January 15th, 2008
01:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Major Clinton supporter calls Obama remark 'absolutely stupid'

 Rangel had some tough words for Obama Monday.
Rangel had some tough words for Obama Monday.

(CNN) - As both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to lower the tension after days of charged rhetoric over race, a congressional supporter of Clinton's presidential bid called the Illinois senator's remarks attacking her over recent comments about President Lyndon Johnson and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “absolutely stupid.”

"How race got into this thing is because Obama said ‘race,’” New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in Congress, said in an interview on NY1.

“But there is nothing that Hillary Clinton has said that baffles me. I would challenge anybody to belittle the contribution that Dr. King has made to the world, to our country, to civil rights, and the Voting Rights Act,” said Rangel. “But for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid. It's absolutely dumb to infer that Doctor King, alone, passed the legislation and signed it into law."

Rangel’s remarks came in response to Sunday comments from Obama, who told an audience at a Nevada campaign event: "I am baffled by that statement by the Senator. She made an ill-advised statement about Dr. King, suggesting that Lyndon Johnson had more to do with the Civil Rights Act. For them to somehow suggest that we're interjecting race as a consequence of a statement she made, that we haven't commented on, is pretty hard to figure out."

The New York senator has since tried to explain the intent of her remarks was not to diminish the contribution of King, but to point out the benefit of experience in enacting positive legislation.

Rangel also implied that Obama’s admission of prior drug use in his autobiography may have had a financial motive: "I assume that the book was not written for political purposes. It was honest….It was a big mistake for him to have done it [used drugs.] For him to be honest enough to write about it, I guess he thought it might sell books."
 
Video: Watch Rangel on the Clinton-Obama spat

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (1,694 Responses)
  1. Pat J

    Are we in for 4 yrs of black spokesman running for the nearest microphone everytime they perceive "racism" in any comments or criticism of Obama as president. I am very leery of having to look at Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or any of the other so-called black leaders trying to silence anything they say as an attack on Obama in the name of race.

    If this is what we can look forward to, and if these attacks on Hillary with little reason to feel this way, I may not vote at all.

    January 15, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. Charkey

    OK I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE MEDIA COVERAGE AND SKIMMING OVER ALL THESE COMMENTS. HERES THE DEAL THE CLINTONS REALIZED THEY HAD A LITTLE COMPETITON SO THEY STARTED PLAYING DIRTY YOU ADD THE MEDIA (WHO BY THE WAY STARTED ALL THIS DRAMA) YOU GET THIS KNOCK DOWN DRAG OUT BETWEEN THE TWO FRONT RUNNERS. NOW AS AN AFRICAN AMERICAN I DONT FEEL WHAT HILLARY SAID WAS RACIST BY A LONGSHOT BUT SHE NEEDS TO BE CAREFUL AS DOES OBAMA BECAUSE "THE MEDIA" CAN AND WILL TWIST THINGS. NOW THE SAMEDAY SHE SAID IT I WATCHED A PANEL ON ANDERSON COOPER WHO RAISED THE QUESTION ABOUT RACE. AND AS FOR THE OBAMAS BEING RACIST IS SO SILLY FOR SOME TO SAY BECAUSE LETS NOT FORGET THAT HE HAS WHITE BLOOD RUNNING THROUGH HIS VEINS. ALSO IT WAS THE MEDIA THAT MADE A BIG DEAL FIRST THAT A "BLACK MAN" WON IN A STATE THAT IS NEARLY 95% WHITE. THINGS STARTED WHEN THE CLINTONS STARTED TO PLAY DIRTY AND THE MEDIA INSTAGATED THE SIMPLE STATEMENTS THAT BARACK OBAMA MADE DEFENDING HIMSELF FROM THE CLINTON ATTACKS. NOW I DONT BELIEVE IN THE WORD CAMP AS DEFINING THE INTEGRETY OF A CANDIDATE SO UNTIL YOU HERE HILLARY OR OBAMA SAY IT OUT OF THERE MOUTH DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE. ITS ALL FUELED BY THE MEDIA. AND I ASK YOU ALL DID ANYONE HERE THE STATEMENT BY BILL MADE ON AL SHARPTONS (NOT A LEADER OF THE BLACK PEOPLE) RADIO SHOW. HE PRAISED OBAMAS CAMPAIGN EFFORTS AND EVEN SUGGESTED HE MIGHT WIN. BUT THE MEDIA SAYS THAT WAS TO CLEAN UP THE FAIRY TALE STATEMENT WHO BELIEVES THAT THE MEDIA IS INSTAGATING THIS WHOLE THING INSTEAD OF REPORTING ON IT ????

    January 15, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. Mr D

    Hillary's giving the repulicans what they want! an easy victory

    January 15, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. William Henderson

    Rangel and Johnson, I think it’s better that they offer their shoulders to the new guard. We commend them for their sacrifice and hard work. The Al Sharpton Jesse Jackson school of politics is hopefully behind us. The thing that really worries me is that a former president is so heavily involved in a candidates’ campaign. This is almost unprecedented, even Bush Jr. didn’t have his Dad fight all his battles. Bill C. is a shrewed operator I’m sure he intended to twist the Black base steadily eroding from Hillary. What’s worse is that he is damaging his legacy or at least the good parts, and accentuating the bad, which is definately not a help to Hillary in the end. He should rest on his laurels and let Hillary earn them on her own.

    Bill Henderson
    NY

    January 15, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. benvictor

    Thank God for Mr. Rangel. He speaks the truth; let us not make race an issue if it is not an issue in this instance. We know rascism exists and those need to be addressed. But, we have come a long way; else, there would not be an African American running for President.
    Obama is making a huge mistake if he runs with Jesse and Al. This will divide the African American communtiy because the Clintons have always been with the blacks while so many others were on the other side of town or at their parties. Worse, white voters do not appreciate this becoming an issue over such innocent words.
    I am a white, male who is independent but votes democratic.

    January 15, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Cyrille

    Hi People on Clinton News Network!!!

    Are u stupid or are u so lazy to make research on ur own, see behind the scenes and read between the lines?

    This is a Clinton Tactic to bring diversion from the real issues and to promote confusion,division and hatred.

    Either they are immensely cut off the reality of this country or just being evil that they want to try to bring the issue of Race in this presidential election.
    But Thank GOD!!! America is mature and is ready for change.

    This typical of the Clintons,they hit the first and then when u hit back,there they go complaining and shouting everywhere that they got hit. They might have all the supports of the establishment,the Media ( CNN for example) or have so much people on their paycheck,but the people are no more stupid. They know who is real in this thing.

    It took her so called 35 years of experience to finally find her voice....I AM SORRYY!

    Please get rid of your intelectual blindness and do some research for urself.

    DON`T JUST SAY WHAT EVERYONE IS SAYING!! U ARE BETTER THAN THAT!!!

    January 15, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. mike k

    Clinton made this about race because because that is all she has – she is framing the conversation and using folks like Rangel and Johnson – it is pathetic and embarrassing.

    January 15, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. Gil - California

    I would expect a black congressman from New York to say exactly what Charlie said. He is so far into the Clinton's hip pocket that it isn't even funny. Why is it that when I look at those black americans that hop when the Clintons call are very much in the category of those that I have very little respect for.

    I had hoped that Obama coming into the challenge would have put some of this race crap to bed but Hillary and Chalies at that Bet character and Magic Aids Potion and the rest of them refuse to let it simmer. Thanks to the Clinton desire to be president being placed above the interests of the people of this country, this country will NEVER see a black president.

    I am also disappointed in Mr. Richardson. Why did he bail out of the elections this soon? He had said he would stick it out but it is obvious to me that there is some back door, "You back out now before you get any delegates and I'll make you my VP" dealings. Hillary was worried that had Mr. Richardson earned any delegates, they would not have gone to her when he eventually dropped out. You just watch, if Hillary gets the democrat nod, he will be her VP even though he stated he was not running for VP and that he was proud to be governor.

    As for me, no matter what the outcome, this is my last election as a democrat. I've had it with all the racists and yessirs and red necks and sexist activities of this party. The republicans are no better so from here on out, I'll be an Independant.

    Obama/Dobbs 08

    January 15, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. John

    Once again Rep Rangel speaks with a intellegence, that is seldom found in Washington. Sen Obama tried to play the Race Card against Sen Clinton, and Rep Rangel saw throught it....way to go Charlie...

    January 15, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. James

    Vince, let's be real here. She knew what she was doing, after all, she is a "world cass genius." She was clearly trying to bait Obama and his campaign into turning this into a thing about race. When Obama refused to comment in her statement, she used memos compiled by the Obama campaign regarding a series of statements made by Hillary, Bill, and members of the Clinton campaign to accuse Obama of distorting their remarks to make them look racist. It was actually Huffington Post who actually obtained this memo and started this whole thing. Let's look at a factual correlation here: Huffington Post is founded by Arianna Huffington who is a notorious Clinton supporter. So of course, her newsfirm would spin this against Obama/in favor of the Clintons.

    Then, we have former BET CEO Bob Johnson accusing Obama and his campaign of the same and made a veiled reference to his drug use. The latter really sparked the Obama campaign as well as other people and in a statement a day after, Bob Johnson claimed that he was referring to his days as a community organizer (obviously this isn't true if you look at the video and the context in its entirety). Let's look at another set of facts here. Bob Johnson is a billionaire who is well known for starting an anti-Union hotel chain and is known to be one of the biggest names in terms of lobbying. He owns an island in the Carribeans where the Clintons have repreatedly had vacations in.

    Realizing that this would divide the democratic party, Obama calls a truce while the Clinton campaign responded accordingly. Shortly after the truce, we have ANOTHER attack on Obama's integrity and drug use by warmonger Charles Rangel. Now we just have to wait and see if they come up with a response from the Clinton camp to try to distort Rangel's remarks to not make it sound that he wasn't attacking Obama's integrity and drug use.

    If you analyze the chain of events, you would realize that the Clintons are in the wrong and are the ones distorting their own statements. Obama simply didn't place enough time in attacking Clinton because he was focused on his new economic stimulus plan, which doesn't seem to be posted ANYWHERE on CNN. I learned about this on msnbc.

    January 15, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. John New York, NY

    So it's okay for Bill Clinton to have used drugs and cavort with interns, but Barack Obama is the bad guy?

    Lies and hypocrisy make up the Clinton campaign.

    January 15, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. Brian

    Rangel obviously didn't even take the time to review the story before taking the podium to slam Obama, since all his facts are wrong. I'm sorry, this is just further proof of how disorganized and desperate the Clinton camp has become.

    Take control of your hounds, Hillary!

    January 15, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Tim, Atlanta GA

    This thing has been blown out of proportion. The only reason these black "leaders" are coming out and speaking like this is because they NEED race to be a factor. Without race in politics, they don't matter! If Obama is elected president, all of a sudden they can't use racial prejudice as a means to get elected, sell TV shows etc.

    January 15, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. j-dog

    Charlie Rangel proudly served his country in Korea and has been at the forefront of african-american issues since his service was completed. Just as each of us are doing by providing comments, Mr. Rangel is entitled to his opinion without being villified by other Democrats that have chosen another nominee. I am tired of the media or political novices placing a "subordinate" tag on individuals that state their personal opinion and laying blame at the feet of the respective candidates.

    As for myself, I will vote for Hillary Clinton due to her experience in Washington, her past record in the Senate and her ability to provide substance, not just empty rhetoric on the issues such as the economy, education and energy. I am voting not just for change but the "ABILITY to change."

    Before you go to the polls please ask yourself 3 simple questions:

    1. Do you believe that Hillary Clinton is a racist?
    2. Do you agree or disagree that Bill Clinton tackled minority issues while in office and since he has been out of office?
    3. Do you think any of the Democratic nominees will truly have the ability to bring republicans to our side on Iraq, the economy and energy or do we need someone that has taken the fight to them and won in the past?

    Go Dems 08'

    January 15, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Ange8

    wow, look at everybody bicker. personally, i don't think any of the candidates are worth the effort. it's basically choosing the lesser evil and i'm pretty tired of having to do that. our whole political system is corrupt, full of liars and blowhards. anyone who thinks otherwise is quite naive. what choice does it really leave us. and anyone willing to vote republican over democratic just because of this nonsense needs to reevaluate the last eight years. clinton (bill) didn't set this country up for 9/11, W did that...w/ help of course. start reading more than just the mainstream news to get to the real news...

    January 15, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. acuppajo

    Vince, your take on what Obama said is wrong. It wasn't about race. His point was that Hillary diminished the role a people powered movement made in changing the course of this country. What Hillary is saying in a nutshell is that people can push for change but it is the president that is ultimately "the decider." Sound familiar?

    January 15, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. constant

    Bill whines the guys are beating up on his girl. She says she's tough, she can play with the good old boys. Then we see her cry. Then Bill runs his mouth again with words like Fairy tale, "kid", then goes on radio to whine "obama people are picking on her again. Then her black friends come out in her defense...slinging mud...about drug use as a teenager. wow...this is so high school and so typical of hillary and bill.
    I'm a democrat.
    I'm a woman.
    Hill is more of the same. Is she running..or is Bill? Is she a strong woman, or crying, then someone else fights her battles? Does she have experience...in what? Giving Bush everything he wanted? She is more of the same old tactics, same old political machine, twisting words and facts to put her in a better light with voters. When that fails, she can alsways cry! If that fails she will turn back to the old ways, with her mini GOP like attacks on Obama. She waffles more than IHOP! Trying to immitate Obama, changing her theme, changing her stages to include young people, changing her "experience" to "change"! Every day her campaign has a change, depending on what Obama said the day before. That is not the kind of "change" I'm looking for.

    January 15, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. h. hill

    All of the African American leaders are looking for money and selling out for money. They don't stand for justice, they stand for dollars.

    January 15, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. Tad

    I urge people who are critiquing Sen. Obama's response to Sen. Clinton's remarks to listen to the entire statement she made, including the references she made to JFK. You can find them on-line at CNN Politics.

    Her remarks were in response to statements Sen. Obama had made about the value of words, the leadership both JFK and Martin Luther King gave the nation and the quality of the leadership Sen. Obama is striving to project.

    Others may disagree, but I found Sen. Clinton's remarks derogatory . . . much more so than the sound bites most CNN TV viewers are seeing.

    January 15, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. briana

    what a way to divide the party. thanks rangler

    January 15, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. me

    Chris posted ignorantly:
    Agreed. Stupid Obama. Can't wait to see how Barack is going to turn this last comment by one of the highest ranking African Americans in Congress into a racially-motivated attack on him. Hillary has more blacks on her side than Barack ever will.
    You really have no clue on whats going on.

    January 15, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. Victoria

    All I have to say, as a resident of Illinois, is WHAT HAS OBAMA DONE FOR HIS OWN CONSTITUENTS? This whole candidacy reeks of "Mr. Tibbs Goes to Washington". He's been getting a huge paycheck as one of our senators, and don't get me wrong, because I voted for him at the time, but the economy in Illinois has gotten much worse since he got into office, unemployment in Illinois is at an all-time high, our infrastructure is suffering, and there is no relief in sight.

    Mr. Obama doesn't instinctively cover his heart with his right hand, nor does he automatically start saying the Pledge of Allegience or sing the National Anthem, things that have been ingrained in me since childhood. That alone lost my vote.

    All Senator Obama has done for Illinois is get paid to go campaigning. That's it. So he's taking our tax dollars and our benefits and utilizing them for his own personal gain. For a guy with no political background, he sure figured out how to screw the taxpayers in a hurry. Usually that takes years of political machination to get a handle on it, but he's a natural!

    Senator Obama, many of us have friends, neighbors and relatives in this War in Iraq, and even while I don't agree with it, I support THEM every time the National Anthem is played. You can't play "Take it or Leave it" with our nation's troops and their families. No matter what, you have to support them. Which is probably why their families now do not support or endorse you. Granted, you voted against the intial sending of troops, but you definitely voted to fund it, thinking it would get you points. But what lost you voters in spades was your indifference to the National Anthem and Pledge of Alliegance, two things that are very dear to our soldiers, something that they are fighting and dying for...One Nation, Under God....

    January 15, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  23. california voter

    report it as it was said. he did not "call obama absolutely stupid" he said "for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid. " he called one action ["suggestion"] stupid, not the man.

    January 15, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  24. demwit

    Ohhhhhh!!!! This is the change Hillary represents...

    January 15, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  25. CC

    It is funny that Charley Rangel is stepped in for Hill and Bill in this way. He starts off by accusing Barack of bring up "race" byt saying it. Where would you fine that in any of his statements. It sees that Mr. Rangel is still digging in the pockets of the Clintons for his own needs and they have nothing to do with Black or Hispanic needs.

    It seems that when Barack walks in a room you can't miss that he is "highly taned" or that Hillary is a "female". During the last debate Hillary made it a point to point out that "That haveing a woman as president would be a change" and no on questioned that but if Barack said the same thing (That having a Bi-racial president would be a change) he would have been racked over the coals.

    Just a thought.

    Oh, Bob Johnson. He is the person that would not want his kids watching BET because he thought it was trash and he comes out with that crazy comment on behalf of Hillary. Can someone stop the Clintons? Oh, they want the Bill is the first Black prsident label for himself. Sad

    January 15, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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