August 9th, 2007
04:48 PM ET
4 years ago

Sen. Clinton, are you black enough to be president?

Clinton addressed the NABJ Thursday.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) – “Are you black enough?” was the question put to Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton during a panel discussion sponsored by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Presidential Forum Thursday.

The question was initially raised by Les Payne, the retired Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from Newsday, in regard to whether Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, was “black enough” – a question the African-American White House hopeful has often been asked. So when it came time to open up the Q&A session with Sen. Clinton, the moderator, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, lead with the question, eliciting laughter – including that from the Senator – and some applause from the audience.

Specifically, Malveaux asked: “Are you black enough to sustain the kind of support that you got from your husband, and what makes you the better candidate over a black man in representing the issues regarding African-American community?”

“I want to represent all of America. I want to be a president for everyone. I am tired of all these false divisions,” Clinton told the crowd. “I have to earn everyone’s vote and nobody should expect that I take you for granted.”

Clinton went on to say, “I’m going to be very eagerly courting your votes, looking for ways that we can work together, and as I said in my opening remarks, putting forth an agenda as president that I cannot accomplish without a broad base of support.”

Before the Q&A, Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke for eight minutes, and in her opening remarks, she said it was time for America to have a national conversation about the plight of 1.4 million men of color who are in the nation's prison system.

"That's the conversation that I want to have," she said. "It's a conversation that I believe in."

Sen. Barack Obama, who will address the audience tomorrow, has said previously that this is a national crisis that needs to be addressed.

Clinton didn’t take long to connect with her audience.

Recognizing the two female candidates running for president of the National Association of Black Journalists, Clinton referred directly to them, saying, “However this election turns out, Madam President has a wonderful ring to it." Barbara Ciara, managing editor and anchor at WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia, and Cheryl Smith, executive editor at the Dallas Weekly in Texas, are running for the position.

In an effort to connect with her audience, Clinton also took a moment to recognize the late author James Baldwin, and the death of Chauncey Bailey, the Oakland Post editor who was gunned down last week, allegedly by followers of a group he was investigating.

– CNN contributor Roland Martin


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Chip Celina OH

    Nobody picked up on Hill telling us “I want to represent all of America. I want to be a president for everyone. I am tired of all these false divisions,” A day or so after saying, "if you want someone to fight against the right, I'm your girl"

    She's been in the Senate for 10 years, why hasn't she pursued any of these 'great' plans of hers there?

    August 10, 2007 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  2. Kevin Martin, NYC, NY

    Great comment Philemon, Hillary has no backbone whatsoever. She has attacked Obama twice on foreign policy stances that she herself has endorsed in the past 12 months.

    She's black, she's white, she's a new yorker, she's southern, she's a woman, she's a man, she's a dove, she's a hawk, she's a PANDERER!

    Hillary stands for nothing but Hillary.

    August 10, 2007 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  3. Chris

    It is interesting to note that this subject was brought up by NABJ.

    If being black is imporant to them, then why did they invite all candidates?

    They are making this a racial issue, not the average Americans. I would highly encourage all black Americans to overthrow these institutions as they are keeping us in 1960. Most white Americans don't care anymore, it's these organizations that want you to feel sorry for them.

    August 10, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  4. Jonathan, Virginia Beach, VA

    That is perhaps the most ridiculous and asinine question I have ever heard put to a Presidential candidate. I would be ashamed to give that line of inquiry any serious thought. It is not the responsibility of the President to pander to one specific demographic, and if any of the Democratic candidates are expected to support the special interest group of black Americans, they are no better than the Republicans they bash for taking on the interests of big oil, the military-industry complex, etc.

    August 10, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    I hope black people don't forget what Bill Clinton did for African American. Actually Obama is able to run for president now, it came from Clinton's caring about black people in 1990's. Black people should be eternally grateful to Bill Clinton.

    August 10, 2007 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    When Hillary moves into the White House she will do the same thing to African American way Bill Clinton did to them.
    I recieved benefit from someone I always repay someone's kindness, that is the reason why human is Lord's creation.

    August 10, 2007 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. Brian Hubbell II, Madison CT

    "Before the Q&A, Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke for eight minutes, and in her opening remarks, she said it was time for America to have a national conversation about the plight of 1.4 million men of color who are in the nation’s prison system."

    The plight of 1.4 million CRIMINALS who BROKE THE LAW. Yeah ok, I feel reallllll bad for them. That's ridiculous. That's like saying I should feel bad for a serial killer who raped and tortured to death numerous people cause he was molested as a kid or something similar. Sorry, but that's not how it works. If you do not have self control, and prove that you are incapable of living in our society, you get arrested when you break the laws! It's that simple. These aren't poor mistreated black men, these are gang bangers and thugs who thought they could get away with breaking the law.

    August 10, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. Josh

    "Bill Clinton was the first black President, because he really cared about black people. If Bill cared about black people, I assure you, Hillary will do the same. She will be black enough to be first black female President, because she will care about all including African Americans…"

    I had to read this twice to make sure I got it right. So, let's get this straight. I care about immigrants from Mexico, Eastern Europe, Asia, etc. So that makes me Mexican, Romanian, Bulgarian, Latvian, Asian, etc.? Come on.

    Also, being married to someone doesn't make you that person. I'm only ASSUMING Hillary Clinton has a REAL plan and position on issues, because she certainly hasn't presented them in the debates, she merely professes to care about every single American (especially lobbyists). But I can confidently say that she doesn't take her "positions" based on what Bill used to do. In fact, I believe she has split from a couple things he did, i.e. NAFTA.

    August 10, 2007 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. Jules, Madison, WI

    Ummm, James, if Hillary Clinton isn't qualified to be President, who is?

    August 10, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. John Harris, New York, NY

    Why is it about color? There are far more serious issues facing the American people, which are sugarcoated for the sake of a few while omitting the majority.

    I cannot find any other specie on the face of the earth where there conjugal relations with the same sex, which is not simply a spiritual but moral as well as biological issue, which has nothing whatsoever to do with mental or physical health and well-being. Pure and simple it is an abomination against every law of God, nature or simply physical well-being. No truly honest Jewish, Christian and or Islamic individual can or should support such an atrocity or presidential, congressional or candidate for public office. Those candidates that do so openly reject the holistic moral and ethical values of the America people regardless of his/her ethnicity.

    Jim Davis’ article: ‘Obama’s Church: Cauldron of Division’ should not surprise anyone much less the Christian community, which should speak out while a strong distaste for any form of racism especially as related to the Word of God. Therefore, I would invite Obama to read ‘The Decimation of America by its own hand’, ISBN 0-9761112-8-4, which I would be more than willing to send him a free copy. Moreover, I question Obama’s capability to lead a unified diverse country in a godly fashion and to be associated with a radical misdirected form of Christianity merely supports not simply my concerns but those of any god-fearing Christian voter. In terms of church attendance I would strongly suggest that Obama, if he truly believes in Jesus Christ to find himself a bible-teaching church, the Bible is neither Afro centric or Eurocentric. The fear then becomes Obama’s using a form of Christianity as a stepping stone towards personal gratification and does not truly believe in the triune God of Christian faith. Additionally, while this is no reflection on Obama, any true Christian knows that regularly church attendance does not demonstrate belief or faith in God because the Christian knows that even the devil goes to church regularly. In terms of Oprah’s endorsing Obama after having watched a brief portion of one of her shows this should be of no surprise based on the mind-manipulation existing primarily on the notion of having a so-called African-American as president, which is nothing more than another trick of the enemy. Can Barack Obama lead a diverse nation? No, I would believe not based on a number of factors notwithstanding his controversial church attendance but that of his failure to demonstrate truth, honor and integrity in terms of his questionable background Are his concerns for the whole of the American people and can Barack Obama or even Hilary Clinton fulfill the needs of America without surrendering his/her already questionable Christian beliefs? If, the American people were to look deeply into the reality of that related to these individuals will either portray the dignity necessary towards turning this country back into a leading representative to the whole world or will he/she lead America even further into the depths of world anarchy? Moreover, one should realize that this no longer has anything to do with the Bush Administration but everything to do with moving forward out of the pits of depraved indifference, which is the present-day state of America. Moving away from but keeping Obama in mind. What caused the Clinton’s not to move back to Arkansas? What was the Clinton agenda from the very beginning? Was there intent to manipulate the people of the State of New York for the fulfillment of the Clinton agenda? There too is a lack of truth, honor and integrity reflective of positive leadership. The American people need to stop being lead about as sheep and start thinking for him/her self and people of color need to start researching as oppose to acting based solely on color. [jlh1rrisr@verizon.net]

    August 10, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  11. Lee, Fredericksburg, VA

    Philemon in Flint, I don't know how you got so far afield of the topic to start discussing Bill's infidelity. Hilary showed strength "above-and- beyond" as a woman. The easy thing would have been to obtain a divorce. If she believes in her vows and the sanctity of marriage she did the right thing and should be commended because that, my friend, took strength. To demean her for that is ludicrous. Bill did an excellent job, even as a philanderer, now you are saying Hilary cannot because she forgave the philanderer? Your logic is lost on me.

    August 10, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Bill, Huntington, WV

    I love Hillary and everything about her. I love(d) her husband and wish he could have continued serving beyond his 2 term limit. I will do everything in my power (vote; make financial contributions; make telephone calls; go door-to-door; wear badges, hats, buttons, and suspenders; plaster bumper stickers all over my Corolla; etc.) to help both of them back to the White House.

    My aging mother recently asked me about the situation. She pondered why, if Hillary was running for President, didn't the rest of the "goons" drop out and let her have it. Realizing that this is not the way the American political system works, I responded with understanding, and stated simply: "Because the rest of the goons don't really want what's best for this country".

    Rest assured that this southern born & bred, 39 year old married, white man with a Masters Degree in Higher Education from a midwestern school will support Hillary until Hillary is no longer an option. Why? Because it's the right thing to do and it's what's best for this country.

    August 10, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. Shayne

    I'm thinking a Clinton/Obama ticket, myself!!!

    August 10, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. Antoine, ATL, GA

    No she is not. She is so fake. Just like her husband. NWO phreaks. go Obama!

    August 10, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. Anonymous

    This is ridiculous. I am personally white so I could care less. I think Clinton is a Hack and a Liar so she could be purple for all I care.

    August 10, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Brian Hubbell II, Madison CT

    "The plight of 1.4 million CRIMINALS who BROKE THE LAW. Yeah ok, I feel reallllll bad for them. That’s ridiculous. That’s like saying I should feel bad for a serial killer who raped and tortured to death numerous people cause he was molested as a kid or something similar."

    BRIAN – HILLARY SAID "it was time for America to have a national conversation about the plight of 1.4 million men of color who are in the nation’s prison system.”

    Brian if you read up on this topic you would know that since research has been done on DNA – it has been confirmed by the justice system – that many errors by so call Qualified Justice System employees have been carried out. It has been proven many times since that many have been sentenced to death who are INNOCENT of any crime! The DNA testing was performed incorrectly, lackadazically, by so called qualified personnel who were completely indifferent to the fact that their lack of testing expertise and ability made the difference of whether one lived or died! AND guess what??? Black Convicts seemingly for some unknown reason had a much more difficult time getting an acquittal even when the DNA test proved inaccurate than a White Man did! Strange don't ya think?

    No one I expect would feel sorry for a serial killer or rapist that had been PROVEN guilty. YOU missed the whole context of Hillary's Comment. READ about these issues before you hop on the egg and stone band wagon.

    August 10, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. Dan, Columbia MD

    I'm so happy that our country has learned to look beyond the color of a man or womans skin and judge them on character. :-P

    August 10, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. James, Phoenix AZ

    Tricia writes,

    "Brian if you read up on this topic you would know that since research has been done on DNA – it has been confirmed by the justice system – that many errors by so call Qualified Justice System employees have been carried out. It has been proven many times since that many have been sentenced to death who are INNOCENT of any crime! "

    Since you're the self-proclaimed expert... EXACTLY how many of the 1.4 million african-american men in jail have been vindicated by DNA testing?

    And has DNA testing ONLY vindicated black males? Or does DNA also possibly help white, hispanic, asians?

    You're just like Hillary... take an anomaly (less than 1/10th of 1%) and attempt to turn it into a national issue.

    But I do hope Hillary continues to keep spouting that why 1.4 million black men are in jail is simply RACISM!

    What an idiot!

    August 10, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Brad, Columbia, SC

    John Harris from NY -

    "...the holistic moral and ethical values of the America people..."

    Wow. What it seems so many hardcore religous people don't get is that not everyone in America shares your views. Not everyone wants a president "to lead... in a godly fashion." Not everyone wants a president who rules according to "every law of god." Not everyone is a "god-fearing Christian voter."

    You may find this appalling, but so too do I find appalling the notion that pure logic and reason aren't sufficient to inform government policy - that we must invoke religion (specifically, in this case Christianity) at every opportunity.

    "The American people need to stop being lead about as sheep and start thinking for him/her self..."

    Funny you should say that. Allow me to quote from John, chapter 10 (http://scriptures.lds.org/john/10):

    John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
    John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
    John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

    August 10, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Timothy, New York, NY

    The most ironic thing about the fact is that if there wasn't such a sense of mistrust of police officers in the black community that their might be more blacks in prison.

    Studies have shown that in predominatly black areas that 20% or less of murders are solved, whereas in predominatly white areas 60%+ are solved. And the reason for this is that people in white communities are willing to come forward rather then have a killer go free. Whereas the black communities are more worried about "not being a snitch" and selling out their brothers to the "man". And they wonder why black on black crime is such a problem.

    August 10, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. David, Arlington, VA

    Thanks for addressing John from NY's comment, Brad. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who thought, um, this guy seems to have gone of the deep end, since this a post about Hillary and the politics of race in this country. But it's good to see that religious wackos can "divine" literally anything to inspire them to espouse their arrogant, ignorant, and bigoted beliefs.

    August 10, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Joel Edison Morrow GA

    I'm not a Clinton supporter but I like her answer. Enough of the divisions. A presidential candidate has to appeal to the masses and if he or she "appears to be black enough or for that matter white enough" then they are merely chameleons and cannot be trusted. And just what does "black enough" means? Stereotyping comes to mind when this question is asked.

    August 12, 2007 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  23. LucyAkech, Highland Park, New Jersey

    I do not appreciate the packaging of the Congressional Black Caucus members and Black elites by your campaign because these people do not represent my needs as a voter. The college loan scandal has closed doors on my children's future and your campaign is not addressing this issue. Instead, I see these same companies either giving huge donationsts your campaign and talking point so that you can play it safe around important issues like the one I have mentioned above. I am a single mom with children who have worked hard, accdemically, but have doors shut on them by corporate college loan scam bags and those companies hiring firm looking cheap labor ("we need someone who is bi-lingual"). The American dream of home ownership is now out of read because of the predatory lending leaving young people with impossible debt ratios.

    August 14, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  24. MIRIAH VAUGHN, HARRISBURG PENNSYLVANIA

    Omg
    BILL CLINTON IS SOO TOTALLY BLACK...HE'S JUST TRAPPED INSIDE OF A WHWITE GUYS BODY!!!
    BILL CLINTON NEEDS TO BECOME THE PRESIDENT AGAAIN BECAUSE BUSH IS SO TOTALLY SORRY!!!
    I LOVE YOU CLINTON...]N YES I AM A BLACK FEMALE AND WHEN I GET OLDER I WILL BECOME THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN PRESIDENT NO DOUBT...
    BECAUSE UNLIIKE BUSH I LOVE MY COUNTRY AND I AM NOT TRYING TO GET BACK AT IRAQ FOR SOMETHING THAT THEY DID TO HIS DAD...BILL CLINTON IS DABOMB...AND I AM RUBBING THIS IN ALL OF YOU ALL FACES!!!

    October 18, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
1 2 3