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. Sheree, Gastonia, NC

    How can you say Bill "lashed out" at a reporter. He merely stated the facts. The Teachers Union filed the lawsuit, no one's vote should count but once and all things should be equal. It is America we live in right? Not CNN ville.

    January 17, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. Chris

    It does not matter who wins this Primary. It does not matter who wins this election. The battle is on against the American dynasties – the Clintons and Bushs that take money from the oligarchs, special interests, use party apparatus, brainwash extreme parts of their parties and deliver the goodies to the rich and powerful corpartions and families of America.

    wake up America!

    January 17, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Anthony

    He may not have "went off", but he did get heated...and attempted to spin.

    January 17, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. The G; Henderson NV

    Nobody's debating the validity of the lawsuit – it's the timing of the whole thing that reeks of politics. It's fine to have a debate about how much a precinct show be worth, by why would you wait until one week before the caucus to do it when the decision on the sites was made and announced in AUGUST? The obvious answer is that Hillary didn't get the Culinary's endorsement, and now she's trying to block them from supporting Obama.

    The Clintons get so angry when they get embarrassed...

    January 17, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. JK

    Look at bill Clinton’s NAFTA. Look at Al Gore’s hypocrisy. Look at the audacity of tax cut for the rich y Bush. Look at them closely, you will find no difference.

    I am voting Obama!

    January 17, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. Keri-Texas

    ....So do you honestly think the bumbling idiot in charge now has never once consulted or confided in his Daddy. With your argument, maybe we need a Constitutional Amendment to ban any relative of a former President from ever running. That's absurd. And if you were really honest with yourselves you admit that the Clinton years were the best we'd seen in a long time. Personal scandals aside, he ran the country well. I don't care what the CEO of my company does in his personal life as long as he continues to steer my company on the right direction. In the past, the media protected the office of the Presidency and the general public would have never know about a President's private indiscretions. But in the age of celebrity, even our election has been turned into a Brittany Spears like news story.

    January 17, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. JohnS

    People need to understand that Bill missed the White House a lot along with the "goodies" (i.e., great and young interns) that go with it. This time, he will be less busy with the affairs of the nation and more with the "affairs" of ... So, let the Democrats keep getting them back to the White House. America "loves" sensational headlines, as much as we openly try to speak against it, otherwise no one would even be looking at Hillary today!!!

    Frankly, no one truly believes that Hillary will restore integrity to this nation, revive the economy, pull the people together and so on. This is 2008/9, not 1900's folks!

    January 17, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Media Obama-Nation

    The tone of article as well the headline itself is visibly anti-Clinton as well as most of the comments here. Putting on group of voter in disadvantaged cituation of another is a form of disenfranchising and I'd rather to see it address in court BEFORE election than afterwards.
    In general it is very disturbing to see how manipulative our media is. They think of themselves as king makers and us a commodity to sell do the highest bidder. There is no substance in the coverage. No real policy debate, no balance in coverage. There is more attack coming from Obama camp, yet Clintons are blamed for negativity. It is amazing how similar those "new young agent of change" and old uncompromising vicious ideologs of the past are. We are society of laws. And it is one thing to lead a movement to change some unjust laws as an outsider, and very different is a process of actually changing them as prescribed by the Constitution. It is always a balancing act with comprices and deals. This is by design to provide stability and make change very gradual, and protect the country against dangerous and often misleading populism. I am life-long Democratic voter (no I am not that old – 36 at then moment :-), but I could see that small incremental changes bring about albeit very gradually, the real change while broad overreaching never fails to fail and cause backlash and decades of setbacks for the cause of fair and just yet free and open society.

    January 17, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |

    Clinton is a disgraced.. he is so arrogant and thinks knows more than anybody- He thinks he can get away with anything because he is a former President. He always the first to yell and attack other people: journalist, candidates and even bystanders. The funny part is that, does not know how to stop
    This man lies from the time he wakes up til the time goes to bed- All they say is a lie. But they lie so good that they make it looks like they are the victims . They then create a campaign incident for free publicity where they play the victime so people focus not on what they say but on the incident- And always the medi fall in the trap and media give them free press they want.

    January 17, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |

    I still don't understand why a former president is campaigning for anyone. It has never been done before and isn't it the norm that former presidents keep out of politics? Okay, it's his wife, but still...

    January 17, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. Sue, Greensboro, NC

    All I saw was someone reaction to an accusation. Jose, get real.

    January 17, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. dsforz

    this is really starting to get annoying. Has Hillary and Bill Clinton become the new Brittany Spears and Kev Fed? Stop treating this as if it were a tabloid. "Clinton broke down in tears today" when her voice cracks a little. "Clinton starts race debate" when all she said was LBJ helped push the Civil Rights Act and "Clinton Wins New Hampshire because of maternal instinct to vote for women". Have some decency. I write for a college newspaper opinion article and I dont use such foolish language, even in expressing opinion.

    Oh, and as Jon Stewart got it, the Gloves have been off for a long time, so stop constantly reporting the gloves are off already!

    January 17, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Dickson

    January 8, 2007 will be remembered by many people. It is the start of a war against career politicians. It is the end of lies of Bill Clinton and George Bush. It is the start of a new ‘hope’ –‘Yes We can!’ – ‘Yes we the people of USA are united!’

    Obama for President!

    January 17, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. joe

    Bill is flat out wrong

    January 17, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. myron

    you go bill
    politicians need to be tough, outspoken and bring the important issues to the press.

    January 17, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. Megan

    You know, the other candidates don't have a spouse that can fight their battles for them. I'm sick of seeing Bill Clinton fighting every battle for Hillary. He did it in New Hampshire and he will continue to do it. Both of these people will DO ANYTHING and smear anyone to gain power. HILL DOES NOT EQUAL BILL!! We are NOT voting for Bill Clinton! The faster people realize that, the faster they'll join with one of the other, more viable candidates: Edwards or Obama.

    January 17, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Stephen

    Did you just claim that John Edwards was the only candidate qualified for the presidency? It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant or gullible people can be when trusting presidential candidates. It would have been a perfectly accurate statement to claim that no candidate in this election is qualified for the position. Frankly the only candidate (regardless of whether you agree with him) that has been candid during this entire sham has been Ron Paul, but seeing as how we American's have an affinity for complacency, laze, and constantly sit in a general state of malaise, I doubt anyone will come to this realization.

    January 17, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. Fally

    ‘Yes we can do’ – the America under Obama revolution......Doesn't stop there!

    January 17, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. CP

    Everytime I look at ex-president Clinton I feel his nose will get longer. This guy thinks he's the God of the world and will fix everything. Through corruption, twist of his stories, and lies is his style. Never have any trust on the two of them in regards to our safety, or health care, or more jobs. All they know is raise taxes and steal it.

    January 17, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Paul, Louisville KY

    Misleading headline from the alleged "librul" media. I have to laugh whenever I hear the righties use that term. The Clintons have been bashed more than Shrub ever has and he deserves it SO much more.

    As long as the major media outlets are corporate owned, we'll have to listen to them openly bash anyone on the left. Too bad the majority of Americans no longer think for themselves and take this stuff at face value. Scary, scary times we live in.

    January 17, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Randy, Maryland

    The Teachers Union is protesting this as a surrogate for Hilary Clinton. If the Culinary workers union had endorsed Hilary it would not be an issue. Everybody knows that including Bill Clinton. Committing intellectual suicide for a political party is not a sign of intelligence.

    How many other unions in Nevada are protesting this. This is Nevada. The main industry is the casinos. This is not a small number of people that are affected here. The details were approved of months ago. There is not one teacher who won't be able to attend a caucus on a Saturday. They don't work on Saturday. Who works on Saturday's?. Casino workers. They deserve to have a say.

    You want to be the party of inclusion, be the party of inclusion.

    January 17, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. concerned in iowa

    The real Clinton's are coming out! Do we really want them leading the free world for another 8 years?????

    Go Obama Go!

    January 17, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. bibihenna

    GOOOOOOOOOO Clintons
    USA and the World need you
    long live clintons

    January 17, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Rus, Whitburn

    hmmm, actually do think he sounds defensive, but more to the point – he's claiming (repeatedly) that the location of these caucuses means some votes count five times – a remarkable claim that he doesn't support with any evidence at all...at least not in this short clip...

    January 17, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. Josie / Billings MT

    Bill Clinton is merely upset right now, because he fears most heavily that his wife may lose the Democratic nomination to Senator Barack Obama. As a result, he's simply taking out his frustrations on reporters. Pretty sad and shameful to say the least. We should not be moving towards a dynasty with the Clintons and Bushes of the world. Jesus knows, it's time for someone fresh and new, who can really create serious and positive change for all of us, and not send our kids off to unnecessary foreign wars to die over oil.

    January 17, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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