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. cotney

    Obama is very honest and determined to bring a change.What I don’t like is how he’s been unnecessarily attacked by the Clintons just to win the White house.It is unfair.Before,I used to respect and admire the Clintons but their smear campaign attitude in the primaries has put me off. America needs Obama now more than ever.

    January 25, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. madson

    Resorting to such smear campaigns would make the Democratic candidate become just like the Republican. We don’t beat the Republicans by being like them. There’s no need to resort to a smear campaign when Obama could campaign on the real differences.

    January 25, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  3. GIGI

    Obama's Fans do not mind bashing Excuses! Excuses! Is Obama your GOD? If he is wrong for the preisdency, God will let us know and if Obama is not telling the truth, GOD does punish us for lying like he has done with every President of our nation who has told a lie or deceived their country. It is a tough role and I am not sure if any of our candidates will be strong enough to solve all of the issues American people want to change. Someone will be disappointed that all of the promises given will not be kept. No one is a saint or perfect. Nobody knows who is telling the whole truth but GOD and Obama. I think the people of this nation better take a close look and see who is strong enough. Wake Up!

    January 25, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  4. jose

    Someone who lies like Hillary during the campaign will lie once in office, and will not win the respect of the world.

    January 25, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. Travis

    I'm an African American and I willing be voting for Hillary Clinton. I first of all agree that the spat between Clinton and Obama needs to stop. But let's talk about Bill. Does Bill need to calm down? Yes, but has he really attacked anybody? NO. The media uses words lke "slam" and "hit" and his comments weren't even that bad. He criticizes Obama's war record and uses "fairy tale". Members of the media say he's calling Obama's candidacy a fairy tale. Obama has even said it tooo. isn' t that a distortion of his record. And he didn't bring up race. This is making me sick....if you don't want race brought up stop talking about it. People on this board keeping bringing it up. Clinton didn't bring up race. It was a perpetuation by the media....they take one comment and blow it out of proportion.......

    January 25, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. Muwanga Sseemambo

    I used to have much respect for the Clintons but seeing and hearing all those remarks made by Bill against Obama, they are sickening. i don't feel the same anymore!
    "Obama is articulate" Bill Clinton says....thats way insulting Bill! I ask everyone to vote for change and not anymore divisive clinton.
    Vote for Obama 08

    January 25, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. martha

    Obama has better plans than Clinton to solve our problems without bringing this type of dishonesty to the White House.

    Even the article above is dishonest because they have already done the damage and divisiveness they needed and now the election is tommorrow.

    January 25, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  8. Noreen

    The Clintons know exactly what they are doing. It's disappointing that such obvious manipulation works so well. Obama has been forced to do damage control, instead of imparting his vision for the country. It's clear to me that if Hillary should win, this would be one "dysfunctional first family." After these tactics, I will not vote for Billary. I am very disappointed in their behavior...and if Obama or Edwards does not get the nomination, I will be voting for McCain.

    January 25, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  9. Naomi

    Clinton’s experience doesn’t say much for her as she has been wrong so often. She has been wrong in her approach to health care, wrong in her support for the war, wrong in her pandering to the right wing, and wrong in her nanny state philosophy of government.

    Besides, how do you know what she will do once in office? She’s shown herself to be a liar, and therefore we cannot trust what she says. We don’t really know what she will do once in office.

    What will Bill Clinton be doing with all the time in hand? Cheating on his wife?

    January 25, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Kingsley

    I have always respected both Clinton and Obama and I really do think either of them would be great at the White House. However, somehow, and not unconnected with the Clinton-style campaign, I feel Obama is a better candidate. A Clinton presidency would reopen old wounds and sharpen the divisions among Americans.

    Be smart; go for one who can bring Americans together.

    January 25, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Micheal schiffer

    There was a time I felt i could have voted for Hillary if she won the nomination. My thoughts were always with Edwards and Obama, the most honest and electable of the Democrats. I did believe that even if they lost to Hillary I could support her, but no longer. Looking at how she runs her campaign its like another round of Bush and Rove. On top of that she is the least likley to beat any republican candidate. Guess i will be staying home for the election.

    January 25, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  12. Anne

    way to marginalize support for Obama as something based on race...not too subtle on that one, Bill. We forgave you for lying in the 90's, but that doesn't mean we believed you. We don't believe you in 2008 either.

    January 25, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  13. Kevin

    The former president should not campaign for his wife. There is a code of conduct that former presidents should adhere to. The former president Bush watched his son run for office and yet we got no campaigning or no ill words. Former president Clinton over stepped his boundaries.

    January 25, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  14. Williams

    Black America should WAKE UP!!! Bill Clinton the last time I checked Was A WHITE MALE!!! Who during his time in office never really did anything extraordinary to help black people. So why is it that some in leadership think He was the first black president. Absolutely CRAZY!!!

    January 25, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. tomdavie

    Obamas white vote has gone down because everyone POUNCED on whatever Bill and Hillary said -thinking it would HELP Obama.

    The clintons can 'hint' at whatever they want, but if you all go along like SHEEP, and make it into a scandal , then you have set your own trap.

    The Clintons exposed the fact African Americans were CHAFFING at the bit to OVER vote for Obama , because.........thats right........because he is BLACK.

    Now, nobody held a GUN to these peoples heads.

    The media outlets FAIL to mention that Obama SKYROCKETED into a 20% advantage in south carolina after the Iowa win.

    It had nothing to do with anything other than Obama proved to be able to WIN .

    The african american community jumping all over him after that was ALL THEIR DOING.

    January 25, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. gene

    Wow-The Clinton haters are ranting aand raving again. When Bill Clinton is a little hard on them they whine, when he lets up is nice, they whine. He plays them like a fine fiddle. God help us if Obama should somehow win the nomination. The republican attack machine will have him twisting and turning in the wind.I am not anti Obama. I am a loyal democrat and wants a democrat to win the white house. I don't lie to be negative, but what they did to Kerry , will be like a walk in the park. Please use your heads and not your hearts.

    January 25, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. Vicky

    I think Barack Obama has the ability to pull the nation together, to offer the kind of inspired leadership that we need to tackle some very serious problems, and to make America stronger in the world. And that’s why I’m for him.

    January 25, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. Betty

    It is wonderful that Bill Clinton is campaigning for Hillary. I understand that Obama's spouse has been campaigning for Barack. Bill Clinton is an extremely intellegent man. Keep it up Bill!

    January 25, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Sawyer

    Sure it is, but people again need to be able to distinguish. Look, I supported the programs, a lot of things that we did in the 1990s, but I think everyone understands we had a technology boom in the 1990s which was unprecedented, and everybody benefited from that. We made some tough decisions and we ought to be proud of them, about the budget and the deficit. But the fact is, that was not Hillary Clinton making those decisions. It was a different team, at a different time.In fact, Barack Obama has more legislative experience than either of his two opponents. He served eight years in the Illinois legislature and now several in the United States Senate, in total, he has more legislative years. And if you look back in history, Abraham Lincoln had only two years in the United States Congress, and then he lost. He was sent back to Illinois in shame, ran for the United States Senate, lost his race for the Senate, then was nominated to be the leader of his party. And he became, arguably, our greatest president in history. So I think you have to look at the breadth of experience, and the type of experience.

    You know, I look at Barack Obama: He’s older than Bill Clinton was Bill Clinton became president. He’s older than John Kennedy was, he’s older than Teddy Roosevelt was and he has a broad experience and has proven his ability through his campaign to be able to lead and to pull people together. And again, I go back to what I just said — look at the coalition he is building: Nebraska, Arizona, Virginia, Missouri, North and South Dakota. These are the states where we need to build that kind of new coalition, and I think he’s attracting independents and Republicans and Democrats who are fed up with the way things have been. We gotta change.

    January 25, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  20. rw

    Bill, you were being too kind with Obama. The reality is that Obama does not "compel" but he "incites" And that is a dangerous quality in a politician.

    January 25, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  21. James D.

    Pure Karl Rove tactics. Disgusting to me... though some would say brilliant...I say "devious cleverness."

    Now that well respected journalists are starting to point out the dishonest tactics, the Clintons want to kiss and make up. Sure they do!.....the goal for the Clintons has been accomplished. They have painted Obama as the "Black candidate"....and dragged him into a mudfest. WInning is all that matters for the Clintons...they are without conscience.

    ABC News: The Clintons are "spreading demonstrably false information"

    Jonathan Alter of Newsweek: Regarding Clinton ads
    "They are also road-testing major distortions of Obama's
    positions on abortion, Social Security and the minimum wage."

    From Mark Halperin of Time Magazine:
    "Hey, you did a marvelous job, it was just marvelous what you did," Clinton told Rove, according to the book "The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008," by John F. Harris and Mark Halperin. "I want to get you down to the library. I want to talk politics with you. You just did an incredible job, and I'd like to really get together with you and I think we could have a great conversation."

    Bill Clinton admires Rove! That says it all.

    extremely ashamed former Clinton supporter

    January 25, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  22. Jake, California

    Bill is rubbing sugar on your lips again...you come and destroy people's good records and then turn around and praise them..

    I think Bill will soon start behaving like Britney Spears...

    January 25, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  23. bob

    At this point nobody knows who will win the Democratic nomination. Insurgent candidates typically lose to the establishment candidate. Good does not always triumph over evil. Hillary Clinton might win as a result to resorting to lies and smears. However, should Obama win, Thursday just might have been when the tipping point was reached. The campaign is not going as Obama would prefer, but he has managed to make the issue of Clinton’s dishonesty a major issue.

    January 25, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  24. zak

    How important are perceptions of integrity and trust? Very. Drawing on decades of opinion poll data, political scientists identify two central traits — competence and integrity — that drive judgements about presidents and presidential candidates. “Presidents are judged,” wrote Professor Donald Kinder (with whom I once studied at the University of Michigan), ” by their intelligence, knowledge and experience on the one hand, and by their honesty, decency and ability to set a good moral example on the other” (p. 840). Candidates that are perceived to be otherwise qualified and competent lose when voters find them lacking in terms of honesty and trust. And keep in mind that the bulk of the research driving these conclusions comes from general election surveys in which perceptions of competence and integrity were sometimes strong enough to overcome partisan leanings in driving voter choices.

    January 25, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  25. JohnS

    Be sure to check on a few things before you even consider voting for Hillary Clinton!
    Google these videos:

    "The Clinton Chroincles" 1 hour 51 minutes
    "Bill and Hillary Clinton: Their Secret Lives"
    "Mena Coverup" 54 minutes
    "The Clinton Body Count"
    "Rose Law Firm"

    It is your civic duty to know who and why you are voting for a candidate. Don't vote for a criminal. Thanks.

    January 25, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
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