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. Kerry who?

    I feel better knowing John Kerry is advising Obama. 🙂

    January 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. jess

    McCain Beats Hillary in the latest polls. No wonder the republicans want her to run. She is a polarizing sheep herder.

    January 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. Joe

    And to all you guys bashing Kerry, look what you ended up with. You got the worst president in American history. You people still have the smear campaign fresh in your minds. I don't see how he could have possibly done any worse.

    January 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    Kerry just lost a lot of credibility with me for those remarks.

    Good Lord! So a past president isn't allowed to campaign for his presidential candidate wife? Since when?

    If there was something you thought was untrue, just state what it was. That is what we do during this election. We figure out what is the truth and what isn't. We call people on their statements. But Kerry is just going all out and calling an "ex-president" a liar. That, senator kerry, IS called GOING OVER THE TOP!

    It's an election campaign, people. Get with the program and stop insanely attacking the man for doing what is his right. That of campaigning FOR his WIFE.

    Shame on you Kerry,

    January 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Oldman

    Obama reminds me so much of him in his outlook and the way he brings us along on the journey. I am putting my faith him him to mobilize the nation to sacrifice and heal the country.

    Just a few thoughts.

    January 25, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. always a democrat

    No matter how much you argue "Slow and steady wins the race.."
    Hillary has been campaigning since 2004..

    go hillary

    January 25, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. tanarg

    Dear Democrats,

    Don't be deluded: the Democratic Party is a socialist party, like what parties are in Europe.

    Obama is fooling you - he's no different than the others; he's not what you think he is. Oh, sure, he's good at making you believe that he's all pure and honest, but he's a double-dealing phony interested in personal aggrandizement like the rest of them.

    The Clintons are communist thugs, plain and simple.

    If you want to destroy America, be a Democrat. They are all socialists, and closet fascists as well.

    January 25, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Charles

    RE: Mark – At some point – and it may not be until they are in the voting booth – Americans are going to realize that voting for Hillary means Bill Clinton will be back in the White House, only this time with more free time on his hands. While I'm not a prude or a moralist, I'd prefer to not have my president distracted by marriage problems. Many other voters are prudes and moralists however, and will consider this possibility a violation of sacred national ground. There have already been consequences for Bill's bad behavior (Gore's run in 2000) and his wife's campaign will be another. Since I'm against the dynasty thing anyway, I don't think this is unfortunate, as long as Democrat's realize this now and don't nominate a candidate with such an outsized albatross hanging from her neck. In short, she should have to explain and defend Bill, but really can't given who he is. It's a pity she can't be president because of this, but not a tragedy (Gore in 2000 was) seeing as the office isn't owed to her by me, you, or anybody else. By all accounts she's a heck of a Senator – when not making calculating votes aimed at making her look tough enough to be Commander-in Chief – and I hope she spends many more fruitful years ion that chamber.

    January 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. John

    There are no "attacks." That is just media hype. If you listen and watch the actual interviews and statements from Bill Clinton they are completely reasonable. Obama prefers to play the "victim" as an excuse to not reveal the truth about his voting record ("present"), his inability to use a button to vote ("oops"), and his lack of details about any of his policy proposals.

    January 25, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. caywen

    I've decided not to vote for Hillary as the Clinton-Rezko relationship is very concerning. I do not want a President who would meet with slum lords while in office. That undermines the dignity of the office.

    January 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. NG

    Unfortunately, HRC thinks she is entitled to the nomination. Obama is a very viable candidate, he is picking up more and more support by the hour and she can't stand it. The Republicans are sitting back and loving every minute of this. Who needs their "swift-boating" when HRC is doing all their dirty work for them? The fact that she is stooping to the level she has is very sad and troubling. I am a life-long democrat and have voted for a democrat in every election. If by some miracle her Rovian tactics work and she wins the nomination, I will cast a protest vote for someone else. She has lost my respect and most definitely my vote. Peace, Ng

    January 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. Cory

    Please, thanks to Kerry we have had to endure another disastrous 4 years of Bush. What he says is completely irrelevant.

    January 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Sin

    Do we want to become "The Obama Nation" hahaha
    Kerry is doing no favors for Obama by sticking his nose in this. He lost to Bush "The Village Idiot" and I have little respect for him.
    When is Obama going to talk about how he is going to fix the economic nightmare going on now.
    At least with Clinton we had 8 years of out debt. and had surplus money.
    Obama is a fine candidate but his time is not now.

    January 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. mike

    The Clintons cannot be trusted, bottom line. It's about time someone else finally noticed they are stretching the truth about Obama.

    January 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. Mary

    Just like Pat said, John Kerry had just found his voice. This is not politicing at all. Let the candidate campaign and stop inteferring because during your time everyone supported you and you got the nomination, now I believe you have a special interest in Obama that is why.

    January 25, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Jim

    With the support of the likes of Kerry, Obama is surely headed for a loss. Maybe turncoat Joe Lieberman can add his support to complete this quinella of electoral doom!

    January 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. Jr., California

    All Obama has to say to Hillary in the next debate is this:

    "Hillary, the people of America and myself want you to detail and explain your 35 years of experience. You continue to make this claim in every debate we've had."

    Please get this message to Obama. I thought Wolf Blitzer was going to present our questions in the Myrtle Beach debate?

    January 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Eli

    I was once a fan of the Clinton's, but I will vote for a third party candidate if she is the one running for the Democratic party.

    January 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. Natalie

    I think a large part of the clintons behavior involves: if Hillary can't be President neither can he. I also think its completely innappropriate for an ex-President to become so involved in a primary campaign. Even Bush Sr. didn't insert himself like this.

    The clintons are slime. they always were. This sort of ugliness may get her the nomination. but she will be a pariah in the general election. If clinton is the nominee the Republicans will hold the White House AND regain the Senate. The Deomcratic Party will be left in tatters. Talk of polarizing people. We can thank the Clintons.

    January 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. Jack

    It is amazing to me how many people are blinded by Bill & Hillary Clinton. If Hillary is elected, this nation will come to regret it. Many people dislike/hate George W., there is a lot of information suggesting that the Clintons & the Bushes are in cahoots with one another. Why won't George W release documentss regarding Hillary? Amongst many other instances... Why don't some people think it is amazing that Bill Clinton is either angry or over the top with the support of his wife. He is like a dictator. Next, we are going to see giant statues of Bill around the country. The can't believe the DNC doesn't have some standard.....
    We need to wake up to this and elect someone who is not a Bush or a Clinton.
    Time will tell, but Hillary is not the solution.

    January 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Nathan,

    Fine time to Kerry to grow a pair. Why didn't he stand up when he was being swift boated 4 years ago. Maybe the country wouldn't be in the shape its is now. Kerry is upset that Clinton isn't the wimp he was when people were going after him. His endorsement of Obama is as phoney as his condemnation of Clinton. When he was needed he played the high road. Enough of the high road. Look at what the high road has gotten this nation 4 years of living hell. Who cares what Kerry thinks.

    January 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. Clintons have supported Blacks



    UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON BLACK UNEMPLOYMENT WENT DOWN AND HOME OWNERSHIP WENT UP. Don't blame the Clintons for what Bush and the Republicans have done in the past 7 years to change all of this.

    January 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  23. Trannon

    John Kerry, after all Bill Clinton did for you!!!

    You suck egg dog!

    I just lost ALL respect for John Kerry.

    January 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. GDK

    You guys are annoying...

    It doesn't matter if Kerry is a loser.
    But it matters that he is saying the truth...and he is!

    P.S.: Bush is a winner and everybody is sick of him...

    January 25, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Joe

    I would not let Kerry near my dogs, they will run away, ugly dude – but to the point Obama is a breath of fresh air the politics of America, but he will spent his first 4 years in power – if elected – just trying to get all his ducks in a row. Clinton, on the other hand, can hit the ground running.

    America needs a smart president with lots of experience (Important, look what happened with the current one, lots of bad decisions not to mention all the deceptions), nobody can offer a better package than the Clinton's, like them or not, we need to transition out of this mess as smooth and fast as possible.

    Obama – may be good for vice-president, get some on-the-job training and run for election on a post Clinton era.

    January 25, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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