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. Anonymous

    Kerry is an ingrate. You go Hillary!! Don't sweat it. Kerry's endorsement is a losing waste for Obama.

    Mama Teta

    January 26, 2008 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  2. Kim

    I'm an undecided voter who feels like she is somewhere in the twilight zone. I just don't see how a junior Senator is still in the race to become our president. Have we gone mad? If he were a non-African-American, he would have been driven out of the race quite quickly simply due to a lack of experience. The only thing that sets Obama apart is that he is African-American. By the way, has the political arena including media forgotten about Hispanics, Asians, and Natives. That in itself is a pretty narrow vision of our world. Getting back to Obama, he seems to be getting by on hope. He's giving everyone hope of a better future. Well as we all know from the Bush era, it's one thing to speak of hope, and it's another to deliver it. My point being that hope is nice, but one needs the tools and experience to make good on that hope. Universal health care isn't going to happen just through hope. Come on everyone, it's our future at stake. So think long and hard about his lack of experience, and be realistic about what he really brings to the table. Does he know the issues and how they will be addressed or is he going to rely on hope to get it done. I'd like him to pay his dues for a few years, get some experience and come back. As an educator, I know the value of experience, for I'm a better teacher now than I was 10 years ago. Through trial and error, practice, more knowledge, I've improved. It's been a learning curve, but do you want our next president to go through a learning curve with our futures. There is far more on the line, so let's put the focus on the issues and experience as opposed to superficial things like race and gender. Have a marvelous 2008.

    January 26, 2008 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  3. Lee Chang, Surrey, Canada

    Cathy: I agree with you. CNN will not post my comments, because I speak my mind, the way I see it. For example, during the debate, it was obviously Obama who swiped at Hillary first, saying that Hillary served in the Board of Directors of Walmart (of course this to imply a lot of things), and when Hillary fought back, saying Obama was acting for the slumlord – CNN went on a field-day saying that Hillary should let it go – WHY SO CNN? I am sure if she let it go, you will say she is weak, but when she fought back, you call her somehthing else.


    January 26, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  4. Jonathan M. Fox

    John Kerry is prehaps one of most clueless men in america. I mean some one that is shocked shocked by bill clinton lying.

    January 26, 2008 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  5. Rob

    Kerry was not my choice in 2004 but anyone can smell a rat and the Clinton's stink!

    January 26, 2008 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  6. Tertius

    I love watching the Dems deal with the flood of lies that proceed from the Clintons, especially Bill. Republicans have been dealing with his lies for going on 15 + years now, but of course because it was politically expedient, the Democrats defended him and his lies and even learned the art of the lie from him. He is truly the master, but what is so ironic here is that Kerry is a natural liar too. Listening to him complain about Clinton's lies is almost more than I can take.

    January 26, 2008 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  7. Heather Peterson

    I tend to believe Senator Kerry and Senator Obama.

    Doesn't anybody remember President Clinton being stripped of his law license because of "stretching the truth?" A court found him unfit to practice law because of his lack of ethics. That says something.

    January 26, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  8. Fem4Hillary

    Alright,!!! Kerry teaching Obama how NOT to win!! Go Kerry Go...

    It is obvious who the Republicans are PARANOID about so much they have begun to attack her even before she wins the DEM nomination!!

    Obama is a "dreamer" .....right now we need a "doer"

    Hillary 2008

    January 26, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  9. Ron

    Race has always been an issue in this country. How can one explain to their child that no matter what you achieve it will never become enough to win a losing battle in America. Obama went to Harvard and did tremendously well in his pursuit to the White House yet with his experiences is still isn't enough. They said he wasn't black enough. Yet he's the Black candidate now who can only attract black voters but not enough black women! Yet he's the son of a white woman and an african black man which his black part is now mainly a negative. What in the workd kind of people exist in this countey. Stupid close minds people who in this case come in all colors shapes and forms. I as a 22 year old educated black male feel sadden that my country is as third world as they come. My mother is 50 and I guess she will never live to see the day a good man such as Obama will get elected to run and win the office of the President of the U.S.. But this country can elect a Bill Clinton or a George Bush etc.
    Someone asked what has Bill done t black people. He disrespected his position as president as well as the American voters by his behavior and his inaction or poor choices such as NAFATA, Welfare reform approving a republican agenda. It's okay because he's Bill. It's sad.

    January 26, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  10. Martin Edwin Andersen


    San Jose Mercury News Editorial


    America longs for a change of style, a change of policy and a change of heart. Sen. Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate with the best chance to unify the country and put it back on track. He is the candidate who can best restore the world's faith in America and America's faith in itself.

    We recommend Obama as the Democratic nominee, believing that his political approach could eventually make as much history as being the first African American president. ...

    What tips the scales in Obama's favor is the freshness of his approach and the lack of political baggage he would bring to the White House. ... Clinton's perceived negatives will cloud the campaign, and some positions she has taken over the years appear to have been based on political expediency more than core values. With that history, it will be harder for her to be successful.

    Obama would dramatically change the nation's approach to foreign policy and domestic issues. While the substance might not differ substantially from Clinton's in many areas, he would have more cross-over appeal to independents and Republicans, whose support will be needed to bring about significant change.

    Obama is the only candidate who opposed the Iraq war from the outset. His ethnic background and his upbringing give him a unique world view. He has the best chance to change how the world looks at the United States and restore the respect it has squandered during the past eight years. ...

    He also brings a solid approach to the issues of climate change, education, election reform and stem cell research. ...

    The George W. Bush-era has been the most divisive period in American history since the 1960s. Barack Obama represents the voice of a new generation. He resonates much as John F. Kennedy did with his message of hope and challenge. He is the best choice to unify and inspire America.

    January 26, 2008 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  11. Lucas McCain

    Hey John Kerry...T. Boone Pickins still has the $1,000,000 for you if you can prove with your military records that the swift boat guys are lying...

    January 26, 2008 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  12. Tizzy

    Why do my comments always wait for the moderator.
    The DNC should have sanctioned Bill Clinton since for confirming that his wife is not capable of running for President by his unstatesmanly conducts.

    January 26, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  13. Scott

    Pazzinthru said: "Truth is a relative thing , and everyone has a right to his or her own version of it" ...spoken like a true Clintonite

    January 26, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  14. Sarah

    If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, she's definitely going to lose. Too many people dislike her, even those in her own party (this message board is proof enough!). She may have experience, but her faulty character cancels that out. If the Dems really want to win this election, they'd be wise to nominate someone other than the Bill & Hill squad. Do we really want to continue the Clinton dynasty? Let's finally get some new blood in the White House and get out of this tired cycle of politics as usual.

    January 26, 2008 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  15. Mandy, Montana

    Thank you John kerry, thank you for standing up for the truth. I have always respected you and even more now. Thank you also for your service to this country. You and Barack would make a great team, a team of honesty and integrity that would envoke the principles held by our founding fathers.

    I happen to be middle aged, female, and a very disallusioned republican who is going to change parties, and going to vote for

    OBAMA '08

    January 26, 2008 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  16. (ABH) Anyone But Hillary

    Bill, what a joke! He used to be great, Now, I am disgusted by the sight of him. You will sacrifice his legacy, and the American people just so that he and Hillary can monopolize the White House. Bill you are a lying piece of work. Shame to all Americans that vote for Billary.
    Good job Kerry, its about time someone-else stood up to this hypocrite.
    Bill and Hill wont get my vote. I'd rather vote (gulp) Republican just so that they dont get the White House. Greed, the root of evil!

    January 26, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  17. Becca

    No matter who is elected, they arent going to beable to straighten the mess this country is in. I am voting for an American Hero with experience, John McCain knows foreign policy, what is going on in the world and he is a Leader and the military respects him! Hes got my vote. Obama needs another 20 years to grow and experience all he says is alot of sugar coated words, he is delusionall and he tells the public what they want to hear he is NOT ready.
    As far as Bill Clinton goes, here we go again his big mouth is going to get Hillary no where he is a sham to the White House and did not respect the office, Bill just wants to live in the White House again its all about power, hes an embarrasment to this country and most of the world is laughing at the USA.

    January 26, 2008 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  18. RM

    I was too young to vote for Clinton in 1992. Later, however, I voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 and suffered with many when he was caught in a terrible lie. I observed both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, listening intently and watching all of their stands in Iowa, New Hampshire, (missed Nevada), and into South Carolina. By the time, Bill went nuts on stage talking about Obama's stand against the war was changed in 2003/2004 as a complete fairytale. Started shaking my trust deeply with Bill Clinton. His rants made me wonder if he accidentally misstated Obama's record out of emotion. I kept it in the back of my mind, and continued thinking Clinton or Obama, no main preference. South Carolina, clinched it, I am completely certain that Bill Clinton is not only purposefully lying about Obama. He also demonstrated to me that he does not have faith in his own wife, Hillary. She can't even hold her own against a candidate on her own platform. If ignorance prevails and Clinton take over Obama for the Democratic Nomination. I am registered as a Democrat, yet I will show allegiance to the front runner of the Republican National Party, and will vote Republican. Hillary was supposed to demonstrate that she was a strong female candidate, she has shown me that she can't even fight her own campaign battles without Bill getting involved. I don't want a weak President in the White House. She has proven that she can't do anything without Bill, she is not what this country needs. Obama is my preference, if he does not get nominated, Then McCain or Romney all of the way!!

    January 26, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  19. Tizzy

    When you say 'as an African American', what has John Kerry done for you. It exposes that you do not want to improve your life, It shows that you do not understand that with John Kerry (a White) endorsing and supporting Obama that he is accepting that you an African American can be free to be anything in America even the President while you may have spent all your life voting for the Clintons (12 years in Arkansas and 8 at the White House) who do not accept that you being an African American can be free to be anything in the United States.
    Think zookyu. Obama is a scholar, Obama is brilliant, Obama is an examplary African American, if the Clintons say he is not fit to rule America then you can imagine what think of you. Is it ok for you to keep voting for who despises you.
    The Bible stresses the equality of man before God which the Clintons do not practice. John Kerry should be praised. Obama will bring unity and change to the United States. Vote for him.

    January 26, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  20. Kimmie, Yorba Linda, CA

    Thanks Kerry! You have said what most of us here in California are thinking. Bill Clinton lied when he was running for the White House, while he was in the White House and now while he's trying to get back into the White House. The man and his wife (right wing conspiracy," "Rose law firm reapearing documents," stolen furniture from the White House, "I'm not just standing by my man") are JUST PLAIN LIARS!! If anybody tries to tell me to believe these people again, I will think they are insane. Same old people doing the same old things and expecting a different result = clinical insanity. I'm voting Obama.

    January 26, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  21. Louis, New York

    If Hillary can't control what Bill is saying and doing on the campaign trail, how will she control him in the white house while she is supposed to be making so many decisions about our country? How will she handle the bimbo control issues and his tirades then?

    They have split the party down the middle, forget the republicans, they have made war on democrats. No one will work with her if elected. Bill has ruined his legacy with his antics. Very undignified. If I want drama, I'll turn on a soap opera, not National news thank you.

    I'll vote republican first before I vote for them.

    January 26, 2008 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  22. RM

    Also, just because a person does not win a presidential election, does not disqualify the person of being able to speak out about what is correct or incorrect in his view. It sounds like there are a lot of people still lashing out about 2004 election, we need to let it go...just let it go, and look forward. That is the problem with many Democrats, it is time to wake up to 2008 and look forward. You are not going to be able to go back to 1992/1996 even if you vote for his wife. Crying about 2000 and 2004 elections is not going to help either. I personally plan on looking forward, and going with the candidate that does not have a zillion ties to the old politics of the 90's, yet has our main and best interests at heart. If for once Democrats could solidify with one candidate and stop looking backwards, I believe many ideas and expectations could be achieved. The problem is few are willing to look forward and fight to make a real difference.

    January 26, 2008 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  23. jaybird

    Advice to Obama; Don't stand next to him when he launches grenades!

    January 26, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  24. Sam Coleman

    John Kerry should shut up. We Democrats supported him, and he screwed up and lost to an idiot who should never have occupied the White House, and who should have been easily defeated. He has no one to complain about other than himself and his own shortcomings.

    January 26, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  25. Abhinandan Katkuri

    Good that Kerry was'nt elected in 2004. He would have gone against the nation (all people of America who vote for him) like he is going against the people who helped his campaign (The Clintons) in 2004.

    I had respect for Kerry but after he started supporting Obama, I am thinking twice.

    Obama is good but I dont think he is President materiall. This is not a time for America to look for a change specially with the state in which George W Bush is leaving the Presidncy and the country. Had it been in 2000, I would say "Get on Obama. Lets get a change"

    Right now what AMERCIA needs is consolidation and a return to be the superpower it is. To do that the Clinton's are the best bet because they have already proven a lot in the past during the 8 years when Bill was president.

    "The known devil is better than the unknown devil especially in bad times."

    January 26, 2008 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
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