he has an ability and the indifference to speak his mind. It really means something to the public when politicians can demonstrate they are humans as well.

    Russell Cooper
    Halifax, NS, Canada

    January 17, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Pat Huntington NY

    Bill is right. The change was unfair. It's obvious Obama couldn't win under the old rules, so he had them changed in his favor. Now, who's Slick?

    January 17, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. JB Boston MA

    As Bill was being carried off, he yelled "Don't tase me bro, don't tase me!"

    January 17, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. Nalla

    Steven Klein,

    You are absolutely correct. You should start your own blog.

    I couldn't have said that any better.

    January 17, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Steven Klein

    S. Williams, Tampa...Thank you. I don't think we can even imagine all the trouble Bill will get himself, Hillary, and our country into if he gets himself back into the White House. With him and Hillary there, the Republicans (if they have 41 Senators) will go awol. What Hillary still has no grasp on is that the change Barack is talking about isn't just in new laws and policies, but in attitude, reconciliation after the Bush years, the end of red and blue states, the end of Rovian politics, and a pullback from what we have had for eight years...a "civil war" without guns. If Hillary is elected, this "war" will intensify, with her ruling the 50% of the people who support her, and the other 50% turning their back on her. If Obama is elected, we have a chance, just a chance, but still a chance to bring peace to this country and then to the world. I lived through the 60s, the assasinations, the polarization, the "America, Love it or Leave it." And I can tell you the last eight years have been worse. I used to have pride in my country, and when I traveled abroad, I was respected, as all Americans were. Now, my step son, who is in the Air Force, tells me he can't get served in a restaurant in Europe when in uniform, he and his friends are spat upon. I believe Barack can change that. But we need to keep the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton geneeration from happening...and then there is another eight years of Jeb Bush in the waiting. Please, Democrats, even though it is time for a woman to be President, not this woman. It is also time for a person of color to be President, and please, this is the one. Remember...Moses was the deliverer of the slaves from Egypt...and Barack (whose name means Blessed in Hebrew and Arabic) can deliver this country from itself. And put Bill back in history...where he belongs. Back to the Future was a movie...let's not make it a reality.

    January 17, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Fed up in Seattle

    Please note, the article says Bill's wife’s campaign had "nothing to do" with the lawsuit. However, in the actual interview Bill said "I had nothing to do with that lawsuit." Therefore, he achieved his objective in classic Clinton style. He conviced CNN his wife's campaign was not involved, while he really only said he was not personally involved, thereby, maintaining plausible deniability for his own involvement.

    Remember, this is the guy who knows what the meaning of "is" is.

    Pretty slick, don't you think?

    January 17, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. John West

    You ever see Anger management? When Adam Sandler is on a plane and is acting quite calmly, and the flight attendant is screaming at him to calm down? That's just what is going on here. CNN, quit trying to make news. Just report it. I saw a man making a rational argument, who never once raised his voice and never once got flustered. It's so sad that I can get better more well rounded campaign coverage from The Daily Show, and even more sad, my Canadian news organizations.

    CNN, report, don't create, for the last time. Seriously.

    January 17, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Mirta

    That was "lashing out"? I think he was simply responding to an accusatory tone for a reporter. Besides, people...Hillary has alot of support amongst Hispanic culinary workers who make up the majority of this group. Hey, we'll take their vote x 5!

    Hillary '08

    January 17, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. JS

    I did not have sex with that woman ...

    I had nothing to do with that lawsuit.

    Methinks he doth protest too much.

    January 17, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. JoR

    You hear so much about the Clintons because CNN's articles on the Clintons are all negative articles with CNN's anti-Clinton spin on it! Have you noticed that they have a huge announcement for every new celebrity or politico supporter for Obama.but not for Clinton?

    CNN: Where is the article about Obama claiming that Regan was effective leader but not Clinton? The Republicans must love that! Regan was a president who was not for the middle class but for corporations. He believed in that trickled down effect. Wow, it is really working now! Not only are the corporations not trickling down the decent wages and benefits to their workers but are taking their jobs away from them and outsourcing them to China and India (thanks to a tax credit to corporations from George W Bush).

    Do you know who campaigned for Obama when he ran for senator in Illinois? Bill Clinton. He helped him become a senator; and if Obama didn't get elected, he wouldn't be running for President. Who would elect a state senator for President?

    Obama supporters, CNN loves your candidate!

    CNN, you and Rush Limbaugh have so much in common,

    January 17, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. Jim

    Billary Billary Billary,
    Don't worry about all those union jobs in Nevada. Those folks had no intention of ever voting for Hillary. You see, union people have not forgotton the sins of your administration, you know, the NAFTA thing you signed.
    Well Bill, I lost my job with the auto industry and I'm still looking with others for that "service Industry job that you promised. Go union, go Obama

    January 17, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    un-real! some of you suggesting Pres. Clinton wants a heart attack to get sympathy votes? who are you people? Al-Queda? I don't hold any regards for Dick Chaney, but I would never suggest he would try to get a heart attack for sympathy! he is a passionate man, with a reporter that got in his face, tempers will fly and this is a very tight and contested race. but some of you should be ashame, these are good people, sacrificing a lot in the hopes of helping ALL americans. you don't like Sen. clinton, then don've vote for her, but do not try pushing your candidate down my throat like he is the next king! this is America last I check and elections do matter and issues matters and experience matters!

    January 17, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. Amy

    Can you please not delete this?

    Bill is slowly losing it as Hillary's attack dog He is bullying and finger wagging his way back into the White House so his wife can keep her softer side in play. They both feel so entitled and it shows. People want change they can believe in not the Clinton tactics and status quo. His behaviour is demeaning of his presidential legacy. It is just plain wrong for Bill Clinton to defend anything that would disenfranchize voters.

    January 17, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. vincent

    Good Cop, Bad Cop

    January 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. Silence Dogood

    Dearest CNN,

    I was thrilled to see the headline "Bill Clinton goes off on reporter". In fact, I was convinced that the story was going to discuss a Howard Dean-esque blowup (see: hilarious). Unfortunately, upon seeing the clip, I quickly realized that was not the case...

    Do you really consider Clintons response to that question to be considered "visibly combative"? Oh please. I am disgusted by the hyperbolic nature of your "reporting". Re-evaluate what you release and get a grip on reality.

    Until you do, I am perfectly satisfied spending my time on nytimes.com.

    Mrs. Silence Dogood

    January 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. jason

    Do you people not understand what he just said?

    "disenfranchise voters"

    Yea, sure...would you be whining if they placed voting booths outside of doctor's offices to allow the doctor's to walk right out and vote, and allowed their votes to count more than car mechanics, warehouse workers, fast food workers who had to leave their job and travel a few miles just to vote in the first place?

    What part of Clinton's points did you people not get?

    Clinton bashers...

    1)Obama has the same voting record as Hillary
    2)Obama has the same corporate contributors as Hillary
    3)Obama just admitted he regretted allowing his campaign staff to push the race
    card to media after a non-racist statement by Hillary.


    January 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. MattG

    Aside from the accusations of bias which I am just sick of, can you imagine the assistants and Secret Service for Bill who have to pull him away from all kinds of situations? The Secret Service all probably pray Hillary doesn't make it. Then Hillary would say "You work for me now! Make sure Bill does not embarass my administration. Keep him away from the buffet and don't let any women within 100 yards of him good looking or not". He might be fun to hang with and talk to, but I would not want to be the guy charged with keeping him out of trouble....even though I like the guy.

    January 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. kbpair

    To claim that these votes will be counted 5 times is truly an outrageous statement. How does Bill know who people will vote for? How does he make that calim and get away with it.

    The caucus system is very imperfect. Voters have to publicly show support. That means there was always the possibility of a voter having to publicly go against the union.

    This lawsuit at least gives the workers a chance to vote.

    The system is not perfect but unfortunately it is too late to change it now.

    January 17, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. Scott Moyer-Kalamazoo, MI

    I don't find Bill to be too terribly combative as suggested by the headline, but I must say, it seems that the Clinton campaign has more than their fair share of the "it's not fair", "I've been misrepresented", "they misquoted me", "it wasn't meant in that way" kind of moments. If your constantly correcting folks as to your intent then I think there is something wrong with the messenger. I like Bill, but I really don't believe Hillary is ready or capable of being president at this time. Another time, another day perhaps.

    January 17, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. brendan

    Bill Clinton is the greatest living American today.

    January 17, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Lynn

    Why was this lawsuit not filed back in March of 2007 when the decision to have 9 addtional sites on the Las Vegas Strip made? Its been 10 months and now you bring the lawsuit?!

    January 17, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Steven

    Isn't it a bit ironic that this guy would be lecturing anyone about morality or legality after he disgraced the Oval office and then committed perjury.

    January 17, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  25. Matt

    Hey is Bill drinking moonshine out of a Jelly jar in this picture?

    Bill you need to learn to shut up. Youu are the one who made Race a issue and then were shocked when they called you a racist. Now you get irate and upset that your wifes people are preventing clearly Obama supporters from voting and you still think it is a fair election.

    It's not like Obama ran in a race all by himself and barely won like your wife did. His advisors did not get drunk and drive and somehow have the story supressed untill after the election. But sure go ahead and say the others are not playing fair. Sadly there are still Americans that believe your retarded logic and will vote for your shill of a wife.

    Please America just don't vote for them. We need change in this country and we can not have it if we vote for the same old same old.

    Anybody but Clinton.

    January 17, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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