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. Barbara, NH

    Angelina make me #3 and I know of many more that will do this. I am a white, female, senior citizen registered as an Independent voter who became a Democrat as long as it took me to mark my ballot and after that registered as an Independent before i left the polling place. I vote for the individual and not a party. I will be in the polling booth but my "X" will not be for Hillary and I can not say, at this time, who will be receiving my "X".

    January 26, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. I Luv Hillary

    John Kerry, failed Presidential Candidate, should be considered an expert on the concept of stretching the truth. Did I mention that he served in Vietnam? Well maybe 230+ Swift boaters are just liars! Anyway, he and Bill are in the same camp and I feel Obama will suffer from both. The change we need in this country is to put these political dinosaurs in historical storage!

    January 26, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. smedleyb

    It's obvious that leftties can't spell and they critisize us ? How many of the respondants have a BS from Yale and an MBA from Harvard ? George has.

    January 26, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. Dave G

    I can't believe either one of them. What a hoot!!!

    January 26, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. smedleyb


    Obama was not in the Senate when that vote was taken. Get your facts straight.

    January 26, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Tim

    Isn't it strange that Libs call Kerry a sore loser-but but not Al Gore.
    Bush is a liar-but not the Clintons. My what a mixed-up world they live in.

    January 26, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. A discouraged Democrate

    Being a moderate Democrat for many years, I must say that I am sick and tired of the Clintons. I made up my mind: if Clinton is going to win the nomination, I will sit out or even vote for the Republican (depends who it is) this coming fall. Somebody who does and says anything just to become President – no matter what the facts are – should never become President.

    January 26, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Shatner

    To Debbie in CA,
    I really think you are in error about your demographics for New Hampshire Results. Obama received a majority of his votes from sections of NH that are remote and disadvantaged! That is factual! Just look at the maps and the truth is there. In almost every area of high density and secondary education locations, Hillary Won. So for you to say that Obama took the educated vote is absolutely INCORRECT!

    I lived in NH for almost 30 years and I will tell you the truth...that New Hampshire has one of the fewest populations of blacks. I say that not as a racist but trying to cover the entire array of darker skinned individuals.

    Now at the same time... South Carolina will vote heavy because of the opposite reasons. SC will cast a strong Obama voting results! Just like Oprah... who turned her back on her female followers to cast her preference for a black man!

    The election is a popularity contest not one built of experience nor honesty. It is clear that Obama has no experience while the Clintons have questionable honesty. People will vote for "their kind" and that is visible in elections around the globe!

    January 26, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. Chris Texas

    A Different Educated Voter::

    Surely you must know, generalizing something as complex as educated vs uneducated support towards one particular candidate makes you somewhat of an idiot.

    Are you telling me that only Educated people are able to think for themselves?

    You must be young and in college. I finished my college, but do plan to return.

    I have looked at all three candidates. And this is my opinion:

    Hillary Clinton has been in politics for 35+ years. She has fought for many different things including women's rights in corporate america. She was first lady to a man who "some" people lable as one of the most horrible presidents. Many of those people were still with mommy and daddy during that time. The Clintons are politics and I felt sorry for a newcomer like Obama to go against the machine.

    Barack Obama has experience in politics, altho not as much as Clinton. He is a great motivational speaker and I can understand how he appeals to the younger crowd. This man has more charisma than Hillary, he's like Bill was back in the 90's. His record however says alot about his character. His present votes and his missed votes are something I can't look over. Also, when Hillary was front runner in this nomination, both Barack and Edwards attacked her. Now when Hillary attacks back, Barack calls foul. Barack does not have the structure to stand up agains the Republican party. Tho Democrats have the help of the Bush Administration this next election.

    John Edwards would make a great president. He has shown he is above the mudslinging, but he has also shown he can throw a punch. Edwards hasn't been in the spotlight so I have yet to tell if he can take a punch. Obama has been showing alot of frustration with the Clinton campaign.

    Democrats. You all need to step back and take another look. All three of these nominee's have lied. All three of these nominee's have cheated. They are regular people like you and I. This race has divided the democratic party so badly, we may not stand a chance come november. The people to blame for this segregation are not the nominee's, but the people who are so stubborn, they'd rather throw away their needs, their beliefs, and their goals, than vote for another democrat with the same needs, beliefs, and goals.

    Hillary Clinton is leading in the national poles. A clear front runner needs to be decided come February 5th so that we can put aside this petty segregation, and start supporting our democratic candidate for president.

    The Government is in such a trench right now it's going to take someone who knows Washington to get us out.

    Hillary already knows the floor plan of the whitehouse. Obama will need a tour.

    January 26, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. Paul

    What a jerk Kerry is, first his endorsement over his former running mate was very dishonorable, second his bashing of Bill Clinton. We all know Kerry has issues with the Clintons. But if people remember he had to pretty much beg Bill Clinton to campaign in states like Pennsylvania. How was it possible for someone to loose against George Bush??? I'll tell you the reason why, because Kerry ran a terrible Campaign, he had to bring the Clintons in at the last minute to revive his status even in Blue States. With that being said, I voted for the guy and even worked and donated to his campaign. I know in my heart this is another Kerry machine move for future prospects. This guy has a large network, do not forget this.

    January 26, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Fair,Washington,Dc

    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.

    So let me get this straight...I am Black so I am supposed to vote for Obama and I'm somehow showing my allegiance to the Clinton's if I vote for Hillary...get over your crap dude...I am black and I am voting for Hillary because I think she is the best candidate ...period.

    January 26, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Kathy in New York

    Obama is biracial, black and white. I don't have to be black in order to relate to him or feel that he understands my challenges as an ordinary American. I think that reducing the vote to a racial vote is a miscalculation on the part of the Clintons. It is like reducing a vote for Hillary as a feminist vote (if so, how ironic).

    Bill Clinton has every right to support his wife in her campaign but that does not have to include dumping on her opponents with lies, smears, and plants/shills. You can support someone without tearing other people down. Laura Bush interviewed during the last election and all she did was boost her husband and I thought that was the key to her appeal.

    The accusations of Kerry being "disloyal" is laughable when discussed in relation to the Clintons. Anyone with a large enough wallet can easily purchase their loyalty, or at least a picture of it.

    January 26, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. EvaHawn

    People have short memories of the Clintons - the absolute shame Bill brought to it and the impeachment! Who is going to represent us around the world, weakling Hillary? Strong in words when she has her "loving hubby" speaking for her. When she doesn't get her way with other world leaders, does she bring Billy in to fight her battles? Is Billy going to fight her battles on the Hill?? Wake up, America!! Let's get some fresh blood into OUR WHITE HOUSE!! We have an intelligent bi-racial, well educated young man who is able and willing to lead!! Let's keep our White House cleaned of the Clintons and elect Obama!!!

    January 26, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. A CA Republican

    As a republican, I'd like to weigh in with my thoughts on this.

    I watched as much of the Demo debate that I could tolerate on Monday night and walked away thinking that John Edwards should just stand on the sidelines and watch these two gasbags self-destruct. Neither of them is worthy of the respect that the President of this country deserves. In fact, Edwards could rise to the occasion and every time he's called on, answer the question, point out where he stands on things and then watch the fireworks when Clinton and Obama tear into each other. I

    As for Bill, it's always been the practice that former Presidents have stayed out of presidential elections. This campaign is an interesting situation where he's the spouse of a candidate, something where he has the chance to set the tone for how this case is handled in the future. Unfortunately for the nation, he's falling back into the standard MO for the Clintons in a campaign. Kind of sad.

    January 26, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Brian

    I don't get why the hoi polloi on here are so dismissive of Kerry simply because he didn't win in 2004. Do you really think this man is a sore loser? Remarkable people lose elections all the time and go on to remarkable and relevant careers. Walter Mondale? George McGovern? Al Gore? This isn't an episode of "Smackdown," for Christ's sake.

    January 26, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. Progressive.Student

    Kerry is completely ridiculous. First he has the audacity to not support his former running mate and next his impertinence allows him to blast a former president. Kerry didn't win his bid because of character and his attitude is thus again reflecting his lack of authenticity.

    January 26, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. Lawrence S

    watching the Clintons fight the other Democrats like 2 cats thrown in a bag. I love it. The thought of having to look at or listen to another glib Clinton for the next four years literally turns my stomach. I've never been a Democrat, but Barack Obama inspires me. He is articulate, intelligent and not a dissembler like Billary. He or John McCain would be wonderful Presidents.

    January 26, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. HC

    Clinton is being slammed by everyone at CNN and the obama hate machine; obama is a divider.... look at national delegates ya'll SC does not matter

    January 26, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. smedleyb

    When you are hiring a person to be the CEO of a country, don't you think it might be a good idea to hire some one who has experience as a CEO ?? None of the Dems do. Fact. All of the leading Republicans do. No brag, just fact. Get real people.

    January 26, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Tom Gilson

    I am for from a John kerry fan. I do think his views are off from mine...But way to Mr. Kerry!!! Launch a few bombs at ole Slick Willie!

    January 26, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. Anne Armstrong

    I am deeply disappointed in the Clintons because of the false attacks on Barack Obama.
    For years I trusted Bill Clinton, considering him one of our brightest presidents. Now, I reject that viewpoint.
    Obama radiates something that the others do not have– a universality, an inclusivity that America desperately needs. He is a forerunner with regards to a certain unity consciousness that is becoming more and more widespread. I hope that he and Edwards enter the White House. Obama as president and Edwards as vice president. It is not only foreign terrorism that needs to be addressed, but the domestic terrorism created by Big Business with their immense power and insatiable greed.

    January 26, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. HARRY A

    Kerry you are 100% right......... Bill clinton should chill............

    January 26, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Dave Seattle

    I had been a consistent supporter of the Clintons from the days of his glorious elections to the painful and shameful days of his impeachment hearing. Not for a moment did I ever think that Bill would degenerate so low to humiliate the office of presidency as is currently doing for his wife. I thought he genuienly loves and cares about togetherness of democractic party, but now it is clear that his ambition to be in the white house for another 8 years has blinded him from the truth, respect and integrity. Why will a former president of the greatest nation on earth engage in the recent mud throwing all because you want your wife to win primaries?

    Well, the fall out will be bigger than any statistical estimates could have computed.
    For me and many of my friends, the damage is permanent!. Hillary will never get my vote. I will vote for any Republican "grown up" before I consider democrat's fighting babies. Where is common sense, where is decency, where is integrity, and where is honesty? Is it true that the Clintons will say and do anything to fulfil their ambitions of getting elected? I won't bow to the mess!

    January 26, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. Karen in CT

    While I could only read about 20 of these comments before getting dizzy ... my very first thought is ....

    The Clintons, seeing a Hillary bid in the 4 year offing, did practically nothing to help Kerry get elected.

    This looks like 'payback' to me.

    January 26, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. smedleyb

    Please, don't let me confuse you with logic.

    January 26, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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