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. La'Kitgum, NH

    Yes man...! Let's call a spade a spade. Rangle is right. This is all BS. The fact is that the Obama campaign knows that anything to do with race will hurt him more than Hillary. The Obama campaign is in shambles to put away this smoke because it has taken the heat out of his campaign. But the issues will NEVER die soon and is bound to drag Obama to the pits.

    Imagine, even Clayburn who started the whole racial thing is not accepting his responsibility but pretending to be the neutral peacemaker. He is real BS.

    January 15, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Bob G.

    This is exactly what the republicans want. Thank you Hillary and Obama!!!

    January 15, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  3. Dr. Herman L. Standberry

    I thank God that Senator Obama realize that he can overcome evil with good. He realizes that he must become all things to all men that he might help some – not just Blacks, but Whites, Hispanics, Jews, etc. His message of HOPE is rooted in the American dream that our forefathers {Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, James Madison, Dr. King, the consititution, etc.] spoke of and died for- that we are a "UNITED NATION" composed of mutiple cultures and races. Senator Obama is a CONSITUTIONIAL LAWYER who understands the legal process of bring ideas (legislation) into law.

    Many of us who remember our Elementary & High School Constitution Exams will readily see the ignorance of those in our political arena who make comments that reveals their lack of knowledge of the law. These revelations of people who are "ILL ADVISED" and "LACK KNOWLEDGE" but are in high places are not a surprise and we should not become alarmed at their ignorance. I JUST THANK GOD THAT SENATOR OBAMA IS A GOD FEARING MAN AND HAS RISEN ABOVE ALL OF THIS AND HAVE CHOSEN TO OVERCOME IT BY DOING SPEAKING AND DOING GOOD.

    The message that if one of us hurts the whole should feel their pain and suffering whether we be rich or poor – we are touched by the feelings of their infirmities. I wish I had had the persona and knowledge of conducting myself in fashions like he, Kennedy, King, etc. had and have at their young age. I don't have time to become a HATER, but I do have time to LIFT UP MY VOICE in support of those that have a VISION similar to the founders who wrote our consititution to UNITE as ONE PEOPLE! The will of Senator Obama to hope and believe that we can achieve this level of Cultural Competence – hundreds of years later reflects his avocationi of becoming a CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER.

    I am proud of him. I am proud of America, I am proud of those of you who would dare believe that this is possible. For this, I will voite for US SENATOR OBAMA.

    God be with him and Bless Him!
    Rev/Dr. Standberry, EdD, DMin, JD Cd, MA, MEd, BS

    January 15, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  4. Michele, SC

    The Clintons are both very cunning and dangerous. Sen. Obama will have a very hard time competing with them. They are both liars and will do anything for power. Hillary is desparate for power and Bill is ready for the next "intern" at the White House. I will not, ever, vote for Hillary. I hope America will see the Clintons for phony people they really are.

    Sen. Obama, I pray for your safety and success with your campaign. You are a man of honesty, inspiration and hope.

    Obama 08!!!

    January 15, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. Ron, Bronx, NY

    Bimmer, if that's the best you can come up with, then its truly pathetic how your nasty campaign has clouded your reason.

    January 15, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  6. Joseph

    Alright, my proof was right. Not wasting any more time here. I attempt to post two (mildly) negative comments about the conduct of the Obama campaign in this episode and they still sit a day later "awaiting moderation" but the one I open by praising him a couple hours ago gets posted immediately.

    Yeah, moderation. Love it. Wonder whose comments are getting dropped on the floor in this neutral discussion?

    GO OBAMA!!!!!!

    MY HERO!!!!

    January 15, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  7. Kitty, Denver, CO.

    What is absolutely stupid are the words that came out of his mouth.

    January 15, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. Just out of the cotton patch...

    Hillary is correct!

    Bill and she are just like LBJ. It took Newt to control Bill. Bill then played the spin game. History has also been rewritten for LBJ. Everett Dirksen is the politician that championed civil rights, not LBJ.

    January 15, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. Rich Orl, FL

    Our country is finally waking up to the fact we need major changes in our government if it is truly going to be for the people by the people. The movement has already begun in 2006 when we voted out many Republicans that were seen as untrustworthy amongst the electorate. Our next step should be to vote out members of our own Democratic Party that do not reflect well on our efforts to have an ethical and positive government in the future. I believe Congressman Rangel and Senator Byrd should be at the top of that list. Both of them seem more interested in political games and wasting money on pet projects to have their names on it. Democrats have a wonderful opportunity to clean house and get our government back on track for the American people again. Let’s do it right this time.

    January 15, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  10. Steve

    I am soooo surprised by both of them. Don't they know that they should wait to use the race and gender card against the republicans? Didn't they understand that taking innocent comments and turning the speaker of those words into racists or sexists should be held until later. I find it so sadly ironic that it is only until this form of gutter politics (using racism or sexism to bloody your opponent even when you know that they are neither) is turned on themselves that all these democrats now feel that this is somehow a terrible thing. This cheapening of the real racism and sexism that needs to be confronted has been going on for way to long. I guess only when one starts to eat their own do they stop and see the damage done. Even if they call a truce I am sure many here will stand and cheer when they play this sick cards again in November. All the candidates from every party want to win and they are going to do some sick things to make it happen. Hopefully this affair will make them pause before they start throwing race and sex around as just another tool to beat your rival over the head with. I hope no one here will be cheering it if .. (hey lets face it) ..WHEN they do it again.

    January 15, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Arlene, La Quinta CA

    When Obama's bandwagon's wheels go flat, and Hillary's bobblehead has broken.......vote JOHN EDWARDS!!!! He'll put up a good fight for us, and not eachother.

    January 15, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. TE

    All those folks talking about Rangel’s position on the draft are mistaken. He was not advocating a draft for the sake of draft, his point was that the hawks beating the war drums didn’t have their kids in harms way. Their kids are mostly safely tucked away in private clubs and Princeton/Harvard/Oxford etc while the regular citizens’ kids are in the service defending the nation and some with the hope of eventually getting educated on the GI bill. With a draft (equal opportunity conscription) in place, maybe these hawks will not be so quick to beat the war drums when their loved ones may be in harms way.

    I am a black Democrat and I like both Clinton and Obama. Obama is a very eloquent speaker and I get mesmerized by his command of the language and I also feel a certain kinship to him because of his African roots.

    JFK was very eloquent and we saw actions from him that made America the most loved and respected country in the world. MLK was eloquence itself. He stepped out of his comfort zone to mobilize the oppressed, confront the oppressors and motivated a president to break out of his own comfort zone and with new courage to sign the Civil Right Act.

    So far we have only really known Obama for his likeability, good looks, and eloquence. Although these are fantastic qualities they need to be followed by deeds. This I have not seen. Who is asking the tough questions?

    A little while ago, my family was dealing with an issue which we felt had to do with prejudice, incompetence and total abuse of power by a government official and we individually decided to contact our senators. My brother in Illinois contacted the Obama office which totally ignored all contacts. Since we don’t have any Democratic senator in Georgia my sister contacted the office of Chambliss the Republican senator from Georgia, who promptly responded and even followed up on the matter. If I was undecided, that rookie mistake would have sent me to the Republican side.

    I see a President Obama in the future of America but for now he needs a proofing ground where he can build up his resume with actions to backup the talk either as a senator or even a VP.

    After all is said and done, Obama is still better than any of the candidates on the other side. We in America need somebody like him to inspire us like JFK and MLK did.

    January 15, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  13. SICK OF IT ALL

    GROW UP!!! HAVE YOU ALL LOST YOUR MINDS? LISTEN TO YOURSELVES. JUST STEP BACK FOR 1 MINUTE AND RE-READ SOME OF THESE COMMENTS YOU ARE MAKING.
    HAVE YOU NOT LEARNED YOUR LESSON YET? ISN'T 8 YEARS WITH BUSH, THE NICE GUY AND NO EXPERIENCE TAUGHT YOU ANYTHING? IS THIS WHAT OUR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION HAS COME DOWN TO?

    GENDER & RACE DOES NOT ENTER INTO THE EQUATION.

    ISSUES ARE WHAT MATTER! EXPERIENCE IS WHAT MATTERS! WHOMEVER YOU DECIDE TO CHOOSE.

    THE MEDIA SHOULD NOT ELECT THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BUT THEY ARE DOING ONE HECK OF A JOB DOING EXACTLY THAT. ARE WE AS AMERICANS GOING TO LET THAT HAPPEN? UNLESS YOU CAN STEP BACK, RESEARCH THESE CANDIDATES YOURSELVES AND TELL THE MEDIA THAT WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THEIR BS, THEY WILL DECIDE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT, NOT US THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES.

    WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BLAME THEN? I CAN TELL WHO! OBAMA SUPPORTERS WILL BLAME CLINTON, THE CLINTON SUPPORTERS WILL BLAME OBAMA, THE PEOPLE WITH A HALF A BRAIN WILL BLAME THE
    MEDIA. BUT THE ONES TO BLAME WILL BE THE VOTERS FOR LETTING THE MEDIA AND HE SAID, SHE SAID NON ISSUES INFLUENCE THEM.

    YOU WERE GIVEN A BRAIN, FOR CRIPES SAKE, USE IT!!!!

    January 15, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  14. Angela

    I have been reading this board and once again I am bewildered at some of the comments that I have seen in particular in relation to Bill Clinton and cabinet appointees.To the people that have suggested that Bill Clinton didn't have any African Americans in his cabinet here is the list of African American Cabinet Appointees during his Presidency

    Mike Espy – Secretary of Agriculture
    Ron Brown – Secretary of Commerce
    Alexis Herman – Secretary of Labor
    Rodney E Slater – Secretary of Transportation
    Hazel O'Leary – Secretary of Energy
    Jesse Brown – Secretary of Veteran Affairs (2nd)
    Togo D. West Jr- Secretary of Veteran Affairs (3rd)

    If you do a little research on the above Cabinet Secretaries you will see that most of them were the first African Americans to hold those posts. Please do some research before you comment on issues.

    January 15, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  15. Mike

    To James who called Charlie Rangel a "warmonger" because he introduced a bill to reinstate the draft. The purpose of the bill was to highlight the fact that most of the soldiers dying in Iraq are predominantly young people from disadvanted backgrounds. The draft is a great equalizer, it would make all of the warmongers /chickenehawks think twice about starting a war because kids from all backgrounds would be eligible for the draft. Unless of course you can get a deferment for a cyst on your butt like Rush Limbaugh, or five student deferments like Dick Cheney, or even get a coveted position in the Air National Guard like President Bush.

    January 15, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. Ule

    This thing with Rangel is all about Manhattan and Albany. It's like a subway series. Don't even worry about it. You know the Jefferson Airplane song, "Never Argue with a German When You're Tired" ? Don't get in a pissing contest with a congressman from New York City. They'll never quit.

    You want to get him started, though? Ask him who's more experienced, Hillary or Rudy. That ought to be good for a while.

    January 15, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Charlie is right. There is nothing HILLARY said which is condisending to Martin Luther King. If anything she pointed out how Rev. King fought, organized and worked within the system to bring about major change. In no way did she imply that LBJ was the spearhead for the civil rights act. Instead of allowing the media to tell us what we should hear, we should be performing our own research into the truth. Did anyone watch Meet the Press with HILLARY this past Sunday? If anyone had watched, you would have known exactly what she said about MLK. This is being blown out of porportion in order to distract us from the issues. Let's not take our eye off the ball.

    January 15, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  18. Malkit

    Obama,
    Before I decide to vote for you explain & elabrate on change & hope
    that you keep talking about. Have no idea who you really are. I know who Hilary
    Clinton is. Some times you compare your self to Kenedy, MLK, or Bradly you come close to non of them. Your speaches have no depth just empty flowery words.
    explain your position honestly. Perhaps you are just a barganer or a manipulator.

    Malkit San Diego CA

    January 15, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. W. O. Webb - Nashville, TN

    Angie;

    What exactly did the Clintons do for Black people? During Bill's tenures, did he:

    1. lower Black un/under-employment?
    2. enhance SBA to assist and increase number/quality of Black businesses?
    3. elevate educational opportunities & qualitiy and/or lower number of secondary school drop-outs?
    4. advocate fair laws for non-violent/first-time crack cocaine users vs. white-cocaine users?
    5. shuck and jive with Blacks (i.e., be more hospitable than Reagan)?
    6. pass legislation to improve health care for Blacks?
    7. other........?

    Please detail some of the specifics that benefited Blacks. I acknowledge that the U.S. economy was more vibrant during his tenure as president. But, what else did he do that makes Black people eat out of his hand?

    Please, remind me.............

    January 15, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. Charles in Salt Lake City, UT

    You know, I really appreciate the comments on this (huge) blog, and believe it or not I've actually read them all. Most of the comments are excellent and thought provoking.

    But quite a few people are missing the actual point.

    The big issue isn't the proportion or value of what Dr. King did vs what President Johnson did. It's the fact that Hilalry Clinton brought the entire subject up in order to try to counter the impact of Senator Obama's remarks. She was trying to compensate for the fact that the Civil Rights Movement didn't - simply couldn't - affect her or her potential future in the same way it would have for a promising person of color like Obama, so she felt the need to assert the idea that it took "a President" to make things happen, while a "dreamer" by himself could not.

    The implication at the time was perfectly clear: Using the King Johnson as an analogy, SHE was the "President" who could make things happen, while Obama was the "dreamer" who was just talk. She was putting him down, but clumsily managed to denigrate the contribution of Dr. King while doing so.

    Those black leaders (not Obama's campaign) who took her to task for this were perfectly justified. Her (likely calculated) response was to blame Obama's campaign for "playing the race card" and thus hope to bolster Democratic support for herself in the upcoming South Carolina primary. To accomplish this she could count on the further denigrating comments of black (I won't capitalize the word in this context) sellouts to their own people like Ben Johnson and Charlie Rangel.

    Bottom line is basically this: The Clintons have never done a THING for the Black Community that the Black Community didn't already do better for themselves! The Black Community does not need "good white masters" (who expect to be praised and rewarded) to "do" for them anymore. That's what Obama's message of hope and pride is all about — not just for Blacks, but for everyone.

    People, please remember this as you go to the polls.

    – From a white, registered Republican (in Utah, for crying out loud!) who would happily cast his vote for Senator Obama.

    January 15, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  21. Nita

    Enough is enough. We have all made mistakes, said wrong things. What is the intent of all the other players weighing in rather than just let the candidates deal with it? Posturing, currying favor. Let's deal with some real issues like the housing and mortgage industries, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, our service men and women who are daily laying their lives on the line for us...

    January 15, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  22. TJ

    I'm not a Hillary supporter at all. I'm for John Edwards. But I do want to say that to infer in any way that what Mrs Clinton said was racist is just idiotic. She was making a plain and simple statement of fact. LBJ signed the legislation into law. It took a president to do this. Dr. King couldn't do this. He did what was necessary to get the legislation passed and in front of a sympathetic president who then signed it.

    The key mistake (if you want to call it that) in Mrs. Clinton's statement is that she didn't clearly state that it took a President that would actually sign the legislation. I don't think she was so much drawing a distinction between herself and Sen. Obama with that statement as she was drawing a distinction between herself and the republicans. I would bet that if GWB was president at the time, he would have at least questioned it. or better yet, he'd have signed it but then made a signing statement that it didn't apply to the executive branch.

    Why don't we talk about something more prevalent. Like...

    Why is it that the main stream media won't give John Edwards any coverage. I'll tell you why. Its Because if elected, John Edwards would break up the media conglomerations, enforce the Sherman Anti Trust laws, and take power away from corporations and give it back to regular people.

    John Edwards is Kusinich with a chance! Heck, he's only 6 delegates behind the other two.

    January 15, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  23. Tyrese Gail Williams

    Who cares what an old Uncle Tom who genuflects at the altar of the Clinton's thinks?
    Rangel is all about Rangel and cares nothing for Black folks.

    January 15, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  24. TJ

    He Wanted to reinstate the draft so that rich republican kids would have to go too. If that were indeed the case, this war would be over two years ago. The draft was a major reason why support for the anti war movement during Viet Nam had any traction at all.

    January 15, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. l3wilso, Texas

    W.O Webb,
    I responded to your questions below.
    1.)Get a job! Then there will be no problems of unemployment or
    underemployment in the African American community.
    2.)Need Capital….See # 1
    3.)Education is the responsibility of the parents, not government. All schools are
    open to the African American community.
    4.)Say NO to Drugs!!!!!! Say YES to Education!!!!!!
    5.)Learn how to get along with each other. Stop the black on black violence, then
    shucking and jiving will not mean anything to you.
    6.)See # 3. Go to College, work in Corporate America, sign up for the health
    benefits the job offers.
    7.)Quit holding your hand out for free stuff. Get it like everyone else….
    WORK FOR IT!!!!

    Let me know if this helps.

    January 15, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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