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. Mike

    I thought this was funny. Was it just me or did it seem like Clinton was just attacking Obama at whatever chance she could get? Did anyone else notice that the question didn't involve her in anyway?

    February 27, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  2. Barbara Shafer

    If I had to choose someone to represent me in an negotiation, it would
    be Senator Obama, because he is composed under pressure and expresses himself in a calm and rational way. This is a winning combination.

    February 27, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  3. Murry

    Hillary's hostile approach shows why she makes enemies whereever she goes. Obama already said he did not seek and does not want Farrakhan's support.

    February 27, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  4. Terry Head, Texas

    Sen. Obama is right. On the point of the Iraq war, he said that it is not an issue of who got the bus out of the ditch, but an issue of who drove the bus in the ditch in the first place. Way to go Sen. Obama!

    February 27, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  5. Chris -- Cleveland

    She looked petty trying to "nail" him on that when his answer was completely clear. She had no reason to even offer a counterpoint.

    Esp from someone who said she "regretted" if her husband racially offended anyone with his campaign comments in South Carolina. That's a real great non-apology, there.

    February 27, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  6. California

    Obama should have publically rejected Farrakan's endorsement. What Hillary was trying to explain is that even if there is a risk to your political career, you should never take the endorsement of someone who is dangerous to society. Likewise, had David Duke endorsed Hillary, she should reject him. There is no room in this country for those who spew hatred and calling someone out for their beliefs. I like to think we have made some progress. Obama still has a relationship with the Rev. Wright who also went to Libya with Farrakan to visit Kadafi. If you want to be president, you have to use good judgement in who you are closely affiliated with. You have to be president for all people.

    February 27, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  7. Dalmo

    Hello USA!!!!

    I did watch the debate: Obama won Hillary.
    Oh my God! Who is realy Hillary?
    Hillary attacked Obama all time during the week and when debated with him front cameras she would seem an angel.

    hugs from Brazil

    February 27, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  8. issie

    Hillary kept stating she is a fighter. It is ok to be a fighter, but make sound judgement while you are fighting. Hillary came out looking for a fight and that is why it is important that Obama get this nomination to because with Hillary, there is not much going to be accomplished if she presents/gets hot in situations, this is not going to help the American people. I commend her for her experience, but experience alone is not going to get the job done as President if you can't unit both parties and the Amerian people. She definitely has a way with words and with her wordiness it will be politics as usual. She will thrill on the power and not make sound decisions. She is trickery.

    February 27, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  9. JFoster

    Y'know... from a linguistic standpoint "denouncing" is in this case a more accurate term the "rejecting". But overall it was the lowest part of a long list of lowbrow attempted "gotcha" moments.

    February 27, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  10. Alice Rea

    I have been praying that we are able to investigate ALL candidates so we know who would be our President.

    I thank God for his addressing this issue.

    We really need to see all information pertaining to any radical group related in any way to one of our candidates.

    To NOT investigate everything about candidates would be a big mistake for the Ameican people.

    February 27, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  11. Hussein Shiek

    Obama's refusal to reject the endorsement was quite telling. Why would he hesitate?

    February 27, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  12. Jay

    I think questions like this stray from the issues and serve no purpose. Farrakhan is insignificant and bring him up at such an important date is un-called for. I was hoping the candidates can touch on other subjects like Darfur, the Beijing Olympics, and the US missile defense system.

    February 27, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  13. Donah LPdGC

    It does seem to me that America does not have to go to the polls for selecting a New # 44 or 45 or whatever number President. We already have 98.99% of total America as sitting Presidents..... We don't need a seperate White House.... it's Hillary's House anyway... so let her go back and clear out Bush's Trash. And let Hillary be the New Commander in Chief (she's endorsed by our most senior Generals anyway).... Now who is anyone to argue with the America's Defending Generals.... I haven't heard Colin Powel endorsing NO'BROMA and that for me is a good sign ... Donah////

    February 27, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  14. Dan

    Two points:
    1) Hillary said "We cannot let anyone in any way say these things...." Whether you agree or disagree with any ignorant comments or opinions, you must admit that we a 1st Amendment right to say whatever we want. Hillary's statement seems to forget that.
    2) Hillary said (paraphrasing here) that because she'd be a woman president there'd be a "sea change" and a different philosophical approach....
    If Barack had said the same thing about being a black president he would have been blasted for playing the race card. Why is it okay to throw her gender around for special consideration and rally other women to her cause, but he has to potentially alienate a host of black voters by "rejecting" their religious leader when he never even asked for the endorsement?

    February 27, 2008 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  15. violet

    Feeling touchy, Obamamites? Just wait.

    This issue is going to get much worse during the fight with McCain.

    February 27, 2008 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  16. Barbara-California

    If anyone here thinks that Barack Obama is going to "buy into Hillarys agenda" you had better think twice; he may agree with her regarding Farrakhan, but he will not risk censure by saying anything against that man; he may after he gets the nomination, but I doubt it.

    He is first committed to guide the government and represent all peoples in the United States; that does not mean he agrees with all of them and how they feel. It simply means that he knows what the job of being President entails.

    He is by far the best candidate for the office.

    February 27, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  17. ted


    1: to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil
    This is the definition in webster.

    February 27, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  18. mike

    Clinton fatigue will soon be remedied.

    February 27, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  19. Richard from Detroit and Dearborn

    That was Bill Cunningham Rozanne.It was on CNN,FOX,CBS,NBC all day today,don,t you have a TV at your house.Farrakhan is small potatoes concerning Obama,Whats Up!!!! with Obama,s connection with Mr Odinga and with Mr Odinga,s connection with ,{ guess who},should be specifically talked about and introduced to the public so everybody can get a better picture on WHO this man really is.

    February 27, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  20. chester

    that was a gottcha question to make barack into the black candidate...shame on cnn for not posing the same racial questions that plague America to hHillary. The should have asked her what she thought about the lynching remarks to baracks wife in do fairness. Or maybe white guilt did not want to see that answered

    February 27, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  21. Raul of Texas

    Getting Obama to reject Farrakan's brand of anti-semitism is like pulling teeth out of a tiger. Why was it so dificult to have him say that he rejects Farrakan's support, which is what he should have done, instead of trying to be cute by saying things like: "I can't tell him not to say that I'm a good guy..." Okay, the guy who wants to change Washington by saying no to special interests needs special prodding to reject a character like Farrakan? Are you sure our hopes are not misplaced in this election?

    February 27, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  22. Texasboo

    Denouncement is rejection. WOW, another desperate move from an increasingly unpresidential candidate.

    Once again, grasping at straws. Way to go Sen. Obama! You are looking very presidential every days with not addressing folishness and pettiness. Professionalism and good demeanor are great ways to show the world that you are levelheaded. No insignifacant whining and compaling about things that don't matter.


    February 27, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  23. LT

    First of all, Farrakan does not represent black people, so it is rediculous to suggest that Barack was "afraid of alienating black people". Secondly, last time I checked, this was still the United States of America. Farrakan has the right to support whom ever he wishes to and so do we all. Barack would be unwise to react to this either way. The key here is that Farrakhan did not offer to provide security to Barack from the nation of islam, that I know of, nor did he make any other offering, so what is there to reject? The man has a right to support whom ever he wishes! Barack handled this very well.

    February 27, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  24. Brandi

    Semantics....she came across as nitpicky and ridiculous. I'm sick to death of Hiliary's changing personality and whining about how unfair the media and everyone is being to her. Suck it up. She said she wanted to have a SERIOUS debate about the issues, but she's the first person to start complaining about who gets a question asked first. She's losing this election on her own.

    Obama '08

    February 27, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  25. Helen Strickland

    I really do not think Sen. Obama was sincere in his rejection of Minister Farrakhan's statements. He seemed very uncomfortable when he was pressed to do so. Does this raise a red flag to his relations to Mr. Farrakhan's principles?

    February 27, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
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