February 2nd, 2008
04:50 PM ET
15 years ago

Bill Clinton to make black church tour Sunday

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/01/art.clinton0131.ap.jpg caption="Former President Bill Clinton will visit black churches in LA this Sunday."](CNN) - In the run-up to Super Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton is planning a tour of African-American churches this Sunday in Los Angeles. A prominent elected official who will be joining him has described it as Clinton’s 'mea culpa tour' to the black community.

The former president set off a firestorm of criticism for comments he made during the South Carolina primary, comments which were widely interpreted as racially insensitive. He’s adamantly denied he was playing racial politics. Exit polls show President Clinton’s seemingly aggressive campaigning may have contributed to the stunning defeat his wife Hillary Clinton suffered in the primary there.

According to CNN exit polling, a majority of South Carolina voters said Bill Clinton’s campaigning was important to their vote - 48 percent of them cast ballots for Barack Obama, while 37percent went for Sen. Clinton. And CNN has reported some of the former president’s controversial remarks on the trail may have contributed to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s decision to endorse Sen. Obama.

President Clinton’s tour of African-American churches comes as the Clinton campaign fights to win a coveted prize on Super Tuesday – delegate-rich California – where African-Americans make up 7 percent of Democratic primary voters.

“They need to go touch the people like they did before. The bickering they got in in South Carolina must be put aside,” one of the officials who plans to join the former president on Sunday tells CNN. The official spoke on background until the campaign officially announces the planned trip. “Bill is going to have to come back among those who loved him and he did so much for. He is going to have to do it – I can’t do it for him – and face the voters,” the source continued, adding that once he does, “it’ll put him back in the comfort zone, and I think you’ll see [Hillary Clinton’s] numbers go up.”

A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign in California disputes the notion the stops are intended to make amends with the black community before the state’s voters head to the polls this Tuesday. “He’s very popular with Latinos, African-Americans, it’s absolutely not a mea culpa tour,” says Clinton California spokesperson Luis Vizcaino.

CNN’s Candy Crowley reported that after the South Carolina contest a number of unpaid advisors and surrogates to the Clinton campaign agreed the former president’s remarks “hurt more than helped” his wife’s campaign. Since then, President Clinton’s remarks have been muted and he has ramped down criticism of the Illinois senator.

But Clinton spokesperson Vizcaino insists the tensions did not reverberate in California. “Right after the [South Carolina] debate, where some people felt there was a lot of tension with the African-American community, [Hillary Clinton] came to Los Angeles and had a discussion with members of the African-American community here. And people here said no one cares about the controversy or black-versus-brown or brown-versus white-tension — we want to know about jobs, and how she’ll help our community.

“I don’t think there was one single question raised there about – ‘we feel you are using race or you disrespected Martin Luther King Jr.,' nothing like that,” says Vizcaino.

The politicians joining the former president on Sunday expect to visit a number of black churches in South Central Los Angeles, with additional stops possible in Inglewood and West Los Angeles.

Sen. Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton will attend separate events in California this weekend. Vizcaino says it’s all evidence the campaign “is not taking anything for granted.”

He adds that “the former president remains very, very popular in this state. It’s still referred to as ‘Clinton country.’”

(updated with new reporting 2 p.m. Saturday)

–CNN's Jessica Yellin

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. d

    I'm tired of the news media and others with this Obama stuff.

    Black is played up by Michelle O. Saw her speech (Delaware)... I was 'a little black girl', blah, blah blah. If its not a racial race, keep it quiet Michelle.

    February 3, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  2. Joe-Wilmington, DE

    The pious Bill Clinton preaching to the black community. What a joke.

    Obama (obviously) '08

    February 3, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  3. Di

    LOL, remember Iraq??? We haven't had a good day under BUSH!!!!

    February 3, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  4. charlotte

    I hope Super Tuesday hands Ophama a, "NO YOU CAN'T" "NO YOU CAN'T"

    February 3, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  5. charlotte

    Hillary and Bill, the dynamic duo!!!!!!

    February 3, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. Obama Oklahoma

    The country needed a Bill after first Bush and needs Hill after second Bush. Go Bill & Hill

    February 3, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. This is Too Funny

    Obama stood alone when it came to the Irag war and he stood and still standing alone with little support of his wife and/or Oprah. Oprah is a idealistic and she believe in hope for every human being that's why people tune in every day. You Hillary supporter dislike Oprah because she's more stronger and more powerful than Hillary. i've seen more of Bill Clinton than I've seen of Oprah.

    It's something sturring in the air and no status quo can stop it because people are tired of the same old thing where we are not getting anywhere in this country. I'm unemployed but I believe in Obama because when you bring change you bring on new ideas and when you bring on new ideas, you bring on deteremination that bring on accomplishments but you have to first dream and then vision on where you want to take this country and Obama has that. What has Hillary dream for this country rather than pointing out her main word that she has constantly used in all her speeches and debates......"I". But its about US and WE meaning the best interest for all gender and races rather than divided us among parties too. The world has tuned in AMERICA lets get it right this time because we're all God's children and he made US special in his own way. I'm tired of the division in this country and I want something new and more hope for our solider and our lives financial in this country.

    February 3, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. v.cifaldi&paul





    February 3, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. JOHN

    Anyway Obama has Oprah to promote the race (being African American) factor, just in case Bill gains anything from the church tour. They said he is not black enough so he called upon Oprah to reenforce that. After tuesday he will go back to we are one people again. So stop complaining about Bill because you feel threatened for your candidate.

    HILLARY is proven to help people so many years now. She doesn't just promise that.


    February 3, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Elliott Butler-Evans

    This nonsense of "the Black Church" and "the Black Community" is a ridiculous farce. As an African American ex-Catholic, former Unitarian, and currently secular Zen Buddhist, I personally am not impressed by the Clintons' transparent exploitation of Black Christian fundamentalists.

    February 3, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. rjordan

    Bill Clinton did nothing that was racist in SC or anywhere else. Anything he says critical of Obama, brings whines and cries of racism from Obama and the media.

    The media has anointed Obama from the beginning and has done everything possible to present Hillary in the worst light possible. There is no way Obama or even the media can defeat her on the issues, so Obama and the media try to label her and her campaign as racist.

    It is time for new leadership, and real change – a woman who is the smartest and most capable candidate running. The media elected George Bush (the most likeable candidate), whose inexperience and incompetence have resulted in the tragedy of failures in both Afghanistan and Iraq. I pray America has learned its lesson about being led by the nose.

    February 3, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Tom

    Do your home work young people by reviewing the candidates campaign platforms, and you will support Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. You will forget about Obama and Clinton.

    February 3, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Judy O

    Doesn't this photo of Bill, with his pointed finger, remind us of the same pose when he stated, "I did not have s_ _ with that woman!"

    February 3, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Jose Card - Independent

    Michelle Obama doesn't pretend she cares about whites in particular.

    Bill is too old a dog to learn new tricks – how to be truthful.

    Bill is better off keeping his promise to watch super bowl with Governor Richardson.
    Informed Hispanics will work with Kennedy and Obama, not Clinton.
    Don't be fooled again after seeing what the Clintons did to blacks.

    Bush can speak fluent Spanish.
    Can Hillary speak any Spanish?
    She speaks the language of the lobbyists in D.C.
    We will be nobody as soon as they are elected.

    February 3, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. Richard Rote (California)

    Bill Clinton go home.

    February 3, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. CHERYL

    GO BILL!! YOUR WIFE IS LEADING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 3, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. NCB

    Concerned Voter,

    I believe Ted Kennedy was speaking on behalf of Obama, and Oprah will be also. So whats your point? I would love to listen to Clinton speak anyday over the two of them.

    February 3, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  18. Memory

    Hillary's town hall speech made two captives in the audience ILL! Just think what this witch will do if she gets elected. LMAO! No wonder we need health care!

    She makes me sick and to think the election is not until November. I'm so sick of the very sight and sound of her. OMG every time you turn on the TV there she is in the phony shrilly voice pointing her finger and ranting and raving.

    February 3, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  19. Judy

    Do you want a President who did NOT find her voice until SHE was 60 years old?
    What a manipulative female HIllary is!

    I am a FEMALE who is older than Hillary and I will NEVER vote for her if she is the Democratic Candidate.

    Vote for a President who is REAL and our HOPE for the future!
    Vote OBAMA 08!

    February 4, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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