February 27th, 2008
09:08 AM ET
6 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. Il Teacher

    Obama gave her and inch and she took a mile! She smoked him on Farrakhan, Putin successor (whom he knew nothing about), his lack of action on his senate committe involving Afghastan, and every other issue that his only response was, "I totally agree with what Senator Clinton just said." He truely is the "ditto" man. His motto is, "Have teleprompter will travel."

    Good Lord...another likeable fool int the White House.

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  2. Charlotte

    What is his churches ties to Farrakhan? He was certainly hesitant to out and out reject his support. HUMMMMMMMMMM

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  3. Wilhemina

    Okay, it is time to site the dictionary:

    denounce – to condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible.

    condemn – to express disapproval of, to pronounce judgement against; to sentence, to declare unfit for use.

    reprehensible – deserving rebuke or censure.

    reject – to refuse to accept, submit to, believe, or make use of.

    Look has everyone forgot that Obama is a Professor of Law from Harvard University. If you think "reject" was the correct term, well think again, and go back to school.

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  4. Raum

    ""There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it," he said. "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 said."

    I'm kinda confused that this wasn't emphasized in the article or the title. She hardly hit him, it was Brian and Tim that really hit him. He handled Clinton's claim better than I could have imagined.

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  5. Lee

    Obama wins another debate, I can't even listen to the other Clinton because evertime she opens her mouth she lies or back tracks Hey Hillary if your so against the war you should'nt of voted for it in the first place just remember why were in this war anyway it goes back to your scandalists husbands years in office when he did'nt finish Bin Laden off when he had the chance

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  6. Steve

    Obama is trying to be all things to all people. He is very smooth.

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  7. Michael Mee

    As someone who isn't easily lead to foolish conclusion by fear mongering media / politicans – I thought Obama's response on this question was quite good. Especially him making light of Clinton choosing to play politics on this issue. :)

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  8. sairefgm

    Hillary is very petty. I am so glad that march 4 will send her home for good. If I had to listen to her long winded begging one more time, I will walk out in front of a bus. She is pathetic.

    Too much time is being wasted on petty things. I am glad obama told the reporters to move that to the side. that is why we are in this mess. too much petty. plus

    saturday night live petty
    just petty petty petty.

    Hillary is winning a state. the state of denial.

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  9. matt

    I love it when Clinton answers a question and Obama says Yeah I agree with that.. I especially loved how she answered the Nafta question, in which he has been tearing her up on, and here he says: " i believe she answered that perfectly" or whatever..

    Obama is a joke! im tired of hearing him not have his own answers

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  10. Hoost

    Your idiotic TIcker headline about Clinton hitting Obama on his support for Farrakhan is absolutely outrageous. He does NOT support Farrakhan. He said so tonight, over and over again. Who the hell is writing this crap on your website?

    Now I know why I tend to watch MSNBC over CNN during election/debate coverage.

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  11. chuckychess omama clinton

    Just give Hillary one of Obama traditional dress, and we all have one, then we all be one.

    February 26, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  12. Zeke Tuscanue

    Hillary Clinton needs to access a dictionary.

    de·nounce (dĭ-nouns') Pronunciation Key
    tr.v. de·nounced, de·nounc·ing, de·nounc·es

    1. To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible. See Synonyms at criticize.
    2. To accuse formally.
    3. To give formal announcement of the ending of (a treaty).

    re·ject /v. rɪˈdʒɛkt; n. ˈridʒɛkt/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[v. ri-jekt; n. ree-jekt] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –verb (used with object)
    1. to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.: to reject the offer of a better job.
    2. to refuse to grant (a request, demand, etc.).
    3. to refuse to accept (someone or something); rebuff: The other children rejected him. The publisher rejected the author's latest novel.
    4. to discard as useless or unsatisfactory: The mind rejects painful memories.
    5. to cast out or eject; vomit.
    6. to cast out or off.
    7. Medicine/Medical. (of a human or other animal) to have an immunological reaction against (a transplanted organ or grafted tissue): If tissue types are not matched properly, a patient undergoing a transplant will reject the graft.

    noun
    8. something rejected, as an imperfect article.

    Clearly, denounce is both a strong and appropriate word choice which is not only more forceful, but more accurate.

    I wish she would stop playing these games and focus on something substantial.

    February 26, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  13. Dan

    This pretty seriously misrepresents how that moment occurred.

    Senator Clinton attacked after a moderator question on the subject and you leave out Senator Obama's comments about civil rights and the partnership between African-Americans and Jews.

    Pretty slimey way to mischaracterize and editorialize with your Ticker.

    February 26, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  14. noemi

    My summary of tonight's debate they both need each other to take back the White House. Love live America and God Bless America.

    February 26, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  15. Dee

    First, I don't think Obama's rejection of Farrakhan is sincere. The church he has attended for decades is part of the Black Nationalist movement; it's minister has publicly honored Farrakhan and supported his message. If what he is saying is true, and his own views are different from those of Black Nationalists such as Farrakhan, then why does he attend a "church" whose main points of theology are "liberation and Black Power?" Also, if Obama stands for the polar opposite of such ideas, then why do so many in the Black racist movement support him?

    Second, I think this is more than just what Obama supports. Farrakhan and others around him who endorse Obama have publicly said that Hitler was a "great man" and they unanimously call for a black revolution against Whites, who they believe to be "inferior subhumans." If such people support a candidate, it is obviously because they believe that their twisted and perverse racist ideologies can be put into practice by this candidate. In other words, they recognize that he is one of them. As for me, I would rather not have the President of the United States acting as a branch of a movement who claims that the majority of people in this country (whites) are inferior, subhuman, and admire Hitler's methods and ideology.

    CNN moderators: I have consistently posted my opinions to these forums, and you consistently leave them out. You never put them in, while allowing most if not all of the pro-Obama individuals to post as much as they want; even if what they say is blatantly false. It's time for fair and balanced moderation.

    February 26, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  16. David

    Denounce: Publicly declare to be wrong or evil.

    Reject: Dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate or not to one's taste.

    To denounce would appear to be the stronger, and correct, position.

    February 26, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  17. Pamela

    HE HAD SAID THAT HE DENOUNCES THE SUPPORT AND BELIEVES THAT FARRAKHAN'S BELIEFS ARE INAPPROPRIATE AND SHE WANTED HIM TO SAY "REJECT". THERE'S NOT BIT OF A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE 2 WORDS AND SHE'S BEING VERY PICKY!

    February 26, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  18. William

    So Hillary wants to restrict free speech?

    Not that I would ever agree with Louis Farrakhan but this is a basic tenet of democracy and a free society.

    Readers should research Voltaire and Evelyn Beatrice Hall and what they had to say about thinking for yourself.

    Hillary would be no better than George Bush with his erosion of the Constitution in the name of fighting terror. That she would say something as ignorant as "we should not let anyone in any way say these things" is a fundamental move away from the freedoms this country was based on. What if Hillary disagrees with you? Is it ok that she would decide that you can't say something?

    We aren't talking about yelling fire in a theater. Farrakhan is an idiot about a lot of things but part of letting him spew his hate is letting people realize for themselves what kind of person he is and the value (or lack thereof) of his views.

    But allowing anyone to muzzle one person is allowing them to quiet anyone.

    I am amazed that Hillary would say such a stupid thing and I pray the press calls her on this repeatedly.

    February 26, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  19. Debo

    What a stupid distinction. Hillary just wanted her opportunity to go after Obama. Denounce as defined in the dictionary is actually a tougher verb but what's the issue here? Stupid comment for Hillary and stupider to bring this up as an article.

    February 26, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  20. Black Lady From Texas

    Why is it that the Black candidate always has to answer for what's bad within our race? Is John McCain going to have to answer for Trent Lott's endorsement? I doubt it. The question won't even be posed to him, but Obama has to answer about Louis Farrahkan? Trent Lott supported Strom Thurmond, a blatant segregationist, which is just as inflammatory to Black people as Farrahkan is too Jewish people, however the question is only posed to Obama. And for Hillary to jump in there to fan the flames made me angry at first, and then just made me sad. I thought we'd come further than this.... In the words of Hillary, shame on you Tim Russert and shame on you Hillary for jumping on that racially motivated bandwagon.

    February 26, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    The headline needs to change on your ticker.. read the word meaning.. and make the change once for and all..

    de·nounce (dĭ-nouns')
    tr.v., -nounced, -nounc·ing, -nounc·es.
    To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible. See synonyms at criticize.
    To accuse formally.
    To give formal announcement of the ending of (a treaty).

    or

    re·ject (rĭ-jĕkt')
    tr.v., -ject·ed, -ject·ing, -jects.
    To refuse to accept, submit to, believe, or make use of.
    To refuse to consider or grant; deny.
    To refuse to recognize or give affection to (a person).
    To discard as defective or useless; throw away. See synonyms at refuse.

    Denounce has a stronger shade of meaning than reject. Don't you think?

    February 26, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  22. Mac

    Is she really arguing semantics now.

    She is very desperate.

    February 26, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  23. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    she's a fishwife.... NOT PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL

    February 26, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  24. Kingfish

    Well played, Mr. Obama.

    February 26, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  25. Maisie2008

    Denounce = to condemn or censure openly or publicly

    Reject = to refuse to have, take, recognize

    In this case, clearly "denounce" is a more appopriate term since there is nothing that was asked or offered by Obama to Farrakhan.

    Condemnation is obviouisly a very strong sentiment and sufficient to address this whole stuff.

    February 26, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
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