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. Roy, St. Paul, MN

    There's no telling who Kerry will support tomorrow; perhaps Gravel of Alaska. This dude goes which ever direction the wind blows.

    January 25, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Jim

    Oh please. This is just another instance of John Kerry being all about ... John Kerry. Note that the full qoute is about Kerry saying how ""We" are going to shatter ..." He is angling for a VP slot or some form of bonus for supporting Obama.

    January 25, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. wake up!

    I used to admire Clintons, but events of the past month reversed my opinion 180 degrees. Hillary Clinton clearly knows how to play political games – hers and Bill's "experience" in these games fools more and more people. The only question is if she will win the democratic nomination this way – can she beat the republican masters of political games in November? – I don't think so! Especially given the fact that she does not have support among independents and now loosing big chunk of the democrats who finally see real face and "values" of Clintons and their old team. This great country got fooled in 2000, then in 2004, and now we see the same foolish political games in 2008. People who really care about this country and your own future – wake up!

    January 25, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. jay monson

    This is not Kerry's time. He obviously wasn't eloquent enough to verbalize his way to the presidency. Bill Clinton, albeit not perfect, is an accomplished American President.

    Any negative comments need to be targeted toward the current administration and its henchmen who have, in the last seven years, managed to ruin this country.

    A word to Mr. Kerry and the rest of us DFL Party – Let Hillary, Obama, and their spouses duke it out. Its part of the process! Watch, listen, and learn. Eventually our candidate will be selected. In the mean time, lets stand as one !

    God bless Hillary, Obama, and Edwards. While we have a choice to make, let it be in the voting booth. Let the bickering end, and the restoration of this country begin. Lets show the Republican party how a government by and for the people not only works, but sets an example – one the rest of the world doesn't hate us for.

    Tell all your friends to vote. Power to the people – lets take it back.
    God Bless our candidates, and god bless America !

    January 25, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. gator

    I love to watch liberals implode....I mean, wasn't Bill Clinton your hero just a few years ago. Weren't you defending him to the upmost while he PERJURED himself?

    Now you turn on him and recognize him for what he actually is AND was, prior to this election season.

    A few short years ago, you called Kerry your president-to-be, defending him against accusations from heroic war veterans, now he's just a flip flopper.

    HAHA, welcome to reality, I am glad you've finally been enlightened, to bad the learning curve has been so elongated for you.

    January 25, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |

    Everytime men have campaigned for President they always "parade" their wives, children, sisters, or mothers around the campaign arena....even Barak Obama. I see no reason why Bill Clinton can't be out there "plugging" for his wife. Hillary has done the same thing for Bill on numerous occasions. She deserves some reciprocation. John Kerry needs to keep his mouth shut...and if Obama can't take it, he needs to get out of the race.

    January 25, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  7. Walter Rego

    Maybe Herman Munster AKA John Kerry should ask his buddies the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth to step in and publicize some dirt on the Clintons. He'd be doing America a favor to make those two hillbilly trash Democrats disappear from the public scence forever. Behind bars would be a good place.

    January 25, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. Adam

    "What does "abusing the truth" mean?"

    Senatorspeak for translating out of context while implying direct lies without saying a former president is lying.

    I think it's a new form of linguistic statistics that doesn't rely on graphs and scale to distort reality just the failure of our education system.

    Of course as Bill knows what "is" means I'm sure he understood completely.

    January 25, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. Nini P. Crisostomo

    I think that John Kerry is just a sore loser since he did not win the presidential election in 2004. It's his own doing that he lost that election. Bill Clinton has the right to say what he believes will help distinguish the qualifications between Hillary and Barack. In the last debate, we saw the real Obama – rude and inexperienced. Look at his facial expression while Hillary was speaking – stoic 🙁
    Did anyone in the media make any comment on that? And his reply regarding interest rates was just "stupid". Was he listening or was he in another space? I thought he is good in public speaking. Nope!!!!
    More debates between Hillary and Obama, PLEASE!!!!

    January 25, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. RAP

    and by the way, It was ok for Obama to call Edwards"white" and to make reference to "brother" when asked if Clinton was the first Black President.
    It would be interesting to see if the Clintons made this kind of remarks?

    January 25, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. annie

    I have to wonder why everyone is getting on the band wagon against the clintons. kerry should stick to what he knows best "marrying socialites." He has been using too much ketchup. What did barack promise him? A vice presidency?

    January 25, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. independent thinker

    Way To Go Kerry! Keep putting presure on the Clintons!

    January 25, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  13. Patty, somewhere

    To all those accusing the Clintons of being liars.........
    Tell me what they said that is a lie. What stateent did they make that you consider a lie?

    January 25, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  14. Morris

    I don't know why on earth anyone would even give John Kerry the time of day. This man single handedly lost the most easiest election possible. He has no credibility and he should go home and retire. John Kerry, Mary Beth Cahill and Susan Estrich are the last people who should be telling anyone how to run their campaigns. They are worst than incompetent.

    January 25, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |

    Neither of them would know what the truth is if it hit them in the rear end. Or even what is- is.

    January 25, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. Zach

    I love John Kerry, he is a great guy. God knows Kerry will rule this great nation one day. Those who are attacking him are doing so because of sheer jealousy...

    January 25, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. jasper

    I am voting for Obama during the primaries. However, if Hillary gets nomination, it will be so much fun watching the Republicans chew out Billary.

    Can you imaging Hillary saying "I have 35 yrs of drinking tea experience with other presidents wives and i can solve the economy problem". Romney will eat her up.
    Will definately vote Republican this fall if Hillary is nominated.

    January 25, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  18. Cecelia, MD

    Regarding the vile look on Hillary's face when she attacked Obama. It was SCARY!!!! It will be forever etched in my mind. When the moderator tried to interrupt her, she said something like, "Wait a minute, don't stop us now; we are just getting warmed up." She was revelling in the whole exchange. I imagined her rolling around in the mud pulling out hair to get what she wants. I was never caught up in the whole Clinton worship thing. Thought she was a smart enough woman and had Barack Obama not surfaced, would have thought she would be a good candidate. Not after I saw that exchange on Saturday. It was ugly and showed a side of her that was repugnant! No wonder Bill had all those affairs. I can't blame the man. She is an ice princess! Obama represents something revolutionary. Clinton represents the same old recyled policies. Yeah I'd like to see a woman in the White House, but not this woman. Should she win the seat, she will be so divisive and distructive that by the time she's done, we will not see another woman in the White House for decades. So, all you Clinton supporters, look past your desire to have a woman in the white house. Why not hold out for an extraordinary woman so that she can leave a positive legacy for other woman who are aspiring to that position.

    January 25, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  19. Lady Eagle

    Sen. Kerry has to be kidding. To chide someone about protocol when he has none. He disrespected his running mate by endorsing someone else without the courtesy of a phone call. He is desperately wants to remain relevant, but is going about it in the wrong way.

    He is doing the same thing that he is accusing others of doing. We still remember what you said to those students about going to Iraq.

    January 25, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. Bone Machine

    It's funny how it took until 2008 for Democrats to finally realize that Bill Clinton has a problem telling the truth. Everyone else came to that conclusion about a decade ago. Welcome to reality, Dems!

    January 25, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. Seni

    If Kerry would have fought the republicans mcahine the way the Clitons are fighting for the best job in America, he would have been the sitting president now.
    Kerry we heard you but you are not selling.

    January 25, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  22. Elaine MA

    Of course Kerry's going to try to sway the Votes for Sen. Clinton by BASHING Bill Clinton... KERRY ENDORSED OBAMA...Keep up the spinning...OBAMA JUST AVOIDING THE REAL PRESIDENTIAL...Keep up the good work Sen Clinton...IGNORE THE SPIN.....former Pres. Clinton Stand up against the Spinners and Keep us informed who's spinning....EVEN THE MEDIA,,,,,,GOOD JOB CLINTN CAMPAIGN.....sooner or later OBAMA"S head is gonna SPIN OFF

    January 25, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. aware

    You are entitled to your opinion John Kerry, but I really think you are abusing the truth. Your comments are also quite over the top! 🙂

    January 25, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  24. Delia

    John Kerry.............Sorry but you gave in to attacks on yourself in the previous election rather than take it to the mat. Stay out of this and get a life that will help this country. Where have you been since the Economy tanked months ago???????????????????

    January 25, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  25. gator

    Bill Blinton is abusing the truth in the fashion of

    Genghis Khan.. haha

    Thank you active military and veterans.

    January 25, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
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