August 25th, 2008
11:02 AM ET
14 years ago

Bill Clinton not happy with convention role

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Bill Clinton would rather discuss economic issues than national security, sources say."]DENVER, Colorado (CNN) – Bill Clinton is perplexed and, frankly, not happy that he was asked to speak about national security Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention and not about the economy, the issue that he rode to the White House at another time of economic peril, a source close to the former president said Monday.

Some close to Clinton are encouraging him not to stick with the night’s theme of national security and add language about the economy in his remarks, in a way that Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, would frame it, the source said. It’s no secret that Clinton considers himself a highly effective communicator on the politics of the economy.

Watch: The best and worst of convention history

As word of his displeasure was reported Monday, aides tried to suggest it was being overblown. It’s a pattern strikingly similar to reports of Hillary Clinton’s unhappiness with the way she was treated by Obama during his running mate search, which has contributed to intense talk of tension between camps Clinton and Obama leading up to a convention that’s being billed as a chance at unity.

Another Bill Clinton associate contacted CNN to dispute one report that he is angry about his speaking assignment, but that source also said the former president “believes there would be a lot of power in a Clinton/Bush/McCain economic contrast and might mention that a bit anyway.”

If history is any guide, it’s unlikely the Obama staff will know exactly what Clinton will say before he says it.

Another Democratic source who is involved in reviewing the convention speeches this year, and has in years past, said that unlike most other speakers, Bill Clinton's speech generally “comes in when he does - on a detachable drive and into the prompter.”

Filed under: Bill Clinton
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Joe bloggs

    Hey, Clinton supporters who vote for Mccain. You know he is pro life right?–you realize that he will finish off a supreme court so radical that the right to an abortion will not just be turned back to the states, it could be outlawed entirely. Is that what you want?

    August 25, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Steve

    I was a Clinton supporter during the primaries, but this is ridiculous. All I see now is the Clinton's making demands for themselves. It's clear they only care about their own self-interests now, not about America. I only hope they can convince me I'm wrong when they give their speeches.

    August 25, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Glee Full

    Hey you DEMwits why not let Bill speak on what he wants??? You tout free speach all the time....well practice it. What a bunch of two faced people you all are.

    August 25, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. Filipina

    Why is Hilary Supporter's need to get Obama to have her help to get his VP,,Obama is not 5 yrs old...he has judgement to pick Obiden. Get over it and Obama is the next president.

    August 25, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Timber (ex dem)

    The media's constant Bill Clinton bashing is getting tired. Come on and give the guy a break.

    August 25, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. Debra, Alton

    Heather- If Bill wanted respect he should have treated his wife with respect by not cheating on her. When he left office he left it in a despicable way

    August 25, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Don, Sacramento, Ca

    Ah, yes, the "drama" of it all! Or, shall we say, the "manufactured drama" of it all? The media needs something to write about. The only thing that
    I pay much attention to is how many of those supposed Clinton Democrats will in fact vote for McCain or stay home. And the only relevant question to ask them is the following: What values and issues
    make you a Democrat? Or, perhaps, Why aren't you a Republican already?

    August 25, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Dorothy

    Mr. Clinton needs to come to the realization that his days are gone by, and this convention is about Mr. Obama. Sorry, Bill, but that's the way the cookie crumbles!

    August 25, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. Bill L

    This is not the Clinton Convention! This is about the future, not the past. Former Pres. Jimmy Carter and the Clintons should not have been given an opportunity to speak at the convention. Their speeches could hurt the NEW Democrats' chance of winning in November.
    They didn't win with rules they help write. Hillary and Bill need to fade into the background and let the party move forward.

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. YakRob

    You know, all the Clinton's need to do to dispell all these rumours is to be straight-up, adament, and forceful in their denial. They haven't done that!!! Until they do, I tend to believe that Bill and Hillary Clinton are simply spoiled, negative, manipulative, and selfish people – these qualities disqualify them from ever governing this country again – afterall, haven't we had enough of that behavior with Bush/Cheney and their heir apparent, McCain?

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Amy, Kazoo

    If you can't get on board with what you've been asked to speak about, be a professional and an adult and politely decline speaking at all. It only ends up making you look like a bitter has been when you sabotage someone else's chance out of spite. I've always been a supporter of the Clinton family, but this has GOT TO STOP. Relax, take the back seat for once in your lives. You are no longer in control. Act like the professionals you so want this nation to believe you are.

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. beth - tampa

    We dont care if Obama supporters dont vote for Hillary in 2012.

    As long as Obama loses in 2008!!!

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. Dan, Maryland

    God forbid if the Clinton's don't get their way.

    There, getting that little bit of frustration out of the way – I actually agree that Bill Clinton should talk about the economy, he was our leader when the economy had the biggest boom in decades.

    On another side note – regardless of how Clinton's supporters feel about the whole process, they need to realize one simple fact. Hillary Clinton will be judged by her ability to bring her supporters back to the Democratic Party to vote for Barack Obama. If she is unable to move her supporters to a candidate who is in close proximity to nearly every view she has and away from a candidate who is a stark contrast to her views, then how would she ever be able to lead a country? Hillary won't have another chance to run for president if her supporters don't fall in line because she will ultimately be blamed for her inability to get her supporters to vote for Obama.

    Now, I ask you....stop acting like five year olds holding tantrums in the toy store because your parents won't buy the toy you want and grow up.

    Chew on that PUMA.

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. Sue

    Please oh please Bill Clinton...GROW UP

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Connie

    I do not know if this is just media spin , which i tend to believe that it is.I think we did very well under the Clinton administration. But if these stories are true, I am sure that Bill and Hillary would not have allowed Obama to run their convention, it would have been their convention all the way.
    Connie from Indiana

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. Marc PDX

    Does "A chance for unity" at the DNC just mean "shut up and vote"? Doesn't seem like much unity leading up to the convention.

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. TC, Fl

    Way to go, Bill. Show that arrogant, egotistical upstart what politics is.

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. KM

    CNN, if you are overblowing this so called tension you are playing games with this important time in our history. Be careful that you aren't throwing out tabloed material just to get headlines. If this story is true please tell Bill Clinton this election isn't about him, it's about the American people. National Security is a very important issue and he should make a honorable speech.

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. Des,Toronto,Canada

    Utter nonsense. Americans are not happy with MCCain/Bush/Cheney Karl Rove and on and on.Bill Clinton had his day, he and Hillary are nothing but a couple spiteful people.Look how many concessions Obama has made already, it's his and Biden's party now,so good riddance to the Clintons once and for all!!!!!!! Shut up sabatoeurs!

    Obama/Biden 08

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |


    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. lil

    I dont think the Clintons are going to like the fact that Mccain is using
    them to promote his campaign. so if they were upset with Obama before they sure will be upset with mcain now for using his wife and
    now turn on you if its one thing they are that is loyal to the DNC.
    Go get em Bill dont let em put words in your mouth.
    Maccain is using your wife for political gain.

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. Oh! The Irony

    The Clintons have made this about them. I heard the term "Hillary Democrat" and nearly threw-up. Why is Hillary or the Clintons making acting as if this is their party? They are clearly placing themselves above all.

    August 25, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. Kerri

    What a surprise, the Clintons are upset about something. *yawn*

    August 25, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |

    IF and I do mean IF, a Clinton is ever up for any kind of election at all –I will remember all of this. The media is at fault as well. Stop it. The Clinton's need to shut up. Their loyal supportors need to shut up. All you are doing is ripping the chance of a democratic president this year–up! I have never in all my years seen such childish actions. Shut up! Go away! I wish you were not invited to this convention. You are too proud, too stubborn and too above yourselves. Bill Clinton should be ashamed to even lift his head up with the way he discraced himself in office. Shame! Shame! Shame!

    August 25, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  25. Phillip Bunn , Bailey NC

    Why not get him to speak on perjury, and redefining sex in America. While they may not be the venues that brought him to Washington, they are defined "Clinton" areas of which he can most certainly speak of with gleaming authority and color.

    August 25, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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