January 20th, 2008
08:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: I feel like I'm running against both Clintons

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/20/art.obama0120.ap.jpg caption="Obama is striking back at Bill Clinton"]MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) - More tit-for-tat on the campaign trail – only this time, it’s between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

After losing the caucus tally in Nevada, the Obama campaign took aim at Bill Clinton and the comments he made during his many campaign stops in that state on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton.

Now the Illinois senator himself is taking on the former president, telling Good Morning America that he feels as if he’s running against both Clintons.

In the interview, Obama reportedly says that the former president has been misrepresenting both “my record of opposition to the war in Iraq” and “our approach to organizing in Las Vegas,” as the controversy over Saturday’s Nevada caucus vote continues to grow.

Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod did not back away from the remarks after they became public Sunday night, telling CNN the Clintons “have a good cop, bad cop thing going” in which “he comes with a negative message she stays positive.”

Axelrod accuses the former President of “doing slash and burn stuff,” and slams the Clinton campaign, saying “there’s a philosophy of saying and doing anything it takes.”

“It’s very clear that Bill Clinton is playing fast and loose with the facts,” says Axelrod, and unbecoming of a former president: “It’s been a little crass, as someone who supported him and respects him, I think it’s disappointing.”

And Axelrod vows Obama will continue to hit back. “As long as he’s out there, we aren’t going to let him distort the record,” he says. “We’ll aggressively challenge him when he misrepresents the facts.”

He also calls on the former president to stop distorting Obama's record. “If he wants to help his wife, just be honest - don’t parse words, don’t truncate quotes to make your case.”

The ABC interview with Obama has yet to air, but the Clinton camp is already fighting back.

“We understand Sen. Obama is frustrated by his loss in Nevada, but the facts are the facts,” said campaign spokesperson Phil Singer. “President Clinton is a huge asset to our campaign and will continue talking to the American people.”

The new brawl comes as the battle between the two camps over the Nevada vote shows no signs of abating, with both sides accusing the other of voter intimidation.

On Sunday, Obama’s Nevada State Director David Cohen said there had been a “clear-cut disenfranchising” of voters in the state because of actions by Clinton supporters, and the campaign's general counsel, Bob Bauer, said they were asking the state and national party to investigate.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson called the allegations “absurd” and “laughable,” and spokesman Phil Singer responded charged that “Sen. Obama’s allies in Nevada engaged in strong arm tactics and intimidation against our supporters.”

Singer also repeated former President Clinton’s charge that the senator’s record on the war had been “inconsistent.”

–CNN's Jessica Yellin

soundoff (653 Responses)
  1. simon

    I must admitt if this country don't allow themself to change the direction that we are heading in, then we are all doomed. Karl rove and libby, George bush rule must end, not with Clintons bush clintons,bush but real change.

    January 20, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  2. DJ

    Obama and his camp can not handle defeat after hyping the union's endorsement. He wasn't even gracious enough to remain in the state to speak to his supporters there.

    January 20, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. June (California Voter)

    I'm voting for Hillary but he,Bill shouldn't be on her coattails when she is running,just as when he was running they had her get off his coattails.

    January 20, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. Jackson

    Wasn't it just a few years ago to the day, that President Clinton admitted to lying under oath?


    January 20, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  5. Tom Davie

    dear senator Obama:

    For a guy who claims to be very smart (and you are) you are making some serious mistakes now.

    Choosing to INGORE obvious racist spanish ads by the very union that endorsed you is fine and all, but when the THIRD PARTY edwards complains , you should have SAID SOMETHING.

    Its apparently ok to PIN the lawsuit on the Clintons, but someone ignore the racist ads ??? Lol.

    Citing RONALD REAGAN is fine and all, but NOT in a democratic race in which you are claiming to UNITE the democratic party and PROMOTE the democratic party.

    . Im sure John Kerry flipped over in his chair after he had pledged his endorsement and you came out with that FLAP.

    Even though you lived thru the clinton years, and have personally known Hillary for a long time now, it never DAWNED on you that Billl Clinton would be a MAJOR force in Hillarys campaign ????

    Its ok for candidates to use their wives, but ONLY under the technicality that they werent PRESIDENT for 8 years.

    I guess i overlooked that RULE.

    So, with everyone with 1/2 a brain knowing you KNOW all this, all this COMPLAINING means is your butt is sore from the WHIPPING you are taking.

    They are 'ganging up ' on poor Obama

    What did you expect? You are trying to DEFEAT HIS WIFE for christs sakes.


    January 20, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  6. Sharon in FL

    Whine, whine, whine. That's all Obama does. He did cocaine and whines because people bring it up. He flip-flops on his Iraq war views and blames Bill Clinton because Bill correctly points out that Obama is a flip-flopper. Because the majority of us don't believe Obama's god-like view of himself, he whines about being criticized. Grow up, Obama. Quit whining. And give us all a break.

    January 20, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  7. Newt

    Black people dont care about Dr. Martin Luther King. all they care about is BET and KMEL. who promote ignorace. its a shame im sure that this was not part of his dream. so much promiscous behavior in our neighborhoods are hurting generations to come. its time to wake up black people and not tolerate media glorification of gangsters,pimps and hos. why doesnt the media promote positive black people. They must be used to the maximum for monetory purpose.

    January 20, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. charlotte

    Bill Clintons' campaign was often refered to a two for the price of one. Why should now be different. People thought Hillary was too involved in Bills campaign. Two very intelligent people tend to evoke that kind of thinking.

    January 20, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  9. Cicilia

    I must say how well I understood martin luther king day holiday, and how sad I call myself American, how sad this country has bad and sad history. I wonder who authored all is America.

    January 20, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  10. Daniel

    I once had respect for Bill Clinton. Now, because of the lows that he has sunk to, I have no more respect for him.

    What kind of President will Hillary Clinton be if she has to resort to these dirty tactics to win?

    In short, they are trying to "strong arm" their way back into the Whitehouse, and also trying to scare us into voting for them.

    It is very sad and depressing to see two people who had the respect of so many thousands of people, lose that respect. All the Clintons can do is attack, attack, lie, distort, spin, lie some more, misquote, distort, attack, attack, attack.

    I am with Obama, the true choice of hope!

    Daniel Peebles

    January 20, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  11. Tevel

    If Bill Clinton is going to be SO central, SO integral to Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaigning, it is reasonable to think that he will involve himself directly in her goverance, in moving her agenda foward against adversaries. That's too bad. We need to move beyond the Clinton mindset for many reasons - for example, the attachment to a narrative of persecution - and Hillary has not shown enough distance between herself and Bill to argue that she is the one do it. They are melding into one. Neverthless, Barack Obama needs to rise up to this, I hope that he can make his case. He has been treated unfairly, true. But that was to be expected.

    January 20, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  12. Jack

    Obama should be careful. Clinton's have a way of disposing of troublemakers who talk too much or know too much. Just ask Vince Foster's widow if he really committed suicide and who moved the body to Ft Marcy Park. Arkancide was very popular when the Clinton Mafia controlled Arkansas.

    January 20, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  13. hg

    Michelle Obama is free to campaign for you so Hillary could say..."I feel like I am running against both Obamas"
    Tsk Tsk...its getting depressing in your campaign Barrack...do something

    January 20, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  14. charlotte

    Hillary is a strong leader, committed to this country, committed to her marriage for better or worse. It takes a lot of strength to make it through the rough spots of life. Too many people throw in the towel and quit. She has shown me strengh and character. I think Obama is a fine young man. I think he has a lot to learn. If he could have answered last on his weaknesses, in his own words, "I would have known how to play the game." We can not wait for someone to figure out, there isn't a pea under any of the three walnut shells. We need someone who can hit the ground running, knows how to play dodge ball, knows it isn't going to be a cake walk, knows it will be an uphill battle and has the intestinal fortitude to get it done. That is Hillary Clinton!

    January 20, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. Ben

    Fluff reporting of obama from CNN while they put the important things for today down we have to go digging to look for them. Tired with our media.

    January 20, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  16. Geny

    Thats because you are!! Hillary Clinton is so lame that she needs Bill to come to the rescue all the time!! I dont understand how people are TOO BLIND to see her little game! She can't even RUN for president without Bill's help, and this makes her qualified? I don't think so. I think it's a shame that Bill is bullying Obama like that, but then again I'm sure Hillary is pressuring him to do it.

    PEOPLE YOU MUST REALIZE THIS CAMPAIGN IS ALL ABOUT HER! Her ego to be first woman president! She does not care about the American people, do your research and see all the things she has done and what she did to Stan Lee (creator of Spiderman, Fantastic 4, Hulk, and X-Men) and Peter Paul. Do your research before voting for this witch!
    How can you trust someone who staged questions at a university speech? She's decieving and capable of anything to get what she wants!
    Don't make America worse by voting for her!! I'd rather vote for a republican than her!! DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!

    The only sincere candidate that can bring real change and speaks from his heart is Obama!

    OBAMA 2008!!

    January 20, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  17. kobe

    lol!!this is crazy,sure sounds like a david and goliath fight!!only the goliath this time will win!!what suprises me though,is that for all their strong hold on the establishment,they still struggling to beat this guy with a funny name,tells me one thing,the clintons ain't going back to the white house,lol not under my watch!!Romney let's go!!

    January 20, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  18. wale azeez

    duh!!! he's just realizing bill's a natural pathetic liar!!!! If he continues to be weak fail to slash and burn them in retaliation....he might just be handing over the white house to the republicans....!!!

    January 20, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. Greg OH

    According to most Hillary supporters, he really is since most want a 3rd term for Bill.

    January 20, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  20. Amy

    Obama's inconsistency on Iraq war is already know, with or without Bill pointing to it. The problems with the Culinary union endorsement and voters' intimidation are also known.. so what else? get used with this Mr. Obama. Bill Clinton is the husband of you opponent. Michelle Obama is allowed to be out there campaigning and using non-stop the race card and 'its out time' , etc. Be a man Mr Obama, you lost a bit, perhaps will win again. This is called competition. How was at Harvard? not like that? or you always got free ride..

    January 20, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  21. Dawn

    I saw this on ABC and they gave the Clinton camp's response as well. The spokesperson (can't remember which one) gave a statement that turned Obama's words back on him. Remember a few weeks ago when Obama was asked about the Clinton's complaining about something and he said, "I understand the Clinton campaign is frustrated..." Well, that's what the Clinton camp said today. "I understand the Obama campaign is frustrated". Too funny.

    Obama, and Edwards for that matter, started hitting Hillary because the media said they needed to. Obama is the one who brought Bill Clinton into this when he used quotes from Bill during his '92 run. Now he doesn't want Bill to have a say? It was fine when Obama was riding high, now not so much huh?

    I don't think Obama really needs to get into a pissin' match with Bill Clinton.

    January 20, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. Greg OH

    And yes, polls showed in NH 56% voted for Hilllary for that reason (bill 3rd term,)

    January 20, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  23. Clinton

    About time. I hope Barack calls her out on both his and John edwards account in the middle of the debate....this woman should be jailed. Bill has a long list of lying for personal reasons.

    As an independent I will vote republican before Hillary.

    January 20, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  24. Ada

    Please, someone tell me who is running against Obama, Hillary or Bill? I thought the so called democratic countries do not allow a president to run for more than two terms. America is portraying a bad example to third world countries that are fighting for democracy.

    January 20, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  25. BeCo

    If I'm not mistaken I think I have seen several instances of coverage of Michelle Obama's individual campaign efforts on behalf of her husband. What's the difference? The fact that Hillary's spouse happens to be a former president just means that she enjoys a rare advantage. How typically cynical of a liberal democrat to cry foul over the very situation they have begged and pleaded for..............gender equality...........for decades.

    Reminds me of a little boy whining on the playground because someone else got the best swing or teeter totter.

    January 20, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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