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. Phil of Colorado

    Bill needs to understand that he is not the candidate. His hostility across the board merely shows his role as the hatchet man to keep Hillary looking nice.

    January 17, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Sam

    Oh no! You mean, Bill Clinton gets angry?! What kind of human being gets angry?! That's it! I'm voting for John McCain!

    January 17, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. columbus

    When Billy was talking to reporters, it reminded me of when he looked into another reporter's camera while in office and said "I did not have se_ with that woman".

    January 17, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    This is "lashing out" and "going off"? Hey, whatever gets people to visit the site. Who cares if it's sensationalism and not real journalism?

    January 17, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Obama 08

    ..so Bill gets a tad testy....Johnson apologizes...SO IS IT TIME FOR HILARY TO CRY???Same old tired playbook of dirty, sleezy tricks..

    I agree with the earlier comments about the concern of what a H. Clinton cabinet would look like with Bill hovering about..as Biden said, Who would want to be VP with Bill around...one has to wonder whether there would be room for anyone else or for dissenting or critical voices....

    January 17, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. elly

    For those people who have brought up voting in schools. I don't see the comparison to the casino's at large precincts. Teachers don't vote where they teach just because the school is a precinct. Also, teaching is a job where you can not " get away" from work for any reason because of your classroom. So caucusing would be impossible for this LARGE group of people. They are the disenfranchised voters but what else is new about the teaching profession?

    January 17, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Helen

    How come anything the Clintons say thay get a bashing for it? Obama and his wife can say what ever it just goes with out any quistions being asked.The media takes everthing the clintons say and turn in obamas favor.Bill did not raise his voice in that vidio.DO THAY TAKE US FOR IDIOTS?????

    January 17, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. ek

    Just a few days after the O's endorsement, then they decide file suit. Nough said. The fact that this law suit was politically motivated is without question. I'm amazed how people who claim to walk erect on two legs could believe otherwise.

    You must have also believed Johnson when he said his remarks about O referred to his community organization activity.

    You know, I have some property in Hawaii I think you would be interested in.

    January 17, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. Eric

    Pat Hunington is either dead wrong or lying. The rules were always this way and the Teacher's Union (supporting Clinton) was trying to get the rules changed after the game began.

    January 17, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Jack W

    I'm not form the U.S. so I'm impartial, and to me it appears that one segment of the Democratic voters in Nevada have been given an easier way to vote than the rest of the public. Make them vote in their own precincts as all voters should, or put voting caucuses in schools. Why pander to the Casino employees? Obvioulsy because one person running in the race has garnered the support of a very influential group of Casino employees. I thought Obama wanted to bring a new vision to Washington. This appears to be the same old type of thing done in old time politics.
    No wonder the political system in the U.S. is falling apart. The Nevada Dem. Committee is just like the Florida crap from 2000. Slant teh voting in a specific direction.
    Any possibility of Chads in Nevada?
    This is patently unfair, but you can bet Chris Mathhews thinks it's just fine. I want to see him in the same room as Obama! He'll behave like a school girl and scream and pass out, then hope for a quick peck on the cheek between spits!

    Maybe your country does need a 3 party system. The 3rd one always remains small, but helps keeps the others in check as their votes are needed to pass key legislation.

    January 17, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. David, Gilbert Arizona

    I didn't see the encounter as combative. A more appropriate phrasing would be aggressive approach to answering the question. Billy wasn't combative.

    Regardless, the issue is mute at this point. A judge has decided Bill's take on the issue is incorrect. One point on the side of activist judges.

    January 17, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. Ken McGill

    Boo Hoo everyone is out to get the Clinton's!

    January 17, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. Lew

    That was combative? That was someone having an opinion on something. If all disagreements in the world were conducted at that level of intensity, the world would be a much safer place.

    January 17, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. Diane

    I have watched all of your programs for quite some time now, but now everytime I switch to your channel I see Hillary and Bills face on rthe tv screen , or else SOME story about them. WHO CARES if she PLAYS FlighT ATTENDANt??? iS THAT NEWS? iT SEEMS MAYBE THEY ARE INTO YOUR POCKETS which wouldn't surprise me. I always thought your news channel was fair, but the Clinton's are really getting alot of "play" and it is becomming quite noticeable who gets the air time. Is it to keep the public's eye fixated on the two of them . You know there are other candiates out there. Also, most of your stories are POSTIVE in nature when it comes to those people (the Clinton's)

    How many more years do you want this dynasty to run our govetnmrnt. It is disgustingIIIIII

    January 17, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. veronica

    The media have gotten out of control on this and other issues.
    Why is everyone so hateful?
    It's sickening.

    January 17, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. Sasha

    Typical reporter...Would rather EXAGGERATE the truth, then report what truly happened. I watched the video and laughed. I also think that Mr.Clinton's response was appropriate. The only reason for this nonsense is because they can't deal with the fact that Mrs.Clinton actually has a good shot at winning this election. So they need to get over it!!

    January 17, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. danielo

    Pat Huntington NY,
    Yeah. Bill is right! The changes are unfair to the Clintons who were canvasing hard for the Cullinary Union endorsement and almost had the initial decision to back Obama overturned.
    Had she gotten the endorsement, nobody would have complaigned.

    The Clintons are Cry babies. They think the presidency is owed to them and keep whinning all the time.

    January 17, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  18. jrc

    I dont think that anyone is trying to supress anyones votes. But it is not fair for caucuses to be held in one groups place of work, and not in another. Traditionally Caucuses are held in public buildings or private homes. Its also not fair for some peoples votes to count more, or have more "weight" than others. This is the root of this lawsuit. The current Democratic Party Caucus setup in Nevada is crooked and needs to be fixed. Casino workers should not have an easier time voting, or a more powerful vote than anyone else in Nevada.

    January 17, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. randy,from new york

    This is to show you how far the clintons are ready to go to be president.those teachers union are stupid of even going to court for this.if the culinary workers union endoresed clinton I bet you all this will not be happening. It is because the backed obama instead of the clintons that is why the are mad.

    January 17, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. sinna mani

    I would have thought democracy is about facilitating as many people as possible to participate. If there are other groups in need of such facilities as the culinary workers their needs also should be attended to.

    January 17, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  21. randy,from new york

    The clintons are salfish the more things are unfolding the more I come to hate them the think this is new england.

    January 17, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. JDS N.C.


    January 17, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Morpheus

    Obama is THE ONE!

    January 17, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. randy,from new york

    This is an example of what is coming in this election obama will show them how to run an election.

    January 17, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. :( Billy


    January 17, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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