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. Anonymous

    hillary, hillary.. i just love mr. president obama... you just lost my vote if president obama did not get the nod...

    February 27, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  2. Moira, NV

    I reject and denounce Hillary for being a phony politician who is power hungry and completely obsessed with herself. You were not presidential tonight, just whiny and irritating.


    February 27, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  3. kristin, in DC

    Liberal bias...amazing. Glad the media was called out finally on his cakewalk up until now.
    Come on Texas and Ohio...get rid of HIM.

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

    The more I think about Sen. Clinton was suggesting with this little semantic game, the more I am COMPLETELY DISGUSTED. How low can she sink?!!!!! Just think about what she's suggesting!!! It's putrid.

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

    In video, this exchange is much more ridiculous than this blurb would suggest. Clinton made a very bad attempt at a political jab in suggesting that Obama hadn't done enough to distance himself from Farrakhan's remarks, when in fact he'd clearly done so for the previous four minutes. The fact that she'd argue over which word is stronger when both in fact synonymous makes her seem desperate

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

    hillary, hillary. you just lost my vote to mr. president obama. even if he loses, i will not vote for you. what point did you make by attempting to correct him over his rejection of racism? lost, vote hillary

    February 27, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  7. tony

    Just a play on words. The fact of the matter is that Obama stands for change and injecting some semblance of unity in gridlock DC. That's why he is winning; that's why the young,independents, republicans etc are voting for him. There is a saying "Bruno is a good dog but hold fast is the best" Hillary is Bruno and Barack is hold fast. All the good ideas will amount to nothing without a change in attitude and unity in DC. Get rid of the special interest and lobbyists...they are strangling progress....too many are beholden to them. That's why Obama is the idea whose time has come.

    February 27, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  8. Tony, nm

    "Ready on Day One?" -what about TONIGHT!

    I prefer the here-and-now over yesterday or tomorrow.....
    Barack Obama is READY!

    let's get real.
    vote Obama

    February 27, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  9. Charlie, Philadelphia, PA

    I'm voting for Obama, so I am biased right out of the gates.

    I think although Hillary had her moments (like everyone does in a debate), she looked very desparate tonight having to always try to get the last word in and this was the best example of my point when she said this.

    Early in the debate before the first break it even looked like both moderators were annoyed by this tactic of hers.

    I think Obama comes out looking even better being the more cool, calm and collected of the 2 candidates tonight

    February 27, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  10. Giacomo

    @ Shannon from charlottesville: how about her superior command of domestic & foregin policy? Her poise in discussions and debates? Because it seems the best that Obama can muster in every one of those situations is a stumbling "uhhh, yeah...what SHE said!" No wonder she's furious that she's always asked the first question! Obama not only gets to get the final word, but he gets to copy her answer in the process! Unbelievable!

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

    do is right - Obama missed Hillary's point (and it seems most posters here did too). If Obama "rejects and denounces" the Nation of Islam, then he should not have been quoting Malcolm X when he was down in South Carolina. See it for yourself: youtube "There Will Be Bamboozling"

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

    Hillary's foreign policies need to be re-evaluated. She completly disrespected the new president of Russia and the Russian people. This is a huge indication of her unprofessionalism and lack of political experience. Her utter disregard for other nationals by saying "Whatever" when attempting to pronounce the President of another country's name should tell the American people that we will be in a lot of trouble if she is elected. Forget about Farakhan he is a non-issue, our president should at least know how to address the leader of a foreign nation.

    February 27, 2008 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  13. Molly

    Farrakan supported Bill Clinton in his run for a second term. Anyone remember the million man march. Hillary nor Bill rejected Farrakan. I believe if Farrakan offered to support Hillary now she would jump for joy. That's how bad she wants to win. She would throw all that reteric out the window fast . Shame on you Hillary!

    February 27, 2008 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  14. James in Oregon

    SHE is done .

    February 27, 2008 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  15. Jeff

    So sad Hillary, you had to reject & denounce anti-semitic supporters in NY? That was definitely a controversial decision you had to make. There are so many more anti-Semites in NY that Jews. I'm surprised you came out of that campaign as the victor, you must of really had to convince the millions of racists and bigots in Manhattan that you were still a viable candidate.

    February 27, 2008 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  16. Agora phila

    Obama did good .TeXas and Ohio are for him.
    Sorry Clinton , We only need one person to win.I hope next time it will be you but now is Obama.

    February 27, 2008 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  17. chicagoloyola

    give me a break CNN.....talk about a major bias! All the complaining about MSNBC from the Clinton camp, but it becomes more and more obvious just how pro-Hillary CNN is.

    February 27, 2008 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  18. Giacomo

    @Molly: the point is, he was doing a dance around the question. If there's no issue, just say "Yes, I REJECT his support." period. Why did Obama the windbag have to ramble on and come up with slick definitions of what is denouncing, rejecting, blah blah blah? Just say you reject it and move on.

    I'll tell you why - it's because he's afraid of being tied to his race, of being tied to characters like farrakhan, yet still wants to seem like he's on their side, got their support. Shame on Obama for denying his people,and for thinking that race doesn't matter. What country does HE live in?

    February 27, 2008 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  19. Rachel, Nashviile TN

    She really tried to push the fear-mongering on this non-issue. Did he "denounce" or "reject"? In essence, what she is trying to persuade to the American people is... does he favor radical Islam or not? This is gutter politics at it's worst. Yet, Obama has again taken the high road and put "rhetoric" to rest by saying he both denounces and rejects Farrakhan's support. I guess words really do matter.

    February 27, 2008 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  20. Jeff

    For those who think Hillary's experience is the reason she should be president, what happens when you replace Obama with McCain? Suddenly, Hillary's "experience" evaporates when compared to 25+ years of service in the government and 20+ years of service in the military. Hillary's message of experience will not hold up in the general election.

    Obama is the anti-McCain. He invigorates the young voters (key for any Democratic victory). He has bold plans for energy independence, health care, and for maintaining the U.S.'s top spot in technology and innovation. On the international stage, he would immediately change the world's perception of the U.S.. Hillary or McCain as president is like Cuba "changing" leadership to Fidel's brother. It's a rehash of the same people.

    It amazes me how many old Democrats are desperately clinging to the 1990's when we have one the best candidates to come along in generations that can help the country move in the right direction for the future.

    Don't screw this up America.

    February 27, 2008 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  21. Mark Redd

    Hillary lacks sincerity and her points seem petty and inconsiquential. When it comes down to it, they are very close on policy so it really comes down to who would make the best leader and communicator.

    February 27, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  22. Brian

    I am one of those person who would rather have Hillary as President,

    It seems that Barack will eventually become the President, which is fine..

    It would be swimmingly better if HIlllary is at least VP, which might sounds ridiculous to many, of course would prefer Hillary/Obama, rather. but with 3 reasons it might be too late for that.

    1. Extreme Media Bias from MSNBC and some CNN. If there is ANYTHING that comes NOT ATTACK but even "Criticizes" Barack, everyone just clumps around that story and do anything to defend Barack. Anything Hillary does is "negative" or "it doesn't work"... maybe people of this country "again" let media control their precious decision to pick the next President (I know it's ridiculous that I am writing on this, but hey I need people to know this)
    2. George Bush: Because of his seriously talented ability to screw up many many things, now experiences you get from being anywhere near capital hill is somehow "old politics" So people just don't care about issues anymore, they just really want to hear the optimism, which I find it reasonable but somewhat concerns me that later people will regret... hope not tho...
    3. Let's be honest, even tho I would prefer Hillary, Barack has amazing ability to persuade folks with great ability to make people enthused. Maybe in "this" election, that's what really people want, and most of people would buy that. This relates to George Bush, because if the preceding president was somewhat successful like Bill, no campaign like this would be successful. No one even tries to at least find out who real "Barack" is and sometimes it worries me.

    BUT... I hope for the best that this country will really be "different".

    Whatever happens folks, let's not forget this is not about Barack, Hillary or John M....it is about this great country of America that can again be the country of hopes and dreams, not in rhetorical way, but in truthful way that seriously with no more credit card debts, no more concerns about how to pay for your children's college, no more the system where "haves" and "have-nots" can come together, and where poor folks can go to college and become Drs and be successful...

    I really prey that it's not just hope and dreams, but something that will happen and that can be fulfilled...

    February 27, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  23. Dan Tuttle

    It looks like Hillary is trying to make something out of nothing. It comes off as desperation. Focus on the bigger issues please!

    February 27, 2008 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  24. Giacomo

    @Brad: It's not shameless when there's clearly substance there. obama wants to have his cake and eat it too. Sorry, buddy, but you can't be on everybody's side all the time. You need to make some tough choices in life, and you can't please everybody, all the time. So you choose: do you support israel & jews in america unconditionally (well deserved), or do you teeter the line of alienating black voters by outright rejecting Farrakhan's anti-semitic remarks? Can't have it both ways, and when you hem and haw and can't give a straight answer, we have to wonder why.

    February 27, 2008 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  25. Jessica F

    I think tonight people of texas and Ohio can see clear why they need to choose Hillary. Ohio and Texas you remember Sunday: Obama on his speech slam Hillary about Nafta, in the debate Tim Russert told him severals times he has his record on Nafta and he wanted to create more trade like. can we trust Obama? i do not think so. If they search Obama deeper they will find out the repuiblican will retain the white house. Therefore the republican vote for him and expect to chrash him down in the general election. He sign a pledge about public finance for the general election, now he tends to change it. Texan we just can not trust this guy.
    Everything he mention Irak to score point on Hillary make him weaker against John Mccain. At that point I would rather go with Hillary. His pplan for Health care is not good at all
    This guy would be a disaster.

    February 27, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
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