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Bill Clinton, a Changed Man?

Former president Bill Clinton speaks at Harding High School February 29, 2008 in Marion, Ohio. (Getty Images.)

By Perry Bacon Jr.
MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Former president Bill Clinton admits the choice between "Hillary" and "her opponent," whose name he almost never uses on the stump, is complicated for Democrats. "The truth is most people like them both," he told a crowd in Findlay, Ohio, today. "They both speak elegantly and articulately."

"One said you should vote for me because I embody change, because we need to change Washington and we don't want anybody who was there before, anybody who was involved in the fights in the 90s or in this decade," he continued, referring to a debate earlier this week between the two Democrats. "The other candidate, Hillary, says you should vote for me because I've spent a lifetime driven by my religious convictions and my personal upbringing in the belief that my job was to see that other people had the same chances in life that I've had and we need a change-maker for other people in the White House...I believe that's the better side of the argument."

It's a polite kind of compare and contrast. After drawing headlines last month for his sharp criticisms of Obama, Clinton is now a changed man on the stump, having been limited by wife's staff in how he can make the case for her and against Obama. The former president admits he's hampered in other ways, too. In a crowded gym in Findlay, he said, "I know every time I get up to speak people say, aw, he's got to do this, they're married. I've got to discount about 50 percent of what this guy says. He's got to be here."

And Clinton, who served two full terms in the White House, now finds himself forced to defend the importance of experience in public life against Obama's charge that Washington experience ought to be disqualifying. "Vice President Cheney and others have given experience a bad name," said Clinton, "but it really is not irrelevant."

When he first started making frequent stops for his wife in Iowa, he essentially delivered two stump speeches, the first one a detailed list of the problems he saw in the world -- such as global poverty, AIDS, which his foundation works on -- and how he viewed those issues, then a second presentation that was a shortened version of his wife's stump speech for the campaign, which emphasized restoring America's respect around the world, improving the economy, balancing the budget and expanding health care.

Now, as Hillary Clinton has shifted away from those earlier themes -- placing a much stronger emphasis on a rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq, bashing corporations for shipping jobs overseas and casting her health care plan as truly universal, as compared to Obama's -- her husband seems to be giving the old Hillary speech, full of details about what exactly "Hillary" would do and how.

Sen. Clinton's aides have encouraged a few less details about her policy proposals in her speeches. But Bill Clinton now details how his wife's health plan would allow people to buy the same kind of coverage members of Congress do and only spend a certain amount of their income on health care. And he tells of how she wants to leave behind a small contingent of troops in Iraq to defend against terrorist attacks while bringing most of them home.

The former president is making his case for his wife purely through his speeches, as he's generally avoided the media in recent days. One of his traveling aides said today he would not do interviews with local reporters in Ohio as the stumped through the state, although he did an interview earlier this week with the Daily Texan, the student paper at the University of Texas in Austin, which endorsed Hillary Clinton last week.

He told the paper, "You don't have to be against Obama, just like the people who are for Obama don't have to be against her. You just have to decide who would be the best president. But I think that the more she relays that case in ways that people can relate to in their own lives, the better chance she has to win."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 29, 2008; 6:21 PM ET
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Next: A Warm Reception North of the Border


Posted by: ordgobaltc | March 1, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Whether this get posted or not, I think we should tackle the right issues when it come to the Clintons.
August 1989:
The Clintons were in power when American Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania all in Africa got attack by Osama Bin Laden. Information was sent to the White House, and nothing was done other than a speech of condolences for the victim's families in Africa. It was just the Africans - Who care? This was the message that was received in Africa.
We all thought the Americans will back us because of the information that we gave them - Osama was in the hide outs (Libya). We later found out from source closer to presidents of those African countries that were attacked that, the US have contacted the Saud ices and received Millions of Dollars that were ship to some Swiss Banks. The Swiss government is refusing to address this situation or conspiracy.
Africans have this adage: "the rain that falls on my house and cause destruction will soon drift to your house." This is what happened on Sep 11Th, when US was attack right at home. Had it been the Clintons had taken out Osama, 3000 US citizens would not have died. Who then, should we point fingers at - The CLINTONS. They knew all the plots of Osama from briefings by the CIA and FBI but because they had taken money from the Saud ices, they wouldn't pursue the safety of 3000 US citizens.
Call this a verbose claim, they video is available when US intelligent saw Osama getting into a bucker for their usual meeting after they had attacked the US embassies. Despite a call to the White House, THE CLINTONS WILL NOT APPROVE THE KILLING OF OSAMA.

So, all we are asking is to tell the truth about what happen before 9/11.

Sending the Clintons to the White is not something that we want to see happen again.

To those who intend to vote for the Clintons, bare this in mind:


Former President- Bill Clinton is misleading:
Watch this:


Posted by: ordgobaltc | March 1, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I liked Bill Clinton, I really did, and I sort of still do, but I'm not getting on that bridge he built and going back to the 20th century. Change isn't about liberal policies vs. conservative policies anymore, it's about a whole new era in the governing of America. Maybe Obama won't actually be able to pull it off, but we can't afford to wait another eight years before we let him try.

Posted by: shannons1 | March 1, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

To: dcwsano | February 29, 2008 06:52 PM

Thanks for sharing this. Can't Obama use it in an ad? Or at least post it on his website? It's a brilliant find. I'm going to send the link to all my friends.

Posted by: shannons1 | March 1, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Bill said it all back in 2004:
"One of Clinton's laws of politics is this: If one candidate's trying to scare ya and the other one's trying get ya to think, if one candidate's appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope."

Posted by: TomJx | March 1, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I am a registered Independent voter. Bill Clinton is the reason that I left the Democratic party and will not return to it. I voted for his first term--the only presidential vote I've ever regretted. He fooled me, but he's fooled a lot of people. Fortunately, I saw through him fairly soon--in his first two years in office.

Bill Clinton--and the other Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) creatures--remade the party into Republican Lite. His 8-year reign established firm corporate dominance over both major political parties. The prominence of DLC creatures such as Terry MacAullife in HRC's campaign shows how pervasive their influence has become.

I despise Clinton's triangulation, his slippery distortion of language, and legalistic, self-serving parsing. ("It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.") Oddly, Bill Clinton shares some personality similarities to the man who succeeded him: Clinton and Bush are both congenital liars and egomaniacs.

I have never voted for a Republican in my life, but I was hoping for Hillary Clinton's defeat in her first Senate bid. I want them both out of the nation's political life.

Posted by: IceNine | March 1, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

There are many people that thought President Bill Clinton got off kind of light even though the people who pushed impeachment of him were overzealous.

It has been my belief that if you do something wrong or not above board, you will eventually be punished or suffer for it. This seems to be the case for Bill Clinton because what he covets most is being tarnished. That would be his legacy.

Hilary's campaign seems to be on the verge of failing if it has not already done so and that is in no small part due to Bill. His gaffes and bumbling did nothing to help her campaign and only brought back memories of the bad Bill Clinton instead of the good one.

Perhaps if Hilary could have had a "Sister Souljah" moment and told Bill to buzz off, she could have saved her campaign. At any rate, the image and legacy of Bill Clinton has been greatly diminished.

Posted by: danielhancock | March 1, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Oh, come on.

Negative innuendos, pecadillos, spin..come on, give us some good rest.

It is time we confine oursleves to History Books stashed away in libraries..You cannot drink the lees of political power forever, stepping in from the front door and then from the back door..

We need a fresh face, Bill.

We are tired of the same thing, over and over and over again.

May be after 15 years of reflection we will become more kind and give you back the legacy of the good things you did..but for now your spin and your dirty tricks dominate and crowd out the goodwill we used to have for you..

You need to give us a break, to take you off our minds for a few years..and we will still be kind to you.

Confine yourself to history please.

We are tired.

Posted by: mdsubramonia | March 1, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Bill Clinton that if John Kennedy or MLK were still in Washington DC, Obama will keep saying we need change. Get rid of JK and MLK and elect me because I have HOPE. I would prefer to be a McCain democrat than to have a guy who is ashamed and hides his middle name like it were a H Bomb....

Posted by: vs_sv | March 1, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Bill definitely changed. He changed from a guy I voted for twice to a guy I wouldn't support ever again in any capacity. He changed from one of the most popular political figures in modern history to a political pariah. He changed from a serious thoughtful strategist into a freakin public train wreck more like Britney Spears. When the blame game kicks in next week as to who lost the race for Hillary, Bill will get more then his share of credit. Bill, you rehabilitated your image post Monica, but, after all the shenanigans, I dunno if you'll be able to pull that one off again...

Posted by: the964kid | March 1, 2008 4:01 AM | Report abuse

proof that Bill and W are both living in the same alternate universe. Find me one person who "likes" both HRC and BO and I'll show you someone who need psychiatric help.

Posted by: jkrice63 | March 1, 2008 3:44 AM | Report abuse

Sure Bill is changed..that is why the senate is investigating his illegal campaign funding practices from his re-election campaign. Wonder how many Hillary has. And I agree, he does look like W.C. Fields...but in actuality it is his bubble red nose...usually signs of an alcoholic.

Posted by: Webster51 | March 1, 2008 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Bill Clinton is Endorsing Barack Obama;

Posted by: cakemanjb | March 1, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Bill Clinton is Endorsing Barack Obama;

Posted by: cakemanjb | March 1, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Bill Clinton is Endorsing Barack Obama;

Posted by: cakemanjb | March 1, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

What is Barak's candidacy really about:

Not "change in how things are done" and this is by the liberal New Republic

Posted by: nycLeon | February 29, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what this race-baiting red neck has to say about the Demo primary. He foreited any right to a major role in his wife's campaign by his hateful behavior in the SC primary when he clearly crossed the racial line. Perhaps the contest brought his true colors to the surface and disillusioned many of we Demos who held him in high esteem over the years.

Bill and Hillary have an opportunity to redeem some of their former favorable standing by going out in style during her concession speech after Obama "whups" her, to use an Arky expression, in the several primaries next week.

Clintons, we are sick and tired of your egotistical, race-baiting, divisive, triangulating behavior; please get the hell out of our lives. Forrest Gerard

Posted by: fgerard | February 29, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

The competition between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is just like the fight between "Beauty and the Beast."

Despite empty promises (or "refrains"?) for "change" and dirty tactics by a professional demagogue such as Baracko, Hillary is eventually going to prevail.

Posted by: blowmeplz | February 29, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Just 95 and a half hours till the Texas caususes close and the primary race comes to an end. Can't wait!

Posted by: whatmeregister | February 29, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

UT Austin endorsed Hillary??!!

Posted by: LBrundige | February 29, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Bill Clinton a changed man? I'm not buying it!

"Vice President Cheney and others have given experience a bad name," said Clinton, "but it really is not irrelevant." Bill Clinton forgot to mention that among those "and others" is Bill Clinton.

It must be nice to have Bill Clinton to not only paraphrase what both Hillary and her opponent have said (and do a very poor job of it, naturally) and then take it a step further and tell you which one he believes sounds better. How's that for impartiality?

Posted by: diksagev | February 29, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, he's changed alright. he used to be a fairly decent looking man and now he looks like W.C. Fields.

Posted by: jganymede | February 29, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse


I predict that Hillary DIANE Clinton will win Ohio; it's still close to call in Texas.

Posted by: JakeD | February 29, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Bill can't say anything without twisting it!

Obama didn't say we don't want anyone involved in the problems of the 90's. He said we don't want anyone who's still stuck in the 90's.

Although the 'red phone' ad goes back to 1984, so maybe we should expand that to anyone still stuck in the 80's.

That was then, this is now. Some people move on and adapt, others are dinosaurs.

Posted by: TomJx | February 29, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Texas Primary Prediction Time!

Who do you predict will win the Texas Democratic Presidential Primary?


Ohio Primary Prediction Time!

Who do you predict will win the Ohio Democratic Presidential Primary?


Posted by: jeffboste | February 29, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

WE LOVE Bill Clinton! The 90's were GREAT while Bill was President. He left the country in GREAT shape with a balanced budget and a surplus that has been plundered by Bush. Bill is a wonderful asset to Hillary.

WE LOVE Hillary Clinton! Her qualifications for President are unmatched. She will be a GREAT President!

WE believe that Hillary will be the nominee of the Dem party, however, if she is not the nominee we will vote for McCain because Obama is unqualified to be President. It's country first, party second.


Posted by: TAH1 | February 29, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I really believe it is time for Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton to step aside. It is time for fresh ideas. Universal Health care will never happen! Do we really want Bush Clinton Bush Clinton in the History Books? I don't...

Posted by: sniezgod | February 29, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

He hasn't changed enough. He should go back to being the Bill of 2004. Check this link, he sounds like he is endorsing Obama.

Posted by: dcwsano | February 29, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Bill Clinton is a Changed Man alright!

Thanks to their misguided attempt to get BACK into the White House, he has gone from receiving a Million Dollars a Speech, to having to Pay for anyone to listen! ;~)

Bet HE would love to have his decision Back about invading the Presidential Race!

Worst part, if McCain does not get Romney on board real quick, I might just send them both back to fix his Banking Mess Himself!

Oh, with Hillary the "President" too! ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | February 29, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

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