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. g godfrey

    Correction: I will vote Republican and I have been a life long Democrat.

    January 24, 2008 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  2. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    "The role of the media is inform and educated the public, even if it means taking side."

    No, the role of the media is to give you all the pertinent information and allow YOU to make the decision. The media does not vote for the President of the United States, and it's not the duty of the media to steer you towards who not to vote for. There is a clear difference between reporting and editorialism, and you're clearly acting as an enabler.

    January 24, 2008 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  3. matt

    Look at this crap. The Democrats have done it again! The Clintons say "If I can't have it, NO ONE WILL." And the Democrats are going to line up in a giant circle and blow each other away. Brilliant work, Bill. I hope it serves your ego well to win the Democratic Primary but destroy the Democratic Party.

    Obama was 100% right in his interview yesterday. He can carry Clinton's voters if he's the nominee, plus many more. But Obama's voters - all these millions of new people coming out to the polls - they will NEVER vote for Clinton in a General Election.

    A vote for Clinton is a vote for a Republican President, and a SPLIT Congress (at BEST). Really, if Clinton is the nominee it will be a miracle to maintain control of either house of Congress. She's ripping the party in half and she doesn't even care.

    January 24, 2008 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  4. anon


    Notice, TrueBlue's opinion may be hurtful to you, but the Democratic party has to realize that this is the reality of the election. Forty percent of Democratic voters in Michigan said they'd rather vote for NO ONE than Hillary. People went to the polls to vote for NO ONE. I don't see why more attention wasn't paid to this. This is an amazing political phenomenon. It's time to embrace reality. TrueBlue's post represents a huge portion of the Democratic voting base.

    January 24, 2008 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  5. Murphy

    According to the delegate map, Obama is likely to come close to if not beat Hill & Bill on Super Duper Tuesday. There are alot of little states where people dislike Bill & Hill and Hillary has only performed well in major cities so far.

    Couple that with the fact that Edwards is playing the spoiler to Hill & Bill and I see... Could it be? Obama-Edwards '08 vs. the other guys in the Superbowl!

    Don't believe the hype on TV, Obama will win to everyone's surprize!

    January 24, 2008 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  6. alan

    Bill Clinton is a loser.

    The Clinton Years: Mediorce Presdeint who depended on republican ideas for his economic success.

    Clintons = Liars
    Bush = Liar
    Clintons = Bush

    January 24, 2008 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  7. Gregor


    As a deeply convinced democrat I endorsed Bill an Hillary for about 15 years. Now I´m just sad about that mudslicking disappointing campaign against Obama. I hope he will win and if he won´t, I even (!) hope Mc Cain will do so in November.

    Stop damaging the democrats. Stop damaging a brother in mind in a way only a republican has deserve it!


    A spectator from Berlin

    January 24, 2008 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  8. Cartebagger

    If we think Bill cannot support Hilary then Oprah should not be able to support Obama. Ex president or not he has bith the right and duty to express his views!!!

    January 24, 2008 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  9. Dianne Little

    A Question For Hillary

    After a somewhat dramatic display of emotion on the eve of the New Hampshire Primary,
    I feel the need to ask one question of Miss Hillary. Boxers or Briefs? No, seriously, for all
    the professed caring for the Country and people, where was she four years ago when the Senators
    Kerry and Edwards were running for our lives? She and the Mister were noticeably absent in their
    appearances and support for the Democratic nominees. Happy to sit back and let us all suffer
    through an additional four years of "43" and the "Duck Hunter", All the while plotting and
    planning for her own run at history in '08.
    I am pretty certain that "anyone" will do better than the current occupants, I just ask
    everyone to consider carefully the sincerity of the "Players".
    Were the voters in New Hampshire (and Nevada) duped or did they truly "Feel Her Pain"?

    January 24, 2008 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  10. gani

    President Clinton was right and I second the motion. Some CNN reporters are always left un-checked and very bias. Get a real-life you CNN reporters, and do not "create news" involving Obama by dragging Bill and Hillary down. How pathetic.

    January 24, 2008 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  11. mary

    I thought i was a Democrat. I'm not voting for Clinton, and most of all not voting for Obama. Guess i'll have to vote Republican.

    January 24, 2008 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  12. Rick

    The media is OBSESSED with this race being about race and gender. If either candidate says something to a room of 500 people and it seems to be a "smear" why do they play it over and over and over. If you dont want to hear Bill Clinton knock someone dont air it.The media could stick to reporting on the positions of the candidates if they chose too. I for one am sick of it and I think the biggest share of the blame is with the media. I watch alot of the big 3 cable news networks and they are all guilty of driving these stories.

    January 24, 2008 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  13. Steve

    Today, every sneeze, throwaway sentence and comment is turned into a headline. Talk about making mountain ranges out of moleholes....

    The press should not press candidates too much with all these "A supporter of your rival says that you/your husband/your wife/your goldfish/your neighbour's second cousin once said [any comment ripped out of its context]. What is your headline-worthy comment?"

    People don't care about this bickering, they, meaning "WE", are interested in the issues. We want to know what candidates stand for, what they plan to do to solve the problems of today and not to hear accusations and counter-accusations and counter-counter-accusations. So the press should stop asking these foolish questions and should start to ask the questions that really matter.

    January 24, 2008 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  14. NSRB

    I have read so many comments posted and I must say that yes CNN is biased and yes I'm a viewer and a big fan. And it's sad I see so many bandwaggonists for Obama talking bad about Bill Clinton. This whole thing has become a RACE thing if Obama was WHITE would there be all this hype and foolishness?? And yes I am BLACK I was on the fence about this whole thing but hearing Obama put Bill Clinton's below Regan and also him talking bad about the Democratic party is plain TASTELESS and REALLY STUPID. Why is it Mr.Obama won't just go join Republican Party?? since he thinks so highly of that lot. I know who I'm not voting for but not sure who I'm going to vote for.

    January 24, 2008 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  15. Billary is Back

    Bill "I want a 3rd term" Clinton is an absolute fraud. If he is so concerned about the issues than why is HE continually bashing Obama and misrepresenting his record. I don't see Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama chasing Hillary and bashing her. It is blantantly not fair. The CNN reporter was absolutely RIGHT to call him on it. Bill Clinton our impeached, permanently disbarred and serial philanderer ex-president is a disgrace. Here is an interesting article wrriten by Andrew Sullivan:

    Billary Is Back

    Readers may have noticed that I have found myself slipping. I no longer refer to Clinton's candidacy. I refer to the Clintons' candidacy. This was always the case, of course. They have been professionally joined at the hip for their entire careers. Their marriage, among other things, is a power-move – for them both. But I never expected Bill to show his hand this crudely and this unpleasantly so soon. I'll bet he didn't either. But that's how close Obama has come.

    At least now we know what this race is about: Obama versus the Clintons. Both of them. Their dynasty. Their power. Their methods. Their character. And so the question becomes: does America really want a Restoration? And if Hillary is this beholden to Bill in the campaign, what will his role be in the White House? I've long hoped he'd be given a clear job, accountable to the president and the public. But that isn't their style. When you re-elect royal families, you get their family dynamics as well. What we're seeing now is a small glimpse of what we would be dealing with for at least four years.
    They can still be stopped.

    January 24, 2008 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  16. Katzenelson

    Bill knows how to hijack some headlines, haha. Can't blame hin for nothing, good man!

    January 24, 2008 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  17. G J M

    Bill give it tto them. Shame on bias reporting. Obama attacked Hillary , gave credit to Ronald Regan called Hillary you are likeable. Elect Obama and suffer 8 more years. Obama Talk Issues.

    January 24, 2008 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  18. bb

    Lets face it only Hillary can do you right people & leave Bill alone I guess he was right a bout the fair tale thing & please wolf shut down your programme you are so daft

    January 24, 2008 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  19. D.Haeske

    I've had enough of the Clintons and want a real change for the better. Hillery will never be what I feel we need.!

    January 24, 2008 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  20. Alice

    CNN, if you are going to report the news. Please try to no show favoritism. President Clinton's term was so memeorable in my eyes. He kept our country upbeat and out of debt. Maybe we should be concentrating on that instead of making Obama an untouchable rock star and John Edwards invisible.

    I don't think that CNN is reporting fairly.

    Please, speak about the issues.

    January 24, 2008 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  21. Don

    Bill is right.CNN needs to start playing fair. Hillary is this countries best choice. Go Hillary.

    January 24, 2008 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  22. Alice

    {cont.) CNN is so much in favor of Borak Hussein Obama. What is the deal with him anyway. President Clinton and his wife should be commended on how he ran our government. We need to know more about Obama.

    Please try to cover your news fairly.

    January 24, 2008 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  23. sam atl

    Common folks – It is politics. How can you keep politics out of politics. It is absurd to think that there would be no two viewpoints and no two interpretations. It is the reality of politics. If you are not tough if you can't defend your statements and actions politically you are doomed. Obama is getting frustrated and getting personal. Rather than saying his record is being distorted let him stand up and say that what he did was correct – whether it is Iraq or anything else. Het gets personal whenever someone tried question his record. That's not right. I don't think Obama is tough enough to fight this battle and the bigger battles ahead.

    January 24, 2008 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  24. sam atl

    Come on folks! It is politics. How can you keep politics out of politics. It is absurd to think that there would be no two viewpoints and no two interpretations. It is the reality of politics. If you are not tough if you can't defend your statements and actions politically you are doomed. Obama is getting frustrated and getting personal. Rather than saying his record is being distorted let him stand up and say that what he did was correct – whether it is Iraq or anything else. Het gets personal whenever someone tried question his record. That's not right. I don't think Obama is tough enough to fight this battle and the bigger battles ahead.

    January 24, 2008 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  25. Timb3r W0lf

    Obama..why back a losing candidate?

    Haha Bill 8 more years !!

    January 24, 2008 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
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