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. Silas

    I believe that it will better for Sen Hillary to drop out and let Sen Obama to face McCain.Indeed, she needs to know that everything is over because she cannot convain people.

    February 27, 2008 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  2. Duke

    She's was reaching..... what a joke.

    February 27, 2008 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  3. Isaac

    By the way, no one wants to say this, but Barack's mannerisms and interruptions and reactions truly are arrogant and quite horrible towards Hillary in all of the debates we've seen thus far...

    February 27, 2008 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  4. karl

    Hillary, shut up all ready. Get out of the race and go back and finish your last term as the senator from New York, then retire. You need and this country needs a vacation from you and Bill, permanently!

    February 27, 2008 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  5. DeeDee

    Does CNN think we' re stupid? As Clinton pointed out, the media puts her at a disadvantage and then complains when she points it out. By asking her the questions first, it clearly protects Obama from looking foolishly uninformed and unprepared. Obama has time to formulate his answer based on what Clinton says. This is an elmentary school trick. Let's not be naive.

    Obama has trouble answering unscripted questions. This is apparent in several encounters with the press. He obviously has not given much thought to topics and events of the world outside his stump speeches. He is not knowledgeable and is ill-prepared to handle the major problems this country faces both domestically and internationally

    February 27, 2008 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  6. edmond

    change topic,farrakhan is nobody

    February 27, 2008 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  7. Lisa K

    Obama clearly was not happy about the comments of Farrakhan so this is really a foolish argument – it was again about semantics and word choice, not substantive issues.

    Having said that, it is important, I suppose to look at the technical definitions of these word choices. So the question is should Obama "reject" or "denounce" the comments of Farrakhan. According to answers.com, reject is a verb which means: "To refuse to accept, submit to, believe, or make use of" and denounce means the following: "To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible."

    So, I personally see little difference between these 2 definitions, except that to denounce seems: (a) harsher (since it is a condemnation, not just a refusal); and (b) more appropriate in this situation (since you need to reject something and if that something...in this case, Farrakhan's verbal support...is not asked for, how can you reject it...I mean how can you reject someone saying something positive about you).

    So, the bottom line to me is that Obama is clearly more cerebral and technical in his word-choice than Clinton, even though she was the one hammering "reject", not "denounce". So, in the end, Obama rightfully made Clinton look nitpicky by "rejecting and denouncing" Farrakhan's support.

    🙂 Lisa

    February 27, 2008 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  8. Austin E

    When am I going to see a headline on CNN like "Clinton proposes new education policy" or "Clinton offers new healthcare plan". It seems any headline now has "Clinton" followed by slams, hits, attacks or mudslings. This shouldn't be what the campaign is about.

    February 27, 2008 02:54 am at 2:54 am |

    I can't believe Hillary.


    Obama spent several minutes stating that in no way, shape or form does he accept that person's view and Obama also said that he denounces.

    But the divisive Hillary tries to open silly season again.

    Obama stayed calm and Presidential and said one of the best lines of the night and made Hillary look so bad.

    Now something similar happened when it was reported that Hillary's campaign sent out that picture of Obama. When Hillary said she did not do it, Obama accepted Hillary's response.


    Please lets us all DENOUNCE & REJECT Hillary!!!

    VOTE OBAMA '08

    February 27, 2008 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  10. Danny

    How Clinton can espouse to take the high road with a straight face mirrors her husband's tendency to speak out of both sides of his mouth. If she had an even an ounce of character in her body she would have never elected to submit her candidacy for our highest of public offices. How can the spouse of our disgraced former President be still in the running and how can we even fathom allowing the possibility of the spouse of this philanderer to grace his presence in the White House again...

    February 27, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  11. Will A.

    It was obvious that Barack initially hesitated to reject the support of the Farrakhan until Hillary called him out on it. Whether or not he “denounces” or “rejects” their support, the way that the question was answered implied that he was not quite rejecting their support, which prompted Hillary to respond to it.

    February 27, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  12. big Rich

    the clinton big SUV is running out of gas. hope bill can hick up his skirt and find a intern to lend them a clue. It's over let it go.

    February 27, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  13. Francis, Hawaii

    Clinton getting desperate! Nit picking everything, even irrelevent things!

    February 27, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  14. deb

    I was glad someone had the balls to bring up the Farrakahn endorsement and Rev. Wright Jr...it needed to be adressed. I know for a fact too, that most comments on all these websites are posted by young men. No one ever factors in the millions of people who don't participate in this crap and whos votes will be cast for Hillary...you Obamaboys control the web but not the voting booths! He may win with his mysterious charisma that is lost on me...I want an experienced President and so do millions of Americans which is why McCain will win. Get used to it. Plus we can't afford all the extra Secret Service we will have to employ for Obama!

    February 27, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  15. bornwell

    bravo obama you are the man

    February 27, 2008 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  16. ZB

    B.O. keeps his cool again and Clinton plays the race card again. Desperate (she was supposed to be good under pressure?) and sick, underhanded tactics.
    B.O. has some serious composure. That shows maturity and readiness right there.

    February 27, 2008 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  17. Rachel

    Hillary did not HIT Obama with Farrakhan. If anything Chris Russert did that. Quit playing favorites CNN and take a note from Paul Begala.

    February 27, 2008 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  18. MAT from Chicago, Ilinois

    Why is that every time Minister Farrakhan leads his support to a black official, that official has to reject/dounce the Minister's support? That's very disturbing. I don't recall John McCain denoucing Cunningham or Trent Lott rejecting Strom. Furthermore why is she quibbling over denouce vs reject? I guess that was the toilet because it was typical Clinton – – – -.

    February 27, 2008 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  19. E

    Bottom Line Obama doesnt have the experience. Go Hillary

    February 27, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  20. Nat

    Obama lost tonight's debate, Hillary was ready and answered everything very nicely done. At some point of the debate Obama was lost, sometimes he didn't know what to answer.

    Anyway, Hillary you're right. Obama is so naive....

    February 27, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  21. Michele

    "This kind of shameless headline-writing is racist and meant to incite controversy. Shame on you CNN!"

    Exactly my thoughts, Brad. Sad.

    February 27, 2008 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  22. Cindy Geer

    Obama is wish-wash about his statements about politics.

    February 27, 2008 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  23. rock usula

    Admittedly this is not Clinton's best debate – but she did get several of her points across nicely, although it's not as eloquent as it should have been. Points noted though that O seems to be to much concern with looking presidential. As usual, O takes responsibility without taking responsibility. The guy is a supernatural politician. Hillary is more qualified, but she should have been more specific.

    February 27, 2008 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  24. Keneu

    Obama conceded the point. Excellent. Because the issue was absurd. Splitting hairs.

    What I was hoping Obama would say was, "Other than in words, exactly how do you reject someone's support? What is the act of rejecting support? You ignore them and do not accept their help." And I think he made it clear that he has been doing that since day one with Farrakhan.

    But I think being man enough to concede was even better. Of course if it was a relevant important issue that required distinction, then yes, of course, fight on.

    February 27, 2008 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  25. jeff

    Obama has a poor choice of cheerleaders and an even poorer defence of the matter.

    February 27, 2008 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
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