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. Rich

    Funny how Dems want McCain and we Republicans want Hillary. They both suck!

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

    Just goes to show how unscrupulous the Clintons can be.
    He – while being in office ..... had to be impeached for his behaviour then.
    She – same creed – get to the office – ANY HOW !!
    Even the Sr. Bush did not go this length for his junior.

    With the Clintons anything works.

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

    As to funding the war, Obama has stated that once in, like Hillary, he so far would not cut funds to the troops. You may not agree with that position but it is not different from Sen. Clintons. In fact Sen. Clinton's criticism of Obama on Iraq is a disingenuous criticism of him for being like her.

    Sen. Clinton's explanation for her vote for the Iraq resolution is her "I didn't inhale" moment because she didn't think it meant Bush would invade – Hello! The fact that she didn't object at the time of the actual invasion is a minor inconvenience without explanation by this reasoning

    January 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Yonel

    Now Kerry wants to stand up when he chicken out when the repubs were attacking him. Where was he/the establishment (Rom, Kennedy etc..) when Obama was attacking Hillary? I guess Kerry forgot when he ran last time Clinton came out of the Hospital to save his behind in PA which he could have lost if Clinton did not have this big rally for him. Believe me there will be a lot of b kissing once Hillary secure this Nomination.

    January 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. smh

    John Kerry who! I am tired of hearing all of this racket. This is the mildest campaign I have ever witnessed with regards to mudslinging. Wake up people it was not the Democratic candidates (Hillary, Barack or John ) who started this whole race laced conversation. It was the media & the pollsters immediately following the New Hampshire primary. Please somebody role the tape backward to the day after when they were all trying to figure out how Hillary won!!! For two to three days we heard how the voters must of been lying about who they voted for the exit polling or prior to the primary and that racism was running wild in NH. From there someone latched onto President Clinton's depiction of Senators OBama's stance on the IRAQ war and said used the phrase fairy tale about his position. GEE the next thing the media implied was that Clinton was making racial overtones, then they jumped on Hillary for a sound bit regarding MLK and LBJ which was completed overplayed and now the media implied that she was injecting racial overtones then the train left the station and now anything that anybody says must be racial as well. So what happens three candidates (Clinton, Obama & Edwards ) are drawn into this mess that first started with the media trying to over analyze the New Hamphire primary. Shame on all of us AMERICANS for allowing this to stay alive.

    January 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. GaryO Virginia Beach

    Why doesn't the article quote Kerry on any specifics? In what specific instances does Kerry perceive Bill Clinton is abusing the truth in this campaign?

    For a guy who is infamous for tripping over his tongue, Kerry really does not have much room to criticize the words of a successful two-term Democratic president.

    I've felt sorry for Kerry in the past because I thought he was unfairly attacked by the original swiftboaters, but I think Kerry's latest remarks put him in a worse light than either of the Clintons.

    To me, Kerry seems like an ungrateful backstabber. The Clintons tried to get Kerry elected, and now Kerry takes something trivial and turns it into a weapon to be used against the Clitons.

    You would think Kerry would learn from his mistakes. Doesn't this guy ever know when to shut up?

    January 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Royal

    We have had the Bush dynasty and from all appearances, the second half of the dynasty became egocentric. If Hillary is elected, I'm afraid we'll the same problems. While I think there she is bright and if she if nominee I'll vote for her. Nevertheless, much like the current administration Hillary's administration will be loaded with crony’s from Clinton 1. I believe Barack and/or John will bring new people with a fresher look

    January 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Independent Voice

    THE CLINTONS ARE DIRTY, DIRTY LIARS! ooo, big surprise!

    Did we all forget Mr. "Depends what the meaning of 'is' is" Clinton. Or when he looked us straight in the eye and said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman!" Cmon, are we that stooopid!?!?

    Notice the Clintons were playing fair in Iowa, but all this started after Obama handed them their butts there, and then the tears flowed and somehow the polls were wrong by 10 percentage points, and now all sorts of dirty e-mails and tactics are being employed by the Clintons – Bogus Muslim e-mails, lies about Obama's record, etc, etc.

    Thank you JOHN KERRY for telling the truth! Something Bill/Hillary know nothing about!

    January 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Fay


    Please shut up. I love Hillery. She is strong and can take it. Not like that crybaby Oboma. Did he think this was going to be a cake walk.

    January 25, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Paul

    John Kerry,you are my hero, the truth about Clinton's lies, at last!

    January 25, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Hillary!

    stan pitts pa:

    Your insight is so wrong, your comment is also stupid. HEAR ME –IF OBAMA BY CHANCE GETS THE NOMINATION - I WILL NOT VOTE FOR ME. HE WILL LOSE WITH OR WITHOUT MY VOTE! I think you wish Hillary supporters will turn to Obama, maybe some will in order for the Democrats to win. But, not me. I'm not turning now or ever. I'm in for the long haul with Hillary. You go ahead and throw your vote away–I'd rather not.

    And in response to your other comment–Kerry the war hero–um, didn't that come into question when he ran in 2004! You don't need to be a war hero to run the country. Obama, President Clinton, Sen. Clinton, Biden, Kucinich, Edwards, Richardson, FDR, Herbert Hoover and many other Rep and Dem never served in the military. Military doesn't impress me nor make cause me to vote for a candiate that has served in the military.

    January 25, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Ray

    Three cheers for John Kerry. Not so for the Clintons. They have been so over the top that some of my democratic friends say that they will never vote for Hillary even if she gets the nomination. I will, although like Bill was( a failed President who Newt Gingrich made relevent by his extremism), she is my last choice among democrats. We need change, not politicans as usual who will do anything to get elected (like Bill is his "welfare reform" fiasco, that drove his top domestic advisers on welfare to resign in protest. He backed a Republican plan (and spread falsehood about welfare then) to get elected. Will Hillary prove as bad? Looks like it.

    January 25, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. detroitdemocrazy


    January 25, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Dave

    I keep hearing how bad the republicans are for America. I find that remark so sad. I've prospered regardless if we had a republican or democrat in office. The point is that I worked hard and made sound choices in my life. I've never depended on the government to give me anything. I've worked hard to gain ownership, and not be a servant to anyone elses dreams, maybe that is the problem with the people whining for a better tomorrow. Work hard for yourself, stay in school and learn how the economy works and maybe you too will prosper. This government is not setup for you to succeed, the government is setup to make money and grow America. That is why the Bush's and Clinton's talk crap to you and you fall for it. (Obama included)

    Any supporter of HRC or Obama tell me one legislation that either candidate drafted that helped you?

    January 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. Drew

    Anybody notice how CNN runs all these "Clinton Lashes Out" and "Bill Clinton Lies" headline titles, yet EVERY article has not a single sample of Bill's lies?

    CNN, either report some facts or shut up. I'm getting tired of your rabble-rousing.

    January 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. Jay

    The Clintons are a joke. Truly pathetic that so many people are stupid enough to continue to support this phony couple.

    January 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. jlb hallsville tx.

    Kerry knew the only way to get a little press was to come out against the Clintons. You are right he is a back stabber. Kmf if the rep. get back in you won't have enough money to feed your dog!!!!!

    January 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Donna

    If I was Obama, I'd be very cautious of having the backstabbing, lying, opportunistic Kerry on my side. The guy is nothing but trouble.

    January 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. John Smith

    John Kerry, the man who was too weak to challenge republican criticism against him that sank the democratic party in 2004. The man who had to rub it John Edward's face by supporting Obama. I am a democrat and I can honestly say that I am so happy now that Kerry was never elected. The party was hard up for a candidtate when it nominated him. Bottom line is Bill Clinton is a political genius.
    He will paint Obama as the black candidate causing blacks to flock to Obama.
    Then once the demographics of the vote in South Carolina show that blacks have abandoned Hillary, it will will cause whites to return the favor in kind against Obama and Hillary will sweep super tuesday. is it right? NO
    But is it genius...YES.

    January 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. Sherry in Kentucky

    "A presidential election between, say, McCain and Obama — both positive and honorable candidates — would be better for the country. A race between McCain and Clinton would be better for the Republicans."

    I agree with the above comments that were previously posted. If Hillary gets the nomination, I either will not vote, vote for John McCain if he's the republican nominee, or vote for a third party. The Rovian tactics used by the Clinton campaign are a disgrace to the Democratic Party. We are not Republicans and should not sink to their level!

    January 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Captain America

    Hey Kerry, Obama was around four years ago, how come you didn't pick him to be your VP? First you back stab Edwards, now Clinton? Maybe the swiftboaters were right.

    Why don't you shut up and let the nomination process run it's course, instead of looking like a schmuck.

    Endorsee Program
    Obama-Oprah, Kerry
    Huckabee-Chuck Norris

    January 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. marilyn

    John Kerry did not back his former running mate, John Edwards because Kerry claims to be a Democrat but it was clear in the Kerry/Bush election that though this was a Kerry/Edwards ticket, John Edwards is really the one who has the heart and soul of a true Democrat.
    Please note the letter to Senator Edwards from Martin Luther King 111.

    January 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. Mike

    If Clinton get the nod I will vote Republican. I cannot believe that America has forgotton the scandals of the Clinton WH. If she were to win (which she wont) she would only keep this country as or more ddivided then we are with Bush. The sight of the two Clintons just makes me sick and Im a life long Dem. Well I guess we will se just how dumb the voters are come November. On second thought they are pretty dumb, they elected GWB, twice. Were doomed.

    January 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. Tim

    Too bad Kerry couldn't have developed a spine to go after the Republicans when he was running for President. Timing is everything and separates the good comedians from the bad.

    January 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Hans

    HAHA "Clinton's attack machine changed my mind about Obama..."

    ya...thats what theyre trying to do....wow, some americans r dumb

    January 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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