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. R. Ariew

    In your story you claim that the lawsuit was filed by the state teacher's union and you state that it is "an organization that has backed Hillary Clinton's White House bid," though you fully know that the state teacher's union has backed no candidate. You should correct your story.

    January 17, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Cynthia St. Louis

    "Billary's" tactics and the Bush administration tactics are one and the same.

    I hope people are really paying attention.

    Can't we do better than this?

    January 17, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Ellis, Brown University

    I'm an Obama fan, and yet I'm not sure Bill deserves this negative press. I didn't feel like he was getting "heated" with the reporter, he just answered the question.

    As to the whole mess itself, I don't understand what Bill is talking about when he says that their votes would count 5 times as much. Can someone explain that to me, please? It does smell like Hillary's getting desperate...

    January 17, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. caywen

    I wonder what Bill Clinton's reaction would be if the Culinary Union endorsed Hillary instead of Obama. Hmm, gee I wonder.

    The Clintons are masters of double standards and hypocrasy.

    January 17, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Rebecca, St. Louis

    Someone sounds a little defensive. I have my doubts whether the Clinton campaign was actually involved in the lawsuit, but this sounds like sour grapes. Is it just me, or is Bill forgetting that he's not the one running?

    January 17, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. MC

    "Goes off on" is a bit sensational don't you think? CNN should remember it is a news organization, not a tabloid rag.

    January 17, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    I think that the article overstates and sensationalizes what took place. There is plenty of ACTUAL news out there without making some up.

    How about some coverage of the leader in the fight for the middle class, John Edwards?

    The MSM is not giving him the coverage that the other two in the Democratic race are getting!

    Fair and balanced?

    January 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Nando, Florida

    the wheels of of the Clinton machine are slowly falling off !! and that good for DEMOCRATS , we need to be done with this disfunctional family for GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Pat

    Where else has it said that the teacher's union has backed Clinton? Nowhere, because they have not endorsed Clinton. This misinformed reporting is once again showing the bias by most media against anything Clinton. It seems that no matter what occurs and whether they are involved or not, Hillary or Bill will get negative coverage and you can just about bet on that. Can you try and not manufacture things please just to somehow push another anti Clinton pro Obama viewpoint! Why is the Obama campaign not getting scrutinized in the aspect that since he has the culinary endorsement that his support should count for more than the support of other Nevadans who are not culinary workers? There are two viewpoints to this yet we all know which one will be taken. It is getting pitiful.

    January 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Adam

    just when you see things this way, just know Obama has it in Nevada. Can not wait to vote for him here in VA. Go Obama!

    January 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. Richard Tabuteau, Atlanta, GA

    Bill Clinton is the most unpresidential former president I've ever seen.

    January 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. Kim, Sacramento, CA

    Wow Bill, a bit defensive there aren't you? Also, not quite sure how one vote equals five...

    January 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. plainol'jim

    I have been a staunch supporter of the Clintons since my teenage years, when I used to volunteer in Bill Clinton's White House... And I have a confession to make... I will not support Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and, based on the way she has run her campaign, I would have a hard time supporting her candidacy in the general election. The Clinton machine reminds me of the tactics I see from Karl Rove: Unsubstantiated personal attacks at every turn; the use of surrogates and supporters to do their dirty work; twisting words around to play the victim; lies; and most frightening, voter suppression. I find it appalling that Hillary Clinton stands idly by while her supporters in the Nevada teachers' union seek to rob thousands of poor, minority voters and women of their right to vote, or at least make it more difficult for them to do so. We used to be the party of inclusion, of getting out the vote, of expanding the polity to the ends of America. Now, Bill Clinton is out there playing bad-cop, defending those who would disenfranchise thousands of hispanic voters so that HIllary doesn't have to say a word. The fact is, she could put an end to this frivolous lawsuit right now. But she won't. And why? Because it just might help her win. That's the logic that has driven her campaign. And it's the logic you see in her daily press soundbytes attacking Sen. Obama. They used to be the best of colleagues. Now, you see her campaign dragging a man through the mud whose record is perhaps as clean as we have ever seen in politics. I mean, the Clintons, desperate to find some dirt to annihilate her adversaries, dug up a Kindergarten essay Obama wrote saying he might one day want to be president. I mean, who didn't want to be president in Kindergarten. It's the Clintons in life who destroy our 'false hopes.' But if the Clintons proceed to crucify Sen. Obama as they have so diligently done in these past few weeks, the Democratic party may have a dilemma on its hands that not even Bill can diffuse. Because to have a candidate of Obama's historic and unifying background lose in a presidential race is one thing, but to have him lose this way is simply unaccepptable to the thousands of Americans who have been inspired by his message.

    January 17, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Jason

    It's amazing how the media is ready to rip apart any little event that occurs concerning the Clintons. Its a shame that things like this are being allowed to happen, and then the Clintons are being held to task over things which they have no contol. I just hope the American public doesn't continue to buy in to Obama's empty rhetoric.

    January 17, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Monte Brown, New York, NY

    Bill Clinton is right for putting that reporter on the spot. The media has been biased against the Clintons, and it is getting to be sickening to watch the media try to take over the minds of the American people. Obama is getting a free ride in the media arena. If the media wasn’t giving Obama a free ride, this race would not be close because Obama clearly can’t beat Hillary on the issues. Denial will get us nowhere. The Obama campaign is responsible for most of the negativity yet the Clintons get the blame. The Clintons are often accused for things that they didn’t even do. The media personalities on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, who comment on Hillary often accentuate and broaden anything negative towards Hillary and minimize anything positive. Hillary can’t do anything that the media won’t over scrutinize. They are in her grill like dental floss.

    You can always tell when a media personality does not like a candidate. For example: Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper are not biased. I think that Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper are the fairest television anchors in the business, especially Wolf. I watch them because they don’t play the hate-Hillary card. Chris Mathews on MSNBC is biased in favor of Barack Obama and is not a reliable source in my opinion. Forget about the Hillary hating Fox News because Fox News anchors have to hate Hillary because with Hillary comes the end of the right wing ideology. All of the anchors, except for Colmes and Greta Van Susteren, are biased against Hillary. Lou Dobbs doesn’t want any Democrat in the White House, but he does have an issue that irks him, and I don’t find him biased, even though I don’t think he likes Hillary as he should. Jack Caferty simply does not want Bill and Hill in the White House and will go all out in favor of Obama or Edwards.

    I wish the media would stop throwing Obama a bone and let him battle Hillary on the issues. The media resumed with the nonsense after Hillary clearly beat Obama and Edwards in the last debate in Nevada. I wish the media was not biased against Hillary because if they weren’t, America would choose her without hesitation.

    January 17, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Jason

    It's amazing how the media is ready to rip apart any little event that occurs concerning the Clintons. Its a shame that things like this are being allowed to happen, and then the Clintons are being held to task over things which they have no contol. I just hope the American public doesn't continue to buy in to Obama's empty rhetoric.

    January 17, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. no romney for prez

    but perhaps i should say "no clinton for prez this time"? this is a disgusting display of force by the clintons. bad move, bad politics, bad taste. and yeah CNN, you do cover the clintons way too much!

    January 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Tired

    I agree please stop being bais CNN. PLEASE HIGHLIGHT OTHER CANDIDATES

    January 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. muyiwa ige

    Please we are tired of this clintons. Bill is unashamedly reducing himself day by day. A man of his stature has become so self seeking. And he is becoming mean and brutish. What happened to Bubba. PLEASE BARACK OBAMA IS MORE MATURE. WE WANT MORE ARTICLES ON OBAMA.

    January 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Chris

    So, where was the raised voice? Where were the aides pulling him away? This isn't a very accurate reporting...

    January 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. roger, conway sc

    Way to go Bill, I myself am so tired of the news media getting into everyone face like they run this nation....they act like the BUSH administration "it is my way or no way"...if you do say something they either intentially leave out part of it or misquote what is said.

    January 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. shannon

    CNN should be ashamed of sensationalizing this encounter. The headline on the homepage is "Bill Clinton Goes Off on Reporter." Goes off??? He didn't raise his voice or become visibly angry. Maybe "Clinton Challenges Report." The media makes a mountain out of a molehill again.

    January 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. BCNU

    What an arrogant, pompous jerk! That's one way to win a debate...just talk over everyone else, don't engage in a dialogue. Then make up a number, say ....5...and preempt the conversation with that so your opponent will spend time trying to refute five and miss the bigger point at hand. Then, go on the personal attack and tell them to just get on their little tv station and tell people that the mortgage crisis is more important than exercising the privilege to vote in a democracy.

    This technique will move the conversation away from what's really the meat of the issue on to some insignificant point. Non-sequitir at its finest.

    January 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Voters

    I find giving exceptions to voters is odd. Everyone is going to demand a special dispensation site until a point is reached where ballots are hand delivered to their home and picked up by schedule. Get a clue...... suck up the cost of a stamp and Vote ABSENTEE, you can't get anymore personal than that. Some people are such a bunch of complainers, even if they did get a special delivery and pick up, they would grouse about the quality of the paper and the font used.

    January 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Ken, Austin TX

    I really don't understand what Bill Clinton was saying. It kind of didn't make sense to me.

    January 17, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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