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. Arias, Seattle, WA

    It's amazing that so many people are in an outrage by what they think was the truth written in a column by the super-conservative Robert Novak.

    Now, who exactly from Hillary's camp, a camp that's known for their loyalty to her, go to their extremes of contacting Robert Novak? Have these same people considered the possibility that this was a dirty trick instigated by a GOP Operative or a GOP Operative attempting to attempting to appear from Clinton's camp?

    Please. People can be so gullible.

    November 18, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. Markie Bee, Sacramento, Calif.

    Jaki, let's stop with the Muslim crap right now about Obama. His father was an atheist by thetime he met Obama's mother in Hawaii. By all accounts his step-father was a non-practicing Muslim during the four years Obama spent in Indonesia and Barack went to PUBLIC schools while he did live their. This just in: the translation of madrassa is SCHOOL, not "radical Wahabist terrorist training grounds" as the people from Fox News would love to have you beleive. So when someone says he attended a madrassa in Indonesia, tell them that you are glads that he got a good, normal education along with his Christian (Protestant), Muslim, Jewish and Catholic classmates. And on MTP, Obama NEVER said he doesn't or refuses to speak with his former friend Tony Rezko because he's under indictment. Rezko is running from the law. If my friend was skirting the law I wouldn't exactly be in conversation with him either for fear of breaking the law myself. As a guy running for president, of course Obama has to keep his distance. There's nothing wrong with that. At least Obama didn't try to nominate Rezko as director of homeland security.

    November 18, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Kris, Manchester, New Hampshire

    why should hillary be president you obama supporters say? Because of this maybe???

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/11/17/84954/402

    November 18, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Ryan, New Jersey

    I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    If this country can't elect such an obviously excellent candidate as Obama, well, then we are doomed to a mediocre future with a mediocre president, and we deserve it.

    November 18, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Asok, Takoma, MD

    When Hilary Clinton stumbles and she is criticized, the so called CNN pundits and the Clinton campaign give flimpsy excuses but if any other democratic candidate has a semblance of stumbling, the CNN pundits and the Clinton Campaign blow this out of proportions and even go to the length of branding the other candidate a roockie. Mrs Clinton stumbled on the NAFTA question and even responded in the negative when asked about the issuance of driver's licenses to illegal aliens(a position she did not hold two weeks earlier) in the Las Vegas debate but CNN played this down and their so called pundits who clearly have hopes of having positions in a Clinton administration, with lopsided analysis declared her the winner. Any objective listener will see that Biden and Obama performed better than Hilary Clinton in this debate. Besides, the way CNN posed questions gave one the impression they wanted Hillary Clinton to come out the winner, unfortunately her performance was not up to par. I am sure CNN and the Clinton Campaign think Americans can be fooled or are fools, they should rest assured the ballot box will prove them wrong.

    November 18, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Mark, Springfield, MO

    Mark from Springfield:

    Do the Clinton's pay you to carry their message? It may have been a little less obvious if you had actually used your own words.
    Posted By Sarah : November 17, 2007 11:23 pm

    Sigh, I am not for any particular candidate. Right now I am for ANY candidate that ISN'T a Republican. I am one of those sought after INDEPENDENTS. I used to vote for whomever I thought could get the job done but under this president the Republican party has completely soured me on voting for them. The Republican party is going to have to stop groveling at the feet of the religious ultra-right and get back to core principles of the party before I can TRUST them to govern again.

    For me I will vote for which ever Democratic candidate gets the nomination. The Republicans have blown it with this Independent voter and the longer they continue to support the policies of George Bush the longer it will take for them to regain my trust.

    November 18, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Jim Bremer

    Jaki, let's stop with the Muslim crap right now about Obama. His father was an atheist by thetime he met Obama's mother in Hawaii. By all accounts his step-father was a non-practicing Muslim during the four years Obama spent in Indonesia and Barack went to PUBLIC schools while he did live their. This just in: the translation of madrassa is SCHOOL, not "radical Wahabist terrorist training grounds" as the people from Fox News would love to have you beleive. So when someone says he attended a madrassa in Indonesia, tell them that you are glads that he got a good, normal education along with his Christian (Protestant), Muslim, Jewish and Catholic classmates. And on MTP, Obama NEVER said he doesn't or refuses to speak with his former friend Tony Rezko because he's under indictment. Rezko is running from the law. If my friend was skirting the law I wouldn't exactly be in conversation with him either for fear of breaking the law myself. As a guy running for president, of course Obama has to keep his distance. There's nothing wrong with that. At least Obama didn't try to nominate Rezko as director of homeland security.

    -----------

    "His father was an atheist . " LOL – did your crystal ball tell you that ? And we're supposed to elect a Muslim sympathist based on your grand testimony LOLOLOL

    "By all accounts his step-father was a non-practicing Muslim"
    Barak Hussein Obama has a knack of finding non-practicing Muslims as his father !! I've never heard of a non-practicing Muslim,( penalty for quitting Islam is death) but Obama managed to find two in a row – WOW !!

    "This just in: the translation of madrassa is SCHOOL, not "radical Wahabist terrorist training grounds" as the people from Fox News would love to have you beleive."

    Thank you so much. The whole world is now relieved that madrassa means school :) Hey – you know all those madrassa students who want to slit throats and do jihad ? Turns out they're just SCHOOLBOYS ! Just a small problem – this school is called Murder High.

    Barack Huseein Osama for president !! ( Just not President of America, please. Some place like Jihadistan would be fine)

    November 18, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  8. angela. hollywood. fla.

    The unfortunate part of all this is that WE THE PEOPLE are going to allow News Stations and Unreliable reporters elect a president. I thought the MEDIA should be independent and not one sided . Dont forget this is not a SOCIALIST COUNTRY IT IS DEMOCRATIC and we need to elect the right president. At least a Democrat because with the republicans we have only chaos !!!!! Come to grips people and vote not whaT CNN ,FOX, ABC, NBC or whoever want.

    November 18, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. Axel, RKDA, California

    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.

    Posted By Robin, Montpelier, VT : November 18, 2007 6:26 am

    Then why are you here posting on a CNN blog? Perhaps you should try that "Fair and Balanced" news network?

    November 18, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Jim, Chicago

    Axel, This Obama supporter is also not at ease with the obvious bias of CNN towards Clinton. The folks at "Fair and Balanced" offer similar disdain towards Obama.

    For those who missed it, Obama received 65% of the vote at the regional UAW meeting in Iowa.

    November 18, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. AJ, IL

    Unfortunately Obama's campaign has to respond to allegations even if they are stupid and unfounded. Why? Because their is a significant number of Americans that will be in rumors and wild accusations. Novak's piece is written entirely from speculation. He list any sources. Obama's campaign should respond to this but unless anything else comes out of the Novak's crapper. Obama should move on go after the Iowa and New Hampshire caucauses.

    November 18, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. from Europe

    "Hillary is just as dirty as Bill.
    Posted By Brad, Stockton, CA : November 18, 2007 11:42 am"

    Says who? I am not American so I apologize if I am intruding your very well informed discussion. But I lived some time in the US in mid 90s (don't jump on this, absolutely legally).. and it wasn't bad at all at that time.

    Except the scandals around Bill Clinton (that learning later how the American politics works I still can see some were possible fabrications) I found that he was a very inspirational American President. Bill represented you very well overseas, the lives of Americans were prosperous and more secure than today, and honestly, he has a presidential appearance. So I don't really understand the 'dirty' part mentioned by some of you, and I certainly don't believe that you have to transfer it to Hillary.

    The rest of the world used to look up to America, I doubt this is the case now. I followed Hillary's campaign and I have lots of admiration for her. Obama is insecure and a little bit arrogant. Edwards lost once and now he is playing badly the social class card. Biden and Richardson make very good impressions, but sorry for those who don't agree.. Hillary Clinton is a different league..

    November 18, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Ethel, New York, NY

    DUH! Hillary Clinton uses the word "REPUBLICAN" like she used to use the name "NEWT GRINGRICH." Her campaign is about getting dems to ASSOCIATE Senator Obama with the word REBUBLICAN. Hill...you really are hilarious. Why don't YOU start focusing on the ISSUES and not on the other parties.

    November 18, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. Chris, Bethesda, Maryland

    Clinton to Obama; Suck it up.

    November 18, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. sally,chicago

    "Hillary is just as dirty as Bill.
    Posted By Brad, Stockton, CA : November 18, 2007 11:42 am"

    Says who? I am not American so I apologize if I am intruding your very well informed discussion. But I lived some time in the US in mid 90s (don't jump on this, absolutely legally).. and it wasn't bad at all at that time.

    Except the scandals around Bill Clinton (that learning later how the American politics works I still can see some were possible fabrications) I found that he was a very inspirational American President. Bill represented you very well overseas, the lives of Americans were prosperous and more secure than today, and honestly, he has a presidential appearance. So I don't really understand the 'dirty' part mentioned by some of you, and I certainly don't believe that you have to transfer it to Hillary.

    The rest of the world used to look up to America, I doubt this is the case now. I followed Hillary's campaign and I have lots of admiration for her. Obama is insecure and a little bit arrogant. Edwards lost once and now he is playing badly the social class card. Biden and Richardson make very good impressions, but sorry for those who don't agree.. Hillary Clinton is a different league..

    Posted By from Europe : November 18, 2007 4:05 pm

    You are lost or get lost!. If you are somewhere else some other country, please focus on the problems facing your people or something. What are you telling Americans that they don't know? All what you look here is just being an Idiot...what else?

    November 18, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. jimi,tx

    I think this was well timed. Can you see the coincidence of Bonds indictment with this? He was allowed to play all the way then they came after him when he retired, why not before...Ooooh I forgot he had to make money for those owners....
    Obama was allowed to go all the way with the campaign till at the end of the debate when they formulated a way to kill his campaign. Why allowed to do that?....Ooooh I forgot he had to be used to cheer up the Americans after 4 years of Bush killing their brains, dividing and straining them by a strings of things, not forgetting the pain this country is in....
    Just a thought of what happened could be true or not...just decided to share if anyone look at this that way.....

    November 18, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  17. charles

    I just hate to be black! Thant is all what I can say...

    November 18, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. fair,washington,dc

    Europe,
    You put an intelligent comment stating your views and gave supporting info why YOU like Hillary Clinton. The response to your comment was to get lost and implied you came across like an idiot. We both know from that response who looks like the idiot on here. Don't get angry, I'm sure you understand when people like that spew ignorant hatemongering statements that have no factual basis all they can come back with is idiotic responses.

    November 18, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  19. Jim Bremer

    Give it up, Barack Hussein Osama.

    Hillary's gonna win ( Osama's quaking even before Hillary released the scandalous info :)

    But if Obama somehow does the impossible and gets the Dem nomination, guess what – me and a lot of other Dems are gonna vote for the Republican. Yes we know how bad they are, but atleast they're NOT MUSLIM JEHADI sympathiser.

    No way we can have a Muslim Jehadi guy running ( ruining?) America, the last defense against global Islamic terrorism.

    November 18, 2007 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  20. Jim Bremer

    Making fun of people's names is a favorite pasttime of children, but the best part is that they ALWAYS STOP when the GROW UP.

    Posted By Richard, West Palm Beach, FL : November 18, 2007 5:48 pm

    -----------–

    Let Obama grow up first, before he wants to run ( ruin ?) America :)

    November 18, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  21. Jack, Fort Myers, FL

    First, Novak's report, like most of his reporting, lacks traceable sources. But, knowing his political leanings, I'm inclined this is about as credible as the Carl Rove recommendations to Obama. Just more machinations from the RNC to create more strife and infighting–so instead of issues the Dems are focused on defending themselves from "unverifiable" muckraking. What suprises me, is the immediate knee-jerk response from Obama's camp. His staff seems to be getting punchy.

    November 18, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  22. John Halverson DC

    Europe:

    you are intruding, I doubt that you know very much about our politics and quite frankly after living in Europe I doubt that you even care about our politics. Bill Clinton is/was a complete scum bag!

    November 18, 2007 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  23. sk, NY, NY

    BTW- what are the allegations? any detail? what did you say? no details?
    then why is Obama and his supporters crying wolf....oh it has just become a very bad habit.

    November 18, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  24. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    If there is ONE SINGLE PIECE OF PROOF that Barack Obama has done ONE THING to show that he is a Muslim since he was TEN YEARS OLD, then it should be offered so that his opponents don't look so much like paranoids. By their "logic", Obama could also turn out to be a "closet" Catholic since he ALSO took training as a child in Catholicism. The FALSE claims exposed by CNN are as ridiculous as fearing that he might become president and surrender the United States to Vatican City.

    November 18, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  25. Marilyn Bryan, Taylor, AR

    All this to-do about a rumor about a rumor.
    Who really cares about the issues, when
    one can make an issue of a "non-issue?
    Surely there are more important things to do than repeat what someone else thinks or says.
    Everyone seems to have a different interpretation, depending solely on their personal likes and dislikes.
    The last president was elected because of his likeable "personality". That should be an lesson for all time.

    November 18, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
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