February 27th, 2008
09:08 AM ET
10 years ago

Clinton hits Obama over Farrakhan

 Clinton criticized Obama for not outright rejecting Farrakhan's support.

Clinton criticized Obama for not outright rejecting Farrakhan's support.

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton criticized Barack Obama at Tuesday night's debate for not directly rejecting the support of Louis Farrakhan.

“There's a difference between denouncing and rejecting," Clinton said. "And I think when it comes to this sort of, you know, inflammatory - I have no doubt that everything that Barack just said is absolutely sincere. But I just think, we've got to be even stronger. We cannot let anyone in any way say these things because of the implications that they have, which can be so far reaching.”

Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, recently made positive statements about Obama’s candidacy. The controversial leader has made many remarks that have been deemed anti-Semitic, including calling Judaism a "gutter religion." Asked tonight if he accepted Farrakhan's endorsement, Obama denounced those statements.

"I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought," Obama said. "And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan."

Pressed if he specifically rejected the endorsement, Obama said, "I can't say to somebody that he can't say that he thinks I'm a good guy" and that he didn't "see a difference between 'denouncing' and 'rejecting.'"

Responding later in the exchange directly to Clinton's comments, Obama said, "There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it."

"But if the word 'reject' Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word 'denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce," he added.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (1,043 Responses)
  1. Grace P., Orlando, Florida

    Senator Clinton! I am very disapointed! I lost my first vote on you but the second one will definitely go to Sen Obama. If with your 35 years + of political experience and a former husband Presisent (A good one after all!) you are still incapable of bringing Sen. Obama down, this guy should be one CLEAN candidate!!!

    With all your $millions and fame you cannot make your point with what you so disgraciously called an inexperienced OBAMA!!! Then, what is your 35 years of experience worth ??? It's worth JACK nothing to me or any decent americans!!! I won't loose my vote on the primaries! I will indeed vote for HOPE, UNITY, PEACE, RESPECT, CHANGE, LOYALTY, HONOR AND LOVE FOR THIS COUNTRY!
    Sen. OBAMA Deserves my vote and the vote of millions who have nothing else left than HOPE and hope alone!!!

    February 27, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  2. Alejandro

    I think that Obama has to REJECT the support of Louis Farrakhan.
    FARRAKHAN< the head of the NaTion of ISLAM recently made positive statements about OBAMA candidacy. We can't forget that Obama's mentor Jeremiah WRIGHT (muslim) has a narrow relationship with Farrakhan.
    The controversial leader is an anti-semitic...a racist.
    We hope Barack HUSSEIN Obama won't accept FARRAKHAN 'S
    support .

    February 27, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  3. M.Dowell

    I see the ticker is all about Clinton...she made a fool out of herself tonight. Its sad and actually an insult to all women that may run after her episode...geshhh

    February 27, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  4. Gobama

    How about Bill Clinton's Jesse Jackson race baiting in South Carolina?

    Did Hilary or the media people reject or denounce the obvious Bill bigotry? NO!

    If anything, Hilary Clinton apologize for or pretend that Bill Clinton was not doing what the vast majority of Southerners knew that Bill Clinton was doing with his "Jesse Jackson" comment.

    All this childish politicking by divisively and needlessly making a Jewish mountain out of a mole hill to stir up votes/money is disgusting.

    Americans did not enslave nor slaughter the Jews; so why all this constant fuss about the Jews in America?

    If anything, people like the Clintons and the media people should be more concerned about the people that Americans in fact wronged for hundreds of years!

    February 27, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  5. Carla

    Hey Don did you not listen he has denounced Louis Farrakhan in the past will continue to do so and does not want any support from him. Remember Denounce is a stronger work then reject (Thanks Molly). He has not done anything to give people the impression he supports Farrakhan's view points. This is a moot point in the debate move on.

    February 27, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  6. realchange

    Hillary Clinton is down for the mothers and the children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obama is a new face with a politician mind. That is why he does not care about the endorsements from the likes of jesse jackson and Al sharpton because he knows these people will ruin his chances of getting into office. This weekend was the Black State of the Union Address, Hosted by Tavis Smiley. Al Sharpton was there. Dick Gregory was there. These people were giving props to Obama. Obama didn't even show up. But guess who was there, HILLARY!!!!!!!! What Blacks fail to realize that Barack is a politician before he is African American, that's proven by him not showing up to Tavis Smiley event.

    February 27, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  7. dennis

    This is an awful headline for anyone listening to the debate clearly heard how senator Obama won this point handily. indeed, his last remark at the end maginalized the purported gravitas of Mrs. Clinton's remarks. Why then this headline which seems to imply Mrs. Clinton scored pints on this?

    February 27, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  8. BC in Ohio

    Denounce: to condemn or censure openly or publicly

    Reject: to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.

    Seems to me that "denounce" is a much stronger word than "reject"... Hillary needs to buy a dictionary.

    February 27, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  9. La Raza

    You can show 100 debates and Hillary will lose them all. She can't touch this man PERIOD!

    February 27, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  10. Michael

    This is a complete non-issue. Hillary tried to turn it into a knockdown but it ended up fizzling. Farrakhan is a nut and everyone, including Obama, knows it. There are far more substantive issues to focus on, like health care and the crummy economy, than what a third-rate preacher said about Obama.

    February 27, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  11. Matilsky NY

    This questioning was out of line. It was asked as if Sen Obama is guilty of something. Why hasn't Hillary reject Bill Clinton once he made that racist comment in SC? Bill continues to be a part of her campaign. .

    February 27, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  12. Matthew

    I'm sick of these debates. They keep squabbling over the same stuff. Barack seemed steady and unphased tonight. Hillary strangely looks invigorated by parsing relatively pointless details… she grates, he's great. I wonder how long she'll spend on THIS particular comment and how it doesn't cite her favorably…there's a reason.

    February 27, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  13. AZ

    I agree with the commenter above who noted that "dneounce" is actually a stronger word than to simply "reject". Clinton needs to get a dictionary or, more likely, stop trying to make political points without substance.

    Really, a Clinton shouldn't get into the position of trying to parse words like this, anyway. It recalls "what the meaning of is, is" kind of weasel-talk.

    Hillary thought she has a gotcha and all she got was herself.

    February 27, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  14. dee

    cnn is pathetic.making this a headline as if obama supports farakhan is shameful! barack's come back was great though.
    cnn never ceases to stoop to a new low.
    and yes,it was a question to try and bring barack down.
    cnn,anderson cooper and 360, all of you pander to the clinton's because you're afraid of them.
    what a bunch of wimps.
    not the most trusted name in the business,and does not keep them honest.

    February 27, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  15. Todd

    Obama's connection Frakhan is really scary! He stammered through his response to it. He should have immediately asked Farakhan to stop supporting him. And his OWN minister says Farakhan is a "great man??!!! Why didn't this come out before?!

    Oh tight becaus the media is officially suffering Obaphillic disorder.

    February 27, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  16. KL

    Who is Obama? Ask yourself. What's his accomplishment? Did you watch ABC Nightline yesterday? If you watched, you will do anything to stop Obama.

    Oh, my God. Wake up Obama-cult followers!

    Go anybody, but Obama!

    February 27, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  17. Texas4Obama

    He said DENOUNCE
    She said REJECT

    DENOUNCE is the correct word and the stronger word.

    February 27, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  18. Heartlight 3, Maui, HI

    My take on it is that Obama can denounce what Mr. Farrakhan has to say on race or anti-semitism, but in this country anyone has a right to state their opinion. I don't see that Senator Obama is obligated to reject Mr. Farrakhan's statement that it is his opinion that Obama would be good for the country. That borders on denying his entitlement to free speech.

    February 27, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  19. Angry

    I dare you to post this.
    What a stupid headline "Clinton hits Obama over Farrakhan".
    Did you watch the debates?
    Thank goodness, millions, except CNN reporters, saw something different.
    Grow up Cinton Network News!

    February 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  20. JOHN


    February 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  21. bond

    Straight from Websters:

    Reject- to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose

    Denounce- to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil

    Hillary is a moron.

    February 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  22. David

    Hillary is a very vile person. In 2000 or 2001, she rejected the anti-semites in Newyork. Duh... She was running in NewYork!!! God knows what she would have done if she was running somewhere in the South.
    Farakan or What ever his name is said Obama is a better candidate than Hillary or McCain and I really don't see any reason to reject anything there. He may be a hateful person but that is his God given right to like Obama. I think this was a non issue and shows how dangerous the Clintons are.

    February 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  23. NOBAMA

    I think Barack missed Hillary's point. It isn't merely Farrakhan's negative remarks about Jews/Israel. He should simply (should have done it when it happened btw) reject any support for that racist hate monger. Looks to me like Barack was afraid of ailienating black people and danced around the obvious. Hillary had it right!

    February 27, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  24. Scott Kampmeyer

    How can anyone HONESTLY think Hillary won??? Obama was the CLEAR winner tonight.... everybody saw:

    – Her 15 min health care filibuster to begin the debate

    – Her whining about having to answer questions first

    – Her bizarre SNL/pillow comments

    – Her totally being busted for her NAFTA support

    – Her awkward attempt at cornering Obama on the Farrakan thing, backfiring on her

    – Her totally being busted on hiding her taxes, and her previous itineraries. "I'm too busy to do it right now" she says....

    – Her totally being busted on promising new 200,000 new jobs for upstate NY, which has instead LOST 35,000 jobs

    February 27, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  25. Peter

    Obama did not seek his support but he did not reject his "endorsement" until tonight when hillary put him on the spot REJECT him – which he conceeded he did.

    February 27, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
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