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. Tony

    Yes, this is important to be poined out. I see this as riching out to both Hillary's supporters and undecided voters to tethink the fundamentals of Hillary's compaign. Is she just the wife of Bill or she can offer something more? Personally, I see her as an ordinary person, who without the curcumstances of being Bill's wife would be totally irrelevant.

    January 21, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. Justin

    @ Charlotte.

    You said we can't wait for Obama to learn how to "play the game" when referring to his HONEST answer at the debate. That's absolutely ridiculous. We don't want our politicians to play THAT game. The game of deceptive and dishonest answers that are clearly hollow and pander to the easily influenced and unintelligent people of America. Edwards and Clinton gave the most pathetic answers I have ever heard and it was truly embarrassing that they would think we can easily be fooled (though I imagine many were.) Obama was asked a question, he gave an honest answer. THAT'S the kind of game I want to see played! A game where questions are met with real answers and nothing is hidden from the American people.

    January 21, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  3. Ted


    January 21, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  4. Randal, AL

    Yeah, Obama and his campaign showing true colors….looks like desperate times for them..where were these commnets when he had the "Big Mo" from Iowa win. I understand that the clinton campaign is also responsible for personal attacks. But I think its outrageous to start blaming them now since the Obama campaign was the one who started attacking Hillary a month or 2 before Iowa caucuses.
    Hillary leads….Obama attacks -> Iowa win
    Obama leads…Clinton attacks-> NH, MI, NV wins
    Hillary leads….Obama attacks -> ????

    So the basic point is that attacking someone's record is part and parcel of politics……so Obama should stop being a cry baby…and should come out in the open and admit that his "hope" and "change" are just big words and he is actually trying to fool his supporters. Obama is as politician as any other, including Hillary. So if everybody is the same why not vote for the person who actually has some experience and who knows how to get things done, instead of being in Obama's fantasy land. Vote Hillary!!!

    January 21, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  5. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    I am a Republican and I have been admiring Obama's strength in putting up with the Clinton's and their dirty dirty politics. He is TOUGH to go this long without making any kind of reference to Bill and Hillary's 1-2 punches and low blows.

    Bill should just SHUT UP and let Hillary win or lose this on her own! He's embarrassing himself for the history books as a former President.
    But then again I can imagine this is his favor he ows her for Hillary not leaving him after he abused a 21 yr old intern in the Oval Office and then lied to a judge about it. Let's see, that was publicly known mistress number 4, right?

    Seriously folks, there wasn't a Democrat who wanted Bill to campaign for them in 2000 and now all of the sudden you want to let them back in the White House? You people have no moral compass whatsoever. It's disgusting!

    Watch how the Clinton's get red in the face and poke their fingers at people, the camera's, the reporters. They are pushing Hillary down the throats of people who do not understand that Obama CAN lead this country through a change. Bill did it the same way and campaigned with the same platform of "change" vs experience of the then President Bush #41. Now they make fun of the platform of "change"?

    Why would our country want more of the same Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton when we KNOW these 2 families have pushed our political system into an impossible state of deadlock? Our Repubs and Dem's hate each other thanks to these 2 families. We can do better with Anybody But Clinton.

    I just can't fathom what you people are thinking in voting for Clinton! Wake UP!

    January 21, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  6. John, Mississippi

    Obama was the first to go negative. He even admitted he would have to go negative to catch up in the polls. Now that he has gotten close, he can't stand that others are going negative on him. Such a hypocrite.

    January 21, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  7. pete

    i should add another point. while the clintons preach experience and all the othe nonsense they are feeding gullible voters who buy her nonsense, OBAMA HAS CHARACTER, AND THAT HIS SOMETHING CLINTON DOES NOT HAVE AND NEVER WILL HAVE!!!


    January 21, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  8. Christian, Tampa FL

    It is SO true! Obama is running against both Clintons, and doing an awesome job, considering. I'm with the Illinois Senator all the way. Enough of the Bush/Clinton dynastic cycle!

    January 21, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  9. Steve, Pennsylvania

    I hear that Obama is actually so upset by this that he's broken down in tears because it's too hard running for president.

    Oh, wait, that was Hillary.

    January 21, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  10. dr,d

    hillary and bill are both RUTHLESS LIARS!! THEY HAVE THIS IDEOLOGY OF

    January 21, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  11. American Woman

    With regard to taking liberty with an opponent’s words or misrepresenting the truth, the other person more experienced than Hilary is Bill. Unfortunately for Sen Obama, the Clintons are definitely playing double-team.

    Hence, in order for Sen Obama to be successful, not only does he have to combat the cheap shots, dirty antics, divisive rhetoric and mischaracterisations by Hilary, but he has to also counter the fallacious characterizations, malicious attacks and downright, vicious lies of a beloved or disgraced (typically depending on what side of the aisle you’re on) former president. This within itself is a HUGE task. However, it is further compounded by the pervasiveness of bigotry which is still evident in this Country.

    The ‘Audacity of Hope’ indeed…

    January 21, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  12. Adrian, Ann Arbor MI

    You know, I never knew what David Geffen was talking about when he said "Everyone lies, but the clintons do it with such ease."

    Now I know.

    I could have lived with a Clinton presidency last week. Now, I don't even care if Huckabee is the nominee, I will stay home on Nov. 4th, and if she wins the presidency, I will move to Canada. Period.

    The fact that there can be this kind of dishonesty, this kind of corruption on the part of the Clintons, and the fact that people are allowing it to happen really makes me question the prestige of this nation. We as Americans pride ourselves on being the only country in the world with a system of government that most resembles a true democracy.

    But I will lose all my faith in that system if someone as corrupt and ruthless as Hillary Clinton is the nominee. She should be ashamed. And Bill Clinton was my favorite president too.

    Please Obama, win this thing so that I can actually believe in the system once again.

    January 21, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  13. kjmatthews

    It's politics as usual. No matter who you support – it's clear; politics as usual from all sides of every campaign. As far as the Nov match up, polls are showing that Obama v McCain and Clinton v McCain are dead heat - I think it's b/c fewer people are going vote on party lines, even if Clinton wins b/c if you vote for the Republican you are voting to keep the war in Iraq going and voting to continue with Bush policies. Just like 00 and 04 it will come down to turn out and, historically, dems have bad turn out at general elections. Maybe not this year?!?!?! Anyway – it's politics as usual. Obama's coming along wasn't going to make all those years of cut throat politics disappear.

    January 21, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  14. Hillary 08

    Hey Obama ....what about those lying commercials you had on the radio in Nevada...huh??? IN SPANISH no less......YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS A LOW DOWN LIAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2008 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  15. GoldCanyonGal

    Cry Babies! Did you think Bill came to town to invite you to tea? We are talking about the race for POTUS, not Captain of the volleyball team! MLK would never have praised Reagan for trashing an economy that disproportionately affected Blacks and Latinos...Mr Obama has a long way to go to make the grade, sorry. You can bet 'ole Bill has already started rounding up the super delegates too.

    January 21, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  16. michaelangelo

    I don't understand you guys. Give me one thing that Obama said that wasn't true. Anyone? Difficult, isn't it? That's because Obama hasn't said anything that was untrue.

    Now, list the things that Clintons brought that was untrue. Too many. Do you guys expect to hear your president to be honest? Is saying, "My biggest weakness is that I am too impatient to bring change to America", a sign of an honest presidential candidate? "I care too much about American people" is your answer to "what is your biggest weakness"? Why can't she be honest with us?

    January 21, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  17. lou

    Hillary cannot win in Nov. she might win now, but will cost us the race again.. and Mr. Boomberg cannot win anything, he is another Guliani wanna be, please stick to NY and take care of that city.
    Mr. Edwards is good but no chance, after loosing in South Carolina 2morrow he will go out.
    I wish us all the best, but 4 more of republicans in office and were done for.

    January 21, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  18. lyndon

    bill and hillary clinton knew that she would run for the presidency back in 1992, everybody seen that coming.

    January 21, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  19. SC for Hillary

    Obama you were riding the wave so you said, when you thought you had a sure win in New Hamphere, but all of a sudden, you lose two in a row, and now you and your shabby campaign team starts to weep, Wasn't it your campaign people who presuaded that nasty ad in Spanish lying on Senator Clinton? Wasn't it your campaign people who tried to bring race in this campaign by distorting what President Clinton said about the Fairy Tale, when you knew Darn well he was talking about your inconsistent voting on Funding the war, Wasn't it your campaigh people who tried to bring race into this campaigh by distorting Senator Clinton words about MLK, did you think that people would be so stupid as to think that people would believe your campaigh by thinking the Clintons are Racist.?Investigate all you wish, just make sure you investigate the Iowa win, where the race was won Fraudently, you see Obama, we know that all those young people who voted for you were voting in Iowa illegally, as they live in Chicago, and are not residents of Iowa, they are residents of Chicago, You will have them vote double for you in Iowa and also in Chicago, what a pathetic way to win a primary. In spite of all that, you are a one State Trumped up win, and now Reality is beginning to set in, and you are BAH BAH BAH, I don't feel sorry for you, play fair, and you will get what is for you.

    January 21, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  20. William J.

    Hard to be more inconsistent about the war than Hillary, who voted in favor of it then says she's against it. The Clintons must think we Americans are pretty stupid.

    Two families running the country for more than twenty years is not good for democracy. Pakistan should not be our political role model. Let's get some fresh ideas into the oval office! Obama '08!

    January 21, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  21. June

    Hillary isn't committed to anything except being president. That's all this is – another Clinton becoming president. Either Clinton will say anything to monopolize the white house. Sound familiar?

    I gotta give Obama credit here. There is far worse he could "call out" about the Clintons and he's keeping it within the context of the campaign. Good for him.

    January 21, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  22. Spencer

    Obama needs to just stop talking about the Clintons and move on to... oh I don't know, how he's going to actually do all the things he's going to do. He has a lot of chorizema and charm but there is no way he can do everything he says he can do. Hillary Clinton likes to promise things she knows she can achieve. Obama "Change we can believe in" even though its impossible.

    January 21, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  23. Hillary 08

    News flash....Bill isn't running for President ....his wife is.....the what GOOD husband is not going to defend his wife with every fibre in his body??? I love the line....former Presidents shouldn't get so involved...well this is the FIRST time a wife of a former President ran for President....so YOU GO BILL.....YOU ARE DOING GREAT.....GO HILLARY.....YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE THE BEST PRESIDENT WE HAVE EVER HAD...and that includes BILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  24. Wade San Diego

    I'm really disappointed in the people who post comments in here sometimes. You constantly hound on the candidates about negative campaigning and yet some of you do the same in here.

    It's a great time in our history when we on the democratic side of the aisle have several great candidates to vote for. We shouldn't be attacking each other. We should support who we chose to support and work hard to getting them the nomination. However, when the results come in we stand beside our candidate no matter what.

    Don't feed the fires of separation, by bickering on here. We have the opportunity to win the White House back and restore some integrity to the American Political System. We should be happy we have the opportunity to really win this.

    However, I do support Obama. I will stand beside him and work hard for his nomination. If Hillary wins the nomination I will stand with her to the White House as well. We need to quit giving the Republicans the fire power to attack us in the General Election and work together to have a good fight.


    January 21, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  25. politico

    The choice between Obama and Clinton seemed mighty, mighty difficult for a very long time. Watching how race has been made an issue by one candidate has helped me decide, between the two.

    Now I'll know who to vote for if Edwards doesn't make it. He's the one with the message. Too bad "poor John" is a white male, as was stated in one of the debates.

    January 21, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27