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. Marcus, Independence MO

    This article is so true. I mean seriously is this the strength of a woman?? To go run to her husband when she's in trouble?? I hope other African Americans are watching as the DemoFrats grrrr.....Clintons embarass the party we worked so hard to support. Let's see 35 years of support = running behind Bill when things get tough that about sums it up for me. And to the WOMEN who say BLACKS are voting for Obama because he is black well it looks as if people are voting for Hillary because of A. Her Husband B. She's a woman. Can we African Americans say REALIGNMENT?

    January 20, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  2. richard

    Obama really is pulling out all the stops, huh? Well Senator Obama better think twice about attacking beloved Clinton. It may stand well with his strong supporters but may steer away undecideds who are considering support for Hillary. He is no where near being on the same level as President Clinton or his wife for that matter. Give it up Obama.

    January 20, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  3. B. hawkins

    I think Bill Clinton has made a very serious tactical mistake. He actually thinks that he is THE BLACk PRESIDENT. I tiink he has been misled by the so called Black Leadership. Thier agenda is simple. They would like to believe that they represent thier community. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The old style so called Black Leaders represent nothing more than thier self , they are very very afraid that Omaba will call them on thier claim to represent a consituencty that they can not deliver. Bill Clinton's red faced comments about Obama "fariy tale "credentials has cost Hillary un told voters in the Black community. Omaba is a true role model for any Black parent. Harvad gradute, US Senator ,articulate family man, public servant. As a Black man that's a role model that my son can aspire to. In my judement Clinton Red faced comment scares me. Hillary is not running as much as the power hunger Bill is. Clinton has showed his true clours(Red Faced. I did not have sex with that women) That's not a role model for me or my sons while you are working to do all you can to denigrate a true American success story and a real vision for this country. The real fairy tale is that you and your old style black leaders really matter.

    January 20, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  4. Go home Obummer

    Oh, it's okay for Obummer's people to blame Hillary's war vote (based on FALSE intelligence) on Butto's murder, but Bill Clinton can't bring up actual words that Obummer SAID himself about that same war?!?

    Give me a break! Go home Obummer you crybaby!

    CLINTON 2008!

    January 20, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  5. darrell

    Hillary's Record with War was consistent

    Voted for war with Iraq, then 2007 with Iran

    It is real clear to all

    She has not changed and has no intention on change

    or diplomacy.

    Obama 08

    Bill, as you said in 1992 to Bush, Old experience is irrelevant

    Old experience is irrelevant
    Old experience is irrelevant
    Old experience is irrelevant

    Obama 08

    January 20, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  6. JAZ

    BO didn't seem to mind when Michelezilla went after the Clintons? Can't stand the heat BO, stay out of the kitchen.

    Whatcha gonna do if you get the nom and the Repuglican machine comes at you with their knives out? And, sorry, kissing Reagan's grave doesn't mean a thing to them – read Jonah Goldberg's most recent travesty of an article. The aren't falling for the "white" knight thing. They will fillet you. Do you have the stomach to do battle with them, BO?

    January 20, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  7. NoLonforehead

    Oh well, two Clintons put together don't even make one decent president. Nonetheless, what he says is true. It's like Bill is out making speeches and running his own campaign for office, except he is pathetic and needs to go away for good. Slick Willy loves the attention, so of course he will try and create controversy. On the other hand, I see good qualities with Obama, but he is too polished with no substance. He is getting cocky and likes to talk some trash, which is not what the country needs. Despite his likeable demeanor and great talk of change, he does not have the experience or details to make this happen. (yet) Please vote McCain!!

    January 20, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  8. Brian

    It is true Hillary is using Bill to do the dirty work. She could do it herself but it would make her cry too much.

    January 20, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  9. Terry

    Obama needs to grow up, stop whining, and stop acting like a victim–its so un-presidential of him. I really like Obama because his messages are inspirational (I'm sick of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that the GOP is spreading). I want to vote for Obama but he appears to be showing signs of distress and may be headed for a huge melt down. Obama has systematically attacked and had other allies attack his competitors Hillary and John Edwards. What does he expect when the dirty tricks backfire on him? He mistakenly thought he was Teflon and that things would not stick to him–guess what...folks are noticing.

    UNITY starts with each individual. If UNITY is the goal then all the candidates need to stop going negative. It also means that each candidate needs to "own" their record of accomplishment and implementing change rather than spinning it. Obama is spinning his record and if you look at the facts then you can see that the facts do NOT support his spin. Perhaps this is another rookie mistake.

    UNITY also means the ability to discuss the real issues while being respectful of others opinions even when you don't agree with them. REAL CHANGE begins inside each person. Until all the candidates have changed themselves then they won't be able to change anything for the country. Behavior is a key indicator. Do you see candidates saying one thing and doing another? I see it highlighted by the media. I also see a double standard. The media has been brutal on John Edwards and Hillary. For some reason, Obama gets a pass. Good for him.

    If elected, will we give Obama a pass on the really tough issues? I'd like Obama to win, however he has to rise above the negativity. he has to dounce the negativity immediately when his supporters engage in it. he has to show real character. Unless he rises above all this stuff then it will be a long ugly road to the nomination and to the white house.

    January 20, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  10. Anti Clintons

    Obama is fighting both ofthe Clinton's, the Clowns as they should be called always want to make the other person look bad, but Obama is to smart for these two lying cheating fools.

    He still has more delegates than Bilary, so who is smarter than whom?

    the Clintons will lose this race.

    Go Obama!

    January 20, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  11. darrell

    Ask Clinton what is the legal definition of "Yes"?

    Turn the page

    Bill is trying to distract people from the Iran Vote by Hillary

    The page is turning

    Obama or a Split DEM. = a New GOP president

    Now that's laughable

    Who will have the last laugh = GOP

    That's Who, not Hillary or You

    People are awakening to the false promises and the padding of the pharisees' pocket.

    The page is turning,

    January 20, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  12. Truethis

    Hillary Clinton won the popular votes. Obama won the more delegate than Hillary which we all know from the 2000 election, Bush won by delegates. But the question is who's really running for president? Hillary or Bill??? Are we to bases Hillary's experience by her husband's years as president or do we really known Hillary's experiences. THAT'S WHAT OBAMA needs to be asking. because I know Bill Clintons experience, I have not yet heard Hillarys. And that's what's bother me.

    Obama is right it like a tag team and he's beening hit from both sides. Bill is not running for President Hillary is. Can't she stand alone? If not , can she run this country alone or do she need assistant from her husband?

    But the questions is: How long can Bill Clinton attack without coming off looney with the media attacking reporters for asking questions or twisting the truth around before the ordinary people pick up this dirty game after they gave his wife their votes.

    I understand that BILL CLINTON will be in SOUTH CAROLINE knocking on African American doors asking for votes so is he's going go off when someone ask him why his wife is not knocking on door rather than him?

    This country is suffering and we need straight talks.

    January 20, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  13. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Obama's biggest adversary is himself. This is a team effort by the democratic party. There's no "I" in team as they say. All three democrats at the top are representing the same platform. The most popular will get nominated. The attacks against each other does neither candidate any good. Being the president is a terrible job that pays little and takes a huge toll on the victims health. Regardless of who gets the "honor" of being elected, all three are recognized as the leaders unless they prove themselves otherwise. The current administration gives more power to the vice-president anyway. Wouldn't VP be a better gig? Either Obama or Clinton can move on to senate majority leader and control a separate and equal branch anyway. The lockstep republicans made this game a team sport and by maintaining a unified front,we can take back this country.

    January 20, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  14. spdubois

    Welcome to politics - your strategy didn't work in New Hampshire, didn't work in Nevada and now you want to cry foul. You send Michelle out on the campaign trail speaking for you. So, it's fair game.

    Instead of sitting there "hoping" they stop picking on you. Hoping that you can win. Why don't you go back to the Senate and play out your term. Run for a 2nd term then run in 8 years. You'll move from a mid level manager to a CEO and perhaps you can learn how to run the company instead of having others do it for you while you take the credit.

    January 20, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  15. tired of the whining

    so much whining when he loses. doesn't his wife campaign for him? if he can't take the heat. . . and the arrogant and ridiculous attempt to cast himself in the mode of the real civil rights leaders plus the claims of being a unifying figure while engaging in the same old politics are getting very old. I've been waiting for a viable African-American candidate, but would never vote for this one.

    January 20, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  16. Mary K. Clinton, Iowa

    Bill Clinton has become an embarassment to himself and the Democratic party.

    January 20, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  17. Red

    This could be his Rope-a-dope strategy. Let Clinton pound on him then at the right time hit back... Nah... he is in trouble.

    So he is going to slug it out with Bill eh? Sounds like a great idea.. While he is doing that Hillary can have the appearance of the high ground.

    Wear your glove Barack!

    January 20, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  18. darrell

    Hillary can not fight her own battles???
    Hillary is a Strong Leader???



    Get real! Bill is making her look weak???

    Obama 08

    January 20, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  19. acbs

    If Obama can't take a little heat from the Clintons, how in the world is he going to take ALL of the heat from Washington that he is claiming he can change just by 'hoping so'?!

    January 20, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  20. Robert

    I laughed at how true this was. I'm really just looking forward to getting a Democrat in office - I havn't decided on one candidate all of them carry certain qualities but lack others.

    This headline really says it all, and Obama's thoughts couldn't be more true, he is running against both Clintons. I havn't heard Hillary Clinton saying this or saying that about Barack Obama without Bill Clinton in the same sentence or paragraph.

    All credit to Obama on this comeback.

    January 20, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  21. Truethis

    I meant SOUTH CAROLINA, Sorry South Carolinan

    January 20, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  22. jack

    I'm from N.Y., I know N.Y. if we work hard there and really make our presence known and felt we can take it!! New Yorkers love and underdog with fight. Hell there Knick, Jets and Giants fans

    Get Obama out on the street screaming and shout and stating the facts everyday!! TALK TALK TLAK TO PEOPLE!!! Neww Yorkers LOVE to talk!!! The media will pick it up and we can do this. Upstate – Down State.


    January 20, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  23. Apophis

    OBAMA is the first guy to finally admit ....this country is bad........sick of seeimng this and that......the constitution is being violated.........we need obama

    January 20, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  24. Lindsay

    It seems to me, once again, that your "news" coverage of the race is slanted toward Obama and focusing on the negative with Hillary Clinton. CNN has aired some tough questions about Hillary Clinton and I think that's great. However, where are those tough questions about Obama? Why are people not really delving into his record and asking questions? The coverage does not seem balanced.

    January 20, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  25. Audrey in Alexandria, Virginia

    Now – who is running for office Bill or Hillary ?

    It is not right that Hillary is running for office while each day we see more and more of her husband, Bill speaking out on both radio and telelvision campaign news coverage.

    I feel as each day passes Bill Clinton is seen as the one running for president not Hillary.

    If Hillary had won the election, Bill Clinton would probably be running this country again, I don't see how he could remain out of the executive office and just let her run the country.

    This is not how our democracy was set up to work. I like Bill Clinton but, it is not fair to Obama and to our country. Our political system is not set up to allow a two-term president any more power.

    I am voting for Obama because of his intelligence, inspiration and ability to change this nation and the world. I have faith in him, his abilities, and my instinct tells me he would make a great president and I have to go with my gut instinct.

    Obama 2008 –

    January 20, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
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