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. Jen, Cedar Falls, IA

    The Clinton's cannot stand that this is an actual competition for the citizens of the United States to decide, not the Democratic machine that they thought would hand them the White House!
    Pathetic example of a hothead Bill, he's shown this side of himself several times in the last couple of months.

    January 17, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Jeniffer

    And now someone to tell Obama he has no say because Clintons own this network. Great Job CNN we see your through too just like Clintons!!

    January 17, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. michael, ny

    Hillary does not care about the democratic party. All she wants is to win.

    First, she was ok with these polling places in hotels because she was expecting to get the Culinary union endorsment. Now that this union is backing Obama, she wants to change the rules.

    Yes old lady, the only change you can make is the change suits your political ambition not the interest of the american people.

    You claim to have spent 35 working for the people. We feign to thank you for that, now lets try someone else. Ok?

    January 17, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. John, Tampa

    Clearly, DIRTY politics....They are trying to suppress support only recently given to their main opponent. If you believe otherwise, that theyare merly trying to "equal" things out, then why did the lawsuit only arise AFTER Obama gets the support of the union that is supposedly supposed to benefit from these cacuses....hmmm
    the reason is that if Hillary would have gotten their support this lawsuit would have never been filed period.

    They are a dirty cheating bunch

    January 17, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. Vicky

    I really enjoyed Bill clinton as our president, but I'm all but sick of seeing him lately with regards to his wife's bid for the White House. If Hillary is running for president then she should run, but if she intends to have Bill do all her dirty work maybe she should get back in the kitchen and bake me a pie.

    January 17, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. Frank

    Why would clinton get so angry if what the reporter was saying wasn't true?

    January 17, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Cheryl R

    I thought unions worked together and supported each other's causes? Another example of how the Great Divider(Clintons) bring people together. I also see Bill is working on a new career as an Odds Maker if Hillary is not elected- 5 to 1 odds at the casino sound like great odds.

    January 17, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. GoodGodSaveUs

    That's combative? This reporter must have been raised by smurfs.

    January 17, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  9. Micheal

    Ya, and democracy at work! where did these morons do their journalism. This country is so imbalanced. I just tired of this crap. We have Edwards in the race who is not getting the same amount of coverage. They just want good candidates to die in the spotlight. CNN, you can never stop amazing me.........

    January 17, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Bob, Seattle

    By the way, isn't the $10 million that Bill Clinton received from the Saudi's for his library the same amount the Rudy Giuliani TURNED DOWN from the Saudi's after 9/11? Probably the same guy trying to BUY influence in America.

    January 17, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Caucus=Voter Fraud

    The vast, vast majority of the people heading to the Strip caucuses will be the underlings of the Culinary - dishwashers, hotel room maids, cooks, etc. - who are the least paid, and most vulnerable to intimidation. And the Culinary leadership has always used them to organize other hotels and vote for their choices.

    The Culinary has full time paid organizers bringing in its masses of members working the low-paying jobs, who will HAVE to raise their hands at the caucus sites for Obama, under the watchful (and threatening) eyes of the Culinary organizers.

    I hope those Strip caucus sites receive a lot of media attention because the Culinary's tactics there will resemble something out of the old Soviet Union, when people casting ballots in boxes under the eyes of Communist Party operatives had to use a special-colored ballot for the Communist Party leader, and another type of ballot to vote against him, making it obvious whom that voter was for.

    It seems obvious that intimidation will be a factor in the voting process at these precincts. Voters who wish to support a candidate will have to do so in front of the watchful eyes of their union reps. These people can then either dismiss or help them with, an harassment claim, a grievance, forced overtime, unpaid labor, or dangerous working conditions etc. etc.

    Democratic leaders insist workers need only show an employee badge. If they don't have one, a party spokeswoman lamely says "we'll somehow accommodate them, hence many illegal immigrants will be voting.

    Many of these immigrant workers are also new citizens and have come from countries where voter intimidation is the norm. So, for them, it would also be expected. If they want to support Clinton or Edwards they will just not go, if they even feel they are able to do that and not place their jobs at risk.

    People should not be caucusing where they work, unless they have secret ballots, again a central tenet of democracy. It is too open to intimidation. There is too much pressure to vote the way the boss or the union wants you to vote.

    I don't think anyone can pretend these polling places would be neutral or unintimidating for those who want to support Clinton or Edwards. Plus many other groups/unions don't get this preferential treatment of setting up special caucus' for a special group, thus others are disenfranchised.

    They should be shut down.

    January 17, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Steve

    I watched the video and wonder why the authors of this article used phrase like "in a raised voice" and "led away by his aides when that isn't what happened. I also believe when you use quotes you should use the words in the same order as they were spoken.

    January 17, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    whoever wrote this article should be fired. that's "visibly combative"???

    January 17, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. M. Ranter Alexandria, VA

    That's an impressive amount of bad math on his part. I wasn't aware of any law, statute or ruling that allowed or recommended casino workers 5 votes to everyone else's one. Remember when he was "Slick Willy" and could deal with reporters?

    January 17, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Brian Des Moines, IA

    If that is true, that their votes count 5 times as much as other precincts because of this...then this is a valid lawsuit!!

    This is the problem with CAUCUSES; you don't get a real sense of how a state is leaning only a mixed representation!!

    Also I would like to point out that if the lawsuit didn't have any merit, it would have been THROWN OUT already....so obviously there is something that needs to be addressed here, or these stories wouldn't be out because the lawsuit would be over/gone!!

    January 17, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. Chris, Middletown, CT

    "she knew nothing about it" – yet...he knew every skewed detail....other than her cult-like followers (who btw will explain away anything when it comes to teflon Hillary) – baffling group nominate her...and every Republican will vote against her...and 70% of the unaffiliated...and maybe....just maybe the Democrats who were supporting other candidates...will realize what she is...and join us in the "anyone by Hillary" campaign

    January 17, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Peter

    Wake up America and smell the coffee. We went to war because everything seemed so real till we came to reglect everything we did. Now be fooled by Clintons and the media for what they are bringing here that is all gold and silver, believe it and reglect later. Just what I wont take. Obama has my vote and will never change my position on that!

    January 17, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. Matt

    Yet another negative CNN article about the Clintons. What ever happened to unbiased reporting?

    January 17, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Ann

    With the entire "experienced" Bill Clinton machine working for Hillary, how can Bill Clinton say that they did not understand the rules. How many teachers work on Saturday? The rules were agreed to when Hillary was leading the polls by more than 20 points. At that time the rules were ok with them. Now all of a sudden this entire "experienced" Clinton machine didn't understand the rules.

    If they didn't understand that, then what kind of people will Hillary be appointing to the Cabinet, and to the White House Staff? People that can not read and interpret what they are reading? Or, is Hillary going to read everything to her staff all the time, also?

    January 17, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. cu789

    Clinton is just mad because our caucus votes will count 5 times more than a regular vote. No one cares about what those teachers think that are suing us. This is our party now! Power of the workers will be felt on Saturday. We culinary workers run this party now and we will have higher wages to $12 when Obama becomes president.

    Clinton is the past- we are the future.

    January 17, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. Ray

    All the ObamaCamp followers probably failed to read the TICKER MORNING EDITION: Thursday, January 17, 2008 06:57 AM ET
    "WASHINGTON (CNN) — When is an endorsement not quite an endorsement? When it reads anything like yesterday’s tepid backing of Obama in the conservative-leaning Las Vegas Review-Journal:

    “Is Barack Obama, then, the ideal Democratic candidate for president? Hardly,” it began, calling his policy proposals “old-line, welfare-state solutions that haven't spent enough time in the microwave to appear even superficially appetizing.” (ouch that has to hurt after getting the Culinary Workers backing ) And in a reprise of recent primary-season attacks on Obama’s bid, it dubbed the candidate himself “a relatively young man with relatively little of the kind of real-world experience that prepares a candidate” for major crises.

    But, they concluded, “Barack Obama is, at least, likeable.” Better than the alternative, sure, but still: not a line likely to make it into his campaign ads anytime soon."

    Sooo the "Democratic Party" is still picking their "most likeable" candidate? Well Kerry was certainly "Mr. Congeniality2″ – representing the NEW VOICES of the Democratic party who apparently are ~more appealing~ and can shout louder = the more upscale, more affluent, better educated, younger voters (who look down their noses at all the older generations and less fortunate) –> who are probably a lot of future Republicans, who undoubtedly aren't all that loyal to either party in the 1st place!

    Meanwhile the split in the Democratic Party is growing ever wider with possibly no end in sight! The two party system is clearing no longer working in the best interests of ALL the American people anymore. It's time to divide the Democratic Party and let the NEW voices follow their new found direction and allow the Original Democratic Party to go back to standing up and speaking out for the the "disenfranchised" in our Nation – whose voices are being increasingly drowned out by the new class of voters.

    Barack Obama "The Great Uniter" would have more luck reaching across the aisle to the Republicans than he will have at bridging the growing divide and bringing the Democratic Party back together again. His supporters have even managed to alienate some of the party faithful! He should seriously consider splitting the party now before the WHOLE party collapses and the GOP will sweep into the White House for the next 8 years.

    January 17, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Brian Des Moines, IA

    Also to go along with Tim's statement, why just a sound bit of this "altercation" why no build up/end??? Media bias!?

    January 17, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Hillarylover


    January 17, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. Dave

    Wow! I just watched the news clip. The "I had nothing to do with that law suit" comment will soon be remembered just like "I did not have sexual realtions with that woman".

    January 17, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. S Williams, Tampa

    Both Bill and Hillary seem to have very quick tempers when something doesn't go their way.

    The republicans are going to capitilize on this.

    January 17, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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