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. Anonymous


    January 17, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. sharon walker

    Dear Friends:
    Hope the earth quake does not happen as Roosevelt, Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Reagan, Kennedy,
    Lincoln are turning over in their graves. Huckabee
    seperation of religion and government a fine line.
    creationism and evolution are they to be taught together apply these to stem cell reseach happenings in the news.

    Stem cell two males well well well water clean, Go forth and do not procreat for the future of man is in a chosen society? Males two maybe body parts or drones!
    Who's ancester are you from man, the ape, the frog, the fish, duck the internet is flying and throwing things and it may hit you? Out or hanging over the bridge a cliff hanger!!! Ram Romney in the knee for he hurt me!!!!! Bam Bam Obama for the message and injuries your group left me on the window of my automobile.
    Run Run Run See Dick Run!!!!!!
    Foreign nationals are more than we and they are trying to run the show endorsement for the invasian of illegal criminal artists cons, organized crime.
    It's in the photo Romney nanotech you use throughout the world and your people sinister to infiltrate the government. Not in the USA!!!!1
    Mortgage loss and down turn Bill is increasing and due to the jobs being lost.
    Unemployement is rising and trust and heretage disappearing.
    Stem the part of the whole plant those seeds for Liberty and freedom of religion and speech. MSN does not print items of conroversy they do not believe in freedom of speech, run by the Latinos that are here illegally in your head or bed they are the invaders of this time. Science is changing and we will and are paying.

    January 17, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. MIke

    For those of you who keep referring to the nineties need to wake up to reality. Those time are over, this is a new era with more troubles facing our nation. What may have worked back then surely is not going to work today. Besides that was Bill Clinton as our President not his wife. That doesn’t mean that she is going to be our answer to the problems we face in this day and age. Old politics don’t work anymore; eventually things must change if we are to grow as a nation to meet those new obstacles. So please stop thinking what once was will soon be.
    New innovations, new technology, a new way of life, but all you seem to want is the same old practice of politics. I guess that’s why we are falling behind the rest of the world, because we think the old way is the best way. Have mercy on this country if we remain in that mind set. Times change as should people and our Government should as well if we are to survive.

    January 17, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |



    January 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. Tom Davie

    There is a very serious problem about ENDORSING a candidate in a caucus (show of hands) and then having the polling stations where the union employees work.

    If this was a primary (private vote) it would be fine. It is a show of hands.

    This idea having your employer 'endorse' someone -then stand there watching you vote is not democracy. The peer pressure to vote for the endorsed candidate isnt fair.

    However, the POINT is that the Clinton and Obama campaign kept their mouths shut about it until one was endorsed. Then the other one complained.

    So in that sense of fairness, the Clinton campaign should suffer. They didnt care how fair it was BEFORE Obama got endorsed.

    I am surprised the judge didnt rule that the voters in the casino a private vote.

    January 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. Michael Rafey

    CNN look at your grass roots.....Do you think this is really a story...???? Maybe it is time to let some of the reporters with thin skins, enroll in a history class about the hard stories , the real stories, the real time reporters of CNN and what they say is NEWS !!!
    Michael E. Rafey

    January 17, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. Ron

    Pat Huntington NY

    "The change was unfair. It's obvious Obama couldn't win under the old rules, so he had them changed in his favor."

    Who changed anything? These were the rules the DNC, supported by the Clinton campaign, agreed to in August '07. CAN YOU READ or is your reading comprehension just a little low...

    OBAMA '08 ALL THE WAY!!!

    January 17, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The judge has ruled a go ahead so the discussion is closed for the Clintons.

    January 17, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. Carnes

    You did not show the entire dialogue that occurred between Bill Clinton and the reporter. You did not show a sufficient amount of the dialogue to address the full issue. During the entire discussion the reporter continued to question Bill Clinton and made several very good points. Your clip is so short it distorts the debate and makes Bill Clinton look much better and more correct than he may be. I think the clip is biased in Clinton's favor. I believe CNN in essence insulted voters intelligence by restricting the debate. By the way, teachers do not work on Saturdays so they are free to vote, but the culinary workers would not be free to vote on Saturdays. I do not understand this debate. Everyone should be free to vote when they can. I am very, very disappointed in my teacher friends.

    January 17, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. Paul Abeln, Bloomington, Minnesota

    You know, I used to think Bill was a great president. But as this election progresses I see Bill as shrill and pathetic. Where does he come up with the "every vote will be equal to five votes" crap? Why does he inject the sub-prime mess into the discussion? To me, Bill's rant demonstrates his exasperation with the media. Why doesn't the media fawn over him anymore? Why doesn't the media treat him with high respect? Because his wife is the candidate, not you, Bill. Get over your feelings of self-importance. Let's all hope someone other than Hillary gets the nomination.

    January 17, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  11. ready to win

    There was no change, all the campaigs agreeed to the rules months ago, why change them now....

    January 17, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. Walt, Belton, TX

    As Bugs Bunny would say of Bill Clinton, "What a maroon!"

    January 17, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  13. Murry

    Bill needs to take a chill pill. He is more a liability than an asset to his wife's campaign. This lawsuit has succeeding in pissing off any casino workers who were undecided. The Clinton campaign has shot themselves in the foot again.
    Obama takes the moral high road. CNN should highlight him more. Move the positive endorsement stories up in prominence. I tired of hearing about the mudslinging.

    January 17, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Jarratt Willis, Nacogdoches Texas

    5 times as much!

    5 times as much!

    5 times as much!

    Where does he get that number? And how does he justify the claim that this merely serves to facilitate the democratic vote for Obama, especially when Hispanics have already shown significant support for Clinton?

    If the Clintons were so concerned, why waste the time filing a lawsuit, when they could have taken the same legal route taken by Obama to open up more polling stations to 'level the playing field'?

    I'd say the Clintons just got outmatched by somebody they have been repeatedly degrading, citing both political inexperience and a lack of racial understanding on the behalf of Obama

    Good grief, Slick Willy! Better luck next time, I guess!


    January 17, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. pam

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    where is the justice for ALL the people in nevada in their working sites????

    January 17, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. Maria Faria

    I just watched the video of Bill Clinton engaging the reporter who was trying to make something out of nothing, related to the Nevada lawsuit/casino caucuses.

    ALL CAPS ON-LINE IS RAISING YOUR VOICE. Bill Clinton DID NOT "raise his voice" at that reporter.

    Your article presents a FALSE description of what went on.

    The two writers of that article should be straightened out; their writing does not meet the standards (even what's left of them!) required of news reporters.

    January 17, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. Kenny, Tulsa, OK

    Let's pretend that Senator Clinton does get elected. Is Bill going to come running in every time she takes a hit, receives a complaint, doesn't get her way, is perceived as being treated 'unjustly' and 'unfairly' by anybody in the world? What about our own press? The Congress? The U.N. that she wants to turn all of our foreign relations matters over to? Is Bill going to get combative with anyone/everyone he feels is slighting her an any way? What a bunch of babies.

    How many times has anyone ever seen another candidate 'break down' on the campaign trail? I guess it's all right since she's a woman. More equality.

    January 17, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. AJ, IL

    Slick Willy at it again! If Bill would have had this type of passion about his wife in the 1980s and 1990s, he would have not been caught saying " I DID NOT HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN"!

    January 17, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  19. ed

    Bill is getting to emotional. Not good for Hillary. She does and says enough on her own to discredit her views without Bill's outburst proving thier fustrations.

    January 17, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Jonny in NYC

    Wow, I'm no supporter of the Clintons, but characterizing that as "lashing out" is irresponsible journalism. He seemed pretty reasonable to me. But congratulations, you got me to click through to see "the heated exchange." More page views for CNN!

    January 17, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. Marcia Novak PA.

    Who is running for President Hillary or Bill Clinton. If things dont go their way they use arogence, dirty pool and whatever means they can. I have bin on other blogs and noone has yet to answear where she got her 35 years of experiance? Where are the reporters on this one?Maybe with my 35 plus years as a housewife, mother, chief cook and botle washer maybe all woman can run for President . God bless all thos that are running . If Hillary was running fo dog catcher i would not vote for her . They brought shame to the White House . Remember the White House belongs to the people of the U.S.. Not for those when they leave office to take what they want and destroy things . Its the taxpayer who is paying for i. Go Obama

    January 17, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. Beans

    And he also did NOT have sexual relations with that woman!

    January 17, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  23. will crooke

    Your hyperbolic headline suggesting that former President Clinton "loses his cool" makes CNN and Wolf Blitzer look like they are running a yellow-journalism smear campaign. Is Blitzer now a Republican hack? or just a hack? Pretty pathetic, Wolf. Are American reporters so weak and spineless that they can't take any well-merited blow-back or criticism? Get a spine and ask real questions. Like, for example, what are Americans going to get for the $21,000 per family cost for the Iraq war? I would like to see the Presidential candidates address that. What are we going to get out of this war?

    January 17, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  24. Anthony Vincent Samsel

    Do you folks at CNN invent the news ? The story about Bill Clinton and a news reporter is pure unadulterated drival. I watched that video in it's entirety and in no way did Mr. Clinton loose his cool. He was relaxed succinct and to the point. Who at CNN wrote that piece? Perhaps an intern or High school student hoping to break into journalism ? I have more respect for CNN's ability to present hard hitting well thought out , unbiased, unspun good old fashioned fact filled reporting than what I"ve been seeing recently. To all you folks at CNN please don't invent or try to create the news. Be wise, be truthful, be honest . You're veiwers expect the best !

    January 17, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  25. Al, FL

    Pat...check your facts before making comments. Obama didn't change anything..this was decided over 8 months ago by the DNC. Hillary supporters filed the lawsuit 2 days after the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Obama. Another example of people not checking their facts and being misinformed...this explains why Bush is our current president!...Jeezz! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

    January 17, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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