January 23rd, 2008
09:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Bill Clinton gets upset with CNN reporter


Bill Clinton got visibly upset with CNN's Jessica Yellin Wednesday.

(CNN) - Bill Clinton became visibly upset Wednesday over comments by a prominent South Carolina Democrat that compared the former president's actions on the trail to those of infamous Republican strategist Lee Atwater.

In an interview with CNN's Jessica Yellin, Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and a supporter of Barack Obama, said some of Bill Clinton's recent remarks on the campaign trail were appeals based on race and gender. He said the comments were meant to "suppresses the vote, demoralize voters, and distort the record," and said they were "reminiscent of Lee Atwater."

Clinton sharply disputed the charge, and lashed out at Yellin for raising the question.

"You live for this. This hurts the people of South Carolina," he said. "Because the people of South Carolina come to these meetings and ask questions about what they care about. And what they care about is not what's going to be in the news coverage tonight, because you don't care about it.

"What you care about is this. And the Obama people know that. So they just spin you up on this and you happily go along. I mean, the people don't care about this," he added. "They never ask about it. And you are determined to take this election away from them. And that's not right. That is not right. This election ought to belong to those people who are out here asking questions about their lives."

soundoff (1,260 Responses)
  1. Jim

    I thought the Democrats would have the White House wrapped up for the next election. Wrong again! If the economy is strong in November, the Dems will be in trouble.

    January 23, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. Courtne Lott

    I like Bill just like I like Hilary, I think Obama and Clinton have a fair chance. When it comes to my vote Obama rocks and he'll have my vote!

    January 23, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. Olivia

    How soon we forget...HE IS A LIAR!!! Do we have 4 Democrats running??? Bill needs to kick back and let Hillary prove herself.

    January 23, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  4. Steve

    I am firmly committed to leaving the USA for the next 8 years. The thought of having 8 years of Hillary & Bill & Pelosi & Reid leading the country makes me wretch. I'm a Democrat and find this bunch of leaders the absolute WORST the Party has ever had. I'll wait out the 8 years abroad & laugh at the absloute mess (yes, it can get worse) these geniuses get themselves into. Adios, my friends. Just remember to be careful what you wish for–you just might get it. And while I'm gone, I'll work on my Spanish because that will be the language of the land when I return.

    January 23, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. rao

    Bill Clinton is tight. CNN needs to stick to campaign issues, not compete with ET or TMZ for sensational stories that guarantee ratings. Investigative reporting is one thing, this is yellow journalism for cable news viewers.The last debate felt like a reality show with Wolf Blitzer and his cronies proving to be ineffective moderators. As far as Bill, he has every right to stand by his wife- as her spouse who also happens to be an ex-President. Stop debating about whether it befits him as a statesman. Maybe you should ask crybaby Osbama to answer the nagging, recurring questions about his records. He is a smooth talker, always talks about CHANGE and changing the course when journalists confront him about his questionable past. I am an Independent. The more I see the shenanigans of the Democratic party and Clinton-lynching, the more I am tempted to vote for Hillary. I am submitting this comment even though I am almost sure CNN may not post it since it shows CNN in an unfavorable light.

    January 23, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. Veronica

    GO BILL! 🙂 Refocus on the ISSUES.

    January 23, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. PFC Fedd

    I'm glad Jon Stewart is back to remind us of the political issues; not the races,marriage, or genders of the Democratic candidates

    January 23, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. JT

    I am getting very tired by the way the media is starting to cover this. TELL LOU DOBBS AND THE REST OF THE CNN CREW – to stop talking about racism, to stop talking about bashing and fighting. Every time he covers it or other CNN reporters cover it – all you (the media) does is FUEL IT.

    Bill Clinton was making a simple point – it's time to start talking about ISSUES. SO PLLLLEEASE CNN stop asking stupid questions – and FOCUS ON THE ISSUES.

    January 23, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. SimonSays

    On the one had Bill seems to be changing his tune about what went on in Nevada. He went from 'overheard' to first hand testimony.

    On the other he is absolutely right that media coverage of this campaign has nothing to do with what voters are actually asking of their candidates on the campaign trail.

    IMO There is only one place to go if you want to see what's really going on: C-SPAN.

    January 23, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Barney Katzenback

    Bill Clinton is so full of it...it hurts. Just like his old lady...will say ANYTHING.
    Go back to the Hillbilly Arkansas.

    January 23, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. Phil Parker

    John McCain has the experience in foreign affairs. Markets adjust themselves regardless of political party. Obama is a great candidate but the majority will not vote for him. Clinton is Clinton : No explanation necessary. Neither will win and McCain will be the next president. Republicans Again Victorious !!

    January 23, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. Lev Klinemann, CA

    I love Bill, but they are using Rovian and Atwarian tactics.

    January 23, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. JT

    I am about to switch off CNN and switch off reading the CNN website IF you folks don't start covering ISSUES instead of "creating the dividing lines that this nation doesn't need."

    January 23, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. Robert Morwell

    Here's a clue, Bill. We do care about the way you and Hillary have spun stuff and trashed Obama. We find it more of the same-old-same-old which doesn not serve the people of Sought Carolina or America and we're really, really tired of it.

    Like many independents who tend to vote Democratic, I had originally figured that I would vote for Hillary if Obama didn;'t get the nomination. But I have become so disillusioned and disgusted with the both of you that if John McCain gets the Republican nomination, I will VERY seriously consider voting for him.

    January 23, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. Brennan - Seattle, WA

    Oh Bill, I believe it is you that wishes to take the election away from anyone who doesn't agree with you. Two words come to mind: Arrogant and Ignorant

    I can only pray that Bill is unable to menipulate his way back into the White House. I am a Democrat and I thought Bill was a good President, but throughout this election cycle he has tainted his image and that of the Democratic Party.

    January 23, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. matthew

    there was NOTHING in this clip that showed Clinton becoming upset.

    He was pointing out FACTS. Something CNN should try to do more often.

    January 23, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  17. Nik T, Houston, TX

    Only negative comments about Hillary, huh, CNN? How about reporting Hillary picked up an endorsement of the Gov. of Pennsylvania? No, that would not look good for Obama, your hero.

    Why not talk about Lou Dobbs' nonsensical rhetoric about illegal immigration and his sick fixation with it, and how he throws tantrums when people call him on his lack of knowledge? Thanks.

    January 23, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. carmella

    I love fact check org. They have now posted their report about the South Carolina debate. There aren't any innocent candidates.

    January 23, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  19. frank Honolulu HI

    He's right CNN. Don't hide behind your corporation.

    January 23, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Veronica

    Actually, really, take a look at the video. This is a great example of what most of us are saying– take a look at it– there's such a big discrepancy between this interaction and how it was reported!!

    January 23, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Akin

    Maybe not the best husband – but he was the one of the best Presidents.

    January 23, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  22. Busk

    I think that most people can see through the game. Its a shame that Obama use energi trying to fight the accusations against him, that will only benefit the Clintons.
    Obama has a great vision worth listen. spend the energi on that.

    January 23, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. Franklin Cain

    Bill Clinton thinks he is King of the U.S. not to be questioned. He continually lies and tries to re-write history and his shameful legacy. He takes credit for things he had nothing to do with, like the tech/economy boom of the late nineties. He and his "so-called" wife, believe they have a divine right to rule us poor uneducated peasants. They are so arrogant and condescending, acting like they are doing us all a big favor. They personify white trash con-artists with degrees
    I cannot believe that anyone would actually consider voting for Hillary. She is somehow convincing a lot of gullible people that she is qualified to be president, and nobody calls her on it. The media gives her and Bill a free ride to use subtle
    racism to defeat Obama. Whats next -Jeb Bush in 8 years, and then Chelsea? The voters of this country make me sick!

    January 23, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. phil

    I cannot front. His response was excellent and insightful. But still...

    Obama 08.

    January 23, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  25. Dennis H

    Why is Bill answering questions from people interested in the future when he represents the past. I seem to remember that he and Hillary didn't agree on A LOT of things back then. He is creating controversy wherever he goes to do exactly what he's complaining about....distracting from the issues of this election. Send him home Hillary!

    January 23, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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