January 14th, 2008
07:18 AM ET
1 year ago

Clinton backer appears to raise Obama's drug use

ALT TEXT

Clinton and Johnson attended services at the Northminster Presbyterian Church Sunday (Photo Credit: AP)

(CNN) – BET founder and prominent Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson said Sunday he is 'insulted' with the Obama campaign's latest criticisms of Clinton, and appeared to take aim at the Illinois senator for his admitted drug use as a young man.

"As an African American, I'm frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing but he said it in his book," Johnson said while campaigning with Clinton in Columbia South Carolina.

In a statement released by Obama's campaign Sunday afternoon, former South Carolina State Rep. "I.S." Leevy Johnson, an Obama supporter, said he was offended Clinton did not condemn Johnson's comments.

“It’s offensive that Senator Clinton literally stood by and said nothing as another one of her campaign’s top supporters launched a personal, divisive attack on Barack Obama,” he said. “For someone who decries the politics of personal destruction, she should’ve immediately denounced these attacks on the spot.”

Clinton's campaign says Johnson was not referring to Obama's past drug use, but rather his career as an organizer and state legislator. Meanwhile, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, another African-American supporter of Clinton, said of the comments, "Sometimes people say things that aren't sanctioned ... I can't speak for Bob."

Later Sunday, Johnson maintained the comments were not in reference to Obama's drug use: "My comments today were referring to Barack Obama's time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else," he said in an issued statement. "Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect."

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."

Last month, Clinton New Hampshire co-chairman Bill Shaheen resigned his post after suggesting Republicans would likely raise the issue in a general election.

"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 then. "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'"

Both campaigns are locked in a heated back and forth over recent remarks from the New York Democrat and her husband that have touched off concerns among some African-American voters. Clinton has alleged Obama's campaign is distorting the remarks - an accusation Obama has called "ludicrous."

Related video: BET founder on Clinton, Obama

– CNN's Sasha Johnson and Alexander Mooney

soundoff (1,037 Responses)
  1. Young Liberal

    Lets see Obama admits, without being promted, to DRUG USE and Hillary cant even release her white house papers, what a fool.

    HILLARY=DIVIDER
    OBAMA=UNITER

    January 13, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. SANJAY

    typical american presidential Campagin. Rather than the issues go for nuances. What did he say in his book 10 tears back. Why did she cry real tears or fake.
    remember 2000 gore kiss. Was it fake.
    Wake up American people and Media. Confront the real issues.Health care Unrest, economy

    January 13, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  3. Casey

    Why can't Obama be questioned about his drug use? Why can't he be questioned about whatever anyone has to question him about? He is not untoucable, and there shouldn't be fear that if he is questioned then somehow there is face of racism somewhere in the background. If he were hammered anywhere close to Clinton, he'd be begging for a Vice Presidential nod, and not running around trying to take Spanish phrases orginially used by Hispanic voters who support Clinton, or rehashing her health care plans and selling it as his own, or trying to sound like Dr. King when he makes speeches. Hillary 2008!

    January 13, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Martin Luther King was a leader in a movement, he didn't sign the civil rights act of '64. How you can twist this statement into a slight of King is pathetic. Grow up before the swiftboating starts and you really get mad. I've never read such despicable comments from supposed democrats as the ones on here from Obama supporters. Politics is rough and nasty,save it for the general election or you'll run out of support before then. MLK is rolling in his grave. He would never approve of these Obama people. If they are Obama people at all and not just republicans in disguise. With these kind of supporters Barack,you don't need enemies.

    January 13, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. Upper midwest

    I really don’t give a crap! Can candidates please focus on the issues. The war, the environment, energy, social security, healthcare.... you know the stuff I have no choice on but I’m paying for.

    January 13, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. David W. Anson

    Senator Clinton states she is perplexed about when experience became a liability. I would offer that it became so when one was a member of the congress that was the most ineffectual, insensitive to the public and most corrupt in the history of this country.

    I wonder if the changes she touts as her own were indeed her own. I wonder if the experience she talks about is being the wife of a president who is on the very short list of those impeached.

    Senator Clinton, be careful of the questions you ask. They may just be answered.

    January 13, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  7. John

    The problem with what Hillary has been doing the past week is that much of it is based on blatant falsehoods - Obama's position on Iraq and abortion has been consistent, and it's tacky for the Clintons to constantly suggest otherwise. Most Americans are wise to it, of course, but it's rather unbecoming to see an otherwise wonderful woman stoop to these tactics.

    By the way, one of the many reasons four U.S. Senators and one prominent female Governor endorsed Obama this week is because he has a good chance to win midwestern states this fall, by way of his inclusive nature. Hillary stands not a chance here, I'm afraid.

    January 13, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  8. John, MO

    The problem with what Hillary has been doing the past week is that much of it is based on blatant falsehoods — Obama's position on Iraq and abortion has been consistent, and it's tacky for the Clintons to constantly suggest otherwise. Most Americans are wise to it, of course, but it's rather unbecoming to see an otherwise wonderful woman stoop to these tactics.

    By the way, one of the many reasons four U.S. Senators and one prominent female Governor endorsed Obama this week is because he has a good chance to win midwestern states this fall, by way of his inclusive nature. Hillary stands not a chance here, I'm afraid.

    January 13, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. California

    Now this is the same man who became a millionare from the BET "booty videos" that my teen can't watch, now he wants to make an issue about something Obama did in his young adult. I wonder if someone dug up his past that has not been exposed to the media, how would he stand up. Somehow I think there would be skeltons in the closet.

    Obama is not saint and I don't think anybody is, he told the truth in his book. She wants Obama to make an issue out of what she said.

    If Obama wins the nomination, he will have three votes in my house, if Hillary wins the nomination, the republicans will have three votes.

    January 13, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  10. Tyrese Gail Williams

    Al Gore, when asked why he did not run against Hillary, commented "I know how dirty the Clintons get." America, WAKE UP! If you thought Richard Nixon or George Bush was a polarizer you haven't seen anything yet! If Hillary Clinton is elected president the national will be more bitterly divided than ever before in our history. Please, voters, do not elect this mean spirited, mud slingling nasty woman. Vote for whomever you want as long as you do not vote for her!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

    January 13, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  11. AJ; Montpelier; VT

    Thomas Posted:

    Is this the kind of president you want, America? We've already had seven years of Karl Rove mudslinging. You want four more?

    If Hillary acts this way now, how about if she was to become president?

    More ignorant statements from Obama supporters. Thiomas, I suggest you take your head out of your rear and read the story. Johnson was the person making the statement, not HIllary. And as for mud-slinging, Obama has done his fair share and for certain will engage n more. The difference is, that Obama and his supporters thik he should be somehow immune from it all. Grow up. We know you have annointed yourselves the holy ones, but the rest of us arent buying it. To us Obama is just another arrogant, empty suit, G.W. Bush like candidate, NOT ready for prime time.

    January 13, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  12. Ian

    A woman who turns a blind eye while her husband is fooling around in the Whitehouse makes you wonder how many things she has turned her back on in her life. At least Obama opened up, the Clinton's never opened up.

    January 13, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. Amazing

    When Hillary speaks, it causes division even on blogs but when Obama speaks I don't see the same division. hummmm

    January 13, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  14. Jim in Orlando, FL

    The Clinton camp has always been one to use sycophants to do their dirty work. For the kool-aid drinkers too blind to see, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

    January 13, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  15. Sad to Say

    I as a black woman will no longer stay with the democratic party. From here on I now consider myself an independent. For years now my republican friends tried to warn me about the people who make up this party. I see now what they were telling. The comments made about Senator Obama are not only down right mean and hateful but an embarrassment to me as well. If they feel the way they do about this educated black man who has succeeded in spite of what do they think of us ordinary black people? I just hope other black people wake up we have been suckers for the democratic party far too long. Bill Clinton may have had a lot of black voters support him (myself included) but he has never been and never will be our black president. We are still waiting for the first black president it may not happen now but hopefully it will one day. I am sad to see the division among us you can tell by the nasty remarks the race of the individual. We have survived eight years of division and we will do it again if this mess continues I too will vote republican or not vote at all before I vote for another Clinton and I don't hate her I just don't want her for president. Something people just can't seem to say without being so negative. You can voice your opinion in a much more positive way and some do but most of you don't. Adults should know better especially in the country because what you say can be very offensive to some of us.

    January 13, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  16. LeeAnn Taylor

    Obama drug use is just as fair game as Bush's was or Bill's was. Obama is not above being criticizes for it. Am am black and I wouldn't trust Obama as far as I could throw him. Wake up people! Hope doesn't pay the rent, doesn't feed you or anything else. His rhetoric is a fairytale...until he stops giving sermons and starts telling us what he's really going to do for us.

    January 13, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  17. truthbetold

    How long will it take to raise the issues of Bill Clinton's affairs and Hillary enabling him- IF people want to dig about Bill's post whitehouse escapades, they can start looking and I am pretty sure they will find according to grapevine-

    January 13, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  18. Linda

    Do the minority Americans believe we should vote for Obama just because he's black? Why is the media giving Barack and Meshell a free ride? You are attacking the Clinton's every chance you get. If President Clinton did not campaign for Hilary or come to her defense I would not have any respect for him. Don't forget she is his wife. Why is it ok for Meshell to say If you can't take care of your own house, how are you going to take care of the White House? I think that was a low blow and a personal attack on the Clinton's. Why didn't the media jump all over her for that personal attack? Are you all afraid to go after them because they are African American. Black people loved the Clinton's now all of a sudden a black man with no experience is running for president and we are turning our backs on them. I do not believe Barack is ready to be president. He hasn't gotten his feet wet as a Senator yet? Barack will not get my vote. Barack come back in eight years.

    January 13, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  19. matchu

    She continues to divide the party...something she will have to pay for if she ultimately wins the nomination and loses. Sad sad sad.

    January 13, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  20. DeVone

    Obama and drug use, way back when. The man was honest and he as we all
    is human and at a young age he made a mistake Bill smoked pot, at a young age
    but as a older man an a President he had sex in the White House .
    so motel 1600 agian.

    January 13, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  21. Anita

    The truth is that Obama did indeed – toked up, boozed up and snorted. That is the truth. Whatever Mr. Johnson said he didn't imply this. So let's just let it go. Please show respect to this man. He is an african american success story.

    January 13, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  22. Ahmed Mohammed

    hillary is the only person that support my community; she give us funding and has helped our community expand.

    i don't know much about Obama thoough. need mroe research

    - Ahmed Mohammed.

    January 13, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  23. Rich In Seattle

    Keep it up Hillary and Obama will be in the White House in no time. You use the black card to attack and then the poor pick on woman card to win. That will come back on you sooner or later. The time for personal attacks and dirty tricks are over.

    For those who don't want hope, vote for Hillary. For those of you who want something different, something that inspires, vote Obama.

    I always said I'd vote Democrate no matter what, but should McCain get the GOP against Hillary. After how she's acted......I can't say for sure who I would vote for.

    January 13, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  24. Randy

    Jesus...American politics makes me want to shoot myself in the face everytime I read about the latest horror-story/showdown/expose/etc. I'm so sick of hearing about the "past drug use" of him or the "lack of experience" of any candidate. People seem to think experience matters so much for a presidential candidate, but experience in what? Law? Legislation? Leadership? For the most part, the candidates everyone views as having the most experience are simply the ones who are the most full of (word that rhymes with sit). For once I wish there was someone who was intelligent, and actually in some way connected with reality. Who cares about drug use? Some of the most intelligent, well respected, and successful people on earth used plenty of drugs. The fact that they made it to where they were is a testement to their abilities. Americans love to get so high and mighty about everything, and end up electing someone with the capabilities of a retarded lobster. Someone said somewhere that putting Stephen Colbert on the ballot was a "mockery of the American way of government." Honestly guys...to all my fellow Americans...take a look around you, and realize that we've been making fools out of ourselves since we took all the warnings Washington and Franklin and Jefferson gave and used them to keep the stove going. And I for one, am losing my patience with it.

    January 13, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. Ahmed Mohammed

    hillary is not racist: she supports my community!

    - Ahmed Mohammed

    January 13, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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