Dem warns Bill Clinton: Back off
December 29th, 2010
08:45 AM ET
12 years ago

Dem warns Bill Clinton: Back off

(CNN) – Rep. Danny Davis, a Democrat from Illinois and mayoral candidate in Chicago has a message for former President Bill Clinton: Butt out.

Davis, a onetime ally of Clinton's, issued a strongly worded statement Tuesday, in which the Chicago Democrat said he is "seriously concerned and disturbed" by the news Clinton plans to throw his weight behind ex-Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and make a campaign stop in the Windy City next month.

"The African American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship maybe fractured and perhaps even broken should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community," Davis said in the statement.

The pushback from a prominent member of the black community echoes that which greeted Clinton in 2008 as he campaigned on behalf of his wife, a presidential candidate at the time battling then-Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton - long a popular figure in the black community - saw his approval numbers sink among that demographic as he took sharp aim at Obama and questioned the freshman senator's competancy to sit in the Oval Office, sometimes in terms conceived as particularly harsh.

Clinton's office has not responded to Davis' comments.

The former president's windy city appearance, announced last week by Emanuel's campaign, would be his first campaign stop since the November midterm elections.

Emanuel served in the Clinton White House for five years before serving as an Illinois congressman and Obama's top aide, a post he left earlier this year to run for mayor.

The Chicago Board of Elections ruled Thursday that he is in fact a Chicago resident, and therefore his name may remain on the ballot for the February 22 election.

According to a recent poll, Emanuel is garnering close to 44 percent of support from likely Chicago voters while Davis is far back at 7 percent.

UPDATE: The Chicago Sun Times' Lynn Sweet reports that Carol Mosely Braun, a former ambassador to New Zealand under Clinton and now a candidate for mayor in Chicago, is also calling on the former president to back off.

Her statement:


"Bill Clinton is an outsider parachuting in to support another outsider. Rahm's residency status continues to be challenged in court. It's not yet clear that he will be on the ballot. At the same time former president Clinton risks his legacy and the great respect that he has enjoyed among African Americans by coming to Chicago to endorse Rahm Emanuel who is running for mayor against two black candidates.

"Clinton should remember New Hampshire where he called Barack Obama's opposition to the war in Iraq 'a fairy tale.' He was wrong.

"Clinton should remember South Carolina where he played the race card painting Obama as "the black candidate". Again he was wrong. Bill Clinton will be wrong again if he gets involved in the Chicago mayoral contest. He should stay home and avoid the cold."

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Amy

    So what if Bill Clinton wants to campaign for Rahm Emanuel? He is free to campaign for whomever he likes. Danny Davis needs to show Chicago what he can do or will do for the city and stop worrying about who is or is not backing Emanuel. Certainly his comments are a little whiny.

    December 29, 2010 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  2. Greg Green

    Umm I am a black man and this is BS. You are getting mad because Clinton is campaigning for a friend? Give me a break. Now the Chicago black community will not "like" him if he campaigns for Rahm. What if he campaigned for the black candidate, would you be all for it? This is hypocrisy at it's finest. Come on black people, we gotta do better than this.

    December 29, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. WhoRulesYou

    LOL! Chicago will get what it deserves. LOL!

    December 29, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. Greg

    So in other words he's trying to tell Emanuel who he can and cannot campaign for him. Shut up Davis.

    December 29, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  5. rdepontb

    It is utterly outrageous for Davis to slap out a race card. Former President Bill Clinton has been on a humanitarian mission since his departure from office, helping peoplvictims of poverty, affliction, and abuse of all colors. The world over. Surely no community would deny him a voice in supporting a long-term friend.

    Representative Davis, you need to fix this, walk it back any way you gracefully know how. You do not want to start racial politics in what has been a quiet pot of civilization. Run on your own merits. Merits which your baiting have called into serious question.

    December 29, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  6. RK Narayan

    I am a Democrat and definitely not white. I am just curious here. So if President Clinton was black, what would this politician in Chicago's reaction be? If I have a buddy who was the ex-president, I expect him to come and bat for me when I had gone to bat for him his whole life. I am from a family of many races including black. I teach my daughter never to look at a person's color. Nor color should ever be used as a measuring tool. Danny Davis, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    December 29, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  7. Leigh

    This article makes it sound as if elections are won or should be won simply because someone is a certain race. Sounds like this guy realizes Rahm Emmanuel can beat him just for being Rahm Emmanuel, and the added benefit of Bill Clinton backing him is surely going to help him. His opponent is just being a whiner because he's aware of this so he comes out with this ridiculous story and statement ripe with hidden agendas. What he needs to realize is this – Rahm Emmanuel worked in the Clinton White House and the Obama White House, so they are essentially his previous employers/references which are exactly that people that we should hear from for EVERY SINGLE POLITICAL CANDIDATE.

    Enough with the little games you politicians play! No one needs to hear this kind of rhetoric, tell us why we should believe in and vote for you, anything else is just childish tantrums that have no place in politics. The American people are sick of it!

    December 29, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  8. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    So even suggesting that there's an alternative to electing some black guy is "thwart[ing] the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community?" What? They've got Affirmative Action quotas for politicians now?

    It doesn't really matter, I suppose–all Democrats, black and white, are economic disasters.

    December 29, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  9. Walter

    I am African-American. Racism is alive and well in America. However, this is sheer ignorance! Ignorance like this causes lack of credibility for occasions wherein racism really exists. Representative Davis, please put your card back in your pocket!

    December 29, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  10. agathokles

    In this supposedly "post-racial world," it's absurd that Clinton is asked to "back off" from endorsing whom he wants to endorse, just because the other guy is African American.

    December 29, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. Monster Zero

    Boy oh Boy! Clinton is at it again inserting himself to try to skew an election, and where there is a Clinton there is an Obama. Boy, this is really getting upsetting and man this is going to be one tough election for Old Rham boy...Boy, I just hope the right person wins!

    December 29, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. Ken, AZ

    This guy would gladly accept President Clinton's endorsement or backing if it were offered. Why does Davis want to make race an issue in the campaign? He's not the only African American running.

    December 29, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  13. roger

    Why does it always have to be a racial thing? Listen, it has been over 100 yrs already. People have gained more freedoms (to which the government continues to erode away at), most "modern" people are not concerned with race anymore. Let's move on and grow up. If people quit yelling "race" at ever corner we might actually move forward as a society. Why is it that minority groups can get away with what would be considered a "hate crime" if the skin color was different? Let's quit feeling sorry for ourselves and get on with it. Life is to short to sit around worrying about the color of our skin all the time.

    December 29, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  14. Peace

    Black Community should not pull together for Davis if at all he is not capable to do the job. It is not all about who is black as you are, it is about who can serve you efficiently!

    December 29, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. JJ

    Someone needs to tell Davis to shut his piehole. If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen. The mayor's office in Chicago is not reserved for any race. Don't like it? Kiss my white butt.

    December 29, 2010 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. Jameel

    What a sourpuss! I'm sure Davis wouldn't utter a peep if it was his campaign Clinton was backing, and furthermore, WHY is he making a race issue out of it? Yawn. Bill Clinton has the right to support his favorite candidate, whoever he/she may be.

    December 29, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. ja

    outsiders endorse and stomp candidates all the time, what is wrong with Clinton supporting Emanuel

    December 29, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  18. CathyinAZ

    Sounds like sour grapes to me – he behind in the polls and I think Pres. Clinton is entitled to campaign for whomever he chooses.

    December 29, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  19. rachel

    As an African American I think this is a piece of crap. Bill has every right to campaign for someone he knows and employed. If you don't like Ram fine don't vote for him and tell everyone who will listen to you not to vote for him. To basically tell the former president he can't support someone because that person is not black is a bunch of crap and quite frankly racist. My community had no problem fracturing that fruitful relationship with the clintons in 08 when they basically called blacks supporting the clintons over president Obama uncle toms, now davis wants to try and use that relationship to tell Bill he can't give an opinion on rahm.

    December 29, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  20. Me

    I thought one was supposed to endorse and campaign for the best qualified? And if that's what Clinton is doing, then isn't that in everyone's best interests and also a sign of equality for the black community?

    December 29, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  21. Carl

    If Chicago voters elect Emanuel, they deserve what they get.

    December 29, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. kcl

    Shake hands and may the best man win. When will race stop being an issue?

    December 29, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Jay in Chicago

    "should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community"

    Shut up idiot. If you don't have the muscle to win then you shouldn't be running. Clinton thwarting the Black community? You are stupider than Palin for saying something so ridiculous. (I'm South Asian by the way so it is a truly unbiased assessment of your comment Mr. Davis)

    December 29, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. Jack

    Oh, boo-hoo ... all of a sudden, Clinton is a racist just because he doesn't support a black person? Suck it up, Davis - if you want to play with the big boys, start acting like one!

    December 29, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. 2cents4free

    I'm a Dem but I have to say I don't appreciate Rep. Danny Davis, race baiting in this race. I supported Obama against Clintons efforts in the primaries. As a black democrat I have to say Davis is employing the wrong strategy. Clinton did not support Hillary because she was white, he supported her because she's his WIFE. He's not supporting Rahm because he's white, hes supporting him because he believes he's the right candidate. I have seen my fair share of "alleged" race baiting tactics. This one unfortunately is real race baiting. Shame on you Davis.

    December 29, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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