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. Captain America


    All these idiots that voted Republican and gave Bush two terms so he could really screw up the country, don't know what they're are talking about...

    January 17, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. MIke,(MD)

    Who cares where they vote,all we care about is that people are given their right to vote.Why didn't the Teachers Union put voting machines at schools if it's that important to them.Seems that some people don't want America's voice to be heard.
    Wonder who that might be????????

    January 17, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. spokane wa

    Bill Clinton who cant define the word "is" also cant count. Last time I looked in the elementary math books, 1 is still equal to 1.

    January 17, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Marilyn

    Bill Clinton isn't running for President! I think he should tone it down or he is going to cost Hillary the election!

    January 17, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. Don, Rochester, NY

    California lady,

    I sure am glad "they don't have nothing negative to go after him for!" What a relief!

    January 17, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. T. Mitchell

    you know, me personally, i think its sad.. im a big supporter of former president clinton. but the campaign methods of hillary are quite frankly sad to me. her campaign is doing their best to damage sen obama's integrity but at the same time try and seem morale about it.. im tired of reading about all the shots they take at sen obama then release a letter of apology afterwards.. i must have read about 5 or 6 letters of apology issued by the clinton campaign since the race for white house began. what i think they are doing is sending a pop shot out and letting it spread around because once its out you can't control it... then so they dont look bad try to issue some kind of letter of apology or something of that sort to minimize the backdraft effect of what has happened. dont try and win the white house by just damaging your opponents credibility, try and win the white house by showing and assuring the american people that you are whats best for this country and this point in time.

    January 17, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Dowell

    Teachers do not work on Saturdays...

    So what's the uproar?

    Las Vegas is a city that employs many casino workers...like my uncle Charles

    He works 24/7 at a major hotel...he said he as voting Clinton...yet...look at this reaction...

    I am voting Obama...

    January 17, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. Willy

    Who cares about old Slick and the witch. They can't control the voting. Oh boo hoo...

    January 17, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. Goody Eugene, OR

    My land, some of you folks sound like you're auditioning for a part in a soap opera!! Get a grip!!

    As long as we have 24-hour news channels there will be untrue, unfounded attacks on people. The Clintons are a good example of that. These channels need something to fill their time slot and something, whether true or not, is better than nothing!

    Their decision not to scrutinize Edwards or Obama speaks volumes. The 'good old boys network' and sexism is alive and thriving!!!

    January 17, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Charlene in VA

    HAILARY 2008

    January 17, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. Patricia

    From the outset of Hillary Clinton's bid for office, even a whiff of voter interest in an opposing candidate was instantly laughed out of the room. Other candidates were largely ignored and muted for months and months as they toiled in the shadows of the bullying Clinton apparatus. Now that the Clinton aura of inevitability has worn tired and thin, the Clintons have begun to show their true colors. Attacks, distortions, Bill's bi-weekly tirades, flawed analogies, etc. These are the hallmarks of Clintonian divisiveness.

    January 17, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. Voice of China

    CNN = 'Clinton News Network' and very bias !!!

    January 17, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. Leah DiMarco, TX

    To Pat Huntington NY-
    It was the Democratic Party that set the rules up MONTHS ago – not Senator Obama. You should get your facts straight before calling anyone 'slick'.

    Obama/Edwards '08

    Anyone But Clinton

    January 17, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Voice of China

    The media like CNN & Fox are simply politicalized by money and influence by SIGs. The victims are the candidates and the public.

    Be wise and do something for a better tomorrow!!

    January 17, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. Bill Ellis

    Willie has aways been a loser and a buffoon. Now this is another example of a fat mouth who never gets attention because he deserves none and believe me if his phoney wife gets the nomination and selects him as her running mate, there will be blood in the streets. Clinton ranks as the next worst President second only to James Carter. When will His Majesty of Perjury ever go away?

    January 17, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. LB

    It is becoming clearer every day that Mr Clinton wants to get back into the White House so bad that anything goes.

    January 17, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. frankie

    Am really angry at BOB johnson of BET this guy does not know what is taking about putting a brother down like that on national tv he need a reality check.Pls dont speak for any african american, speak for yourself. we appeciate Obama and obama knows who he is, where he came from . Go and watch roots again or how much did clinton family promise you.

    January 17, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. RRR

    I believe it's an attempt by the Clinton Campaign to keep Obama at bay. This is raelly childish. The Clintons need to get their act together. She's still leading by 3 points, but I believe people are tired of these games she's playing. Stop acting like a child or cry baby to get people to vote. Obama is a candidate from the heart!!!!

    January 17, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Nay626

    The clip on CNN is a small snippet. Check the New York Times, the ful clip is posted there!! He is irrate!!! Its actually quite hilarious, but once you realize he is serious its actually quite sad and dissappointing.. Moreso, the fact that Hillary's campign "remains nuetral" against the lawsuit when its a direct hit against the act of voting (a fundmental piece of this country's democracy) speak VOLUMES!

    January 17, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Get The Facts

    Here are the facts:

    1) These "at large" caucuses for democrats were decided upon TEN MONTHS AGO.

    2) The Teacher's Union, whose leadership supports Hillary, only decided to file suit against this AFTER the Culinary Worker's Union came out in support of Obama.

    Seems just a little too coincidental to me. The Clintons wouldn't be the least worried about 'fairness' if the Culinary Workers were supporting Hillary.

    Just more dirty politics from the Clinton camp.

    January 17, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. Raymond E. Baker

    Why not disclose the identity of the reporter. Fair and balanced reporting would require such disclosure.

    January 17, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. Susan

    I am really sorry, but there is nothing here that is a display of "combativeness." Do you know what that word means? It's definition?

    I was a nurse for 28 years. I worked in psych wards and Emergency rooms. There was a specific defintion for "combative." I was expecting a fist fight when I clicked on this.

    Taking a firm stance is not the same as "combative."

    January 17, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Jacqueline

    Having read this report before viewing the video of the exchange between President Clinton and the reported, I think the character of the conversation has been misrepresented. I don't see evidence of visible upset or raised voices as alleged in the report. Certainly there was a disagreement about the propriety of the caucuses and the connection of the Clinton campaign with the lawsuit, but there does not seem to have been an altercation. Why, in the current climate, is everything blown out of proportion? Perhaps we should focus on the issues, rather than on gossip about transient exchanges.

    January 17, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Katherine

    Did you know Senator Obama is
    Harvard Law School, J.D. 1991, Magna Cum Laude
    President, Harvard Law Review
    Illinois State Senator – 13th Legislative District, Chicago, 1996 – 2004
    US Senator 2004-Present
    Member Senate Foreign Relations Commitee,
    Senate Commitee on Veterans' Affairs,
    Senate Commitee on Health, Education, Labor, Pensions,
    Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

    OBAMA '08

    January 17, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. justpaul

    Why can't the Democrats hold an election without ending up in court? And this fight is over the rules the Democrats themselves set when it was assumed Hillary was inevitable. With that plan derailed, Hillary will try to litigate her way into the White House. This is pathetic.

    January 17, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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