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. amanda

    CNN hates the Clintons, and most of the people writing comments are republicans. Democrats don't hate the Clintons with this much voracity. Hey Republicans, are you just jealous that your presidents can't provide this county with the kind of prosperity that the clintons did? And Hillary is tough and by far the most knowledgeable of all the democrats. She knows the issues and doesn't get frazzled when she's in debates. I vote for her and don't care if the media like her or not.

    January 26, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. Erin

    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.

    Wow – way to completely go out in left field. O.J. Simpson and Barack Obama have nothing in common other than their race and gender. How would you like to be compared to every evil woman out there? I don't know your race, but your comments have left me thinking that you are certainly not African-American. Good Job – way to show how far we have come in this nation against racism. Racism has no place in politics. Maybe you should stay home during the primaries.

    January 26, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Ann

    Clinton is right. People are sick of this debate. And I notice it's the press, mostly, reporting on the fact that someone says someone said something racially incitive. Except you never can find what was so awful. This type of reporting is bad journalism. Useless. If any entity is divisive, it's the press.

    If I read one more comment by someone in politics who doesn't offer specific examples and just is tossing out general opinions that mean nothing, I'm going to turn into one of those strange people who write letters to politicians scolding them.

    January 26, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. ej

    WAKE UP PEOPLE!! Obama is not tough enough to steer this country back to proserity. You people think BC made these words up. You all cried bigot when Hillary made spoke about MLK. Yeah she said it, was it dumb...yeah. The media roasted her for it.
    I've been a dem for 30 years and it always comes back to the same defeating item for our party...."so much promise and hope". BALONEY, hope and promise dont pay the bills. We need someone to roll up their sleves and kick it immediately. We dont have the time for on the job training and getting to know your peers. We are circling the drain. WAKE UP!!!!
    And besides, Hillary is smarter.

    January 26, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. Jane in Ohio

    I wish the Clintons would give it up already. I think they could do so much good outside of politics. I feel like they're doing more harm than good. Maybe they could take some leadership lessons from Al Gore and Jimmy Carter. Dividing the country isn't the best use of their time or their names.

    January 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. v.ananthan

    **NOBODY Kan blame the african americans voting for OBAMA because it is natural...

    January 26, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. charlotte

    I cannot believe some of the comments above. Their friend, Vince Foster, commits suicide and some of you accuse the Clintons of murder. How sick is that? Ken Starr would have loved to pin that one on them if at all possible. The Clintons have been investigated to the nth degree. Could any other politician stand up to that? I wouldn't be suprised to learn that his elementary teachers were questioned about his behavor in first grade. We know everything there is to know about them. Bills' love life has been run into the ground. If CNN had been around during the Kennedy years, a great president would have been vilified. Ike had a mistress, in fact a lot of past presidents had affairs. A hard dick has no conscious.

    January 26, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  8. Bill in Montgomery, AL

    Hey, Bill "Bubba" Clinton, any chance you could just shut up and leave? Please, PLEASE, America is getting tired of listening to you and Hillary. Hopefully, after today we won't have to listen to your tired, pandering speeches.

    January 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Lisa

    I guess no one can accuse Hillary of being articulate since she has to keep explaining her and Bill's words – calling Obama "ambitious" when he was in Kindergarten (as if that is bad for children to have dreams), and then he called "lazy" now (work ethics apparently), she tells us that he isn't being realistic and is feeding us "false hopes" (doesn't know his place), she said that he hasn't done enough "spadework", even though she wrote a book stating that it takes a village to raise a child – she tells us that it requires a President to grant our inalienable rights.

    The Clintons are intentionally reaching out for the ANTI Black vote, they are hoping some Blacks will overlook the comments, and secondly they have counted up the votes and decided this year, they don't need the Black votes because the Hispanics and Women have larger numbers. Hillary never cared about the women's votes until she realized that she lost them to Obama in Iowa – then she saw WOMEN as a group to ensnare. If she really cared about women, she would have saw them all along.

    January 26, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. Another Mary

    I am white and I vote for Obama, not for Billary, no matter what happens,

    January 26, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. charlotte

    One other thing, Bill lied about the affair, all men would. Try to weasel out, all men would. I never heard, and I'm sure I would have, there was no actual intercourse. Thus the infamous, what the definition of sex is. Has he paid the price? You bet. This was between a man and his wife. He left the office with a surplus budget, with respect around the world for the USA, and personally I was better off then I am today.

    January 26, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. BO 08

    what? bill clinton really needs to shut up. If hillary loses, the reason will because he ruined it for her. I supported Bill Clinton before, but now the candidate that will bring the greatest change is clear – Barack Obama! Vote for Obama... 08!

    January 26, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. Vi

    Lets get real they are all politicians. Clintons have their past and Obama has his. In the last debate Obama said it right. " None of us has clean hands." I lived in Chicago for most of my life. Obama rose from the ashes of the dirtiest Political State in the Country. The Daly Dynasty is alive and well. Most of our Govenors have been indited and if not will soon be. Our most recent Govenor is shaking in his boots cause he was connected to Rezko. Rezkos trial begin in Feb. Let them fight it is fair play in politics. We will find out everything we need to know by Election and will be able to make a good decision who to vote for. There are no Saints in Politics. Get real folks this spatting back and forth is being propelled by the media. I am now an Independent it is so much easier to make a good decision when your loyality belongs to your Country and not a Party. If you think this is nasty wait until the fight is between just the Repubs and the Dems. I think Kerry should Bud out he represents a looser.

    January 26, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. morph

    A wise person once said, " Wisdom is 3 fold. Knowing HOW much to say, WHEN to say it, and WHEN to remain silent." I wonder how many running for the Presidency are applying it?

    I have often compared it to (we have 2 eyes, 2 ears and only 1 mouth) The 1/2 rule few apply.

    Words spoken are like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. Once it exits it cannot return. Likewise so are words spoken.

    January 26, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  15. Dude

    I would like some of the Obamabots to explain to me what his vision is, what he stands for, and exactly how he is going to achieve this bipartisan support everyone is talking about as if he already has it. c'mon people, you are so desperate for a fresh face you are latching onto this guy for all the wrong reasons. promising stuff is easy. Obama's 26-year-old white speechwriter IS very talented. But wake up and smell the coffee. you guys are sheep. I have not made up my mind yet but Edwards makes the most sense so far.

    January 26, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. Pierre

    Here's what lies behind Clinton's words :

    A. If Obama wins South-Carolina, then it's no big deal, because he won it thanks to the African-Americans who didn't vote for his ideas, but to have an African-American president.

    B. If Obama looses, then it's thanks to the African-Americans who made the right choice, even if they had one reason to vote for Obama (the colour of his skin)... They voted for Clinton because they know she's much better, she's got more experience etc...

    Well I've got news for the ex-president. There is a third possibility : Obama wins and it's because he's better than Clinton. The Afro-Americans vote for him, because they want change, and they agree with his position on various issues.

    I agree not every vote is going to be rational, but if Obama wins in South Carolina it's not only because he's black !

    January 26, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  17. Carolyn

    This is so depressing. Bill Clinton was the one President in my lifetime I'd liked. Now I see it's true, it really is just politics. It's clear that the only Democratic candidate in this election with a true vision for change is Obama. The fact that they go after his voting record is absurd. It's out there for all to see. It's insulting that the Clintons feel people won't take the fifteen minutes to go look. The whole gender vs. race thing makes me feel we aren't as progressive as I thought. Who is this really pandering to? Are people who buy this crap really that abundant? I want to ask these people to please search the Internet for voting record + the last name of the person you are considering voting for. These are the issues. These are what matter.

    I see one ex-visionary tackling another visionary and it depresses the heck out of me. He comes off like a bully. Once again, an example of Democratics and our fractured party. This will do nothing but add energy to the failed campaigns of the far left that get Republicans elected down the road.

    ~ Carolyn in Dallas, TX

    January 26, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. kevin from alaska

    Finally Bill's nose stopped growing.

    January 26, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. Rick

    obama '08,

    You bring up an interesting point.

    First of all, understand where am coming from: I am neither white, nor black, nor hispanic. And what I am about to say is just an observation on my part.

    Bill may have inadvertently let it slip that Obama is articulate, and your reaction was that if it were anyone non-black that "articulate" wouldn't come into the picture.

    The problem is that being inarticulate isn't something that others have done to blacks. It is something that blacks have done to themselves. You need to pony up when the responsibility belongs to you. Things will never change if you blame others for your own shortcomings. And make no mistake about it, not being able to speak properly makes a huge difference in how people perceive you. If you use words like "we be going" or "let me ax you a question" an employer is going to find someone else for tha thigher paying job. It isn't a matter of "well this is how we speak so get used to it". Its a matter of disciplining your children to understand that the first and natural way you do things as a child isn't taking the human experience into the cultured and refined state that we've honed over thousands of years.

    And if you haven't been taught the discipline of speech, then you also haven't been taught the other disciplines of life management such as staying with one spouse,
    education, not being a criminal, etc.

    I've traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East in my life where there are large communities of blacks. Nowhere in the world do black people but in the US do black people glorify their inability to be like the others in the community. Nowhere else will you correct someone that says "let me ax you a question" with, "let me ASK you a question" only to hear back, "well this is how we talk (speak), so get used to it". And from that, you never learn discipline and how things are done properly in life.

    White people are the same exact way as well in this country. I've been on business trips to the Mercedes plant in Alabama and white people there are just as guiltyof not learning to speak properly as well.

    Again, its not about being proud of your own vernacular or heritage, its not about learning to speak someone else's version of a language. It's about having the discipline to learn to speak YOUR OWN language properly.

    And when you stop making excuses and being an apologist for your own people, whoever they may be, you'll never get past the point that someone will marvel to how well an Obama may speak (whisper, so much better than the rest of them).

    January 26, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. Kevin

    Paranoid anyone? Sheesh. Everyone who is a paid Obama '08 operative, raise your hands ...

    January 26, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. Ike

    obama 'articulate , compelling...' what an insult to suggest blacks lack men who are articulate and jump at their only. shame on this truth distorter called clinton.

    January 26, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Binkis1

    Too little too late... Slick willie got caught with his finger wagging lying and is trying to turn it around . They underestimated Obama, slimed him, slimed the black voter-threw them into one voting block, scammed women with the fake tears, slamed MLK, but the VOTER is waking up to find that Caligulia and Ms. Macbeth are no friends of the American people certainly not the Democratic voter.
    The voter does not approve and the backlash will take them down -one way or the other.
    The VOTER knows when they are being condescended to, or patronized or attempts to manipulate their vote or opinions, can find the truth to parsing of words or vile creative edits...it is all out there..AND THE VOTER IS LOOKING AND KNOWS THE TRUTH..clintons are ONLY OUT FOR THEMSELVES and POWER!

    Go AMERICAN VOTER...

    January 26, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    From all I've heard from my Democratic friends in Minnesota, there is little, if any, enthusiasm about Hillary Clinton's candidacy. In fact, I've been surprised by remarks of former zealous Clinton supporters.

    It is clear that the senator and her husband have lost the respect of many. This is sad, but true.

    Most of us are looking for a change and an opportunity to vote for a leader - Obama - who will represent us honorably.

    January 26, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. Kevin

    BTW, is there any adjective that (Bill) Clinton could possibly use to describe Obama that *wouldn't* be jumped all over for having some nefarious double meaning? I suspect not. Probably the only compliment he could pay to Obama that wouldn't be chewed up and spat back at him would be, "In my opinion, he'd make the best president"!

    January 26, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. PW Va

    2nd Time for me , CNN.

    Do you edit (delete) all posts that have a negative commentary towards Hillary??? It's very much beginning to appear that's the case. If so, how much are the Clintons paying you to do so???

    January 26, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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