January 14th, 2008
07:18 AM ET
2 years 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. Tina ny, ny

    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.”

    These guys are just cry babies. Why does she has to denounce anything. It is true. Obama people are too sensitive. How the hell Obama is going to go ahead in the game when he can't even take little bit of heat. He is just made of eggshells ready to crumble.

    January 13, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Katy Hill Prescott Az.

    Hillary spent the entire interview with Russert turning his questions into attacks on Obama. She didn't answer a single question to my satisfaction so from here on I will give her speeches and interviews the same attention Bush gets...I'll turn them off.

    January 13, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. Lauren

    The Clintons should be ashamed that they associate with someone like Bob Johnson.

    January 13, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Vincent, Tamaqua, Pa

    If Barack gets the nomination no one in my family will vote for him.

    If Hillary gets the nomination she will get all five votes.

    Pray to God that Hillary wins!

    January 13, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. Robert

    Is it me, or are there more Obama supporters on this site than anywhere else? And all of these political figures, much of whom nobody outside of their own states and districts has ever heard of, endorsing Obama as of late. You dont see that kind of scurrying coming from Edwards or Clinton? It's almost as if everyone in the Obama camp is afraid of losing.

    January 13, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Tina ny, ny

    anthony- whatever. We sure showed Obama in NH. There are people smarter than you.

    ______________________________________
    January 13, 2008 4:44 pm ET

    This is war now Hillary, without us you have no chance in November,

    January 13, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. b.lee

    Just like Bush, Hillary is surrounding herself with the wrong kind of people, she should distance herself from Bob Johnson and his negative comments about Obama, to say you are proud of Obama while in church only to compaign with someone with views held by Johnson only reinforce the perception of your candidacy as one of division.

    January 13, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. James

    Is Bob Johnson the same idiot CEO who reinforces negative black stereotypes by replaying rap videos about black rappers rapping about money, drugs and women on his former network? Guy must be shaking in his boots knowing that Hillary is subject to monetary bribes and Obama is against this. Classic example of the status-quo trying to defend his lifestyle. What a fool.

    January 13, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    I wonder how much her negatives have gone up since she began to have a real race. Speaking of race, I still can't believe that the Clinton campaign has been going this low! Even worse, I can't believe that they've managed to convince people that Barack is the one who made race an issue! SHOW ME THE PROOF. She is making a mockery of the Democratic party.

    January 13, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. Ann

    10 WORDS

    "I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN."

    January 13, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. MARYLOU JONES

    I am already getting tired of Obama and his supporters playing the "race card." My reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton for President have nothing to do with race! I am voting for Hillary because I believe she is the MOST qualified to be President out of ALL those running including Democrats, Republicans, Independants, Libertarians, etc. She has been fighting for civil rights, human rights, middle class rights, children's rights, women's rights etc., for over 35 years. This is NOT a new song for her. THE MOST INTELLIGENT CHOICE: HILLARY CLINTON IN '08!

    January 13, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Jimenez

    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.

    This is just another example of Obama trying to distort the truth. Its him who has the guilty conscience. Obama just assumed this man was taking about his past drug, booze and blow trips (when he could afford it)

    January 13, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Jennifer

    I'm so angry that Clinton and her campaign are the ones playing the race card; then when they have to pull their feet out of their mouths, they do so by saying how insulted they are they have to defend themselves from charges of racism.

    Obama has very pointedly not raised the issue of race in his campaign and has made very sure his staff follows his lead.

    January 13, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  14. Jeremy, Los Angeles, Ca

    Johnson's attempt at re-framing what he said are lousy and weak, but that does not mean that there should not be concern over the issue.

    It is one thing to do drugs and to regret such usage, it is entirely another thing to use drugs and sell them. The Clinton campaign is right, do you really think the GOP is going to give Obama a free ride on this? They are going to use it as much as possible to drag him through the mud.

    If he indeed has done more than use drugs it will set the Democrats up for a horrible PR mess in the general election.

    January 13, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. kendall

    Will somebody please tell me why Barack Obama cannot be criticized? Every time Hilary Clinton makes a comment about his policies or positions or past words and actions, she's criticized very heavily. Yet, when Obama does the same to her, he's given a free pass.

    Why are the Obama supporters protecting their canddiate from fair criticism? If elected president, he's gonna get a lot more flack on a global basis. He better show us he can take the heat. If not, get out of the kitchen.

    No one should even dignify the charge that Hilary or Bill Clinton are racists. End of story! Obama gets so much mileage from you guys. I;ve never seen a political candidate get coddled so much by the press and American public.

    January 13, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. Lisa Gross

    I am african-american and just because Hillary finds someone to agree with her that is african-american does not change what people heard her say out of her own mouth. People can make their own judgements and she had no business saying anything like that against someone who is not claiming to be MLK, but is just saying how MLK inspired people to come together and make positive change. Hillary Clinton cannot change the fact the Barack Obama is inspiring many new voter and people for change!!! GO OBAMA!

    January 13, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. Chuck

    Once again the Clinton machine is at work trying to destroy a candidates credentials. Obama has admitted to all the BS they keep coming up with but they continue the "mudslinging". Has anyone noticed that Obama hasn't really opened up the Clinton closet yet. That closet is so full of dishonesty its pathetic. Give Barrack some credit for not stooping to the depths that the "status quo" of Washington has been doing for so many years now at the expense of our middle class, minorities, and older generation.

    Why not take a chance on something new?? We know what we are getting with Hillary. Were those people planted in the crowd by her staff: "Marry me Hillary, and Iron my shirts".. Give me a break.

    Sounds like a campaign that is desperate. Obviously the polls can't get it straight!! I'm 61 and I'm looking forward to Mr. Obamas' speech after he is elected to serve and straighten out our great country.

    CHANGE IS GOOD

    Chuck – Nebraska

    January 13, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Janet

    The Clintons' lust to get back into the White House is truly a scary thing to behold. They will say anything and use anyone to achieve their goal.

    January 13, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. matthew

    I'm glad to see that not everyone is being fooled by the Obama campaign's faux outrage. The Clinton camp has not said anything racist or divisive. The Clinton's may be guilty of some things, but no one can call them racist. They didn't call Bill Clinton the "Black President" for nothing. The Clintons have always been, and will continue to be one of the biggest supporters of African-American and minority rights in politics.

    It's a shame that Obama has injected this kind of hatred and racism into this election.

    I'm voting for Hillary. Obama is just another politician with no real ideas.

    January 13, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. Kevin Miller

    Hillary Clinton is a great example of what is wrong with Washintgon politics these days. The Clinton's bring up the past instead of talking about the future of our country! From making things about Obama's stance on the Iraq war, Obama's drug use so many years ago, how he wanted to be President when he was 5 years old. This just makes Hillary look sad. Instead of throwing some mud at Obama, she now has her backers, and husband do it for her! I'm a good Democrat and liked her husband for the most part during the 1990's but Hillary I can't trust and just don't like. I might go McCain in November if Hillary beats Obama. I hope not. Obama should be President.

    January 13, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. TexanforHillary

    How is Senator Clinton using a "african American"?...He is bi- racial, ie. black dad, white mom, call it what it is.
    Obama supportors, please study and learn the facts or the Dem party is NOT going to win this election!
    Stop blaming Senator Clinton for all the negatives that come out about Obama.
    Look carefully at the candidate you are supporting- look behind the words and lofty platitudes, look at the records and then decide.

    January 13, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. stan pitts pa

    this guy is pure business, and as we all know a vote for hrc is a vote for corporate democrats and continuing bushs tax policy and systems that help the rich get richer, another solid reason i wont be voting for hrc, the folks she hangs out with dont care about the average folks!

    January 13, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. Annie

    A picture says a thousand words. In Iowa, it was the entire old Clinton establishment. In New Hamshire all of a sudden it was young people, or all women. Now it is with African Americans, In Nevada it is Hispanic. This is called pandering. I understand that in some states certain races are more predominent, but it seems to me that in the pictures with Obama, it is inclusive of everyone.

    January 13, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. Jay

    This is a silly controversy. Its being spread by Obama supporters to change the news.

    January 13, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  25. JohnG

    Sad to see that Sen. Clinton cannot control her campaign – it just seems to be a constant series of apologies for underhanded attacks launched against Obama by her surrogates. If she can't control her campaign, I don't see how she can hope to control her White House.

    Of course, it could be that she is just dipping into the Bush/Rove playbook (the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy), and allowing others to do her smearing for her. A more likely explanation? Either way, hardly a reason to put her in the White House. This is why she is seen as horribly divisive. Her nomination is really the only chance the Republicans have to elect one of their flawed candidates president.

    January 13, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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