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. Kurt

    Neither one of these washed up bag of wind could hold DR RON Paul's JOCKSTRAP

    RON PAUL defecates COMMON SENSE!!!!!!!!

    January 26, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  2. Scott

    Kerry endorsed Obama because Hillary really didn't campaign for him enough to get the win. She didn't want him to win. She campaigned just barely enough to "appear" like she was trying to help. She's been preparing for this Presidential bid since Bush was inaugurated.

    Kerry didn't endorse Edwards because he learned that Edwards is a constantly conniving man, and told Kerry that he wouldn't run if Kerry's last bid failed. (presumably so Kerry could try again) Edwards broke that promise.

    Consequently, Kerry approached McCain about the VP offer and all that entails.

    January 26, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  3. wayne

    I'm an african american and I am a democrat. I am also tired of the "Clintons did sooooo much for african americans. Like what? The record number of african americans incarserated during the clinton years or maybe it was the record amount of drugs to hit the streets of the african american community during the clinton years. Or hey, what about nafta. You know all our jobs going over seas and mexicans pouring across our border taking the blue collar jobs that used to pay well but the mexicans are willing to do for slave wages. You know the wages that americans of all races fought for so that we would be getting a fair wage. The clintons are in the back pocket of big business and hillary will owe and with bill in tow he will owe also. There will be a double line outside the white house waiting for political favors and with all the pay back and butt kissing going on there will be no time for governing. For those who keep bringing up Rezko you need to look at hilliariouses legal dealings of the past and you just might vomit. Oh, thats right she won't let her files be released. Also, before you condemn the Rezko situation you should educate yourself and read up on it. Don't make a comment on something just because you heard something, check it out yourself. You might be suprised what you find. The clintons time is done and it is time to move forward not backward. Obama can unite this country that is in a idealogical civil war. The clintons will bring the war to full scale.

    GO OBAMA 08

    January 26, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  4. art

    Um....Let me get this streight, Kerry is calling another politician a liar.
    Since when is that news?

    January 26, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  5. P Cortez

    If only hillary and billary cared half as much as Mr. Obama.....I'll vote republican before I vote for those losers.

    January 26, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  6. Harry, Michigan

    Bravo Kerry! First for telling the Vietnam war-era congress the truth about the war crimes, emotional costs, and other horrors of that war. Though it is disappointing that he hasn't been a more vocal opponent of the current war, he certainly is telling it like it is on this issue!

    January 26, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  7. Psych

    kerry uses lines right out of Obama playbook too bad he didn't come up with something when he was sinking in the swiftboat ads.
    getting a recomendation from a wet mop would be better than kerry
    Obama is a pack of lies

    January 26, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  8. zookyu

    "As an African American, what has John Kerry ever did for us? He needs to stay out of this and just SHUT UP! At least the Clinton's have actually done something for African Americans!!! He couldn't even fight in the last election! Just be quiet and go make some Heinz."
    And you need someone to DO something for you?? F' n loser..........

    January 26, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  9. Rudy

    The opinion of Kerry do not count for me, since the day He do not defend his commentary to students about of study in order of not to need to go to the army. MR. KERRY, THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

    January 26, 2008 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  10. Carol Havell

    My, my, what in the world is going on? The democrats are fighting with the republicans, the democrats are fighting with themselves, the whites are going to vote against Obama because he's black, the blacks are voting against the whites, the mexicans and blacks are mixing it up, can't vote for anyone who is religious, wah wah, you're picking on me cuz I'm a woman, Oprah is catching it cuz she chose color over gender, the first "black president" is dissing the blacks now, on and on ad nauseum. What did you expect folks? Get used to it and prepare for it to get worse!!!

    THEY'RE BAAAAACK!!!!! The twofers, the lying, cheating, stealing. power hungry, socialist traitors!!!

    (Doesn"t ANYONE remember how good it was before there was the CLINTON'S)

    January 26, 2008 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  11. tylerhipnosis

    For some reason i think this is going to come out to a fight to the finish.

    January 26, 2008 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  12. Beckster

    Repent, the time is near.

    January 26, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  13. Ivan for Ohio

    It's really amazing to see how gaulible most black America is, even in this century.
    There is a very good chance to see a black man as President of this great country, but some blacks feel they owe allegiance to Bill Clinton. The Clintons, in their quest for power are looking to build a dynasty. After Hillary the next Clinton the blacks will owe allegiance to would be their daughter. Black America, wake up and lift up your own son. He can't do any worse. Look who's President today.

    January 26, 2008 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  14. Angelina

    About time people from the Democratic party starts calling this horrible sabotage of the election, ........ someone please control the Clintons.
    this is a pure example of who they truly are, their sense of entitlement, their belittling of AA ,they are good at creating divisive lines, and over all they do not practice what they preach but expect everyone else to do so...

    I hope CNN focuses on some of the people who are running and also change some of their tittles.
    Please please, dont put so much on bill, he is the past.

    January 26, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  15. Angelina

    Dear Everyone,
    If Hillary gets the nomination, I am taking my vote elsewhere! Let's start to count, Who's coming with me (1) 2,

    January 26, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  16. Eugene from Tstin, CA

    I have decided for the first time to vote for a Republican in the General Election. I used to like Bill Clinton, but his disgraceful behavior these past weeks is unbecoming of a former president. It is shameful. He will do and say anything for his wife to win. I am/was a democrat and black, but I am sick of Bill and will vote for the republicans this year!

    January 26, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  17. L. Laskey

    Kerry takes aim at Bill Clinton for over stepping the "boundaries" of a former president. Where was the outrage at Jimmy Carter for the past eight years when he was ranting that President Bush was the worst president in history? Didn't Carter leave honorable American soldiers dead in the desert? Where was Kerry when Carter should have been abiding by the unwritten rule that a former president keep his mouth shut.

    January 26, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  18. Titan

    I think Hillary is intelligent and dedicated to improving the lives of children and women. I was excited about her running for president, and remember the successes of the Clinton years fondly. I remember Bill's speeches capturing just how I felt. I defended them through it all.

    I was excited about Hillary winning. But, after watching the campaign daily since October, I no longer support her. It was like loosing a dream, much as we can see in the NYTimes endorsement, that argues with itself about the virtues we want to see in Hillary, but is beginning to recognize the reality of who she is.

    I am sad that the first viable woman we have as a candidate has to rely on her husband to get her there. But, looking back, that is always who Hillary has been.

    She started out in Washington on her own on the staff to impeach Nixon. Due ethical problems, she never received a recommendation, and having failed her bar exam, she had no future in DC. So, she shuttled off to Arkansas to be with Bill.

    She deserves some credit for the work she did as the wife of a governor and president. She was able to step up to the task and work on problems for women and children. But, the positions she achieved where not due to her credit, but because of her status as Bill's wife. Even her partnership in the Rose law firm was granted because of the business she brought in, not because of the hours she billed or cases she won.

    Her Senate seat was won based on name recognition, and her elections, by fluke, had no serious challengers, Giulliani dropped out of the first one, and her opponent was underfunded in the second. (It should be asked, why did the Republicans not put up a good candidate against Hillary?)

    Her work in the Senate, under review, has not produced any legislation. Perhaps thats why she has to run on the White House years.

    Now, as a presidential candidate, she once again turns to Bill to campaign for her.

    It's kind of like the story of Cinderella, who reaches her kingdom because of her prince. It's sad that the model of our first serious woman candidate fulfills all the traditional stereotypes.

    Now, with the campaign she is running, if she wins, it will not be something that we will celebrate. From the lies, the disenfranchisement, the swift-boating, the division, if she wins, if we reward her for this behavior, it will be a very sad day for many Americans.

    January 26, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  19. DEENA H

    What is all this fuss about race the man OBAMA is not 100% black he is
    mixed Honestly the media has paid a big share into the whole mess OBAMA look
    like a great choice for president at the beginner but now different history
    The clintons are well known as great politician for many and a horrobles for others this is AMERICA we should learn that whom become the next president
    will have a lot to overcome Obama claims someone out there is misreprenten his record MR OBAMA What record? if you are the new face for changed your
    record still to come . I' m sorry that you has to learned with them how to become a great politician you have a long way to go RACE is not the issue A wounded
    country is a reality

    January 26, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  20. Rob

    What, Clinton's lie to the public? Well it worked with the grand jury. And now they've got a health plan for you! Expand medicaid, cover everyone on insurance, create a new public insurance plan and limit what insurance companies charge. Only thing missing is full taxpayer support for illegal aliens, socialized medical practice and beachfront property in Arizona!

    January 26, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  21. Dittoga

    jbhilt: people have turned on Bill, but he turned on us. By using lies, by insulting people, by using swift-boating and disenfranchisement, Bill and Hillary turned on the decency of the American people. The deserve to have us turn on them.

    January 26, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  22. Joe, TX

    As a Republican, I'm no big fan of John Kerry, but it sure seems to me that he's calling it like he sees it. The last two weeks have shown us the real Hillary and Bill show. Sure they're for change...change back to way they've behaved in the past. Even National Public Radio's commentators from both sides of the aisle were highly critical of Bill's half-truths and outright lies, and stated they deliberately thought the Clinton's had injected the race card into the primary election. Wake up you Democrats! If you nominate these (and I purposely refer to both Clintons) political hacks, the Republicans are going to have field day slicing and dicing them in the run-up to the general election. From where I sit, at least Obama has a chance to bring a new vision to governing America. C'mon Democrats, give this Republican someone (Obama) from your party that I can at least consider voting for.

    P.S. Some folks keep repeating the Clinton line that Obama compared himself to Ronald Reagan. Ridiculous! Go to factcheck.org to see Obama's entire quote so you at least know what you're talking about.

    January 26, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  23. awela

    John Kerry is just better because he lost the last election and he thinks that the Clintons did not do much for him so for him its pay back time. but the tired old man should go and sit down because he is just a big LOOSER

    January 26, 2008 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  24. Lee Chang, Surrey, Canada

    To John: Kerry: In life there is such a thing called "gratitude". – we call such a person running dogs (in Western culture, "scoundrel"). John you are a scoundrel.

    January 26, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  25. JohnS

    Most Democratic voters are really very "uninformed" and ignorant.

    Kerry wants to remind you fools about what the Republicans did to him (and the democratic votes) despite his vast EXPERIENCE and service to this nation.

    Gore, if some of you fools have forgotten, also lost to the Republican machine because of the SINS of the Clintons. Now, you are putting another Clinton out there with the dreams for "wealth"– Good luck!

    When will the average Democratic voters ever learn from their past mistakes? I guess their leaders such as Hillary are as blind to the realities of life as their followers!!!!

    God Save Us All!!!

    January 26, 2008 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
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