January 25th, 2008
06:27 PM ET
14 years ago

Kerry blasts Bill Clinton for 'abusing truth'


Bill Clinton campaigned for Kerry in 2004 (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - John Kerry, the Democratic Party's 2004 nominee for president, took aim at Bill Clinton Friday, telling the National Journal the former president does "not have a license to abuse the truth."

The Massachusetts senator, who endorsed Barack Obama's White House bid earlier this month, said Clinton's criticisms of the Illinois senator have been "over the top," and suggested the former president is getting "frantic."

Targeting Clinton's recent spate of attacks on Obama, Kerry said, "I think you had an abuse of the truth, is what happened. …I mean, being an ex-president does not give you license to abuse the truth, and I think that over the last days it's been over the top.

"I think it's very unfortunate, but I think the voters can see through that," Kerry added. "When somebody's coming on strong and they are growing, people get a little frantic, and I think people have seen this sort of franticness in the air, if you will."

The former president has faced criticism for aggressively interjecting himself into the race between his wife and Obama of late. On Monday, Obama said he feels as if he is running against both Clintons, a charge the New York senator’s campaign said was borne out of frustration. The former president himself later dismissed Obama's comments, saying “I thought he was running against me.”

Campaigning in South Carolina Friday, Obama said the Clinton campaign has stepped up its attacks since his Iowa win, and joked that it's good practice for him, so "when I take on those Republicans I'll be accustomed to it."

Kerry formally endorsed Obama on January 10, saying then that Obama "isn't just going to break the mold….Together, we are going to shatter it into a million pieces."

The endorsement was seen as a blow to both John Edwards - Kerry's running mate in 2004 - and both Hillary and Bill Clinton, who had campaigned on behalf of Kerry's presidential bid.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Bill Clinton • John Kerry
soundoff (1,583 Responses)
  1. josh rivera

    Here we go! That's firepower! Fight fight fight! Only Kerry unlike Clinton couldn't even beat a Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 25, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. tomdavie

    John Kerry is an Obama supporter.

    He is coming to his aid.

    This democratic nomination is going to go down in history in how LOPSIDED the news was reported.

    Is CNN slanted for Obama? On the web it is. On tv, not really. Except for that one guy STUMPING for Obama like he is offically on his campaign.

    Clinton is still going to win the nomination.

    January 25, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Marti, FL

    Even as an Obama supporter, I felt for Edwards when Kerry made his support known. He is entitled to his opinion, and fortunately, all of our Democratic frontrunners are smart and competent candidates. I feel Obama and Hillary would do better if John Kerry and Bill Clinton would let each of them run their campaigns on their own. Both are stronger candidates without these diversions. Can we please stick to the issues?

    January 25, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Neal J

    Kerry....I need a break. Hope your plan for Iraq war is ready at least by now. Seems wounded man is revenging against his own mates for personal reasons. No doubt Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have superioty of thoughts, actions, experience and not just words. I will rank Hillary then John Edwards, then Bill Richardson and then Obama. Hope people realizes and not vote based on emotions

    January 25, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Joanna

    Just when the Dems were controling the infighting fires, leave it to that "brilliant" campaigner John Kerry to try to heat things up.

    I don't know what his game is, but he still doesn't seem to know how to play it.

    January 25, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. donnajp

    Being a woman who lived through the 60's when women had no rights, were paid less than men for the same job and held down 2 jobs, one outside of the home and then keeping the house running (i.e. cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, grocery shopping, taking kids to doctors, etc.). The men mowed the lawn and fixed stuff when it was broken but mostly came home, sat in front of the tv and asked "what's for dinner" and then ate dinner and went back to the tv leaving the woman to clean up the kitchen, get the kids ready for bed and somewhere around 10 pm went to bed to start all over again. That is why I support Hillary. Because women with courage like her made us feel like we counted and were not just a Mrs. somebody. We actually became real 100% Americans. Unless you lived through the 60's and early 70's, you will not understand this. Women have run this country behind the scenes for a long time. It is time for us to step up and elect Hillary Clinton as the president of these United States and show the world we are a progressive and lasting country. Hillary keep on fighting the fight. If you were a man, they would say you had leadership ability but we women know what men call strong women and it is not a nice word. Bill Clinton was a great president and cared about this country. So having him around is a bonus.

    January 25, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Amy in Iowa

    Excuse me but trying to divide people on race will not work in this campaign as Obama is a candidate OF THE PEOPLE.

    He got a majority of votes in Iowa so stop with the baiting. Obama is also both White and Black, or have you not heard? So stop trying to paint him as the black candidate....he is the PEOPLE'S CANDIDATE. He is America's candidate: Obama '08

    January 25, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Ron Az

    Hey John SWIFTBOAT, I wouldn't be to hasty in acusing anyone of stretching the truth. Theirs a lot of vet still around. You need to fade into the shadows and sit dow and shut up.

    January 25, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Karl, Charleston, SC

    Finally, a Democrat that knows Clinton is a LIAR!

    January 25, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Jr., California

    You are all democrats posting aren't you? There is a lot of in-fighting amongst democrats which is really disturbing. You people are sick. Get off the blog and go back to work if you even have a job.

    January 25, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Lucas, Nashville TN


    Eat it, Hillary!

    Kerry knows what it's like to be hit with lies. I am glad to see him buck up. The ALMOST makes up for the "don't tase me, bro!" incident.


    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. Howard, Westport CT

    What have the Clinton really ever done for the black community??Or the Hispanic community for that matter. Under the Clintons poverty increased for both blacks and hispanics. They talka a good game, but in the end it is the same old story: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. They represent the same business as usual in Washington. The Clinton have alway done and will always do what is politically expedient for them. I look at anyone who endorses them as either the Washington old guard or someone who wants the status quo to continue in Washington.
    Obama is one of the only candidates that is not a millionaire. That means that until recently he has had to deal with the same issues as most Americans. The Clintons have just been doing everything possible to make themselves rich the last twenty years. Which is their prerogative, but it does not give me any confidence in their leadership. In the end a vote for anyone other than Obama or Edwards is a vote for the status quo in Washington. Can Americans really afford another 4-8 years of more business as usual ?????

    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    What's up with this guy? Does he think Obama would pick him as a Vice President? Go home dude!!!

    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. brent

    good job john kerry. now hopefully you have the know-how and experience to withstand and counter whatever moves the clinton's make next.

    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. Eddie

    If you didn't believe in edwards, why did you have him be your vice presidential nominee?
    You really do sound like a flip flopper

    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. mike

    Right on John...I don't care much for your opinion, but you're right on the money. The Clintons have been spinning and spinning everything in a negative way since they realized Barack has them on every SINGLE issue.

    You Clinton backers don't seem to understand that if Hillary wins the nomination, she'll chase a whole slew of moderate democrats to to the Republican ticket. Myself included. THAT is why Obama has a better chance to win than Hillary.

    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |

    John, take a vacation to somewhere exotic ....like China...Yea, thats the ticket ...a Swift...er, Slow Boat to China.....

    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. Ken

    Kerry is too weak to defend himself, that's why he lost the last election. We democrats don't want to be reminded of that incompetent fool. He is a girly man who could not take the Republican heat.

    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Justin

    Oh John Kerry...trying so hard to make it seem like you're important. You lost in 2004 when it was practically handed to you on a silver platter. You would have run again if you didn't screw up and say that people serving in the military were stupid. Now, in an effort to reclaim your status within the Democratic party, you attack our last great President.

    Let Obama fight and speak for himself. He wants to be the leader of the free world. Well, he needs to show the world that he is tough enough to stand up against criticism. You of all people know all too well the kinds of dirty tricks that the Republican play. If Obama cannot handle these criticisms (which would be brought up one way or another), then the American people should see that now and NOT nominate him. We Democrats do not want to nominate someone only to lose LIKE YOU DID to the Republicans. The stakes are too high for us to have another Republican in the White House.

    January 25, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    "...I think people have seen this sort of franticness in the air, if you will."

    I won't.

    "Franticness" is not a word my dictionary recognises. "I think people have seen this sort of frantic behaviour in the air." Would be correct, though the phrase "in the air" is a useless frill in this context.

    January 25, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Jack

    Thank you Senator Kerry for speaking up for the truth. Because we know Wolf Blitzer will not say anything negative about the clintons.

    January 25, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Daniel

    Kerry you're a loser. You couldn't beat bugs bunny. You lost to Bush, that's very sad.

    The Clintons are good for America. If you can't handle them you can't be president. Hillary has my vote.

    January 25, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. big stan

    I think we have pretty much established that all of our politicians including Presidents stretch the truth and even lie as a part of their daily activities. What I can't quite understand is how the American public is willing to accept the fact that we were lied to about going to WAR in Iraq but we are quick to be so concerned about Bill Clinton stretching the truth during this campaign.

    (Don't argue that we didn't accept it, there has been no impeachment process and even those that are convicted on other charges were and will be pardoned by the President, so yes America you accepted one of the biggest lies in history.)

    By the way didn't we spend more money trying to impeach Bill Clinton for extramartial affair than we have trying to figure out how we went to WAR by accident or what happened in Ohio in the 04 election put together?

    Look John Kerry is irrelevant to domestic policy, foreign policy, and the Democratic Party but Bill Clinton is not. He and his wife are still relevant and could really chart a different course in history because of their ability to influence.

    If all of these readers are offended by race being infused into the Democratic Primary, let's wait and see how the Republican machine infuses race into the presidential election if Obama is the Democratic nominee. I think it’s fair to say "you aint seen nothing yet!"

    January 25, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. Joe American

    Arnt most republicans Gays or Criminals?

    January 25, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Jake Houston, TX

    Yesterday, Bill seemed to think he was going to "chill out" himself and even kinda of said that he was "having too much fun." BUT, IT IS WORKING. Don't Stop! OBAMA is ON THE RUN!!!!! Look at the free press that we are getting? Even the Republicans could not keep Hillary out of their own debate last night. The talk is not just BAMA. Also, people in SC are keeping mum on their vote and from what I hear.....and you heard it first....many are still undecided or now say they could change their minds!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!

    HRC in '08!!!!!!

    January 25, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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