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. Ant in Texas

    Wow, with all the damage done by BILLARY, Gender baiting in NH, Race baiting in SC and now with 20 states on the line and the disgust of BILLARY at an all time high....let's change the message!!!

    Let's go with qualifications and experience...Hillary vs. Obama?

    Vision for the country – Obama
    Leadership – Depends on what you call a leader (Both for the sake of arguement)
    War in Iraq – Obama
    Foreign policy – Joe Biden
    Budget Responsibility – Bill Richardson
    Education – Chris Dodd
    National Security – Both
    Healthcare – Both
    Economy – We will give that to John Edwards since he called it first.

    Looks like a pretty good ticket to me...Let's go with it.

    These real times require Real Leadership – Obama 08

    January 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. An Agnostic Democrat

    If one candidate is trying to scare you, and the other's trying to get you to think; if one is appealing to your fears, and the other is appealing to your hopes – it seems to me you ought to vote for the person who wants you to think and hope." - Bill Clinton 10/26/2004

    Any comments there you cheap imitation of a former president? NOW we see the Clinton "charm" remake (Well, we know Hillary's had her share in this campaign. What number mask is she on?) under a new guise of pandering AFTER they've damaged the political process with their Rovian style tactics and lowered the intelligence barometer of the public. Looks like the Clintons will be climbing out of the sleaze and slime only to seduce us into another version of their chameleon selves.

    Make nice now Bill, you cornered animal! Any behavior you display is unbecoming and your motives are more than transparent. Couldn't trust you to tell the truth under oath or after first time around. Sorry, no do-overs big guy!

    January 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. SLO Bear

    I have lost all of my considerable respect for both Clintons since Iowa. New Hampshire and Nevada tarnished their reputation, but their tactics in South Carolina will truly pollute their legacy. If President Clinton is really "aching to live in a post-racial future," then why did he and Senator Clinton purposely and sneakily make race an issue, twist the contest in Rovian knots, and then keep trying to smell like a rose while teaming up with cronies to give Obama the dishonest thorns?

    To serve selfish ends, they have replaced legitimate hope for the future and refreshed pride in our country with vintage '01-07 politics of fear and personal smear. In the recent words, albeit delivered with manipulation, of President Clinton himself, "Shame on you." And I hope that voters can make the right choice and not squander this chance at improving the USA.

    January 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Isaac

    Bill is starting to realise that American people are not falling for spin this time.
    He is trying to play good cop now after his dirty plot has been busted.
    I have already made up my mind. It's truth time. Hope time. Change time. Unity time.

    January 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. AJ, IL

    Bill is finally trying to listen to the leaders of the Democratic Party who told him that he is overstepping his bounds as Hillary surrogate and former President. You're right Bill, the country is aching for a Barack Obama candidate, not a Hillary Clinton candidate.

    Now Bill Clinton is praising Obama? How about an endorsement?!

    Bill Clinton is a liar. This the same guy who looked into a national TV camera and pointed his finger at America and said "I DID NOT HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN!". He also went before the Judicary Committees of Congress and lied.

    Bill Clinton was impeached! Impeached, I tell you! Only one other president shares that distinction.

    January 25, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Cliff Baker

    Does anyone here remember the infamous "Can't we all get along?" quote from Rodney King? Well, let's hope that there will be a truce.

    Cliff Baker
    Arlington, TX

    January 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. God Bless America

    Thank you mr. President

    January 25, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. carole

    Here we go – another Democrat surprised by an "articulate" black man running for President!

    January 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. safipa

    a much needed change in tone. thank goodness.

    January 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. christine

    people are tired of BILL CLINTON, I think MID ROMNEY yesterday said what i was also thinking about Having bill back in the white house again OH PLEASE WHAT A MESS I THINK THE AMERICAN PEOPLE wont allow that because if hillary wins i bet you bill will the one in control of the white house, please lets think about this before we vote, otherwise it will be another 8 years gone for nothing, I am indepent its just sad to see the AMERICAN PEOPLE GET INTO ANOTHER MESS AGAIN

    January 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. Winston Salem, NC

    Articulate? What does he expect a Columbia/Harvard grad to sound like.? Can someone shut this Red-neck up..He is really becoming annoying.

    January 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. Paul

    ya, but we are not putting you back in the white house. That is the truth that is remaining for now.

    January 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. Diddy

    It's unfortunate the way the former President has conducted himself. I'm really surprised and turned off by it. As an ex-President he should have been the first to say this is not the way to win the White House. There should be some integrity after holding the highest office in the land.

    Also as compelling as it is to have an African American as president, the Clintons should learn from Barack and respect that African Americans can chose the most qualified candidate regardless of race.

    African Americans aren't voting for Obama just because he's Black. At one point the question in the African American neighborhood was if Barack was Black enough? WE do read and make sound decisions based on both Issues and facts.

    When Barack wins the nomination it's going to be because AMERICA is ready to move past partisan politics, something the Clintons want to revert back to.


    January 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. D.R.

    Wow, that was nice Mr. President. The key point of what he is saying is that "I also understand why a lot of African-American voters think....". The Clintons understand that there is a good chance that they will loose S.C., however going forward, what they are doing is making this a black vs. white election. Is America willing to fall for this trick? Are we to believe that we are to vote for someone based on his or her race or gender? This is soooo elementary, but it seems that no one is willing to see what’s happening before us. We are being told to turn against each other. What kind of vision is this for a future president?

    January 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Joe

    Don't be fooled people. The DNC came in to quill all what was going on. I am making sure I am going to the voting booth to make sure this family is not going back to the white house. Enough lies said!

    January 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Doreen Augusta Maine

    This so much bull, I can hardly stand it. Do not fall for this deceit. These two people go in for the kill, then back up and make it sound like they never intended any harm and that they are the most open minded, fair and understanding people alive. They use these techniques because this has worked for them in the past. So, they hook you just before you go to vote.

    Please do not fall for this kind of deceit. Believe in yourself, take a chance and vote for Obama (if that is what you would like to do).

    January 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Captain America

    Obama's vision IS 'articulate, compelling', but also very naive.

    January 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. mike

    oh okay, now what do the blind "hillary or die" people have to say.even he recons the truth.see in OBAMA, clinton sees what he wanted to be..... but he owes his wife a lot..... its hard for the dude: i dont know whether i should sympathize
    well GO OBAMA 08
    OBAMA 08.

    January 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    The reason the campaigns didn't come to an agreement earlier is because Ms. Clinton didn't want to. Immediately following Obama's request for a truce last week, Clinton attacked again. The only reason there's a 'truce' now is because Clinton has done all the damage she intended and now wants the benefit of looking like a better person.

    I'm happy the bickering may stop, but let's not be fooled by the reason for it. The truce will only last so long as Clinton believes it is to her benefit. Then the gloves will come off again.

    January 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. julie slc ut.

    I am one of those democrat-leaning independents.

    I am so disgusted with the Clintons dirty political tricks; dragging race into the campaign again and again- like he just did again in the above article, Hillary purposefully leaving her name on the MI. ballot, when the other candidates followed the DNC rules an removed theirs, and then she comes out faking concern that the poor voters of MI. won't be represented- Then they spew lies, and try to take it back after they've already put the lies out there...

    I have never felt such animosity toward any politician- ever.

    I have decided that if Hillary is the democratic nominee, i am going to campaign vigorously AGAINST her, to all my democrat friends, to do what i can to keep these pieces of FILTH out of the whitehouse. I am sorely ashamed for ever having voted for EITHER CLINTON.

    They make me want to vomit.

    January 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. 4REAL

    I think Bill Clinton is trying to tone down his message so that Hiliary will get the votes. But he is not tell the whole story. He is now realizing that he is maying a big mistake and hopefully the African-American people will see and hear him as he keep telling the story. Wake up Bill we want a change, change, change and not Hiliary, Hilary, Hiliary.

    January 25, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  22. Steven

    Bill is now playing nice or is he? Can you say SMOKESCREEN!

    January 25, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. krmiller , Iowa

    These people are so fake... so choreographed, orgestrated,
    say anything , nodd your head three times & smile pretty,,,,,,, when
    does the REAL show start ??? They are going to run a country
    acting like puppets???????

    January 25, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Felly

    I don't believe this sleek Willy one bit. He has succeeded in dividing the Democratic party. This is too little, too late. CNN, I repeat, you should stop wasting your air time on Bill and re-allocate your resources to covering Obama and Edwards with a change we can believe in. This would make him go away. The more you give him media coverage, the more he plays God. I used to respect Bill Clinton, but not anymore. You can fool the people sometimes, but you can't fool them all the time. I will vote for Obama, he is the really change. It will be difficult to embrace change from Hillary with her alledged 35 yrs of experience.

    January 25, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Woz - Los Gatos, CA

    Does this guy have Turrett's Syndrome or something?

    January 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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