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. Kenneth

    I think that this just shows how much the American people need to really examine Obama's record and truthfulness when it comes to the presidential nomination. he clearly stumbled when it came to the questions dealing with farrakhan, public financing, and he did not have a clue about Russia's election. Americans are being misled by Obama to think that he can change this nation. If we wake up, we will see that Hillary Clinton is the BEST choice for Democrats to win in November. If not, by November, the Republicans will have reduced his candidacy of hope and change to scandals, lies, inexperience, incompetence, and the lack of providing this country with significant facts on how he will lead this country. Hope will never end a war, never provide universal healthcare, never negotiate NAFTA, never bring this country together, and never EVER wins elections! Examples of effective leadership only will do this. Wake up America! Hillary is your best chance of restoring faith in our political system.

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

    I reject and denounce Hillary Clinton for the bull crap.

    February 27, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  3. lee

    Look i think this election is just as bad as 2000. I hear the press and these specialist and we the people, complain about clintons vote on the war. when the first plane hit i was getting ready to go to the hospital to see my brother who was in a coma in the hospital. I was devastated. Everyday after that every person i talked too or heard on t.v. was also. Than eveyone was for this war or atleast most of us. We wanted revenge for all those people who lost there lives for no reason. They came over here and bombed us. 90 percent of us were for going after all those responable. So they voted and yes we went after them. but hey guess what bush lied about alot of things, go figure. and alot of lives were lost and still being lost. So now we the people do not want the war anymore, and guess what we need someone to blame. Now hilary voted yes to go to war and at the time we were on her side. obama voted no and we were not happy with anyone who did not care about all those lives lost in new york. now that the war is no longer a good idea and it is not going the way we wanted we need someone to blame. so who is in the spot light no other than hilary. Let me tell you i don't care she voted yes than that's over and we are as much to blame as anyone else.i want to know what are they going to do now. obama hangs on to his no vote like a badge. and hilary admits to voting and she would like to take it back. well there is alot i would like to take back but i can not and to lose an elections just for voting for something that was the thing to do at the time is wrong. after all did't we and bush push towards it. I admit bush lied alot but shouldn't this be put towards him instead of hilary. by the way to the press you need to cover this election like all the others this is not your personal witch hunt for hilary even if you think it is.

    February 27, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  4. Adam

    Are you kidding me, Clinton News Network? This was NOT the story of the debate; this wasn't even the story of this issue!

    Clinton started an argument over terminology: denounce vs. reject. It was childish, petty, and just the sort of politics that Obama is trying to end!

    Come on, Obama – finish off Clinton so we can TURN THE PAGE!

    February 27, 2008 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  5. Al Minor

    How ill informed is this electorate...? Doesn't the putatively "brilliant" Ms. Clinton realize that to DENOUNCE means "to reject that which is evil and and reprehensible," while REJECT, is simply "to deny." Sen. Obama, you dear venerated sir, are truly word smart– and have wisely built a campaign on the importance of words. On the other hand, Ms. Clinton has made it clear that we have duped by the grander misconceptionof her alleged depth and breath of knowledge.

    February 27, 2008 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  6. lee

    come on this is not a race or sex election. If they can not win on there own merit. than drop out. let the race card go. If you are voting for obama because race or because you feel he is being given the race push just don't vote. because if he is not able to be elected without that race card being put out there we don't need him, If you are voting for hilary because she is a woman than we don't need her. we need a real president not a martor

    February 27, 2008 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  7. Barb in TN

    Did anyone notice how Obama kept smiling at Hillary like she was a misquided woman who he just has to put up with? How arrogant of him! I thought she came off much better in the debate, he actually bored me with most of his responses since he was just parroting Hillary.
    Instead of these debates I would like for the news people to sit down with the canidates separately and do at least an hour show on their policies. That way everyone could see what they stand for and how they plan on getting it done. Too many people don't want to bother with looking these things up for themselves.
    Only Hillary mentioned how she would pay for her health care. I understand that Obama's would raise everyones taxes at least 10%. Check it out folks, compare the two. Then decide who knows what they are doing.

    February 27, 2008 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  8. K from TX

    Why is this a headline? I mean, the question wasn't even meant for Hillary to comment on. She thought she saw an opportunity to take a swipe at Sen. Obama and, frankly, it backfired. He made it perfectly clear that he DOES NOT agree nor condone with Farrakhan's views, ideas or rhetoric regarding the Jewish people. He can't go and physically put a muzzle on the man. And she didn't "school" him. She tried to show him up and he made her look petty.

    February 27, 2008 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  9. Chris from California

    Someone asked "why do they always ask the African-American about Louis Farakkhan?" In this case, it is because Louis Farakkhan endorsed Barack Obama.

    February 27, 2008 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  10. Mar

    Shows how Clinton is just playing with words. She doesn't have anything else to fight with him. Go President Obama

    February 27, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  11. Oregon Voter

    Clinton was absolutely right to call Obama on his double standard. You saw how he handled the question. He didn't want to reject the endorsement because he wants every vote he can get. Hillary, on the other hand, is willing to sacrifice votes that are from inflammatory sources because she has strong moral beliefs. Those beliefs are more important that the votes, and she made the right stand. Obama was taught a valuable lesson from Hillary tonight, and I hope he learns from her.

    February 27, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  12. Chris from California

    Tonight's debate made one thing very clear: Hillary Clinton is ready for the presidency. Barack Obama is not.

    February 27, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  13. Sherry

    I really appreciate the way Barack deals with these trumped up 'issues.' He's handled Hillary perfectly this campaign and will do even better against McCain.

    February 27, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  14. friend

    barack i hope you lose

    February 27, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  15. Sara

    Hillary rocks, Barack suck

    February 27, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  16. Michal

    Is anyone surprised that Clinton is resorting to these tactics? She's lost 11 in a row and is desperate. Obama supporters send legitimate mailings about her support of NAFTA and she and her people respond in typical lowbrow fashion by spreading smears about Obama (the picture in the traditional Somali clothing)

    Please ask yourselves a question Democrats; do you want to win the next presidential election or are you going to support Hillary? You can't have both...

    February 27, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  17. Ron

    shut up cnn. we are you trying to make an issue out of a non-issue? there is nothing there and you know it.

    clinton is getting more desperate every minute.

    February 27, 2008 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  18. Chelsee Klinton

    This very reason is why McCain attacked Obama via Cunningham: Hillary is so irrelevant to the Presidential race that the two presidential frontrunners ( McCain and Obama) are now focused on one another as the nation watch the showdown between them. Hillary is already a done deal. She is small-minded, divisive and always tries to bait Senator Obama in tit-for-tat trivialities. She doesn't get it.

    February 27, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  19. Dem

    Nice try Hillary, she was trying to get headline out of it but Barack answered the way she want it unlike her refusing to apologize about the authorization of the Iraq war.

    February 27, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  20. Linus

    News flash:

    Obama does not want wacko's endorsement.

    In other news, America yawned broadly.

    February 27, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  21. Food for thought!

    Well, I am not surprised that not CNN nor any of Senator Obama's supporters here have mentioned that Senator Obama made an admission this evening that I think goes to his vulnerability which is poor judgment.

    He admitted tonight that he voted for the Salvo bill in Congress and that he knew better having been a Constitutional Law Professor. If he knew what he was teaching, why did he go and vote against the Constitution? Now that is poor judgment – and that comes from no experience in the office that he was holding – Senator.

    I will not vote for him for President if he gets the nomination. Simply put his actions do not go along with his words! Hope Hillary hits this point big in the next couple of days! Wake up folks – Senator Obama just isn't all that good!!!!!!!!! He is politics as usual in Washington DC.

    Voting for something that was wrong to vote for and knowing it at the time of the vote – perhaps that is why Michelle Obama hasn't been proud of the United States all of her adult life.

    February 27, 2008 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  22. Pon Mao

    There is a saying "don't do to others if you don't want the same done to you", maybe Hillary Clinton's campaign is failing is because she had too much bad kama ?

    February 27, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  23. L.C.

    Baracks' church holds Farrakahn in high regard, why would he be different?

    February 27, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  24. lee

    i will not vote this election. it is making me sick.

    February 27, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  25. Chris Dodd supports Obama too !

    Did you see how upset Billary became during the debates? Imagine her having access to our national military with that kind of emotional volatility. Emotional turmoil= economic turmoil. That's not the kind of "experience" we can believe in. We need the collectiveness of true leadership and Senator Obama has consistently provided that strength in each of the last 20 debates.

    February 27, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
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