January 28th, 2008
07:08 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton campaign advisers: Bill Clinton 'needs to stop'

(CNN) - Democratic sources supportive of and regularly in touch with the Clinton campaign describe what one calls "a huge wave" of sentiment that Bill Clinton "needs to stop."

The sources - who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject - act as either unpaid advisers or surrogates for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Interviewed separately, they agreed that the former president's recent headline-generating statements "hurt more than helped" his wife's South Carolina campaign.

His comments criticized as racially insensitive, the verbal sparring with Barack Obama, and his "scolding" of the media are "distractions," say these Clinton supporters. Hillary Clinton, says one, "needs to take and be the lead."

The former president has long been renowned for his adept political skills. But he is "missing a beat" and has "become tone deaf" about the dynamic he has brought to his wife's campaign, according to one source who has known both Clintons for decades.

"Something has happened," says the source. "He just wants to help her too much, or maybe protect his own legacy too much."

Another source, who worked in the Clinton administration, called it "unbelievable" that the former president linked Barack Obama's South Carolina victory to Rev. Jesse Jackson's wins in 1984 and 1988 in the state.

Though Clinton campaign had invested considerable time and money in South Carolina, the former president's remark was interpreted by some as an attempt to dismiss Obama's win as an expected outcome in a state where more than half of Democratic primary voters were African-American.

The introduction of race as an issue in the 2008 Democratic contest has caused angst and anger in the Democratic Party over the past few weeks - including what one source described as an "angry" phone conversation between the former president and Sen. Ted Kennedy just after the New Hampshire primary.

In the phone call, Kennedy expressed his alarm that race had been injected into the campaign to the detriment of the party.

Kennedy and his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, today endorsed Obama's campaign at a Washington, D.C. campaign event. They were joined by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late John F. Kennedy, who endorsed Obama Sunday in a New York Times editorial.

There was no suggestion from the sources critical of Mr. Clinton's recent campaign appearances that he should be sidelined, only that he "depart from the headlines and center stage."

Former President Clinton, with an approval rating of over 80 percent among Democrats, is seen overall as a potential asset, said these sources. But he needs to be his "summer self," said a long-time Clinton supporter - when he made fewer headlines, and focused on his wife's resume and policy proposals.

There was also unanimous agreement on the part of the critics that the only person with the sway to change Bill Clinton's high-profile role is the candidate herself, Hillary Clinton.

The Clinton campaign was not immediately available for comment.

soundoff (1,024 Responses)
  1. roger olson

    The old saying is if you can't stand the heat get out of the Kitchen. If Obama can't take the heat from the Clinton's than he'll never survive as president. If he thinks the Clinton's are tough how is he going to deal with Republicans. These individuals are running for president of the United States not the PROM. This country is in crisis and we are concerned because Bill Clinton is getting agressive. This is exactly what we need. Those democrats that live in la la land vote Obama. You can all walk the road of fantasy together. But some of us live in the real world with real issues. Words aren't going to solve this. Bill Clinton did a good job as president. I am not voting for perfection or superman. I am voting for a real person who I think can do the job. So far Obama's behavoir is that of a victum. He needs to put on his adult pants and get with the program if he wants to lead this country. We don't need another 8 years of La La Land. So far Hillary Clinton has shown me she can do the job and truly can put her words into action.

    January 29, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. anonymous

    Great comments and points of views by so many but, most of you have missed the point. The remarks were not aimed at SC voters, The SC vote was a foregone conclusion the real aim was Super Tuesday voters. It was more of a strategic division of race within the democratic party that the Clintons were aiming for, where they would have the advantage. I don't like it, most of us don't like it but, tune in for the results later this evening and watch all the so called experts be bewildered by the outcome.

    January 29, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. Amy

    WILL HILLARY HAVE BILL AS HER VP?????? The law allows for it. Was this the Clinton plan all along for a third term for Bill? Remember Bill wanted to change the constitution to allow for a third term.

    January 29, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. JDC

    Most of America is tired of the names Clinton and Bush. Enough said!

    January 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. James L

    Bottom line. ... In 2008 you can't critize a black man. .. that makes you a racist or insensitive to the minorities. ... That's a bunch of crap. ... The press is simply tap dancing around Obama and are simply afraid to say anything negative. ... The bottom line is this. ... If Obama is truly the crossover candidate we will see that on Super Tuesday. ... if not he will be viewed as just another Jesse Jackson. ... yeah I said it. ... so you can't blame that on Bill. ...

    January 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Cliff Baker

    It is sad that the TV and printed presses (including the commemtators and pundits) INJECT RACE to the Democratic's Presidential Race.

    The media FOOLISHLY took the baits from Obama surrogates and SC Congressman Clyburn and turns the "fairy tale" comment by former President Clinton, and the "MLK and Johnson" comment by Senator Clinton into the race issue. The fairy tale and MLK and Johnson comments from the Clintons are factual and are NOT racial.

    The media took the “race card” spins from Obama surrogates and SC Congressman Clyburn. The truth is the Obama surrogates and SC Congressman Clyburn play the race card and successfully manipulated the press.

    Congressman Clyburn is NOT neutral. There is nothing wrong for Congressman Clyburn to perform his civic duty by voting for Senator Obama at the polling place. However, Congressman Clyburn is disingenuous for manipulating the press (particularly Joe Scarborough) to wrongly accuse the Clintons of playing the race card.

    I witness Congressman Clyburn used Joe Scarborough of the Morning Joe shown on the S.C. election day. On this particular show Congressman Clyburn implied that the Clintons' "fairy tale" and "MLK/Johnson" comments are "RACIALLY MOTIVATED code words. Joe Scarborough stupidly bought Congressman Clyburn race-bait's trick.

    January 29, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  7. Matt, Houston, TX

    A new record! CNN, you have been 'moderating' my comment since yesterday at 3:53pm even though what I put in it has already been moderated on another comment board. Talk about censorship, I guess my comments just aren't contoversial enough for you.

    January 29, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. licon

    I don't think that Hillary can 'handle' Bill so she should consider taking him to obedience school. I am going to be able to vote soon and i can't wait until Obama becomes president!

    Obama 08

    January 29, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. Agatha

    Roger O and his ilk are just angry that Bill's nastiness has not had the desired effect. Rather it has made Bill look like he's gone off his meds and cannot be controlled, even by his would-be president wife. It also reminds us of all those parts of the Clinton years we have tried to forget. I do not believe that most Clinton supporters have taken any joy in Bill's recent belittling not just of Obama but of the black electorate that was previously so important to Bill's success.

    Obama's message is that to be successful we must all work together: our country needs us. Bill's message is that no one matters but Bill Clinton. It is a message that is in the process of being discredited.

    Obama and his supporters can take whatever comes their way. We do not mistake petty anger for strength. Take the high road and all but a small contingent will follow.

    January 29, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Sophia

    You know the best part of this constant Clinton Bashing? Most of these people were babies when the Clintons last lived in the Whitehouse.
    Anyone of voting age back then will recall with a wry smile, that The Republicans hated Hillary back then & were constantly accusing her of being the "other" President. She has always been strong! You guys just can't have it both ways! Go Hillary!

    January 29, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Richard Uckmann

    Amy your claim of changing the constitution is erroneous at best and a purposeful distortion at worst. I will quote again from a BBC report in 2003. Bill Clinton states "... I think since people are living longer... the 22nd Amendment should probably be modified to say two consecutive terms instead of two terms in a life time..." He has served two consecutive terms therefore he would be ineligible to serve a third or fourth.

    January 29, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. canada

    Not sure why my message did not go up yesterday- strange censorship/moderation here.
    Basically, in a nut shell, my comment is: Sadly, you don't have a leader in the entire line up candidates. The political system that currently exists is corrupt and ego-driven through and through. The 'real' leaders and visionaries of your country are not lining up for the job of President. They are actually out in the world making change and doing good things for the planet.

    January 29, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. Mike Nunn

    One must remember that in the privacy of the voting booth endorsements do not matter.

    January 29, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. Coy FL

    You go Bill If that fool Obama had talked to my wife the way he has Hillary I would Kick his as_ . Here in Florida we do not take kindly to that kind of talk to our girls!Coy

    January 29, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. AnnAloha, Independent Thinker. PA

    Anyone that feels Pres Clinton should stop is a hypocrite..if your spouse was an ex-Pres don't even think you have them sit and be silent. GET REAL...the media's subjective and bias spinning will hurt CNN and the others and people will begin(if not already) to boycott these news networks for alternative sources.
    I feel saddened for John Edwards and Senator Clinton

    January 29, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  16. John

    I considered Bill Clintons Presidency one of our best however using his surrogate as a means of sliding into a third term is unacceptable He is no longer the man he used to be, he is damaged goods not fit for purpose, his campaigning errors clearly show that he is out of toutch with the mood of people.
    The biggest question of all who the Hell would want to be the V.P. with Bill running the show from behind the curtains.

    January 29, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Tallynole

    The Clintons are disintegrating. Obama lacks experience (although he is a good guy and a great future candidate) God willing, the Romney Robots will go down today in Florida. So, the choice in the fall has to be John McCain. Courage, character, independent thinking, and the ability to bridge the partisan divide. Go John McCain!! Turn back the Romney Zombies!!

    January 29, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. M.Lewis

    WEll, it undermines women to have the first woman president to be a former first lady, to me it still says, a woman needs a man to be leader , so all you feminist women be careful what you argue about when it comes to Hilary.

    A Woman
    Los Angeles, CA

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Izabela, Ridgefield,CT

    I am a naturalized US citizen and this is what I think:
    US presidency is not an entry level position. Show me your work!!!!!!!! It is not the energy itself ( Obama). The whole world is looking up to this country.

    Experience- what a wonderful word! The fact of living through a happening or happenings, skill that one gets by training, practice, and work.

    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HILLARY 2008!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  20. Alice

    I think the "picture speaks a thousand words" story really has way more substance than this one

    However, at least Bill and Hillary can admit their mistakes (even when they haven't really made any)

    Seems the crybaby Obama can't do the same – he has to lie even though he was caught this time on videotape

    But then again, what can you expect from a crybaby who cries "racist" at every chance he gets?

    Seems that's his platform – oh, and of course, "change" – LOLOLOL!

    Seems the only change that pathetic crybaby needs is the change of his diaper

    January 29, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. Don Meaker

    Imagine, Bill in the WH with nothing to do.

    What is Hillary's plan to protect the help from this predator?

    What is Obama's plan to rein in the corruption of Chicago Machine?

    January 29, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  22. Big Will

    Alice you are so true when it comes to spin and distortion. Hillary and Bill are perfect and they below back in the white house. They could never do no wrong. Why they left the white house untarneshed.

    Lincoln bedroom night stay.. $5000
    Intern Cigar ...$35
    Paying watergate scandal fees ...$millions

    Almost being impeached, being disbarred, returning illegal contribution, money,. winning at all costssss-with tears................Priceless!!!! LOL

    January 30, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  23. SS

    I mean seriously, what would happen if she were voted president anyhow? She wouldn't even be able to run the White House/USA on her own. He'd always be on the trail blazing his own way and suggesting time and time again to Hilary what to do since "he's been there." Not only that, but I'm not even sure what they would call him. The first lady-man?

    Normally I vote Republican but since the one I would want in office doesn't seem to have much steam and will probably drop out soon, I'd pick Obama over Romney any day of the week (since it seems that's the way polls are looking now). Better a visionary than a cultist business man who doesn't even know what he believes.

    January 30, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. lilnanna

    Now all Hillary has to fight are two dead icons – President Kennedy and MLK – and a freshman senator with no foreign policy experience. No wait, he'll get the foreign policy from the Kennedys and we be at war with Cuba, a bit closer to home than Iraq.

    January 30, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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