January 15th, 2008
01:20 PM ET
7 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. Alain James

    I agree with Rangel on this.

    I would qualify that by saying that what Obama said was worse than stupid.
    He was trying to portray Senator Clinton as a racist by distorting what she said.
    This is gutter politics.

    Obama has been slavishly following the advice of those who pay his bills.
    Go negative, young man.
    So far it has paid off in that his poll numbers are rising, but at what cost?

    January 15, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Tom Masters

    Race, just like MLK, have no place what so ever in this political race. Toootally stupid.

    January 15, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. apathy

    So contrived Obama's comment. What is he really saying?
    That it should have been him to have made the comment, that no one but african- americans can make statements about civil rights leaders...hmmm who is the polarizing figure(s) in this debate....it certainly seems to be the two (Obama/Rangel) most making noise...not surprising to me...

    January 15, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Docta

    Congressman Charles Ranger as well as Mr. Johnson (BET owner) are doing the dirty work for Mr and Mrs. Clinton. Those guys are old school African-American politicians who can only see the world in Black and White. They should look in the mirror what happened in Iowa and New Hampshire. Those two elections were basically color-blinded.

    It is obvious that the Clinton's want to divide the "black block". If she can get 50% of that block that's fine to her. Unfortunately for her we are in 2008 not in 1992. Now more than ever, people have easy access to information thanks to the INTERNET. And people are able to sort out what matter for them the most and what is better for themselves and their family.
    Eventually Obama will prevail not because he is black. Mrs. Clinton will lose not because she is a woman. The decision will be made based on the ability of Barak to help us extract in us the best that we have to move our country forward. A country cannot be strong without unity. The Clinton's time has passed. It's time for CHANGE.

    January 15, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Habeeb

    Remember at about four weeks ago when Oprah was introducing Obama, she said MLK drea the dream and Obama will make the dream a reality. Is that not deminishing MLK achievement? If Oprah could go awaywith that statement, why the double standard about the Clintons?

    January 15, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. Funcsho, Memphis Tn

    This guy – Rangel is just envious of Obama. Despite the gap in their age and experience, Obama's political career and personal achievement have been more stellar than his.

    ABC: Anyone But Hillary

    January 15, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. ryan

    And don't buy for one second that Rangel didn't get the memo. Just like all the other cronies didn't get the memo about not bringing up his past drug use. I don't care if they bring it up, but Hillary is lying through her teeth when she says it shouldn't be used against him. All her cronies bring it up again and again. Same as this, someone linked to her will be bringing race up in the press again and again trying to paint it like Obama is bringing it up. Open your eyes!!!!

    January 15, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. John in Ca.

    Rangle is a great guy who is using a sense of humor and irony to call the bluff of the administration, who seem to think that we can stay overseas indefinitly withou consequences to our economy or popular consensus. HOW LONG ARE WE GOING TO BE THERE!? 10 years? If we are going to be there as long as they think we are, why not institute the draft like Rangle says, so that everybody can enjoy the fighting, including the sons of Republican senators AND Ivy Leauge elites.

    January 15, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. Karen Wells

    Charlie Rangel, you might not know it but you are a pure waste of time. You ruined Harlem and profited royally. Others had to finally roll you over to get things done. You are no more than an opportunist looking for a last hurray in the Clinton Cabinet. What you need to do is get out of the kitchen cabinet, stop stuffing your mouth, stop spouting ignorance and finally help those in Harlem who are not benefitting from the new Harlem Renaissance.

    January 15, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Phil

    Five steps up by African Americans, ten steps down with the highest ranking black members of congress. No wonder we will head nowhere!

    January 15, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. HGM

    I have lost so much respect for the Clintons over the last couple of days that its now hard for me as a life long democrat to even contemplate voting for Hillary if she is the nominee. People are cynical over politics becase of a reason, Bill and Hillary have protrayed that reason very bluntly over the last couple of weeks. So charisma and idealism is just BS? Man, what kind of president can lead without hope??? Oh ya, just look at Dubya. Obama inspires, just like JFK and MLK.....I guess the Clintons would have attacked them too, have they no shame?

    January 15, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. GB Packers

    how many bed crumbs he got from hillary in exchange for his backbone?

    January 15, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    This just deflects from discussing the real issues confronting us all. The media fans the flames because they love the hoopla and then they do not have to ask the tough questions. It does the democrats no good against the republicans.

    Do not forget folks, the media, by not asking the tough questions, has a hand in why we are in Iraq and why we have Bush for a president. They also decide which candiates they think we should like and hear from and pay scant attention to the rest. I take nearly everything that comes out of the news anchors mouths with a grain of salt (especially fox news).

    They fan the flames because they think we want to hear it and they hope someone will trip up and say something awful, which will make them further fan the flames. In the meantime the real issues that concern us all are shoved aside.

    I do not pay attention to it. Also, Bill Clinton (I like him) should let Hillary fight her own battles. It is unseemly for the former president to be campaigning for her in this way; he is the former president, not, merely a spouse. They come across as looking like they are entitled to win this election and everyone should step out of the way.

    January 15, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. Bill

    Obama really has not defined his policies except in broad brush terms.To have a vision is great but I want to know how he will achieve these lofty goals Where's the Beef,Obama?.

    January 15, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. DB

    Let's see – Obama was the one who asked for a truce. Obama was the one who said that the bickering pulls them away from the message. Then, Clinton's supporters attack Obama on the same issue today. Hmmmmmm – seems to me that Sen Clinton is the one with the problem of being divisive and polarizing.

    January 15, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Mike in Kentucky

    Sadly, no one seems to recognize that the media, including CNN, continues to fan the flames of this "racial" controversy.

    The Clinton and Obama campaigns have apparently agreed to disagree on many issues but both view the legacy of Dr. King in the same light, one of respect and admiration.

    Congressman Rangel is certainly entitled to his opinions about a statement by candidate Obama, referenced in the article above:

    ":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."

    Later in the article he is quoted as saying (and here is the stupidity comment):

    “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."

    Perhaps a poor choice of words, but true. Congressman Rangel has a history of rhetorical excess, in fact he is famous for it.

    Given that the opposing political camps have "buried the hatchet" on this issue, CNN and the rest of the media, might think about ratcheting down the excess emotional content of their headlines.

    But wait, then the eyeballs they want and need will not continue to be attracted to this "story".

    January 15, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. Steve D, Irving TX

    As much as I loved Bill Clinton as President, we can't elect him again. If Hilary thinks she's going to be able to bring him into every tight and tough situation she faces, then she's not presidential material. Hilary has already played the "female tears" card, another sign of weakness. And now, she's trying to play the "race card". Obama can't play the race card, he's black and that card won't work for him (just like female tears shouldn't work for Hilary. Although, race is implicit in Obama's campaign, due to it's greater meaning to American history. But, Obama can't run on that slogan; "Vote Obama and prove we truly stand for freedom and equality"...although John Kerry stated as much in his endorsement speech of Obama.

    Ultimately, I think the Clinton's are in panic mode after Iowa and the close race in New Hamsphire. They want to change the discussion because Obama's message has more attraction...so they attack the man, and now his race! Rangel and Johnson only confuse the matter, going against Obama based on civil rights and the legacy of Martin Luther King. Bill is said to be the first black president by many blacks (I don't mind calling him that either), but Bill is not actually black...and I don't think that's what black's actually mean when they say this, nor will history document him as that. Obama, however, is the real deal...a blessing to America both at home and abroad...doing the whole world a bit of good.

    January 15, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. Richard

    Very interesting to follow the Obama/Clinton story as a Canadian living in Toronto.

    This is really all about the fight for the control of the Democratic party. The old established guard are not going to sit by idly and watch a newcomer bypass them with a "grass roots" movement based on new, young voters to get to power. That will destroy all they have worked for the last several decades.

    Old timer politicians like Mr Rangel revel in the power they wield in Washington as the "fixers" of Democratic politics. They built that power during the Clinton years and are not going to sit by and have it taken away. Clearly Obama threatens that status-quo.

    All I can say is that America deserves the Presidents it votes for. Bush is a clear example – he was elected twice by Americans meaning it was not a fluke. He was truly the choice of the American people albeit narrowly.

    People like Obama, inspirational as he is will not get to power as long as the old, established, political guard has anything to do with it.

    I have a lot of respect for Mrs Clinton's accomplishments; she is a brilliant individual with lots of experience and could make a great President. But I wonder how she can ever unite the American people around the big changes the country needs. The Republican party will simply gridlock any and every thing she wants to do in Congress no matter how smart or well thought out, similar to what is happening in Congress today. It is simply impossible for her with the legacy of her past and her husband to work as a centrist. Too much hatred for the Clinton name in "Red" America, just as "Blue" America cannot stand the Bushes. Result; standstill in America.

    About Obama, he has to be given credit for recognizing that "politics" as usual will not move America forward and galvanizing a new generation of Americans to get involved in changing the country.

    But I wonder if the American people understand that enough to take that chance given his short resume.

    January 15, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. Ray

    Charles Rangel made a statement that was "ill-advised". Why draw attention to it?

    He claimed Obama said things that Obama never said. Then Rangel went on to attack said fictional things. This is a classic verbal manuever intended as a distraction. It fools some people, but his Jedi mind tricks won't work on thinking people – namely, us.

    Nothing to see here. Move along. (Unless you are in Rangel's district, in which case, please make a different choice at the next election...)

    For those of you who keep asking how the candidates stand on issues, I strongly encourage you to visit their respective websites. All the major candidates appear to have good info on the Internet – take advantage of the information age.

    January 15, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. Sharifa

    Darn it people! Obama said nothing. It is bloggers like us keep this crap going! We are hurting Hillary by making her believe Obama said something about her. Then we are hurting Obama by trashing him for thoughts, words and ideas that are ours. If we stop then the media will stop. This afternoon msn confirmed that they are reading blogs and seeing how upset we are about this race misunderstanding.

    January 15, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  21. Cheryl R

    The Republicans will never destroy Obama. The Clinton's will do it before the Democratic nomination. In fact, they will do such a great job Obama will never be a candidate for president again.

    January 15, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. ryan

    Clintons did for blacks what they did for women. Take advantage of them when it suited their interests and bash them with typical stereotypes when it suited their interests. Women's issues?!? Hillary?!? She was not only front and center, she LED the brigade against every woman that accused Bill of inappropriate behavior. Tell me, exactly, how you promote women's rights when you go around bashing women constantly as lying little tramps? Hmmmm. Tell me Mr. Rangel, how you think you are helping black America by bashing Obama and lying about what he said? Hmmmm.

    January 15, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  23. Craig

    Forgive Charley Rangel, he's just one of many Washington insiders quivering in their boots, wondering what will happen when CHANGE sweeps across this nation.

    January 15, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. Bukky, Balt MD

    White Dems invoke Marting Luther King EVERY SINGLE FREAKING ELECTION like they own the rights to his Deeds. Let a Black candidate do the same and his comparing himself or injecting race? BS BS BS

    January 15, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. Jay

    Come on, Clinton and your supporters, you guys are suppose to be the older and wise ones please set good examples, and stop acting like kids.

    January 15, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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