January 21st, 2008
12:46 PM ET
14 years ago

Bill Clinton accuses Obama camp of dirty tricks

(CNN) - Hours after news reports surfaced that Barack Obama had criticized Bill Clinton for getting too heavily involved in this year’s presidential race, the former president accused the Illinois senator’s campaign of more dirty tricks in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses.

The former president said Sunday that his wife Hillary Clinton had “won a victory in spite of a very well-organized, and I might say a very well-executed, strategy by the Obama campaign. Which included doing well in the north of Nevada, where his demographic of upscale voters lived, and by making an explicit effort to get Republicans to come and vote for him in the Democratic caucus” – a charge that was immediately denied by Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

The two campaigns started trading charges and counter-charges over the chaotic Saturday vote even before the polls closed, and have continued the back-and-forth ever since. On Monday, Obama told an ABC interviewer that he felt as though he were “running against both Clintons.”

Bill Clinton also seized on Obama’s recent comments that Ronald Reagan had had a major impact on America, telling the Buffalo, New York crowd Sunday night that the Illinois senator had “said President Reagan was the engine of innovation and did more, had a more lasting impact on America than I did. And then the next day he said, 'In the ‘90s, the good ideas came out from the Republicans. Which, it'll be costly maybe down the road for him because it's factually not accurate.”

Obama's comments last week did not compare the two presidencies. The senator said that Reagan had changed the “trajectory” of the country, and “put us on a fundamentally different path,” and that “it’s fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last ten, fifteen years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.” But did not say whether he thougt those ideas had been positive ones.

He added that the Republican approach had “played itself out.”

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    To Former President Clinton:

    I was so excited when you became president in 1993. I was thrilled that a new voice would lead our country into a better tomorrow.

    Sadly, I became discouraged by your personal conduct while in office. It was damaging to our children and disappointing to people who looked to you as a man with ethical/moral values.

    Today. . .as I closely watch the campaigns of your wife and others/. . . I am feeling very sad that you have gone so low as to make disparaging remarks about an African-American who will, I believe, bring our country to a new height.

    I'm finding myself wondering if you truly believe that Barack Obama will be less successful as president of the greatest free country of the world, OR are you worried that the Clinton dynasty won't move forward.

    With all due respect, I am praying that Americans will realize the opportunities that Senator Obama will bring - not only to America - but to the world.

    Sorry to disappoint you, President Clinton, but you have lost my respect.

    January 21, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  2. bdc, phila, pa

    I agree with V as well. This is getting ridiculous.. seems like every day Bill is bashing Barack with something different. You're a former president, but just because you say something it doesn't become true.

    I hope everyone realizes that this isn't just Bill it is Hillary... even though she herself is playing "nice" and not saying anything about obama it is still her intention and her will that all this negative publicity be spread about him. We can't let her sit by and bash barack and then claim she is positive. Hold her responsible for her disgraceful nonsense.

    Clearly NOT the candidate of change as the Clintons are running the same campaign they always have (this and the push-polls in SC) which means it will be the same do-nothing washington politics if Billary is elected. Please wake up and realize we'll have four more paralyzed years if Hillary wins... we can't afford that.

    January 21, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  3. W Action

    It looks like some of the Clintons' wealthy friends have decided to take care of her "Obama Problem" with some good old GOP-style push polling! It ultimately hurt Huck in SC but the Clintonists apparently believe they need to do it to hold down the size of O's victory. Sad to learn what they'll do when the chips are down, but that's the DNC for you. Always envious of Republican ways.

    January 21, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. Mike T

    If Hillary's last name wasn't Clinton and she hadn't been married to Bill Clinton, nobody would even know who she was and nobody would care one iota what she says or thinks.

    And if her husband hadn't come out and campaigned for her: first, she wouldn't be a Senator, and second, she wouldn't have won a single state in this primary. I really think that most of the people voting for her think they are voting for Bill Clinton, and do not understand that he can't be president again. They need to read the Constitution.

    Clinton also gets help from the media, including CNN. Ever notice that every time there is a story about the 3 candidates, like the one on the CNN homepage right now – Hillary's picture is first, Obama's is second, and Edward's is third. Is that supposed to be subliminal, or what? Further, they always seem to choose a flattering picture of Clinton, and the worst pictures they can find of the other two. Is that not bias as well?

    January 21, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  5. v.ananthan


    January 21, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  6. Tyler in Raleigh

    UMMMMMM..... isnt there a term limit thing.... 2 terms.... you know, Bill can not run again?


    January 21, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  7. Margaret

    Those of us monitoring the care of mentally ill/homeless/dually diagnosed know that it was Ronald Reagan who closed the nation's psychiatric hospitals with the promise (broken) of appropriate community care.

    Today, the tragic devastating failures of mental health care for those afflicted by brain disorders are evident in the nation's streets and homeless shelters. There's a third place – jails. Everyone working in the field knows that the largest "psychiatric" provider in the U.S. is the Los Angeles jail.

    This is also Ronald Reagan's legacy.

    January 21, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  8. Mike Boxell

    The Real Estate Clubs will never allow reasonable pricing for houses.

    January 21, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  9. obi isichei

    Bill Clinton is one of the greatest presidents ever to govern America. He needs leave the criticisms for Hillary to say 'cos even if Hillary wins, he leaves half of the country losing respect for him; some of this half, are the folks that would pass down the message of his greatness. So he needs to be careful; campaign for your wife but be a little smarter.

    January 22, 2008 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  10. Troy Burton

    For a disbarred attny, for lying and serial adultery to cast aspersions is too funny. Like many Democrats I find his credibility gone and want him as far from the White House as possible. And like most Americans I'd never vote for Hillary if she should become the nominee.

    January 22, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. Pat

    Who should know better what dirty tricks can be played during an election than a former President who has been through two hard fought campaigns himself, and with many of the same supporters who now help Obama?

    Running for President is not like running for the Harvard Law Review which, as we are told, was a fierce battle at the time in 1991 that put Obama at the head of it.

    Did he think running for President would be equivalent?

    January 24, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
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