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. Sylvia

    Isn't OBAMA half-black....the "other half" being white???? As a white person I am offended he is embarrased of his half that is white. Isn't HE the one playing the RACE card?????
    The Clintons have never pretended to be something they were not...like ALL BLACK

    February 3, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Miss H

    I ain't mad at Bill ... do YOU baby.
    This is politics guys! if you can't understand the game then you sure can't follow it. I support Obama and I can't be mad at Hillary & Bill to try to sway black voters; it's all good = it's all POLITICS.

    Obama '08 – Join the movement

    February 3, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  3. Rebecca - CA

    Didn't the Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, call Bill Clinton the "first black president – Blacker than any actual person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime.?" Luckily, she was not correct. "Now" is our children's lifetime, and she has now enthusiastically endorsed Barack Obama for President.

    February 3, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. Nextprez

    All the younglings supporting Omaba again on a Clinton ticker!

    Shame on you guys!

    February 3, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. Sharon

    How blantantly phoney of Clinton to make his rounds of black churches...then, again, what do you expect from him? At least his laugh is believeable....not the irritating, contrived laughter from Hillary's mouth. Enough, enough, enough of these two!!!! Obama is the real deal.

    February 3, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. Nana Wiafe

    Why Is Jessica Yellin along with many of the CNN reporters so against the Clintons? You would think a strong women would be happy for another strong woman. I am a african american woman and i love both Hillary and Barack but i do not like how CNN all of sudden and giving all the positve remarks to Barack and nothing but hate to Hillary. I watched last thursday's debate and at the same time readnng online what Bill S was commenting on CNN. com and it was very one sided. I guess I am going to stick to watching my local news because the news i'm getting from CNN now is the same one sided opinion i used to get from FOXNews.

    February 3, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. Jay

    All you Obama Supporters it seems to me that you guys are full of hatred.
    Whatever you say about Bill , he still has 85% approval rating among Democrats so he still is much more popular than Ted Kennedy or Kerry or Oprah .
    Go Bill.

    February 3, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. Susan in Cincinnati

    "Hillary and Bill are simply OUT OF TOUCH and like most older folks in that circumstance"

    Yep... ageism is alive and well in this campaign too.

    February 3, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. liz

    You people are vicious you need to "tone" it down

    February 3, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. manubi

    Did Bill fall asleep during the sermon?

    February 3, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. Scott

    brainwashed obamites

    February 3, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. Jen

    How ironic it is that some people spout off about Romney being religious – He is not the one preaching from the pulpit. Personally, I would walk out of ANY church that would put a politician at the pulpit to stump for their campaign. I guess it's a good thing I am LDS – we don't tell you who to vote for!

    February 3, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Bob

    An Old Democrats view of things.

    I watched my favorite TV show “George Stephanopolis “ and could see in his body language something was bothering him looking at the current polls or he is just not comfortable with what he is seeing unfold in this surge for Obama.

    I believe we are seeing some danger signs in both Hillary and Obama.

    • For Hillary, I believe its Clinton fatigue.

    • For Obama, its lack of substance.

    • For both, John Mccain is fairly well liked by moderate Democrats

    • Obama takes Universal Health care off the table. Things will remain the same with the insured paying for those that are not insured.

    • Clinton’s stand on the Iraq war.

    • Obama not showing up for voting on the Iran authorization vote and voting present 100 times.

    These are my present concerns when looking at these two Candidates.

    February 3, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. matt UK

    The only way to get barack and hillary on the same ticket is to VOTE HILLARY. and that's unstoppable. sorry folks. thats not my opinion, its expert concensus, even among republicans.

    February 3, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Karen, Jersey City

    After insulting the black community he now begs for their vote? Does he thinks he's that slick to wimp his way back? He played his cards and rolled the dice. He MUST be in a fairy tale dream....

    February 3, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. Russell, NC

    I agree with JJ in NY.

    February 3, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. John

    To all the hate mongers out there-GET OVER IT!!!! Bill Clinton was the best President this country has had, since JFK-and, Hillary will be even better-A vote for Hillary is a vote for the future, and a vote for Obama is a vote for ????????

    February 3, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Jim, American in Paris

    You were a great President, Bill, and you're a great supporter for Hillary!

    She will fight to give all Americans the best! We can count on her.

    February 3, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. charlotte

    How many more Oprah shindigs we gonna have?

    February 3, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. d

    Bill can campaign for his wife, just as Michelle can for Obama. I saw Michelle's speech on C-Span yesterday, ' when I was a young black girl...blah, blah, blah, blah............ Get over it!

    February 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. gene

    The Hillary haters are all out today. They are ranting and raving and the Howling .Hillary will win California. Hillary will win the nomination. Hillary will win the general election. Hillary will be the next President of the United States of America.The poll they are all dicussing is a trailing poll and only takes a small sampling. The Clinton haters need to get back in their cages.

    February 3, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  22. Ray

    Go Bill. Thanks for supporting Hillary like and spouse would do!!

    February 3, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  23. Marvin Thomas

    Ray, Gene,Jim an american in paris, I personally think you're full of it . A true American can not and will not ever forget the shame and disgrace to this country brought on by the girley parties in the white house while Bill Clinton was president.

    February 3, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  24. Senior Gal

    I'm an Independent. I voted for Bill Clinton twice. I was betrayed. Doesn't anyone remember M. L. and the lies about his relationship with her? He 'used' a twenty-one year old woman. When asked why he did it, he replied, "Because I could".

    Why on earth does anyone trust or believe Bill Clinton?

    Find another candidate.

    February 3, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  25. niki

    If you remember, last year at the begining of this election cycle it was all about Hillary, 50% leads nationally, there was no stopping her. well, what a difference 12 months can make. Is there anyone out there who could have predicted what an impact a little known Junior Senator from Illinois would have on the people of America? I doubt it.

    The fact is that state by state Obama has been able to knock down Hillary's mamoth leads within weeks or even days. Sorry, Gene and others, Obama will win California and the nomination and will become the next President of the United States of America.

    Some things are just meant to be!!!!!!!!

    February 3, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
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