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. Dem '08

    Wow, I was a Hillary supporter but now am not biased towards anybody.

    Both leading Democratic candidates are wasting time arguing, and not changing. I don't see a future in America, I see issues. An issue between race and gender.

    Who ever wins it'll be against these two issues. I hope Hillary can cry again to win...

    January 14, 2008 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  2. mark wilkes barre pa

    "Some times people say things that are not sanctioned" ARE YOU KIDDING ME,,,,IS hillary's campain that thought out ahead of time ? supporters have to be sanctioned before they can speak ? Not the qualities I want in a president

    January 14, 2008 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  3. TANYA

    So is this the only way to win to bring up a part of someone's history. Well, let's talk about her supposed extra marital affair. Do we want that type of person to run our country or is that a requirement these days. Just run on what you think you can do for this country. I like both Hillary Clinton and Obama Barack. But I truly wish to see a campaign that is run strictly on their own merits and NOT someone elses down falls. Because NO ONE IS PERFECT!!!

    January 14, 2008 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  4. Chuck Freeman, Oklahoma

    All this negativity is sounding like mass hysteria. The more of these comments I read the more I am concerned for the future of our Country. It is plain that we have serious problems and ANY of these Democrats will do a better job than ANY of the Republicans.

    I TIVO'ed "Meet the Press" yesterday and just finished watching it and found nothing wrong with what Hillary said. She is intelligent, articulate and caring.

    As Democrats we should stick together to vote the Republicans out and try to change the direction our Country is going. Someone mentioned that President Bush was elected twice. Let me remind you that Mr Bush was elected ONCE! Al Gore was elected in 2000.

    VOTE DEMOCRAT WHOEVER GETS THE NOMINATION!!!!!!

    January 14, 2008 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  5. Ann Aloha, PA

    Most of the comments are whinny and silly
    Anyone that takes words out of a conversation or comments and uses those words for spinning and sensationalism opportunities is a hack.
    They should always quote or replay the completeness of the speech or conversation in it's entirety and not use only part of it for personal gain.
    Shameful and both Clinton and Obama and their millions of supporters are falling for this piting one against the other. See through this people and keep your integrity in tack, because at the end of the day...only the extremists on the media circuit will have none.
    The Golden Rule is alive and well, and the media is not excluded from this rule, but they behave as if they do.

    January 14, 2008 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  6. Nice, Houston, Texas

    AND SHE WONDERS WHY PEOPLE DISLIKE HER. POLITICAL MANIPULATIONS LIKE THIS WILL BACKFIRE.

    "EVEN MY 5YRS OLD BROTHER KNOW SHE BROUGHT UP THE LBJ AND MLK ISSUE TO SCORE POLICAL POINTS

    ....MR JOHNSONE THE SAME GUY THAT TURNED BET INTO A PORN CHANNEL TO MAKE BILLIONS...............ONCE A SELLOUT, ALWAYS A SELLOUT

    CHANGE IS COMING
    CHANGE FROM SUCH NEGATIVITIES
    CHANGE FROM SUCH SLIME
    CHANGE IN AMERICA AS WHOLE

    AMERICA COLD BELIEVE AGAIN WITH OBAMA

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08, OBAMA/DODD 08, OBAMA/EDWARDS 08,

    January 14, 2008 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  7. Edward PA Republican

    After nearly 8 years of total disappointment with our National leadership, I almost surely will support the Democratic Candidate, although, after listening to Bill Clinton crying "Give me a break", and Hillary Clinton not refuting Mr. Johnson's insinuations about Mr. Obama's youthful indiscretions, I am appalled. "What price glory"!

    There has been a stench in Washington DC for the better part of 16 years. What we need is a breath of fresh air. Go Obama!!!

    January 14, 2008 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  8. Nice, Houston, Texas

    AND SHE WONDERS WHY PEOPLE DISLIKE HER. POLITICAL MANIPULATIONS LIKE THIS WILL BACKFIRE.

    "EVEN MY 5YRS OLD BROTHER KNOW SHE BROUGHT UP THE LBJ AND MLK ISSUE TO SCORE POLITICAL POINTS

    ....MR JOHNSONE THE SAME GUY THAT TURNED BET INTO A PORN CHANNEL TO MAKE BILLIONS...............ONCE A SELLOUT, ALWAYS A SELLOUT

    CHANGE IS COMING
    CHANGE FROM SUCH NEGATIVITIES
    CHANGE FROM SUCH SLIME
    CHANGE IN AMERICA AS WHOLE

    AMERICA COLD BELIEVE AGAIN WITH OBAMA

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08, OBAMA/DODD 08, OBAMA/EDWARDS 08,

    January 14, 2008 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  9. Kendall

    This is so much fun for us ""neo-cons". Guess what...he was a street level drug abuser. You can't be offended by the truth unless you are a lib. BTW...Bill did lie to federal authorities...the only difference between Slick Willie, Berger, and Scooter is prosecution and pardons. GW gave Scooter the same pass that the legislature gave Bill...and the judicial gave Berger.

    January 14, 2008 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  10. alison

    I was up in Harlem over the weekend, knocking on doors for Obama. We volunteers did not bring up the MLK remarks by the Clintons, but the people in Harlem sure did. From what we observed, the Clintons are going to be in for a rude surprise if they think the folks in Harlem will be falling in lockstep behind them. There is a tremendous amount of pride in the community over Obama. I spoke with one 90- year- old African American who is voting for OBama. " I never thought that I would live to see this day," she told us. It brought tears to our eyes.

    January 14, 2008 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  11. jaz

    So when is Barack Obama going to apologize for what Donnie McClurkin said about gays when introducing him at an event? What about what Chris Rock said about electing "that white lady" at an Obama event? Is Obama going to apologize for everything his supporters say about Hillary?? Until then Hillary should not have to keep apologizing for what her supporters say about Obama

    January 14, 2008 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  12. Mike

    I once respected Bob Johnson, he was once my favortie African American Entrepreneur and my role model.

    He has completely lost my respect. What's worse is that he reduced himself to that level and HIllary Clinton has lost my vote, even against a Republican

    January 14, 2008 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  13. Obama playing race card

    After the oprah dog and pony show and now Obama lost NH, boy the race card has really come out to play once again, as usual! well we are sick of it! SOMEON NEEDS TO TELL OBAMA CAUSING RACE ISSUES IS NOT CHANGE! ITS GOIGN BACKWARDS 100 YEARS!!! Thats why Id never vote for obama!

    January 14, 2008 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  14. Voice of China

    Vote Hillary ! The Chinese are for the Clintons and we will achieve prosperity. Trade will flourish for China and it is good for the American people + economy.

    Vote Hillary

    January 14, 2008 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  15. Harris

    What does Bob Johnson mean by the "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" statement?  As far as I know Obama is biracial not engaged in a biracial relationship.  So it would seem that he (Obama) brought no one to  dinner that had to be a "guess".  If he had, so what.  Johnson is affiliated with many individuals and partners to whom the question can be put.  He himself included.
    Is Johnson the new Vernon Jordan for the Clintons?
    How can Johnson question what anyone has given to or done for the Black Community when he himself did nothing more than cash in on suggestable content filled rap videos that degrade Black Women?  The same videos that he would probably prohibited his own children from viewing.
    Clinton talks about Kennedy's senate service, how many presidents have we had who did not serve in the Senate?  Remember too, John Kennedy talked, Lyndon Johnson walked!  Clinton(s) have talked too much.   At the advent of this country, you were what your father was.  Then with so many slave children being fathered by slave masters, you were what your mother was.So, can you really question Obama's race.  Remember he was raised by his white grandparents. 
    However, none of these things are an issue.  The only question is, "Can he do the job?"  The answer is, "Yes!"
    I was an advid supporter of the Clintons in 1992.  I attened the rallies and wore the T-shirts.  Since that time, my support has seriously diminished.  Who has faired during their "political dynasty"? 
    The Clintons have lived the "fairy tale".  They are now worth millions and have gone from owning no house to owing three homes, (one in Ireland) and a penthouse.  Not to mention a high salaried entry level job for their daughter.How many "little guy" supporters can boast that?
    Experience counts in some instances and common sense will prevail  in others.  Tell a kid a hot stove will burn, he will still probably touch it.  Tell a kid a fast moving car will kill him if he plays in the street, the kid can look at the size of the car and stay out of the street.  Still a kid but right decision.
    The Clintons need to stop whining and making dirty innuendos and fight fair.

    January 14, 2008 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  16. acadia

    Hiliary has lost my vote due to these tactics.

    January 14, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  17. Joe, Wilmington DE

    What a stupid man Bob Johnson is. Does he believe that the more-black-than-Obama Bill & Hillary never used illegal drugs?

    The willingness of a presidential candidate to tell the unfetterred truth is quite novel. Integrity, ethics, frankness - are these concepts so foriegn to us these days that we cannot see thier value?

    Will the Clintons ever admit to anything negative in thier checkered pasts? WHY DO WE INSIST ON SUPPORTING THESE LYING PARASITES?

    What great things have the Clintons done for the black community aside from perpetuate political correctness? 70% of black children are born out of wedlock, drug abuse is rampant, education is a low priority.

    If the correcting the current dismal state of the black community is important we need to throw away the old, politically correct ways and embrace the new by insisting on a frank dialog which starts with an honest individual assessment.

    Come on Democratic Party and black community. Wake up, stop supporting these ridiculous, horrible people and vote for Obama.

    January 14, 2008 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  18. Jim

    So Hillary makes racist comments and then blames Obama. Do we really want this type of action by Hillary again if she is president? Vote for change. Vote for Obama.

    January 14, 2008 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  19. Frank F.

    Clinton camp pulling race card is just sad. Dirty polatrix as usual. At least Obama has enough integrity not to play in to this but The ClintonS are trying hard to get him to.
    What about all the dirt on the clintons? gates gates hiddin files,i didn't inhale, ect ect ect. Obama is fresh and that is what we need. We need new.

    January 14, 2008 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  20. Sandi

    HRC has made a calculated choice to play the race card. I heard Dick Morris (Bill Clinton's former strategist) predict it on Fox News, right before the NH primary. Now that she was able to enlist her "good boy" R. Johnson, who hasn't ever seen a black female he could disrepect, again disrespect Mr. Obama being a drug user, which also by the way is the real history of GWB II – the current US president for 2 terms.

    The sooner we get HRC, her husband and their dirty gutter level politics out of any discussion the better.

    January 14, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  21. Anonymous

    The comments made by Hillary and Bill Clinton are rather degrading and disturbing. The long and very difficult fight by Dr. King could not have been done by many others. To attempt to lesson his efforts which ultimately caused him his life for such a great movement for human kind is not only disrespectful to Dr. King, but to everyone who believes in equality and justice for all. This was not just merely a slip of the tongue, but a result of emotions rooted deep in one's heart. i wonder what's being said behind closed doors.

    January 14, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  22. Obama08

    I am disgusted by Clintons and Bob .

    January 14, 2008 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  23. Mae

    Robert Johnson reminds me of the head slave that beat the other slaves for the Master. There are other people of color that support Hillary but I don't hear them coming out blasting or defamating the character of Obama. Why doesn't Johnson use that media opportunity to tell us WHY he is supporting Hillary, not beating up Obama for her. And I've always been told, consider the source, this is the same man who allowed the image of people of color to continue, for financial gain, for years, then sold the company to someone who absolutely has no interest in portraying the positive side of people of color. Sleep well Johnson and I hope your cabinet position with Hillary is waiting for you. Also, the Clintons, in their wisdom, should have understood the volatility and sensitivity of choosing their words wisely because of the diversity of the Presidential race. So if they went to India to represent us, would they not be cautious of making sure they didn't offend those citizens. Give me a break, they started this issue with their words and now they want to blame Obama for what THEY said. They should have known better, regardles of their intentions.

    January 14, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  24. Zelda

    How stupid does Bob Johnson think African American's are? He made the comments clearly referring to Obama's drug use as a teenager but says he was actually speaking of his days as a community activist. And the Obama campaign is distorting what came from HIS mouth. PLEASE. Give me a break. If his comments were about activism then why couldn't he just say that. Given the drug, thug, and sex images that appear on BET and have helped to make him a BILLIONAIRE, I can't beleive he has the audacity to say anything about what Obama did I reiterate again as a teenager. If Hillary wins the democratic nomination I'm voting Republican for the first time in my life.

    January 14, 2008 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  25. Buster

    HRC is a gutter level politician. Dick Morris (her husband's former guru) predicted that she would use the race card last week on Fox News.
    That she was able to showcase her new "good ol Boy" R. Johnson, who is a black man who never met a black woman he wouldn't disrespect, is testiment that this horrible woman should never be the leader of the free world.
    Our current president WAS a cocaine user tne was elected twice by Republicans and Democrats. That Barak is black is why this drug use charge is so outrageous. HRC iand her adulterer husband are a disgrace.

    January 14, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
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