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. otis

    It's funny, watching the man formerly known as "America's first black president" scrambling around for support after getting his "black card" revoked. Sorry, Bill. You got to be president once already, and screwed it up. Pandering to us black folk won't change that...

    February 2, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Robert Wooller

    Why is Bill Clinton taking the attention of the media again? He had his 8 years and should let his wife have her turn now and stop being so greedy. It is not as if he is helping her; he keeps stirring the situation up between Hillary and Barack Obama.

    February 2, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Millie

    Once again he is making raise an issue. Tour of African American Churchs, major media coverage... he is reprehensible. And so is She.

    February 2, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Millie

    Once again he is making race an issue. Tour of African American Churchs, major media coverage... he is reprehensible. And so is She.

    February 2, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Lee SC

    This sort of political pandering is exactly why we need Obama. If you really want to see a democrat win in November, you need to vote Obama Tuesday.

    Bottomline: Hillary CAN'T win in November. There's a large number of independents that will vote for Obama but will either stay home or vote republican.......

    February 2, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Kat, Huntington, West Virginia

    concerned voter,
    Well, you know even though Hillary is great and the best candidate for the job, even she can't be everywhere. All candidates have spouses and families and they do a lot of campaigning for them so please if you are goinig to disagree with Hillary that is fine but do it on something of substance and not the fact that her family is helping her!

    February 2, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. Hillary Supporter

    Obama's church is telling their members to NOt buy from Walmart and Sam's Club. What's with that? I have many friends and family members who work for Walmart. I also depend on walmart because of their low prices.
    Hillary has been and will always be a friend to the black people. Look at her record for God's sake.
    The media are the ones who turned this into a racial race. We seem to forget that Obama is first a man......I am sick of the politics of "men." I will be proud to vote for the FIRST WOMAN President!!

    February 2, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. kent

    If it is like this now, it boggles the mind to think what it might be like if the fairy tale come true.

    February 2, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Lana

    Listen Bill is getting unnecessary and biased coverage because CNN is doing so. Have you noticed how they barely cover Hillary's town hall meeting or her campagin stops? Seriously CNN is so biased in favor of Obama that they willing to go the distance and paint the picture that Bill is running for office which he is not. Secondly they are making it seem as if he is trying to make it up to black people or that he is some racist whom is trying to trick and pander to black folks which none of these things Bill or the Hillary camp has stated that he is doing.

    This is a joke CNN and you guys are buying this crap. You are drinking the kool aid that CNN is selling you that the Clintons are bad, that Bill is running for office and is a bad person and that the Clintons are racist. THey haven't even bothered covering the campaign speechs or tours that Hillary is doing. WHy not? You really have to wonder why the media is trying to demonize Hillary to us. I've already stopped buying into all of these because it's becoming way to biased. I like both candidates but it is clear CNN just doesn't like Hillary for some reason and that Obama makes good headlines. CNN has already picked our democractic nominee for us: Obama

    February 2, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. Harry

    It is Obama time! Fool me once......

    February 2, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. Gail

    I think Obama will take care of Black side America that has been forgotten for a long time. It is time and can never be right than this!

    February 2, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. marionboyer

    Hello Keep up the good work Bill Hillary is my choose.Marion

    February 2, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. jershom

    I think Bill Clinton has all the right to campaign for his wife just like Obama being campaign by Oprah, Kennedys' and his wife Michelle. Are we just too biased on Obama??? With our economic situation right now, I think I would rather vote for Hillary than anybody else. She knows the job how to get it done.

    February 2, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Russell Gipe. Hendersonville,NC


    February 2, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. james brook

    Here we go one idiot asking for you to vote for another one let's see he can't pratices law because he lied under oath. Hillary would be the last person I would vote for she has lied too many times and always points the finger at someone else. When Bill didn't run for governor Arkansas to make a run for the white house Hillary wanted to run until she found out no one would vote for her and slick willie couldn't help. I heard she for the working man what a joke she wants to put them in the poor house she has done nothing for labor other than let jobs go over seas. This woman couldn't manage her family Bill was always running around and her statement she didn't know was a lie until the law suits.

    February 2, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. carol

    How is Hillary going to fix health care?

    The same way that we will pay for staying in Iraq for the next "100 years......

    February 2, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. anonymous

    i would expect him to speak on behalf of his spouse. and he is a former president, so gosh, he is qualified. tell me again, how is Oprah qualified to speak on Obama's behalf? because she's, ahem, black? and ahem, ahem, the richest woman in the country? come on–it's so obvious, it's sickening, what CNN and the rest of the media is doing here. America, please be an intelligent voter. don't just vote for someone because they're charming, look good and idealistic. This isn't MTV or American Idol. We've made this mistake so many times. Hillary Clinton is THE ONLY ONE qualified for this job. This is coming from a long-time Republican.

    February 2, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. John Smith


    I really believe that it is going to take the active support of Hillary for the DEMS to lose the White House again; Remember Gore and Kerry? How short minded can the Dems really be in this nation. Gore and Kerry (each a stronger candidate than Hillary) were the "accidents" of the Clintons– The Dems lost each time!!!!!

    Currently, the Dems are celebrating the "huge number of voters" out there for them because of the Independents (like myself), moderate Republicans, and young voters that have been brought onboard by Obama. Let us wait until the Dems put up Hillary as the nominee and the "voting pool" will run dry!!

    This is yours Dems to lose again; it always takes the Clintons for the Dems to lose the White House or to deal with issues of moral corruptions!!!

    WISE and Intelligent Dems should simply stay AWAY from the Clintons; they are the source of "curse" for the Dems!!!!

    No Clinton, not even Bill, can ever restore the ECONOMIC fortunes of the past; indeed, the conditions of the past (e.g., Internet bubble) that made that happen are simply NOT there today. The Clintons burnt their bridges BEFORE they left (in disgrace) the White House!!! And guess what? Hillary has been making stronger enemies since!

    February 2, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. bobbie

    as ablack african american woman(educated and a professional) i applaud the 1st black president(a title he got for his dedication to the plight and welfare for blacks) for a return visit. it is sad that we call on God's name and sing loud the most but yet so hateful and ungrateful. according to janet jackson's song WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY obama.but istead you allowed my poor black to suffer in chicago while you and your buddy resko made money.
    i refuse to join the dead fast train going nowhere to please obama and upset my God.
    i will vote for hillary for her dedication and many years of service which has now prepared her to be the next president of our great and troubled nation

    obama trying so hard (and will do anything to be elected. i look back and i don,t see any picture of obama in any civil right march, up on till now he thought he was better than a black brother(you know half black) but suddenly is a brother just to use us.

    here is my advice to all the black who say, we want a black president (which i agree) and also who are asking for a change(i agree too) and a need a uniter(which i dont believe obama is one) look at your life now and then ask yourself if i have a person(as in hillary and bill) who has in the past fought for me why vote for one who has done nothing in past to help my people.

    so i simply ask that you do the right thing by God and be there for one who has been there for you before which Hillary.

    so bill fel asleep(while mayor shirley franklin showed her disrespect to MLK by using the podium to say angry words at bill) the body gets tired so accept that.

    come tuesday vote for the one who can get us moving again toward prosperity by her experience and life dedication to this country and all VOTE HILLARY

    February 2, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. FromPa

    We are all forgetting that Obama is also a career politician. Have you guy's ever wondered why he is calling for change. Because he is converting his weakness into his strength. He obviously doesn't have the experience compared to Hillary and hence this marketing spin from him. We are interested in what thier positions are and what they would do as a President. We never hear the what from Obama, it's always the how – the philosophical spin. And one more thing, how is his voting record different than Hillary's. When you don't have to make a yes or no decision on the floor of the Senate, you can take a moralistic view of the issues like he did on the Iraq war. Once in the senate he voted just like Hillary.

    February 2, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. gwen

    The Clinton's are the only ones that will get us out of the mess we are in. Wake up and remember the money we all had during the Clinton years. Vote your pocket book. VOTE HILLARY! Or else sit in the unemployment lines and watch your IRA's and 401K's reduce to nothing. You all know what I say is true.

    February 2, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. ler

    Women run their homes, women give birth – so why not a women for PRESIDENT. Who better to go in there and clean up after Bush. Her husband did it and she will tooooooooooooooo




    February 2, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. JA Cook

    "It took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, and it might take another one to clean up after the second."

    How quickly we forget that the Clintons stayed out of sight during Al Gore's campaign because they were considered a liability. It took a Clinton to leave the White House door open for a Bush to get in again.

    It took another Bush to make the Clintons look good again.

    February 2, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. J E


    February 2, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. audie

    It amazes me how everyone not for Hillary is opposed to Bill campaigning for her. Although they find nothing wrong with the spouses of the others campaigning for their husbands. Is this gender bias?

    February 2, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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