Skip to main content

Bill Clinton denies 'race card' comment

  • Story Highlights
  • Bill Clinton in interview Monday: Obama camp "played the race card on me"
  • On Tuesday he denied he had accused Obama's campaign of it
  • Clinton: "When did I say that and to whom did I say that?"
  • A recording of former president's comment is posted on WHYY Web site
  • Next Article in Politics »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Former President Bill Clinton denied Tuesday he had accused Sen. Barack Obama's campaign of "playing the race card" during an interview Monday.

A recording of the former president making the comment is posted on the WHYY Web site.

It says he made the comment in a telephone interview with the Philadelphia public radio station Monday night.

Clinton was asked whether his remarks comparing Obama's strong showing in South Carolina to that of Jesse Jackson in 1988 had been a mistake given their impact on his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"No, I think that they played the race card on me," said Clinton, "and we now know from memos from the campaign and everything that they planned to do it all along." Listen to the full interview

"We were talking about South Carolina political history and this was used out of context and twisted for political purposes by the Obama campaign to try to breed resentment elsewhere. And you know, do I regret saying it? No. Do I regret that it was used that way? I certainly do. But you really got to go some to try to portray me as a racist."

After the phone interview, a stray comment of his on the issue was also recorded before he hung up: "I don't think I should take any s*** from anybody on that, do you?" Video Watch Bill Clinton respond to controversy »

But outside a Pittsburgh campaign event Tuesday, a reporter asked Clinton what he had meant "when you said the Obama campaign was playing the race card on you?"

Clinton responded: "When did I say that and to whom did I say that?" Video Watch more of the Clintons on the trail in Pennsylvania »

"You have mischaracterized it to get another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us, and I choose not to play your games today," Clinton added.

"I said what I said -- you can go back and look at the interview, and if you will be real honest you will also report what the question was and what the answer was. But I'm not helping you."

Clinton did not respond when asked what he meant when he charged that the Obama campaign had a memo in which they said they had planned to play the race card.

Meanwhile, at a Pittsburgh press availability on Tuesday, Obama was asked about Clinton's charge that his campaign had drawn up plans to use "the race card."

"Hold on a second,'' he said. "So former President Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson and he is suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it?" Video Watch Obama's full comments »


"You better ask him what he meant by that. I have no idea what he meant. These were words that came out of his mouth. Not words that came out of mine.''

Clinton commented just before the South Carolina primary that "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand, CNN political producers Alexander Marquardt, Ed Hornick and Chris Welch contributed to this report.

All About Bill ClintonBarack Obama

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print