Book: Clinton blamed Clyburn for Hillary's SC primary loss

Greg Nash

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) revealed in a new memoir that he received a tongue lashing from former President Clinton after the 2008 South Carolina primary, according to a report. 

Clinton blamed the South Carolina representative for his wife's primary loss in the state to President Obama, then an Illinois senator. Clinton, during a 2 a.m. phone call, also said: "If you bastards want a fight, you damn well will get one." 

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U.S. News and World Report highlighted the exchange that is part of Clyburn's memoir slated for publication in the summer titled: Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black.

Clyburn had remained publicly neutral throughout the Democratic primary, though he voted for Obama in his state's primary. 

“I had kept that promise. I asked [Clinton] to tell me why he felt otherwise," Clyburn writes. "He exploded, used the word ‘bastard’ again, and accused me of causing her defeat and injecting race into the contest." 

He added: “It was clear that the former president was holding me personally responsible for his wife’s poor showing among South Carolina black voters, and it was also clear that our heated conversation had not changed his mind.”

The day after the conversation, Clinton famously compared Obama's win in the state to Jesse Jackson’s, who had previously won the Democratic primary there but lost the overall contest. 

“Bill Clinton wasn’t just defining his wife’s loss in South Carolina as a ‘black political event,’ he was defining it as a ‘Jim Clyburn black southern event.’ So this is what he meant when he said he’d show us a fight,” Clyburn wrote.  

Clinton later apologized to Clyburn, which the congressman "halfheartedly" accepted, according to the report. 

Hillary Clinton lost the South Carolina primary by 28 points and went on to lose the nomination to Obama. She is seen as the frontrunner for the nomination again in 2016 if she decides to run. 

During her last campaign, Bill Clinton received criticism a number of times for injecting race into the primary contest. Clyburn had publicly told Clinton to "chill out" after the former president's remarks about Jesse Jackson. 

According to a list maintained by The Hill, Clyburn is not one of the 59 members of Congress who has yet to preemptively endorse the former secretary of State ahead of her potential candidacy.