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. TINA ny, ny

    May I say that Obama is feeling the defeat. He is giving up. What is he going to do when bigger problems comes in his way. Is he going to go crying to his wife.

    January 21, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Hillary 08

    Hey Obama...go back to Chicago and try to help out your buddy Resko!! Read the ChicagoSunTImes.com article....yeah right...he doesn't take any illegal money for his campaigns!!...What a crock Obama is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. Rap

    As a conservative who knows many, many conservatives, the one thing that unites us is this animosity towards the Clintons. We feel none of that for Barack, a man who truly can dispose of the bitterness in this country. The Clinton's? Please. How would you Dems feel if George W was running again? Well that's how we feel about the Clinton's. Our country just does not need this.

    January 21, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Don


    People will stay and do stupid things when they're supporting someone they care about. It doesn't mean that's the candidates viewpoint. Your post is exactly why I think caucuses should be eliminated and replaced with primaries. This "open forum" voting reminds me of something from an early 20th century county fair.

    HILLARY '08!

    January 21, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. New Yorker, NYC, NY

    "Educated Woman"

    You do not know what you are talking about. In NYC and NYS she is most respected person. After 9/11 she was active in securing all the help New York need. If you go anywhere in NY and ask who the people going to vote for they have all said HRC. Not because of Preident Bill Clinton. And to all you say that it Mayor Giullani, that not true. Truth about Giulllani has come out. He most ineffective mayor. Ask FDNY, NYPD, PANYNJ.

    January 21, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. RealityKing

    2 Clintons and a corrupt media to be exact..

    January 21, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. Young Orlando FL

    He IS running against both Clintons. What a ridiculous statement. Was he looking for sympathy? They are husband and wife and of course they will support each other. No one should expect anything less then that. Once Hillary is in office, Bill will continue to support her. The lesson's learned between the two of them will make for great decision making. Bill's been there and done that for 8 years and so the ccountry will get two for the price of one....in a way 🙂 Obama is running scared and is trying to pull out all the tricks. The problem is the complaints are becoming weaker and weaker everyday. I got caught up in the Obama wave initially due mainly to Oprah...btw, I love Oprah. But since then I realized the man is nothing more then a great immitator of great speakers such as MLK and JFK.....You can immitate MLK and JFK all you want but that does not mean you are them. Speaking like them does not equate to thinking and acting like them. He talks a good talk but has NO experience to rely on at all! A vote for Obama is a vote for an army of faceless appointees he will bring on to run the country. I don't want to cast a random vote...at least with HIllary, I know what I'll get since Bill was pretty good for 8 years. Certainty is nothing to laugh about. This country is at a cross-road and rolling the dice on our future for the next 4 years is too dangerous and harmful for all of us. Sign, Black woman vote for Hillary 2008!

    January 21, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Alan Ulman

    I supported of Bill Clinton's policy positions and achievements as President, but am unpleasently surprised am disappointed by the petty tone, parsed content and low level of his campaign rhetoric regarding Barack Obama. Count me as a Southern, centrist Democrat for Obama.

    January 21, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Will, Manchester, NH

    The only thing Bill dreams about is the White house with interns. It is shameful that Bill is living on past glory. He was not the BEST president but definitely well liked. Now it seems like he is hell bent upon erasing his likability factor even.

    January 21, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. Jenny, Paxton, MA

    Jimmy of LA, CA, a self-identified republican, writes:

    "When you look at the former greats, Reagan, JFK etc., they all had one very important thing in common, Americans beleived that they were the truth."

    This is the kind of nonsense fed to the not-so-bright voters. Jimmy, do you have a clue what in the world your statement means??????????????

    Let's pray HARD together. Lord, SWEET JESUS, keep Jimmy and his kind at home on the election day. They know not what they're doing.

    January 21, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. kevin from alaska

    In 2000 a candidate tricked people into voting for him because he shared the same last name as a former president. I'm just saying that it could happen again.

    January 21, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    TRUTH could NEVER be defined as a virtue of either Bill or Hillary Clinton.


    We as a country deserve BETTER! We NEED an honest President! ABC!

    Anyone who still supports Hillary Clinton has GOT to have their stubborn revengeful head in the sand because the Clinton's have reared their UGLY lying heads again and the Clintonites are in TOTAL DENIAL about it, making excuses and passing blame as usual.

    We citizens of all race, gender and age deserve to fall in love with the USA again and we could NOT POSSIBLY do it with another Clinton as our President!

    It's obvious that the Clinton's have planted their SEEDS OF HATE again and they will continue to water and nourish that nasty emotion until we send them back home!

    Bush + Clinton + Bush + Clinton = A hateful and divided America.

    Wake up America, I miss your love and I'm weary from your hate!

    January 21, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. Ann, MO

    If Hillary is the one running for the Presidency, and she is the one that is going to have to not only work across party lines in Washington, but to work with foreign leaders in other countries, please tell me how she is going to do that if she has to hide behind Bill while he is the one taking on one "inexperienced" man. Are we electing her to be President, or did the Clinton's get the laws changed so we are electing Bill to be President again. She can't have it both ways. Either she is strong enough to do this job, or she needs Bill to do the job for her.

    January 21, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |

    As a former Clinton supporter, i am disgusted with the Clintons tactics and will not vote for Hillary even if she gets the nominations.

    January 21, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. Cheri

    At the beginning of the '08 campaign I was supportive of all the democratic candidates. But after the recent nasty politics by the Clinton campaign, I have changed my mind. What the Clinton's have been doing is no better than the push polls in South Carolina by the Bush campaign. I for one am tired of this type of politics and reject it. Our country is so at odds because of years of divisive politics. We are so divided that we can't get anything done and we have so many problems to solve together. The Clinton's behavior has given me a glimpse of what a "Billary" presidency would entail. Need I say more? Okay, I will. I no longer think they have the countries best interests at heart. I think it's all about history now. The first woman president and Bill's ability to have a "do over". I don't want to go back, but instead move forward. Let's turn the page.

    January 21, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |

    how dare Newt attempt to explain what black people want. Try doing some self reflection of your own race, maybe this world will become a kinder place.

    January 21, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. don

    I have voted Dem in evey presidential election since I was eligible (1976), but surely no one would argue that Bill Clinton is a paragon of honesty.

    January 21, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. Rosa

    Quit your whining Mr. Obama. Do you really think you can wake up, fall out of bed and decide you are going to run for president alone? This country is in a HUGE MESS because of the last 8 years. We need a experienced president who is going to be surrounded by large amounts of intelliegent, dedicated individuals to our US Flag, to bring about change that our children can be proud of again someday. Hillary Clinton has never faultered in her determination, trust, intelligence and strength to do the job she has been elected to do. As a strong woman and president, she will bring us back to being, and be seen as the proud Americans we are. That goes for all of us, black, white, hispanic, and so on.........all of us! Happy Martin Luther King's Day to all of you.......

    January 21, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. v.cifaldi&paul




    GO HILLARY!!!!

    January 21, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. TJ

    He's not "whining" about Bill supporting Hillary, he's just trying to make it look like they're teaming up on him so that voters will view their campaign negatively. That's politics, you use everything you possibly can against your opponent.


    January 21, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. Cathy

    To all the "two for the price of one" commenters:

    Generally, if someone is offering you this deal, it is because the product is of an inferior quality.

    I fell for the "forever sharp" knife scam when they came to my local Sam's Club. The knife isn't bad, but it certainly wasn't worth $25. This is why they gave me three of them, along with an entire SET of other knives they were trying to get rid of. ALL of the products were of an inferior quality. The Forever Sharp knife dulled within a month. It got rusty within two months. It's large and unwieldy to use, and the only reason it still cuts is because it was designed with a serrated edge.

    Don't fall for the two for the price of one scam! It means the store is overstocked because the product isn't good enough!

    Personally, I think one Clinton is already one too many, and having two for the price of one is more than I can stomach.

    To all the "Then Michelle Obama/Oprah needs to stop campaigning people:

    Last I checked, neither Michelle nor Oprah had held the office of POTUS. (We'd be a much more progressive countr if they had been!) Bill Clinton is being held to a higher standard BECAUSE he's already held this office. And guess what, he lied under oath regarding the fact that he was cheating on his wife! Of course he has no compunctions about lying to the American people about a black guy from Illinois. If he doesn't, Hillary is going to make him sleep on the couch again for another six months.

    To all the "Obama is being a crybaby" people:

    Pointing out that your opponent is blatantly lying about you is not being a crybaby. Now, if Obama had decided to go on the offensive regarding the fact that Bill had violated the campaign laws by getting within 150 feet of a polling place, you'd have an argument. Obama is going to let the Democratic party, and if necessary, the police and lawyers have that.

    To all the "Obama has no experience" people:

    Obama has 11 years in elected office. Experience in an elected office is the only type that counts.

    Clinton only has 7 years in an elected office. She was not elected as First Lady, so that doesn't count at all. I would never dare to let the wife of my dentist work on me.

    To all the people that accuse CNN of bias either against Hillary or against Obama: The political ticker is a blog, and a relatively unbiased one at that. Stories posted in here reflected the opinions of the individuals that post them, not CNN as a whole. If it's not on the front page of CNN's website, you can't claim it's biased.

    January 21, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. ing

    Does anybody know Michelle Obama who is campaigning everywhere?

    January 21, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. brian

    January 21, 2008

    "I feel like I'm running against both Clintons" ??? Did you not know that she's married to him? Did you not know that spouses campaign for the spouse running for president of the US? Is your wife not campaigning for YOU? How is it Clinton's, (Hillary), fault her husband happens to be a former president? Did you not know this going into this election? Why can't he make remarks on your war record? Is it not true that you have claimed not to be for it and then said you don't know how you would have voted for it? That is the truth. Why can't Bill or for that matter anyone question you about it. We as American's have the bill of rights that is called "Freedom of Speech".
    I've heard you make remarks about Clinton's record. Your wife has made some remarks that Clinton could have bashed her for, but she didn't and hasn't. I respect her for that. She is being very gentle with you so far. If you, for one moment believe the republicans are going to play by the same rules, your are very mistaken. They are going to play dirty and anything and everything is open for discussion.

    I guess if you look at it from the Clinton's side of things she could say " I feel like I'm running against both Obamas".

    I for one listen to her and you and don't listen to others. They are not the one's I'm voting for.

    January 21, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. lena, Ca

    people who are calling Obama a whiner need to think back a bit. Especially before the New Hampshire primary when Hillary and Bill were losing in the polls. Bill Clinton did more whining than a cat in heat. He complained that Hillary wasn't recieving as much press a Obama. He complained that the boys were ganging up on Hillary. He complains about the Nevada caucus. Who started the whining you Clinton supporters....Slick Willie! So get those facts straight. He lied about the fact that Obama said the Republicans had better ideas in the "90's! Thats a lie its on YouTube if you care to investigate. He said that in the '80's mind you (first lie) that Reagan put the country on a different "TRAJECTORY " ! ie path! which is the truth thats why everyone in the GOP wants to called a Reagan Conservative!

    January 21, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. carol

    How would you know what Bill Clinton said under oath to a grand jury? Grand jury testimony is secret.

    Oh yeah, the Republicans broke the law and broadcast his testimony. I hold all of you voyeurs responsible for 911 and the Iraq war. If you have been doing what you were elected to do, you would have known what Bin Laden was up to instead. Remember your claim that Bill Clinton was 'wagging the dog' when he tried to kill Bin Laden. You empowered a terrorist.

    January 21, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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