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. msgtrjp

    Who cares what John Kerry has to say about anything. He couldn't defend himself in 2004 so what makes him think he's of any value to anyone else?

    January 25, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Florida Democrat


    Nobody cared in 2004 what John Kerry had to say, 2008 is absolutely no different.

    January 25, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Alex Smith

    Kerry's a good one to talk, everyone remember he has more Flip Flops then the beach does. He has gone from one stance to another so often when you watch him he blurs up. Yes Kerry served this country and from then on we don't really know where he stood, but you can say one thing the ground was very soft. Coming from a guy that didn't even back his own running mate a few years ago, glad he didn't get elected and get sick, because , well I guess he just picked Edwards because of his hair and not where he stood.

    January 25, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Joseph

    "Franticness?" Hilarious! I wish President Bush had said this, as then we could make fun of it. Since Kerry said it, however, we can't criticize–let alone laugh at–his bizarre choice of words.

    January 25, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. Robin Heart of Texas

    why is obama allowed to have his wife campaign for him and everybody's eye is on Bill because he is campaigning for his wife? Why is obama allowed to exucse his actions through the media and only more accusations are thrown at Hillary? Double standards?
    Get with it news media... don't throw in our faces the people you want in office in such a positive way in order to try to swing the vote.
    Why not report on everything they say as opposed to just the good things from one side and the bad things from another?

    January 25, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. fact check .org

    John who won an election and who lost it?????? Good question.

    January 25, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. Bob Ryan

    Bill Clinton is a pathelogical liar and Hillary is even a bigger one, both of whom will say and literally do anything to get elected to an office. The US should have been finished with the Clinton's after the President left office but due to the liberal NY voters our country got stuck with Hillary again. Heaven help America if the voters are stupid enough to elect/nominate another Clinton. She has made a laughing stock of the Presidential process and this whole nominating process for 08 has made America the laughing stock of the world. Now really, can you see Hillary dealing with world heads of state?????

    January 25, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. Dee Ward Mena, AR

    When obama and his backers attack Hillary, they can expect to have Hillary and Bill and their backers attack obama. Just because John Kerry (and I voted for him) didn't fight back look who we now have in the White House. IF he expects the Clintons to roll over and play dead like he did, he has another think coming. They would not attack obama if they were not first attacked. When michelle said, if they can't take care of their house, how can they take care of the White House, that was a low blow and then to say she wasn't talking about them personally. Well, I have listened to that statement many times and there is only one way to take it and that is how it was meant. Well, obama has Ophra and Hilary has Bill, I for one will take Bill any time and go back to the days of Peace and Prosperity for ALL, not just big corporations and rich people. They know what it is like to not be rich and they understand how the majority of Americans feel and what they go through to make ends meet sometime. So lets be fair for once, give Hillary the credit she deserves and quit giving obama all of the good press. The press has been Hillary's worse enemy and obamas best friend.

    January 25, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. Jason

    How entertaining to imagine a Presidential candidate who was gutless and quite frankly lost because of his lack of fiery rhetoric condemning the last Democratic President who actually knows what it takes to ascend through the rank and file to make all the way to the White house.

    January 25, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Jon

    Kerry is really desperate for attention. I think he wants a cushy job in a potential Obama administration. I guess Kerry is back with his old "flip flopping" ways - vote Clinton, support Clinton, complain about Clinton, win fourth purple heart.

    We'll see what happens.... I don't think John Kerry has much sway with Democrats these days.

    January 25, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. JAM

    James, I am with you. The Clinton's are lucky that Kerry is bashing them; any endorsement by him is the "kiss of death."

    January 25, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. Molly

    Kerry go back to windsurfing. You couldn't win your election for President so what makes you think you can help Obama? The draft dodger team of Bush and Cheney lied about the situation in Iraq 935 times and you still couldn't beat them.

    January 25, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Michael Spencer

    I hear the ghost of Al Smith is pretty upset with Clinton too (and should be taken about as seriously).

    January 25, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. James L

    Oh no is this Swift Boat Johnnie talking about the Truth. ... ?

    January 25, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Janie, Raleigh, N.C.

    I am sick of these Democrats who rode in on Bill Clinton's coattails and now feel free to attack him. Look, the media brought up race.? How many times did we hear about the "white" voters in Iowa after that Primary. Then, when Senator Clinton won NH, we heard that perhaps the polls were wrong because white voters lied to the pollsters about being able to vote for a black candidate. When President Clinton, who is very experienced with the media's bias, jumped in to defend his wife the media had a fit. The young inexperienced reporters at Cnn got their feelings hurt. Clinton was right to say, "
    shame on you." The reporters are weak and can't stand the criticism of themselves yet love to dish it out. My plan is to refuse to donate anything to John Kerry, Claire MsCaskill, Patrick Leahy again. I did in the past, but never again. None of these people defended her against the sexist attacks that feel on her time after time and now, they are all whining about the race issue. An issue the Clintons did not bring up at all.

    January 25, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. So Sick of This


    January 25, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. Alfred Moesker

    I remember watching Bill Clinton coming on the political scene in his first bid for president.
    He was impressive, because here was a guy that was not out to pull down his opponents, but somebody who seemed to genuinly care for his country and it's citizens, and who would always try to bring forward constructive ideas (wether they might have been right or wrong).

    Years later, here is Obama Barack, and if anything, he reminds us of the young Clinton; full of honest enthusiam, searching for concepts that may provide more social justice and equality, break the pattern of lies and deception that has characterised the Bush government for the last 8 years.

    I find it sad o watch therefor, that the Clintons now appear to have adapted a behaviour that has been for too many years the trademark of the Republican spindoctors , and now just seem to focus all their energy on misrepresenting "The New Clinton" on the scene, the inspired and inspiring Obama Barack.
    It's a shame they don't seem to understand that what the USA is looking for, and desperately needs , in a leader, is not another politician who knows how to "spin" better then his opponent, but rather somebody who might genuinely represent, both by culture as by generation, a new line of thinking and approach of not only USA domestic issues, but also in how to succesfully, (and hopefully peacefully) try a new way of interacting with governments in the whole world.
    To tackle issues that concern us all, such as global warming, development of new energy resources, equal distribution of wealth and knowledge etc.

    The question we have to ask ourselves therefor is only this one; do we want to vote in another politician who is closely tied with all forms of "special interest" groups and lobby-ists (Clinton), or do we decide it is time to really try a different approach and give mr . Obama a chance in bringing about a cultural revolution and to restore the values the USA has always prided itself on,before being stripped from most of them by 8 years of Bush effort to take the USA back to the middle ages???

    Do we have anything to loose really by trying to drastically change things for the better, for ourselves as for our children??
    I don't think so, and that in itself is enough reason for me to vote mr. Obama.

    A. Moesker

    January 25, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. kg

    come on!!! CNN you have got to stop being so one sided!! there are never any positive things said on this website about the clintons anymore... which is funny, since oh no, wait, you have always seemed to be conservative in your reporting. (note: summer 2006, special on cnn TV called something like, "is the apocolypse near?")

    well, i know that the people of america are much more intelligent then to fall for this garbage. i now tell my friends i read cnn as a tabloid: fun and shocking, but without much truth.

    January 25, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    As a democrat, I personally don't care what Kerry or anyone else says about the Clintons. The Clintons put the nail in the coffin for me because they themselves proved who and what they are. That's why I listen to all candidates, democrat and republicans with an "open mind" to get a larger perspective on each candidate. I choose to be an informed and responsible voter.

    January 25, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Chris, Orlando, FL

    John Kerry had no problem using the Clintons for free publicity when he was running. Now that he's decided to posture himself as a potential VP nom, he's not so appreciative of their efforts. Opportunistic, I'd say.

    January 25, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Jay

    If the cry-babies can't take the heat , how do we expect them to compete against the republican hate machines that are going to be in full force through November.

    January 25, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. james

    I feel Obama has split the democrat party in half. When the Democrat Black Caucus stated if Hillary won that the African American's wouldn't show up to vote, that to me was a racial stance. Again, I wouldn't be surprised if the League Of Women Voters would pull all support if Obama wins.

    January 25, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. MB, Louisiana

    Blizzard: Thanks for the heads up on the moderation of these boards. I've posted quite a few things that never made it past the Mods. Your post now makes all clear.

    January 25, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Objective observer

    Black or White, Democrat or Republican, they all twist the truth to their benefit.
    Actions speak louder than words. Now if only the ignorant portion of our voting population would form opinions around issues and where the candidate stands rather than just believing what they hear in smear campaigns...

    January 25, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    Right now, 47% of the electorate says they will not vote for Hillary. That is worse than at any time during the Gore or KERRY campaigns. Oh, but she would have a shot. Yeah right!

    January 25, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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