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. J. Williams

    Is it possible to denounce something *without* rejecting it?

    Let me crack open a dictionary...

    Denounce – To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible.
    Condemn – To express strong disapproval of
    Disapprove – To refuse to approve; reject

    (The answer to the question, no, its not possible.)

    Pointless attempt at undercutting. Thanks, Hillary.

    February 27, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  2. Carol

    The Bible states The Anti-Christ will fool everyone,including the media! Oh,how the media LOVES Obama!

    February 27, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  3. Stacy Mack

    Hill you are washed!! Come On March 4! Obama will win!

    February 27, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  4. Concerned Christian In Bible Belt

    CNN you are so DISGUSTINGLY BIASED. You won't print anything hardly that is not anti-Hillary and pro-Obama. As a life long Democrat I used to respect your news agency, but it has become pathetic! SHAME ON YOU!!!!

    February 27, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  5. Nijma

    Ron Paul has been roundly criticized for being supported by white supremacists, and rightly so.

    Obama needs stop acting so flattered that someone like Farrakhan would endorse him–to have someone like that saying nice things about you is Not A Good Thing.

    February 27, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  6. aware

    I am a Pasor's wife and a student of theology, and I will not support Barack. He is calling people to idolatry by claiming to be able to do what only God can do – transform the hearts of people. Shame on you Barack! 😦

    February 27, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  7. Beth Anne

    Obama prove tonight to be weak . Hillary ran circles around him. All he could do is agree with everything Hillary has to say. Im not voting for obama because he is just an empty suit. Whats going do, call up Oprah at 4 in morning what to do when we are attacked by the middle east... Obama has nothing important to say, all he ever says is " yes we can " and news flash for obama and his naive supporters, obama cant make the heavens open and he dont have a magic stick...lol.. good night and peace out...

    February 27, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  8. Bernice

    Hillary had a George Bush moment. That question was directed at Obama If only she had kept her mouth shut, but no she had to jump in there trying to say something intelligent, only to make herself look "PLAIN OLE DUMB"

    That's what happens when you confuse a smart mouth and controlling attitude for being a strong woman or man She needs to settle down, THAT MOUTH IS TOO MUCH! SOMETHING YOU WANT TO SWAT AT TO MAKE IT GO AWAAAY!!!!

    February 27, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  9. Kyle

    The American voters are renouncing, denouncing and trouncing Hillary. She will soon be rejected, ejected and dejected.

    February 27, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  10. MARC

    I think senator Clinton misunderstood the difference between reject and denounce. to reject = to refuse to accept : to denounce= to condemn or censure openly or publicly. I guess senator Clinton needs to have an english dictionary when debating with senator Obama if she is going to put so much emphasis on definition.

    February 27, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  11. Kevin

    No one has been more polarizing than Obama. He has polarized blacks to vote for him. His wife has asked for black unity in her thesis. Wake up America!

    February 27, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  12. Andy, New York, New York

    To come across as Miss Goody Two Shoes, Hillary inserted herself in the answer session to the question posed to Obama on Farrakhan. Russert didn't ask her anything, yet she wanted to hog the glory by telling us about her own experience with some anti-semitic group in New York. Who cares?

    The woman left the White House in 2000 and headed straight to New York, at the suggesstion of Rep. Charlie Rangel, so she could contest for Daniel Patrick Moynihan's seat on her way back to the White House. She used us New Yorkers just like she was going to use Americans.

    But Americans said NO, they want change and so the sea change is coming from waves created by BaROCK of Gibraltar!

    Come back to New York, Hillary, and let Rangel, Bill, Chelsea and all those who voted for you help you heal from the deeps wounds you received in this fight. After you're healed, pack your bags and return under that little rock in Noah's ARKansas!

    February 27, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  13. JOHN

    IS GIVING THE VICTORY TO TERROR BY APPEASEMENT. do you really think that barack should be ashame of his middle name. mr obama should stand up to terror and denouce terror.a democrat who got it wrong.remember barack says he is a christian but the radicals in the mideast what all of us under their dominion.which way Mr Obama? you can not have it both ways?

    February 27, 2008 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  14. incredible

    Once again BO supporters feel insulted with this., as he felt insulted with the turban picture....why?, It was him, it was just a visit. right? He clearly did not want to talk about it, as much as he did not want to talk about the Farrakhan support. He wants to escape any issue that is tricky delicate and questions his patriotism and integrity. Anyone who may ask a question about this, inmediately is label a racist.. He feels uncomfortable with these themes and shows vacilation in answering the question. I am glad Senator Clinton got him to be more specific in HIS REJECTION (not denounciation....not strong enough....anyone should know this....DA), albeit he looked pathetically weak and apologetic saying it.

    February 27, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  15. Laura

    Obama is gaining strength without being condescending. Clinton is up for fighting. She is a whiner and a loser. My prayers are the "superdelegates" vote as the populus votes and not because of disgusting corporate interests. If McCain wins this election, we will have more of the same with another Neocon at the helm. I cannot even fathom this. Stay strong Obama! You've got what it takes!

    February 27, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  16. Neu

    The statements that the Nation of Islam leader has used in the past were just words. No actions, just words. Sen. Clinton stated herself that words don't matter, just action. Even If Sen. Clinton wins Texas and Ohio, they won't be by large enough margins to really make a dent in Sen. Obama's lead. If indeed she does loses one of these states I hope that even her most avid supporters will began to think about healing the party and not further fracturing it.

    February 27, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  17. Sean

    I laughed when Obama responded. He has truly made Hillary's candidacy into a joke. She should simply give it up, already!

    February 27, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  18. Tinie

    Shame on you Hillary!!!
    Not long ago your campaign posted a photo of Obama dressed in an African tradition attire, trying to link him that he's a muslim,which terribly back fired. Since that didn't help you discredit Obama, then again you brought in the endorsement of a muslim, Louis Farrakhan, again your point backfired! Why the hell can't be smart enough to find other strategies which can work like debating on the problems the American people are deprived of by the Old Washington Players who are Playing the Same Old Games Over and Over Again!!!
    Grandma Wake Up!!! Why the hell are you forcing Him to be a
    Muslim when He's Never been One!!! OBAMA GO GO '08!!!

    February 27, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  19. Sandy

    You people missed the point. Hillary proved that he is not strong. He needed to stand up and say I reject him and everything he stands for, not to wait to have someone make him say it. And by the way denounce and reject are not the same thing as Obama said. His church is going to be po'd for sure now.

    February 27, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  20. Blah

    I think Clinton did what she had to do to today. For me, I want this to keep going. Clinton vs. Obama is way more exciting than Obama vs. McCain or Clinton vs. McCain. With Hillary, you not only have her, but Bill. With Obama, you have a new and fresh candidate that is very unique and strong-willed. And I agree with Tina Fey. Hillary gets the job done no matter what. Hillary is a ***** and ***** is the new black. I love it... I love it...

    February 27, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  21. Cindy

    ha! jeez, Clinton.. why did you stop? You should have kept going...

    But, do you just reject it, or do you "strongly" reject it?
    On top of that do you "vehemently" "strongly" reject it?

    Such dramatics...

    you gotta know when to hold up.. know when to fold up..

    February 27, 2008 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  22. Tony, Laredo, Texas

    Neither Obama or Hillary is Politics as usual as you can see. Clearly here Hillary knows what its about and she is struggling to get her point out because people are Glamourized about the idea of having the first Black president. C'mon Get real, when youre car is going bad you go to a mechanic you know and from his experience he knows whats wrong with it from the get go.
    Obama is charming and popular, he is appealing to many, but he needs a bit more grip to hold on tight to oval office. Cuz its not only America watching this political show, its the whole world tuning in.

    February 27, 2008 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  23. L. Parker

    Very mean spirited and deceptive on Hillary's part. She could care less about Farrakan. The idea was to incite a negative spin against Obama among Black voters...or White and Jewish voters who might have reservations.

    Those comments were transparent, unnecessary, and utterly disappointing. Underestimating Obama is one thing, underestimating America is another.

    February 27, 2008 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  24. TheMist


    February 27, 2008 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  25. Chris

    Wow!! Barack Obama is a genius. He is absolutely focused on the big picture and will not be sidetracked. He knows what he wants to accomplish. His answer to the Farrakhan issue was superb. it showed how much the bigger man he is.

    February 27, 2008 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42