March 17th, 2008
12:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Bill Clinton: We did not play race card


Watch Bill Clinton speak with CNN's Sean Callebs.

(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton defended his role in his wife's presidential campaign in South Carolina, disputing claims he made race a campaign issue.

"What happened there is a total myth and a mugging," Clinton told CNN's Sean Callebs in New Orleans, Louisiana, over the weekend.

"It's been pretty well established. Charlie Rangel ... the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in unequivocal terms in South Carolina that no one in our campaign played any race card, that we had some played against us, but we didn't play any."

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soundoff (344 Responses)
  1. vj

    the best president ever.thanks BILL

    March 17, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Amazed

    Bill is right but Geraldine said it better. He should be quiet and let her talk. Simple truth that no one seems to want to believe – Obama is getting the black vote because he's black. Not shocking and certainly not racist to say so. Hillary will get more women to vote for her because she's a woman though not as many black women because, well.....I already went there but again, not shocking and not sexist to say so. Deal with it.
    What turns the tables is the pastor. It's amazing how many Obama supporters suddenly want to "get back to the issues" today. Obama spent 20 years in a church not listening to a racist pastor (yes, it works both ways) rant against and curse everything not black, including the United States he lives in. Call themselves Christians (How do you think Jesus views the pastor and those who cheer his words?). Still calls the guy a spiritual advisor but still wants to be Prez. Go away Obama – you used to be an irritatingly naive child – now you disgust me. I am SO glad he didn't accept the invite to be vice prez before – the democratic party doesn't need that kind of baggage. To quote the song – "don't go away mad, just go away". On the other hand, with that religious background, I'm sure you'll go away as the angry victim. Absolutely disgusting.

    March 17, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. Anette

    I thought Bill was in "Time Out". This is laughable.

    March 17, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. harry

    for those of you saying Obama is not electable and you are threatening to vote for other people DONT WORRY we dont need your vote Obama will win with his own supporters but thanks again!!

    March 17, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. DY

    The Obama camp started the racial slurs first and began to whine the minute Bill Clinton began supporting his wife!

    In short, the Obama camp has had more negative, racial, and biggotted comments than any other campaign this season! From Obama's minister, to Michelle Obama "finally being proud of her country", and the crazy lady calling Hillary a monster.

    The Obama campaign has just lost, and they don't realize it yet! It is guarenteed that the Clinton's will win the nomination and that they WILL WIN the white house! Anyone who thinks otherwise is seriously foolish and naive. The Clinton's WON the swing states that matters MOST in a general election. What part of that doesn't the Obama campaign understand? If he didn't win Ohio, then he WILL NOT win the generals... that plain and simple people! WAKE UP!

    It is interesting to see how the Obama campaign is beginning to unravel with their biggotted ways! Pretty sad and reminds me of the PAST!

    Go Hillary! 08' 12'



    March 17, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. m

    CNN shame on you. Even Fox is reporting more balanced news/journalism than you these days. Cnn, you are simply so cheap and childish in your reporting. This is not journalism.

    March 17, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Coby Austin, Tx.


    You are an idiot.

    March 17, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Jose Card - Independent

    I guess if you don't use the word, race, you are not playing the race card. Here is the problem.

    After all the scandals in Bill's administration, voters exam the Clintons more carefully, because they lost a lot of credibility.

    Bill is walking a tie rope on race card. On the one hand, he wants us to get it. On the other hand, he doesn't want us to get it too easily as to accuse him of playing the race card.

    This time, the race card is overplayed and backfired on the Clintons.
    Now he is downplaying his race card and saying blacks are voting for Obama, because he is black, not because of the Clintons' race card.

    Whatever is said is said. If you play with fire, you get burned sometimes. You just have to live with it. It's like Monica. Bill will have to explain this historical event to his grandchildren some day.

    March 17, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Jen from New York

    The Clintons are opportunitists in the worst sense. They played the "race card" hoping to win, not expecting that such tricks backfired on them and lost them the African American votes. Now they are turning around and saying Obama's campaign is to blame for their miscalculation? Amazing. When will the Clintons ever take responsibilities for themselves?

    March 17, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. Dayton, Ohio

    Yes we should be hearing more about Obama's minster that he has followed for 20 years. I believe Obama should just resign from even trying to be a nominee. Can you imagine someone in the white house with these ideas in his mind? If something is not done about this, it will be a huge disaster for the whole country. Talk about decisive. He cannot just get rid of what he has listened to for 20 years.


    March 17, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. demwit

    It must be a vast left-wing conspiracy..

    March 17, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Jan E

    Clinton camp seems to be really baffled by all of this Democracy stuff!! How dare this Obama guy overtakes them and uses Democracy to win!! There must be something wrong with Democracy if Hillary does not win!! .. Yeah Bill, Just what demographics are playing to this time? The anti-democracy crowd?

    March 17, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Iam sick of Bill,Hillary

    Oh, yes you did!!
    here he goes again. keeps on going..
    Bill! Your time is done !
    So shut up! And go tell Hillary to give it up.
    Sick of Bill and Hillary!!

    CNN, got on with the issues!!! Please

    March 17, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Paul in Alexandria, VA

    A mugging!!!

    First, the Clinton campaign talks about Obama being a possible drug dealer. Later, Bob Johnson brings up drugs again and Mark Penn mentions cocaine on MSNBC a number of times while claiming not to know why anyone would be offended.

    Then, after months in which Obama is said not to be black enough because far more blacks are supporting Hillary than him, Bill Cliton compares him to Jesse Jackson and suggests that he is just the candidate of black people to explain why Hillary was going to lose in South Carolina.

    Now, after it is all but a certainty that Obama will win the nomination, Hillary says, unlike McCain, she is not sure about his qualifications to lead this nation when it comes to national security.

    At about the same time, when asked, she says that Barack isn't a Muslim, "as far as I know."

    Then, Geraldine Ferraro comes out with her statement that Barack wouldn't be in the lead if he weren't black. Moreover, he has no experience and issues have nothing to do with his success. Finally, those who find those remarks disgusting are themselves racists and are criticizing her because she is white.

    Now, after Hillary apologizes to the black community (she should have been apologing to all Barack's supporters, white, black and otherwise) for Bill's Jesse Jackson remark and all the other crap coming from her campaign, Bill says Barack's campaign has "mugged" him.

    The line has been crossed so many times now that the chance of folks returning to the fold to ever support anything either of the Clintons do is getting slimmer and slimmer. I can see it disappearing into the distance.

    John McCain will appoint Supreme Court Justices that will destroy our nation for decades to come. Yet, Bill Clinton's picks are only marginally better than George Bush's. They have sided with corporate America on nearly every tough call that comes before them.

    John McCain will leave us indefinitely in Iraq, but Hillary has no backbone when it comes to the military. That's why she voted for the war. Even with her in office, we will not leave Iraq swiftly.

    Barack is still going to win this nomination but if, somehow, Hillary steals it from him, it will be very difficult to vote for her and I expect many will not. After all, if four years of McCain is the price we have to pay to banish the Clinton's from our lives. It might just be worth it.

    March 17, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. SA

    Bill Clinton is a man of many flaws but he is definitely not a racist. I thought a person's actions spoke louder than his words. But not in Bill Clinton's case apparently. The Obama campaign needs to be very clear about what racism is. Since it has suggested that Bill clinton, Geraldine Ferraro, and Ed Rendall are racists, it should use the same characterization about Rev. Jeremaiah Wright. Why aren't they calling the reverend's remarks racist? If this is the change they want to bring to Washington, this is not change I can believe in.

    March 17, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. Jermaine

    When will Bill understand, had Hillary and Bill just played by the rule they would have been out since Super Tuesday. The "HATE" that the old system produce will not go quietly into the night. Hillary is a formidable candidate, however she will cause many Dems to loose their seat in the House in November and across the country if she is the nominee. She is indeed a pioneering leader and woman, she will become the head of the Senate no doubt, b ut President is not in her future, she will and is however paveing the way for a politician yet unknown who just happen to be female that will win the Presidency.
    On the other hand YES SHE DID or Bill did inject race into this process. As democrats we need to rise above it, however it was always the Democrats who was and is historically the race oppresing party. If it wasn't for JFK blacks and minority would have stayed with the Republican party they were always more welcoming. It was Southern Democrats who oppress blacks not Republicans!

    At this juncture OBAMA is the nominee elected and over the next two months He will remain the nominee, there is no mathematical sceneario that shows Hillary overtaking him, that can only happen if she and Bill do a back room deal. The question then is, what is Bill and Hillary really trying to gain by prolonging this campaign and useing the sham tactic of saying every vote counts to keep it going? I wonder what deck of cards the Clintons have or are trying to work with, what is under their table?
    Bill is misunderstood in that Blacks know for far too long they supported the Democrats and have nothing to show for it, for BLACKS who are the key to the white House for Democrats can swing either left or right, Republican or Democrat and OBAMA is the magnet that pull them this time. If he is cheated out of the nominee and or force to have Clinton as his VP against his better judgement then I am very sure the Blacks will either stay home or Vote Republicans. Only time will tell and we will be all saying, "ONCE UPON A TIME.......fill in the rest!

    March 17, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. NoObamaLoveHere

    Apparently any criticism of Obama = racist comment. The way the man has run his campaign in is disgusting. The man has no credibility.

    He espouses unification but belongs to a separatist church.

    He says he has judgment but apparently doesn't know who his long-term friends really are (Rezko – 17 years, Wright – 20 odd years).

    And he has no real experience to speak of. What people are really doing here is "hoping" the man will bring "change." The presidency doesn't run on hope alone.

    All Obama has done is pulled out the race card and driven a wedge through the democratic party, Get ready for 8 years of McCain.

    March 17, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. TexasVet

    Yinka Lawal,

    I agree with you emphatically! But I guess Clinton just can't miss an opportunity to remind us that OBAMA is African American. Yes we must keep reminding the rest of you that he is African American. Let's keep that in the news.

    Of all the things he could comment on he decided to comment on "THE RACE CARD". I would like to know why the HRC taxes records can't be released NOW, or perhaps where HRCs records are from her VAST experience during the Clinton Administration. Those are the things they need to talk about. Or maybe even get back to the REAL issues we all care about. In my case what are we going to do about this war which directly effects ME, my family and comrades. What are we going to do about gas prices, healthcare, the jobless, China...THE ECONOMY STUPID!

    DEMOCRATS O8' (if they can get their stuff together)

    March 17, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  19. Ryan - Albuquerque, New Mexico

    lol its funny, im 25, and i remember how everyone loved Cilnton when he was president

    right now we have all these young democrats who know nothing of what this man did during the 1990's since they were to busy smoking dope and gettting high all the time during JUNIOR HIGH

    anyone born after 1989 is probably not going to remember President Clinton and his Presidency, so of course the MTV/TRL generation going to go after Clinton and BELIEVE everything Obama put out there

    im sorry, but Obama is nothing more then a guy who got lucky during the 2004 Illinois Senate race

    March 17, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. show me


    March 17, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. laura

    The only one playing the race card is the Obama camp. The worst part is that his pastor is a complete racist and Obama knew about this for 20 years. Obama runs on his judgement, well having a criminal friend (Rezko) and a racist pastor for 20 years, is obviously BAD JUDGEMENT. He should stop compaining and understand that this is politics and the heat is on. The republicans are going to destroy him.

    March 17, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. AllAmericankid, Marietta, GA

    Thank you uncle Bill. I love the sight of this guy, he will tick off all the philadelphia voters.....all Obama has to do is keep uncle Bill going. (impersonating Britney's transvestite) Leave Obama alone, please leave him alone, (sobbing louder) leave Obama alone.

    March 17, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. Political Jonze

    "I'm not racist – I have black friends"

    March 17, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. Herman

    Obama pick up another superdelegate just today…

    Margie Gavin Woods, a superdelegate from Illinois, announced she is supporting Senator Barack Obama for President today, citing his ability to unite the country:

    Obama is electable and will be our next president so get over it and get ready. All of you Clinton supporters get a load of this. Bill screw over on his wife Hillary and she sucked it up and this is his way of repaying her to get her in the White House. He disrespected all women in the world and you have all of the women flocking to him for what.

    Where is Hillary taxes, why don't CNN push this issue? You think the Hillary is electable all you have to do is goggle Hillary scandals and you will find your answer. The republicans are just waiting to tear a hole in her behind, just waiting.

    The A to Z Guide of Clinton Scandals

    As far as Obama I don't really care about what they are saying about him as far as I am concern because what's happen in his church will not put any food on my table, or fix the war in Iraq, fix the economy, fix the housing crises, fix the banks that are going broke, fix our schools, lower gas prices, or stimulate the economy.

    These are the things that matter to me the most and nothing else I don’t give a hot darn one way or another is being said about him in the media.

    March 17, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  25. therealist

    The Clintons have been playing the race card so long that Bill forgot what it looks like..

    March 17, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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