Bill Clinton: Obama Played Race Card On Me

By Mark Mooney

Apr 22, 2008 12:20pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: Bill Clinton accused Barack Obama’s campaign of "playing the race card on me" and told a Philadelphia radio station that the Obama campaign took his Jesse Jackson comment and "twisted it for political purposes."

And as the interview concluded, Clinton turned to an associate and said, "I don’t think I should take any s–t from anybody on that, do you?"

Making a campaign stop and enjoying another interrupted breakfast at Pamela’s P&G Diner Tuesday morning in downtown Pittsburgh, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.,  was asked to respond to Clinton.

The Democratic nomination frontrunner seemed confused by the comments.

"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," Obama said laughing, "Ok, well, you better ask him what he meant by that. I have no idea what he meant. These are words that came out of his mouth, not out of mine."

Watch the VIDEO HERE.

And at President Clinton’s first polling stop in Pittsburgh, he too appeared unwilling to discuss the incident.

"No, no, no, that’s not what I said," Clinton told a reporter who asked about the radio comments, "You always follow me around and play these little games. And I am not going to play your games today. This is a day about election day, go back and see what the question was and what my answer was. You have mischaracterized it just to get a another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us, and I choose not to play your game today."

Watch the
VIDEO HERE.

Clinton was talking to station WHYY about the fallout over his comparison of Obama’s South Carolina primary victory with the support of black Democrats to Jesse Jackson’s primary wins. Those comments were portrayed by critics as an attempt to highlight Obama’s race.

The former president fumed on Monday that it was Obama’s campaign that injected the race issue.

"I think that they played the race card on me. And we now know, from memos from the campaign and everything that they planned to do it all along," Bill Clinton said in a telephone interview with WHYY’s Susan Phillips. "I was stating a fact, and it’s still a fact."

The former president says the comment was "used out of context and twisted for political purposes by the Obama camapign."

Clinton goes on to say that "you have to really go some place to play the race card on me." He lists a number of his accomplishments on behalf of African Americans, inexplicably putting the fact that he has "an office in Harlem" at the top of the list.

Clinton’s outburst began when Phillips asked the President how he feels about one Philadelphia official who says she switched her support after interpreting Clinton’s remarks in South Carolina as an attempt to marginalize Obama as "the black candidate."

Clearly, Clinton seems frustrated by the question or the suggestion by anyone – either the reporter or the Philadelphia official whom she quoted – that he was somehow making a negative statement about Obama (or Jesse Jackson) based on their race.

His frustration comes through towards the end of the recording when, apparently unaware that he was still on the line, Clinton asks whoever is with him, "I don’t think I should take any s–t from anybody on that, do you?"

Listen to Clinton on WHYY by clicking here.

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller and Sarah Amos contributed to this report.

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