February 3rd, 2008
02:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Bill Clinton tours African American churches


Clinton laughs with Pastor Noel Jones, left, and Ambassador Sidney Williams at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, California Sunday. (Photo Credit: AP)

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) - Bill Clinton embarked on a pre-Super Tuesday tour of African American churches in Southern California Sunday, in what some involved in the organizing claim is intended to let the former president speak directly to African American voters after the controversy that erupted over his remarks in South Carolina.

“This is a wonderful, wonderful election for America. We ought to be able to have a few disagreements without discord,” he told an audience of African American parishioners during his first stop at the City of Refuge Church in Los Angeles. The Clinton campaign says the tour is part of a larger effort to reach out to all California communities.

At his first stop, the former president never directly addressed his remarks in South Carolina, but he appealed to the audience for understanding.

“I’m not against anybody. I’ve never been more proud to be part the Democratic Party in my life,” he said. “I get why this is a hard election. I waited my whole life to vote for an African American for president. I waited my whole life to vote for a woman for president. And sometimes I look up at sky and say God you’re playing with my mind again.”

Clinton was introduced by California Rep. Maxine Waters, an influential member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who directly addressed the tension between supporters of the two candidates: “Let us not turn on each other. Let us not look at each other cross eyed. Let us not start hating each other,” she said.

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At the City of Refuge Church, the former president was greeted by polite applause and a brief, respectful, standing ovation. It's hardly the enthusiastic reception he’s seen in similar churches in times past, though the audience appeared to warm to him during his twenty minute talk. He ticked through a list of reasons the congregants should support Sen. Clinton including her proposals to provide universal health care, repair the mortgage crisis, provide opportunities for former inmates, provide more tax credits and college loans for low income working Americans, and improved relations around the world.

Clinton also invoked the rage many felt after the federal failure to respond to hurricane Katrina. Insisting she “will not forget your faces,” he said she’s prepared to solve problems immediately.

“That’s what you hire a president to do. To stop big bad things from happening. Look how we felt when it didn’t happen after Katrina?” he said.

He elicited some laughter when, after describing one of his wife’s programs, he joked, “I wish I’d thought of it.”

He also drew laughter when he said Sen. Clinton wouldn’t get caught up in the trappings of the office, explaining that when you’re president “they play a song for you when you walk in a room” and “your plane is so cool they make movies about it.”

He ended his talk telling the audience: “Search your heart and do what you think is right. I love you. She loves you.”

The former president is scheduled to attend three more church services and appears to be running about an hour behind schedule.

- CNN Correspondent Jessica Yellin

Filed under: Bill Clinton
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. A Texan

    Someone needs to tell Bill Clinton that he is a 'white' man and it doesn't look good for him to concentrate on 'only' black churches. How often does he go to a 'black' church when it is not a campaign year?

    Obama '08

    February 3, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. Look Whose Awake

    Wow...the titan from the 90's stayed awake. Now that's a headline. The last one I saw of him in a church had him stone cold out...wasn't that MKL Jr. that was speaking when we was asleep. Yep...I think it was.

    February 3, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. John

    Why does he have to blatantly embed himself around African-Americans to try to win the vote? Does he think that this is a good idea for Hillary? It suggests that all African-Americans will now somehow vote for Hillary because he is affable?
    This is clearly a racial tactic and the American people can see right through it.
    If Hillary wants to talk about how President Bush is "pathetic" for going to the Saudis to ask for more oil, than how is this any different?

    February 3, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. Jack

    Bill thinks they are laughing with him.....

    February 3, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. PW Va

    "I waited my whole life to vote for an African American for president."

    Bill...does this mean you're endorsing Senator Obama over your wife? Are you actually going to vote for Senator Obama???

    Of course, you're not, you faker!!! Pandering, once again...and this time in the house of the Lord! Have you NO SHAME????

    February 3, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. C

    ....and?.....what's the significance?

    February 3, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. C. Marie

    I am a black 32 year old woman who ha never lost respect for the Bill Clinton. People please be aware the press will continue to try and choose your candidates for you by their polarization of coverage. the fact is Bill is not running. Hillary Clinton is and if Michelle Obama was as scutinized as Bill Clinton's every word is we would have more prespective.

    I will support Hillary Clinton for president. Not co-president. Madam president.

    February 3, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Mike

    Bill goes to church? I couldn't tell after the countless times he cheated on his wife.

    February 3, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Nice try Bill

    Hillary should be campaigning. Not you.

    February 3, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. dallas

    O goodness, Maxin Waters. The woman who was against Welfare Reform with Rep. Charles Rangel which has given single mothers the chance the get free occupational training and GED certification and become self-sufficient with pride for their children. Welfare Reform- a republican idea that Clinton signed in to law after it having to be pushed three times while he was in office.

    February 3, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Ijeoma Adimibe

    If Obama was a white man, he'd win this presidential election. If only his color could be changed to "white", no doubt, he'd be the next American President. He is a very fine man and the right candidate to be the president of America. Folks, lets end racism and vote for the right candidate. Remember Obama's mother was a white woman. He was also raised by his white grandparents. This man needs to be given a chance. If only white folks can ponder for one minute and recognise that Obama is the right candidate irrespective of his color. Unfortunately, America is such a racist country. I am writing from Canada and I must say racism is not as bad over here.

    February 3, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. Adarrah for OBAMA

    Kate Michelman, Former President, NARAL Pro-Choice America has endorsed OBAMA.

    OBAMA 08'

    February 3, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. Luis

    Slick Willie at it again. Unfortunately, he has the African American community so enamored, they can't see past his B.S.


    February 3, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. Ari

    I wish God would play with his mind a bit more and keep him distracted, so the rest of us could focus on the issues of the campaign.

    I'm tired of seeing this guy.

    February 3, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. go4hill

    James Carville said it best today on Meet the Press....the man does not have a racist bone in his body....unfortunately for Hillary....race seems to override intelligence in this election.

    February 3, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. jk

    It is time for black voters to stop laughing with Bill Clinton but laught at him. He is the joke!

    February 3, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Myles

    Sorry Bill, I think you're to have to try harder than that to garner back support from African-Americans.

    February 3, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Myles

    Sorry Bill, I think you're going to have to try harder than that to garner back support from African-Americans.

    February 3, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. George from Minneapolis

    I wonder how much money the Clinton's are giving these black preachers ?? It does not matter because although the preacher's are supporting Clinton and letting them use their church to stump for Hillary, most of the congregation are not fools and are going to use thier own brains and vote for Obama.

    Black people are not dumb. They see just like millions of other Americans that Obama is the best hope for them and this country.

    Do the Clinton's think that because Bill was nice to black people that they should let her wife have the White House ??

    February 3, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. go4hill

    I mis-quoted James Carville by not using quotation marks....the post shoud have quotation marks around the following: "The man does not have a racist bone in his body" .....the rest is all mine.
    Go Hillary

    February 3, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Suzie Wilhelm

    Bill and Hillary are such phonies. I just don't trust them. Go OBAMA! My family and I just love you!!

    February 3, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. Ito, Yokosuka Japan

    Bill Clinton, like his wife, is a poser. What does that say for those sitting next to him at the table in the master's house?

    February 3, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. AJ, IL

    I don't think Bill Clinton is 100% racist but let's not forget that Bill is a "great politician". He is great at pandering to minorities and has a likable personality. I still remember Bill Clinton on the "Arsenio Hall Show" playing the saxophone in black shades or Bill Clinton having Maya Angelou be his poet laureate in 1992 or him saying (based on Toni Morrison's label of him as "the first black candidate") that he likes being called the "first black president". I always thought of Bill Clinton as a good president who was in a great situation. He was president when the Internet/Telecommunications Age first boomed and he had no major foreign policy or international matters which he had to address.

    And Maxine Water, voted the most corrupt politician by numerous citizen groups since 2004, supports Hillary. This is a very appropiate endorsement for the Clintons.

    Obama in 08!

    February 3, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. Ann

    John February 3, 2008 2:29 pm ET
    Why does he have to blatantly embed himself around African-Americans to try to win the vote?"

    Because ignorant voters and a biased media forced him to defend his opinions and position. Its not only about votes here , its about his legacy. If anyone in this country can say that the Clintons are racists (as Obama campaign and Ted Kennedy and others insinuated for scoring political points), there is no fairness in America.

    February 3, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. charlotte

    Anyone think the Black vote is not important? Everybody is after votes,why is Oprah here.

    February 3, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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