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. Rip

    Why doesn't Hillary just buy him a hooker and tell him to stay out of her campaign? He's doing more harm than good. The only way that he could cause more trouble for her is to rape another woman before the election.

    February 2, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. zack

    regarding obama:
    this guy's roots are from Kenya where there is now a genocide. imagine a Kenyan sitting as president of the usa? a rookie, whose roots are mixture of unknown dna, first time senator, inexperienced, ugly, involved in a shady real estate deal with Rezko, with no specific plans to help lift americans lives, aiming to become president of the most powerful nation in the world and follow him? remember Bush, inexperienced, connvicted drunkard, a white guy aided and built up by the media with non stop attack ads against GORE? you followed him like a pied piper and like leemings followed him to destruction and now you follow Obama blindly and where do you want our country to become four years from now> ET BRUTUS? and the downfall of Rome!

    imagine if you were white asking a Kenyan black president a favor, stooping very low and looking down on you as if you were a white maggot? do you think he is going to appoint you first before his black constituents? give me a break, you will be treated like slave as you treated his slave ancestors.

    Wake up white america and use your brains, not your emotions, not your computers and cell phones because that is what got us in a mess under Bush.
    even though he is one of us with not shade of black.

    this election is not like eating hambuger, if you don't like it, just throw it away. This election is about your future, your children, and grandxchildren. It is about injecting black blood into your veins and that will remain in your blook forever, not like a tatoo that you can laser and at least minmized its colors.

    do not follow Obama like a leming into the pit of destruction!

    February 2, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Christine

    Too little, too late.

    African Americans are fed up with being "used" by people like Bill who climb on their backs to get what they need. Those "AA" leaders taking Bill on tour do their constituents a disservice.

    Sorry, Bill. We peeked behind the curtain and saw the real man standing there. Someone who will use anyone at any time for self enrichment. Anyone who can be lulled back into a false sense of security at this point isn't intelligent enough to vote.

    And a previous poster is right. Shouldn't Hilary be doing the tour? Didn't she tell Obama "I'm here, he's not!"

    This whole saga is just pathetic. Count me firmly in the ABC camp. Anyone But Clinton. Like the L.A. Times said "It's time to turn the page." The Clinton routine is starting to feel very stale.

    February 2, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  4. Liam

    A key question that has not been addressed: If Hillary wins the nomination, what Democrat in their right mind would want the VP slot. Big Foot Bill would be the Virtual VP, and the actual VP would become invisible. Should Hillary offer the VP spot to Senator Obama, he should turn it down, unless wants he to see his future disappear.

    In a Hillary administration, Big Foot Bill would shut out the VP, and leave the party with no future leadership.

    February 2, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. Lisa Salt Lake City, Utah

    What happened to his plan to watch the Super Bowl with his friend Bill Richardson in New Mexico to show the Hispanics that he kicks back with one of their own?

    February 2, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. denise


    WOW!! I liked your comment! I would like to read more about that ! (BTW I am being serious, not a smart-aleck) Any suggestions?

    February 2, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Nancy from Maryland

    Will someone PLEASE tell me what the Clintons and the Democratic Party have done for the African American community – other than give empty words saying all their going to do once elected. And then – zero, zilch, nada. NOTHING!!!!!
    It was, in fact the democrats that were in favor of continued segregation up till the beginning of the 60's. Don't forget it was Abraham Lincoln & the Republican Party that went to war (The Civil War) to free the slaves (as well as for commerce issues).
    I cannot believe people still fall for someone telling them over & over again -what they promise to do once elected – and continuing to do nothing but give empty rhetoric. It must be brain washing from childhood.
    I sense Barak Obama is a new breed of politician – who may actually be able to bring the country together & accomplish true equality (which legislation alone cannot mandate). It's a heart issue. Untill we look at each other as human beings and treat each other as individuals (not lumping anything that happens as a race or gender issue) – we'll never be able to accomplish all that MLK fought for.
    Let's pray for a new leader who will govern as our constitution hoped. Remember it's "We the People"...........

    February 2, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. Liam

    Some thing to think about folks:

    A key question that has not been addressed: If Hillary wins the nomination, what Democrat in their right mind would want the VP slot. Big Foot Bill would be the Virtual VP, and the actual VP would become invisible. Should Hillary offer the VP spot to Senator Obama, he should turn it down, unless wants he to see his future disappear.

    In a Hillary administration, Big Foot Bill would shut out the VP, and leave the party with no future leadership.

    February 2, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. Robin

    Maybe his visit will be like his attendance at a black church on Martin Luther King day a few weeks ago when he was falling asleep (check out the video on youtube) or maybe he will speak like Hillary did at the black church with the southern twang like earlier in the campaign season (video is also on youtube).

    February 2, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. jac13-VA

    Dear "wakethehellup!!"

    With all due respect, Obama and his surrogates have nothing to explain or make amends for. Unfortunately, the SC spectacle revealed the Clinton campaign's true character: its goal is a Clinton "restoration" - duplicity, self-dealing, race-baiting, co-presidency and all. Been there, done that. They are who they are, and no amount of "repair work" or amends can change what was revealed about them in SC. They already woke us up - and thank God they did, before it was too late. You are the one who is asleep.

    February 2, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. Don, Rochester, NY

    I think this is fantastic. For those of you saying "shouldn't it be Hillary going" etc... Are you kidding? All candidates have spouses, celebrities, and campaign workers speaking for them across the country. Obviously none of them can be in more than one place at a time. And for those saying "it's too little too late" etc... Get over yourselves. You've been saying that all along and yet Hillary is still ahead. You can try to be idealistic like your candidate but that only goes so far. I think it's wonderful that Hillary's campaign continues to reach out to EVERYONE and I can't wait for Super Tuesday! GO HILLARY!!

    February 2, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. vic

    So what if Clinton is campaigning? If others can campaign for Obama, why can't he campaign for Hillary at the time when the good all boys from both parties, as well as the media have ganged up against Hillary? We will see who wins, how many upset women are going to cast their vote Tuesday. Half of the youth are also women.

    February 2, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. Kin


    I understand your point, but embracing diversity DOES NOT mean that good things are in the works for minorities. Has Bush's policies really helped blacks? In contrast, Clinton's years in the White House resulted in good times for your people.

    February 2, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. Pat Shepard

    It sure sounds like the source for this story was Hillary. Who else would say "I can't do it for him"?

    February 2, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Tom

    Just another highlight of something that shouldn't be happening. The very idea of going into a church and the fact the minister there allows it and quite possibly supports it brings into question what kind of pressure his/her followers feel to vote for whoever comes since quite often in many religions the people too often rely on their leaders words and choices to guide their own decisions instead of pondering the matter themselves. The whole campaigning in the churches needs to stop since there should never be any type of pressure upon an individual to vote one way or another and that pressure most definitely should not come from someone who can convey the image that of it having to do anything with their life after this death. If the candidates want to speak to the members of congregations they can get together the money to hold the meetings elsewhere instead of capitalizing on the fact they are in a place of worship where they should be free from the cares of the world and the antics of politicians.

    February 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. RightyTighty

    One day the black community will again realize that we Lincoln republicans are the ones that really believe everyone is created equal..

    February 2, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. GES

    It will be interesting to see how much of the $32M Obama collects. The same people giving money to his campaign are the ones who can't afford to make their house payment. I guess it makes sense to not make your house payment and wait for the "mortgage fund" (extension of welfare) to bail you out. In effect, if Obama wins everyone is contributing to his campaign. We're just making our payment later through higher taxes.

    February 2, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. alex@uga.edu

    I wonder if he will fall asleep after hearing himself talk.

    Clintons for 92-not 2008.

    February 2, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. Harrison

    Obama needs to get in touch with the African-American community; it is a pity that he has remained so very from it over the course of time. NOW, he has suddenly discovered they ARE important! It isn't Bill Clinton who needs to be doing this tour, it IS Obama who needs this! Only the naive and uninformed will be voting for Barack Obama! This is really sad for the entire community! What a phoney Barack is!

    February 2, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. Tim

    Bill Clinton has every right to campaign with blacks and at black churches. Bill has always supported the black community. Please don't turn this into a racial issue.

    And what's wrong with Bill campaigning for Hillary. It's common sense that she would use her husband to her advantage just like any other candidate would do if they had that opportunity including Obama. Obama was lucky enough to have Oprah campaigning for him and Hillary is lucky enough to have former president Bill Clinton campaigning for her.

    February 2, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. AnnAloha, PA Independent Thinker

    Just goes to show the negative attitudes of the Obama Clan.
    Clinton supporters appear more grounded and educated...hmm glad I'm an independent Thinker

    February 2, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. Jacqueline Bauer

    I'll bet you're about as black as the Utah snow!

    February 2, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. veronica lynne

    Bill has every right to go wherever he pleases–Just like everyone else, who get no flak for their choices of venues.
    How hypocritical, and yes, adult women are noticing, and we'll be voting accordingly!

    February 2, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. Deb - IL

    I guess the Clintons are not supposed to even campaign now....just sit down and let the Obama/Kennedy Machine roll right on over. Everyone has a right to wage a vigourous campaign. Isn't Obama using Kennedy to try and attract the Latino vote now? Give em all a break, how many of us could keep up that schedule under a microscope with hordes of press following you around, especially if they were out to get you anyway. I respect all of them and their families for having the stamina to do it, and certainly am not going to hold it against Bill Clinton for nodding off during church as I have done that myself. It doesn't show a lack of interest or respect, it shows fatigue! Voting for experience, reason, AND change on Tuesday in Illinois! Go HIllary.....

    February 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. Ann

    Continue with your oral diarrhea Bill Clinton. We have enough brains to see through your spin. We need someone for the future not the past.

    February 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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