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. dfr

    It was obvious at the onset that Hillary came out looking for a fight. She has lost it in my opinion. She really sounded land looked like she was a very "angry old woman."

    February 27, 2008 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  2. Bobby

    The question was not even ask to her, and had nothing to do with her.... She jumps in and give anothe cheap shot... A president with such changes, differents moods and reacting as she had will be to fear... not only by american but for by the international community... First question, different wordings... complains and complains about details that change nothing or bring nothing to her campain or to worried Americans... First questions are advantages since they have the same policies and HRC said several time... Answering the first make ur answer more genuine and WHY didnt she complained about HAVING IN THE LAST TWO DEBATE THE CLOSING STATEMENT ???????????
    STAND UP PEOPLE and vote for the calm, composed and candidate who have always given credit the other candidates for their good actions... HRC doesn't seem to know how to congratulate and respect an opponent...


    February 27, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  3. Trenchtownrock

    Totally agree Bob!! CNN is out of its flipping mind with this headline..Where is Cafferty when you need him.

    February 27, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  4. Vince Lewis

    CNN What the heck does this matter, you write this like Obama wa somehow accepting Farrakhan support, c'mon get real, reality check!

    February 27, 2008 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  5. arthurW from Virginia

    Agreed, cheap comment and cheap headline.
    Until almost the end of Clintons response on this Farrakhan non issue, I thought she was agreeing and commiserating with Obama. That she too had been backed in the past by groups she wanted nothing to do with. That she too viewed abhorred anti-Semitism. Instead she parses the definition of words in an attempt to somehow take the high road and score some points. Does it remind anyone about Bill’s previous expeditions with the English language in trying to redefine words? The debate moderator was so surprised by the answer that he had to confirm that indeed Clinton was trying to make political capital on this. I found it hardly to be an opening for Clinton, but rather to be the sounds of her campaign closing.

    February 27, 2008 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  6. marvin c. custer

    i feel bad for most people who let race and names like dem and rep. sway there votes all them names need to be done away with and vote for best person for the job..obama has done nothing vere hasnt even showed up for votes.. he is a really great talker.. but a good deceiver has to be.. one of the greast speakers of all time was hitler and look at him.. very bad man.. hillery is the only good choice.. record shows... we all know what the

    February 27, 2008 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  7. K.Rich

    Way to go Obama!!! Alot has been said about Obama's qualifications and experience or lack thereof. In many ways Mrs Clinton probably deserves it more coz she's paid her dues for some 30 odd years.
    However, I think Obama exhibits better judgment and restraint of emotions in hairy situations that'd suggest he'd do a better job. Some have pointed out that clocking in years in Washington doesn't necessarily inhibit you from making bad decisions based on emotions as Donald Rumsfield's example so poignantly shows. He had been a defense secretary in a prevois administration but yet proved to be a mindless warmonger whose mistakes in Iraq are proving intractible. Obama has the presidential poise and astuteness in answering questions that could see him win the white house.
    Yaaaaaay for Obama, we wish you the best!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  8. My two scents

    I like Hilary and think she would make a good president. But, lets face the facts; Sen. Obama is by far the most qualified candidate. Hilary, to me, just doesnt get it. She's too gong-hoe on her views, without ever stopping to think about what she's saying sometimes. I'm just glad that Sen. Obama is quick on his feet and so far has always been able to crush her feeble attempts at trying to take him down. Way to go Obama!

    February 27, 2008 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  9. KK-OHIO

    Louis Farrahkan is an american citizen-born and raised, so are the people of the nation of islam. Each individual has the right to vote and who they vote for is their choice. I thought it was a ridiculous question. I'm sure they as individuals have been voting in the past presidential elections-so why is it an issue now.

    February 27, 2008 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  10. R. C. Carter


    With all due respect, I think you and Hillary should both study the dictionary. Molly's comment above totally explains what you both unequivocally missed.

    Lastly, Barak wasn't afraid. He knows what we all know, Hillary is afraid, desperate and basically DONE!!!! Why should he do anything to destroy her when she's doing an excellent job of that by herself. There's an old saying, "Don't interupt your enemy while they're destroying themselves..."

    February 27, 2008 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  11. Liz

    Obama reminds me of that slick used car salesman who has all the right words to sell you his car and when you take it home you realize its a lemon. That's what you will get if this man is elected "a useless lemon", thats worth nothing on the market. So be careful when you are voting because remember you cant turn this lemon in for another 4 years. He really has the gift of the gab but I am sure he is a lemon when put to the test. Charisma cannot put food on your table or a roof over your head. It takes experience and knowing what you are doing to get these things done. So again, be very careful where you place your vote

    Hillary is your best bet. Let Hillary be your nominee to run for president and get America back on the right foot or things will get worse if you elect the "lemon". Go Hillary go....see you in November.

    February 27, 2008 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  12. Jeremy

    New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has commanding leads, especially among women, over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama among likely Democratic primary voters in the critical swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Quinnipiac University's Swing State Poll, three simultaneous surveys of voters in states that have been pivotal in presidential elections since 1964.

    In these two states and Florida, a swing state that already conducted a primary, Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican front-runner, is running neck and neck with either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama.

    will obama win without Florida? No

    Lasts night debate when he looked like a pres he was agreeing with gw bush.

    I just watch morning joe on msnbc and they (men) shut down the (woman) when she tries to talk aboub Hillary making head way last night

    February 27, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  13. Ohio

    Totally agree Don!

    Plus, Obama reqrets the vote about the life of a single person (Shiavo case) and couldn't even stand up to speak out against that but want's to criticize the judgement of someone else. He sounds a bit wimpy.

    Also, his reason for not having necessary meetings for the committee he is on is because he has been campaigning? Something is wrong with that.

    Obama is that guy in the office who talks a good game, kisses up to the bosses, doesn't do any actual work and get's the promotion.

    February 27, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  14. Eugene

    Wow, the supposedly "Obama-biased" media is at it again, race-baiting and using weighted headlines to evoke the infamous e-mail lies. You sure you don't want to top this off by questioning his wife's patriotism? You don't want to get an angry call from Bill and Hillary, after all. Absolutely disgusting.

    February 27, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  15. Matt

    Well played Hillary, once again you are backed into a corner and the only way you can get out is with a low-blow. However, your little jabs seem to do nothing for the American public. We know what kind of person you are – a self-centered ego maniac. Is every little thing that isn't an issue one that you will see to make? It's these tactics, these little "denounce or reject" tactics that are nothing but public relations. We know your campaign is failing and your support is leaving you. Any publicity is good publicity isn't it Hillary?

    February 27, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  16. AJ

    The "hope of the world?" What a joke. It's obvious that Obama believes that he is exctly that and was happy to hear Farrakhan say it. Obama and all of his followers are disgusting people. If he should secure the nomination, I will look forward to seeing his failed presidency. He will make G.W. Bush look honest and competent.

    February 27, 2008 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  17. Dan

    Senator Clinton is desperate. She looks like a losing team trailing by many points in the 4th quarter that would try anything. On this point Senator Obama came out on top in the end because he agreed to reject and denounce while she only rejected. I agree with one poster that denounce is already a stronger word than reject. If I just reject something from somebody it does not necessarily means that I don't like what is offered. It could be simply because I don't need it.

    February 27, 2008 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  18. Emily

    CNN.....This headline is UNFAIR! One would think that Barack seeked Farrakhan's endorsement. He's right! What is he rejecting if he's not getting an offer. The guy is smart and Billary can't stand it. I guess we saw a 4th PERSONAILTY last night. Who will we see today??

    And Hillary, enough with the "Meet Me In Texas!" (Lost a 20 point lead) , "Meet me in Ohio!" (The gap is CLOSING), "Meet Me In Philly!") Naaaah, It's a wrap!

    What's that I hear........THE FAT LADY SINGING!!!!!!!


    February 27, 2008 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  19. MAJEK

    Are you all crazy? He skirted the issue, Obama should have out right rejected/denounced Farrakhan's support. Obama said "I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought", "I can't say to somebody that he can't say that he thinks I'm a good guy". Yes you can! I do believe that Don is correct he did not want to alienate the muslim vote. HILLARY schooled him. She is far seasoned and knows how to handle herself, she was strong and correct in saying that he needs to make it clear that he rejects that type of support. HILLARY knows what the republicans will do to him if he gets the nomination, and that means we will have another republican in the W.H. This article is one of the few times that CNN has not been obamacrazed... can this mean fair and balanced media may be working its way back to us?

    February 27, 2008 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  20. allyce

    Same on CNN AND MSNBC for twisting the debate as usual and praising Obama. As far as I am concerned, Obama's lack of strong rejection of Farrakhan has killed any chances he would have had in any general election. Of course, MSNBC failed to take it to the next level and ask him about his minister who praises Farrakhan, which was acknowledged last night on the debate. He attends the church where his own minister sings the praises and agrees with Farrakhan. My God people, wake up!
    Hillary won the debate – as usual Obama could only respond by saying "I agree with what she just said" and then would go on and on about some family/person he met on the campaign trail. Hillary is smart, and is capable of leading this country. Keep in mind that I am a republican and will be voting for McCain but cannot stand to sit by and see the media unfairly treating Senator Clinton – facts are facts – Obama is not only unamerican but unqualified.

    February 27, 2008 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  21. Mike J

    Anyone who saw the debate knows just how much of a non event this was. I applaud Barack for his comments last night, including his point of bringing together ties between the Jewish and African Anerican communities, as well as his words when he criticized African Americans for their Anti Jewish sentiment.

    February 27, 2008 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  22. TJ

    I have to agree with Brad. The title of your article makes it seem like Billary brought up the question of Farrakhan's support. When it was really brought up by the moderators... she was simply trying to find an "I gotcha" moment that backfired on her.

    Molly's point is correct also. To denounce someone is far more potent than to simply reject.. Sen. Obama was justified in denouncing as opposed to rejecting in that there was no help offered to be rejected. By denouncing Farrakhan he was making a far bolder statement.

    But hey... words don't matter right Sen. Clinton? Or so you said earlier in your campaign. Is this just another thing that you are trying to backpedal on and twist to your advantage? Sounds like it to me.

    Oh, and what about the jobs she promised New Yorkers that never materialized because as she said, – she was planing on having a Democratic president in office.. What was that? That tells me she can't work with Republicans or anyone who isn't part of her inner circle. She didn't even try. She gave up because one of her cronies wasn't in office to help her out.

    Where are those tax returns you promised you'd release Sen. Clinton? Where are the White House document's you said you would release? Why are you afraid to release them? What are you hiding? You claim the time you spent in the White House as part of your overall experience to be our leader.. so show us what you did. Be transparent about your financing, or are you too afraid to show the American people where your money came from?

    Enough with the games. Time to bring the party together. or do we rally want another 4 years of the same old same old...

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

    Someone explain to me why Clinton gets grilled by media and critized for anything she says and does and yet Obama is going to be investigated next week (probably conviently after tuesday) for criminal activity and news media is not talking about that? Why is this guy not getting grilled like she does? It makes no sense to me what-so-ever.

    February 27, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  24. Rick645

    Tonight's debate made it clear that we are in danger of electing a president whose ideology was shaped in great part by a minister who is a supporter of Farrakhan. While nobody is saying that Obama is a Farrakhan supporter, he didn't reject Farrakhan's support until told to do so by Clinton. That should give the entire nation pause.

    CNN, please vet Obama more on this before Tuesday. Texas and Ohio might want a more detailed look at Obama, his church and Farrakhan.

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

    This is my problem with Hillary. In a week attempt to bring Barack down, she makes comments such as these. What else is he supposed to say? Obviously he doesn't go searching for Farrakhan's support but honestly people, do you try to convince people 'not' to like you?

    February 27, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
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