September 21st, 2009
07:37 PM ET
14 years ago

Bill Clinton weighs in on charges of racism against Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="'I really think that we should disaggregate lingering problems of discrimination from the attacks to which the president is subject,' Bill Clinton tells Larry King."]
(CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton told CNN Monday that he thinks some of the criticism directed at President Obama is racially motivated, but added that not all of Obama’s detractors are racist and urged his fellow Democrats to remain focused on trying to enact health care reform.

“I believe that some of the right-wing extremists which oppose President Obama are also racially prejudiced and would prefer not to have an African-American president,” Clinton told CNN’s Larry King in an interview to air Monday evening. “But I don’t believe that all the people who oppose him on health care – and all the conservatives – are racists. And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now, would be opposing him then. Therefore, while I have devoted my life to getting rid of racism, I think this is a fight that my president and our party – this is one we need to win on the merits.”

Clinton later added, “I really think that we should disaggregate lingering problems of discrimination from the attacks to which the president is subject.”

Clinton was reacting to Rep. Joe Wilson’s, R-South Carolina, outburst when he shouted “You lie” at Obama during the president’s joint address to Congress and former President Jimmy Carter’s assessment that racism is an issue for Obama in trying to lead the country.

Watch Clinton’s entire interview on CNN’s Larry King Live Monday night beginning at 9 p.m. ET

soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Ivan Sanchez

    I strongly believe prejudices’ is what’s keeping President Obama’s Health reform from being past! If it was McCain’s health plan it would have pasted long time ago. When Congressman Joe Wilson yelled out ‘you lie’, you could see ‘prejudice’ written all over his face!
    It a pitiful shame many Americans as well as the leaders of our country haven’t grown up yet!

    September 21, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  2. Wolfen

    And lets all remember exactly what Pres. Carter said, rather than the FAUXNews spin of it. He said that much of the most strident and hostile voices were racist ones. He didn't say that ALL of the opposition was racist, only acknowledged a patent fact that many of the most hostile voices are also racist voices. Nothing false about that. Nothing controversial. Just speaking truth, which is something that the crazy right simply cannot let happen.

    September 21, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  3. no name

    so when ever one disagree with the President, one is a racist. It is just like in Memphis, Tn, if you don't get your way, the race card come out.

    September 21, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  4. Get real!

    If Obama supporters don't stop using the "racism" claim soon it is going to be like Chicken Little and the sky is falling. After you use it too much no one is going to believe it is real.

    September 21, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Does anyone realize the Democrats arethe only people commenting on race!!!!!

    September 21, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  6. Sue

    Okay, so let me get this straight. If a white person agrees with Obama then they aren't racist BUT if they disagree with him they are racist? I wonder if race would be an issue if the president had been George Bush and the person yelling you lie had been Jesse Jackson?

    September 21, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Does anyone realize the Democrats are the only people commenting on race!!!!!

    September 21, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  8. Dennis

    Why doesn't Bill Clinton keep his mouth shut?

    September 21, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    I would like to thank two of our former presidents for throwing race into politics. Why is it the same America that voted Obama into office, is now racist? Wow unbelievable….This is my country, only here can such things exist.

    September 21, 2009 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  10. Jeremy Theodore

    Anyone who doesn't want to admit that some of the racist elements are hiding behind the health care debate to vent their anger is in denial. These are the same people who were present in the campaign, you know the one who thought Obama was a muslim, socialist.... That type of ignorance doesn't go away because he won the election.Whether you agree with with the Democratic health care proposal or not. It took Obama and the democrat to bring to the national debate. Where was the Republican in the last eight years. After all is said and the health bill passess, we as a nation will be better for it.

    September 22, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  11. Nea

    I really believe that some of this is racially motivated.I truly beleve that Former President Carter was right in what he said, and they can deny it now but the truth will come OUT sooner or later!

    September 22, 2009 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  12. Matt

    Of course Republicans are racists! Is it really that big of a surprise that a Southern white party would hate minorities? Ever looked at the crowd at one of those hate rallies where they dress up in silly costumes, hold racist signs and dangle tea bags? They're all white! Face it Republicans, America is leaving you behind. Evolve or die.

    September 22, 2009 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  13. Monica

    it's shameful but the truth if he was a white prez. none of this would even be a problem. sad sad sad even being educated still labeled for the color of skin & not the content of character. how much more do we need to do since dying & picking cotton wasn't enough!

    September 22, 2009 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
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