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. Juan Carlos(Vegas)

    Gooooooooo

    Obama 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 2, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. Dem08

    Everyone knows it was the media who played the race card, and it was Obama who allowed it to get blown out of porportion. The Clinton are not now, and have never been racist. Do your homework. Clinton's policy's during the 90's benefitted most of you complaining today. Stop the gossip and trying to mislead the public.

    Hillary Clinton is the best choice for all of America.

    February 2, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. Gus

    I would rather have Bill Clinton as a White House advisor to Hillary Clinton than to have Oprah as an advisor to Obama.

    February 2, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. get truth guy

    Bill did so much for the Balcks and he is still very much beloved by brothers and sisters, Obama people play the racial card won't succeed in Golden state.

    February 2, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Renee

    While your villifying Bill and Hillary...how do you explain Michelle Obama sitting on the board of TreeHouse Foods, Inc., a company that pays its top execs millions a year while the company lays off 100s of low paid minority workers in economically depressed areas...and by the way...their #1 customer is Wal Mart..

    February 2, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. Jessica Price, California

    Bill, we love you!

    February 2, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. Abe

    Atleast Hillary has a former president campaigning for her and not a talkshow host.

    February 2, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. Ely

    The genocide in Rwanda took place under Bill Clinton presidency; even as the United Nation pleaded with him to send troops to Rwanda, he refused, turning instead his attention to Eastern Europe.

    February 2, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. Layne

    Leave it alone already...stop whinning about Bill. Your just jealous because she has the best endorsement anyone could have.

    February 2, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. Voteing for Hillary Is Dumb

    To Lorna I'm glad to see others are informed!!!!!

    February 2, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. leny

    Obama is only good in rhetorics. He uses words that amused people, but without substance. He did not vote for the war because at that time, he did'nt have all the information that is needed. But many people during that time including me, would like to go on war. Please, this is not the real issue now, the real issue is a wider knowlege & wisdom on what to do now. And I think it's Hillary that have them. Obama is ideaistic, but what this countrey needs, is one who has the right gasp of reality. Wake up people! This is not a popularity contest.
    Go Hillary, Go for it!

    February 2, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. M Johnson

    Bill Clinton is such a jerk. I regret I ever voted for him.

    February 2, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. lenn

    hello > ron paul .. raised more money than all other rep candidates .

    February 2, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. California voter

    I now have two comments awaiting moderation . . .should I be supporting Obama to have my comments posted. Please advise.

    February 2, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. Yamaka

    What happened in South Carolina was a pathetic politics of color perpetrated by Oprah and Obama.

    Jesse Jackson is an authentic Black (unlike the biracial Obama) who got 55% votes in SC in 1988. Obama with Oprah got 57%. Al Gore got earlier 18% votes, but Hillary got 27% of the votes. Tell me who did better? Obama, or Hillary ? South Carolina Blacks always voted with their color. Oprah brought race/color into the mix.

    Bill Clinton just mentioned the historical fact. But the press twisted it as a racial statement. He need not feel bad. Truly he has been working for Blacks for now 35 years in public life. Shame on Obama campaign to capitalize on the backs of Jesse Jackson.

    The more Oprah and Obama play the race/color card, the main stream Whites will run away from Barack Hussein Obama Jr.

    He wants to give driver's license to ILLEGAL immigrants, which encourages ILLEGALITY. This will again push the main stream law abiding citizens away from Obama. Beware.

    Obama talks well, but talk is cheap. He is racial and manipulative. On Iraq war he was against in 2002, but from 2004 onwards he has been voting for war funding like most other Senators. He is a flip-flop, a double talker.

    Vote for REAL Change, Real Experience. Vote For Hillary Clinton.

    February 2, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  16. Ben

    They are about to rig this election. After this nobody will ever remember what happened. Even if Obama doesn't win, he tried anyway!

    February 2, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. v,ananthan

    THIS SHOWS THAT BILL CLINTON HAS FAITH IN AFRICAN AMERICAN VOTERS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 2, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  18. Luis

    When is the majority of Black America going to wake up........................this couple is pure evil and counts on the fact you all can't see past this cult of personality. Many of us Latinos are guilty of the ignorance, but we are staring to see past the rhetoric and smoke screens the Clintons and their syncophants use to obtain the minority vote.

    Wake up people!

    February 2, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. Walt, Belton,TX

    Don't forget to think black and look black, Bill. And, for heaven's sake, don't fall asleep again! That was disrespectful.

    February 2, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  20. Brandon

    In response to Richard Rote from california whose comment was..

    Three words: The Starr Report.

    What is your point about The Starr Report? Is that supposed to be something Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton should hide from? The republican congress spending $70+ million dollars on an investigation that produced absolutely zero evidence of criminal activity so they were able to turn it into an investigation of Bill Clinton's infedelity. And because of it the entire country as well as the world was able to know that he cheated on his wife… That was money well spent.

    February 2, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  21. Kristina

    Hasn't the race card been played a tad too often? Can we not understand that Bill Clinton would not intentionally alienated a black voter? Do we not recall the diversity of his Presidential Cabinet? It was Nikki Giovani who had dubbed Bill the "president we've ever had"–clearly that was not a comment form a black woman about the melanin content in his skin–it was about his commitment to
    equality.

    When he spoke out loud and strong–as he should have–for equality, he received
    the support of the black community.

    Now that a "Brother" is running all he says is unforgiveable?

    I'd take back the eight years of prosperity and budget's balanced –over these past eight years of unending war, dying American youth, devaluing of the dollar–and of each of our personal liberties...

    But all of that is moot isn't it? Isn't Hillary running? OH yes...it IS!

    February 3, 2008 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  22. JohnS

    Bill was able to "con" the Republicans and even lie, with some degree of innocence to this nation. I guess getting him back to the White House will be harder for the Republicans to ever catch him again; both Bill and Hillary now have the experience to "cover up" without ever being caught.

    Conclusion: They have the Best experience; so the Dems should vote to get them back to the White House!!!

    February 3, 2008 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  23. Tom

    I love the whole idea that people have that the Clintons can somehow save us. The funniest part of this being that you have Bill talking about of all things slowing down the economy in order to save the planet. Yes I realize this is Bill but as time has shown this is one wife and husband who tend to think alike. It is just too bad that the new and quite frankly damaged version of Bill has as much sense as a dog who likes to chase cars. I can only thank my lucky stars that Hillary made the mistake of using him to campaign for her and to help destroy her double digit leads since we don't need another divider in the white house.

    February 3, 2008 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  24. Lily

    I'm sick and tired of folks trying to buy black voters by visiting churches..now they using the Lord's house to sell their stuff...they are 'BILL-ing' the priests and the congregation in a whole

    February 3, 2008 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  25. 30%er

    Bill is touring because he wants to stay the first and only black president. dems please vote obama and end this joke

    February 3, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9