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. Ann

    For all those here who have posted "sick of Clintons"...
    yeah...let's not go back to the Clinton days..

    Who really wants a balanced budget with no deficit,
    reduced government spending, a great economy,
    no war, those school programs for better education
    that benefitted our kids...really...

    Life is so much better when you have something to complain
    about, right?

    February 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Kevin

    To DDrbc, et al – I agree, I don't care who Bill Clinton slept with or where or whatever.

    He lost me though when he came on t.v. and looked me directly in the eye, wagged his index finger at me, and in a very condescending manner simply stated "I never had sexual relations with that woman"

    He lied directly to me and then got caught and then tried to slip out of that.

    We had a great (almost) eight years under the Clinton/Gore administration. Then because of his oval office antics, we lost the White House for eight painful years.

    He abused his power and his position.

    I may be proven wrong, but I don't believe a President Obama will abuse his power and position – even for a sexual dalliance.

    And the fact that I believe a politician again says lots about the power Obama has already.

    February 8, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Liability! Can she really keep him reined in?

    February 8, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. Lisa- Greensboro,NC

    To Independent:

    "Take the Clinton name away and she is nothing", you said?
    Take the name away and you still have a brillant woman who has done much in the last 30 years. The Clinton name didn't buy her a degree from Yale and it didn't buy her where she is today. It amazes me to see so much jealously toward both of the Clintons. Bill was a wonderful President and Hillary will be a brillant one.
    No matter how much coverage CNN or other media gives him. He will still be in her shadow. She is the real deal.

    February 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. Sean Chong

    We need a politician to rule us, not a CEO, nor a chramastic speaker!

    February 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. For Hillary

    For everyone out there that does not want Hillary and dislikes Bill – there are more that do! Don't much care who does not. Bills personal life was never anyones business, the press is the one that made it everyones business. The press should shut up and bud out – then and NOW.


    February 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Woz - Los Gatos, CA

    Bill Clinton won on charisma.

    Barack Obama will win on charisma.

    Hillary Clinton has no charisma.

    End of story.

    February 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Robert

    How come we have not heard what Michelle Obama has to say??? I think it is appalling how the Media is so biased. I guess beating up Bill is good for ratings!!! When I listen to Obama I hear a lot of “We are ready for a Change!” “I’m asking you to believe in Change”, yet I don’t ever hear how he is going to change things? It is apparent that he doesn’t know how he is going to change things. If the economy keeps going the way it is, it will take a lot more than “Inspiration” to get this country back on track. If we (the Democratic Party) don’t get behind Hillery soon, we will be looking at McCain (Bush 3) in the white house for four more years!!!

    February 8, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. Shaireen

    Hi, I live in Canada and I love to watch debate between Clinton and Obama but why Obama rejects to participate in a debate sponsored by The Politco and ABC7

    February 8, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Julia

    I find it highly ironic that half the comments on here are accusing Wolf Blitzer and CNN of a bias towards Clinton, and the other half are accusing them of a bias towards Obama. I think it's pretty fair coverage when the "bias" is split in half so nicely, don't you?
    Anyway, a very nice blog today Wolf. I was a child during Bill Clinton's administration, and even growing up with conservative Republican parents I still noticed how much he helped this country over his eight years in office. I do agree however, that he is out of line in his tactics. There is a huge difference between defending your wife and her campaign versus attacking someone. I think the Mr. Clinton should know better because as you said, he is an astute political strategist. He should understand that attacks only bring down a campaign.

    I forgot to tell you this in my last comment, but excellent coverage on Super Tuesday! I stayed up all night watching CNN, and for once I actually somewhat understood what was going on!

    February 8, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Hi Wolf. I really like your show (The Situation Room). Please continue to be fair and balanced in your covering of the news?

    I was extremely disappointed to hear the attacks that the fomer president made about Sen. Obama, but I was even more disappointed to hear Sen. Clinton make that comment about what she percieved as the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.: Saying Dr. King's legacy is that it took a president of the U.S. to sign civil rights into law. I see King's legacy as much more than that! He was a uniter, not a divider. He was inspirational in his deeds ( incredible non violent civil disobedience demonstrations), inspirational in his speaking (inspiring people to act and stand for moral correctness), and these two things mentioned entailed a great deal of matters. So, for Sen. Clinton to say Dr. King's legacy was merely that it took a president to sign civil rights into law was intensely disappointing to me!

    I want all of us Americans to be united, and I feel Sen. Obama is the one to move us closer toward that purpose.

    Goodbye for now, Wolf, but be aware, I will always be watching The Situation Room. I love the graphics, the music, and especially your delivery of the news!!!

    February 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. tomdavie

    I love all this 'educated' nonsene

    If educated upwardly mobile yuppies had a brain, they would see Obama has no actual experience on a national scale, and its irresponsible to stick someone like that in charge of 10,000 nuclear weapons.

    But no. All they see is its 'trendy' and FAST TRACK. They all worship Obama because they are also chaffing at the bit to MOVE UP the ladder, just like Obama is going from entry level to KING in one fell swoop.

    February 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. paulette, Glendale, CA

    All of you who are Clinton haters-there is no pleasing you. You would prefer a dem candidate who would make a better preacher than a statesman leader. Or are you supporting a snarly, bad tempered, too old for the job republican. It would be fair if each one of us evaluate the impact that the Clintons had on their lives. For me, it was a positive impact. I was gainfully employed, did well financially and my investments were compounding and I did not have to be hide from my non american relatives, who thought we made much too much of Bill's indiscretions and to look beyond and get a life. Now after 8 years of Bush, its the reverse of all of this. I, for one, would like the two-fer. CNN has done much to promote a negative stance about the Clintons and the rest of you Clinton haters are either walking in lock step or using it as a crutch to support your already biased views of them.

    February 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Joe Jacques

    Hillary, experience? What a joke? She spent the majority of her working life as a corporate attorney and then sat on the Board of Wal-Mart where she did not have enough guts to speak up for unions. She then became First Lady and failed at the only major initiative she tried, health care. She has since then become a Senator primarily on the merits of her husband's name and reputation. When you really examine the records, it is Obama who has a lot more experience working for the poor and disadvantaged. Bill Clinton is the one who has experience in the Clinton family, not Hillary. But he's not running last time I checked, or is he?

    February 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. mary

    hey bill needs keep up the good work if his name was on the ballet we would have voted for him

    February 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. DAVE


    February 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. Sharon


    Sen. Obama Blasts Cheney's Energy Policy – however He Voted For It

    Way to go

    February 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. RT


    Here is what you said about Bill Clinton. "Who cares who he slept with? JFK was a rabid womanizer. It's time to give Bill the props he deserves. – PLUS he's not afraid to back a woman candidate for President."

    Pick apart that statement and see how foolish it makes you look. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid Clinton supporters........

    You folks will say anything in their defense against a pretty serious track record of scandal and debauchery.

    February 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. Leah

    Wolf, i do not understand why you guys are not reporting anything about Barack Obama!!!!!!!!! You keep giving the clintons more air time as usual talking about Hillary's outfit!!!! are you serious!!!!!!!! Bill Clinton is a spouse just as Michelle Obama is, we haven't even seen her anywhere talking to the crowds or anything. I am from another country and all i have to say is that if Hillary is the nominee for DNC party, do not even think for a moment that the international crowd will give a hoot about listening to what she has to say, especially because they will be dealing with the same old folks!!! only this time it will be a woman. You guys think you are ready for a woman president, but is the world ready???????? considering their way of politics and their views culturally about women, forget it. On the issue of Obama's experience, this man is not only experienced but he's as intellegent as they come something Hillary does not have. She's so tied to the past that it will be the same OLD stuff, especially given that Hillary has a lot of special interests and lobbyists even funding her campaign. And she has the nerve to talk about change!!!!!! NEED I SAY MORE!!!!! IF Obama is not the president, something is really wrong with America!!!!

    February 8, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. Harrison

    Obama has neither charisma nor substance! Neither empty chatter nor empty rhetoric provide a speaker and the fanatics with "empty promises!"


    Do your homework! It will not take you long to determine that Hilliary has an extensive record for everyone to review, rebuke, and even praise! What do you find when you review Barack's record? Absence of anything of substance, absence of any depth on any topic! What a surprise! There is NOTHING THERE!

    February 8, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Elizabeth

    Ann. . .the economy was not great. . . . we were all living a lie. . .Remember Enron. . . the financials of many of the leading companies in America were fraud. .. . the fraudulent filings were during the Clinton administration. . .they were revealed and hundreds of thousands if not more workers lost their retirement (stock incentives) because of the turning of the eye of the Clinton administration.

    He sold everyone that times were good. . . but like taking a loan, you get the money up front and pay for it later.

    February 8, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. GP

    If Antichrist appears in the U.S. he will sure get his 666 marks on million. Americans gravity to new people, strange people, people with charisma and easily impressed. I am amazed how easy it is go impress American. Hillary is a good person.

    February 8, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  23. omatseye

    Hillary Wins nomination.... Democrats loses!

    February 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. Isobel

    Surely it must be illegal to have a perjurer and disgracer of the White House back in office... which is what will happen .... What is this world coming to ????
    God help us .....

    February 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. Charlie

    Wolf, what do you have to say about Obama's clothes? What a silly chauvenistic remark to make about Hillary's clothes. She has a well thought out plan for every area of government. How about talking about policies. She'd win easily against either Barrack or John. All you guys out there who think a man has to be in the White House, It's time to admit that Hillary is the best for the job. Let go of your "good ole boys club" and be brave.
    It's great to have so many new voters, but let's make sure they're informed voters. These kids need to know the history of the 90's when our economy was excellent and we lived in peace. Let Hillary bring that back for us!!!!

    February 8, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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