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. Concerned Voter

    Shouldn't that be HILLARY CLINTON doing this tour? Isn't she the one who is running for the Presidency? Or is this going to be a Clinton/Clinton ticket in November? Wake up, America!!! The Clintons have had their 15 minutes; it's time for both of them to go away.

    February 2, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  2. Willy

    Wonder if he'll use Hillary's Southern twang when he be talkin to us folks..

    February 2, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. laura

    I never get tired of reading quotes that dismiss any racial issues. It's great to be reminded that the public is capable of looking past opportunistic sound bytes.

    February 2, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Bob

    Unfortunately, this is why we in the black community haven't advanced more in terms of real participation in the REAL American body politic and power structure. Some charismatic, manipulative charlatan like Bill Clinton (and JFK, and Lyndon Johnson, and Humphrey, and McGovern, and Carter, and Mondale, and Gore, and Kerry, etc., etc.) come to our churches, play the game, re-inforce our victimhood, and we give them 90+% of our votes. When they get elected they deliver absolutely zero. If we do our research, we will find that Reagan, and both Bushes, hired more minorities into significant leadership positions than Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton combined.

    February 2, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Ann Kuminns

    This is pure hypocrisy. If he had not intended to use smear tactics and use the race card, he would not have done so. Everything that the Clintons do is calculated and even calibrated to make sure of its impact. Now that he needs their votes, he could go out and say he is sorry? Just because he need something from them? What if he does NOT need anything? Is he still sorry? I would submit not. In any case, saying that he has done so much for one particular group is also incorrect. We, the citizens elected him president then. We expect him to do for us as we did for him. It was our right, in return for our votes.. However, It is not right for us to be beholden to him for the rest of our lives.

    February 2, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Larry

    It is a shame that are supposed to be 'Black leaders', are in reality just more 'Uncle Toms'!! 🙁

    February 2, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. Richard Rote (California)

    Three words: The Starr Report.

    February 2, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  8. wakethehellup!!!!!

    Shouldn't that be Obama doing the tour not Oprah, Caroline, and Michelle it goes both ways. Isn't Obama the one running for president, like him Hillary can't be in two places at one time. Wake up America I agree, but I am supporting Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 2, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. NickNas

    People are NOT stupid bill. You showed you true colors already. You LOVE Black people until one gets in your way. Or asks your Daughter out on a date. Typical.

    February 2, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. justobserve

    The Clintons will do anything, anything at all, to catch votes. They are all charm one minute and turn ugly the next. Look at their records (the goods as well as the bads and uglies) of their years in the White House to make your judgment.

    February 2, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. charlotte

    If you're not pro Obama you don't get posted?

    February 2, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Sylvia

    Bob you are sooooooooo wrong
    Clinton NEVER did anything like that. The media twisted everything to make it "race" and people like YOU bought hook, line and sinker.

    February 2, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  13. rich

    Sorry Bill. Its a little too late. Enjoy the service though despite I know thats not what you are going there for. But enjoy it anyway. It is an insult to black folks to think that you can come to their church, make up for all your wrongs, and expect them to go into the voting booth and give u a stamp of approval. Sorry Bill and Hillary, times are different. You might be able to convice a few Afro-Americans to take the bait, but I doubt the majority will.

    February 2, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. California Lady


    February 2, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. paul

    He's back, he's baaack, he's BAAAAAAAAACK.

    February 2, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. Ohio Citizen

    How about this. Bill we love you and we will vote for you even if you disrespect us.

    February 2, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. Becky in Indiana

    I highly doubt that is possible...


    February 2, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. Debo

    Slick Willy at it again. Hopefully, the African American community learned about the Clintons a few weeks ago, doing anything to win, even when it is slash and burn of fellow Democrats like Kennedy and the black community. Nothing stands in the way of the wagging finger of Bill Clinton. He ought to be booed off the stage.

    What nerve to come back to the blacks with hat in hand. Wait until next week and he'll put them under the bus to make headway with the Latino community which is wife did during the debates. What scum.

    February 2, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Jim ( Independent )

    Bill and Hillary are shameless !

    February 2, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. Charles

    I do not believe Obama can withstand the "swiftboating" from the Republicans as well as Hillary.

    February 2, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. Jim ( Independent )

    Barack Obama's secret weapon is one that the Clinton's don't have an answer for. This secret weapon offers America and the world something that the Clinton's couldn't , even on there best day.

    As someone that is old enough to remember another time and place in this country when the the American people was looking for a reason to have a sense of pride and the ability to dream big dreams with endless hope and possibilities for a better tomorrow. A young man came onto the world stage and changed this country with his inspiration and hope. The critics said it couldn't be done and he told us , we are going to the moon within 10 years, AND WE DID !

    Here we are today decades later and America is once again watching another young man with a unique ability to lift people up with a sense of pride , honor and integrity and the ability to give people a reason to believe again, that our best days are yet to come. Someone that understands that real change comes from the bottom up , and all things are possible with the will of the American people behind you.

    The vision of a young man that tells us "we are one people" and YES WE CAN.

    Yes Barack Obama is one of them leaders that has the unique ability to break down the walls that divide us , and get us all on the same page as " ONE PEOPLE".

    But Barack Obama's secret weapon is one that this country and the world can take pride in , it's one that the Clinton's don't have an answer for because, this secret weapon comes with Honor , Gracefulness , Integrity , Intelligence and the background of life experiences of real every day people.


    February 2, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. maynard

    bill clinton should go to church. after the crap he pulled in the oval office he should drop out of sight.....he is a person who was elected to the highest office who is expected to set morals and be a leader of the usa and all he can think about is a little extra excitement behind the oval office desk. then he has the gaul to say he never did anything.... now you want his wife to be president..... he claims he did nothing wrong......hillary will claim the same thing........she had a good teacher.

    February 2, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. Jose Card - Independent

    "If we do our research, we will find that Reagan, and both Bushes, hired more minorities into significant leadership positions than Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton combined." – Bob


    You really don't want to be hired by the Clintons as you could become one of Bill's dead friends. Just google for it and you will be amazed by what you find, but read them carefully.

    Commerce Secretary Ron Brown died of a mysterious plane crash in the mist of several investigations on sensitive technology transfer to China. Bill authorized the special transfer through the Commerce Dept. instead of the State Dept.

    Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was fired by Bill for talking masterbation in sex education. She is lucky to be alive.

    February 2, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Paul

    Bill Clinton hasn't changed. If you watch some of his 1992 rallies, you will see the same style. He was aggressive with hecklers, he challenged the media. But back then, the media was in love with him. Now that the media has fallen in love with Obama, everything Bill Clinton says is controversial. Wake up people, he hasn't changed. The media presentation of him. And since the political memory in this country is about one day long, don't forget that it was this aggressive style that allowed him to win. Kerry abandoned it, played chicken with the republicans and lost. If a democrat wants to win, he or she will need to be tough, speak their mind and stand up for themselves. Learn from the winner and stop criticizing him because he sneezed too aggressively at a reporter.

    February 2, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. Alison, FL

    rich...You are absolutely correct!

    February 2, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
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