February 8th, 2008
03:26 PM ET
13 years ago

Blitzer: Bill Clinton - asset or liability?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/04/art.blitzer.cnn.jpg caption="CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton is still out there actively campaigning for his wife. He has toned down his comments in the face of some severe criticism, especially in the days before and immediately after the South Carolina primary. In defending Hillary Clinton, he was accused of going way too far in criticizing Barack Obama. The argument was that other campaign leaders should do that – not a former President of the United States.

“She’s the best qualified person to be president I’ve ever had a chance to support, and I feel strongly about that,” Bill Clinton told a reporter from WCSH in Portland, Maine on Thursday. “And I think there’s nothing wrong with me saying that.” He then added: “But what I learned from that whole dustup, and all the things people saying that I didn’t, is that as long as I’m promoting her no one can have an objection; but I can’t defend her. Someone else has to do that.”

There is no doubt that Bill Clinton is a huge asset for his wife’s campaign. He remains extraordinarily popular among Democrats. But there is also no doubt that he can – and probably has – hurt her chances by aggressively defending her record. He now openly acknowledges that. Other surrogates and supporters will have to do the defending for him.

I started covering Bill Clinton in November 1992 – just before he was elected. I then stayed in Little Rock for nearly three months during his transition to the White House, and then became CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent for seven years. It was clear to me then – and it remains clear now – that he is one of the most astute political strategists out there. Politics is in his blood. He truly understands the process even as he occasionally makes some serious blunders. When he does, he is among the best in damage control.

- Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. Reality Check

    For hillary supporters to not like how CNN reports the news they sure spend a lot of time on this blog...if you really stood for what you believed in you wouldn't be posting on CNN blog.

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

    Wolf, what a shame!! You and the CNN political team are so in love with Obama. I am very disappointed. I have always been a loyal CNN viewer and I hate to see how biased toward Obama you at CNN are. I expected more from you.

    February 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Lawyer2B

    Penny, the Republican Party with all its money and power are 0 for 4 versus the Clintons. The GOP never defeated Bill Clinton in a Presidential election and they won't defeat Hillary this time either.

    February 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. LL

    To Mike
    In case you didn't notice, CNN covered Michelle Obama in a lengthy special interview right before Super Tuesday and played it again and again.

    mike February 8, 2008 3:48 pm ET

    Why don't you cover obama's wife to the same degree? Or when Oparah or Ted Kennedy make even more deliberate attacks, why don't you spend 10 hours a day discussing that? Oh yeah, it's the ratings. The same way AC spends time criticizing the media covering Brittney Spears, all the while he's showing clips of her in some crazed mental state.

    February 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Felly

    Bill Clinton is a liability, and I approve this message.

    February 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Moses

    Atleast Wolf you have today something positive about Bill Clinton. Unfortunaltely no one in Cnn, supports the Clintons, even after a flourishing period he was in office. I wonder where this so called the best political team on television went to school, they are the worst political team on earth. Caffertery, shame on you, try to show that you really went to school sometimes. Dont show your hate on television network, everyone hates you.

    February 8, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. Natalie

    Please–HILLARY Clinton is running, not Bill. Bill is not allowed to run again. This seems to be confusing a lot of people who think voting for her means getting the '90s back, and it really has to stop. I think that's one thing Obama supporters and true Hillary supporters could easily agree upon.

    February 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. Russell Nc

    Bill should go hide. He disgraced the office and was only the second president to be impeached.

    February 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Dennis

    We have to be able to go with a 50 state campaign. Which candidate would be able to do that successfully for the Democratic Party.

    February 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  10. Hillary

    Bill Clinton years were the very BEST in few decades of America history – no matter how media cover and put him on wrong spot – Some of you need to learn how acknowledge the facts or some day you have to

    Hillary 08

    February 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. MG

    of course politics is in his blood and it comes so natural to him because by nature he is a self serving, egotist that will do and say anything to win. He then worries about the ourcome later which he addresses with more lies, half truths and distortion. One of the biggest reasons he wants back in the White House is to validate his status in the world and to cover up and make up for all the mistakes they made the first time. These are divisive bad self serving people. Wake up America before your fooled again.

    February 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. Bob

    The tiger can't change his spots. Oh, wait, he did! Good for him!
    -Jack Handey

    February 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. cb

    Why doesn’t the media pay more attention to what Obama has done throughout this career, how he stands on issues both past and present . And by the way who couldn’t be an intercity organizer?

    If Obama gets the nomination Ted Kennedy & John Kerry will be telling him how to run this country, he just doesn’t have the experience.

    I also think that many of Hillary's supporters will vote for McCain.

    February 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. cici

    Billy is a LIABILITY ..no doubt... he's wants a third term in the WH. Both Clintons have way too much negative history, too many unresolved and illegal issues (ex missing WH furniture, Foster's death, White Water, mistresses) to put them in again. They are bold-faced, power/greed-driven politicians. No more Dynasties! Vote NO to Hillary; YES to Obama!

    February 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Audrey

    Really Wolfe, Bill is trying to get back in the White House for himself. I'm not sure Hillary is running for herself as President.


    February 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. MD from MD

    Hillary is her own person, that is true. I thought she was inevitable about one month ago. I woulda voted for her...

    BUT - Her husband stepped in and repeatedly reminded us that he wants a piece of the pie. Why didn't he just let her shine? He knows that when he speaks, people listen so he abused that power and overshadowed the actual candidate.
    She's a strong woman right? Well why did SHE LET HIM make a mockery of their campaign. How ANTI femanistic. Pathetic....my husband doesn't come to work and fight my battles!

    The Clintons reminded me of the past and LOST my vote.

    ExHillary supporter

    February 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Jorge from California

    you know that both of these people are bad for America! you know and you at CNN are affraid to tell all the nasty things that they have done! you hide the electoral fraud that they did in California, in the peter paul case, you guys don't talk about all the deals that Bill Clinton have make with minning companies en the ex-soviet union, getting more than 100 million dollars. you guys at CNN say that you keep the honest, but you hide the fact that hillary takes money from special interests.... why don't you talk about how much money she takes from them and how Barack Obama is rasing money form regular people like me!

    February 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. Ellie Garcia

    He will always defend his wife.Whatever anyone thinks of him he is first and foremost a husband.

    February 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Ann Independent Media,PA

    Just to set the record straight. The Center For Media and Public Affairs CMPA did release a report that found all news networks were favoring Senator Obama 2-1 in their news coverage. Senator Clinton finished last, this included the Republicans too.

    February 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. JA Cook!!What's wrong

    I don't think Bill was divisive or created distractions, did you forget already how prosperous our country was during those Bill years. He cleaned after first bush messes, now that Obama is in race every body thinks IT"S FANCY TO SAY DIVISIVE JUST LIKE OBAMA. HE SAYS THOSE WORDS TO MAKE PEOPLE FOUL AND MAKE THEM CRAZY JUST LIKE GEORGE W.BUSH, DON"T you all forgot WHAT GEORGE BUSH GAVE US. IF OBAMA GETS WHITE HOUSE, HE DOES EXACTLY SAME THING, WE NEED ANOTHER CLINTON TO CLEAN UP AFTER SECOND BUSH

    February 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. The Decider

    Come on Wolf and CNN.. you have 5 BS articles on the Clintons on here and only 1 on Obama. Give me a break. All you people that whine CNN is backing Obama better take a look back at all of the articles for the so called establishment "status quo" and that includes the Republicans. Talk about a long shot fighting his way to the top and will probably get the shaft in the end is pretty sad. Open your eyes America, nothing is going to change with McCain or Clinton!!!!!!!!!

    February 8, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Mike J.

    Wolf thank you finaly something good said about the Clintons.Can you if CNN has the guts.Do a report about how the media played a big part of Obamas success.Ask americans if the media was not pushing for Obama and changing peoples words around to get him nominated if they would have different fealings towards Hillary Clinton.I think Cnn and other media channels should appoligize to Hillary Clinton.If it wasnt for the media the democratic party would have Hillary Clinton as their nomony.So if she loses and Obama gets the nomonation the white house goes back to the republicans it is on the medias shoulders for the relentlis atacks on Clinton and the shoving of Barak Obama down our throats.

    Mike J.

    February 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Anna Ghita

    Good job, Mr Blitzer.

    February 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Adarrah for Obama

    Bill and Hillary blast Sen Kennedy for No Child Left Behind and don't mention that she voted for it. Even more troubling, NAFTA is Bill's baby.

    February 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. James

    Liar & Liability!

    February 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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