December 13th, 2007
06:01 AM ET
10 years ago

Clinton official says Obama's past drug use could hurt him

A Clinton advisor said Wednesday Republicans may challenge Obama on his past drug use.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A high-ranking advisor to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign said Wednesday that rival Barack Obama's public admission that he has used cocaine and marijuana could seriously hinder the Illinois senator’s chances of winning a general election matchup.

The comments were immediately called "desperate" by Obama's campaign. Meanwhile, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said "the comments were not authorized or condoned by the campaign in any way."

Speaking to a Washington Post reporter in Dover, New Hampshire, Bill Shaheen - a co-chairman of the New York senator's campaign in the Granite State - said he expects Republicans will "jump on" Obama's remarks should he become the nominee.

"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight ... and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on is his drug use," Shaheen said. "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'"

"There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome," he added.

Obama spokesman David Plouffe said Wednesday afternoon that Shaheen’s comments were "an increasingly desperate effort to slow [Clinton's] slide in the polls."

"Sen. Clinton’s campaign is recycling old news that Barack Obama has been candid about in a book he wrote years ago, and he’s talked about the lessons he’s learned from these mistakes with young people all across the country," said Plouffe.

In addition to saying the campaign did not approve of the remarks, Clinton's spokesman added, "Sen. Clinton is out every day talking about the issues that matter to the American people."

In Obama's 1995 book Dreams of My Father - a book that was little read at the time, but recently reprinted - the future presidential candidate writes he was once headed in the direction of a "junkie" and a "pothead."

Referring to his emotional struggles as a young man, Obama writes, "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."

The latest back-and-forth between the two campaigns on the issue of Obama's electability came the same day a new CNN/WMUR poll showed the two candidates statistically locked in a dead heat in New Hampshire. Clinton stands at 31 percent, with Obama just 1 percentage point behind – a statistical tie, given the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

UPDATE: Shaheen issued the following statement Wednesday night: "I deeply regret the comments I made today and they were not authorized by the campaign in any way."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (283 Responses)
  1. thepostersedict

    JTo McKinney SW MO

    1 sentence is a stmt.
    2-4 sentences are an in-depth opinion.
    5 or more usually go unread due to the numberous other rambling rants.

    In your case: I blurred out after: How far do we carry this "honesty" thing?" skipping down to "I am for Hillary–we need her."

    nuff said, now I’m rambling..

    December 13, 2007 11:45 am at 11:45 am |

    come on!!! we need REAL people and if youve never done marijuana then ill tell you what....youve missed out!!! you gotta try things because how can you understand people if you know nothing about what they have been through?? you know what i hate about these "conservatives" is that they wish they could bring us back to "leave it to beaver" but the problem with that is LEAVE IT TO BEAVER WASNT REAL!!!!! none of that brady bunch stuff was real!! thats why when national lampoons vacation came out everybody related to the griswalds!! everybody thinks there family is, at least a little bit, disfunctional. life was never leave it to beaver, so why do our presidents have to be???

    December 13, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Tony, Harrisburg, PA

    Inhale or not to inhale that is the question (which will determine the 2008 Presidential election).

    December 13, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. MidniteRyder = nightowl hoot hoot USA

    I'm soooo relieved we won't have to listen to ANOTHER 8 years of Bush telling our future generatons: "Don't worry if you were a C or D student – you too can someday grow up to be the President."

    Instead we can just have Obama advise the little darlings: "Don't worry if you are a drug abuser – you too can someday grow up to become the President of the United States of America."

    Has such a nice ring to it, don't ya think?

    You peeps crack me up = You are such a hoot and a half. I'm sure there's a village somewhere in Texas which will be soooo happy to finally have it's Idiot back. Yep – obviously Just Say NO isn't working.

    December 14, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. RuthieM

    Just ask Bill Clinton, he should know. And while you're asking him, ask him if Hillary joined him, they were hippie boyfriend and girlfriend.

    December 14, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. Nightowl hoot hoot WinterStorm USA

    Bill Shaheen is my lawyer, a crummy one at that, and the fact that he is co chairman of Hillary's campaign makes me even sicker. Vote Obama or we are all in serious trouble for the next 8 years!

    Posted By Anonymous Somewhere, NH : December 13, 2007 3:35 am

    Hmmm – right and this lady who doesn't even have the brains to dump her lousy lawyer and get a new one is telling the rest of us how to vote?? LOL


    December 15, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. The PTA for Truth - All Across America

    Is this honestly the image to which we would want our children to aspire? And is this truly the legacy we want for the future of America? We the Parents and Teachers Associations All Across America Stand Up and Shout NO MORE!! 😦

    December 18, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. Kansas Obama backer

    Honesty appears to be the best policy! Hillary may be confused with this issue since her husband always mixed a little deception with the truth, that is, until he was truly caught with his pants down and had to fess up. Obama at least rattles his own skeletons before the GOP pulls them out of the closet.

    January 4, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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