January 14th, 2008
11:59 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama calls truce with Clinton

ALT TEXT
Obama is calling for an end to the heated back and forth between the two campaigns. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

RENO, Nevada (CNN) - Barack Obama is calling for a truce of sorts with rival Hillary Clinton following days of a heated back-and-forth between both the Democrats' presidential campaigns over Clinton's record on civil rights.

“I may disagree with Sen. Clinton or Sen. Edwards on how to get things done or how to get there, but we share the same goals, we're all Democrats, we all believe in civil rights, we all believe in equal rights," Obama said told reporters in Reno, Nevada.

The comments follow several days of heated rhetoric from both campaigns following Clinton's remarks to a reporter last week on the legacies of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done," she said, in her continued argument that her experience shows she can get more done as president than Obama.

Some African-American leaders criticized the remarks as denigrating the civil rights movement and Dr. King. The criticisms were amplified by Obama's campaign and Clinton later said she was "personally offended" the campaign was "distorting her words."

Meanwhile, speaking at a Clinton campaign event Sunday, BET founder Bob Johnson lashed out at Obama's campaign over the criticism, and seemed to take a swipe at the Illinois senator's 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," he said..

Johnson later claimed he was not referencing Obama's past drug use specifically, but was referring rather to his time as a community organizer.

Speaking Monday, Obama said he wanted to end the current "tit-for-tat" with Clinton.

"I don't want the campaign in this stage to degenerate into so much tit-for-tat back-and-forth that we lose sight why all of us are doing this," he said. "If I hear my own supporters engaging in talk that I think is ungenerous or misleading, or in some way is unfair, then I will speak out forcefully against them, and I hope the other campaigns take the same approach."

Shortly after Obama's comments, Clinton released a statement saying it's time to "reach common ground."

"We differ on a lot of things. And it is critical to have the right kind of discussion on where we stand. But when it comes to civil rights and our commitment to diversity, when it comes to our heroes – President John F. Kennedy and Dr. King – Senator Obama and I are on the same side," the New York Democrat said. “And in that spirit, let's come together, because I want more than anything else to ensure that our family stays together on the front lines of the struggle to expand rights for all Americans.”

– CNN's Alexander Mooney and Chris Welch

soundoff (390 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Do not trust the media. They are fueling this fight.

    msnbc.com says:

    Referring to Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards, he said that while they may have disagreements, "we share the same goals. We're all Democrats, we all believe in civil rights, we all believe in equal rights."

    cnn.com says:

    “I may disagree with Sen. Clinton or Sen. Edwards on how to get things done or how to get there, but we share the same goals, we're all Democrats, we all believe in civil rights, we all believe in equal rights," Obama said told reporters in Reno, Nevada.

    Everything that the media has to say about the Clintons is always negative. When it comes to this campaign, I do not trust the media at all. After all of this mess, I am definitely voting for Hillary Clinton.

    January 15, 2008 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  2. Graduate Student

    Do not trust the media. They are fueling this fight.

    msnbc.com says:

    Referring to Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards, he said that while they may have disagreements, "we share the same goals. We're all Democrats, we all believe in civil rights, we all believe in equal rights."

    cnn.com says:

    “I may disagree with Sen. Clinton or Sen. Edwards on how to get things done or how to get there, but we share the same goals, we're all Democrats, we all believe in civil rights, we all believe in equal rights," Obama said told reporters in Reno, Nevada.

    Everything that the media has to say about the Clintons is always negative. When it comes to this campaign, I do not trust the media at all. After all of this mess, I am definitely voting for Hillary Clinton.

    January 15, 2008 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  3. Mike, Milwaukee, WI

    Hillary and her camp ought to be ashamed of themselves. Now we see how the bigger person was. Obama didn't even start this, and he was man enough to END it.

    Obama 08

    January 15, 2008 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  4. shaun

    It sure didn't take clinton and her crones long to pull another underhanded trick. just as I finished writing my first blog I had the great privilage of hearing on cnn that the teachers union in nevada is trying to keep the culinaries union from being able to endorse obama. the culinaries union is the largest union in all of nevada which has something like 45,000 members and since they decided to support obama, that would of course greatly increase his chances of winning there caucuses.
    it was also said that before the culinaries union decided to endorse obama that the teachers union which previously was neutral meaning they would support any candidate were leaning towards supporting hillary, but when it went to obama,,big problem. this was no doubt the strong arm of the clintons which are once again doing any and everything to win even after they said they were out of the politics of division. Mr obama, how can you win against this. you are not only fighting against the clintons, but against a very racist america thats showing you on every turn that they will not have you as their president no matter how much you should be.

    January 15, 2008 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  5. Carolyn Todd

    bottom line-who would know hillary if it were not for bill. Barak made it on his own! He has a great brain, wit and class-the Tiger Woods of the political jungle-a cool head-if those of you who haven't picked up his best sellers would read them(they are now in paperback so not $) you would truly get the person that he is–you are lucky to have him-it doesn't happen very often-if he does not become your leader, I will have permanently given up on all of you! Carolyn Todd

    January 15, 2008 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  6. Carolyn Todd

    and I mean permanently! GO OBAMA!

    January 15, 2008 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
  7. Jufus, Milwaukee, WI

    You really have to love all the Clinton and Obama supporters who THREATEN to NOT VOTE, VOTE REPUBLICAN, LEAVE THE COUNTRY, etc., IF their candidate isn't NOMINATED! [I'd just like to suggest an alternative: SUICIDE!]

    Perhaps it is just the CNN blogs that bring out the kindergarten children who are fond of saying, "If I don't get MY WAY, I will take my ball and bat and go home!"

    Anyway, we really don't need you children to actually be voting DEMOCRATIC anyway; this is serious business for serious, mature and enlightened people in the DEMOCRATIC PARTY...

    January 15, 2008 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  8. Carolyn Todd

    bottom line-who would know hillary if it were not for bill. Barack made it on his own! He has a great brain, wit and class-the Tiger Woods of the political jungle-a cool head-if those of you who haven't picked up his best sellers would read them(they are now in paperback so not $) you would truly get the person that he is–you are lucky to have him-it doesn't happen very often-if he does not become your leader, I will have permanently given up on all of you! Carolyn Todd

    January 15, 2008 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  9. jeff

    obama over reacted about the LBJ's contribution. yes MLK's I have a dream speech was huge, but LBJ danced circles around the senate to pass all the civil rights legislation.

    January 15, 2008 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  10. Ann Aloha, PA

    Ist the media stirs the pot
    2nd the supporters blasts each other
    3rd the candidates spar and exchange words
    4th the supporters continue the bashing
    5th the media stirs the pot some more
    6th the candidates explain their position and their remarks
    7th the supporters deny the truth(ALWAYS)
    8th the media gains ratings and is laughing at everybody(all the way to the bank)

    Poor misled people
    We should demmand objective reporting to avoid this "Stirring the Pot" tactics by bias media coverage
    Watch Reliable Resources and be sure to be objective or you miss the lessons in their reports and commentaries

    January 15, 2008 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  11. Susuviri

    I would plead to Democrats, please think before you comment! The so-called African American leaders are NOT true leaders. Take Andrew Young who is an economic hitman for Walmart, GE etc and his comments on Obama that he is not 'black enough' and that Bill is more 'black'. Total BS! They are all in for the money! They have colluded with the Clintons about getting black votes in exchange of favors. I hope that SC African Americans slap them and tell them 'We are not for sale! Our votes are not for sale' and send them back to their luxurious homes and pampered wives!
    Obama is not only the right president for Blacks but for every American!

    January 15, 2008 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  12. Maeve

    Well of course people here would take such a narrow and biased glance here that they immediately fall over themselves in trying to make the claim that Obama "took the high road." Baloney!

    Considering that it was the Obama camp that starting pointing fingers and crying foul at every word the Clintons uttered – no matter how much they had to wrench those words out of context – it makes perfect sense that some grown-up – an Obama camp counselor perhaps – eventually said, "Enough already! We're embarrassing ourselves! Sooner or later someone is going to nail us for our histrionics! Let's quit now before it becomes too crystal clear."

    Anonymous (1/15, 12:17 am) You are as right as you can be. Obama is looking really bad on this AND on his "me-too" economic stimulus plan.

    By the way, Obama wants to eliminate taxes on all elderly who make less than $50,000 a year. Have any Obama-hysteria addicts said yet how he's planning on paying/compensating for that?

    Or are they just too busy playing race cards?

    January 15, 2008 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  13. Benny Lava

    Obama knows what he is doing. When a piece of slime crawls back into the swamp you don't go in after it.

    January 15, 2008 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  14. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Great – this is like screaming fire and then running out of the room. Obama decided to play the race card (as we knew he would) and now that he has stirred up that hornets nest, he wants to play magnanamous and call a "truce." This is a skillful attorneys tool, to make a statement so that you make your point, then to back away from the statement. This guy is so transparent it defies logic how so many can buy into his schtick.

    January 15, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  15. tom

    cnn is biased all of hillarys negative commants get posted all of my comments on obamasget squaseh you probably wont see this

    January 15, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  16. L, Williamsburg, VA

    Andrea, California January 14, 2008 9:22 pm ET

    Marsha from Portland,

    There is a simple reason that Senator Clinton played "nice" for so long. It's too bad some of us refuse to see it. She was ahead so she tried to be Presidential.

    People's true colors are revealed when their backs are up against the wall. We all know this to be true. The past 10 days were the first time in the entire campaign that Senator Clinton thought she was going to lose. I judge her on the past 10 days, not on the 10 months in which she was enjoying a coronation party. Anyone can make nice when the band is playing and the compliments are raining down.

    ++++++

    Andrea, you are so right! I wonder how anyone of the current slate candidates, Democrat or Republican, would respond to the barrage of personal attacks President Bush has endured for the past 7 years? Specifically, what would Hillary do? Love him, or hate him, Bush has remained remarkably civil by not responding in kind to his detractors.

    January 15, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  17. Eric, MD

    You people are a bunch of rubes. This guy race baits the Clinton camp, taking her comments completely out of context, then plays you dopes by calling a "truce". It was crafted from the beginning.

    January 15, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  18. KE, GA

    Meanwhile, speaking at a Clinton campaign event Sunday, BET founder Bob Johnson lashed out at Obama's campaign over the criticism, and seemed to take a swipe at the Illinois senator's admitted drug use as a young man.

    Did he really specifically mention aboout his drug use as you stated? Please be a real jornalist.

    January 15, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  19. Bryan, Illinois

    Nobama: It is a little premature to conclude the media is stacked against you when your candidate is leading. In fact, you sound a lot like the Ron Paul supporters...except they have a genuine grievance with the media.

    January 15, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  20. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    Those of you who are Clinton supporters, take notice:

    Hillary Clinton appears to be the most loathed of all the candidates on either side. She would keep the division in this country alive and well and it would most likely get much worse.

    Our country deserves a fresh leader who has not been in the White House for 8 years already (since Hillary claims her 8 yrs there with Bill gave her Presidential experience).

    Hillary should drop out now as she sees how many people – even lifelong Democrats – who are vehemently against her winning this race!

    Hillary's only RUNNING for President and she's already got:

    Dem's hating Dem's, Blacks shouting at Blacks, White's shouting at Blacks (Bill for one), Republican's laughing at Dem's and Dem's swearing to vote Republican. Imagine the division if shere were President!!!!!! Scary!

    January 15, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  21. ben' ny.NY

    What a choice how is a bigger socialist. The Democratic Party is dead

    January 15, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  22. Amazed

    It is really time to get back to the issues. Obama needs to continue to focus on his campaign as he has been doing.

    January 15, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  23. Tim Calhoun '08, Moreno Valley, CA

    Sal......Illinois said:

    "Obama tried to play the race card but realized that his strength is not in the black voters but in the ill-informed……surface level……ignorant…….not very smart….easily impressed….and blind from the facts….. white votes……"

    Wrong on many counts.

    Obama's lead amongst African American voters is increasing steadily. Also, the majority of his support in New Hampshire came from college educated voters, whereas Hillary Clinton did not fare so well with them. Those are undisputed statistics. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    January 15, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  24. Harry Goss

    I find it ironic that after years of accusing the Republican Party of being racist, a black man is being smeared by the Democrat attack machine. Oh how the cows are coming home!

    January 15, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  25. David

    Obama threw the first stone in this stupid dispute and now he appears to many as taking the "high ground"? come on!! he realized he over-played his hand on this GOP-like ploy in attacking CLinton on her comment that no reasonable listener could misconstrue.

    Until now, I was holding off on making a commitment of my support for either CLinton or Obama. Absent Richardson, Biden, and Dodd, I have and continue to admire both CLinton and Obama. Both show ample promise over any of the GOP candidates to repair the raping and pillaging of the country wrought by 8 years of Bush/Cheney. I remain struck by how easily us consumers of government and advocates for change can be distracted by an issue as INSIGNIFICANT as Clinton's comments attributed to the role of a president in signing legislation into law. Does anybody really believe CLinton does not revere MLK?...

    Obama's role in this in the first place diminishes his stature in my eyes. I'll always support the Democrat but in my state's primary, my vote is now CLinton's.

    January 15, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
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