February 27th, 2008
09:08 AM ET
6 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. M Cohen

    As a Jewish American, Obama wasn't quick enough to denounce or reject Farrakhan or even worse, his own Minister Wright. If my rabbi made racist comments, I would walk out of my synagogue and find myself a new one. I find this very troubling.

    February 26, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  2. Steven

    Obama's answer just like through out the debate was calm and thoughtful. He did very well!

    February 26, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  3. botchki

    Maybe Clinton and the media should check the definitions of the words "denounce and reject." Denounce is a much stronger word. Get real people

    February 26, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  4. ldfan

    "Minister" is the wrong way to describe Farakkhan...

    February 26, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  5. Karen LV

    Hillary: "We cannot let anyone in any way say these things because of the implications that they have, which can be so far reaching.”

    So I guess if you become president we can kiss goodbye our right to free speech! We don't have to agree with all statements by all people but they do have the freedom to say what they want. I would rather have someone spewing their gutter thoughts so I know exactly where they stand. The dangerous ones hide behind politacal correctness while doing their damage with subtle actions.

    You are not our mother Hillary. You cannot tell us how to speak!

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  6. Lorri

    I am saddened by the media's relentless hype of Senator Obama and even after a strong debate, Senator Clinton has once again been put in the position of not only winning a debate, getting her points across but again fight for equal and fair reporting on what she has said and hopes to accomplish as our President.
    Her speech the other day at a rally was so dead on regarding the impossible dream that the Obama camp and the media has been relentlessly pushing down the throats of the American people. Its' time to wake up America or we'll have 4 more years of inept, unexperienced, and not to mention a naive President, who is a good man, but actually believes he will perform miracles. We have a long road ahead of us and I hope Texas and Ohio take notice and vote for Senator Clinton.

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  7. Right on Day1

    That title is a complete mischaracterization.

    It's very divisive & unnecessary.

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  8. mateen

    ridiculous, hillary jumping in and trying to one up barak. what else can he say to make it clear, denounce is a stronger word than reject. he made his stance very clear than he denounces farakahans support but hillary tried to one up him, get in the last work. very peevish and childish if you ask me. barak handled the situation very well by denouncing and rejecting if you will.

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  9. Bao

    Frankly speaking, I think hillary is taking more clear positions than Obama. I gradually began to understand why Obama was ranked the most liberal senator, even though he argued for himself in this debate. Still, no matter what the rule is, he IS liberal.

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  10. Francisco

    Seems as if Obama listens to Clinton... I think she is the best man for the job!

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  11. Rozanne

    If I were Obama I would have said exactly what he stated about Minister Louis Farrakhan and added that as far as I know he is still an American and is subject to support or oppose anyone he wants to. Afterall, it was Obama's Minister, Jeremiah Wright who made comments about Farrakhan going to Libiya not Obama. I'm sure there are many people who don't agree with everything their Pastor say and do.

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  12. Saad

    Hah, Clinton tried hard to make an issue out of this. But Obama gracefully defused it. Well played Barack!

    As if he has any control over what the gunk under his shoe has to say... What a non-issue anyway.

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  13. Eli

    Clinton really made herself look bad in this debate.. Between her comments that "we should ask if Barack is comfortable and needs another pillow", and her flub answer to a question about Russia in which she couldn't say who the new President of Russia is, to this sniping about what the meaning of the word "denouce" is.. It reminds me of Bill Clinton's "depends on the meaning of what the word is, is...", She made herself look like a candidate on the attack..

    In stark contrast was a calm, cool, and Presidential acting Barack Obama. He was in command of the facts, seemed in control at all times, and made substantial points on the issues that are important to Ohio and America.

    I hope that people think about the choice in this election in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont. The choice between the same old divisive do-anything-to-win politics, or the politics of lifting America up.

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  14. the new green

    The question that prompted this whole rediculousness was idiotic to begin with. The moderator was obviously being provacative and after Barack had clearly and articulately put the subject to rest Tim R. kept pushing it. Then after saying he Denounced Farrakhan, Clinton jumped in for what she clearly thought was a ripe moment for attack. Saying that "rejecting" Farrakhan would somehow be stronger than "denouncing" him. She was trying to paint Barack as an anti-semite and herself as the champion of Isreal. She is the most opportunistic power hungry human being I have ever witnessed. I came into this whole process thinking, "Edwards, Obama, Clinton", any of the 3 would be great for our country. I no longer feel this way about Hillary. I do miss Edwards though.

    Boo to Hillary for trying to create an issue!

    Kudos to Barack for continuing to take the high road.

    GOBAMA!

    February 26, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  15. MG

    waffle, waffle, waffle! Russert specifically asked Obama if he would REJECT Farrakhan's praise, why didn't Obama just say YES then, and be done with it? Did you see how he sweated and waffled? Hillary saw a giant opportunity, and rightfully went for it. Obama was clearly nervous, and stuttered , and offered no explanation why the pastor of his chuch, jeremiah wright, whose quote Obama used as a title for his book, has such a close relationship with Farrakhan. I ask you Americans, how can you be OK with this? Has Obama hynotized you to the point that you don't see reason? Farrakhan leads one of the most vile and hateful organizations around. Please protect this country from Obama. it is not too late!

    February 26, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  16. Such Sweet Thunder

    What is going on at CNN? Didn't he say he denounced it? What has happened to your news site? When did it go hate plus?

    February 26, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  17. Karl

    Shrillary probably thought she scored some points, but the truth is she looked more like Ann Coulter than herself. Obama looked cool and calm, and, I daresay, presidential as he deftly absorbed Hillary's aggressiveness and turned it away, like a kung fu master. Just the way I would want my President to act in a high level negotiation with some irrational nut on on the other side of the table. Very nice, Barack. Thanks, Hillary, for providing the opportunity to Barak.

    February 26, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  18. ben

    How many you are old enough to remember when the communist party
    endorsed Franklin Roosevelt? I remember his speach. He said he did not ask for this endorsement(he really didn't) but Americans can vote
    any way they please.
    Why do politicians have to attack oponents with such ridiculous trivial
    nonsense.

    February 26, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  19. Luke

    Hillary Clinton I do believe that you pulled this thing off.......Bravo

    February 26, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  20. slapstick, FLORIDA

    This just shows how Obama is able to reach people that other leaders of our country have failed to reach out to. We cannot feel that our country is so great that we don't have to communicate with others. What a myth if anyone believes that and I was born and raised here and don't give the patriotic bull.

    February 26, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  21. Grace

    He clearly denounced and rejected Farrachan.

    February 26, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  22. Not another Husein

    COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?????????????????

    February 26, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  23. Felisha

    I am disappointed at the point that Senator Clinton is trying to make. From a mixed white and black american, let me say this: When you Hillary, start to refuse votes from the KKK, Anti-Jews and any racist community, then you can have this conversation. Did I correctly hear that your family or in-law called out the N WORD numerous times in a racist manner, which your husband pardoned? Are you refusing the vote from that family member?

    February 26, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  24. d.a.

    obama, just one more topic, you had to be schooled on by Hillary!

    February 26, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  25. Janet

    I think its great that Obama might be held accountable for some of his actions. Its about time that Obama was asked some tough questions

    February 26, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
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