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Bill Clinton Pushes Back Against Critics

Corrected 2:20 p.m.
By Perry Bacon Jr.
President Clinton, in two of his first interviews since his wife's campaign at times starting blocking reporters' access to him in the wake of controversial remarks he made in January, this weekend forcefully took on criticisms that his rhetoric against Barack Obama has had racial overtones.

"I was attacked as somehow being racist, which I think is a pretty hard stretch for me since I had nine African American Cabinet members, my office is in Harlem," Clinton said in an interview with four college student journalists that was organized by mtvU. "Congressman Rangel, the most important elected African American official in America, endorsed her candidacy."

In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America that aired this morning, Clinton said "our side got a bum rap" after the ex-president compared Obama's resounding win in South Carolina to the victories there of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, which many viewed as an attempt to cast Obama as a candidate whose appeal was largely limited to blacks.

"I have been defended by Congressman Greg Meeks and Congressman Kendrick Meek, comparing the election to Jesse Jackson's election," Clinton said. ... "There were two African American members of Congress with me there. They made up a race story out of that. Jesse Jackson did win South Carolina, with a biracial coalition. ... It was an amazing campaign -- there was no disrespect for Sen. Obama in that. So I think that our side got a bum rap over what was said. ... They thought they could hurt me with that and they put a bizarre spin on it and it worked for a while."

Clinton's wife of late has started drawing a distinction between votes won through primaries, those from caucuses and the ones of superdelegates, an argument to which the former president added his voice. The Clinton campaign has at times argued caucuses are "undemocratic" because voters have to show up at a certain time to vote in them, unlike primaries, which go all day. The Clinton campaign ramped up this argument after Obama won a string of caucuses in February, though it had earlier chosen to compete hard in caucuses in Iowa and Nevada, winning the latter.

"How should they decide the nomination if Hillary has more popular votes and Senator Obama has more pledged delegates because he did a better job of organizing the caucuses in places like Alaska and North Dakota," the former president asked. ... "Should they give more credit to the popular vote or to the caucus vote which favors party activists, young people and people with more money?"

Obama has won the most states and has the most pledged delegates, as well as being the popular vote leader. The Democratic process, like the electoral college in the general election, does not consider the popular vote, but the superdelegates who may end up helping pick the nominee are likely to factor it into their thinking.

Clinton did the interviews both to tout his wife's campaign and also to promote a conference for young adults that his foundation hosted in New Orleans over the weekend. Since South Carolina, he has continued to campaign frequently for his wife, but made few media appearances. At events in Ohio earlier this month, barricades were placed in the area where journalists were sitting to prevent them from approaching him after his speeches.

This item has been corrected. It originally reported Bill Clinton as speaking of "Congressman Greg Meek and Congressman Kendrick Meeks" instead of "Congressman Greg Meeks and Congressman Kendrick Meek."

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 17, 2008; 12:23 PM ET
 
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Comments

Someone needs to take a serious look at allegations of improper caucus tactics used by Obama supporters-
I FOR ONE AM CONCERNED ABOUT THESE ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPER CAUCUS TACTICS ...worth a look

Another Report of Improper Obama Caucus Tactics:
http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/3/12/155450/725

ALSO new research suggests young brains don't mature with the ability to fully reason until the age of 25. Until then decisions are based on imnpulse, peer pressure and etc.

Posted by: thinktank | March 18, 2008 5:42 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. Looks like the Clinton campaign has decided that playing the "playing the race card" card can get some traction for them after all.

Posted by: bearpaw01 | March 17, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

The former President's comments are self serving, out of touch, and simply wrong.

While WJC did appoint many minorities while he was in office, his past performance does not excuse his current statements aimed at denigrating Mr Obama using racist overtones in a scorched earth campaign supporting his wife.

This prevailing mentality is not exclusive to the former President now turned attack dog, but is rampant through out the entire Clinton campaign as evidenced by Geraldine Ferraro's comments and subsequent resignation.

Hillary is obviously not above sacrificing anyone from Ferraro to the former President by using them to attack and smear Mr Obama, and then disavowing any association with the comments.

These tactics on the part of Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff is indicative of why she should not win the parties nomination.

The divisive remarks made by Clinton staffers and the ex President on her behalf are proof that Hillary is unfit to lead this nation.

This 'race is good weapon when it serves my purpose' mentality so prevelant in the Clinton campaign is the reason why voters need to remember that casting their ballots are as simple as A-B-C... Anyone But Clinton.

If Clinton does not drop out of the race, thus ending her divisive campaign, she will hand the White House to Republicans in November with hardly a fight.

It is time Hillary returned to the Senate where she can resume her full time role as second fiddle to Charles Schumer.

Posted by: ricroe | March 17, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bill, thanks for an entertaining primary! I've been laughing and having so much fun! It's so funny to see you and Hillary get more and more pathetic with each little twist of words and logic that you utter. I don't remember the last time that a presidential primary, (something that's usually a boring process) has been so blasted funny!!! I especially enjoy how you succeed at making dis-ingenuous remarks that claim to distance yourselves from politically incorrect bad attitudes ("Oh I don't think it's bad that he's black!") but all the while causing the public to think along the same lines ("Say, that's right he's black. I wonder what that will do?)
LOL

Posted by: tranquilcrisis | March 17, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

It is highly unlikely Hillary will win the nomination. The average current betting line is that she only has roughly about a 25% chance vs. Obama at 75% (see http://bookmakersbetting.bestbetting.com/Default.aspx?market=14041314 ). Whether or not she wins the nomination, the continued divisiveness will very likely cost the Democrats the White House, no matter which one is the nominee. And her continued, harmful fight is exacting a useless personal toll on her campaign staff as well as on Obama's (see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23666402/ ).

Give it up Hillary!

Posted by: colin | March 17, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone figured out what they forgot to take from the White House that they so desperately want to go back.

Posted by: Ethicist | March 17, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama for President of the UNITED States of America.

Posted by: PulSamsara | March 17, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Hillary, her husband, an aide or loyal supporter first drops the Bomb. This is followed by a well accomplished and insincere apology. Next we get the defense. This tactic allows the Clinton to bring up the RACE ISSUE over and over again.

OK, we got it. You are White and Obama is Black.

Now, oh great Queen of Non-Disclosure, may we please see your financial records? Donations to the Clinton Library? Clinton Foundation? And your Ear Marks?

Posted by: x32792 | March 17, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it was Bill who made it about race, but Hillary. Bill just supported her. When she said Martin Luther King made speeches, but it took Lyndon Johnson to pass legislation, after denigrating the value of speeches for two weeks, she pissed alot of Black people off. And they didnt need the Obama campaign to spin that one for them. The words that came out of her own mouth was enough.

I was neutral prior to that. Even if it was a mistake, what an interesting example to use for her "just words" campaign.

But then Bill is trying to be cute here. Hillary's campaign was trying to spin the South Carolina win as "Oh its just the Black vote". That's the only reason he's going to win. But, then in that same context, Bill throws in "Jesse Jackson won here when he ran." to add an exclamation point to the spin. Context matters. And anyone who says "it depends on what the meaning of is is" should know better.

Posted by: n2itiveus | March 17, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

When Clinton moved to NY and ran for the senate, she said she had no intention of running for president. Clinton claimed that she just wanted to do a good job for the people of NY. Today she says words mean something . Ahhhh for the good old days, when Bill was saying "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky!" Just think! If Clinton gets back to the White-house, there will be the first, first man, AND the first first perjurer.
Like Jimmie Dean says about his sausage "makes ya proud everytime!"

Posted by: marthadavidson | March 17, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

So Obama has not tried the race card to stop criticism and legit questions. but that is not the point. the point is Obama talks change change change then ofers no solid plans, tells some groups something and other grous otherthings. He is not an agent for change, he is an agent of old school liberal politics that once again promises change but will not deliver.

Posted by: dmduesler1 | March 17, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The truth is that Bill Clinton has been working on a strategy of evoking racism psychologically. He knows well the voters tend to be impressionable and meanwhile tend to enjoy their wisdom about politics and their momentary political power rather much. With a moral cynicism, the one who dares smear, distort, and lie will win. And hopefully the end will justify the means, if there indeed is any end. And after all, holding power is much better than emotional popularity. So, Bill Clinton's comparing BHO with Jesse Jackson was not an accident at all. C. Ferraro's identifying BHO as a BLACK man was not an accident at all. It's not any secret that if BHO is classified as a BLACK candidate, if his campaign refers to race, he will LOOSE. We all know that this country is not yet COLORBLIND. You don't need to say only white can prevail. You simply comment, remember Jesse Jackson? Or, you just pretend to have a feminist jelorsy: he is so lucky to be a BLACK man! Then the reminded voters will never tell why, they just would not vote for OHB. Is it a secret? The Clintons are insulting the intelligence of the EDUCATED public. That is exactly why and how HRC draws the LESS EDUCATED votes. After all, what kind of people deserves what kind of leader. We'll see. HRC's irony is that she could only be the queen of the LESS EDUCATED.

Posted by: pinepine | March 17, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

My question is what is Obama going to change? What is he going to do? Get us out of Iraq but maybe back there too? Get us out of Nafta or maybe keep us in it? Is he really bringing people together by screaming racism everytime someone has a valid question or criticism of him. Is he going to change washington just like he has changed his story on the amount of money from Resko or what he has heard out of his "crazy uncles" lips. To me he is an old school politician(telling every one what they want to hear and trying to squash everyone in the way) wrapped in the old clothes of change

Posted by: dmduesler1 | March 17, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Slick Willie hurts Slippery Hillary's campaign and now he wants to push back at the critics. So Slick has an office in Harlem; big deal! He wanted the digs near Carnegie Hall before the GAO balked at the $800K/annum rent.

Diversity and support from African-American pols? Big deal; there are those who are blindly loyal to the Clintons (and to the Democratic Party in general). Not a large standard to measure, I am afraid to say.

Face it: Slick Willie opened his mouth in South Carolina and spewed race-baiting junk; now Hillary is trying to play "catch-up" as she tries to belatedly apologize to the African-American community. Good luck with that -- let me know how's it works out for you!

Posted by: meldupree | March 17, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

It's astonishing to see not only how much the Obamamaniacs love to slur the Clintons, but also how they hate THE PEACE AND PROSPERITY of the Clinton years.

It all makes it sound like they'd rather have 8 more years of Bush than a repeat of the PEACE and PROSPERITY that America enjoyed while Bill was president. Unless, of course, they get the guy who says "Yes, We can", but NEVER says "how" he'll do it.

Posted by: leal45235 | March 17, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

There is just more embarrassment coming form the Clintons. They have not disclosed the appeal of their Fraud Case in California. Go to www.lasuperiorcourt.org and in the Civil Case Summaries area enter this case number BC304174. The trial date is set at a hearing 3 days after the Pennsylvania Primary.

Posted by: DemVoterinMichigan | March 17, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

rat-the - Thank you for proving my case.

Posted by: fcf | March 17, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

drindl: bankruptcy? have you checked the latest earmarks totals of you friends:
hil & ob - more than $100 million EACH;
mccain - $0
whatever you have against that moron in the white, don't pin it on mccain. kls

Posted by: klstein | March 17, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

fcf-LOL! Looking for Karl? Try the Clinton Campaign Headquarters.

McCain is the one who does not use Karl's tactics. Sooooo... ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | March 17, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

drindl: bankruptcy? have you checked ther latest earmarks totals of you friends:
hil & ob - more than $100 million EACH;
mccain - $0
whatever you have against that moron in the white, don't pin it on mccain. kls

Posted by: klstein | March 17, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

JakeD

Maybe I should have said 'before she realized that she needed the Florida and Michigan delegates.". My point is she is consistent only in that she will change if changing gives her something she needs. Personally I don't think she would have said a word about Florida, Michigan, and people not able to take time for Caucuses being disenfranchised if she was ahead. I don;t know about 35 years of experience but I have 16 years of experience watching the Clintons and I do not trust then nor do I think that they are worthy of the office to which they aspire. I don't want to have to start each day wondering what new scandal will keep my President from doing his/her job.

Posted by: dyork | March 17, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else see the faults in this logic?

Clinton Campaign to Voters: Caucuses should be discounted because they are NOT democratic.

Clinton Campaign to SuperDelegates: Please overturn the results of the voting that has already taken place and make me the nominee.

So - the democratic process is sacred when it favors her and out-the-window when it doesn't.

Posted by: gmtiffany | March 17, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

dyork:

I would have to check about one shred of evidence of the Clintons not liking Caucuses BEFORE they started losing all of them, but I do know that she asked for Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated BEFORE those States voted.

Posted by: JakeD | March 17, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

The thing that bothers me most about Obama is that he attracts the kind of supporters that use Karl Rove type of attacks like rat-the's and dyork's above.
Either Obama or Clinton will make a good President only if they are elected by a strong majority in November. If voters become disenfranchised by vitriolic dialogs - like those above, we will never repair the damage of the last 8 years and Bin-Laden will have won.

Posted by: fcf | March 17, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Caucuses are "undemocratic"..and Super Delegates are? The bickering of the Demo
Dog & Pony show goes on while McCain is
in Irag talking to the troops!

Posted by: info | March 17, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

LOL! At the end of Billary Promotionals, Slick should be saying:

"I'm Bill Clinton, and I approve of My Wife's Message". ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | March 17, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

And can anyone find one shred of evidence of the Clintons not liking Caucuses BEFORE they started losing all of them. Much like Michigan and Florida they want to change the rules only when things don't go well for them.

Posted by: dyork | March 17, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Does he forget that there are those of us who remember that he tried to outrageously overcharge the taxpayers for a ritzy Mahatten office and it was only after the uproar over that, and other low rent moves upon leaving the White House, that he changed his office to Harlem? And who were the nine (9)African American cabinent members? How far from the actual Secretary of... post is he going to get that number? Bush's Cabinent has been much more diverse then Clinton's was.

Posted by: dyork | March 17, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

drindl-Actually, I have already suffered due to the IDIOCY of Bill Clinton's Banking Deregulation in 1998. His EO 13166 has also done irreparable harm to our Government Agencies(Spanish Speakers to Control Illegal Hispanics-Riiiiiight!).

Then, Ninny Peloser(Dim) has SAT on HR:1940-Birthright Citizenship Act, and the Dim Judicial Appointees in the 9Th Circuit Blocked Government Efforts to check for Felonious ID Theft!

Any Bill coming out of the Dim Led Congress to address ANY of the Issues?

No creo Yo! ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | March 17, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

So, which one is it, drindl? The country has ALREADY been destroyed, or it WILL BE destroyed in four more years?

Posted by: JakeD | March 17, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Submoron republicans have destroyed this country. I don't care who wins -- as long as it isn't John McCain. We can't stand anothr fouryears of bankruptcy and debt.

Posted by: drindl | March 17, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Yesiree Folks!

Today's Blue Light Special! Billary!

You get 2, Yes TWO, Clintons for the ridiculously LOW Price of ONE! :-)

Twice the Pardons!

Twice the Apologies!

Twice the Illegal Immigrant Pandering and Amnesty!

Twice the Libbie Judges!

Order yours TODAY! ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | March 17, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Go Bill JEFFERSON Clinton!!!

Posted by: JakeD | March 17, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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