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. J



    January 25, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. kgb99

    Lest we all forget, Bill Clinton has a history of taking license with the truth.....(I did not have sex etc...) This should be no surprise. Anyone in the country who actually still believes deserves him.

    January 25, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  3. Trey in Illinois

    Everybody needs to face facts. All these candidates have things in their past that can be deemed as negative. They all need to clean up their campaigns and focus on the issues. The one thing the Democratic Party needs to be aware of is a possible riff within the party wants a candidate is determined.

    January 25, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. Lisa Lee, Dallas, TX

    I wonder what high ranking government position Obama has promised Kerry if he is nominated & elected.

    I'll guarantee you– if Hillary Clinton turns out to be the Democratic nominee, John Kerry will do an about-face so fast it will make your head spin. He'll be singing her praises far & wide.

    [This goes for the GOP talking heads too– who they support today & who they'll support next week is open to change at any moment.]

    I supported Kerry in his run for President, but politic are politics, and you have to take whatever he (or most any other politician) says, and then look at the big picture to figure out what is really happening.

    If Obama loses the nomination, Kerry will be waving adios to him and hello to Hillary in a heartbeat.

    January 25, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. Muno

    This is just a micro view of what the country will get if the "Clintons" are elected. Scandals, personal attacks, lies and corruption just like in the '90s. I'm a conservative but I think Obama is basically a good person. I disagree with Obama's stand on the issues but he would probably be a good honest president if elected. I hope Obama crushes them. These "Clintons" are swine of the lowest level. The "Clintons" should run for election in Mexico or Venezuala which is more their speed.

    January 25, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. C Spurgeon

    Right...I care what Kerry thinks..These idiots are going to another Republican in the white house. Maybe the Dems deserve it, but the country doesn't. I guess if the independent party gets big enough it might make a difference some day. Kerry needs to go home and retire. He already has enough money...

    January 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Casey

    Kerry wants a Veep nod.

    January 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. Kermee

    Who cares what Kerry says? He's a loser. Hilary and Obama are both doing what it takes to win. He attacked her, about being a Walmart Corporate Lawyer, and she striked back. Kerry and Obama should stop whinning and respond the attack.

    Kerry refusal to adequately respond to Bush's Swift Boat led to his defeat. The Clintons have lots of vulnerabilities.

    January 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Susan, MI

    Wait a few minutes. Kerry may waffle on this one.

    January 25, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. Rex, Houghton, MI

    Bill Clinton.

    Impeached for being a liar.

    Disbarred from law for being liar.

    And still there are those who think he may have something honest to say.

    January 25, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Kevin McNeal

    I am very sorry for Mr. Obama, I would rather have anybody besides Mr. Kerry on my side. Who knows, in a few days he may even endorse Bill Clinton himself!

    January 25, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. Carrie

    Kerry, stay out of this. Everyone is saying to both candidates to dial the negativity back. Why is Kerry jumping into this at this late hour?

    January 25, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. skip

    2 words......"CATTLE FUTURES"

    2 more........"WHITE WATER"

    Nuff said!

    January 25, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. Mary Ramirez

    I am sure Kerry meant well but I don't think saying that the former president

    abused the TRUTH was a poor choice of words. He could have done a better

    job of defending Obama for abuse period. I hope Hillary doesn't win. Can you

    imagine what influence he will have on her. Not good.

    January 25, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. tomw

    you know i have listened to alot of clinton backers and you know what bill and hill r playing right into the republicans hands, you keep it up hill and all you will do is give the republicans ammo and they will use it to win the whitehouse in november and then we r screwed

    January 25, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. C Hewitt

    Tired of the Nepotism? We have had 20 years of Clinton-Bush. America is ready for Change.

    January 25, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. Tupac, NY NY

    What you say a Clinton abusing the truth... "Did not inhale" and "Did not have sexual relations" are two that come to mind.

    As an independent voter I have never voted for a Republican but if MaCain and Clinton run then the choice is obvious it will be MaCain. Its time for some new blood at the helm no more Bush or Clinton.

    January 25, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Diane

    I am really disappointed by the attacks on Hillary Clinton. Her candidacy is clearly more of a historic event than Obama's, as America has never had a female president, despite having had a female majority for many decades. I believe it is time for a majority candidate and Hillary is the only one running! She also has more relevant and greater experience!

    January 25, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. jake brewcity

    "If she's elected it will be the biggest shakeup that Washington has even known. She's tough, she's got heart, and she's smart. She should win the presidency because of these qualities"

    Um, the Clintons are the quintessential insiders... they are in bed with some of the same interests the other side is.. and some even worse ones to boot. As for having intelligence and drive, sociopaths with law degrees have these qualities. Intelligence and ambition are not character or wisdom... as these two show.

    January 25, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. carole

    Colene – what a great description of Hillary –


    Obama better watch out – Hillary may clock him with a hubcap!

    January 25, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Jane

    2 Reasons for our Economic Mess

    1. NAFTA – Clinton
    2. THE IRAQ WAR – Bush

    We are really under bondage to these 2 families.

    January 25, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. Kiki

    After all the lying and backbiting from the Clintons, I would vote republican than vote for Hillary.

    January 25, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Matt

    It looks like democrats are finally realizing what republicans learned long ago–the Clintons will do and say anything to achieve what they want, regardless of the consequences. I must admit I never really believed what the republicans of the 90s said about the Clinton's but it's turning out to be spot on. Increasingly it's obvious that Hillary wants to be President regardless of what she has to do or who she has to destroy in the process. Their subtle use of race to divide the democratic electorate is appalling. They are portraying Obama as the Black candidate for the democratic nomination in an "us vs them" manner. Look at Obama's support amongst white voters in South Carolina over the past week - he's down to 10% from around 25-30%

    They're telling outright lies about Obama. Everyone says that voters can see through the lies in political campaigns but I'm not so sure. Remember this is the country where some 40% of the population still believes Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Furthermore, Bill Clinton is a former US President. There is not a single person alive today that carries as much weight as he does when he speaks. All this puts Obama in an impossible position.

    Hillary will get the nomination and in the process destroy the democratic party. She'll lose in November and the country will be looking at 4-8 more years of republican rule.

    January 25, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. surferdude

    Even Kerry can be right once in a while. The Clintons are really showing their "dark side", and the public is sick of them.
    Hillary has no charisma nor charm, is a screeching hag of a speaker, and Bill is just a red-faced confirmed perjurer trying to pick fights everywhere, as IF this could help Hillary's campaign. It's not helping her, but it does help the public see their true nature. A couple of carpetbaggers who have see the end and don't like it.

    January 25, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. gilbi

    There is still time for the Clintons to do something unselfish for their party and their country. Hillary should drop out of the campaign and give her full support to Obama.

    January 25, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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