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. Christian, Tampa FL

    I remeber that when Joe Biden used the word "articulate," he was chastised pretty badly. I wonder how it will turn out with Bill.

    January 25, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  2. Crystal ball

    Go Hillary – Edwards 2008

    Let Obama get some work done in Senate instead of jumping ship in the first term.

    January 25, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  3. Independent Voter

    I guess the 'blowback' has finally come about.

    Obama WANTED to change the way campaigns were conducted; that is to say, he wanted to make it more about uplifting the popluace; getting people to feel good about THEIR government again. Instill in them such an enthusiastic fervor for democracy that it COULD have been adopted by the Clinton campaign as well. This would have been a choice they could have been proud of. Instead, they chose to follow the less noble path of 'mud and scum' (like 'shock and awe' but more Americanized) to the point where Obama had no choice but to defend himself. We have had enough of 'interpreting' the facts to fit the situation. Remember, the internet was not what it is today when the Clintons were last in office. This is the information age, and we are no longer the willing sheep we once were. Anyone who is running for office will be called to the carpet on what they say.

    I wonder what our great-grand children will think about this very important decision we are faced with.

    January 25, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  4. Anti Clintons

    Jobs, jobs, jobs, You are right, nobody is perfect...so SHUTUP!
    Bill the womanizer, Bill the liar, Bill the impeached president, Bill the tax raised idiot, Bill the gutless one, we would have had Osama a long time ago if he had any guts, now he is all aggressive, mean spritied, lying, playing the race card, turns on another face from his mean streak, now all is well in Oz.

    Ya, this is the Clintons of old. You can see their true colors, streaking in yellow as in coward. So tell me again why we should like these two morons?

    If you can't see what kind of individual these two are then go have a beer and watch your soaps on the boob tube.

    Obama 08!

    January 25, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. John E Lexington KY

    Obama in his Nevada statement implied a preference for Reagan over Clinton, who he lumped with Nixon. When they slammed back, he accuses them of lying.

    Politics is not a popularity contest. Clinton's legacy was and is the creation of two new technology economies, the internet and high-def. That most people think it fell out of the sky explains how Bush got elected. The internet existed in the late 70s, Republicans were determined to keep it private for themselves and the defense department. Had Bush I gotten reelected, it would not have happened. Intelligence and hard work mean something. In fact they mean everything. Symbols are just lovely ornaments.

    Hillary is equipped to do more of the same. Obama is too young, and the Nevada statement was revealing in that he blithely trashed Clinton's years in office. He expects deference but gives no respect. I'll vote for him thrilled if he gets the nomination but Clinton is a better choice and Binden was a better choice than she was.

    Obama believes his own myth right now, which is very dangerous for a politician. It's also dangerous for his followers. If Hillary gets the nomination, it is imperative that they vote intelligently and not spitefully because he lost. Romney is Bush with a better brain – chew on that for four years.

    It would be very good for Obama if the words "liar" and "say anything to get elected" did not leave his mouth again, or he may find that he has some trouble getting Hillary's supporters back as well should he defeat her.

    January 25, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. Mrs.Leonard

    Democrats you must read this crucial informarmation that will benefit us women
    I was going to vote and support Hillary as an independent but after watching this from the NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN Im changing my mind and voting for Borak Please watch the youtube video of Lorna Brett Howard who was a supporter of Hillary and becuse of this Hillary received lots of women votes...After Hillary starting lying about Obama Lorna changed her position...Hillary just hurt herself with the WOMEN VOTE!!! We democrat women need to show Hillary that Dis honesty is plain wrong. What a mess...Please go to youtube and watch the video. When you go to the web page just enter Lorna Brett Howard and it should come up.......This is a crucial issue to all women. Check out these videos featuring Lorna Brett Howard, the former President of Chicago NOW (National Organization of Women).In the first video, Lorna describes why she went from being a Clinton supporter to a strong Obama supporter, in the wake of Clinton's misleading attacks on Obama's record on choice...In the second video, Lorna describes how Senator Obama was a critical advocate in the fight to preserve choice in South Dakota...For more on Obama's strong…

    January 25, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  7. Gary

    For the people that like Obama do please understand that wein Illinois will not all suport him. He lacks follow through he made promises here and never made them true. He also ran with the Govenor here. Which we all have a problem with same promises no follow through.Both spend money big time and we have nothing to show for but a state going bankruped. So will Illinois vote for Obama or Hillary. Well I for will not and lot more like wont vote for then ether. Obama wont pull his home state.

    January 25, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. DW

    People are amazing! Do Senator Obama's supporters naively think he has gotten as far as he has in public office without participating in some of the same political maneuvers as his supporters accuse the Clinton's of? He just hasn't been in office long enough to have much of a track record. As the saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for." People have short memories and will turn on you on a dime. No one holding political office is completely innocent of taking their opponent's record and using it against them., that is what campaigns for president are for, to point out differences. I have read such hateful things from people in these posts lately, especially against the Clintons...even going as far as making derogatory remarks about their daughter. These same people complain of what they see as the Clinton's deplorable behavior, but they are making fun of their daugher for campaigning for her mother. How low can you get! Some of the news shows are just as bad spreading their own hateful spin on the candidate that they obviously dislike. Face it, if you truly believe in your candidate, nothing said in the inflammatory press is ever going to change your mind. The "spin" game is played on ALL sides to reach the undecided voters. I really don't understand all of the hate toward Hillary and Bill Clinton, did they ever do anything personal to all of the people who say they will leave the country or vote GOP if she is elected? How immature....I didn't approve of many of the things that happened in the Clinton's personal life either, but that was really NONE of my business, that was between them. Yet that seems to be the main reason people seem to hate them so much... people who admire Senator Obama and compare him to JFK don't seem to acknowledge that JFK had some personal issues also, the press just wasn't into Tabloidism so much then and knew what was actually worthy of reporting (Walter Cronkite, we miss you!). So much of what is said sounds like parroting of the Republicans...let's all try not to lose touch with what this election is really about, supposedly making life better for people. It shouldn't be about how much we hate our fellow democrats.

    January 25, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. BNS

    From above:

    "Barack is playing with the Big Dogs. Presidential politics is tough; somedays are good and somedays are bad. If Barack can't handle Democracts "distorting" his records how will he survive the Republic attack machine. The is just a prelude of what to come if he wins."

    But the thing of it is....

    There will be no Republican attach machine to go after Obama. He's going to bring us all together, remember?

    .........stop laughing......

    He WILL!!!

    This is change we can believe in......

    ....Stop it, I say!!!

    I swear to you....the Republican Attack Machine will no longer exist when Obama becomes President.....

    THIS ISN'T FUNNY!!!

    January 25, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  10. wale azeez

    mark my words bill clinton just delivered his kiss of death to the obama campaign...he knows hill has no chance in SC and if obama wins it's going to look like black/white issue to the feb 5th states...he's eyes are on bigger prizes...

    January 25, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Prayu

    "He said voters "are entitled to have their choices respected" but concluded that Americans should choose a president based on qualifications and experience."

    So... is Bill Clinton supporting a Richardson comeback or what? I don't get it. Because Hillary is very -NOT- the most experienced and qualified candidate out there.

    And it's hilarious how he goes from putting forth slanderous half truths and lies about Obama, to praising him. It's a nifty strategy... drag the opponent into a mud fight, and try to shower yourself clean and innocent right before the primary. Stay tuned for another tender and emotional Hillary moment, folks!

    January 25, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. Del, New York, NY

    The Clintons clearly think they have this thing wrapped up, hence their return to a lovey-dovey message. We saw their true colors once this race tightened, and they're living in a "fairy tale" if they think the rest of us are going to forget how ugly those colors were. Intellectual integrity may not mean much to the Clintons (see their distortions of Obama's record on Iraq, healthcare, energy, taxes, social security, Reagan comments, kindergarten essays, etc.), but it means a lot to this voter. Three months ago, I couldn't imagine voting for a Republican come November 2008. Let's just say that's changed.

    January 25, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  13. Jane, Los Angeles,Ca

    Please stop calling Obama Black. His mother is white and his father is black.
    He will be a president for All the people

    January 25, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. Duop Chak, Colorado

    Double standard practices never stay alive.

    January 25, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. Jr., California

    Shut up Bill!

    January 25, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Good to see Bill back and bringing out his 65% of the electorate. Since all of you Clinton haters are only 35% and this country is only 25% republican, I guess you supposed democrats are the part of the lunatic fringe that doesn't like republicans anymore. You people can just stay home and complain instead of voting. Obama will lose with or without you. Bill lied about an affair,Obama lied about poitical corruption.

    January 25, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  17. prince

    Hillary said Obama is an Intelligent African American man. She sticks it in the mind of the people, hey remember he is black...african. Why wouldn't she just call him an intelligent man? Her adding african is just to say, hey, blacks aren't used to be smart. This is one of the best they got but don't forget he is black.

    Then she hides behind gender issue just to say, hey, he's not the only one who is underprevileged. I am too for being a woman. She is the one that keeps highlighting he's black and I'm a woman. When does being a woman a problem in the united states for Christ sake?

    They are racists and liar. They claim to have done a lot for the black, once again, but wants them under their feet and not as equals, even asa president, like them.

    January 25, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  18. Gary

    Thank goodness on February 5th the states that matter, California and New York, will vote for HIllary in a landslide that will make these petty races in the South and Mid West meaningless.

    Heck, Orange County California has more voters and Delegates than all of South Carolina

    January 25, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  19. John Adkisson, Sacramento, California

    I traveled to Iowa as a volunteer for Obama a few weeks ago and experienced how voters responded to him when all the candidates were competing on the merits. It was inspiring to see thousands of people swarming out of their homes for the caucuses, many to participate for the first time in politics.

    But a funny thing happened after Obama won those caucuses. The day before New Hampshire, all the that was covered was the expression of emotion by Senator Clinton, by all accounts reversing her fortunes. The day before Nevada, all that was covered was Bill Clinton's comments about "fairy tales" and "union tactics."

    Now, the day before South Carolina, all that is being covered are "race" and "Rezko." Does the media not know when they are being played for suckers by the Clintons? It doesn't matter if the press is "objective" if the story selection is always dictated by campaign tactics!

    If Obama is again knocked off his perch atop the polls - isn't it obvious that this Clinton-manipulated timing is the cause and effect?

    Simple question–why do reporters fall for it every time?

    January 25, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  20. Duop Chak, Colorado Springs, Colorado

    This year election is making the United States look more like third world country–where every body is power hungry.

    January 25, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  21. Tim

    Here goes again,Obama camp turning what Bill Clinton said to a racial issue again. Just because Obama is blacks does not give him some kind of exemption from criticism. What are you going to do if Obama becomes president. Don't complain about the job that the presidents is doing, because he's black. "Step Back." "Chill." This is stupid. Don't be sooo sensitive.

    January 25, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Well-stated.

    January 25, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  23. JoeyB

    I tend to agree with jobs jobs jobs, They both have done good for the people of this great country we all have reaped the bennies that they have fought for including the black voters .Ask your self WHY WOULD THEY FIGHT FOR THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN ALL THEIR LIVES AND BECAUSE THERE'S ONE IN THE RACE THEY WOULD RISK BEING CALLED RACIST????????

    YOU PEOPLE NEED TO THINK !!!!!!!!
    OBAMA HAS LESS THEN TWO YEARS IN OFFICE
    TO MUCH OF A RISK FOR ME

    January 25, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  24. Raj

    Bill Clinton is the probably the greatest political mastermind of our generation. Karl Rove (as much as I hate him) is the only one who is even close...and he is a distant second.

    Obama got out-manouvered by the Clinton machine. Everything is fair in love, war, and politics. It is a mud wresling match and Obama should not expect that he will win without getting soiled. Every politician starts out wanting to change the country and being truthful (remember George Bush with "I am a uniter, not a divider" and "Washington is a mess and I am going to fix it"?). Politicians all over the world are slimy. The only question is how convincing they are that they are truthful.

    Obama is an awesome orator. I would vote for him in an instant had he been running for a preacher or the post of a motivational speaker. But no, we are electing a president. I would rather vote for someone who has been tried & tested and someone who can stand up to the Republican smear machine. If Obama can't handle the embellishments & spin of the Clinton on his record, he will be no match for Karl Rove etc. So Obama needs to stop whining and start winning. Hillary said it best – you want someone who can manage the bureaucracy since changing it is near impossible.

    Obama maybe great at building coalitions – but trust me, after 8 years of being run over, Democrats are not exactly anxious to build one. They know they are going to sweep the elections and have a majority in the House and Senate. No need for coalitions. Coalition builders are needed when the congress is either controlled by the other party or if it is split 50:50. Though ideally, the candidate would do it anyway, it is not the foremost thing I am looking for when I vote now.

    I don't want someone who is hands off and claims he will surround himself with smart people who are 'experts' in their portfolio (e.g. Bush), I want someone who is like Bill Clinton & Al Gore (who pulled all nighters to go line item-by-line item through the budget and balanced it.

    Vote for Obama if you are voting for Mr. Congeniality. Vote for Clinton if you want a master politician who understands how to turn a country around economically, foreign policy-wise, and socially.

    January 25, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  25. alex@uga.edu

    Bill's playing the white race card, and the White voters' Obama support has already begun to decline.

    Rovian politics at its best.

    It only shows that SC is still in the Jim Crow era!

    January 25, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
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