November 18th, 2007
09:47 AM ET
7 years ago

Obama to Clinton: Don't 'Swift Boat' me

Obama reacted Saturday to reports that a smear from the Clinton campaign may be coming.

(CNN)–Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called on his rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, to put to rest a report that agents of her campaign are spreading word of an alleged scandal involving Obama.

"She of all people, having complained so often about 'the politics of personal destruction,' should move quickly to either stand by or renounce these tactics," Obama said in a statement released by his campaign on Saturday.

Obama's comments stem from a newspaper column by the journalist Robert Novak published Saturday. Novak claimed that surrogates for Clinton have mounted a word of mouth campaign among Democratic circles regarding scandalous information the Clinton campaign has about Obama. Novak said that experienced veterans of Democratic politics believe the Clinton campaign is withholding the release of the information because it wants to avoid a re-play of the 2004 nomination fight, when attacks on each other by Richard Gephardt, and Howard Dean were credited with assisting the rise, and eventual nomination of another candidate, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

" The cause of change in this country will not be deterred or sidetracked by the old 'Swift Boat' politics," the Illinois senator went on to say in the statement. "But in the interest of our party, and her own reputation, Senator Clinton should either make public any and all information referred to in the item, or concede the truth: that there is none."

"We have no idea what Mr. Novak's item is about and reject it totally," Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer told CNN Saturday. "Instead of pointing fingers at us, Senator Obama should get back to the issues and focus on what this election is really about."

"Once again Senator Obama is echoing Republican talking points, this time from Bob Novak. This is how Republicans work," Singer went on to say. "A Republican leaning journalist runs a blind item designed to set Democrats against one another. Experienced Democrats see this for what it is. Others get distracted and thrown off their games. Voters should be concerned about the readiness of any Democrat inexperienced enough to fall for this. There is a campaign in this race that has engaged in the very practice that Senator Obama is decrying, and it's his."

"The Clinton campaign has admitted that they do not possess the ‘scandalous information’ in question and we take them at their word," said David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager in a statement on Saturday. "But what we don’t accept is their assertion that this is somehow falling for Republican tricks. This is exactly the kind of smear politics, Democrats need to fight back on, regardless of the source or the party. Democrats should know that when Barack Obama is their nominee, he will not allow the ‘Swift boat’ politics of fear and diversion to prevail in this campaign."

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– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

soundoff (337 Responses)
  1. Bill Williams, Gold River, British Columbia, Canada

    I have never heard any candidates talking about the North American Indians. It seems they have been ignored far too long. AS President what will you do to improve the relationship with the American Indians.

    November 18, 2007 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  2. Lee, Boston, MA

    To Reggie in Germany:

    I'd reply, but I really didn't understand a word you wrote. My apologies.

    LeeLe

    November 18, 2007 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  3. TheCubanMissle, Miami, FL

    I don't understand Hillary sympathizers. What the hell is Obama supposed to do? Bend over and hope Hillary's using KY Jelly? No!

    Obama is a fighter and Clinton does not have ownership on this nomination. Clinton's campaign is dirty (they've proven it already) and Obama's people have no reason to put up with her crap.

    November 18, 2007 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  4. alan St Louis MO

    Clinton campaign making attacks saying her openets are using Republican play book

    GOOD GRIEF

    FACT FACT FACT FACT

    NO other canidae is MORE REPUBLICAN then CLINTON.

    People come on now. Stop using your hearts and use your HEAD. GO check CLINTON VOTEING RECORD she voted YES to every major republican issue, that Bush wanted. It is only now she votes against Bush. Well sometimes, This lady voted to OK Bush to invade IRAN.

    Clinton relies on the HEARTS of the democrats to get your vote. she knows this. She makes the best speeches to make people feel good into voting for her. But the fact is she dont vote by her HEART. She votes for the CORPATES. The same CORPATES that are war profitering. She is also OWNED by the Chines CORPATES, Which is why she is a strong WALMART backer. She has no problem in selling American high paying jobs to the Chines. Leaving us to working at WALMART, or flip burgars at Mcdonalds. Yes 6 dollars an hours.

    The fact is American are fed up with wars. True Democracies spred by diplomacy instead of war. The majority of the anti war people are Democrats. Most Democrats have blind faith support for Clinton. If Clinton is President and, she keeps the war with IRAQ and probably start one with IRAN.
    What do DEMOCRATS DO??
    SO the Democrats have to decide. Do we accuse our selves being STUPID or do we support the war and CLINTON. Now you have the REPUBLICAAN warmongers joined by DEMOCRAT WARMONGERS. And the war is no longer UNPOPULAR. A brilliant move by the CORPATES.

    YOU CLINTON SUPPORTERS PLEASE EXPLAIN HER VOTING RECORD TO ME???
    Why she votes like a BUSH??
    Why do you support her by hard fact??
    Not by feel good statements.

    November 18, 2007 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  5. glen davidson candler nc

    hillary clinton is a very nasty person when it comes to her getting power,obama hasnt seen any thing yet what she can do to some one, so she can get what she wants.people seem to forget what happen in the past,to what happen to a lot of people.

    November 18, 2007 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  6. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Bob Novak, a known conservative leaning journalist, implies that the Clinton campaign has dirt on Obama but won't release it and Obama's campaign instead of questioning Novak's motives releases a statement against Hillary????????

    Barack, Barack, that latest statement jut shows that your lack of experience in politics is showing. The Clintons have been running winning campaigns since the 70s and know how to play the game very well, while you just played into the hands of the Republicans. Too funny!

    November 18, 2007 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  7. Buddy

    Mr. Obama, Grown up Democrats do not pay much attention to Bob Novak.

    November 18, 2007 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  8. Mark Columbus, Ohio

    I'm a blogger and for the last three weeks, at least out of the more conservative type blogs, there have been rumors that the LA Times is sitting on a story. This story involves a Presidential Candidate that had an affair. Bloggers were guessing three people: Rudy, Obama, and Clinton. No facts to back it up...just LA Times was sitting on a hot story.

    WatchingHillary.com

    November 18, 2007 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  9. Sam, IA

    Novak is NOT a journalist, He is a Republican hack and always has been. He should be swinging by the neck for treason already. Nough said.

    November 18, 2007 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  10. Matt, Milwaukee, Wi

    I especially like how Hillary politicizes Obama's response as inexperience. People, don't be taken by this. It isn't inexperience on Obama's part. He has the intergrity to not go the route of standard Washington politics. He is open, honest and direrct and he is honest and direct in his attacks on Hillary, but because he will not play political hardball and dirty tricks like Hillary does not mean inexperience, it means he is the stand-out. He operates with a 21st centry mind. G'head, elect Hillary so we have another 4 years of dirty, sneaky, power-hungry elitist politics and politicians that get zilch done and then complain about it. If ya want a fresh face and fresh new start and to truly move into the new millenium, it's Barack

    November 18, 2007 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  11. Zach

    Senator Obama should stop making false accusations to keep himself in the news. Enough, Senator!

    November 18, 2007 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  12. Peggy Greensboro NC

    Can someone please explain to me why CNN changed a question at the request of the Clinton campaign? The asker wanted to ask about the Yucca nuclear waster facility, CNN told her to change it to a question about whether Clinton preferred diamonds or pearls. Clinton didnt feel like answering a tough question again? Frankly, this again shows you how low she will go. Instead of stepping out and telling us what she stands for, she'd rather take a sexist question about jewelry. Think they'd ever ask Guilliani a question like that? And you Democrats are going to nominate her. When the GOP wins in 2008, a prospect that I am NOT happy about considering Stevens can't hold out much longer, and who knows about Ginsberg, you're going to deserve it. Unfortunately a lot of the rest of us won't

    November 18, 2007 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  13. Josh, Toledo Ohio

    The Republican party should be doing all they can to support a Hillary nomination. She is the only democratic candidate polarizing enough to swing most independents, left leaning republicans, and even some liberals to vote Republican next year. A vote for Hillary now is a vote for the Republicans in November. This would not be the case with Obama.

    Think about why Novak writes what he writes and Karl Rove has said what he has said in the past...

    November 18, 2007 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  14. Robin, Montpelier, VT

    I am TIRED of the bias that CNN has of Hillary Clinton. When Barack had recently gotten the support from a UAW from Iowa...I did not see much of that report.

    November 18, 2007 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  15. Robin, Montpelier, VT

    RESPONDING TO: Bob Novak, a known conservative leaning journalist, implies that the Clinton campaign has dirt on Obama but won't release it and Obama's campaign instead of questioning Novak's motives releases a statement against Hillary????????

    Barack, Barack, that latest statement jut shows that your lack of experience in politics is showing. The Clintons have been running winning campaigns since the 70s and know how to play the game very well, while you just played into the hands of the Republicans. Too funny!

    Posted By Bea, Hoboken, NJ : November 18, 2007 3:20 am

    -------------Grown up Democrats do not pay much attention to Bob Novak.

    Posted By Buddy : November 18, 2007 4:08 am

    ...Readers,this just goes to prove that some people still want the same old politics and the same deceitful White House.

    November 18, 2007 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  16. Richard, London

    I have a word for all you people who fell for Novak's Conrad-Dobler attempt to stir up trouble between the Democrats.

    G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E

    November 18, 2007 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  17. Maeve

    Zoweeee. Talk about politics of fear and diversion!

    Pssssst, Barack. Be careful of who you're taking advice from.

    Rove and Novak, of all people!!!

    That these two guys almost simultaneously came out with their little "helpful" gems should have been your first clue.

    And then there's the obvious: Why would Novak and Rove be trying to be so darned helpful????

    Oh gosh! Might it be that they are trying to manipulate the two campaigns into imploding?

    I can't believe you fell for it, Barack.

    And to the rest of the natterers here: Wise up, People! Quit being such tools!

    November 18, 2007 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  18. Doug, NYC, NY

    Oh, please.
    Obama's TRUTH is enough to make him a joke candidate, never mind anything to be 'revealed'.

    A one-term senator with ZERO EXPERIENCE, and MUSLIM sympathies.

    Vote for Obama and get another idiot as inept as Bush.

    November 18, 2007 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  19. Becca Memphis,TN

    I can't believe the rubes, dem and rep alike, who would swallow anything that spewed from the likes of that sociopathic Novak.

    Obama and Edwards lost my vote when they decided to focus on Hillary and not the Gawdawful GOP.

    Obama made a huge blunder by attacking Hillary first and making no mention of the poisonous Prince of Darkness. I had high hopes for him, but he continues to disappoint.

    November 18, 2007 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  20. Jim L., Irmo, SC

    It was a measured, reasonable response. He was not attacking anyone, and you would think that the Clinton campaign would want to clear up any confusion. You would think that, if a journalist was printing lies about Clinton, the campaign would want to move quickly to squash them. Oh well.

    November 18, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  21. D C HAPPY; RESTON; VURGINIA; USA.

    A HIGHLY AMBITIOUS YOUNG MAN NARTURED THE AIM AND OBJECTIVE OF BECOMING ONE DAY THE PRESIDENT OF USA BY KEEPING A MIXED NAME OF CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIMS AND BEING FROM BLACK RACE THOUGHT WOULD ATTRACT THE VOTES OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY, MUSLIMS FOR HIS NAME HUSSAIN AND SIMILARLY CRISTIAN BECAUSE HE PRACTICES CHRISTIANITY. I HAVE SEEN LOT OD FARUDS IN MY BUT LIKE OBAMA HE THE FIRST UNIQUE TYPE.

    HE IS A STUDENT OF COLOMBIA UNIVERSITY, AND A YOUNG LAWYER SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAUGHT THAT HEAR SAY EVIDENCE IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO PROVE PERSON GUILTY OF ANY OFFENCE. I DOUBT IF HIS LEGAL KNOWLEDGE COMENSURATE THE DEGREE HE CLAIMS TO HAVE OBTAINED.

    IF REALLY HE IS A LAW DEGREE HOLDER THAT FROM COLOMBIA UNIVERSITY THEN HE SHOULD N’T HAVE POSED SUCH REDICULOUS ALLEGATION AGAINST A DECENT LADY LIKE HILLARY CLINTON TTHAT TOO A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND A COLLEAGUE OF HIS. SHAME MR. OBAMA!! YOU TALK LIKE G W BUSH THE UNIVERSAL LIAR. I, DID

    DOUBT OBAMA’S CHARACTER A YEAR BACK AND WROTE ABOUT IT TOO. NOW I FIND IT TO BE GLARING TRUE. NOW I FIND HIM TO BE A PRETENDER AND A FLAT LIAR LIKE BUSH AND HIS LOVELY DEAR COUSIN DICK CHENEY. D C HAPPY

    November 18, 2007 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  22. Christian, Tampa FL

    This is getting ugly...

    We need to know the open truth here. If Clinton's campaign is really doing this, we need to know. We must be aware of any campaign that is as secretive and sinister as the current administration.

    If Giuliani and Clinton are the respective nominees, we may have to choose between two candidates very much like the current President that we all so disagree with right now.

    November 18, 2007 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. Jay, Toronto, ON, CA

    Obama is a looser, plain and simple. He can't go after Clinton on anything so he goes and listen to Novak. Hello?!? Doesn't anyone of his supporters realize what this guy is? An opportunist FRAUD. I guess Oprah is a looser too...but oh I love Oprah

    November 18, 2007 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  24. Max Furr, Onancock, Virginia

    Everybody should know by now to consider the source. Novak is a dedicated conduit for Republican deceit, propaganda and the outright treasonous compromising of our national security (compromising a CIA operation that tracked proliferation of WMD). You can bet there isn't a molecule of truth to Novak’s story. Clinton was right (even though I'm not her supporter). Wake up America! Don't fall for this again.

    November 18, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  25. Murabma

    CNN is so pro-Clinton it makes me sick. on the front page the link is labelled "Obama Reacts to Report of Scandal", i.e., there's a real scandal involving Obama, while the actual article (that few will actually click to) is "Obama to Clinton: Don't Swift Boat Me", i.e., a negative to Hilary, CNN's clearly preferred candidate. If you don't believe me, watch the last debate and their shameful coverage of it–ever wonder why they don't show poll responses any more in terms of who folks think won the debates? I'd wager it's because they'd continue to show Mrs. Clinton losing them, and we can't have that now can we?

    November 18, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
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