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. AJ

    CNN you really need to take this off. You know Hillary did not slam Obama on this topic. Stop trying to incite something that really didn't happen. This is really the Clinton News Network.

    February 27, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  2. Paul from Kissimmee

    I didn't see the debate. By reading this article, it looked like Obama was trying not to make Farrakhan and his followers mad. I really want to see it for myself because I do know how the media can spin things.

    February 27, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |

    Hillary was right in pointing out the obvious of Barack Obama himself playing old politics. He doesnt want to offend the African Americans yet he still supports the pastor who gave Farhakan an award for greatness. If he really was truthful in seperating himself from all that anti-semitism he should seperate himself (like Hillary tried to point out ) not only from the subject but anyone who encourages that kind of behavior including from the pastor who gave an award to Farhakan for "greatness". Wake up people! We dont need no false control.

    February 27, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  4. Matt, Canoga Park

    Reject, Denounce. All the Clintons seem to do is split hairs on symantics. And they wonder why they come across as pompous and arrogant. It's because they are.

    People do like the person they can hang out with and inspires them not the person they hang out with that condiscends them all the time.

    Teach this fool a lesson Ohio and Texas.

    February 27, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  5. Giacomo

    Oooh – sorry, but it's an important debate question, here. Why is Obama having such a hard time relating to issues of race? He's stuck in a hard place here, his race and identity causing issues of conflict, and nobody thinks that's important?

    his minister & farrakhan are blatant anti-semites - the person responsible for his spiritual leadership supports an anti-semite, and that's not news? the hell it's not. And what's worse is that it took coaxing and wheedling to just give a simple answer? Why was it so hard to just say "I reject Louis Farrakhan's support?" Clinton had to teach him why it was important, while he tried to do his usual dance around the race issue. So silly, Obama. Just give a straight answer, please.

    February 27, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  6. N Garner, MA

    Hillary seemed as if she was 10 years old to insist that Barack say he would reject instead of denounce Farrakhan. Grow up, grow up, grow up. What a baby, how soon can she pack her bags.

    I'm so over you lady–go home.

    February 27, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  7. OBAMA 08


    February 27, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  8. Anon

    The fact is, Obama ignored totally removing himself from that support. It only continues to show how much of a wet noodle he is and a politican. Hillary, as much as I don't like her politics, is strong and can make a decision. Barack either committes it to death, ignores the comment, or decides to please everyone "I reject and denounce him then." Sounds much like the Clinton everyone hated in the days of yore huh?

    He should have just rejected his support in the first place, "I simply do not want the support of an outspoken antisemite." Done.

    February 27, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  9. ed

    it was very immature of hillary to even bring up the Farrakhan support of Barack. Hillary didn't reject Ann Coulter's support, did she? Ann Coulter is pretty blatantly racist.

    February 27, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  10. Elinda

    Shannon – this is so wrong: tonight's debate made one thing clear: clinton represents politics as usual, something we're all sick of, and obama, a new style of politics, where we come together on common causes rather than dividing on intolerances.

    .... read the blogs on CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, MSNBC .. .com ... and you will see some very angry OBAMA supporters hatemongering Clinton ... do you really think these people are ready to "come together" with people who don't agree with them ... I don't think so.

    .... Hillary '08 ... all the way for the USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    Good for you, Hillary! I'm happy you pressured this coward to take a stand on an issue!

    February 27, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  12. Giacomo

    @ Alice, Tami & Kevin: bottom line: Obama choked. That was his mistake to make, and he made it. Should have just said "I reject his support." Period. Instead of dancing around race issues like landmines, he should have just been clear on where he stood, and rejected the support of a blatant anti-semite.

    February 27, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  13. independent

    i'm really glad she made this point. this is her experience shining through.

    February 27, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  14. T Mitchell

    Hillary is sooooo desperate. She looks petty and not at all presidential.

    February 27, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  15. Adam

    Is it possible that supporters can extol the virtues of their candidate of choice without resorting to petty insults and regugitating the talking points? Something to consider; if you feel that you don't have enough information about a candidate, step away from your blog rant and do the research. There is plenty of information out there, and much of it factual, about every candidate running for president. Your apathy toward being an informed voter does not determine the sustance of a candidate's positions. Vote for who you want, but this is not American Idol. These are serious people who, whether you agree with them or not, are doing what they believe to be in the best interests of the United States of America, a lofty goal if there ever was one. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if yours is childish name calling and uninformed venom, don't look so shocked when you get marginalized.

    February 27, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  16. pearl


    February 27, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  17. La Raza

    Hillary has been crazy from day one!

    February 27, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  18. Tonya for Obama

    I reject and denouce Hillary's bullish attitude. Big bully. Go find someone else to pick on.

    February 27, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  19. David

    Hillary is silly. She either believes we don't realize that, which is insulting; or she knows we realize that and dwells in trifles nonetheless, which is cynical and doubly insulting.

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

    Hillary, We the people reject and denounce your horrible behaviour tonight and on the campaign trail.

    February 27, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  21. Hal

    Annamica you need to actually understand how to use a dictionary. To reject implies that someone has made a proposition or offer to you. To "renonce" means that you once held those beliefs. To "denounce" is correct it means that one never held those opinions or was never aligned with those actions and finds them reprehensible.

    When someone makes a statement you can incorrectly use the term reject. But what you mean is you denounce it.

    February 27, 2008 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  22. Eric Tutu

    I think that was unfair question to ask if he he should reject his support. Luis leads thousands of Islam Americans who will be
    voting coming November. While Farrakhan made some insensitive
    remarks it is important to note that he does not represent the views of
    those he leads though his support for Barack my be influential; denouncing/rejecting his support would negate his campaign efforts.

    February 27, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  23. Tony

    This debate sealed the notion that Hillary is finished.

    February 27, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  24. Jarrett

    He say potato, she say potahto. Obviously, Clinton tried to infer that Obama is an anti-Semite, and her schoolyard attempt backfired. Congrats to Senator Obama for demonstrating the kind of cool reserve and graceful response we need from a commander in chief

    February 27, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  25. SAM

    Hillary Clinton,,,,, next election try to run as an independent. YOU are not sound like DEMOCRAT.
    GO BARACK OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
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