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. MB Nekog

    Why is there a double standard when it comes to having spouses assist with a campaign? I do believe Mrs. Barack Obama has been imbedded in the Obama campaign since day one. This is just one more example of Mr. Obama attempting to sway the conversation away from his inadequate record as a politician. He may be a profound speaker, but a record he has not. As an Illinois resident, I am more than proud to vote for Hillary Clinton. Clinton, by the way, was born and raised in this State, and actually spent more time here than Mr. Obama has! Vote for experience. Vote for a return to the economic explosion of the 1990's. Vote for HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON!

    January 21, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  2. Jason, Atlanta, GA

    Obama has a point. He shouldn't have to play against the other team and the refs. Its not about "taking heat". I'd like to see more of Hillary, and less of Bill. Or else, I'm going to be casting a vote for Obama.

    January 21, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  3. Peace

    People are you not tired of seeing the same faces and hearing the same names!!! I think it is time to put those old names in our history books and give a chance to the young generation, We have to go with time!

    January 21, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  4. Alex

    Is Bill Clinton running for president? why is he giving speeches?
    Do people not see the type of people the Clintons are? Why do you think Gore hasn't endorsed Hillary? bc Bill wouldn't even help his former VP when he was running. They are the epitome of the dirty side of politics...do anything to obtain power, even stay with a husband that notoriously cheats on you, in order to win the presidency. That is telling of the kind of person she is.

    January 21, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  5. DougCA

    Lets throw out the gender card. Suppose candidate Hillary was a man, married to an unfaithful spouse who cheated him many times! Spouse with temper problems!

    Would you trust YOUR country, YOUR children's country to such a candidate with a family problem? I mean, he's gonna have plenty of problems with his spouse at home, he's gonna have no emotional support, and breakups are terrible, divorce is second worse after death of a spouse, remember?!

    Hillary already CRIED because of lack of emotional support on the campaign trail, do you think she'll cry again when Bill ... misbehaves, or when the wars break out and Bill is ... nowhere to be found?

    Think carefully before you vote!

    January 21, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  6. chad

    Obama can bring real change, the problem is hes running against the Clinton power structure. The reason the Clintons can withstand republican attacks is because they are of the same mold and spin. I am a democrat and am ashamed of the campaign Bill and Hillary are running.

    January 21, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  7. Peter Surendtren

    I think the man should be in White as President of US is Sen Barack Obama as we know a lot of politians are just merely saying what they are not able to do and do the things they don't do when they are there in the positions where they wanted or desprerately wanted. I think sen Barack Obama is a better person than all as he had a vision to change and transform America to where it should was and better.

    People should realiaze that it is not matter of colour or race but to whom it should be a better person for America in the White House to rule and take good care of America.

    People of America – Barack Obama for President.

    Peter Surendtren

    January 21, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  8. raul

    This country will be better of with Obama. Anyone else will just push us back another four years. Obama may just save this country...think about it.

    January 21, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  9. BEC

    Hey Don, I'm with you.

    Barack is a great inspirational speaker. There's no doubt about that. I just hope as this race goes on, that people realize he is inspiring them to want change, hope for change, vote for change; but he's not providing them with a path for change. He doesn't really offer any actual solutions, and he hasn't spent the time he's been in congress to bring about any actual solutions or changes. He has mostly spent his time "not making waves" or just not being there to vote. He's been in Congress for two years; one of them has been spent on the campaign trail. Does this sound like an instrument of change?

    January 21, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  10. Mark

    I'm really getting nervous about the tactics in this election. At what point did the Obama folks and the Clinton folks start hating each other so much. The Dems have gotten so focused on destroying each other, I worry about what they will be able to do in the general. Sadly, I see a lot more from the Clintons that I do from Obamas camp. I think Axerod is correct on this, I'm ashamed of what Bill is doing, not because he is attacking Obama, but the manner in which he does it. He was President of the United States, he needs to act like it. Where is the dignity? Acting as a hatchetman, there is something low about that. Thats an underlings job, not the former leader of the free world. I lost a lot of respect for him. Speaking of underlings, Clinton's have to shup up. Between Cuomo's "Shuck and Jive" statement, and the BET guys reference to drugs, this does nothing but make your candidate look bad. This race stuff is also driving me nuts. I keep hearing Obama played the race card. My question is when? I don't recall him every bringing up his race. Just beacuse he envoke MLK? I just don't see it. Oh, and PS, doing the "Spade Work" is not a real saying, so Hillary might not want to say things like that if she wants to take race out of it. That lawsuit too, WOW. Just WOW. I read the complaint in the case, and can't believe they filed that. Amazing, I'm suprised it did not backfire. Obama is driving me insane too. Yes, I get it, you want change. Well, what are you going to do about it? How about putting ideas out there. I read his website, the ideas are still a little vage. He should work them through and talk about them more on the stump. I hope to see better from these two in the future but somehow I doubt it.

    January 21, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  11. Erin

    I think it's funny how everyone claims Hillary is such a "pillar of morality" in terms of her sticking with Bill after the affair. All because she is "deeply committed" to the sanctity of marriage? That's the funniest thing I have heard in a long time. Hillary stuck with the adulterer to advance her own political career. She has tried to manipulate the public into thinking it was all because she believed in working through things with him and preserving her marriage. A real woman would have booted him out and shown the world she didn't need to stand on the shoulders of he husband to get somewhere in life. Hillary is banking on her husband's supporters to cash in on voting day in support of her. I agree with you Zoey... we limit a president's term in office for a reason. No one wants to see another 4-8 years of Bill in the office, and if we vote Hillary in, that is exactly what we are going to get. She obviously feels she needs him on her campaign trail to win some votes... why can't she do it standing on her own merits? This quote DIRECTLY from the Clinton campaign spokesperson stating that “President Clinton is a huge asset to our campaign and will continue talking to the American people.”... shows how IMPORTANT he is. Meaning, Hillary can't win on her own without him......

    January 21, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  12. James

    Obama is trying to play the innocent victim by saying he is going up against Bill and Hillary Clinton. What was he doing when he brought out Ohprah and when he made all the false statements about Hillary and Bill Clinton. Obama is a dishonest person and a liar. People are beggining to see through all his hope and change hype. Its all an illusion and smoke screens. Obama plays the race card one minute than plays the saint the next. Obama is a joke with that fake MLK Jr. sound that he tries to make during his speeches. Can we trust a guy like this as president of the United States?

    January 21, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  13. Josh

    Who's whining? Barack is just making fun of the fact that Hillary can't stand on her own and needs Bill to do her dirty work for her. Strong leader? What??? Did you see her break down and cry? The loss in Iowa hurt her self-esteem and this was the result. Is that what we want from a president? Someone who breaks down when things don't go their way? Committed to her marraige? Seriously, what chance would she have if Bill weren't around? I can't believe how many people have been suckered by the Bill/Hillary campaign. She offers nothing new to this country or to the political process. Anyone that can't through the silly tactics of their campaign just isn't paying attention. For those of you that want to run off about Obama's "tactics", please find some credible evidence, then come back. There's plenty of documented cases of Clinton's campaign using dirty tactics.

    January 21, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  14. Art, San Diego,CA

    Obama and his advisors should stop whining. He is a strong candidate. So is Hillary. The Obama camp has taken some shots at her, some which were fair and some which were unfair. That's the way it goes in politics. Quit whining and get on with the campaign. I'm supporting Hillary, but I would be thrilled with either one!

    January 21, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  15. Jacqueline Crozier

    I would just like to comment that Barack Obama did not congradulate Hillary on her win in Nevada! Now his trying to claim a win in Nevada by the deligate count when Hillary cleary won the popular vote! Sounds like another moment in time Bush 2000.Do we need another 8 years of Bush?

    January 21, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  16. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois


    January 21, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  17. charlotte

    Wal Mart is good for communities they hire a lot of people, and people have a place to park their Motorhomes and camp trailers overnight.

    January 21, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  18. Larry Buchas, New Britain, CT

    Bill Clinton is on the path of ruin.

    He wants to ruin Obama's bid, even if it means distorting his positions on the issues. Bill is also ruining any chance Democrats return to the White House. He's willing to slime Obama if Hillary can't get the nomination.

    David Axelrod hit the nail on the head.

    January 21, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  19. BRG

    Hillary Clinton has survived 16 years of historically extreme scrutiny, and I never once heard her whine or complain about it. Get a grip, young man, and soldier on. If you have a case to make about your qualifications, make it. If not, go home and work hard at your job as US Senator. I'm sure the people of Illinois would appreciate that effort.

    January 21, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  20. caywen

    Hillary is going to ruin the Democrats. She just isn't electable. Democrats (like myself) simply aren't going to turn out this November for her. All just as well, I guess. But if Dems want a chance to win, Obama is the way to go. If I had to bet on either the crap (HRC) or the unknown (BO), I'd bet on the unknown.

    January 21, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  21. Zachary `

    Obama whines and whines and whines. He got called out and can't respond–so he starts complaining about who he's running again? This guy is a sham, dirty tricks, nasty rhetoric, completley contradicts his promises of "change" in the executive branch. It's starting to be uncovered everyday and Obama keeps getting frustrated because he can't handle the heat.

    January 21, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  22. JJ

    Obama you have it exactly right, both Clintons are running against you because you are a contender of strength, wisdom and great leadership. Yes Barack, it is because of those facts that you, and rightly so, scare the heebeegeebees out of Bill and Hill. Their original plan, front runner by a 100 miles has faded, thank goodness , so she isn't "a-shoe-in" any longer, hense their extremely negative behavior. I can't believe Bill is a former President with the negative actions he is embracing. He needs to stand back, farther away from his personal mirror of perfection and see his shadow self working in extreme overtime. Yuck!

    Between now and Feb 5 the clintons will be out and about doing what they do best – lie, cheat and steal (basically they will do anything to win) to get back to "their" White House.

    Calling all American voters, are you awake, can you see the truth now? The Clinton dream is about regaining the power over this country, returning to the political helm of this fine country. Many in congress and the house want that too because then the status quo in Washington can remain the same. So sad and disappointing. Time for the people to take back their country, vote real change.

    January 21, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  23. Bruce, San Francisco,CA

    the Clintons' desperate and negatively aggressive campaigning method has for sure become depresing. Considering they are fighting against a guy who was unknown to many until just 2 to 3 years ago, i am ashamed of Bill's behaviour, i cant believe he would so undemocratically. Calling Obama a 'fairy tale' and a 'liar' so as to guarantee his family's return to the state is, to me, uncalled for. Bill is going to shatter his record, used to respect him but not any more

    January 21, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  24. mr. h

    it seems to be very true that he is fighting both clintons
    and thats jacked up
    hillarys running for pres not bill
    he had his shot
    maybe their affraid if she goes it solo america will see the ice queen she is
    no wonder bill was doing interns in the oval office

    January 21, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  25. Coleman R. Brice, Asbury Park, NJ

    The Clintons are crass and classless, I used to support them.. Bill is a liar, plain and simple.. He lied to the country and his own wife and family on many occasions and would do it again and again..

    January 21, 2008 01:21 am at 1:21 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