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. Priase the Lord

    Remember Bill, it's "George the Father, George the Son and Jeb the Holy Ghost"!
    Meaning no disrespect to the Deity, but for a lot of us God, Allah, or by whatever name is not a Republican or a Democrat.

    The world is full of hypocrites who go to church every week and then "sin" for the other six days. Now, for all you Clinton supporters, don't take this as a slam at Bill for "judge not lest ye be judged". It's just a reality check.

    Must admit though, that Bill Clinton in church in an earthquake zone makes me more than a little nervous. Good luck to all.

    February 2, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. jerry bach

    All the baby boomers 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 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Chipo

    BTW – I am sick of all of the comments about new voters, young energy etc. I have never been involved or as interested in a Presidential race as I am in this one. I have donated time and money to Hillary. She has the support of young/old/male/female/black/white/latinos all across America.

    February 2, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Roger

    Barack Obama made the statement in campaigning the other day that he was more electable because Hillary Clinton supporter will vote for him in the general election if he becomes the Democratic nominee but that the Barack Obama supporter will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee.

    Well unless he retracts that statement immediately in this fast paced election, for this Hillary Clinton supporter who for party unity and so did not want more Bush Whitehouse years made that statement true is now here by giving notice that it is no longer true. If I do not hear not only a retraction of this statement and a encouragement by Barack Obama for his supporters to vote Democrat no matter who ends up getting the nod as the Democratic nominee I will be setting out this election if Obama wins the nominee! He went way to far! If he waits till the convention to get all unity mode it will be to late for me! Lets see if Barack Obama wins any better without the support of the Hillary Clinton supporter then Hillary would without the support of the Barack supporters!

    February 2, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Leah DiMarco, TX

    The idea of Bill Clinton doing a 'tour' of 'Black' churches makes me laugh! What's next a tour of 'Latino' churches and 'Asian' churches.
    He should be doing a tour of churches that have a 'mixed' congregation to show that he believes in a 'united' people.

    And how often does he attend service at a 'black' church when he is not out campaigning?

    Past vs. Future
    One UNITED States of America

    All Obamacans – Be sure to VOTE!

    February 2, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. stan pitts pa

    all we ever hear from the clintons are lies. lies, lies, Wake up America, they are the most power-hungry couple, if there ever was one, they think they own America, with their slick willy soundbytes, it will take an obama presidency to rid America of these two power hungry, dynasty families, its time to move forward America, and time to vote for someone other than a bush or clinton, im sick of it!

    February 2, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Shaddy

    or Maybe..... he just might do a great job. Cut the guy some slack, he has speaking skills you will never have.

    February 2, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. Texan for Obama

    Wow! The Clintons are sure working hard in Carlifornia. What's the big deal...didn't Hillary just have that all wrapped up after she deserted the South Carolina voters?

    Hmmmm. Oh...I get it . Obama is really gaining ground and in California too.

    February 2, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Mike

    Vic, it isn't about gender or race. It is about (1) who could win (Hillary will unit Republicans) and (2) who would be the best President (Obama can unite and lead while Hillary will guarantee 4 or 8 more years of political gridlock and real or fabricated scandals). The United States has bigger problems than whether the "media have ganged up against Hillary". Let's hope women and others think about who would really be the best President of our troubled country.

    February 2, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. G Morgan

    Who is Barack Hussein Obama? Most Americans and even many Democrats
    never heard of him a year ago! How can it be that some are considering him
    for President? He a junior Senator from Illinois, who hasn't even
    completed his first term. What is the matter with these people?
    He has very little substance and he reminds me more of a "preacher"
    than politician! Everyone wants a change, well he doesn't offer it. We would be
    going from one inexperienced President to another!

    Hillary Clinton is extremely intelligent and well versed on every
    aspect of government. She will be a true change from the
    inadequate leadership that we've had these past dismal 7 years!

    February 2, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. JMB

    Once you've sold your soul, can you ever get it back?
    Or do you have to live with the deal you've made?

    February 2, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. Jay

    Bill Clinton just does not get it, all those black leaders who are with him will not vote for Hillary when they go into the voting booth.

    February 2, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. Sarah

    The Clinton's have been involved in improving our country for decades. Do you really think they will stop now!? Look how many programs and humanitarian causes Bill has been into. These two are the real deal. To question their integrity at this time is to try an create drama and headlines. Bill has every right to campaign for Hillary , just as Hillary had every right to champion her causes as first lady.

    February 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. sarju

    OK Bill, people go to church to listen to the word of God,please I beg do not take a nap when the word is being preached.

    February 2, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. concerned

    No difference between Bill campaigning and Michele campaigning.

    Go Hilliary

    February 2, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. concerned

    Agee with Vic

    No difference between Bill campaigning and Michele campaigning.

    Hilliary has to beat the media along with Obama.

    Go Hilliary

    February 2, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Josh

    hopefully ol bill dosent doze off again in the middle of the sermon! look it up on youtube or something. he was so blatantly bored. it was kinda insulting.

    February 2, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Walt, Belton,TX

    Well, shucks, y'all. Slick Willie is just splainin to folks how his estranged wife is just as black as he used to be, er,,,,, still is. I'm sure there are probably some folks who will believe it too.

    February 2, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Tammy

    Bill Clinton can do a "black church tour" but Obama and Oprah are attacked for coming together? How does this make any sense? It's sad to say, but I think America is still so much more racist than it will admit. Bill Clinton started the race politics, now he wants to say it was all Obama's fault and his wife was just "attacked." Get out of here. And further- STOP CHANGING INTO YOUR SOUTHERN TWANG just because you are around black people! So disingenuous.

    February 2, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. J.J. Forbes, an independent thinker

    Billy Boy, go home. Are you running for President, or is Hillary?

    Can't tell.

    February 2, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Ray

    So let me get this straight..Oprah, Ted, Caroline, McCaskill and don't forget HIS WIFE are all out on the road campaigning for him, but that OK and if he goes out for HIS wife then it's WRONG???

    You Obama people need to wake up!!

    February 2, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Brenda

    Oh good, I hope he says something stupid. That always helps OBAMA. Oh yes, of course he'll say somthing stupid. STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES.

    OBAMA IN 08.

    February 2, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. MAD

    Obama's camp is spamming email addresses with insider information as to who's name is on an account! Who is selling this information to them?

    February 2, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. Brent

    Where it the separation of church and state. I guess it is it OK if you are campaigning? Is it a conditional separation of church and state when it is to your personal benefit?

    February 2, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. Dusacre

    I am so tired of the Clintons!

    February 2, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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