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. Lance Newell

    How bout we let the jews be the jews and get the heck out of our politics.Thats what this is really about,they want to and have controlled our media and politics long enough.
    Look carefully at who is the majority owner of print media in the US and you will see I am correct.
    Let the Jewish people take care of there country,they are the strongest country militarily in the middle east.
    Let us take care of the US.
    And no,I do not car a bit about Farrakhans beliefs,or his religion.

    February 27, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  2. Andrew

    Hey CNN, I don't get your headline. You make it seem as if Obama said positive things about Farrakhan. I, for one, did not see the debate, so your headline was all I had to go on before I read the article. Seems to me you should be more responsible in your choice of words.

    February 27, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  3. Dennis

    Hillary came out of this looking more experienced. But at this point it's easy to see why this is so close. Either one will do a Great job. Now everyone get control of yourself and quit acting like your voting for American Idol.

    February 27, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  4. Matt

    Getting prettaaayyy pretttayyyy prettayyy deperate Senator Pantsuit

    February 27, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  5. LT

    Also, please stop thinking that Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton represent black people. Most black people I know couldn't care less about what Farrakan, Jackson, or Sharpton have to say.

    February 27, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  6. Adran

    Denounce and reject. Yes.

    But it was his moment of pause that created this headline in the first place.

    February 27, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  7. Barbara

    I was unable to see the debate today But from what I just read, after a lot of double talk, Obama finally got around to an answer. He denounced and rejected the endorsement.

    February 27, 2008 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  8. Kenny

    I agree with Brad on this one. Senator Obama's response was spot on.Those of us that actually watched the debate know that this point in the debate made Senator Clinton look foolish, and the crowd actually chuckled with Obama following his response. He obviously didn't agree with Farrakhan, and Clinton interjected (when she was not asked a question) and unnecessarily quibbled about semantics. This kind of headline shows perhaps a desperation on the attempt of the editor to make it seem like Clinton scored points with this asinine attempt to call out Obama, but clearly this was not the case.

    February 27, 2008 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  9. Ingrid

    Exactly what debate were you watching tonight? Obviously, not the one on MSNBC. CNN-give it up, the ship is sinking. Senator Obama is clearly the winner of this debate and the Democratic nomination-the American people are screaming at the top of their lungs already!

    February 27, 2008 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  10. Mario

    This is the best CNN can come up with in the whole debate? It should be mentioned Ann Coulter supports and encouraged support for Clinton, and Couldter has said some pretty awful things. Come on CNN, honestly where did the journalism go? CNN has turned into Fox Noise

    February 27, 2008 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. Adam, Los Angeles

    Forget about the "kitchen sink strategy".... Hillary starting to dig up the plumbing!!!!

    February 27, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |

    Sunday Feb, 24, 2008 the University of Illinois held a memorial service for the students killed last week during a college shooting spree. I ask you was the Senator from Illinois present? Answer is NO, he was too busy trying to back up his mis-representaions of fliers he sent out! What a guy...vote Hillary08

    February 27, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  13. TEH

    The nation of Islam has their own way in their belief and much has nothing to do with the true practice of Islam.

    We know that they were blamed for the death of Malcom X when he discovered the real Ismal after his Mecca and Egypt trip and came back saying that white people are not evil.

    Please don't mix the cards and get the 1.5 billion muslims accused of antisemitism

    February 27, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  14. Dan

    The Catholic Church has a long history of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. If the Pope "made positive statements" about a candidate, would there be this demand for "rejection"?

    February 27, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  15. shane

    Hillary is crazy look at the words definiitions Obama was right to choose the word he choose! Hillary clearly lost the debate with stupidity like this word games and SNL referances she looked like a lossing contestent on Donald Trumps "The Apprentice" Hillary your fired. Obama looked like a President.... Obama your Hired ! ! ! !

    Definition: denounce

    1. criticize something publicly: to criticize or condemn something publicly and harshly

    2. charge somebody with wrongdoing: to accuse somebody publicly of something such as disloyalty, or inform against somebody

    3. to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil

    Definition: reject

    1. not accept something: to refuse to accept, agree to, believe in, or make use of something, e.g. because it is not good enough or not the right thing

    2. turn somebody down: to decide not to give somebody something asked or applied for such as a job or membership of an organization

    3. be unkind to somebody: to behave in an unkind and unfriendly way toward somebody who expects or has a right to expect love, kindness, and friendship

    Obamas word was more than Appropriate. CNN please make this clear to the world!

    February 27, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  16. SAM

    I think President Obama should be applauded for his response on this issue. Although, like he said.. he cannot stop someone from thinking he's a good guy.. which he is by the way, he will for the general good reject and denounce a figure like Farrakhan.

    February 27, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  17. RG

    This is one of the most ridculous primaries one has seen. In the 2000 and '04, George W was annointed by the media. And look what we wound up with.

    The media is again putting Obama on a pedestal and basically he walks on water and can do no wrong.

    I really don't care if either are elected president -but the primaries and the rigors of an American election means that the candidates are completely vetted out. Hillary Clinton seems to be always getting a raw deal and poor old Obama is being treated with kid gloves!!

    Media! Where is your sense of balance and fair play?

    February 27, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  18. Darth Vadik, CA

    As an Obama supporter I am ready for another 8 months of wacos trying to tie Obama to Louis Farrakhan.

    Another 8 months of wacos trying to say Obama is a muslim, which for the love of God I don't know why being a muslim is bad to begin with. We have christian wacos who blow up buildings, set their compunds on fire killing everybody, and women cutting off their babies arms and legs with christian hymns blazing in the background, here in the free US of A.

    It is not religions that are bad, it is some people within those religions who give a black eye to the rest.

    So why somebodies religion is at question, whether it be Obama, or Romney, or Huckabee, I trully don't know.

    It is not one's religion that worries me, it is their character.

    February 27, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  19. Antonio

    I've been watching the debates and the democratic race for Presidential nomination very closely. I believe Sen. Obama would be a President that would unite citizens from every background. He has said on several occasions that he running to be a President for all citezens, Not just African-American. We need to focus on the issues that Americans hold at the heart of their concerns instead of trying tear a person down with politcal and media ploys. If Sen. Obama is not elected President from the three canidates we have lefg to choose from, we will make the huges mistake in modern history.

    February 27, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  20. Ingrid

    CNN-We are all AMERICANS, including Louis Farrakhan, and we all have a right to the freedom of speech. PLEASE, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Enough already, this debate is suppose to be about the issues, right? Your candidate (clinton) got blasted on NAFTA, which is one the MAIN issues. Why is your headline not related to that???? What about her vote for the war that she wants to "take back"... Let's get real CNN.

    February 27, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  21. Electress

    Again Hillary wins. Did you hear Obama tonight? For the first time
    he said it is going to take more than HOPE! I see after he's on
    the big wave, it's not about hope people!

    Hillary handled the Putin question with detailed accuracy (other than
    properly pronouncing his name), and I just wish they would have
    let her responded to the Kosovo question.

    I am sick and tired of the male anchors, who refer to this debate
    by comparing it to a field goal, football, reeling in the big marlin,
    the sinking boat, & boxing gloves. You think they will ever use terms
    like, simmer, grill, steam, thicken, stir, roast, glaze, or stir?

    February 27, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  22. tom

    Tim do you denounce your grandparents and their parents who probable owned slaves? may have been kkk members or friends with them? did you reject all the opportunity's that are afforded to you because your white? lets knock it off already. between that and Clinton's comments get serious please

    February 27, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  23. khalill muhammad

    Why is Hillary so concerned about The Honorable Minister Farrakan.He has the right to support who ever he wants and that is his perogative

    February 27, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  24. Theresa, Mississippi

    They just put this on here cause they've caught so much flack about SNL pointing out their cheerleading of Obama, which hasn't stopped, they're just throwing a bone to try to keep viewers. I get so sick of the bias toward Obama, by CNN and MSNBC that I have been reduced to changing over to Fox for a couple of minutes because they don't even hate Hillary as much as this crowd. Then I have to shower. I like Obama, but the bias at CNN and MSNBC would have to be breaking some kind of rule, if they were real news instead of just political entertainment.

    February 27, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  25. Barrington of Cambridge

    Hillary Clinton is DONE! One question though, who was advising her? She was sour, pathetic, pushy and just plain unlikeable.

    February 27, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
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