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. Lily

    The more HRC open her mouth, the more people run away from her! Talking about experience LOL!! She got it alright.....NOT!!

    February 27, 2008 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  2. Pattyshaw, Nigeria

    I wonder why we are crying over to english words (Denouce and reject). A dictionary (oxford advanced learner) meaning of denounce is to strongly criticise something and somebody you think is wrong and illegal while to reject means to refuse to accept or consider somebody or something. If Minister Farrakhan endorsed Obama, it is only a statement of acceptance, which he critically dissociated himself from by his denunciation.

    If you view these words technically, to denouce is stronger than reject because you consider that thing or person not only wrong ,etc, but you see it as EVIL. Since Hillary wanted him to use the word reject, I am happy he did to satisfy her DESPERATION.

    I would also say that it would be difficult for someone to reject an endorsement because he (Farrakhan) has freedom of speech.

    So lets leave english language behind and head unto the POLLS come March 4th, so we can see the clearer nominee between the duo.

    February 27, 2008 04:03 am at 4:03 am |


    February 27, 2008 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  4. tony

    I think the headline is misleading, CNN. People who didn't watch the debate may be led to think that this was a major bone of contention in the debate. It wasn't. Highlighting it is playing into Clinton's treachery.

    February 27, 2008 04:04 am at 4:04 am |


    February 27, 2008 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  6. Ben Dover

    Do you really want to turn the country over to Obama?
    It's clear to me, that the only reason Obama is getting the white male vote is because the majority of men in this country are insecure in their manhood. They think it may make them look weak if they vote for a woman. I'm sure the Texans who are secure in their manhood will take the lead in this, after all they know they are not weak and they are secure in their manhood. Neither will they be swayed by delusions of grandeur that Obama is doling out by the bucketfuls.
    I would be very wary of this man with a clear Muslim background and ancestry.

    February 27, 2008 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  7. Andrea

    U guys are funny lol. Look, at the end of the day, they're both Politicians. The decision now rest on rather or not which candidate America wants to marry for the next 4 years. Choose wisely, because we can't take this one back, even if we have the receipt.

    February 27, 2008 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  8. Chuma C. I'Aronu

    It is a shame. I had expected better politics form our former first lady, Hillary Clinton. After all the advantages nature, parentage, race and position afforded her, she still whines and complains about everything. Think again, is this the President we deserve? She has lost by herself. Count me out as her supporter. How can she play the victim, it doesnt fit.

    February 27, 2008 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  9. Molly

    Clinton's desperate because if she doesn't win both Ohio and Texas, she's through.

    Kudos to Obama for keeping a level head and once again avoiding Clinton's dirty politics.

    February 27, 2008 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  10. denise

    this was a pretty good question by the moderator and good point made by clinton. really what does this Farrakhan stand for?? just about everything that obamas "change" campaign does not. so its like an oxymoron.
    obama needs to grow a pair and start talking like someone who is running to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world. is he a nice guy? sure. does he speak well? yeah. is he telling the public what they want to hear? ofcourse. its all smoke, i think he will be a great disappointment to this country if he is elected. we need a leader and so far he hasn't impressed me at all.

    February 27, 2008 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  11. Sebastian

    A question for Hillary: would you vote for Lois Lane?

    February 27, 2008 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  12. Gina

    Reject as stated by Websters: to refuse to accept, recognize, believe; to refuse (a person) recognition, acceptance; to expel, react against physiologically; to cast away as worthless, discard.

    Denounce as stated by Websters: to condemn openly and vehemently, inveigh against; to inform against, accuse; to give formal notice of the termination of (a treaty, truce).

    Both have strong meanings to be against or to refuse something or someone. If you ask me Obama was being the gentleman when he conceded the point to Clinton. To me this seems to show that Obama would be more diplomatic when it comes to running the country and in handling sensitive matters. Also Obamas demeanor and poise shows that he can keep a cool head in times of opposition. Whereas Clintons demeanor showed just the opposite. I found her comment about the SNL show and giving Obama a "pillow" to be very childish and immature. If the "media" has been tough on her, it is because she has brought it on herself with the way she has been acting and with the things she has said. And before anyone decides to jump on me for this comment or before you accuse me of being an "Obama maniac" or a "Clinton hater" I never said who I was voting for because quite honestly I am still undecided. I'm just simply laying out the facts as I see them (except for the definitions posted above, those really are Websters words). But I will say this, when I vote, I will vote for whom I believe to be the best choice not for whom the "media" or anyone writing on these blogs tells me I should vote for.

    February 27, 2008 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  13. DMON

    I didn't see CNN put a headline up all day after Cunningham made the remark that McCain "denounced". If we are going to hold a candidate accountable for people that support them then we have millions to scrutinize! It seems as if all anyone can do is make fun or shed light on things that Barack had no decision on, His name, who supports him, what he wears, if he holds his hand over his heart, and all it does is make fools out of our so-called public critics. Nice to know that "prejudice" is alive and well!

    February 27, 2008 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  14. Bill Jay

    Hillary was great as always........................................08............................

    obama hinted that he can not fix anything without the people,
    what kind of Pres. would that be???????????????????/

    A LEADER makes the choices, not the people. Think of all the
    zero's out there, like you know who.

    February 27, 2008 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  15. Mike

    Hillary was way too cute in parsing words, bringing back memories of her husband's attempt to deflect the truth when he said, "...It's all in how you define what "is" is..." The only person made to look bad by her attempt tonight was Hillary.

    February 27, 2008 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  16. Lisa in TN

    'I absolutely think that it is imperitive that we must recognize the necessity of perceiving the obvious importance of.....blah, blah, blah....' Hillary really says a whole lot of nothing most of the time.

    Really, Hillary, do you think he needs to say 'reject' instead of 'denounce?' Just words??????

    February 27, 2008 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  17. Bill Jay

    Hillary you are so clever, the black people can't know that due to there
    lower I.Q.

    February 27, 2008 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  18. Bill Jay

    CNN another great job, abama was weak again.....................................

    February 27, 2008 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  19. david

    Way to go Hill....those are cajones people! We don't want someone who's afraid to come down on a radical racist because he afraid to offend them or lose some votes.




    If you don't agree with the above, it will be McCain in the WH.

    February 27, 2008 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  20. Michael, North Carolina

    Sen. Obama did a great job in the debate tonight. Sen. Obama is biracial and wants all of the races to work together for the common good of American. Sen. Clinton needs to go back to Yale and understand the fact that denounce and reject means the same thing. Sen. Obama does not agree with the hate and lies that Farrakhan talks about. I believe Farrakhan wants to sabtage Sen.Obama. He knows both black and white people denounce and reject his message of hate. So he would love to pull the good Senator down with him. Sen. Obama loves America and the American people. Sen. Obama is the Joe Louis, FDR, and JFK of our generation. Together with Sen. Obama we go fourth as a united nation.

    Obama/Edwards '08

    February 27, 2008 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  21. American Patriot

    Clinton and Obama both are members of the CFR.


    I hope you all realize what you have done by voting for eiter.


    Or you can YOUTUBE videos of the FEMA Consentration camps being buildt in America, complete with furnaces to cremate people.

    Go ahead and look, I dare you..

    You have been warned. The North American Union is forming

    February 27, 2008 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  22. meg

    denounce or reject. i agree you only reject after an offer has been made. clinton made this an issue because she doesn't anything else. farrakhan was only brought up because of the picture her office put out.

    clinton should know by now "no weapon formed against him is going to prosper" God is on obama side

    February 27, 2008 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  23. Joseph, LA, CA

    Interestingly, Clinton is probably the more electable Democrat, in spite of all the polling. The simple fact is that only 4 or 5 states will determine the outcome of this election–Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, and perhaps Missouri and Iowa. The rest will fall in line with the results of the 2004 Bush v. Kerry results.

    Clinton has a better shot at winning in any of these States than Barack does, except for the last 2 states. The huge wins Obama racked up in Southern and Mountain states during the primaries are unlikely to lead to general election victories. With Clinton, even Texas can come into play. With Obama, the Latino vote will migrate to McCain.

    The biggest concern for Obama is that his candidacy may place states such as Pennsylvania and even California in play, forcing him to divert resources. A candidate who cannot win a single big state, except for his own will be problematic at best.

    The upcoming primaries will be interesting. A narrow victory in Texas for Obama is not a good sign. A major loss in Ohio could mean that he may have no chance in the general election.

    And given his campaign's insistence to leave out the Florida delegation, he has practically no chance of winning that state in November.

    February 27, 2008 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  24. Mike H.

    Clinton was right to ask Obama to reject Farrakhan's support . But she and Tim Russert should also have pressed him on the close relationship between Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Farrakhan. Wright is Obama's spiritual advisor, who, among other things, married the Obamas. He is also a big supporter of Farrakhans and his publication recently named the racist and anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader "man of the year."

    February 27, 2008 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  25. Bill Jay

    Everyone leave CNN alone..........Wolfman is the best ...........................
    CNN reports it as they see fit, if you don't like it' then change the channel.

    I watch CNN everynight, larry king and anderson cooper are wonderful.

    CNN number 1............................................whoa...........................................

    February 27, 2008 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
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