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. jamie46

    it's not only america were trying to talk about this coming election, it's the world future........ american people shall vote for their legacy and that should stand
    above all ..... at the end HILLARY CLINTON will win........

    January 26, 2008 06:16 am at 6:16 am |

    BILL-ARY at it's best, HRC calls out the slum lord...opps she was doesn't remember taking the picture AT A FUNDRASIER FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Bill-Ary has made race and gender an issue in SC, to SCARE all the KOOLAID drinkers away from a man who kept RACE OUT of the the campaign. To ensure he doesn't remind us the 40% of Americans said they WOULD NOT VOTE FOR BILL-ARY BEFORE THE ELECTION, AFTER THE ELECTION BILL-ARY WANTS TO MAKE SURE HE PANDERS...JUST A BIT. If ONE COUPLE could do this kind of damage to THEIR OWN PARTY...IMAGINE WHAT THEY WOULD DO TO THIS COUNTRY??????????

    OBAMA 08

    January 26, 2008 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  3. tomdavie

    So let me get this straight.

    Bill clinton comes on and praises Obama.

    It is SURE a lot better than Obama ever does for Hillary.

    But Bill Clinton is the VILLIAN????

    I again restate my request that people should have to take an IQ test before they are allowed to vote.

    January 26, 2008 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  4. Alistar

    Some comment's i just can't undertand! Ar you gys try to say that President Clinton shuld not endors hes wife? This is ridicule what ar you thinking and saying. Sure hes gono endors hes wife, if he dosne't who will? I'm not amerikan, im from Europe, and i'm proud that Amerika has peapel like Bill is! You shuld be proud of hem what he did for you has a President for 8 yers. Atackin hem like some comment's do its chilldish and verry pathetic. GO CLINTON'S U DESERV TO BE AGAIN AT THE WITE HOUSE to make the World safer.

    January 26, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  5. The Observer

    "NC January 25, 2008 4:33 pm ET

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

    Unfortunately though it is the truth – many voters will vote down racial and gender lines.

    The "because she' s woman" or "because he's black" arguments for supporting a candidate are quite frankly idiotic.

    January 26, 2008 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  6. Robert M. Reidy N.Y.

    Bill and Hillary are trying very hard to block out the first Black Presidential Candidate !

    It is really that simple. I guess two terms were just not enough for this greedy power crazed couple !

    How black does Billy Clinton look now ?

    Time to just say NO to this Monarchy mentality.

    The world is watching and waiting.

    America, please wake up !

    January 26, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  7. Wayne

    Well it looks like someone high up within the democratic party has provided Bill Clinton with a very specific directive to "cool it." So he is now offering a few kind words of praise towards Senator Obama. I strongly suspect that he was told that he could only go so far with his level of ridicule towards Barack, or he would seriously destroy the image of the democratic party.

    So with the above said, he is now a great deal more wiser, but let's just hope that Mr. Clinton will not do another quick 360 on us, and resort back to his old fashioned ways of hit and run, slash and burn, style of politics, all in the name of ultimately creating his family dynasty in the Whitehouse.

    Presidential Years:

    Bush +Clinton, Clinton+Bush + Bush+Clinton, Clinton+Chelsea+Chelsea? Who needs this?

    I certainly don't. Give me a break!!!!

    January 26, 2008 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  8. steve, PA

    8 years with the Clinton's was enough

    January 26, 2008 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  9. JB Boston MA


    I challenge you to go to any ticker story that has Hillary Clinton, and find one whose comments don't contain anger, hatred, questions of morality, integrity and overall concern.

    This is not just coming from Republicans, but Democrats as well.

    My question for you: Why would you want to divide the Democratic party like that, and drive a large wedge into the country. That is what she will do. And the divide you are seeing within the Democrats will not heal.

    Why do you want to force this woman on a country that finds 46% of the public questioning her integrity and morality.

    If you don't like Obama vote for Edwards, but don't destroy this country!!

    January 26, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  10. Jim in Orlando, FL

    Errrr ... Bill .... "Hard-cell, soft-cell" is supposed to be done with two different people. When its just one, we call it being two-faced.

    January 26, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  11. Brian

    All Hail the Future Presidents of the United States......

    Hillary Clinton 09 – 16
    Jeb Bush 17 – 24
    Chelsea Clinton 25 – 32
    George P. Bush 33- 40

    Or should we just give up our Freedom now and declare the Monarchy that has already existed for 20 years?????

    January 26, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  12. Andy, Evansville, IN

    ".....like the Clintons who were respected and loved around the world??" Posted by Z

    Z, what planet are you from? At least half of the American voting population does not respect him.....and, do you really think Bin Laden, or any of the other terrorists that repeatedly attacked us during his Administration respected this idtiot? Speak for yourself.

    January 26, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  13. Warren

    Where I come from "Articulate" is a word white people use to indicate that a black person is not like the "norm". Bill, Bill, Bill.....your legacy is showing, you just don't realize what your legacy is.

    January 26, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  14. constant

    BILL does all the talking. Bul isn't running for President. As a WHITE FEMALE DEMOCRAT I found his comment "I understand why alot of African American voters think it would be symbolically powerful"...blah...blah blah. Well BILL...there are ALOT OF WHITE voters who feel the same. There are ALOT of FEMALE VOTERS who feel the same. This is the use of reverese psychology, so some white voters think...well if black votes black...I'm voting WHITE. This is the most pathetic thing I have heard Bill say to date!!
    Just another Clinton TACTIC to dumb down the voters...and get them to follow along without THINKING.
    After reading Baracks book, I was so inspired by his observations the political machine that has broken the American spirit. How powerful politics have made the American people insignificant. How corporation, lobbyist, and MONEY have made the voice of the people.... silent.
    He has morals.
    He has faith...but most of all he has HOPE. That we, as a people, rising up with a voice, can take our government back..That we as a people can say ...enough is enough, and our rights do mean something as a free people. He still believes our government works for us, but it shouldn't run out lives. That a belief...shouldn't necessarily be a LAW. That is what we are FREE and have democracy. His beliefs have nothing to with RACE, or gender, or big politcal machine.
    Barack Obama is refeshingly, and intelligently honest, not something I could ever say about BILL CLINTON.

    January 26, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  15. Jess

    Mary. Don't let the media discourage you too much. I was in a with mix of blacks, whites, and hispanics when the O.J. verdict came in. The loudest cheers came from a few white kids. Most everyone else was shocked. I am not saying that L.A. didn't happen. But that does not represent the entire situation. But the media loves to polarize people. It never is quite like you see on television. Take care.

    January 26, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  16. Spinmaster

    Is Bill Clinton allowed to say anything at all without people tearing him a new one?

    January 26, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  17. Mark, Richmond, Va

    Mary January 26, 2008 12:36 am ET

    What does race have to do with it? Plenty. Remember the great racial divide when O.J. Simpson was found not guilty? Blacks cheered and jumped for joy. Whites were left with that deer in the headlight look. So it is with all the hoopla over Obama. Blacks will flock, whites not so much. Too bad.

    Mary, not every Black person was cheering for OJ, I know I wasn't. Plus, you are a very sad pestamistic person who clumps a people all in the same box and there's no racist in the Democratic party, shish! Obama never used the race card Bill did and went too far with it. It will hurt Hillary in the long run because here in Va. the Black and White people I've met are seeing what Bills doing and are not spliting Bill's words from Hillary's and are put off by what he's saying. Bill could have lost his wife the election.

    January 26, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  18. John




    REVOLUTION 2008!!!

    January 26, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  19. Kathy

    Are the Clintons even capable of saying Obama's name without also using the words "African American" or "black"? This is their subtle way of keeping race front and center, front and center. Why talk about competing issues when they can distinguish the candidates by race?

    Once again, another disgusting ploy by the Clintons...leaving no fingerprints, as usual.

    January 26, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  20. Big, Daddy

    OK ,everyone stop it. The white house will see in 2008.
    Your New Pres. will be OBAMA & V.P. POWELL.

    So by by Bill & Hill C.

    January 26, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. DR The Independent

    To whomever posted using pseudonym;

    Like to ask you question. Do you consider 'W' as being articulate?

    You are just trying to incite race again because Bill Clinton said it.

    Guess, you never learned to think twice and write once rule in school. May be you didn't get there, who knows?

    January 26, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. Kathy

    John Edwards would be the ideal President . VOTE EDWARDS!

    January 26, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. Phillip Hailston

    I wish Americans could see the Clintons through the eyes of the rest of the world. As an Australian who loves most things American – your voting system is not one.
    The Clintons are so well liked around the world that just by electing Hillary you would find America would be so much more popular in the eyes of the world. Your country had the world behind it after 9/11 but Bush managed to turn all that around within a couple of years by his lies and deception.
    I like Barack Obama, and yes his speeches are great BUT he does not really say what he is going to do or how.
    The sad thing for me is that with three great candidates in the Democratic race, two will be left out of the winner's team.
    Barack Obama left me somewhat cold when he spoke about talking to the President of Canada in the bebates. I would have thought he should have known that like Australia, Canada does not have a President.
    When you do not know how your northern neighbour works, I don't think you are ready for being President – yet!!

    January 26, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |

    Pam wrote: "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."

    Well Pam, you obviously never watch CNN's 360. Look on their site for a piece called "Keeping Them Honest" – they highlighted Obama's CONNECTIONS with Rezko, and in fact, he IS (or was) a slumlord in Chicago, and has been Obama's biggest fundraiser. It wasn't until it started getting publicity (THANK YOU CHICAGO SUN TIMES) that he decided to "donate" the contributions to charity.

    And as for that picture – what does it prove? I have had pictures taken with both Hillary and Bill, but that does't mean we've been "in business" for years – they probably don't even remember meeting me. Use a little common sense here.

    Obama is a rookie – elect a veteran who is the BEST CANDIDATE FOR THE JOB.


    January 26, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  25. Shereece

    This is typical politics...
    Wake up people – we are a country in trouble!
    The vote for someone in any leadership capacity shouldbe beased upon their honesty and openess – along with the ability to state I made a mistake and I am going to try and correct it. We're human and if it takes a probe, deep investigations, cover ups, lies, deceit and a act of congress to uncover your true self and behavior, then you are not worthy of leadership.

    Barack Obama – is America – this country is made up of a combination of races, creeds and color – how fantastic!
    Unfortunately, what we bring to this country and ourselves are lost based upon the very makeup of what made America great.
    The positiveness in Obama is not tainted by the negativeness of politics.
    We have got to vote for the person that will bring the greatness back to ourselves as people!
    The country we live in is called the UNITED STATES and not the Divided States of America!

    January 26, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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