February 27th, 2008
09:08 AM ET
7 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. Jake

    God I love Hillary Clinton.

    She really is outstanding in every way.

    She is the fighter that we need as our President. That is so apparent to me.

    I totally believe and trust this woman that she will fight for ME. She will get me healthcare and bring jobs and I know she knows what to DO.

    She is the fighter that the democrats need.

    Unity is nice, but I don't really care about unifying with the republicans. Since when did they care about the democrats?

    and change? Well – she's right – a woman president would be a change. My wife tells me that every day.

    Listen anyone is change after bush.

    Yup. She's "The One" (as oprah says) – she's who I'm voting for next Tues in Texas.

    February 27, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  2. Atl Republican

    I see all these comments from Americans that feel they have the answers. Well let me bust your bubble, you don't! I don't see your name on the ballet. What are you doing for your country? Quite slamming Clinton, stop baggering Obama, quit blamming everything on one party or the other. This is America, this is our country, did you forget? If you don't like it, leave. There is NO one stopping you. Every comment I have read is either made by someone who doesn't know the truth, someone that is not up to date on currant events or is willing to "vote"(which they've never done before) for whom ever they're told to. You don't vote for someone or not vote for someone because they are black or because they are a woman. People, look at the facts! Yes, the facts require a little experience and a plan. A plan requires a how to, a start date and a finish date and a dollar amount as well as where those dollars are going to come from. Anything other than that is just pure BS. So far McCain and Clinton are the only candidates that have stated a true plan. Obama has yet to tell us where the money is going to come from to back his fairy tale dreams. His campaigns words by the way!

    February 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  3. Andrea

    Obama supporters: you are complete morons. You follow your candidate so blindly! You are going to be backing away from him so soon when you see his real intentions and record. Please, I beg you to do your research. The press has pitted you against Hillary and you so willingly follow. Please, this is more than some Nintendo game, this is the presidency! Quit acting like adolescent fools!

    February 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  4. Frank

    It was like a dentist pulling teeth, but I think Obama more or less finally decided he had to reject Farrakhan. As someone who supports Obama this whole exchange was a low point in the debate for me.

    February 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  5. Wise woman

    Hillary showed she's the one with the balls tonight. You Obama supporters crack me up. He may not win in the general election no matter how much you dream and hope. I know plenty of Hillary supporters that will go to McCain or Nader but never Obama.

    February 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  6. Cathy

    Actually, denounce and reject are synonyms in my thesaurus.

    February 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  7. tom

    cnn..i guess supports clinton..and i guess clinton has real problems understanding things..since i guess clinton did not understand denounce as saying i reject..clinton is the same old same old..weather in pants or a skirt..i really think obama would have no problem beating mccain..i am a registered republican..have not voted since reagan..but..i will be voting for obama..in 2008..he has showed tonight..the calm..common sense..straight forward responses..that we are looking for to be president..clinton i felt just used the same old politics of avoiding the answer..i do not believe she will release her tax returns..i do not believe she will release the transcripts of when bill was in office..clinton will say anything or do anything to be president..i think it is that simple..

    February 27, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  8. Alice Rea

    The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun Times are the two papers discussing the support Farrakh he has for Barack Obama

    A search for Louis Farrakhan will also provide infomation pertaining to the many other radical groups connected with him

    February 27, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  9. didi

    lol...lol... go obama!

    February 27, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  10. Michael

    What do you think of your guy when he flip-flops on positions? Oh, you just look the other way, yeah, that's right. I think that you and the rest of the sheep following Obama will be held responsible for stealing this election from the people. What bias! What about his flip flopping on the 527 commercial? What about his deliberately proven false mailers that he will not pull? What about his plagiarism from not only Patrick, but also Bill Clinton, John Edwards and others? What about his backwards talk of fresh Washington politics with new players and then accepting and promoting endorsements with the old politicians such as Kennedy, Kerry and Dobbs? These points should be addressed by you and all of the media instead of your constant Hillary-bashing that you are so intent on doing.

    February 27, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  11. JIMMY

    The Debates have been the most watched on TV and I think both debates were a "draw". MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT IS CLEAR THAT
    BOTH HILLARY AND OBAMA ARE ELECTABLE AND IF HILLARY OR
    OBAMA WERE ELECTED , IT WOULD REALLY MAKE HISTORY.
    YET, FAR, FAR BETTER IT WOULD BE IF THEY WOULD TEAM UP
    AS PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT.: A CLINTON-OBAMA OR OBAMA-CLINTON TICKET IF ONE OR THE OTHER WOULD FORGET
    THEIR EGOS AND THE NOMINEE ASKS THE LOSER TO BE HIS/HER RUNNING MATE FOR VP.. IT WOULD BE BY FAR THE MOST HISTORIC POLITICAL EVEN IN AMERICAN POLITIS AND HISTORY. NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT THE PAIRING WOULD BE UNBEATABLE BY ANY REPUBLICAN PAIRING.

    February 27, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  12. David S

    Denounce is much harsher than reject. Does anybody know the meaning of words anymore, even I know that! for those who don't there is this thing called a dictionary.......Geez

    February 27, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  13. Anonymous

    A denunciation is in fact a rejection. Sen. Clinton attempted to spit hairs on this point. However, Sen. Obama did not fall for her ploy. I commend him for being presidential and correct on this point, for this was an attempt to smear Sen. Obama with the brush of racism and anti-Semitism. Way to go Sen. Obama!

    February 27, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  14. Nick

    Denounce can also be: "to announce formally the termination of (as a treaty")

    Reject can be "to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use." Simply rejection.

    Barack eventually stop playing the semantics game and said "But if the word 'reject' Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word 'denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point,... "

    Barack is clever with words and determined that the word reject is considered a stronger word than denounced according to Hillary Clinton. and he used it.
    Barack never rejected the support of Louis Farrakan. That's interesting. Extremely clever

    February 27, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  15. Terry Head, Texas

    A denunciation is in fact a rejection. Sen. Clinton attempted to spit hairs on this point. However, Sen. Obama did not fall for her ploy. I commend him for being presidential and correct on this point, for this was an attempt to smear Sen. Obama with the brush of racism and anti-Semitism. Way to go Sen. Obama!

    February 27, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  16. tmitche

    Are you kidding me CNN? Tim Russert ask the question, not HRC. The media has been the biggest disappointment in this campaign. I know nothing about Barack Obama except that he is a charismatic man. HRC answers all the questions at the debat and this is the headline you come with. This is really sad for the American people who cannot make an informed decision because of the biased media.

    February 27, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  17. Kevin in OK

    It's very obvious that Barack Obama is not ready to be president. He's more interested in being president to boost his ego. It's very clear that Hillary Clinton has the solutions, the answers, and the ability to be our next president. She clearly has the best interests of America in her heart, and she will make an excellent president.

    Hillary Clinton '08 and beyond!

    February 27, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  18. tmitche

    Are you kidding me CNN? Tim Russert asked the question, not HRC. The media has been the biggest disappointment in this campaign. I know nothing about Barack Obama except that he is a charismatic man. HRC answers all the questions at the debate and this is the headline you come with. This is really sad for the American people who cannot make an informed decision because of the biased media.

    February 27, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  19. Abe - Ohio

    Hillary's reference to last Sat night's SNL skit was spot on and I applaud her for calling a spade a spade. The point was not that she is given the first question, the point is every time there is a "tough" question, it goes to her first and allows Obama more time to think about what he wants to say and then he either gets to say he agrees with Hillary's response and try's to make it his own, or allows him the opportunity to just say I agree, then move on to another point he wants to make – clearly he has been given the advantage more often than not in terms of the way he is treated.

    February 27, 2008 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  20. Evey

    You Obama supporters need to wake up! Get a clue! You aren't voting for American Idol you know. Hillary has a better plan for college students, universal health care and the economy. Maybe it doesn't concern the freshman in college right now, but you will be whistling a different tune in a year from now.

    February 27, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  21. Jay

    Dear Mrs. Clinton,
    I have great respect for you. It is time for us democrats to unite. The time to rally behind our more electable candidate is NOW. Let's leave Mccain and his conservatives fight.

    February 27, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  22. Jack

    Obama tacitly gave a "wink-wink nudge nudge" to Farrakhan. Obama needs to REJECT Farrakhan. The fact that he doesn't shows that he is willing to compromise and tolerate Farrakhan. He should not tolerate Farrakhan. He should, I repeat, completely and utterly REJECT Farrakhan.

    February 27, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  23. marie

    tonight's debate reiterated a desperate mrs. clinton. much of her remarks and responses didn't make sense or are very hesitant. she often came across desperate and self-contradictory, going around the bush with a few questions (i.e. the tax return question). plus, her obama-bashing attempts just backfired. sometimes, her being a "fighter" goes a little too far, almost arrogant.

    obama presented himself very well tonight. he was far more comfortable than he seemed in texas – showing that he is not as unqualified and unready as clinton claims. his consistently calm manner is a good sign of commander-in-chief qualities.

    the moderators were pretty tough on the candidates (and rightly so) but i don't think clinton handled the challenges well. she was overly defensive and sensitive, taking things too personally.

    lastly, "rejecting" support is a bit of an awkward concept... clinton shouldn't have dwelt too long on it...

    February 27, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  24. Independent minded

    We know that the "Golden Child" Obama never does any wrong. The news media failed us when they didn't ask more questions from Bush in leading upto the Iraq War. The news media is now failing the American people again by not asking the tough questions about Barack. I can't believe the one-sided news media did not learn from this dreadful Iraq war to be more objective and do their jobs. Asking the tough questions is a good thing for the country. I think they need to ask the tough questions about every major issue facing this country. what ever happened about fair and balanced reporting?

    February 27, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  25. Andrea

    Obama is the media darling. How dare one of his supporters actually complain about CNN actually covering something newsworthy for once! Grow a pair! If he is strong enough to be president, he is strong enough to take some challenging criticism.

    February 27, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42