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. Stevie Nichts

    > you need to chill Bubba, I am sick of these Repulican style attacks.

    Given that the Clintons have been leveling EXACTLY these kind of attacks for OVER 15 YEARS, it is more accurate to concede that you are sick of these Democratic style attacks.

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

    Kelly is right, the former president has just gone too far to in critising senator Obama. What would happen if all the presidents now living can stand up and take sides? It shows how power hungry the Clintons are. Tristing the facts for political gain is what the Clintons are doing

    January 25, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. Steven

    Obviously, Kerry is even more of a waffler than we knew. It's this type of 360-degree changes that make him so terribly entertaining...

    January 25, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. George

    Bill Clinton has spent a lifetime in politics in Arkansas and on the bigger stage of national politics, and he has always "abused" the truth wherever he has gone and whatever he has done. He doesn't know what the truth is. He just knows what he wants it to be; so he tells people what he wants to be the truth. It's funny to hear a fellow Democrat accuse Bill Clinton of something that most of the rest of us have known about him for years.

    January 25, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. Sin

    Obama started the whole nit picking, is everyone forgetting that?
    You want a change, well let's put a woman in the White House instead of another man. Men and women are different in how they handle situations. Men are Men. color does not matter.
    Hillary is looked at with a fine tooth comb. Even the clothes she wears are evaluated.
    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 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Sue, Houston, TX

    Pot calls the kettle black!

    January 25, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. spinisnottruth

    Everyone here, take a look at the headlines and see how many times you see the name Clinton. Take a look at their "news" coverage on television and see how many times you hear Clinton. Has anyone here seen the Clinton Chronicles? While I don't believe everything in it, it does raise SERIOUS questions for me, also take a look at "The Century of the Self" on google video or youtube. If you take a look, especially towards the end it talks about how the Clintons used marketing strategists to convince people that they were one of them and on their side, that's why people think the 90's were so good. So good that we had to drive gas guzzling SUV's, sign NAFTA agreements to loose our overabundance of jobs, and make our military smaller.

    January 25, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. Natalie

    Kudos to you John! I now have a lot more respect for you in telling the truth. Bill Clinton's distortion of Barack's integrity and bull dog tactics is disgraceful. But since Clinton himself said he doesn't give a "rip" what anyone thinks of him, the bullying mentality will continue.

    Shame on you Bill!

    January 25, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  9. Rico

    Truth Squad what a statement
    Dont you realise that the U.S. population has grown also since Clinton was elected.

    January 25, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. Richard, Portland, OR

    If Kerry had talked this way about W. Bush, maybe he would be president today.

    January 25, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. AA

    It is a pity to read from all these pack of bloggers who indiputably support Hillary from distant Germany. They are only full of insults. They are mean-spirited, even silly! It is shocking! How do they expect to woo decent people to support Hillary. Wake up America!

    January 25, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  12. wake up!

    This great country got fooled in 2000, then in 2004, and now we see the same foolish political games in 2008. Why people fall so easily to these dirty political games?! People who really care about this country and your own future – wake up!

    January 25, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  13. okla

    i think this is not d time for folks to start attacking 1 candidate or the other,you just need to listen to what change they have got to offer.

    January 25, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Honest Abe

    Hell Hath No Fury Like A Clinton Supporter Scorned

    January 25, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. boydmiller

    What the Clinton's are saying is, Obama is a nice black boy who isn't ready for a big job. Sound familar!

    January 25, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  16. Kim Young Parks

    he is a silly man Kerry.. very silly man
    if it is the truth why mean "abusing the truth"
    it is either the truth or it is not the truth
    if it is the truth then it is the truth does not matter the abuse

    I Iike Hillary Clinton, very good lady for all woman in this country USA and also in all the world we support you.

    January 25, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. daniel

    It seems Kerry is lacking loyalty. How many people can he screw over in one campaign? I thought he was a mistake 4 years ago and I am so glad he is proving me right today. Hillary, Edwards, and the rest of true LOYAL Democrats are better off without him!

    January 25, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. Sean

    I find it shocking that more Americans don't see through the Clintons. If they did, then Hillary wouldn't still be the leading Democratic candidate in national polls. When it comes right down to it, if Democrats nominate Clinton and she ends up going against McCain, she will lose and we'll have 4 more years of Republicans in the white house. Beyond that, she's an inherently divisive political figure, which means that even if she wins the presidential election, her ability to accomplish anything as president will be greatly diminished. And even beyond that, I simply find it incredible that anyone would be interested in having a president who engages in a campaign as nasty and win-at-all-costs oriented as she and her de facto vice-president Bill have. She truly strikes me as being far more interested in simply being president than she is in actually serving the country. Please, Democrats, wake UP!!

    January 25, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  19. Steve Scott

    Why did Bill cost Hillary my vote on February 5th? Not because he stretched the truth. But because in doin so, he insulted my intelligence. With everything a candidate says being recorded these days, it took 30 seconds to find the full clip where Obama's comments are put into context. No one as smart as Bill could have thought Obama was praising Reagon's ideas. So Bill was simply saying 'I don't think you, the voters, are smart enough to decipher the truth. Bill, I admire what you are doing with the Clinton Global Initiative. Now go back to it and stop making us all remember the dark side of 90's politics.

    January 25, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  20. Hillary Clinton

    Poor Bill...we all thought he was a good president in the 90s then the truth unveiled itself. Inflated stock market which began crashing in his last months in office, sleep at the wheel on terrorism (except for bombing some pill factories in Sudan), sleep at the wheel on global warming and alternative energy (now we know he was on the payroll of the shieks).

    Why did Hilary vote to invade Iraq?

    Its all Bill's fault. Sources say his neglect left here alone late nights giving an opening for Paul Wolfowitz to get in her ear.

    Yes to Hilary. No to Bill.

    January 25, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. Jay

    Great stuff!I I could get to like this primary business. Imagine that, Democrats pointing fingers at each other and saying awful, demeaning things. I must say, I for one am enjoying this theater immensely.

    January 25, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. Les H.

    For someone who could not defend himself when he was running, John kerry sure know how to carry water for someone else. Maybe he think he's in line for VP since if Obama wins, he sure will need a babysitter; Just like George Bush.

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

    To those who keep saying that the Clintons have done so much for Blacks, please enlighten me. What have they done? Really, what have they done?

    January 25, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  24. Fedup in LA

    Why should we all get worked up about ANYTHING any politician says? They're all out there for their egos.

    What works for me is a complete – Democrat-Republican-Independent wipe out in Washington DC and most state capitals, too. How about a third party of the people for a change???

    Tired of all the attention given these liars and wannbes.

    January 25, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  25. docrock,lewisville,tx

    I apologtze to you CNN.There are many that blame you and call you biased on all sides,but it's mostly frustration at having no voice.After reading most of the blogs all day,I fear that hate is dividing this country.I do not think anyone is stupid,racist,blind hateful or un-American for backing their candidate,but surely ther are more voices than some that have over fifty posts,and they contain nothing but hateand vitriol.And this is simply from ONE person!(you know who you are,Blank from pa).but I am sure you understand the rightful indignation that some feel,when they post an intelligent critique,only to see hate printed instead.And to the bloggers,I appreciate constructive criticism,but fail to grasp the use of schoolyard childlike rants with no substance.Please lay off the hate and stop abusing others for their choice.It's called Freedom.

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