January 21st, 2008
01:15 PM ET
12 years ago

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

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 said 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</div

soundoff (1,181 Responses)
  1. PATTY


    January 22, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Gilbert

    Keep up the hope and fight on Barack! You surely are competing against a former
    President and a First Lady. If you prevail it will be like winning against an incumbent; if you lose it will be because you are fighting against two odds.
    As for the Clintons its clear they are trying to go round the constitution and get back to the White House for another term. Otherwise what's so important for them that they want to achieve that they could not do in the eight years they were in the White House? I think the Clintons' agenda to go back to The White House is personal and not for America's sake. They must be anxious to repair the damages caused by Bill's escapades in the corridors of the White House among other things. This whole thing is just too personal for Clintons!

    January 23, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. SJM

    The MAJOR DIFFERENCE between what Bill and Hillary are doing, and Barak and Michelle are doing is this:

    ANY TIME MO makes a derogatory statement, it is attributed to Barack.

    Whereas Hillary Clinton is attempting to play innocent. Notice in the debate, when Obama responded to one of Bill's attacks upon him, she stated, "He's not here" "I didn't say that"– BULL! She is as responsible for Bill's role in the campaign as Barack is for Michelle's– and it's repulsive to me that she's being such a hypocrite.

    I was actually sympathetic towards her, too– now I see why so many people despise Hillary Clinton.

    (Still would probably vote for her over a Repub, though)

    January 24, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. C.S. Dachet

    Well, I think all hope is not lost for Obama. Every obstacle could be an opportunity for a miracle. Obama could use this heated attack to prove his maturity and make an impact. An eye for an eye may not always play out well. Where there is hatred bring love, where there is strive bring calm. Obama's posture in this can serve him both good and bad. The Clinton are bomarding Obama to get him frustrated and distablized. It is a strategy to bring out the worst in him.

    January 25, 2008 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  5. vicky smart

    Sen. Obama should stop replying the Clintons, and tell the country his plan.
    They (the Clintons and the Press) are using this method to distract your goal.
    Be focus and ignore them quickly.

    January 25, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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