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. Ruth

    Excellent, Hillary! You got Barack to agree with you to not only denounce Farakhan's anti-semitic stance but to totally reject it. Showed his arrogance once again when he said he couldn't stop anybody from saying he is a "good guy."

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

    Well, after listening to the cleveland debate and applying serious thought and insite into my decision...I have decided to switch my vote.......to the hot latina helping hillary sign autographs!

    February 27, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  3. LC

    I was a little worried for Obama tonight, with HIllary needing a TKO (which I feared Russert and WIlliams would set up for her) but it never quite happened. Barack came out unscathed and looking more presidential than ever. I also noticed CNN wasn't doing nearly as much Tues evening quarterbacking, unlike their own "Clinton clinched" debate of last week – which was discussed ad nauseum then re-aired over... and over.. and over. I'm just saying...

    February 27, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  4. victoria

    You rock OBAMA!

    Americas Choice, The People's voice!

    YES WE CAN!

    February 27, 2008 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  5. victoria

    leave cnn alone! take your sour grapes and your "shame on you" to the depressing hillary blog... where all the whiners are.

    you guys are the past!

    OBAMA IS THE FUTURE!

    February 27, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  6. pete

    tim russert was an awful moderator.

    February 27, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  7. amanda

    shame on you hillary, i can't stand you any more complainng about Obama, you need to step down before is too late you can't handle the heat , Obama is good man go yes we can

    February 27, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  8. Abed

    WOW... Hilary is is REALLY reaching now.,. she sounds desperate! Hilary, just shut up...

    February 27, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  9. Brian

    What a dumb move on Hillary's part to try to push that point. That kind of a move might have worked if there were a real issue to latch onto. Stick a fork in that turkey.

    And, Brad, Hillary's action may not rise to the level of slam, but it did come across as an extremely petty attempt to weaken Barack's sufficiently strong statement against Farrakhan. Hillary's a good politician, no doubt, but Obama is a leader.

    Congratulations to Obama on running a fine campaign and earning the confidence of Americans of all races, genders, and economic levels.

    February 27, 2008 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  10. True Million

    I think this issue is racist, thinly hidden by Clinton as a political issue. Clinton will lose Ohio and Texas because of her persistent negative mentality against Obama. Mark my words.

    February 27, 2008 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  11. denise

    Well there he goes again....dancing around yet another issue. America had better be very afraid...this guy is slick...but so was GW Bush. Americans sucked that up too ..and....voted him in twice!

    February 27, 2008 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  12. Andrew

    from m-w.com:

    reject: a: to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use b: to refuse to hear, receive, or admit

    denounce: 1 : to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil

    Words DO matter. Obama was right the first time.

    February 27, 2008 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  13. JohnC

    I am sick to death of the bias media. They not only wholeheartedly support Obama, but they refuse to report the truth of this man and his Muslim connection. I don't understand their motive and I don't appreciate that the media is so obviously supporting this man. Americans think for yourselves and do not let the networks choose your next President. Do your research and find out the true facts about this man, whom you are all following so blindly. I AM A LIFELONG DEMOCRAT but I know this is not the person to lead our Nation. May the TRUE God help us all. I am sure CNN with their bias attitude will not post this comment but shame on you CNN.

    February 27, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  14. Beacon

    I think tonight really showed who is ready to be president of the united states. Sadly, Mr. Obama seemed at a lost for words, constantly reaching for things to say. I'm really not sure Mr. Obama is ready to be president.

    If Hillary does not get questioned first, I don’t think Mr. Obama would have anything to build his answers on.

    After tonight, I can truly say "we're going to need Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States. I felt bad for Mr. Obama. He was very unsure at times, and struggled solid solutions on the issues.

    Regardless of what you think about Hillary, she's the most qualified to be president. I hope people will finally realized the seriousness of what we as a nation will face. We should put aside or dislike for one another and come to a united conclusion.

    The question is not who is the most electable, but who is the best prepared to lead this country in the face of danger.

    My choice, HRC Jan 20, 2009.

    February 27, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  15. will

    the end is near for the Clinton's ladies and gentleman,she looked so desperate in that interview she has no answer for the brilliant senator.she should quit now to save herself and her party its game over.

    goodbye Mrs Clinton

    February 27, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  16. das

    From Merriam Webster's:

    "denounce": to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil

    "reject": to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose

    decide for yourselves which word is stronger!

    February 27, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  17. WhateverLady

    Reject: To refuse to accept, submit to, believe, or make use of.
    Denounce: To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible.

    This woman needs to study a dictionary. If he has said renounce then she would have made sense. Otherwise this is total nonsense. Shame on CNN for making this a headline.

    Word to Hillary: QUIT.

    February 27, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  18. sem

    I think Obama won the debate and he was on point when he said renounce and reject is the same thing. And it is when you look it up. Hillary was just trying to come off as ascertive when she came as picky. I get the first answer, obama is treated nicer. Stop whinning Hillary, this is a grown ups game.

    February 27, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  19. L.C.

    I wonder why farakhan came out with his support was it to hurt Obama or maybe it was b/c obama didn't attend the sobu which he's attended several times. Is he friends with the the guy (TS) that sponsors the event. Hello

    February 27, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  20. David

    People say that this is the most exciting election ever! I think it's the most sickening!

    February 27, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  21. JR

    Notice the clever smile on Obama's face when Hillary said "there's a difference between denouncing and rejecting..." I didn't even have to hear him say anything. That expression told me he had her pegged. She simply sets him up for success.

    ..."happy to concede the point. I would reject and denounce..."

    Ouch!! Sorry Hillary. You dug that hole yourself. BTW, a coin flip is used to determine who answers first. Tomorrow we'll be hearing this from the Clinton camp: SHAME ON YOU COIN!!!

    February 27, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  22. deroy

    they would both dance to any tune farrakhan played.

    they willhore for votes.

    February 27, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  23. Jan

    DENOUNCE which Obama said is even harsher language than reject. DENOUNCE means to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil. This is what Obama said, and meant when he said he denounced the digrace that is Farrakhan.

    February 27, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  24. Susan

    I agree with Brad –shame on CNN for this misleading and inflammatory headline. This headline is meant to imply some sort of link between Obama and Farrakhan, where there is none. I am Jewish and 100% comfortable with Obama's answer.

    February 27, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  25. Jan

    DENOUNCE which Obama said is even harsher language than reject. DENOUNCE means to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil. This is what Obama said, and meant when he said he denounced the disgrace that is Farrakhan.

    February 27, 2008 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
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