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. Ray

    Awww. Poor Noam. If he cant take it now, he will never make it if he were to win the nomination. He is nothing but a cry baby!!!!! Grow a pair!!!

    Bill said that he was against the war but he keeps voting to fund the war. That's TRUE RIGHT? Stop playing the victim. You sure did nothing to stop the commercial in Nevada about Hillary not caring about Latinos.

    Poor Poor NObama!!!

    Hillary 08!!!!

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

    Sorry..Poor NObama it should have said....

    January 20, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  3. pam Eugene OR

    Good for you Barack. The Clintons' do not have an honest bone in their collective bodies. They play hard ball and they play very dirty. I admire you so much for standing up to the Clinton machine. It is not easy to do that and stay positive. Please don't let them drag you down into the mud with them like the pigs they are.
    We need you Barack to lead us out of the Bush/Clinton darkness. We are not stupid and most of us can see what they are doing and it stinks to high heaven. We are behind you and will never vote for a Clinton...no matter what. I will vote independent or cross party lines before I ever give that lying, cheating, vile woman my vote. Stay strong Barack and please ask Edwards to be your VP.
    Let's dump Hillary right now!

    January 20, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Connie, Richmond, CA

    Hillary could not run without Bill. So, yes, Barack, you are running against them both. It's amazing that you've done so well because Bill and Hillary will do ANYTHING to win, including the most disgusting, unthinkable things that you can think of.

    One day, we may have a female candidate like yourself: self-made, strong, and confident. Until then, we've got Hillary. And Bill.

    And until then, this woman (me) is voting for you.

    January 20, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  5. Jim Bremer

    Barack Hussein Obama is finally realizing that everyone won't treat him with kid gloves.

    And the message of hope without substance is wearing thin.

    January 20, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  6. michaelinphilly

    Bill Clinton is a disgrace and I voted for him twice. He is ruining his legacy running around blathering.....

    January 20, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  7. jason

    Bill Clinton needs to step back and let Hillary stand on her own. Whats going to happen when Hillary gets the Presidency and has to deal with the President of Pakistan, Iran, and Russia, will she be needing Bill to back her up? President can only serve 8 years. Bill was a good president, but his time as ended. Please step down. Even George W. Bush didn't really on his daddy this much.

    January 20, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  8. Matt

    1. Boo hoo

    2. If Obama can't handle two Clintons, how can he be expected to handle the agressive governments of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China, to name only a few.

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

    Hmm, interesting. Obama wasn't complaining about Bill Clinton when he thought he was winning. Sound familiar? That is what both Obama and Edwards accused Hillary Clinton of when she took them to task about change being more than a word, it takes experience to make it happen. Also, when Bill Clinton stated early on in the Nevada caucus process that he thought there were irregularities and strong arm union tactics taking place, Obama said something to the effect that gee, he's getting a bit worked up. Well, now the shoe is on the other foot and look who is crying foul. Quite frankly, I'm finding the Obama camp to be incredibly devisive regardless of their giving lip service to unifying America. When Obama is questioned about his limited record, it's racist or unfair. When Obama doesn't win, there must have been something wrong with the vote. When Clinton is continuously lambasted, that's politics. When she does win, well it's not really a win, it doesn't mean anything, or she just eked out a win. There is definitely a double standard taking place in this process and the media.

    We and the media need to step back and put this election process in perspective. Had it been two white men competing against each other, the demographics of Nevada, NH and Iowa would have been working class, white collar workers, age groups, etc. Now, when analyzing the competition between Clinton and Obama it is described as women, whites, men, blacks, browns, etc. The media is trying to make this into a gender vs. race election and we the people are falling for it.

    We need to take back the election process from the media. Look at the issues, the experience of each candidate and their past records. Then make a decision. For full disclosure, I support Clinton because of her record and experience and ongoing support of those issues that are important to me.

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

    Whinning baby.......................................Go Hill

    January 20, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  11. I work

    I know you don't want REAL issues to get in the way of the "girl power" crap that is propelling Hillary's campaign, but;

    Lets start at the beginning. Hillary headed the Young Republicans at Wellesley College and was a self described Goldwater girl.

    Hillary Clinton served on Wal-Mart's board of directors for six years. She was paid $1,500 for each meeting she attended and accumulated at least $100,000 in Wal-Mart stock.

    She was a senior Partner at the Rose Law Firm and all her associates went to prison.

    Hillary Clinton takes credit for the last Clinton Administration when touting her experience advantage over Senator Obama and Edwards.

    Lets list the important ones:

    N.A.F.T.A. and the W.T.O. – Clinton passed these disastrous trade deals that have destroyed our middle class and sent our good paying blue-collar jobs away.

    H1B Visa. – Clinton permitted U.S. corporations to import 300,000 high skilled foreign workers per year to replace Americans, to the benefit of a few superrich contributors. That’s 10 times the number even Bush allowed in.

    Ballistic Missile Technology to China. – Clinton reversed a State Department ban to allow just one company to do it. A company headed by the largest contributor to Bill Clintons reelection campaign, Bernard Schwartz.

    The Clintons directly led to the Republican takeovers of the Presidency and both Houses of Congress with their shenanigans.

    The Clinton's take credit for the Internet boom that started in 1995 and went bust in 2000. That boom increased income tax money paid to the Government. We had a short-term balanced budget. That was a fluke the Clintons had nothing to do with.

    And now Hillary has Terry McAuliffe running her campaign. Court documents show this sleazy guy walked away with millions of I.B.E.W. Union pension money. McAuliffe also ended up with several million dollars from the Global Crossing fiasco that left thousands of honest peoples life savings gone.

    You don’t believe me? Please don't take my word for it. Google it.
    Our duty as voters is to educate the uninformed and the naive, also known as the Hillary supporter.

    I hope every Obama and Edwards supporter will copy my post and e-mail it to all their contacts. Lets shine some light on Hillary.
    Hillary is bought and paid for by the big business insiders.
    A vote for Hillary is NOT a vote for change!!!

    January 20, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  12. cathy

    He is right......
    Is Obama running against one or two Clintons. I can't tell from day to day. Who's runnning Bill or Hillary? We need to be very cautious of another DYNASTY! Haven't we learned yet?
    The clintons will tell you whatever you want to hear and IF they get back into office they will say it wasn't their fault that they couldn't do anything the promised they would and continue business as usual. Her answer would be similar to this current statement "I voted for it but I hoped it wouldn't pass" If you don't think so vote for her and then blame yourself when the times get worse!

    January 20, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  13. Dave C - NJ

    Obama is correct, both Clintons are campaigning. Which makes sense because if it were not for Bill, we never would have heard of Hillary, so why not use him.

    Hillary supporters are all banking on her presidency being an extension of Bill's...which is BS folks. I loved Bill, but it's 2008...stick a fork in him, he's done.

    January 20, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |

    I personally find it reprehensible that a former President has turned into little more than a partisan hack and a political attack dog. The aggressive, no-holds-barred campaigning style of the Clintons proves Obama's point: the political system in America is broken, and another 4-8 years of divisive partisanship will do America- and the world- no good. Unfortunately, the Democratic base seems so intent on re-living its "Clinton glory days" that it is allowing Hillary's campaign to sully a visionary who has the capacity to unite the country at a time when it needs it most. As an independent voter, I would be proud to support Barack Obama, but I would rather stay home in November than vote for Hillary Clinton. And I'm not the only one who feels that way.

    January 20, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. Rick, El Paso, Texas

    Obama is running against both Clintons. I hope someone at CNN will have the guts to report the implications of this story. Imagine the situation if the Clintons get elected: President Hillary Clinton will be sleeping with the former President, a man who dishonored himself in the White House and in the end caused tremendous harm to the credibility of this country. Bush has harmed the US more than any other President. This country and the world are not ready for a Clinton/Clinton/?VicePresident White House.

    January 20, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  16. Obama 08

    Obama's right. For example, "Meet the Press" clearly documented that both of the Clinton's held Ronald Regan in high esteem. Read the transcript!

    Clinton needs to stand on her own two feet and win this campaign. Will Bill get mad at members of Congress if they give her a hard time?; Will he take on world leaders who don't agree? Who would want to be VP or serve in her cabinet?

    Ssdly she may win the nomination mainly through support of the old Democratic guard and older voters. She will leave behind a divided party and Bill Clinton's reputation in shreds.

    Time for a change!

    January 20, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. tina ny, ny

    well Obama your wife is running her mouth too. Only difference is that your wife doesn't have much to show in comparison to Clinton. So stop being a baby.

    January 20, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  18. mike

    Good, about time, also hire some lawyers to go to precincts in s.c. to quash any intimaidation that clinton supporters may try...

    January 20, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  19. Tracy

    They must be growing desperate!!

    January 20, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  20. Linoq

    At least the Clinton's spin and the Republican Style tactics will train Obama for the presidential run. America needs Obama, this is one in a lifetime opportunity.

    Obama for President 08
    Hillary for Chief of Staff
    Edwards for Attorney General

    January 20, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  21. Scott, Madison, WI

    Clintons lie? Distort facts? Bait the issues? Indignant finger pointing? Tell me something I didn't know.

    They are the birth parents of divisive, petty politics and personal destruction. All under the guise of "feeling your pain". They also learned well from the Bush playbook and take pages out of Dirty Politics 101and use the same dirty tricks to elevate their scummy selves to political royalty.

    Take them on with honesty and integrity because they won't recognize the first thing about either of those qualities.

    January 20, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  22. matthew

    So much for Obama's message of change.

    He sounds like the rest of the politicians to me.

    Hillary 08!

    January 20, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  23. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    Is Sen. Obama for real? this is getting absurd! Sen. Obama's record is very thin at best, Sen. Clinton's campaign is obviously working, and I'm sorry but it is his record the one that is up to scrutiny, you have something on Sen. Clinton's record then bring it! this is a race for the nomination of the Democratic party and you'd better be prepared! Sen. Clinton has had a number of mis-truths and attacks on her personally, but her record speaks for itself and the voters and beginning to notice, so welcome to the American process of picking a president Sen. obama, the road will be bumpy from now until the convention so fasten your seatbelts, if you don't think you can cut it I suggest you resign your efforts. DEFEND YOUR RECORD, EXPLAIN TO THE VOTERS WHY YOU VOTED OVER 120 TIMES PRESENT sometimes in very important issues... Also explain how you've serve your constituents by having one of the worst attendance records in the senate?

    January 20, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. Please Stop

    My Husband entered our son into a tennis tournament despite my objections. I didn’t think he was up to it. Did I root for his opponents to win so that I could use it against my Husband in a future disagreement?

    Of course not, we BOTH love our son. We are a family and we stand together, supporting each other even when we disagree.

    I’ve used that analogy to explain why I am very disappointed with the Democrats who publicly trashed our military’s chances in the war when the going got tough. They did it only for shallow partisan reasons.

    Now that our brave soldiers seem to be winning the war, these same Democrats are talking down the economy for the very same reason.

    Yes the economy is slowing, but it is NOT in a recession. These comments frighten people into holding back on spending money and increase the chance we will enter a recession. It’s called “consumer confidence”. It’s an economic indicator that directly effects the direction our economy goes in. This will hurt all of our families.

    We are ALL Americans. Stop trying to bring the country down just for your own personal gain.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves. Please talk about why your ideas are better, instead of trying to create misery.

    January 20, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  25. Case

    Bill Clinton is a former President therefore everything he says has historical weight. For him to "play politics" on behalf of his wife is simply irresponsible. Of course he has the right to help her as any supporter, but he has crossed the line with his "fast and loose" accusations several times over. Someone should have called the Clinton's on this much earlier. I wonder if Hillary realizes that her husband will be largely credited by history for "getting her" elected,but maybe thats not even a concern her.

    January 20, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
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