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. neo

    i fink billy boy should just concentrate on acting like a grown up coz it wont be suorising that this is just a media stunt by him and by the time yall cast your votes for hillary, your whle country will be in the international media for all the wrong reason coz yall be too stupid to realise dat billy boy puled stunts back in his time, what more do you think da wife gon do. 10 times worse. I mean cheao attacks such as vote rigging, race card and religion being shot at obama are ridiculous and so will be usa if she gets the presidential seat.

    January 21, 2008 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  2. 35 years of Experience ???

    Hilary versus Obama

    1) Experience
    Hilary – 7 years
    Obama – 11 years

    2) Academics credentials
    Hilary – ordinary pass (Yale Law); failed Washington bar exam
    Obama – Magma cum laude graduate (Harvard Law)

    3) Claim to fame
    Hilary – married to Bill
    Obama – Keynote speaker at 2004 Democratic Convention and author of 2 bestselling books

    4) Main weakness
    Hilary – Mediocre leadership skills including flawed approach (disingenuousness, entitled, ruthless and power-hungry)
    Obama – African background

    5) Main strengths
    Hilary – Bill
    Obama – brilliant, eloquent scholar with extraordinary organizational and leadership skills

    January 21, 2008 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  3. Darrick, Hillsboro, OR

    It truly is silly season! Hillary's supporters know the truth, they are just conveniently hiding behind lies like their candidate and her used to be respectable husband does. Barack has only defended himself. Can anyone name one real "dirty trick" or ""drug dealer" type of racial suggestion like the Clinton campaign has.

    I know you guys will dig deep, but you'll only dig deep enough to get his responses that you don't agree with and not look to the root of his responses. The Clinton's have proven to me that they are the win at all costs types. That's exactly the mentality that's destroying our country now. I will vote for John McCain or Mitt Romney (= HRC + Pants Suit) if Hillary gets our nomination, otherwise, I'm staying home. I will not vote for Michael Bloomberg simply because we are at war with radical Islam. I think that it is not wise to elect a Jew under these conditions. Don't you? Why give them the ultimate reason to blow us up?

    January 21, 2008 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  4. Anonymous

    I strongly believe that Clinton would be a better President than Obama.
    Obama just doesn't have enough experience in Politics and the International
    arena. I expect Hillary will be the eventual nominee for the DNC. It's a shame
    that mudslinging always seems to happen during these campaigns, but in
    the end, we gotta pick somebody for President that will do the best possible job.
    Hillary Clinton will do that.

    January 21, 2008 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  5. Daniel J. Otero

    I strongly believe that Clinton would be a better President than Obama.
    Obama just doesn't have enough experience in Politics and the International
    arena. I expect Hillary will be the eventual nominee for the DNC. It's a shame
    that mudslinging always seems to happen during these campaigns, but in
    the end, we gotta pick somebody for President that will do the best possible job.
    Hillary Clinton will do that.

    January 21, 2008 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  6. Sabrina

    Sally.I guess I am one of those dumb women supporting Hillary! My reasons are not just because she is a woman but because because she is the most experienced! Did I hear him complaining when Oprah Winfrey was on the stump, for him.

    January 21, 2008 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  7. Mark, Wilkes Barre PA

    Hey axel,,, why dont you try helping your candidate be the bigger and better person , instead of being re-actionary to the clinton machine. Tit for tat with Bill clinton can't and won't work because Bill has nothing to lose, he's already been where your trying to go. Blaze your own original and genuine trail to the whitehouse. Offer the best candidate for the job,,, don't run on the platform of look who your left to vote for if not Obama. I am a republican and if my party wins in this election , It will be because of the dem / lib in fighting so early in the race that lost it for you. my party sure would like to beat your best candidate as to be no crying after the election. I for one would like to see a election race end without contraversy and challange as to who REALLY won for a change, would you ?

    January 21, 2008 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  8. Pitso PJ

    Maybe the world is not ready to see a black president like Tu Pac once said in one of his tracks, I reckon Sen. Obama has shown that people of all races can also become world figures, like in South Africa which endured the hardships of apartheid but finally came out on top when Nelson became the first president of color, when the world and the investors were so concerned about his leadership qualities, he stood firm and like a true comrade he was . This (polical situation in America) is still the same game only with different plans tabled. I am not a racist but it is extremely difficult not to see things in black and white, we can try to justify it but the truth will always remain, that to be a person of color you will have to fight and put your head on the block and risk for it being chopped off. I like the strength and the commitment that Obama has and even if things don't go his way, atleast he was a man enough to stand for the love of his country and for his people. For that alone the man deserves a shot at the presidency.

    Vereeniging, South Africa

    January 21, 2008 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  9. anne treasure, St. Croix, VI

    But he is running against both Clintons?

    January 21, 2008 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  10. Béchir N'Daw from Mali

    The media should stop spreading false allegations about tensions between blacks versus hispanics. The media and the Clinton Campaign should also refrain from playing communities against each other. There should not be a "black, hispanic, jewish or white vote. There is only an american vote". That should be the message. The next President should be someone that unifies the country in its diversity. And I think the best candidat for that is Obama. Right now, Obama should come out and say: I will take Bill Richardson as my running mate if I win the Democratic nomination". That would be the stragegic response if he wants to have a chance of winning California and the nomination. Good luck!

    January 21, 2008 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  11. Siri

    When Bill Clinton ran for President back in 1991 he said quite loudly and publicly – you're getting 2 for the price of 1 in electing Bill Clinton. Senator Obama has obviously neglected to read up on the life (hundreds of books avaiable at Amazon) of his most powerful oponent's (Senator Hillary Clinton) most impirtant ally (Presdient Bill Clinton, her husband). He has also neglected to read up basic strategy manuals. May I recommend Sun Tzu's the Art of War, and N. Machiavelli's the Prince? Anyone who seeks power should know the first rule of power: "In the game of power, there are no rules." It's fun to complain though, and perhaps he has a strategy in placating his teary-eyed, idealistic un-cynical youthful supporters who think that just by closing their eyes, wishing real hard, and being nice they can wish Obama into the Oval Office. Silly children. In the adult world of dirty politics, idealism will get you nothing more than a halo, wheras cynical jaded sucker punches will get you a fistfull of dollars. I'll take a tough middle aged broad like Hillary, over a bleeding hearted youthful tot like Obama any day. Afterall, it's a tough world out there, and if you can't fight dirty, they will crush you. Obama has no guts, he's all flab. Hillary has guts of steel, and nerves of ice, and oh yeah, a President for a hubby.

    January 21, 2008 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  12. cyrille

    America is so blind!!!

    Hatred, racism have the american people so hoocked.

    How can u explain that people can still support Billary Clinton? Somebody who sworn over the Bible and looked into people eyes and declared: ,,I DIDN´T HAVE SEX WITH THIS WOMAN,,
    and we later found out it wasn´t only ONE woman but MANY.

    This is the guy that people are still trusting?

    There are just a lot of dead bodies in CLINTONS bedroom...but there is no need talking about them because People are so blind....

    May GOD help America!!!

    January 21, 2008 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  13. Jonathan

    It is brave for Barack to take on Bill Clinton, to dare to face somebody that many Americans like. Clinton has decided to step out and get aggressive with this campaign, and he deserves to get some aggression returned.

    Clinton left the White House on a sorry note: we missed a shot at Bin Laden, and his moral indiscretion left the door wide open for a lot of blue states to become red. HE DISGRACED HIS WIFE. Remember, W ran on restoring morality to the White House, and it was Clinton's actions that made that possible. I don't want anything to do with the Bushes or the Clintons – or even the Gores for that matter! It truly is time for change.

    Campaign machines are what they are, but take a read of the MLK article on today's CNN.com front page: it takes courage to stand up for what you believe, and the more unpopular you are, often the truer you are. Being the one who demands change can make one a pariah.

    I find it so disturbing that grown adults (which I hope you are, Doug, Charlotte, Joe, and others) resort to teasing a political candidate. What you are saying is, the Clintons are always right, and any rebuttal by Obama is "playing the race card" or "whining".

    And on the subject of "playing the race card", the only clear way in which one does that is by saying "Vote for me because I'm black". Barack has not done that. Being black in the presence of blacks is not playing the race card anymore than being white in the presence of whites is a Klan meeting. Please stop accusing the Obamas – and especially Michelle, who is a classy, respectful lady – of pandering to racial divides. They simply aren't.

    Many, many, many Obama supporters are white or of other non-black races.



    January 21, 2008 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  14. The Observer

    Obama – if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

    As for the anti-Clintonites here – I have to disagree – I'd rather have someone who genuinely makes you go one way or other than a "middle candidate" who tries to please everyone and ends up pleasing no-one.

    Also a big assumption by some that McCain or Giuliani can win the GOP nomination – I have serious doubts. Giuliani's campaign is dead in the water as far as I can see – he'll be out by Super Duper Tuesday. If the republican right get round one candidate (Romney a big possibility) then McCain is also up against it too.

    Clinton vs Romney/Huckabee – I know who my money would be on.

    January 21, 2008 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  15. Joe

    Bill lies!

    And his lies can only be uncoverred by a man named Ken Starr! And as long as he knows Obama is not Ken Starr, he will go on lying until he gets back to the White House! And the thing about he being "The 1st black president" is an insult to black people. I rather, Bill is the 1st "lying president", we all know who the 2nd is...

    January 21, 2008 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  16. Robert Eddy

    Barack ... you are running against Hillary and Bill..
    But their last name isn't Clinton: it's Entitlement.

    January 21, 2008 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  17. Judy

    that how it works in politics, either you know how to play the games or not.
    Mr obama is a fine man , i like him but before the caucuses he stood on a platform in front of a large audience and performed what he apparently thought was a comedy act, laughing at his own jokes, while mocking Hillary and Edwards to a lesser degree and now he is complaining like a child. I am a bit disappointed he should focus on what is more important is to move on and see what he did wrong and not to make the same mistakes again.Politics is a dirty games.He is new on bord and need more to learn.The clintons has being long in this game and they know what they are doing.Mrs clinton could be a good president too cause she have the experience and she knows what is behind the scene.I think they should stop picking at each other or else they both could loose at the end and the third will laught.....People should stop looking at the past what bill did and look forward because looking at the past that is not gonna change America.
    The future is infront and not behind us.

    January 21, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  18. Hillary Clinton Supporter from Florida

    Well Poor Baby!! Obama can't take the heat! I didn't hear him complain when Oprah campaigned with him. If he can't handle this, he can't handle being President.

    HILLARY 08!!!!!!

    January 21, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  19. Stephanie

    I, persoanally, feel sorry for either Mrs Clinton or Obama--they have a lot to prove and which ever of them gets the nomination–and goes on to be president–had better do an outstanding job–or there will never be another woman or a black man, elected again.

    January 21, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |

    For right now Bill can play the bull dog and attack. The problem is a few days from now the media will start to spin it as Bill being strong and Hillary being weak. This will force Bill to sit down and obama will come back.

    January 21, 2008 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  21. James Brown ( Independent )

    Oregon For OBAMA 08

    If Hillary Clinton was to be the Nominee , America will have a Republican in the White House again.

    I am a 51 year old white male , i voted for Clinton , and so did my wife.

    Today we are both Independents that will vote Republican before we vote for Clintons again.

    Hillary would most likely make a real good Vice President , after all she got real good at playing second fiddle to all of Bills girl friends.

    January 21, 2008 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  22. pjonathan

    I am on the same wave length as S Williams January 20, 2008 11:56 pm ET
    Hillary will win the nomination.
    That will induce Bloomberg to step in by mid-March as an independent.
    He will walk away with anti-(B)illary, anti-republican, pro-Obama and pro-Edwards supporters.

    After 9-11, I not only read about how black and white Americans were coming together, reaching out to one another, but felt it in a tangible way.
    Obama continues on that path.
    Bill and Hillary can get back into the White House only if they destroy that advance and continue on their path of polarization.

    By winning New Hampshire in the destructive way they did, they already may have succeeded in their efforts. Their attack machine may have destroyed Obama but it has reinvigorated the racial and other polarizations that are sapping the energy of our people, white and black, and of our country. They really have destroyed hope for a better future in their attempts to go back to a more polarized country. It may have destroyed any real opportunity for the democrats to repair the destruction of our county and our way of life by Bush-Cheney-Rove-Rumsfield-Gonzales.

    January 21, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  23. Tom Davie


    Bottom line?

    Obama didnt somehow know that Bill Clinton was her husband?

    Stop COMPLAINING about the fact Bil Clinton carries a lot of weight.

    You KNEW THAT long before you ever decided to run for president.



    This is the only thing allowed.

    I OBJECT to anyone trying to campaign against me , when it DOESNT GO MY WAY.

    January 21, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  24. Donna Quinta

    I am an 'older' feminist and am firmly supporting Barack Obama. I was once a political activist but have grown so sick and tired of business as usual..and to see the actions of the Clintons is sad. I voted for and supported Bill Clinton in past elections..but too much direct contact with the "clinton' machine turned me off to politics completely. As an 'older' woman, mother and grandmother, I honestly feel that Obama is the last hope for our country..and the in fighting and bickering is an old clinton trick..but the loser wiil not be Barack Obama, but all of us..who have an opportunity to save our beloved country. We have an opportunity to unite American, despite our differences in gender and race...how sad that both have been brought into this campaign. Do not assume that the media and Clinton campaign's efforts to drive a wedge between younger and older women will result in women voting for Hillary...I for one, will not..and my 'credentials' as a feminist are quite valid.

    January 21, 2008 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  25. bruce patras new york ny

    the bushes and clintons slept while our beds were burning . all these years later the hatred these idiots inspired has left our country and world on the brink ,

    we have awoken . thats why so many vote against hillary . they will vote for any body but hillary or a bush clone .

    i have read all of what barack says on the issues . he seems to want all sides to join together and fix our problems .

    simply play his podcasts or visit his web site .

    for once we are NOT choosing between the lesser of two evils .

    we have some one who is clear .
    we have obama who doesn't instill blind hatred like hillary .

    bloomberg would make a fine vp
    or edwards


    January 21, 2008 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
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