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. Beans

    One would have thought that Bill Clinton had sunk as low as he could while he was in office. His actions there prove he will do whatever it takes...he cheated on his wife, helped trash other women's careers (oh, and Hillary had a hand in that too), and lied, continued to lie, and yes, continued to lie.

    So...he's a liar and he will continue to do what he takes. The Clinton's cannot be trusted...not now during the campaign, and never while in office either. Get a clue, America!

    January 20, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  2. come on now

    let's go obama
    this is so true, and someone needs to be saying

    for a former leader of the free world, bill clinton is NOT representing himself well.
    he's NOT the one running.

    January 20, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  3. Dave

    The Clinton's are using Rove tactics. The former President is taking the President's office to a new low. He does not care about our citizens or what people think about a former President of the U.S. demeaning the office; how cheap! His red face ranting explosions of course is part of an act that occurs or occured at least once a week for the last month; mark my words, it will happen again. The Clinton's are cheap, power hungry and twist facts, words, and meaning when they think it it to their favor. They will pander to several groups of people this week and will try to win these groups at the same time slam Obama without a reason. This is exactly what we do not want in our politics. Let them use slash and burn tactics. In the end, whether it is now or the general election they will lose. They will continue to split people when we really should be working together. I was for the Clinton's; I am now for Obama. We are so tired of them and their brand of politics. Let us re-dedicate ourselves and get rid of them...

    January 20, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  4. Laura

    Senator Obama and his campaign manager have every right to a rebuttal, with regard to the unscrupulous attacks on Obama's legislative record, etc. And he's dead right about having to take on both of the Clintons. Obviously he's way too competitive for Hillary to take on alone, so she calls in her pit-bull husband to go after him, and he's been doing exactly that.

    Hillary may yet wind up getting the nomination, but certainly not because she got there on her own merits.

    January 20, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  5. Ira Grounds Sr

    Im a young 70 years old-and retired military from NG-
    -It is very sad to see the suppose leaders of the USA-quarreling like children back and forth all the time-
    -Im a independent -how can our suppose future leaders expect to be able to make sound decisions for our country--when they can even control theirselfs in a Presidential election-
    -and who in the world would want the Clintons back in the office-their past actions speak for itself-and Mr. Clinton-sure is not acting like a past experience–Mr. Clinton shamed the Presidents office with his past-actions-
    -Mrs. Clinton is changing her position all the time accordingly to how people react-I dont believe her personality changes all the time are the real Mrs. Clinton-and if she wanted to make all these new changes to help the country–then why didnt she do it when she was in the office before====

    January 20, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  6. Rima

    Cry Baby. What about when your wife was bashing Bill Clinton in her very angry race bating speech???

    January 20, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  7. kristin keating

    I agree with what Senator Obama said . He is in fact having to fend off attacks from each Clinton . The former President and Senator Clinton are relentless and constantly keeping Senator Obama on the defensive with their comments and misinterpretions of his voting record on the war and other related issues.

    January 20, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  8. Bo

    2 Clintons against 1 Obama is not fair.

    I do believe that the Clintons, without wanting to, do cause divisiveness.

    Also, I do believe Barack Obama will bring the country together more so than the Clinton team.

    January 20, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  9. Michael

    I agree with Barrack that he is going against both Clintons. Who is running for president Bill or Hillary. Everytime you turn on the TV Bill is saying something and protecting Hillary. Never in the history of campaigning has their been a former president out on the campaign trail helping their spouse. If Hillary did win, did she do it herself or was it because of Bill being out on the campaign trail being the attack person and keeping her looking postive.

    January 20, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  10. JonB

    Its about time Obama hit back at the dirty Clintons. I dont even believe people support these liars and their low tricks. The Clintons are so dirty and manipulative.

    Go Obama.

    January 20, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  11. matchu

    Obama needs to continue to defend his record but start focusing on the issues at hand as well. He cant afford to lose another state...even tho he got the advantage of the most delegates. This is the sorta thing the Clinton's want, they are trying to divert Obama's focus so that he has to be on the defensive all the time...where he will lose his base and his supporters and ultimately crash and burn. Hes smarter than that tho, ive got confidence in him.

    January 20, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  12. mhanna

    rope of lies is to short and once catch on fire its gonna get you clintons

    obama 08 yes obama 08

    January 20, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  13. Hillary HATES CATS

    Hillary and Bill are the masters of deception.

    They can manipulate all the people all the time.

    But I will never vote for Hillary because she hates cats and I love cats.

    January 20, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  14. Sue

    If Bill is out..all spouses are out.
    Edwards wife acts the pit bull for him, as does Michele Obama.
    Bill just outdoes them all.
    Obama and his camp knew that if you take on one Clinton, you take on both. Be ready, or don't do it.
    That's part of experience.

    January 20, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  15. Nowhere Man

    "Obama: I feel like I'm running against both Clintons."

    Uh, Barack, that's because you are, and it will be that way till the very end. Why don't you confront Hillary about hiding behind Slick? Are you running, Hillary, or is your husband? What would your WH be like if your campaign is run like this? Slick is an egotistical, poltical, ends-justify-the means human being. He is also a proven pathological liar, who is the most classless ex-president ever. Ever.

    Good luck!

    January 20, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  16. Marie in Arlington Tx

    Go Barack!!!!!!! You have ever right to hold Slick Willy accountable for his actions.

    The fact that Bill Clinton is an ex-Democratic president doesn't mean he deserves your respect or anyone elses.

    Clinton disgraced this nation when he held office and continues to do so now. The Clinton back biting and tag-teaming really isn't fooling anyone. How stupid do they think we are. Talk about change...there is no change there...dirty politics as usual for them

    Keep true to yourself Barack...America and the rest of the world is paying attention. I think there is a tide forming across America from the average voter who isn't owned by any political machine nor feels a loyalty to the "old" way.

    January 20, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  17. Emily, Atlanta, GA

    “We understand Sen. Obama is frustrated by his loss in Nevada..."
    I love the way Phil Singer put it.

    January 20, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  18. Steph, Philadelphia

    Obama is right. It seem to alot of people that he is up against both Clintons. Hillary is always trying to stay positive so she won't be blame for her negativity while her husband stay negative and go unnotice. I think this is not right. They should try and run a innocent and fair campaign. They play out this tactic in Nevada and win but we will all see what will happen in S. Carolina.

    January 20, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  19. Nathan

    Why does'nt anyone bring up the fact that during a debate a few months ago Hillary Clinton said that she knows the troops are going to be in Iraq for a long time and that her only argument is that the Bush administration has'nt developed a pullout plan even though it would'nt be used for many years. She flipp flopped on the issue, so why does Obama take all the heat?

    January 20, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  20. Gloria.

    Bill Clinton is just making a fool of himself out there. He needs to shut up.

    All the women who consider Hilary a female candidate really need to re-examine cos it not about her, its about him. She got to where she is today based on him. If you are going to vote based on gender, at least support a true women who achived things by themselve not one who takes insults from a continually cheating husband.

    January 20, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  21. Murry

    Obama has a point. Which Clinton is running for office?? Can't Hillary stand on her own and fight her own battles? What's the point of electing a woman to office who needs a man to deliver the hard punches for her?
    Vote for someone who can lead America. Someone honorable. Someone who is inspiring. Vote for Obama!

    January 20, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  22. Independant

    Obama should stop talking about Reagan during democratic primaries. He needs a history lesson. Maybe then he won't make such gaffes. That hurt him in Nevada – not the Clintons.

    January 20, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  23. Justin

    I think Barack is dead on correct. This is getting silly that the Clinton campaign started this garbage. I just cant believe people are buying the stuff the Clinton's are saying. Nominating Hillary Clinton will bring out more republicans to vote in the general election, even if they dont like their party's nominee. Sen. Clinton will be the biggest recruiter of votes for the Republicans that we have ever seen. Hey Dem's if we want to win, nominate the right person: Barack Obama. I live in Iowa and in my precinct there were 27 people there who switched their affiliation to vote for him, none for Hillary. That should tell us something.

    January 20, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  24. Yusuf

    The Clinton's, i must say are running a very good campaign. Are their attacks factual? No, but are they getting results are the getting results? yes

    January 20, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  25. Cecil

    I agree 100% percent with Senator Obama. Hillary and her husband have ganged up on Obama, in an unflattering way. Someone said before in this forum, that if she cannot handle the heat, then she should get out of the kitchen. A REAL leader doesn't go running to their spouse at every turn of the campaign trail.

    Nor does a REAL leader break out in tears to pander for votes. Such tactics are absolutely shameful, and she'll never get my vote or endorsement like that.

    January 20, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
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