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. votehillary2008

    If you don't think Bill Clinton did anything for black people, don't expect anything grand from Barack Obama. Politicians are politicians, regardless of color.

    Bill Clinton does not need to do a mea culpa tour. There's nothing to apologize for. He did nothing wrong. His comments were taken out of context and uninformed people got upset.

    Bill was a great president. He raised the minimum wage, reformed welfare and created policies that helped the economy flourish. I know some African-Americans are upset about welfare reform, but it needed to be done. Welfare was a horrible crutch and it's time was up.

    That said, Bill is not running for President. He is campaigning for his wife and there is nothing wrong with that.

    I am a twenty-something, African-American woman from Illinois and I totally support Hillary Clinton. She has the experience and the toughness to clean up Bush's mess.

    February 2, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Bess Cannon

    You know, this happens every campaign, using childish reasons for voting one way or another. For instance, what qualifies Obama fot the Kansas vote just because his mother was born there.? I watched him on a stop in kansas. He sat there and said, "I feel like I'm home." He never lived there, so, why lie just for votes? We are being fed so many childish reasons and NONE of them make good reasons to elect a president. We allow ourselves to be brainwashed, then sit around and moan for four or eight years when we have chosen the wrong one. Remember how Bush said he didn't believe in Nation Building? What the heck has the war in Iraq been all about if not Nation Building. We were after the real culprit, Bin Ladin, he was never in Iraq. He was the one that attacked us, not Sadaam. We are in the mess we are because we believed a lot of lies instead of thinking for ourselves. Okay? So! Here we go again! Believing more spoonfed made up stories to get elected. Do your homework. Let's elect this president on intelligence this time. Another mistake may doom this nation. We are already on our knees. Why not make these candidates understand we will not accept childish reasons to turn on one candidate or another, or vote for them. Make them understand we want GOOD, INTELLIGENT reasons and NOTHING less!

    February 2, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Satch

    Go Obama.....
    Hillary and Bill can take all there lies and deceit elsewhere. We don't
    believe them anymore.

    A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
    – Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

    February 2, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. AISHA

    if oprah

    michelle obama

    can campaign for obama ,,then its fair for hillary to have people campaign for her too

    February 2, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. TJT

    Any comment former Predident makes is big issue. What is wrong if he is campaigning for his wife?. I think he is doing the right thing.

    February 2, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Ray

    Im confused??? So its OK for Oprah, Ted and Caroline and HIS WIFE to do the same thing but for her husband to do it its wrong???

    Obama 'fans" need to grow up.

    February 2, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. Chris Texas

    Once again the media is distorting the facts just to get viewers. Bill Clinton is campaigning on behalf of Hillary just as Michelle and Opera are for Obama. Not to mention that Magic Johnson himself is also campaigning for Hillary. No news coverage on that because it doesn't pit 1 against the other.

    Bill Clinton is merely campaigning to the minorities in California while Hillary goes and campaigns in some of the other Super Tuesday states.

    Those of you like "Bob" who think he's trying to make up for something, or that it has to do with race, are nothing more than hypocrits. I don't expect this comment to be posted but o well.

    Bill Clinton did more for the minorities than either the 2 bush's, carter, reagan did. Why do you think the Clinton's are so well known. The reason for South Carolina was because the media, AND the nominee's played on race. Pitting race against race, gender against gender.

    Wake up, and vote for the most qualified

    February 2, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. Macunaima

    Bill has the right to campaign. What about Michele Obama, Caroline Kennedy. Ted Kennedy all over the place. Nobody complained. And worst of all Opprah Winfrey that is not a political figure and it s going to use her celebrity status. Obama supporters can not see anything wrong with him. You will be really surprised if you think he will be able to deliver all these promisese and suddenly America will be a paradise. Get real and vote for the best person regardless of gender and race. If Obama was white nobody was paying attention to him. Look what happenned to John Edwards. He was the first one to talk about change, poverty,inequality etc. Unfortunately he was a white male.

    February 2, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. joe


    February 2, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    The combination of Hillary and Bill is like shooting yourself in the foot. No, matter who is running for office they are not on the same page..

    February 2, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Lawrence, Los Angeles

    The concept that Bill Clinton can just show up to big black churches, spout some fancy rhetoric, and supposedly turn votes around is a joke. People should have more pride in themselves and value their vote more.

    February 2, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Joseph Johnson NC

    People make me sick, talking about how Bill Clinton is doing Hillary Clinton's work. Can we just give Hillary Clinton a little more respect. She has clearly stated her positions and policies, unlike Obama. This is just Obama supporters hating! I will be so glad when the democratic nomination goes to Hillary Clinton, so everyone can eat their own remarks! Go Hillary!

    February 2, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Rich

    The "audacity of arrogance!" So, the Senator from Illinois really believes that all of us who have worked for, campaigned for, and sent money to Hillary 2008 will back him without even the courtesy of his "making the ask?" It is a bit like the guy at a family gathering who announces to everyone that he and his girlfriend are getting married, before he has bothered to ask his girlfriend. She might still say yes, or she might storm out and never speak to him again.

    Instead of uniting the country around a common theme of "hope for the future," Obama seems to be dividing his own party with his arrogance., and destroying the chance for any democrat to succeed in 2008. (Anyone remember what happened in 1988? 1968? History does tend to repeat itself!!)

    February 2, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Harold

    I cant under stand how America can be so bitter over a Lady running for the number one job ?

    February 2, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Barb, NN, VA

    Bill Clinton....what a shameless narcissist! Hillary isn't much better. America deserves better...A LOT BETTER!!! I'm tired to seeing them manipulate the American people for their self-serving ends. Vote Obama 08.

    February 2, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Marcus, Independence MO

    This is what I've been saying all along. Bill rips blacks and a viable black candidate and now wants to apologize. What a rat. If he didn't mean to offend black people then he shouldn't have made those comments.

    February 2, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. Barbara A. Jensen

    Hillary is campaging and she needs help the same as Obama, his wife is helping him along with Oparh, Carolyn, etc. What is wrong with Bill helping is wife, is that was spouses do. Hillary and Bill have done a lot for the African-American's, (I wish we could just say Americans, after all that is what we all are.
    Go Hillary 2008.

    February 2, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Joseph Johnson NC

    This is no different than Obama using the power of Oprah Winfrey to engage his supporters. In the end neither Bill, Oprah or any of the recent endorsement will help Hillary or Obama win the nomination. People are smarter than the media gives them credit for. We as Americans will vote for who we think will solve the problems that we face. Go Hillary!

    February 2, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. sasha kando

    It is an insult to all of us if the thinks that he can just go and try to right what he has blatantly done. It is indeed offensive. The Clintons thought and done wrong when the took the African American votes for granted. Don't keep on repeating what the Clintons have done for us. When he took the oath, he swore to do all he could for the country. It was his solemn responsibility. No one is stopping him from campaigning, but do not try to cover past misdeeds. We have had enough cover-ups to last more than a lifetime already.

    February 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Claire, Austin, TX

    Reminder for those who do not know, you can find ALL of the candidate's issues at their websites.
    barackobama.com and hillaryclinton.com
    The ticker is just for recent news of the trail.

    February 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. wanderink, san francisco, ca

    I find it really disturbing that these pro-Obama people so vicious about the Clintons, when the actual positions and tactics of Clinton and Obama are so similar. Bill being on tour is somehow terrible, but Michelle Obama or Oprah doing the same is just fine? Huh?

    Obama's doing a pretty good job at staying above the fray, of not being petty and putting out baseless attacks. Not so of his followers!

    February 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. James Izzard

    I hope this is soon to be followed by the Wolf Blitzer mea culpa tour for making a reference to Hillary Clinton being "naive".

    I hope that Lou Dobbs does the same for calling all Americans "stupid".

    February 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. Ruth


    February 2, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Canadian Cate

    What are the Obama supporters afraid of – doesn't having Bill Clinton stumping for Hillary just add to the media bias against her – Me thinks you all doth protest too much – and I still can't get over all of the hate towards her – I guess it's all of that "youth" vote that's coming out for Obama – notorious for yapping off, nortorious for being lazy and getting nothing done – that is the reality of most youth today!

    February 2, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Emi

    I just hope Hillary wins on Tuesday. I can't stand what the media is doing. The media have ganged up against Hillary, like vic said. Go Hillaryyyy!!!!!!

    February 2, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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