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. mx

    why is cnn so biased against Hillary? they never post my comments esp when i bring up the race factor in all of the states outside the south; Iowa the delegates were split so did Hillary really lose there? All CNN does is slam HC and blame her for dirty campiagning; obama threw in the race card and it will destroy him...

    Clinton 08

    January 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Jennifer

    The attacks between Obama and "Hillarhea" regarding race: all from the party who claims to not be racist. Absolutely sickening. Re-read your history books people. Oh..........what's that hissing and sucking sound??? The Democratic party going down the tubes in spite of themselves.

    January 26, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. Bonnie, Parkersburg, WV

    The Clintons should have quietly left the political arena, many years ago. Their exit is long overdue and will not be made with grace. They must first finish destroying the Democratic Party. This money mad/power hungry pair should never have been in the White House. Americans must not forget the sleaze factor and the "do nothing" administration of Bill Clinton. If you want to see our country go to hell in a hand basket – elect Hil. And remember, Bill is included in the deal.

    January 26, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  4. Rachel

    Clinton Supporters –

    If your candidate becomes elected, you are effectively giving the White House to the republican party. Think about that. She is the MOST divisive candidate out there – half of the American people say they would flat-out NOT vote for her if she was the nominee. And this is only January! If she continues the way she has been (which she will) – I can't imagine how many more people will jump on that bandwagon. I for one will hope there is a 3rd party candidate I can support if she is nominated, because I don't want to have to stay home on election day (and it's not going to be McCain, Huckabee, Romney, or whoever is left over there).

    We cannot afford to give this election so easily to the republican party, especially when their nominees are so pathetic in the first place! It is time for a change from the policies of the GWBush party.

    Just something to consider.

    January 26, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. louarcher

    I think John Kerry is kissing Obama`s butt, hoping to get VP. Obama isn`t that dumb! I hope!

    January 26, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. J.Wheeler

    Democrats must stop attacking Democrats. It's one thing to disagree with a policy; it's another to attack on a personal level. Democrats should do everything they can to be supportive of other Dems and not give fuel to our collective enemy - the Republicans, who will use every scrap to discredit any Democrat. We don't need to give Karl Rove and his gang of 'swift-boaters' any more ammunition. Grow up boys and girls. Our lives and our futures are on-the-line.

    Fed up in Austin.

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

    Hillary keeps talking about her years of "experience". Based on that... expect to see Gisele Bundchen start the Super Bowl in place of the injured Tom Brady.

    Laura Bush 2012 !

    January 26, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. Mike

    Think about it !!! Democratic party can't afford another lose in this coming Nov after 2000 and 2004. If Bill Clinton didn't do it now Republican will !! It is better for Obama being tested in primary.

    January 26, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. Marsh

    I guess Kerry means that only politicians in office have the "license to abuse the truth".

    January 26, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. Jason

    I'm not shocked that Kerry has jumped on the Obama bandwagon; I'm just disgusted with how Obama has mislead not only him, but so many voters. Countless democrats I know have vowed to vote Republican if Obama is on the winning democratic ticket. Tragic, but absolutely necessary.

    January 26, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  11. Espi

    Endorsement from Kerry the loser is the kiss of death. Obama beware! Bill was a successful President with a very high approval rating even today. His endorsement of Hillary thus has true value. Journos take upon themselves the roles of judge, jury and prosecution when discussing Hillary's criticism of Obama. Hillary's comments are dubbed "divisive" and "polarizing" while all manner of spin is offered to soften and obfuscate the impact of Obama's comments on Hillary. Obama now shamelessly courts the black vote and yet has the audacity to call himself a "uniter". Come 5th February, Obama will be shown the door by voters and Hillary will be the nominee!!

    January 26, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. ray in connecticut

    So, Democrats are just figuring out that Bill Clinton is truth impaired?

    January 26, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. Julia, California

    By supporting Obama, Kerry is intensifying the infighting of the demos. Edward was his ruuning mate! I feel much better this time for his loss. I can not vote for Obama as he is playing with the race card. Even if he wins S.C., he can not win the majority. I can not understand why some hate the Clintons so much. Don't you think the Clinton years were much much better than the Bush years? Wife can campaign for husband, why not the other way around? Anyone is better than Bush. But Hillary and Edward are better than Obama in experience. Vote for Clinton and Edward ticket!

    January 26, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. A Different Educated Voter in CA

    Debbie in CA,
    That's a creative line about how saying only uneducated voters are voting for Senator Clinton is just one more way to hold down her vote.

    Unfortunately for your argument, the demographics are what the demographics are. The fundamental reason Senator Clinton won in New Hampshire and Nevada is because of non-college educated voters and women. That's how it is. Now, is that to say that no college educated voters are voting for her? Of course not. Since you're a pharmacist, you obviously know how to read statistics.

    But, the bottom line is that Senator Obama has dominated Senator Clinton is the vote amongst educated voters who are able to think for themselves and see through the masterful spin that Clinton perpetuates (including for example the whole "experience" thing which is much more rhetoric than reality to use one of her terms).

    Just the facts ma'am.

    January 26, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. Nita

    What did Obama promise Kerry VP? It doesnt really matter who supported the war the truth is no one can go in and pull the troops out in one day. Get real. Don't worry our country is about to run out of money – so hence the military comes back and are out of jobs.

    January 26, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. Cynthia

    So John Kerry has spoken some truth at last – and about Bill Clinton to boot. Yes, I'm surprised because first of all, he didn't use his favorite euphemism "misleading". Abuse of truth is so much cuter, don't you think. I've finally come to the conclusion that he just can't spit out the word lie so he puts that education of his to work and uses bigger words and phrases.

    I have no use for Kerry or Clinton (take your pick as to B or H) but I have to give Kerry credit for saying it out loud instead of on the phone in secret has been alleged to have happened with Ted Kennedy. There has to be that moment when the Democrat leaders finally say out loud "have you no shame?" Of course the answer to that is no, they don't have any shame because sociopaths aren't wired the same way we are – and I suspect that Hills is as big of one as Bill has proven to be. Do we really want these losers to run our country? We all know that if she's elected Bill will be right there insinuating himself into the process – frankly, the 1990s weren't great enough I want to see them repeated into the 2010s. Dems, it's up to you to take away their power and tell them to go back to the hills of Arkansas.

    January 26, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. vicky smart

    John Kerry, thank you for speaking the truth. We need more J. Kerry to speak out.
    Bill Clinton should chill out, and sit down. 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.

    January 26, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  18. billclintoon las vegas NV

    Liberals are natural born liars. If they didn't have all the liberal media domination, they would be run out of this country. Kerry is like the kettle calling the pot black.
    I'm proud the swift boat guys told the truth and exposed kerry, like kerry is now doing to clinton.

    January 26, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Where were Kerry's "cajones" while the T. Boone Pickens-funded Swift Boat Vets were laying him wide open with lies?!?!?!

    And Personal Lucas McCain:

    The Swifties were outed by ONI 2 years ago – they admitted to lying and getting paid in excess of $300,000 to do it. Paid by Pickens, under directions from Rove.

    January 26, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. larry on LI

    just like the kettle calling the pot black

    January 26, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Melanie

    We are talking about race in this primary (especially SC) since Billary's comments (which, even as a white person, I cringed at the LBJ comment when I heard it). Let's look at this- I know black people very well, so much that I know most of them feel that their voice is unheard in politics.

    All this primary proves is that Obama can motivate people to get involved- this is commonly students and blacks who feel they are uninterested for one reason or another. So of course, there are those who will vote for a black person or woman just because of that, more importantly, however, this is about change and that Obama has motivated those that were once uninterested to get involved- thus invigorating black people!

    I will not ignore that since the famous "comments" were made by the Billary push, it certainly caused some to changeover from Clinton to Obama- but most importantly, this is about all the people that did not used to vote, that will vote now for Obama.

    January 26, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  22. Lee

    One of your commenters called Obama a "crybaby" and I just have to laugh at that because it was Hillary Clinton who shed crocadile tears after loosing in Iowa in order to consolidate the white female vote. If we Democrats had any sense at all we would see what is in store if we nominate "the Clintons". The GOP will have an absolute field day rehashing all of the scandals of the 90's. Are we really that naive? She can not win! I actually don't believe that Obama can either for obvious reasons (race and experience) , John Edwards is our best bet but the news media have already decided that Hillary is the nominee by writing off Edwards. America will get exactly what it deserves, another 8 years of GOP rule!

    January 26, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. TerryA

    John Kerry lecturing someone about being truthful? Does he think we have forgotten the myriad of sound bites of him contradicting himself on a daily basis during the last election?

    For all you that insist on misusing the term "African Americans", please get it straight. Unless you were BORN somewhere in Africa and then became a US citizen, you are not an African American. Plain and simple. How difficult is that for one to comprehend?

    One of the funniest news stories on this subject last year was from Brittain. A news journalist referred to a mob of rioting black youths as "African Americans". The riots occurred in England and the journalist was Brittish. Oops!

    January 26, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. DM'Smith

    Neither the media nor Obama's supporters are not helping him with all the whining about criticism from others. It really smacks of immaturity!

    It is disingenious to twist comments into divisiveness, such as screaming racism when Hillary gave credit to Pres Johnson for his push to make new laws to support ML King. One leader's actions does not negate the others–both played critical roles and our country needed both of them. Grow up guys and start looking into ways we can make our country great again–not the greedy global bully we've degenerated in.

    If you want real change, elect Hillary. Quit pointing at a gender issue and look at her intelligence, level-headedness, committment, integrity and experience. She has already been tested and proved.

    January 26, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. John Edwards

    I jst wanted to say that my former running mate is a great guy, it is just unfortunate that his judgement leads him towads the path of blind idealism, if he endorsed me people would recognize he believed in our goal and that is to take back washington from the lobbyist and make sure the proud American would get what he deservers, a brighter future for himself his children and his childrens children, I as president would stand up and fight for the right because I took come from the clss which struggles most in these times of economic turmoil.

    January 26, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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