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. adams

    Obama is a good man and a patriot but this is'nt amature night at the Roxy.

    We need a strong, mature, heavy weight like Hillary to take back our dear America

    January 25, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. Ericka

    Wow, for a "black man", Bill sure is bigoted. Could it possibly be that Blacks want to elect Obama, not because, "he sho' is an articulate negro!" but because he's an inspiring PERSON? Enough already Bill!

    January 25, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  3. David Snider

    bob January 25, 2008 4:37 pm ET

    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

    ***
    Obama talks about a Clean America. An America that ACTUALLY comes together for once (which has a true chance this time). Obama talks about treating everyone fairly, including people of all colors. He wants us to naturally accept that we all may be different , but have the same goal in the end, FREEDOM and PROSPERITY. Americans who can afford to buy what they want, including affordable health care without the Government controling it. Unlike 2 other canidates. He even talks about uniting Republicans, Democrats and Independents and working with them to satisfy American people, not their own ambitions! Obama talks about healing this world instead of dividing it even more. Obama has a dream of our own energy which supplies 100% of Americas energy forever! He believes that talking to our enemies might be better for America, since most of the Aggression over the past 7 years was caused by US and has made it almost impossible for peace some day. He talks a lot and I'm LOVING what he talks about. he has the same view points as me.

    A Military Civilian who seves his country proudly but also is in need of money to pay bills, buy health care..etc.. P.S. I DO NOT get cheap deals for Medical Health care or any care for that matter.

    Obama didn't support the War
    Obama did NOT designate with Bush to label Iran's Guard as a Terrorist organization

    This vote that BUSH and HILLARY CLINTON voted for is the drum beat to war with Iran! But, America doesnt need a war right now because our first priority is our people first and healing our nation! America could of course deal a death blow to Iran. They could basically put out of commission Irans Navy, Air Force, Military Bases and support structures, but this would only lead the American economy down even more and we dont want this and OIL at $200 dollars a barrel and WORLD economies, including ours,, plunging to hell!!

    OBAMA 08!

    This is exactly what we need in Ameirca and the world CHANGE for the BETTER

    Obama 08!

    January 25, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  4. mary

    time for a real change. elect a smart women president. go HILLARY.

    January 25, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  5. Santy

    Unbelievable a crybaby with no experience and a perverted impeached loser who tell her what to do and every political situation.She has no mind of her own only big mouth !

    The Clinton believe that if you throw enough horse s h it again the wall, some of it is bound to stick !!

    January 25, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  6. chance

    i think obama made this about race when oprah went to sc for him
    go hillary

    January 25, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. pam Eugene OR

    CNN
    Why are you keeping me in moderation hell or removing my comments? Is it because I see too clearly through the Clinton lies and divisive politics?
    How about some free speech here?

    January 25, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  8. chance

    i think obama made all this about race when he brought oprah to sc

    January 25, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  9. Marie

    Bill's Foot.......meet....Mouth! I think a "time out" is in order for the children getting caught up in this kind of bickering.

    Of course Obama is "articulate".....surprise!!....he's a Harvard graduate, why would that be a negative rather than a positive?......of course comparing his speech and command of the English language to the current (P)resident of the White House, maybe it's just sooooo shocking to hear someone who can string words together to form an intelligent sentence, we're shocked, I tell you!!

    I do think/hope Obama will consider the source and rise above the pettiness. I have a feeling it's going to get worse before it gets better.......if a fellow Democrat will push a few buttons, imagine what the Republican Slime Machine has in store for whomever gets the Dem nomination!!

    I'm sticking with John Edwards all the way to the Convention and on to the White House.

    January 25, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  10. Rich Orl, FL

    It is good to hear Bill Clinton speak in more optimistic terms, especially about Obama. He is right about Americans yearning for a united country, and that begins with a united party with great ideas. Democratic voters want to be respected enough to make our decisions based on our candidates' positions, not disputes. I am supporting Obama but think Hillary is a competent candidate. I hope Bill can continue this type of positive compliment to her campaign going forward. It is definitely a better direction for our primary and eventually the country in the general.

    Obama and Clinton on the same ticket 2008!

    January 25, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  11. a woman

    Mr. Clinton is polite, he is a diplomat, he is great. What else you people want? When he gets"upset" you do not like it, when he is nice, you do not like it.
    Make up your minds – if you are able to.

    January 25, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  12. Bimmer

    Obama is increasingly showing side of him that voters are becoming uncomfortanle with.

    Land deals in Chicago, attacking first his opponent, uniter in Iowa, divider in SC.

    What next?

    The longer the campaign goes, the more things are being revealed.

    January 25, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  13. rose robbins

    Ok, I've been a big fan of Bill Clinton and his presidency, BUT his best qualities are not on display in the recent campaign. His comments today are just a continuation of that trend. Perhaps Mr. Clinton intended his remarks as a compliment (wink, wink), though that's difficult to believe given what he actually said.

    First, he claims HIS "personal life experience" amounts to a natural preference for a woman president. Despite any osmosis implied in his amply documented affinity for female companionship, his more "natural" experience would equate to that of a white male.

    Even his subsequent comments belie the logic. He goes on to say that he can "understand" why blacks (not whites...or Hispanics...or anyone else) might "symbolically" vote for Obama & his vision. A couple of things are wrong with that.

    First, how does he leap from "African Americans" who "symbolically" vote for Obama and "Hispanics" who are "excited" about Richardson...to himself who "naturally" relates to a WOMAN?!?!?

    Second, why is a vote for Obama by default: 1."symbolic" and 2. inevitably tied to race? How incredibly patronizing of him! I'm an independent voter and as far as I can tell the Obama-mania is driven by much more substantial motivations–NONE of which depends on the colour of his skin:
    –Like the content of his character (as King would say).
    –Like his palpable qualities of leadership when Clinton II offers only management.
    –Like his diverse life experience and history of hands-on activism.
    –Like his soaring vision for what the US can be.
    –Like his realistic policy positions.

    Shame on Clinton for belittling those who have a litany of rational and substantial reasons to disagree with his choice of candidate!

    January 25, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  14. Mike K

    I am asian people. I ask myself a thousand time the same question" Does the 80% of the white Amarican peoples accept the black president to lead them ? "

    January 25, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  15. Democrat in MO

    Barack Obama is not the candidate of color, he is the CANDIDATE OF THE PEOPLE as somebody mentioned before!

    The Clintons don't fear him because he is black, they fear him because he will transform the politics of fraud, corruption and lies – Bill Clinton fears Barack Obama because the years ahead would wipe off the legacy of the campaigns and administrations of Clinton and Bush to the dark ages of American Democracy.

    OBAMA'08

    January 25, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. M.V.

    BUBBA CLINTON IS A CONVICTED LIAR. I HOPE OBAMA WILL NOT BE SUCKED IN BY THOSE TWO SHAMELESS PEOPLE, THE BILLARY AND BUBBA SHOW.

    I AM ONE DEMOCRAT WHO CHANGED MY PARTY AFFILIATION TO iNDEPENDENT TODAY AND I WILL VOTE FOR MITT ROMNEY IF HE IS THE CANDIDATE IF BILLARY CLINTON IS THE CANDIDATE.

    THE WHITE HOUSE DOES NOT NEED THE LIKES OF THOSE TWO SHAMELESS PEOPLE WHO WILL DO AND SAY ANYTHING TO WIN.

    I AM A THIRTY FIVE YEAR OLD WHITE WOMAN AND I HAVE VOTED FOR DEMOCRATS SINCE I WAS ABLE TO VOTE.

    THIS WILL BE MY FIRST PROTEST VOTE IF BILLARY CLINTON IS THE CANDIDATE.

    I HOPE OTHERS WILL JOIN ME IN THIS PROTEST OF THE METHODS THE CLINTONS USED TO TRY TO DESTROY OBAMA AND BRING RACE INTO THIS ELECTION AND DIVIDE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL GAIN.

    January 25, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  17. Bill

    Bill, i voted for you but PLEASE SHUT UP.

    CNN, I turn you but PLEASE COVER EDWARDS FOR A CHANGE.

    Both of you are looking pathetic this primary.

    January 25, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  18. Mike K

    I think racism will be erased in another 100 years. Not now

    January 25, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  19. Bimmer

    Obma is one candidate with many faces.

    He is white in Iowa, he is African American in SC, he is for change, then he attacks, he is for unity, then he divides, he gives great speeches, then he fumbles in debate after debate, he is clean then he admits working for a slumlord, he calls a truce then he attacks.

    He thinks attack is a oneway street.

    January 25, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  20. Debbie in Ohio

    We have had enough of the Clintons!!!! Come on Americans Hillary is not about good change for us. She is so disliked by the Republicans that to have her as President would only keep us in the same gridlock that we have had and nothing would really change. They just love power and want back into the White House so bad that they will say and do anything. I have always voted as a Democat but if Hillary wins I will cast my vote Republican. Obama was defending himself to lies that the Clintons were saying. The Clintons have shamed the United States and continue to do so.

    OBAMA 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 25, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  21. Roger

    "Oprah to SC" ? Chance could you be racist or ignorant? She was in Iowa and NH I believe also. Wow. I can't believe the media covers the "race" issue but fails to point out there are still people like chance and others with their ignorance. I agree also that articulate when in regard to a black person is just silly. Do they say that about Hillary? Clintons are stirring the pot to try to get uninformed and less educated to take her to the nomination by praying on their fears. It makes me sad for our country.

    January 25, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  22. vp

    <>

    I don't think while america have grown to the level of accepting a non-white president for the country. They don't even come out of the male supremacy yet. In socio-political matters like these, americans has to learn a lot from coutries like India, UK most of the democracies in the world.

    Americans still think they are the greatest democracy in the whole world... Sorry

    January 25, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  23. James

    If Hilary is the nominee I am staying home on election day.!!! And by the way this will be a repeat of the 2000 election which they already cost Al gore. They are disgusting. I was very excited about this season now I am completely turned off by these people.

    January 25, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  24. Chelton

    Like many people, I decided to support Senator Obama because I believe that he has a unique ability to bring Democrats and Republicans together to solve our major domestic and international challenges and will best restore our image abroad. I also believe that 1) Hillary is the only presidential candidate in either party with the power to unite the Republican party; 2) that she fails to attract the independent and new voters who have decided the past two elections; and 3) that Obama's endorsements from swing state governors and senators reflect their belief in his ability to win their states and their fear that she would lose AND compromise other Democrat's chances with her divisiveness. BUT, if Democrats disagreed with me, and, like the Republicans running Bob Dole against Bill Clinton, decided to bet on an establishment, losing horse, I planned to work on her campaign to try my best and defeat them. However, over the past week, I've become so demoralized that not only will I not work on her campaign, but I will have to force myself to vote for her. Shame on you for destroying my hopes for our party!!!

    January 25, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  25. DP, Jacksonville, FL

    The impression I get of Obama is that he doesn't have a realistic understanding of what it requires to run this country. He seems to believe that he can simply walk into a room and people will genuflect before him and submit to his requests.

    Listen to the other candidates (Dems and Reps alike), and then listen to Obama. He's deluded himself into believing that a few well-written talking points will be enough to unite people.

    This isn't 1965. The country is divided on many issues, and we have been led into a war by an ignorant and only moderately-intelligent president that we, as a largely Christian nation, have no way of winning (or understanding, really). And in the midst of all that our economy is quickly failing.

    Barack needs to stay in the incubator a bit longer and continue to involve himself in congressional activities so he can be ready when he's needed.

    January 25, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
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