January 25th, 2008
04:15 PM ET
12 years ago

Bill Clinton: Obama vision is 'articulate, compelling'

CLINTON, South Carolina (CNN) - A day after slogging through several low-key, wonkish events without mentioning his wife's top Democratic rival, a more-energized Bill Clinton once again brought up identity politics on Friday.

Despite the media furor surrounding some of his recent comments, the former president avoided any of the race-based South Carolina expectations-lowering for which he has been criticized. The state's Democratic voters head to the polls tomorrow.

"While I think it would be good based on my personal life experience to have the first woman president," Clinton said in this town that shares his name, "I also understand why a lot of African-American voters think it would symbolically powerful and important to elect a brilliant, articulate, compelling vision embodied in Sen. Obama as the first African-American president."

Clinton made the remarks, unprompted, at the beginning of his speech here, also adding that Hispanics had also been excited about the prospect of Gov. Bill Richardson's candidacy.

He said voters "are entitled to have their choices respected" but concluded that Americans should choose a president based on qualifications and experience.

In Spartanburg earlier Friday, Clinton decried racial divisions in politics and said that Americans are "literally aching to live in a post-racial future."

He said Obama and his wife had called "a truce" over their recent sniping, although he did not specify which statements he was referencing.

"I was glad to see Sen. Obama and Hillary sort of call a truce the other day," he said. "They said 'Okay, we've got some differences but we can't let it become so harsh that it undermines our longing to bring this country together.' I think that's important. The country is literally almost in physical agony begging for this."

The two campaigns had tried, but failed, to come to a similar agreement last week.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby</p

soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. Too little

    Too late.

    January 25, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Jennifer

    Wow. It's too bad the Hollywood writers are on strike. They sure could have some fun with the former President's remarks above. So many jokes so little time.

    This shameless return to the politics of division is painful to watch. If you must cover a Clinton try covering the one who is actually running for President.

    January 25, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. colene from new york

    hillary is the tonya harding of politics.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE! do we want four more years of "orchestrated deception"????

    January 25, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. obama '08

    I love it when we blacks are called "articulate," as if by default we are not. The man is running for the office of the president. no duh he's probably articulate...

    it's like when everyone said that colin powell "spoke so well."


    why doesn't he call hillary articulate?

    Stop pandering, Bill...

    January 25, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. z,new york, ny

    Oh please, just go away. The Clintons make me regret I ever supported them. At least when Bush played his dirty tricks it was expected of a Republican, but for someone like the Clintons who were respected and loved around the world???

    What a disgrace. I hope voters will see.

    January 25, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. Nik T, Houston, TX

    Now Bill, you're being TOO nice this time. Stay on the margins and question him and you wil be fine. Poor baby Obama can't take questions cuz then he cries because Bill is too harsh on the poor boy. Pathetic! This is the big leagues, for pete's sakes.

    January 25, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Ayo

    The damage has been done and your legacy is going down in the drain. I'll only remember Bill Clinton for someone that stop the first African American President from happening.

    Shame on you Bill....

    January 25, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. josh 7911

    Well nice back pedaling Clinton, but bicycles cant ride reverse!

    January 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Hugo M., Ithaca, NY

    It's about time Bill stopped being so negative. It remains to be seen how much it hurt Hillary.

    January 25, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Senkump

    I can feel now Clintons are losing this race due to Bill's dysfunctional behavior.

    January 25, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. Cliff Baker

    In the famous words of Rodney King, "Can't we all get along?" Let's hope there will be a truce.

    Cliff Baker,
    Arlington, TX

    January 25, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Monique

    When is this guy going to .......excuse me I need to go and puke.

    January 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. Amy in Iowa

    This is just more of Bill's last minute calculated pandering.

    January 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Amy

    We vote for a candidate we can trust. The Clintons can't be trusted.

    The sad reality is that a vote for Hillary Clinton is really just that: a vote for the Clintons. Because the only thing the calculating Clintons will do with your vote is to help themselves.

    Vote for yourself and your family by voting for Obama.

    January 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. NC

    So Bill Clinton thinks that African-Americans who has choosen to vote for Barack Obama is only for a symbolic thing. How insulting.

    January 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. marilyn

    I think that the pople of the US will do what is best for the country. When the time
    is right it will work out ok. I hope that the new president dosn,t say he failed
    becouse of Presdient Bush. Everyone will see who voted wrong at the end.

    January 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. stan pitts pa

    if the clintons wanna be honest they will realize that the only way to move this country forward (which they claim to love very much by the way) is by electing barack obama, republicans dont like them and nothing will ever get done, we will only see more bickering and infighting, because to most republicans a vote for hrc is a vote for slick willy and they dont want him back!!!

    January 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. Jim

    Cut the crap Bill, listening to you go on is like watching sit.coms. from the fiftys, still amusing, but the acting is much better now. WE CAN SEE THROUGH YOU! DAH

    January 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. Mike

    Articulate? OH NO!

    Obama supporters will cry "racism" and accuse Bill Clinton of being amused that a black man can be articulate.

    January 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. bob

    Can some one fill me in on what the vision is? I keep hearing him talk about change, but I have yet to hear many specific examples of changes he supports.

    January 25, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Robert

    Please everyone, don't jump into his possible attempt to bring race up again by making people mad about the use of the word articulate. You'll be further helping the Clintons to make it appear that the Obama campaign has played the race card.

    If you're worried about his use of that word, just suck it up to help out your candidate.

    I'm a previously undecided in CT who has been quite turned off by the very negative and intentionally distorting attacks the Clintons have employed. It reminds me too much of Bush, and makes me worried that electing them will further divide America and be bad for our future.

    January 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  22. Last minute soft touch

    Please. Now Clinton try's to soften up just before the primary. Notice the pattern?

    It was the Bill Clinton who brought race into the race. But Obama is a candidate OF THE PEOPLE. He transcends race and party lines. He got a majority of votes in Iowa so his baiting is to divide now. Obama (who had a Mom who was white mind you) is being painted by the Clintons as the "black candidate"….he is not. Obama is the PEOPLE'S CANDIDATE. He is America's candidate.

    And with bipartisan support, HE WILL GET THINGS DONE in Washington. I don't want to elect a President, like Hillary, who will send 4 years fighting with Republicans. Gridlock will not help Americans. But Obama will. He has more elected experience than Hillary. Obama hears us, understands us and most of all, we can trust he will keep it honest and real and will work for us. Keep focused Obama and we will vote you. Obama '08

    January 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. pam , s.c.

    that's right bill! americans are "literallyaching to live in a post-racial future" so that is why so many people in s.c are angry and hurt by your remarks about obama . your wife accused obama of having ties with a slumlord and nbc showed on the today show this morning pictures of you, hillary and the infamous slumlord. you two are divisive and your wife's campaign is doomed.

    January 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Ron, TX

    Uhh, CNN, in case you didn't notice, Bill Clinton WAS baiting when he said to make your choice not based on the symbolic move of electing Obama, but on experience and qualifications.

    He might as well have said "Don't vote for Obama because he's black. Vote for Clinton because she's better!" Which, of course, is inherently untrue anyway, because Clinton has a history of making bad choices (she backed NAFTA, she destroyed health care in 93/94, she voted for the Iraq war without reading intelligence reports).

    He should have said to vote based on who you think can best move the country forward and make progress, but quite obviously, the Clinton's vitrolic exchanges promise to hamper any chance of progress.

    January 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. stan pitts pa

    when hrc loses she will only have herself and her snake oil sales man husband to blame, slick willy thinks we are all idiots! they are good at trying to manipulate the media and popular opinion! i dont see republicans and independents coming out in droves to support hrc, i see them rallying around an obama presidency!! America dont make the same mistake that newyorkers made, sending hrc to washington as president will only create more gridlock, the same way they (republicans) blocked her 93'" health care reform bid, they will stop her every way they can the best hope is barack obama to reach across the aisles (party lines) to get things done for us!

    January 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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