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. John, Washington DC

    Minister? Minister?

    I can't believe Obama (even minimally) dignified someone who leads an organization that is blatantly racist and religiously intolerant of the Judeo-Christian faiths. Who was he trying to show respect to (or pander to)?

    Hillary hit that nail right on the head. As a white Christian, she was 100% in her right to press him on that – let's keep intolerance on a level playing field.

    February 27, 2008 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  2. John

    Why, CNN, focus only such a small part of the debate....what about Clinton's weasle-worded answer when asked, yet again, if she will release, as Obama did, her income tax records? I think she has no choice but to release but I can anticipate what will happen when she does--she will redact key names of sources of income in order to "protect their confidentiality" and/or "intrusion into their personal financial affairs".

    February 27, 2008 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  3. Tom Swift

    Actually "denounce" is the stronger word.

    Last night I "rejected" an offer of another beer. But i like beer, so I didn't "denounce" it. If I didn't like beer and didn't think beer was good, I would "denounce" it as being bad.

    Obama was right the 1st time when he denounced Farrakhan.

    He was also right when he later both denounced AND rejected Farrakhan.

    Obama proved that he wasn't going to argue over the meaning of "is" ... he used BOTH words to make his stance perfectly clear.

    McCain '08

    February 27, 2008 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  4. Joseph, Honolulu, Hawaii

    Obama's REFLEX (knee jerk reaction) to mildly denounce the anti semitic Farrakhan verbal support, is telling of how Obama really feels about it. He obviously doesn't really feel strongly about definitively rejecting Farrkhan's support. His body language and facial expressions seem very indifferent as well. It's fine that he changed the word to reject, but he really didn't seemed bothered by the support.

    It amazes me how much disfavor I see for Hillary Clinton. If you want to judge the woman, do so on her accomplishments and her life's work. She has championed civil and human rights around this country and around the world. She spoke at a public political event in China rejecting their abuse of woman and children. She fought so hard for the rights of minority groups, children, and women around this country. Healthcare, my god....... this is her life's work, all she wants to do is offer everyone the chance to have health care.

    February 27, 2008 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  5. George

    I think Hillary is crying "unfair" because she is not winning. In the kindergarten playground, we call that "sore loser."

    February 27, 2008 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  6. Joanne Urish

    I am soooo proud of Senator Obama! He was quite Presidential.
    Hillary was rather pathetic. Truly, quite sad. She is grasping at straws and it shows. I do hope she can end up on a graceful note, with a degree of dignity. It's almost like she is determined to humiliate herself. .

    Joanne Urish, Glasford, IL

    February 27, 2008 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  7. L Niemczycki

    It seems to me that the longer Senetor Clinton is on TV, the more she hurts her self image. She comes of as desperate and a tyrant.
    I think she needs yet another campaign manager.

    February 27, 2008 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  8. Martin

    To be honest, the debate highlighted that MSNBC is much superior and fairer than CNN. The questions were hard hitting, interesting and superior.After watching last nights debate( I think Obama was protected by CNN during your channels debates, I also notice CNN are starting to attack McCain and promote Obama) it is clear to me that I can not take your news channel serious regarding political coverage.

    February 27, 2008 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  9. aPuerto Rican

    Sen. HC made points, but the faces of 'EVE' continue to be her downslide. Sen, Obama held his own and was stronger in area where many people are concern with. Bottle line both these individual have talent, but Sen. Obama is the the individual that should run this great counrty for the next four years. Now if he proof to be the DEM. who he is putting down in many of his of debates, then "We the People' move on and search for the right individual to get us( U.S.) though these situation that have been damageing both here in the U.S.A. and the world. I'll give him four and then will see. YES WE CAN!!

    February 27, 2008 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  10. Kimberly in Texas

    Please check out the definitions of reject and denounce....clearly denounce is a much stronger word and correctly reflects the response.

    That being said, Senator Obama rejected and denounced Farrakhan's support. Therefore, can we now get past this and any other divisive issues.

    And shame on you CNN with your poll regarding "the photo".

    February 27, 2008 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  11. Bill Jay

    For all the folks that do not understand the differance between DENOUNCE and REJECT........Hillary really got obama here.



    Hopefully some help while debating goes a long way.

    February 27, 2008 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  12. Geri in Pennsylvania

    CNN is biased for Obama. It will be remembered by us
    that want unbiased coverage.

    Obama last night stated he was on the Foreign Relations
    Committee. Hilliary chairs an oversite under that Committee only and over a country we are at war with, yet hasn't called a meeting? Hilliary, McCain or any of them would get blasted, but not CNN's darling. Is it love for Obama, or just hatred of Clinton's by CNN? Due to media running election, for first time in my 58 years I will not vote rather then vote Obama to let the media win.

    February 27, 2008 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  13. wthwah

    OMG... Does she have anything else to whin about. Hillary, it's cold where I live, why don't you reject and denounce that? How can she possibly hold Mr. Obama accountable for something someone else said? Ms. Clinton, this is AMERICA, FREEDOM OF SPEECH. You are running for the office which upholds and defends the Constitution, and you are attacking someone for not rejecting someone else for use of thier constitutional rights.

    You have just made my mind up for me, I cannot vote for someone, that has demonstrated such poor taste, quick over-reaction, and complete failure to understand the responsibilities the President of the United States has.

    You appear to have lost your control, and that is something a president must be able to control, seeing a) We don't need another Bush-type of president, and B) what will the President of Iran or N. Korea cause you to do when you snap because they piss you off.

    Too scary...

    February 27, 2008 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  14. Nando

    I trust Barak not HILLARY!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  15. 4 Obama all the way

    Reject, denounce; my thing is Farrakan is just one person with his own views, just because he said Obama was a good guy does not mean Obana is doing business with him. These words Clinton want's Obama to use is just radical. Obama stand up and be your own man, if denounce is the word to use then use it. This why Hillary is not the front runner.

    February 27, 2008 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  16. Johanna

    Senator Obama, I believe won this debate again, our next President Obama. Why would we keep putting the same people back in as President, Bush, Clinton, Bush, now fresh change that will bring a change is Obama. I also read that Ann Richards’s sons were disappointed that Clinton is using their mother as supporting her, Ann Richards was a strong woman, and I believe she would have backed Obama. No, one can say whom someone would vote for when that person is deceased, people change when they see a great change coming and Obama is our change. I am a native Texan and shame on Clinton for using false advertisement; I am tired of Clinton whining myself, and we have real issues at hand.

    February 27, 2008 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  17. Sam

    This is another example of Hilary trying to get Obama to "react" instead of "respond". She wants him to lose his cool in front of the cameras, but he's not taking the bait. He stayed calm, cool and collected , while she couldn't help herself and whined about getting the 1st question!

    Go Obama!

    February 27, 2008 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  18. Joss

    Irma – look up denounce in the dictionary. Actually, let me help.

    de·nounce /dɪˈnaʊns/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[di-nouns] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –verb (used with object), -nounced, -nounc·ing. 1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly: to denounce a politician as morally corrupt.
    2. to make a formal accusation against, as to the police or in a court.
    3. to give formal notice of the termination or denial of (a treaty, pact, agreement, or the like).
    4. Archaic. to announce or proclaim, esp. as something evil or calamitous.
    5. Obsolete. to portend.

    February 27, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  19. Berkeley

    One thing is clear to me: Obama is another Washington politician yet without executive experience, which doesn't make him the best choice for the Presidency.

    This campaign has been unilaterally race driven. A good percentage of black people are voting on the base of race, whille the rest are not.

    Only some courageous black people are having the guts to say that.
    I hope for everybody's good that this doesn't fire back.

    February 27, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  20. Tdub

    Come on CNN, let's not make this an issue. I only read this piece b/c of the headline... if you really think that Barack stands by Farrakhan (and his message) just say so. Otherwise, anyone who watched the debate would find this headline misleading. His answer spoke for itself, and Hillary's comment presented an opportunity to clarify it

    Although the higlights from this debate might have been few and far between, this was not one of them

    February 27, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  21. George

    Obama was always given the last words during the debate on Tuesday. This is an extremly tactical and manipulative maneuver – a well known method used by moderaters who are not neutral. In every debate so far Obama has been given the last very important words and a chance to create opinion in favour of an issue and appearance – like a chairman of a board! It is sad to say that Hillary Clinton herself has had to remind about that. The "last words" plays a decisive role in all discussions – CNN/Univision and Obama knows that and it is unbelievable that you Americans do not care about this unproper democratic order.

    February 27, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  22. bill

    these two people that is running for president could realy
    get the econmy going if they would start selling used cars

    February 27, 2008 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  23. Geri in Pennsylvania

    CNN and other media are turning me off to politics. The bias
    is so rampart that why vote, the media is manipulating votes.
    To quote Clinton "Shame on you CNN". But it has been the
    whole political system. We want to hear issues, not Hlliary
    bashing constantly, dont' you realize that?

    February 27, 2008 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  24. 4 Obama all the way

    I was watching this debate and I had to say this, Obama looks so presidential, I mean I really can see him in the white house. He is so straight forward, seemly honest, with great character. I just was really in tuned to him. Hillary should run for governor or something, but president nope.

    February 27, 2008 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  25. Alice

    Regarding Ferrakhan and Obama's response. I personally did not see the difference between "reject", "denouce". It is surprising to read some Clinton's supporters here saying that "reject" would have been the the proper word.

    Ferrakhan, was not offering Obama anything. He simply said, Obama is a nice guy; he has been good, blah blah....he did not endorse Obama; he even said he is dost not know if he will be voting for Obama or not. So I did not see anything been offered that need to be rejected by Obama.

    You guys should go back and read Ferrakhan's statement very well and see if he had offered Obama anything.

    Denoucing his statements and stands against the jews was the best and appropriate response.

    Hillary in her usual combative posture was trying to spin the whole situation and attempt to cast doubt on Obama; However Obama turned the tables on her....if the one reject makes her day, though it does not fit the contest, Obama gave it to her.."I reject and denouce". Hope Hillary felt better after that.

    February 27, 2008 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
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