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. Keri Nowling

    What President Clinton Is Doing Is Trying To Do Is To Make Sure That The Voices Of African – Americans All Over The United States Do Not Go Unheard, He Knows Alot About African – Americans Because He Was Raised With Some Of Them And Some Of Them Were Even In His Cabinet As Attorney General And Governor Of Arkansas And President Of The United States, President Clinton Also Had Some Of Them As Advisers And Friends, Among Them Vernon Jordan, And Rodney Slater, And They Should Be Given Credit For Taking African – Americans Off The Poverty Line As Well. Keri Nowling, Seymour, Indiana.

    February 2, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Margie Miller

    None of you ever gives Clinton the benefit of the doubt, do you? He is a great campaigner and, yes, he does have a temper. Do any of you? He is sincere in wanting to see Hillary as president. She is brilliant and might be able to repair the damage the present idiot in the White House has caused. I have nothing against Obama but he doesn't have enough experience to be president yet. Perhaps in eight years he will know more. Right now his health care plan is unrealistic. How many low income families can afford to pay for any health care program? Let the billionaires pay for it. None of them can spend all their money in ten lifetimes.

    February 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. gene

    The Clinton haters amaze me. They can not stand the idea that white a American can be liked and respected by the black community. His early comments have been twisted and taken out of context by a hostile media, They raised the race issue on the morning of the N.H. vote, by so called MSNBC journalists. The conversation was about Dr. King and LBJ. I just don't believe these hate comments are coming from Obama supporters and or democrats. I think you are seeing the republican attack machine getting all the negatives out on the democract candidates.

    February 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  4. Jerry

    Libs love it when the Dems campaign in churches even when it's a clear violation of the churches non-profit, religious organization tax exempt rules. At the same time, they condemn when Repubs campaign in a church and start bellyaching about seperation of church and state.

    February 2, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  5. Karen Kohr-Blinn

    I am glad to see him doing this. I am positive that if the Democrats doesn't nominate Hillary, the Republican Party will win by campaigning their candidate against a ex-drug dealer/user. Our lives will be burdened with that continual message throughout the National campaign.

    I suspect mischevious voting (as a Republican called it) is in operation through "Independent declarations" in promoting Obama who can be easily defeated by the Republicans because of his abuse and sales of illegal drugs.

    February 2, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  6. Mike

    Bill Clinton just tried to hang a Black man in the South last week and one week later he is in the Black church!...hello?

    Screw the Clintons!

    Obama 08

    February 2, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  7. Mark

    What's so wrong with him campaigning for his wife. Other people are doing it for Obama. So what that he is an ex president, an ex-president that did a hell of a lot for this country and whether you like to admit or not, when he was president things were as good as they have been for the previous 40 years. Bill is articulate and and orders of magnitdue more intelligent than the current pool of presidential candidates. When he campaigns for his wife he speaks about the volumes of things his wife have gotten done during her political career, things that actually matter in peoples everyday lives. It's about who can get it done, that is what's important in any job interview. Inspirational talk is great and uplifting, but just because one gets an A in public oration means nothing when it comes to getting things done in and through congress. Base your decision on substance, your lives are worth nothing less. That is the question we need to ask ourselves and the only question at that. It is so maddening that people are actually basing the future of this country and that of their families and children on insubstantial talk. Wake up people!

    February 2, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Veronica Ward

    Half od the youth is voting for Obama. Seriously, a vote for Hillary is really a vote for Bill and I don't want Bill back in the white house.

    February 2, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. Jim

    Yes, I can just hear it now–

    Pay no attention to those nasty cracks I said before. I only said them because– like my wife– I'll say or do whatever I think I need to say or do to attain political office. Sorry about that.

    What, it won't go like that?

    February 2, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Truth


    Thank you for speaking the truth. All Republicans are not bad and all Democrats are not good! Like Obama says...it's not about red vs blue, black vs white, woman vs man etc....it's about PEOPLE.

    I voted for Both Clintons but if I had as much information back then as we have today via the internet (youtube, blogs, Google etc) my choices would have been different.

    Denise, search it all on Google and you will see for yourself.

    BARACK OBAMA IS THE TRUTH!!!!!! GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 2, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. jmaya, iowa

    Blacks are monolithic people; it was said and now they prove. They only vote person based on color, even that person is dumb.
    There are whites. blacks, browns and others don't look for a special treat because you are black; gone those days.

    Shame on you African American; you are segregating yourself now; what a monolithic culture?.

    February 2, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. California voter

    My 9:47 am ET comment is still awaiting "moderation". Why? It's not that long and uses no inappropriate language.

    February 2, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. MB, Louisiana

    So let me get this right. The Obama supporters don't think Bill can campaign for his own wife, when Obama has his own wife, Oprah, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Tom Dashle, Patrick Leahy and lord knows who else campaigning for him.

    BTW, do you see a pattern above? Kennedy, Kerry, Dashle, Leahy...all old guard Democrats. Ready and willing to pull the strings for the Obama campaign to get him elected. I have a feeling if Obama gets elected he'll be dancing to their tune for his entire Presidency. So much for change and looking to the future.

    February 2, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Bill

    SPONGEBOB FOR President.. He has a "PLAN" and is the only that can mop up Bush's Mess........

    February 2, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. george

    ..He did so much for us...that us being the so-called black leaders...put a few people in positions did not do anything for black people...but if someone could come and sing, dance, make us FEEL good..then all is forgiven until they SCREW us again...we are like battered wifes...it's OK until the next time...just FORGIVE and everything will be alright. We as black need to grow into a level of political, social and economic MATURITY that will allow people to RESPECT us because that maturity will allow us to respect ourselves...EVERYONE knows that if you go to a BLACK CHURCH..it's tantamount to acceptance, forgiveness and support...Its' PATHETIC..no wonder our YOUTH despise the leadership and REBEL...

    February 2, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. whatnow

    The Clinton camp is ridiculous. Sending Bill to do a tour of black churches, it is crude and rude. I will not be voting for Hillary I found the way they do things to be gross. This would even be different if Bill was going to both black and white congregations, but to only focus on black churches? What a message to send. Get lost Bill.

    February 2, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. kelvin

    well bill is the one who let me buy my house. george bush i,m about to lose it . thank god for the CLINTONS. I'M A BLACK MAN AND I KNOW WHERE MY LOYALTY LIES.GO HILLARY

    February 2, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. maxine

    You bet Bill is back, he has a lot running on his wife winning. If he didn't have a lot to loose he wouldn't be working it so hard. Go Bill you know you will be in the White House in 09. People aren't ready for change, they are willing to accept status quo. I don't want to go back to the Clinton era, I want to move on. But we forgave him for all his lies, Go Bill and Hillary!!!!!! The American people have short term memory. They don't want honesty, they want lies.

    February 2, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. KRL in Philly

    Hey Bob, it's not the minorities you hire. IT'S THE MINORITIES YOU HELP!!! Reagan, Bush41 and Bush43 hired a few black people. Bill Clinton helped a few MILLION BLACK PEOPLE. I'LL TAKE THAT ANY DAY!!!

    February 2, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Cheyenne

    No one can change others future unless they do it for themself.

    February 2, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. shirley

    Anyone in their right mind no that the clintons are not prejudice. And for anyone to label obama as black that is a slap in the face obama is biracial. half white/half black. maybe that is why is getting so much support from whites, it is sure not for experience.

    February 2, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |

    The way the media covers this you would think that idiot Bill is a rock star...HA HA HA! He wishes. Billy needs to shutup and get his pace maker fixed.


    February 2, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. jerry bach

    All the baby boome i know (women) are voting for hillary...do not underestimate our power. most have not even voted till now SHE WILL BE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT!

    February 2, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  24. Chipo

    President Bill Clinton was a great leader for all communities across America and he will make a great adviser to President HILLARY CLINTON. Hope and Change are messages of the Democratic Party, let's elect a candidate who can deliver on the promise not just the words.

    Hillary Clinton 2008

    February 2, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  25. Andy, Iowa

    Funny how Slick Willy is only going to black churches.

    Also, what does it matter if "half the youth are also women," vic? Are you suggesting that women, young and old, shouldn't be able to chose, but should only vote for a woman because they are of the same gender?

    February 2, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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