Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton Square Off: Who's Encouraging Domestic Terror?

Clinton rips anti-Obama fury; Limbaugh says he's "set the stage for violence."

ByABC News
April 16, 2010, 3:06 PM

April 16, 2010 -- Do right-wingers fuel domestic terror? Or is conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh right -- that former President Clinton and President Obama soon could have blood on their hands?

Saying "right-wing, radio talk-show hosts" kept people in "white heat" nearly 15 years ago before the deadly Oklahoma City bombing, Clinton today warned against similar anger in the age of Obama.

But Limbaugh said Clinton and the Obama "regime" are the ones that have "set the stage for violence."

"Bill Clinton ... just gave the kooks out there an excuse to be violent," Limbaugh told radio listeners today. "He just offered them an opportunity to be violent."

Clinton has drawn parallels between the anti-government tone that preceded Tim McVeigh's bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building April 19, 1995, which killed 168 people, and the political rancor that greeted President Obama's administration.

Speaking to the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., today, Clinton urged political and media leaders to remember that "words matter" and that they fall on the "serious and the delirious and the connected and the unhinged alike."

"We can't let the debate veer so far into hatred that we lose sight of our humanity," Clinton said.

But playing three extended sound bites from Clinton's speech, Limbaugh flipped the script, saying any domestic terror violence this time would be "squarely on the shoulders of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama."

Tune into ABC's "This Week" Sunday: ABC's Jake Tapper interviews former President Bill Clinton.

In one of Limbaugh's sound bites, Clinton said, "We didn't have blog sites back then so the instrument of carrying this forward were basically the right-wing, radio talk-show hosts, and they understood clearly that emotion was more powerful than reason most of the time, and it happened that they got much bigger listenership and more advertisers and more commercial success if they kept people in the white heat.

"For 99 percent of them, it was just that, turn on the radio, listen to them say something you agree with, vent your anger, go on with your life and make the best of it. But it shaped the environment in which we were in."

At another point in his speech, Clinton said: "By the '80s, we began to have the rise of violence from the fringe I suppose you could call right-wing, but it was basically uncritical hatred of the government and belief that all taxes were illegitimate."