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. jo

    The Tipping Point on Clinton Dishonesty
    Clintons Target The Gullible And Less Educated In Their Smear Campaign
    I am glad I am not in this category....

    January 25, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. independent thinker

    C'mon Bill Clinton, stop reversing your mannerism and postion. We know that you and your wife are untrustworthy and superficial.

    Please don't give us four more years of Clinton lies.

    January 25, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  3. Jimmy Baldwin (SC)

    So now that you've distorted his record, spread false emails about his faith, attacked his character, somehow it's back to love and respect?

    Stop lying to me and the people of America.

    January 25, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. jake

    As a former Clinton supporter I beginning to question the ethics of the democratic elite. If Bill thinks he is a king maker he should consider this. Obama and or Edwards run as independents. Perhaps this is the change that Obama is speaking about, a long overdue third party. If the Clintons want the crown of the Democratic party they can have it.

    January 25, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. Ron

    I never expected the NY Times to endorse anyone other than the Senator from New York.

    The manner in which she has often dismissed liberal values has long been a concern of mine about her. Even if one supports government solutions to a problem I would hope that they would at least show some understanding of the objections based upon a decrease in individual choice, as Obama has. To the Clintons the government is a gigantic tool to use as they see fit without regard to the principles involved. We see this in Clinton’s ideas ranging to how extremely regimented HillaryCare was to her support for various nanny state policies.

    January 25, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. Dave

    I’m calling all three campaigns to tell them that, if Hillary is the nominee, I’ll either throw my support behind McCain or Bloomberg, or, if neither is there, I’ll stay home.

    I hope anyone else who feels the same way will do the same. Phone numbers are on the campaign sites.

    January 25, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Dan, NJ


    January 25, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. karl

    I find the whole idea, that so many reporters and bloggers can’t seem to grasp, that Hiliary is a woman and Obama is black, to be self evident, needing no further claification.

    With that in mind, I find the whole current state of the Democratic primary coverage to be “one great distraction“.

    I mean, they, at least the media, really aren’t talking about anything that interests anyone except gender and race bigots.

    So with the media absorbed in reliving the battles of the 60’s and 70’s, just how is anyone to make an informed choice when there is no useful information in front of them ?

    January 25, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. TKM

    This is part of the Clintons strategy. They are tying to make the election one over race and gender and are playing all sorts of games to distract attention from the actual issues.

    The media is largely absorbed in reliving battles because they cover what the candidates do. Bill Clinton has managed to suck the air out of discussion of anything else in coverage of the campaign.

    January 25, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. Dusacre

    Clintons are like snakes. They are speaking nice because they want your votes. The snakes are always snakes. Never forget that the Clintons only care about themselves and power. American people are not fry leaves in the wind of Clintons.
    The way the Clintons are trying to destroy Obama. They don't even care about the unity of the Party unless it is serving them. Hillary will not get my vote if she is nominated. Those people are evil. They cannot tell the truth, everything for them is a self serving strategy!

    Now the republicans are trying to dump McCain for a double talking and ever changing Romney!

    January 25, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Megan

    Just the thought of having the “Clinton Circus” back in the White House for another 4-8 years is enough to make me physically sick. I didn’t, and still don’t, trust Bill any farther than I could throw him, but felt Hiliary was not quite as bad. I have since changed my mind. She may not be telling Bill what to say, but if she can’t control him now what is it going to be like in the White House? She can’t possibly be able to run a country if she can’t keep her own husband in line or run her own and a civil campaign. Lies. Lie. Lie. That’s all they know how to do.

    January 25, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  12. Darth Vadik, CA

    I'm amazed right now.

    First he says good things about McCain, and now Obama too.

    Makes me think, what is Bill up to?

    Either way I will love it, you're the man Bill.

    January 25, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  13. Gracie

    Bigdaddy Clinton is riding to the rescue of his TammyWynette!

    Bill is a son of the south, of course he is racebaiting, because he knows it works.

    Hillary is nothing but Bill’s surrogate for a third term.

    When are the Democrats going to wake up and decide they do not want to go back to the future with Billary?

    January 25, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  14. Kate

    Hillary Clinton is just partisan politics as usual. Can this county afford the kind of in fighting that seems to have brought us to this place? Hillary will continue to fight the "evil Republicans" instead of working both sides of the isle for change. She can never bring this country together. She will only deepen the divide.

    I'm a 44 year old white woman, and I have never voted "for" anyone in my life. It seems like I'm always voting "against" the other person. As Lewis Black said, it's like going into the voting booth and being confronted with two bowls of excrement and having to decide which one smells worse.

    Well, call me naive, but I believe in Barrack Obama. He is not entrenched in the partisan politics that have almost destroyed this country. He believes that those in Washington are public servants, duty bound to work TOGETHER, to do the job they have been elected to do. I'm still holding out hope that he has a chance for the nomination. If not, I will seriously consider John McCain, because I truly believe, no matter how experienced or motivated Hillary is, there is a taint on the Clintons for many, and she will serve up a repeat of the nasty partisan politics that were so much a part of her husbands term in office.

    January 25, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  15. GaryO Virginia Beach

    Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, your comment is true and pertinent to our all of us and out situation now. I hope others pay attention to what you have said.

    Bill Clinton was, overall, an excellent President.

    By the way, I am surprised by the tone of this article. Most recent CNN articles have taken malicious little jabs at the Clintons. But this article seems unbiased.

    Has CNN decided to become a legitimate news organization? I hope so. Keep it up CNN.

    January 25, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. deann

    When Obama attacking Hillary, the media reporting did not say that is dirty way for person attack, but when Bill bring Obama's record and telling the truth to American citizen, then Obama using the media to influence in saying he is negative and bad behavior, it let me learn what is the real politic.

    January 25, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. Luv

    Their tactics are IDENTICAL to Republicans. Appeal to the cynical and/or stupid people.

    Unfortunately for them, the average progressive is usually more intelligent and informed than a right-winger (which is what makes us progressive and them right-wingers).

    This strategy was doomed to failure from the beginning.

    January 25, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. john

    Bill Clinton can't stop talking because he knows the press will print anything
    he says. Obama should just let them run their mouths while he takes the
    high road. It makes him looking the rational one.

    January 25, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. Babu

    Why can't any one criticize Obama? This is politics. If he cannot stand the heat, then he should go back to the academia.

    January 25, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  20. Independent Observation

    It’s funny that the news media caught the report of Mr. Gore stating his stance on an issue, but hasn’t posted anything on here. Could it be that Al has decided to put a stop all of this nonsense Bill is trying to feed us? Not saying that an Independent run wouldn’t sound bad or is out of the question. Maybe would ask Bill and Hillary about how they would feel about that possibility? Sure does make one wonder about his recent video clip?

    January 25, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  21. Reggie, Germany


    And the best political team in anywhere doesn't even pick it up.

    1 – Bill says first that the vote Obama would only be something of a symbolic nature.

    2 – He says that it is only African Americans that will be voting for him as he makes no reference to any other nationality.

    3 – The statement also implies that African American voters are not making an informed judgement but are simply voting by race.

    Now we are talking about a man who discussed what the meaning of is, is. So he certainly knew what he was saying with these statements

    January 25, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  22. M lund

    The clintons are “dirty politica” no doubt in my mind……. They say that they are for the African American but when it comes to the white house they will do and say anything to smear a promising new
    African American that can change
    That is what I don’t understand about the clintons…………………

    January 25, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  23. aware

    Hillary 08

    You are right on Bill!

    Enjoy the rant people. It will be over soon.

    Obama next time around if his surrogates don't totally demolish him with their negative screed!

    January 25, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  24. Eva

    You know what is unfortunate? People do not see that republicans and democrats are all the same...they're politicians. They do what they need to do to win. I don't like what Former President Clinton did, but people need to set aside color, gender, the candidate's spouse, or what celebrity supports the candidate. People – really look at experience of the candidates and the plans to execute their ideas. Ideas without execution only remain to be ideas. Don't get caught up in the soap opera drama surrounding politics. Educate yourself, please!

    January 25, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  25. Bob PDX

    Wow. Articulate? Who was the last white person either Clinton referred to as "articulate"? Would Bill or Hillary EVER use the word "articulate" to describe Edwards or Richardson?

    That said, the worst thing Obama and/or his supporters can do is fall into this thinly veiled trap.

    Senator Obama, this is your mission; IGNORE BILL CLINTON. Let him be the "bad guy". Don't respond to his BS. The only time you should refer to Bill Clinton in the press is to let the press know that you won't respond to Bill Clinton. He doesn't count. He's not your problem. He's just a has-been with a microphone and a vote. Hillary is your adversary and she won't be able to stand being the "good guy" much longer, especially when she starts to realize that Bill's "bad guy" will no longer work through the press. She'll do as we all do – go back to old habits we've relied on before. In her case that's telling lies through her beared teeth. It's a given.

    Please stay the course of politics-NOT-as-usual. We trust you. In turn, you must trust us, the public, to see through the perpetual political haze of lies and deceit toward a future of clarity and hope.

    January 25, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
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