January 21st, 2008
12:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Congressman to Bill Clinton: 'Chill a little bit'


Watch Clyburn on CNN's American Morning.

(CNN) - House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, whose criticism of Hillary Clinton’s recent remarks on Martin Luther King Jr. helped fuel a heated back and forth between the New York senator and Barack Obama, said Monday it was time another Clinton watched his words.

Bill Clinton’s attacks on Barack Obama, Clyburn said in a CNN interview, were unfair because a former president’s viewpoint “carries with it extra weight.”

“I think they would say in Gullah-Geechee country, he needs to chill a little bit. I hope he understands what that means,” Clyburn told John Roberts on CNN’s American Morning. “I can understand him wanting to defend his wife’s honor and his own record, and that is to be expected. But you can’t do that in a way that won’t engender the kind of feelings that seem to be bubbling up as a result of this.”

“I think he is a former president of these United States. He is revered in many sections of the African-American community, and I think he can afford to tone it down,” he added.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, the South Carolina congressman had said he was disappointed with comments from Hillary Clinton that some took to suggest President Lyndon Johnson had more to do with passing the Civil Rights Act than Martin Luther King, Jr. He also expressed frustration over Bill Clinton's recent remark that the characterization of Obama's record on Iraq as consistently anti-war is a "fairy tale."

“We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics," he told the New York Times. "It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone’s motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those. That bothered me a great deal.”

Last week, Clyburn said it was time for both Hillary Clinton and Obama to move on. He said Bill Clinton had called twice to explain what he meant by his comments — most recently, an hour after the congressman returned to the United States from a trip abroad. He also said he'd spoken to Hillary Clinton about the issue, and has accepted both Clintons’ explanations of their comments.

"I don't think we ought to be so politically correct about everything that we say every time someone makes a mistake, 'throw the person off the campaign,' or something of that sort," he said. "I think what we do is accept their explanation as to what they meant by what they said and go on. A lot of people who work in campaigns get very excited sometimes."

Clyburn, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, has continued to insist he will not endorse any presidential candidate, upholding a pledge to the candidates and to the Democratic Party that he would stay out of the race ahead of his state's key January vote.

Related: Watch Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina on American Morning.

–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand and Alexander Mooney

soundoff (343 Responses)
  1. Warren

    Obama needs to go on national TV with a message of hope and ask for the help of all independents and intelligent Democrats. Folks, we can't afford another 4 – 8 years of the Clintons.

    January 21, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. zb

    quit recycling your stories cnn

    January 21, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. J

    Please be informed correctly about Clyburn's point. Yes Oprah and other popular persons have canvassed for Obama but have done so praising his candidacy and telling people why they should support him for President. On the other hand, Bill Clinton is all about attacking Obama. If you support Hillary, please tell voters why they should vote for her. Bill has no business attacking Obama.

    January 21, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. Eeeeer!?

    Oh boo-hoo!

    Obama made comment, about President Bill Clinton's legacy, and compared it ill-favourably to REPUBLICAN Ronald Reagan's term in office.

    I'm guessing that gives old Bill the right to comment.

    Obama, stop the crying, and show a little bit of loyalty to 'your' DEMOCRAT organization.

    January 21, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. Felly

    Hillary has only held one elected office as a Senator from NY in 35 yrs. The Obama campaign should waste no time attacking Hillary's 35 years of experience she's claiming. She is blatantly lying on her resume.

    January 21, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. doddy

    who is going to be a president? Hillary or Bill? So how come you act like you are running for, just be out and let them dance alone, we want someone we can trust and not just b'se of Bill....................I'm tired with Bill

    I'll vote for Rep...

    January 21, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. pam Eugene OR

    Very well said Marko.
    I don't mind if Bill wants to defend or debate Shrillarys plans but he can NOT lie or attack Obama. That is his wifes job! LOL

    January 21, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Matthias

    IF the Clintons win, we will have had like 28 years of the same two, crooked families running the White House. We are becoming England with these pathetic royal families.

    January 21, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. Karen

    Yes, he knows what that means. The Gullah are known for preserving more of the African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African American community in the US. Yes, some of us aware there are blacks in the South. Does anybody not get the 'hint' he is giving a white person.

    January 21, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. Dave

    What's really sad is that the Clinton's slash and burn tactics might work in the Democratic nomination process and she may very well get the nomination. But this campaign isn't about just winning the nomination or really just winning the Presidency. It's about turning the page on the politics of division.

    I believe Hillary Clinton will loose a general election to John McCain in a year that otherwise greatly favors the Democrats. She is devicive and polarizing to Republican's and her actions during the primary season is alienating Independents and Democrats. I know that as a life long Democrat (and someone who voted for Bill twice) I will vote for Bloomberg before Hillary.

    January 21, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. Steven Baker

    The biggest mystery to me in this entire political campaign is why no one seems to be willing to challenge Hillary Clinton's BIG LIE about how her vast experience entitles her to be President. One can only guess that she must be referring to her HUSBAND'S experience, which is not her own. She has almost zero executive experience. Let's face it, she's essentially a one-term junior Senator with less actual experience that might be useful to a President than any other candidate.

    I've been following the campaigns closely and I have never heard or seen another candidate or, especially, anyone in the press challenge her on this lie. Why don't we start keeping them honest?

    January 21, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Ant in Texas

    WOW!!! Some Black women will cut off their nose to spit there face!!! Name one thing that Hillary Clinton has done for the African American community, oh...I said Hillary, NOT BILLARY!!! She plays the Gender card, Bill plays the Race Card and now Obama can not stand the heat in the kitchen!!! Please, I hope the people of South Carolina see pass the BILLARY garbage truck and focus on the facts and issues...BILLARY has been on every African American radio and television show on the air the past couple of weeks, because we are moving to Southern states...not because she cares about our community!!! But again, we will stand up for nothing and fall for anything...support BILLARY because she is a women? Just as stupid of supporting Obama because he is black!!!

    Ask yourself, do you believe she can change the nation for the better? Her, not her husband!!! Look at what she has done in New York...nothing!!! Look at how she has supported this war!!! Look at her failed Hillarycare plan when she was "The first Lady"!!! She likes to say she is "Ready to Lead!!!" Why? Because she had a husband who was President? Because she had great Photo Ops with her husband? Because she has 35 years in public life?

    If I got a photo op with her husband, I would have been as close to the Presidency as she has been!!! Real change, requires real Leadership!!!

    Obama 08!!!

    January 21, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. dee

    OBAMA all the way! The Clinton Era is over! Shut it down! It's a shame that OBAMA has to running against 2 Clintons!


    January 21, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Steven

    Its like who is the best master. Master Clinton is great as long as u toe the line. If u tow the line maybe on xmas u will get an extra ham or a pair of shoes. But if u dare buck the system u will be put in your place. Bill has certainly put that Obama guy in his place. how dare him think there was a place at the table. When Hill wins Bill u go to the Ghetto with a truck load of hams and shoes. Thanks Bill u did real good.

    January 21, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. rw

    Clyburn is the one that needs to chill out. There must be a two standard view here. Since when is saying that it took a president to sign a bill racist, since when is calling someone's stand on a issue a fairy tale racist? Seems Clyburn did not like Obama's loss in Nevada, so now he is bubbling up the anti-white sentiment among the black community so that his man can win SC. Shame on you Clyburn

    And what is this comment, “We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics," he told the New York Times. It reminds me of the Islamic fundamentalist reaction to the Danish drawing of Mohamed.

    Seems the generation of the civil rights movement needs to die before we make any real progress of not seeing skin color in the Democratic party. Prediction: there will be a black Republican president before there ever is a Democratic one.

    January 21, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. Tee

    I did not appreciate OBAMA very cockily suggest that all the hispanics voted for him in Illinois. I am a Latina voter, and will NOT vote for him. He does seem to think that he has the minority votes already. Just because you are black does not mean you get a free ride.

    January 21, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. darrell

    Jim January 21, 2008 10:29 am ET

    The one that needs to chill is Clyburn. He instigated all the racial tensions with his prior comments. What is he trying to do now? Did not see him telling Michele or Oprah to chill!


    You forgot to mention Bob Johnson, African American Clinton Supporter.

    Too many political buttons are being pushed.

    Clintons have controll of thier mouths as well, which stirred an emotion for votes that may cost the party the 08 election.

    President Clinton needs to chill. He is making his wife look like a weak leader.

    She oked war with Iraq and now as 2007 with Iran.

    Time for real change

    Obama 08

    January 21, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. checkthisout

    Today Jim is asking Bill to "chill a little bit".
    If Obama wins the nomination he will ask the Republicans to "chill a little bit".
    If Obama wins the White House he is going to ask Osama to "chill a little bit".

    January 21, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. Alistar Ramadani

    Bill Clinton is best ever President USA had. And black peapel know's very well wat he did for them. Bill Clinton was alsaw for the World good, do not forgat this. Maybe you will never have any more Presdient like Bill Clinton was, so please pay tribut to hem and say thanks, cose peapel like hem borns onse i centery.

    January 21, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. Bryan, Illinois

    Matthias, we are becoming worse than England, since their hereditary rulers are more for show than policy. Using hereditary rulers for policy can be disastrous, just look at people like our current president.

    We need a break from this Clinton-Bush mind-trap that the country was falling into.

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

    I don't know what's going on on the black comunity that they think that just because they are black is that they can't be criticise, I'm sorry for Mr. Obama but if you can't take the heat just get out of the politics, and stop playing the race card, That's annoying me, And i want to make clear that not because i'm making this comment is that i'm for Mrs clinton in fact i'm not going to vote for her because i'm disagreeing with her on the housing meltdown, I don't think that a pearson should be reward it for his or her irresponsibility.

    January 21, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  22. Tee

    Wow, you men and women are too funny. You mean to tell me you will not voice about your wife or husbands? or your sons and daughters? I guess that all those wives, husbands, sons and daughters that are in Iraq and those who love them defend why is time to get out is wrong and they should shut up huh?

    Think you Conscious people....and while your at it, VOTE your conscious. Hillary is the MOST equipped to be our nest President.

    January 21, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Jon, Pittsburgh, PA

    I agree with Jim from way, way, way back up this chain.

    January 21, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. 0D1N

    I love the Hillary supporters who have respopnded with this whole "crybaby" rhetoric. It's funny though I do remember 1 democratic candidate crying very recently........ but I don't think it was Obama o_O.

    January 21, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. v.cifaldi&paul



    January 21, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14