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. vc

    the clintons have done more for black people in the last few decades than obama has ever done in his lifetime. but of course, black people forget easily. (must be the 40oz)

    never forget!

    February 2, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Beans

    Are you kidding me? Who IS this source? The Clinton's have done NOTHING for Black Americans. They are part of the problem. The keep Blacks exactly where they want them...in poverty expecting payouts from the government. This is totally BS!

    February 2, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Alesandro

    All you bunch of losers! Hypocrites! Ingrates! and NAIVE!

    "I will bring Change to America....Hope is back...bla bla bla..."
    Yeah right, change is only a word if its not backed by action. 3 years in the senate qualifies Obama for the highest office in the US? I think not. There is no time for "on the job training" we need a LEADER that is a DOER not a TALKER. You all say Bill Clinton is a charlatan? Please, get off it! And isn't Obama one? What are his plans to solve america's problems and are they realistic? It's time to stop dreaming and get back to REALITY. Fool is he who lives in the world of dreams. and no for all you "don't mess with MLK" this is not a racist comment. But now a days everything is racial with the African Americans....slavey is over and it has been. You are were you are because you choose to be.

    To my "dawgs": don't bite the hand the feeds you.

    February 2, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. 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?

    Please, don't get so caught up in the fact that there is a woman running for president. As great as it may sound in your head or the way she puts on a show, I can tell you that it will not be that great when/if she does move back into the White House. America will most definitely be the same as it is now. Hillary does not want to bring "Red" and "Blue" America together. Anymore it seems like she doesn't even want men and women living together, look at all the women and the women groups (NOW in New York State) saying how it's not right for a woman not to back the woman candidate or that Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama instead of the woman. It's ridiculous!

    America, if you don't want the same old crap that we've had for the past 20 or so years, let's be for real change!

    Obama '08

    February 2, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. PB

    I never heard of the term called "street money" until last week on an ABC morning show. Apparenltly this is when politicians pay reverends to swing their church congregation support to them. What a joke? And when the congregation gives their voting support to the poitician guess what they get in return? Zilch, nada, nothing. Ever wonder why black neighborhoods like Harlem, Watt, etc look the same way for years(trash, crime, drugs, etc)? Because politicans and reverends like Butts, Rangel, etc sell us out. I am really beginning to think black people need to register independent and wait until November and see which party is serious about helping the community.

    February 2, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. Louis

    I would just like to say that I am proud of Hillary and I know that she is going to make a great President just like her husband.

    Hillary and Bill have been standing up for civil rights for a combined 60+ years! Don't allow the media to try to re-write their positions and achievements.

    I would like to say that Obama ran a well-fought campaign and that America should be proud.

    It is my hope that Hillary Clinton will select Senator Obama as her VP running mate... insuring that the next 16 years will be a time period that our country will be prosperous.

    This election is not about gender or race. We need to stop zeroing in on pigmentation and gender and find the issues and substance that we can all agree or at least compromise on.

    And for anyone wanting to bring up the scandals of the 90's... The Republican Party SPENT MILLIONS of TAXPAYER's MONEY on going after the Clintons... and all it resulted in was NOTHING! What is sad is the day that the media was airing the taping of the Grand Jury Testimony that President Clinton was giving a speech on terrorism at the U.N. ... 3 years later we had 9/11. So please lets FINALLY start getting our priorities straight and maybe, just maybe, we save innocent lives this time.

    Clinton/Obama '08

    February 2, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. B

    Two “prominent politicians” will join him. I wonder who they might be? One of the officials has described it as Clinton’s “mea culpa tour” to the black community. Shame on you, Bill Clinton. Double shame on the officials in Los Angeles. Unless he’s going there to worship, send him packing. Please don’t use the church for last minute campaigning before Super Tuesday. Surely African Americans won’t allow themselves and their Church to be used in this fashion. Clinton has already said everything he needs to say. He said it in South Carolina and she allowed Bob Johnson to say it for her.

    February 2, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. robert

    OK, so he played the political game in SC, that doesnt make him a racist people...as to the the person who said Bush has hired more minorities...that may be true, however, to the effect that that too was political positioning....what has he done on things like workplace discrimination and affirmative action.

    If blacks turn away from Bill on a few comments, I should turn my head from Barack who has alluded to black comments of his own....

    February 2, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Chuck, Miami Fl

    Obama, Rezko. LOL.

    February 2, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. John

    I don't really think who campaigns for who is the issue. But I think Bill Clinton disappointed a lot of folks in South Carolina and they let him know with the way they voted. The Clintons are not stupid; the politics they used in South Carolina were insulting. For whatever reason, they think that the black community there owes them something. They do not. Everyone keeps saying all the great things they did specifically for African Americans. What in the world did they do? Secondly, if you are going to try to debunk your opponent on the theory that his ability to speak and inspired is not enough, and that "it takes a president to get it done," that is fine. But own the consequences of your own words. That was said to people, a good number of whom were alive at that time and were in those streets getting beat up, intimidated, and watching friends and family pay the ultimate price. Whether that statement is technically true or not, the fact is, it offended those people and many others who know they have the opportunities they do because King understood that you have to get people involved to make a change and you must inspire them to influence them to get involved. Mr. Johnson did not do that. Any moron would know that making those statements is going to draw criticism. It was deliberate. So whatever the Clintons "did for blacks," they just undid in that moment. The message went forth loud and clear that, we will use blacks to make our opponent look too black (like Al and Jesse), scare whites out of voting for him, and then, will expect you to vote for Mrs. Clinton. It was a stupid strategy, it worked to some degree, but hurt more. What the Clintons did not expect was for the people, largely poor, largely not college educated, to be smart enough to understand what had happened. They were. So I say to Bill, there is no need to go apologize for you and Hillary's true colors. It is obviously not sincere anyway, and everyone can do without it. Just learn that when you do something, be a man and stand up and own it.

    February 2, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. 2 little 2 late

    Sorry, Bill, we already know how you REALLY feel.

    The Clintons will do anything, say anything that they think will help Hillary get elected.
    Time for the status quo to come to an end and that means no more Clintons in the white house.

    Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton? Is that change? I think not.

    It's time for REAL change, it's time for Obama!

    February 2, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. Monte

    Too bad you try to read something into every thing Bill does, while at the same time you praise Michelle Obama. Your bias is so obvious!

    February 2, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. b.lee

    Sorry Bill ! what is done is done,,,,,,,,,

    February 2, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. coby

    Whatever! You're not going to tell me just anything and I'll believe you Bill. What an idiot! What he said in S.C. he really believes. That what is said behind our back sometimes. I hope the African-American community that he's going to see can see through his B.S.

    February 2, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. SOHAN


    February 2, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Kusa

    Bob, great COMMENT! I wholeheartedly agree with you. Unfortunately, Afircan American haven't realized that Bill Clinton inner circle was NOT African Americans, they were white men. Why do we continue to let the Clintons (Dems) pull the wool over our us! This is disgusting and disgraceful.

    February 2, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Ann, MO

    Oh yes, another "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" moment.

    February 2, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. lorrainehiebert@shaw.ca

    Good for Bill Clinton – he should be out and about and helping Hillary. Why is it okay for Obama to have Oprah out for him when she is so powerful – I am thinking this is kind of not playing fair, I think all people who go out and vote should really take a good look at the record and public service and listen really good to how this person is going to run the government – talk is cheap – it is also easy to criticize the other when you were not part of it (Hillary voting for the war – Obama did not have a vote or who knows what his would of been. Put him in the same position as Hillary with the same inside information she was given he might of done just like she did. Don't see anything wrong with Bill Clinton going out campaigning for Hillary and Mrs Obama is able to do the same if she wants. Go Hillary

    February 2, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. Icia

    Bill Clinto has as much right to be on the campaign tours as Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain, Mrs Romney, Mrs Huckabeer, etc. I think the racial overtones are exagerated. Seriously, what I find disturbing is the media tell people how to react on Mr. Clinton's remarks. But of course, black people will also place the race card at their own convenience even if a remark was acceptable a second ago.

    February 2, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Doris

    What a joke comparing Michelle to BIll. Comparing a hospital admin to one of the greatest presidents our country has ever had.

    February 2, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. valerie

    hillary we know your game. bill sorry, it is too late. bill and hillary have exploited the african american community for too long. It is time for a change.

    I wish they will just go away.


    February 2, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Jim

    I constantly read about Bill Clinton's connection to the Black community and how much he did for it as president. Sadly, I'm uninformed. What exactly did President Clinton do for African-Americans in a real, tangible way? I know about his welfare reform and helping people to break free from government dependency. What else was there?

    Another question, albeit off topic. Remember the news reports of his reading over 300 books a year? That's quite a figure! I'm an avid reader, but even without the hectic schedule of a president, cannot come close to that number. Does anyone happen to know where a list can be found of those book titles (from any given year during his presidency)? Now that he's back front and center, I'm trying to sort through some of this again. Thanks!

    February 2, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Terri in NYC

    The crazy vehemence in comments in these blogs and all over the web really makes the option of commenting a pretty useless endeavor.

    So many people with such clear 'anti-something' agendas and overwrought, hysterical hatefulness in the commenting.... for me, is devaluing the usefulness of reading the comments, and certainly discurages the impetus to engage in discussion.

    How can anyone take the majority of these comments seriously? How can anyone really engage with so many extreme wing-nuts in a meaningful discussion?

    February 2, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. Larry

    Isn't it amazing how the "do-gooders" scream about separation of church and state but no one is saying anything about the Democrats (Bill, etc.) doing all the campaigning from Churchs....speaking from the altars and pulpits.

    February 2, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. libsarecowards

    So why are we still expecting the "BLACK" vote to go to the Clintons? If Bill was such a great "BLACK" president, how come the Blacks are still complaining about their situations? Just what did Bill do for them in his 8 years in office? How about 40 years of "TEDDY" in the Senate...if these liberal politicians are so admired in the BLACK community, I'm still wondering just what have they accomplished for the "BLACK" people? The "BLACK" community stil rants about inequality, economic oppression, lack of job skills and training for "BLACK" youth etc... if we are still suffering with these problems, 42 years after the civil rights ligislation,just what has the liberal democratic party accomplished over their last 4 decades in power? NOTHING>>>that's right>>NOTHING has been done. The Clintons believe that the "BLACK" vote belongs to them! WHY? All they have done is pander to the Black leadership...and that's about it. Time to say goodbye to all liberal hot-air blowhards who talk a great game, but still can't deliver the results.

    February 2, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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