February 27th, 2008
09:08 AM ET
7 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. Quiet Mary

    Clinton won this debate hands down!...Obama is an empty suit...the media is so bias against Senator Clinton, you could tell that by the debate, Russert is a lousy moderator..loves gotchas!!!! She will win Texas and Ohio and go on to be the nominee...In 2009...get used to saying ....Madame President!!!.

    February 27, 2008 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  2. michael onyekachi

    well, i think hillary is really stressed out and frustrated with the fact that obama is on the top, about the fact that she is been asked always the first question at the debates is not an excuse, and the press and judges are also not in the favor of obama. if truely she is experienced and politically intelligent as she claimed then first questions should even be the fastest way to display her intelligence. but if you ask me, i think obama is the right candidate for the united states of america. first, he's a good thinker and secondly he is one for all,no racial favor or what so ever. he is the man. If Hillary can be like him, then definitely i will vote for her. All the same, good luck to both super candidates.

    February 27, 2008 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  3. 4 Obama all the way

    Shame on the netwok for inciting the racial contrivercy surrounding Farrakahn. I am quite sure the grand wizard is supporting Mccain.

    February 27, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  4. TheLeftNut

    Ok! Obama can tussle.

    This whole issue isn't an issue.

    February 27, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  5. marc from indiana

    Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign has accepted $54,350 from members of a law firm that in 2006 lobbied him to introduce a tax provision for a Japanese drug company with operations in Illinois, according to public records and interviews. The government estimates the provision, which became law in December 2006, will cost the treasury $800,000.

    In 2002, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced legislation at the request of Rienzi & Sons, a Queens, N.Y., food importer, according to company president Michael Rienzi. The provision, which became law in December 2004, required the government to refund tens of thousands of dollars in duty charged on imported tomato products, Rienzi told USA TODAY.

    February 27, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  6. derek

    What scares me about obama is the likening to another "swell guy" speaker. Good ol' Hitler was a master of feel good speeches and look what happened with him. Wake up you zealots, Obama is spewing rhetoric with no background in experience. Must we be like rats following the pied piper? Just because it feels good doesn't make it right.

    February 27, 2008 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  7. Geri in Pennsylvania

    Correction: Obama said he was on Foreign Relations Committee, Hilliary corrects him last night and says he isn't, but chairs an oversite commitee on a country we are at war with, yet hasn't called a single meeting. His excuse is that he was running for President? Give me a break. Yes he gave in on some issues, he is smart, give him that, but he diffused so wouldn't be morning news. We do get tired of the Hilliary bashing and media biased. I like Obama ok, but he just doesn't have the experience. The media is star struck and always hated the Clinton's, but let's get a bit fair here.

    February 27, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  8. marc from indiana

    Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign has accepted $54,350 from members of a law firm that in 2006 lobbied him to introduce a tax provision for a Japanese drug company with operations in Illinois, according to public records and interviews. The government estimates the provision, which became law in December 2006, will cost the treasury $800,000.

    In 2002, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced legislation at the request of Rienzi & Sons, a Queens, N.Y., food importer, according to company president Michael Rienzi. The provision, which became law in December 2004, required the government to refund tens of thousands of dollars in duty charged on imported tomato products, Rienzi told USA TODAY.

    Rienzi gave $110,000 to committees set up to support Clinton's 2000 Senate race, records show. Rienzi family members contributed an additional $52,800 to her campaigns since 2000. Michael Rienzi also said he donated to Bill Clinton's presidential foundation, but he declined to say how much.

    John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, does not introduce tariff suspension bills under "a longstanding policy — no private relief bills or any bills for one person,"

    February 27, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  9. Abdurazzoq

    I think that Hillary Clinton just afraid from being loser i this "competition" becouse Obama chosed right way of geting votes. Clinton trying to make a bad think with favoreof Obama Becouse Obama took first place in presidental competition

    February 27, 2008 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  10. Ken

    It's almost as though viewers could just hear her husband arguing over what the meaning of the word "the" is. She claims to be about solutions, but when it came time to debate tonight, she was about petulant whining about who went first, semantic games, and complaining about the generally negative environment she created around herself.

    February 27, 2008 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  11. Sean, Detroit MI

    How can anyone expect Obama to have control over and be accountable for what other independant and free Americans say about him? Why is it that when a black man gets praise from Farrakhan, he has to immediately declare whose side he's on? If Farrakhan had of praised Hillary, I bet everyone wouldn't be suspecious of Hillary's loyalties, they'd be saying what a great uniter she is for bringing even Farrakhan to her side. This whole controversy just shows the double standards Obama is being held to. He gets put down for being endorsed by Oprah, while Hillary gets to quote what Tina Fey says on SNL and present it as relevant to a presidential debate.

    February 27, 2008 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  12. Brian

    Wow, talk about grasping at straws. Can one of Hillary's Advisors point her in the direction of the exit. I guess its beyond the point where she can bow out gracefully, but at least she won't continue to pull the entire party with her.

    February 27, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  13. Joel

    The reason Hilary Clintoin made the reject vs denouce comment was because he did not give a clear yes or no answer to Tim Russet. He was very vague in his answer and went around the bush. Also, Obama brought up the black vs jewish strained relationship. This is an old stereotype that know all of America thinks is currently true. Jews have been very supportive during civil rights and often live and work side by side with each other.

    February 27, 2008 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  14. Rick, Maryland

    What really get's to me is the nasty comment's from Obama
    supporter's.
    The fact that a lot of men, American men still are threatened by the thought of having a woman in the white house.
    Some of the world's great leader's have been women, Ghandi,
    Thatcher and the head of Germany now.
    The problem now is if it's between Obama and Mccain will these
    men vote for Mccain , we'll see.
    What totally turn's me off about Obama besides inexperiance is his arrogance .
    For the first time in my life, I'm leaning toward a republican if Obama
    get's the nod.
    It's not racial, our Lt. Govenor in Maryland is black and if he had
    the experiance and ran for president, I'd vote for him in a heartbeat, why, he seem's
    really down to earth and doesn't look down to regular people, the
    on'e who keep this country going.

    February 27, 2008 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  15. maggieb

    Clinton had better answers on the issues Obama wants change, but has no answers to how , when , what. He is so like Carter was that it's scary , and we don't want another disaster like the Carter Years.

    February 27, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  16. Meri, PR

    This is BS. Clinton did Obama a FAVOR. Obama supporters should realize this. I support Hillary, but I have no doubt it is Obama who will get the nomination. Had he not rejected the endorsment, it'd have just been fodder for the Republican attack machine. Give Hillary some props, people! She just saved your candidate a HUGE headache in the months to come. She's getting him ready for the general. Make no mistake about it: the Republicans will use ANY loophole in Obama's words/rhetoric to misrepresent his views and paint him as an enemy of America. I'm personally glad he closed that one, and it was all thanks to Clinton. Her concern IS her country, and she knows a Republican administration is no good to anyone.

    For those concerned with a Clinton "dynasty", think about this: for the last 28 years, the true dynasty - since everyone insists on using that word - has been the Republican party. Forget about surnames, concentrate on ruling PARTIES. The ONLY candidate that has been able to put a dent on this Republican dynasty was Clinton. You criticize what you term "Clinton politics" and "the Clinton attack machine", but they KNOW how to battle and have been the only ones to defeat the Republican attack/hate machine in almost 3 decades. If Obama wants to win, he will need their help, period. Sometimes it takes getting your hands a little dirty to fend off and defeat someone who plays a little dirtier than you do. And the Republicans are not afraid to get filthy.

    February 27, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  17. tom

    Hey Barak Why dont you tell everyone about your tax proposal that will send 845 billion dollars to help other countries while we are starving here. Doesw that make sense?????

    February 27, 2008 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  18. David C. In Indianapolis

    Any black candidate in the spotlight is always asked by the media to reject Louis Farrakhan. Do they ask white candidates to reject the Klan or Trent Lott, a polarizing political figure?

    February 27, 2008 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  19. Christopher in Cincinnati

    Just to be clear: I am no fan of Clinton. And her opportunistic turn when she brought up her denunciation of some bigoted supporters in New York was, as is usual for the Clinton camp, a clever and well-timed response sucked dry by the candidate's condescending tone. It must be a pathology. She seems completely incapable of ever bring up a good point without a smirk that says "I am smarter than everyone in this country." Slate compared her to Tracy Flick in Election, but I find her even more grating.

    In any event, her point was dead on, and while I support Obama, he did himself a huge disservice by equivocating in his answer. I have found him to be uncommonly fair minded to those hwith whom he disagrees, but principles demand limits. Instead of arguing semantics, he should have come out of the gate with a strong disapproval of "Minister" Farrakhan and left it at that. I will still vote for him, but I am very disappointed that he couldn't do better with this question.

    February 27, 2008 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  20. A Ron Paul Supporter

    Clinton is getting more, and more desperate isn't she?

    February 27, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  21. Angela

    There is no real difference between the words denounce and reject as they were used during the debate. Senator Clinton knew exactly what Senator Obama meant by saying “denounce”. She is a highly intelligent woman, and I thought that making a futile “play on words” was very childish and immature. We don’t need another president with an “it’s my way or the highway” infantile, argumentative style of governing. This is why I have rejected (not denounced because I don’t think she is evil or disloyal – maybe slightly bipolar :-) ) the notion of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton being the next president of the United States of America.

    February 27, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  22. Margi

    Reject – refuse, decline, rebuff, throw out, discard, eliminate, disallow

    Denounce – condemn, criticize, censure, accuse, deplore, deprecate, disapprove of

    They mean the same thing Hillary
    Obama 08!

    February 27, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  23. Sue

    Let me translate Mrs. Clinton's stance: semantics aside, the issue is have some back bone, make a stand, and publicly show where you stand. Move on....

    February 27, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  24. R.A.

    If you ask me, at their core, there's not a lot of difference in the result of what people like Farrakhan, Sharpton, O'Riley or Billary say and do.....it's meant to be devisive. There's plenty of shame to go around for things that are said by these folks and many others...but we have FREE SPEECH !!!! There's not much point in picking on CNN for reporting what is said in a debate..........Would you rather have it reported by a Chinese News Agency?? Quityerbellyachin and vote for who you think will best serve the country.
    And try to have a nice day.

    February 27, 2008 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  25. Wendy

    Did it ever occur to you mindless Obama supporters – he was backed into a corner before denouncing and rejecting Farrakhan? And still has not denounced or rejected the preaching of his own minister.

    February 27, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
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