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.

Get breaking news Super Tuesday results via email. Sign up here

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. Sherry

    For the record, the Clintons' have been frequent visitors to black churches as far back as when he was governor.

    Can an Obama believer, tell me why his ads are always pointing to something Hillary did or said, instead, of touting his record? Doyou think he even knows what negative campaigning is?

    He needs to take his toys and go home.

    Hillary 08

    February 3, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  2. micheal

    Despite all the nagging in the clinton camp.obama will still win califonia.We need to wake up people, friendship and business are poll apart.so let us stop the clintons after 8yrs of unsucessful universal Health coverage.ha ha ha

    February 3, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  3. charlotte

    Sorry guys, a whole lot of you are going to be disappointed Super Tuesday. Oprah didn't get a overflowing crowd wonder why? Oh, I know this is not SC.

    February 3, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  4. Alecki

    I don't like CNN's President conerage pertaing to Hillary
    Please give her supporl We need to hear news fron CNN. It mindboggling to not suuprt hereffots.

    February 3, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  5. eric barthel

    i want to know if Bill have nothing else to do..........

    February 3, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  6. phil

    Bill seems to still have the blacks blinded into slavery that they can't even see that one of their own is taking on the challenge to fight for them and continue Martin Luther Martin Luther 's dream. It reminds me of the jews and Christ . He came unto his own received him NOT. African Americans need to wake up from that slumber that will always have a slave master ruling over them but not their own.

    If whited vote for the white there's no problem but blacks for Obama it is racist? Ridiculous!!!!

    February 3, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  7. cedric

    this is gonna go down to the wire, i messaged about 100 friends today!! obama 08, we need all supporters to focus on getting the word out and not bashing the clintons.. if everyone that says they support obama contact atleast 100 ppl tomorrow then we will make a difference..enough is enough, lets move forward and rebuild the country!

    February 3, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  8. Laura

    If Obama is the nominee, I will vote for McCain

    February 3, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  9. angela

    Go Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 4, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  10. John

    A childish, rude Obama for president. What is an joke?

    February 4, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  11. na


    February 4, 2008 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  12. mcrae76

    Interesting enough, we are doing what 1) Obama wishes us not to do and that's Hillary and 2) not focusing on the true issues. Who cares what race Obama is and who cares about Bill. HE was a good president, I remember it well but that does not mean that his wife will. Just because your parent is a great person does not mean you will be... 3) As far as Obama being half white and ashamed of it, that is the most asinine thing I have ever heard in my life. The fact of the matter is he ALWAYS talks about his white father with fondness but lets face it, the world does not see him as Half anything they see his brown skin and say he is black.
    4) Although I am voting for Obama as a black woman–not because he is lack but because of what he stands for, I wish Hillary the best and one day I hope to see a woman President in the Oval Office, but one I can relate to, one that I can believe in and one who can lead the country on her own without her husband's help or legacy.

    February 4, 2008 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  13. Vote Democrat

    I am extremely disappointed at how some Obama supporters are reacting here – the bile and hatred seems to me to show that some are not what they appear.

    We as democrats should be proud of the fact that after this race we have the possibility of having either the first women or first African-American President of this country.

    We need to recognise that a lot more unites than divides the candidates – they have a lot more in common than say McCain has with Romney. Let's unite around the winning candiadte and stop this pointless bickering.

    February 4, 2008 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  14. d

    Do you say the same thing about the Kennedy's.... hey, you're not black!

    February 4, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  15. BCNU purple state, usa

    Ever notice how spiritual the Clinton's get during election time? If Huckabee were the subject of this story, how many 'separation of church and state' posts would we see? But, since it's Clinton, there is maybe one or two. Is this because you know he's being phony but are still willing to accept the line of bull?

    Says a lot about their integrity, and for the lemmings in their camp willing to follow no matter what the offense.

    February 4, 2008 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  16. Jen

    Bill outperformed Michelle.
    HIllary outperformed Michelle's husband.
    Super Tuesday, here comes Madam President!!!

    February 4, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  17. Shawn

    how can the Clintons accuse Obama of pulling the race card when they are trying to be something that arent....

    And did anyone hear that Hillary will GARNISH wages of those that dont want to purchase insurance!!

    February 4, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  18. Di

    I agree with Sylvia. Obama is the one playing the Race Card. I feel sad that he seems to have decided to ingore the fact that is mother is white. Like she doesn't matter.

    February 4, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  19. pk

    im not for any campaigning in churches from either side, seriously, there are many huge buildings all over this country, churches are not the place to campaign

    February 4, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. Sal


    as you said, the same old experience is irrelevant today. (1992)

    Mrs. Waters is wanting something more than experience in her candidate:

    Obama's experience. The experience they are talking about is not by definition.
    They are talking about a Bush period of bitterness. The Bush years have made people bitter to the point of saying you are not experienced (Bitter) enough because you are not expressing partisan bitterness. Mrs. Maxine Waters said it was Hillary’s policy as to why she endorsed Hillary Clinton. I thought your recent economic stimulus proposal was more on point than any other proposed stimulus plan presented. Representative Walters has had many problems in congress with the GOP and with the Bush administration. Some may vote Hillary because they believe Hillary will be a Bush (Partisan President) for Democrats, in only helping Democrats. As Democrats, we always had a long history of reconciliatory gestures towards the other political parties, building lasting relationships, as a model for governments around the world. It will not be fruitful at this stage for congress and others to back a partisanship government for any reason, especially not for revenge. Democratic Party truly represents the teaching of Christ Jesus. Grace runneth over in paying our debts, as we rightly see the only man. As we remove that beam out of our way, calling itself bitterness, resentment and condemnation. That is not about the American Dream. People want Change that includes all. Now, is the time for courageous thinkers! Many of our Washington Status quo representatives fear a change. Most of their courageous constituents want change that blesses all America. This movement is about healing a nation. With your message, people are starting to see the possibilities that were thought to be impossible.

    The Movement Is beyond Our will

    Forgive and Forgive

    change that brings us all together

    February 4, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. Jim

    How sad it is to see an ex-president try so hard to make a case for his wife, when in fact he only hurts her chances of winning the election. Every time he opens his mouth, the polls indicated she loses ground. If he would only take a more intelligent approach to her campaign. The American people are not stupid, we can really see through this guy and its insulting for him to think otherwise.

    February 4, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |

    got to wonder who obama is pandering to with the superbowl nothing ads. Young people will like the music and the idealism – i, however, don't think i can afford the adgenda. Here is a flash – all the things promised – need to go thru a congress that is not going to rubberstamp his untried ideas. Politicians are aware of the cost to their states and will ultimately vote in a way that protects thier voters. thank god.

    February 4, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  23. matt UK

    DM- it's the economy, STUPID.

    February 4, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Joyce --- Virginia

    In reply to PW VA: Why don't you read or listen to the rest of Bill Clinton's quote, He also said " I have waited my whole life to vote for a woman." Then he said " GOD you are playing with my mind again." My quote " If you can't tell it right don't tell it at all."

    February 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Dominic price

    I find your blatantly, biased anti Clinton reporting reprehensable, to the extent that I have decided to discontinue viewing your web sites/ TV station in future.

    Dominic Price

    February 4, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
1 2 3 4