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. DD

    My words to Bill Clinton, Give truth a chance, give the genuine man of our generation a chance, give change we can trust a change ??????? So where you give a change and you proved yourself then!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Unless you forgot something in the whitehouse that you want your wife to help you collect, otherwise, give truth a chance and support your wife with the dignity of an elderly state man.

    January 26, 2008 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  2. Rich

    Kerry is just another person criticizing Clinton for "attacking" Obama, without responding to the criticism of Obama. They say that accusing someone of "attacking" you works with voters, but we'll see. At some point, I think a person has to stand up and defend his record and positions on the merits.

    January 26, 2008 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  3. Bob

    I used to respect the Clintons. I voted for Bill twice. Now they disgust me.

    January 26, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  4. Donna, NJ

    Did I miss something here? People are calling Obama a "cry- baby" becasue he defended himself against the Clintons dirty politics? Wasn't it Hillary who teared up and choked up when she realized she could very well lose to Obama in NH? As a woman, I was so unimpressed with her "tears", and even less impressed with the women who rallied around her just because her feelings were hurt. What had Obama said to trigger her "meltdown"? Interesting...the woman who asked Hillary the question actually voted for Obama. Thank God for "clarity of thought."
    I trust the same kind of wisdom and scrutiny will prevail not just in South Carolina, but throught the entire race to the White House.

    January 26, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  5. Vietnam Vet

    I can never forgive John Kerry for his defamatory and untrue testimony before Congress in the 1970s about the conduct of US troops and their leadership in Vietnam.
    But I can now commend him for his bravery as the most prominent Obama supporter to speak out against the Clinton slime machine and risk incurring the wrath of Billary. Where are you , Ted Kennedy?

    January 26, 2008 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  6. Sue in Florida

    Have no fear, Hillary is more than able to run the country without Bill. You surely mean to speak those insecurities about Obama, don't you? As for Kerry, can't believe that those who disliked him so much 4 years ago are praising him for attempting to add to Obama's campaign. Unfortunately, enough people disliked him then and more now, that it actually takes away from Obama's aspirations. All for the sake of getting his face in the news again. I am a democrat and somehow John Kerry got my name on a mailing list of his. Never heard from him before he sought the presidency, now he sends out regular mail about issues before Congress and how we should feel or that we should notify our representatives immediately. NOW people, these are left over aspirations for an office that money could not buy him last time. Hopefully, he will go count his money and stay out of politics for both candidates sakes but more so the democrat party. I don't dislike Obama, I do feel he ran before he was ready. Wish he would have waited this one out and gotten more experience. That is what frightens me about his seeking the office of Presidency. Hope our party can be at peace soon.

    January 26, 2008 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  7. roger, conway sc

    The media has made a big deal out of this mess....Bill is campaining & telling LIES for Hillary just like Elizabeth is for John & Mrs. Obama is for Barak so what is the big deal. Bill is the former president & like all of us he has freedom of speech, if you don't like what he has to say tune him out...The media has turned this into a nightmare & if you have watched, CNN has become more & more like FOX they favor Obama just like FOX favors the GOP. If you remember a few months back the Obama's & Edward's were attacking Clinton from all sides, she laid low & when she started attacking back Obama started whining & crying FOWL, he is lame, if he thinks the Clintons are bad just wait until the GOP gets a hold of his behind, I am sure CNN & Jim Clyburn will be their to comfort him. As far as Kerry getting into the mess, typical the mess is almost over & now he speaks, just like when he ran for the Oval office too little too late that is one of the reasons he lost to GW, he waited too late to fire back....I feel certain Obama will take SC but it will be because of the black vote not the white, most white's feel that Obama was the one who played the race card not the Clintons & he has done nothing but whined & cried....VOTE Edwards 08....

    January 26, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  8. Murph

    Why do all of these women support Hillary when she is married to a man who violated a woman with a cigar under the family's roof? If you will cheat on your wife and daughter, you will surely cheat our country!

    January 26, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  9. JB Boston MA


    I challenge you to go to any ticker story that has Hillary Clinton, and find one whose comments don't contain anger, hatred, questions of morality, integrity and overall concern.

    This is not just coming from Republicans, but Democrats as well.

    My question for you: Why would you want to divide the Democratic party like that, and drive a large wedge into the country. That is what she will do. And the divide you are seeing within the Democrats will not heal.

    Why do you want to force this woman on a country that finds 46% of the public questioning her integrity and morality.

    If you don't like Obama vote for Edwards, but don't destroy this country!!

    January 26, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  10. Ken Kyle

    Why all the media bias for John McCain? Isn't America picking the GOP nominee? I listen to CNN on satellite radio and the coverage is so heavy for McCain, you folks are shamelessly shaping the outcome of these primaries. Keep your bias to yourselves!

    January 26, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  11. Bud

    If people think Bush is bad wait until we have another four years of the couple who wouldn't know the truth if it hit them you know where.

    Enough of the Bushes and Clintons.

    Great to see the Demos eating each other.

    January 26, 2008 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  12. ???

    Abuse the truth? A P/Correct cannot even use the proper words...
    it is called a LIE. A lie by anyother name is still just a lie.
    I have seen each of the canidates say whatever is convienent to please the group to whom they speak....Clinton, Romney, Obama, McCain,

    .....Longing for a truthful godly leader.

    A President does not need to know how to solve all the countries problems, he needs to be a leader to point the direction, protect and uphold the contitution. A president once was someone to whom Honor was worthy. We were proud of them, they represented us... now it is mostly disdain, the one with the most believable lie and biggest wallet is America' s President...in no small part to modern news, thank you news media

    January 26, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  13. Larry

    John Kerry gave Clinton a license to lie when he voted against conviction in the impeachment trial about lying under oath in a civil case.

    If He votes that its ok to lie in violation of the law, how can Kerry object to campaign lies of which he is also a good practitioner.

    January 26, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  14. voteforme008

    Ben, Columbus, Ohio; you are right. John Kerry could not fight for his own election. I will vote republican before listen to him.

    January 26, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  15. Donna, NJ

    Talk about "abusing the truth", Nation, please take a moment to view "THE VIDEO THAT HILLARY DOESN'T WANT YOU TO SEE" on the Internet. It is free of media bias since every major news company aired it for months because of how serious it was, including FOX, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, etc. In short, Hillary just barely escaped real jail time for major election rules violations during her NY State Senate campaign and the Clintons relationship with promoter Peter Paul. What a Mess! Paul was no "saint", (who engages with the Clintons are?), but he raised lots of money for Hillary only to be deceived and almost destroyed by them. One of the Clinton flunkeys wound up taking the "fall" for Hillary just to keep her out of jail. The Clintons in turn act like Peter Paul does not exist. ...."Abusing the truth?"....Hmmmmm?

    January 26, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  16. Joseph benJudah

    What did President Clinton actually do to help and protect the State of Israel? Now he is attacking Senator Obama for statementes that the Senator never mad. Give me a break.! Signed Joseph benJudah

    January 26, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  17. constant

    "Kerry was beat by an Idiot"? Who voted the IDIOT in...TWICE???!!!!
    THe CLINTON DIRTY POLITICS MACHINE has used the REPUPLICAN TACTIC created by ROVE/CHENEY/ BUSH and any American who FALLS for this...
    deserves the LIAR they vote into office.
    As a Democrat, the CLINTONS make me SICK with their TACTICS!
    RUNNING ON CHANGE! What in the past few weeks have the CLINTONS shown change. Attack, lie, attack some more. Then when pressed to defend himself Barack is criticized as a whiner. Just like KERRY. The Republicans knew what they were doing, it was a big plan, and it worked, we feel for it! Don't blame Kerry, blame yourself America for FALLING FOR A TACTIC.
    CLINTONS...the CHANGED DEMOCRATS....Bill is the new CARL ROVE!
    We deserve another IDIOT....... if we fall for this!

    January 26, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  18. Mamie

    The dems and others can say criticize all they want, when the final votes come out all of these posers will vote for Clinton because she is a dem.

    I just read a column in the LA Times,Jonathan Chait, who said just this. This makes this guy just as phony as his article. He saids that they were liars and so forth, but he will vote for them anyway. What a bunch of crap. So his comments have no meaning whatsoever.

    Kerry will support and vote for the Clintons, and so will every other dem. This is just a bunch of nonsense so that the dems can feel morally superior to the Clintons, which is not going very far, and at the same time vote for them.

    Complete hypocracy. But then that is not surprising coming from the dems.

    January 26, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  19. Joe Biden

    Do the Clintons realize that their tag-team politics is their Achilles heel? It will win the nomination and cost them the election. Americans will not elect this dynamic duo of power hungry, egocentric, unscrupulous, scandal ridden demigods. Just imagine a marriage of Nixon and GWBush in a liberal costume! The Clintons must be stopped before they finish this implosion of the Democratic Party. Do they care about the party? No way! They will party like it's 2999 and dance on the ashes of any Democratic victory that doesn't include them. If they can't win, kill 'em. Remember, they're from Arkansas. They're ready for a shoot out and will leave no one standing. If I had my way they would be exiled to Bagdad until Christmas, 2008.

    January 26, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  20. Matt S

    Huge numbers of young voters have turned out to vote and caucus for Barack Obama yet the Clinton campaign still tries to make him out to be the "black candidate".

    If Mrs Clinton wins the nomination this campaign strategy will hurt her in the end because these same young Democrats will revert back to being the same apathetic under thirty-five year olds as they were in previous elections.

    Record turnouts for the Democratic primaries have little to nothing to do with Clinton or Edwards.

    January 26, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  21. billdski

    to pazzenthru: "truth is a relative thing" Ha the Clintons couldn't have said it better themselves – loser

    January 26, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  22. JMarno

    All the losing John Kerry comments here lack any substance. . . and therefore tells me you must lack substance. Just an ugly rant that most humans seem to get easily sucked into. . .

    Sad that you can't take people for what they have done, and appreciate the fact that Kerry was the Democratic nominee for a really good reason. . .most people I think just couldn't understand more than 3 words. . .(partly why Bush won) Kerry was too intelligent for the average Joe, and the average Joe would rather have a beer with Bush than try to understand what Kerry was saying, I wonder if that's partly anyone's problem who can't see the patriotism, goodness and integrity that is in the man, John Kerry? Or, are you just being a sore loser?

    January 26, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  23. pax ton

    What kind of people hate half the nation? The Clintons! Hillary coined the phrase "right wing conspiracy" because of her communist leanings. And Bill just loves power – over anything and anyone. Scary thought to imagine the 2 of them in the White House again, chasing the women.

    January 26, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  24. joe

    The only person who would have had this picture is
    Rezco, proving that he and Obama are still dirty dealin

    January 26, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  25. Alice, VA

    What an OXYMORON, to use "Truth" and "Clinton" in the same sentence! The goings on in the Democrat Party is no shock to many of us that do not respect Clinton. He may be regarded as the greatest living American politician, but is that really a compliment?

    January 26, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
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