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. Juan Grain

    From Websters
    1: to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil 2archaic a: proclaim b: to announce threateningly 3: to inform against : accuse 4obsolete : portend5: to announce formally the termination of (as a treaty)

    1 a: to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use b: to refuse to hear, receive, or admit : rebuff, repel c: to refuse as lover or spouse 2obsolete : to cast off 3: throw back, repulse4: to spew out 5: to subject to immunological rejection

    Tomato Tomato

    February 27, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  2. Jim

    I suggest a headline change to:

    CNN Wastes Time of Thousands With Sensationalist Nonsense.

    There were in fact actual policies discussed and debated. Please don't waste our time with drivel of this sort.

    February 27, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  3. Louise

    I can't believe the Clinton fanatics are trying to spin this. I'm going to be so happy when you and your scummy candidate are sent back to Arkansas!

    February 27, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  4. Matt

    The better question is, what does it say about a candidate if Farrakhan DOES support him and why does Farrakhan support him.

    February 27, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  5. Hong

    Are we going to have a president who always does something in the first place and then realizes that is not enough after informed by others?
    A follower in practice.

    February 27, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  6. Sharon of Illinois

    Hillary looked really stupid here. Reject, denounce not a big difference. And why does every black person have to answer for the stupidity of another black person? Does every white person have to answer for the stupidity of a white person? What candidate apologized for Strom Thurmond when he was alive? Its ridiculous.

    February 27, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  7. Rick, Maryland

    Case in point.
    Jordan, just a few comment's before my last one call's Hillery,
    Clinton and Obama, Mr. Obama.
    As I said, American are scared of and don't respect women as
    there equal.
    One last thing, from my last comment, when it come's to
    talking with foreign countries, the arrogance of Obama will
    destroy .

    February 27, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  8. Frank tulsa, ok

    No tap-outs.............Obama wins because Hillary couldn't get past his guard and do ground and pound. Sorry....not enough to reverse the momentum. If anything it helped Obama understand where his weaknesses are and what to focus on in November.

    February 27, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  9. Anpl

    obama is so smooth with words. his rejection wasn't even sincere. and yes there is a difference between decounce and reject.

    February 27, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  10. case

    I love see Billary getting put threw the ringer. Hillary, McCain, Nader, more of the same. Out with the old!

    Independent for OBAMA

    February 27, 2008 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  11. Old School

    Check Mate it's a rap call a doctor I think Hillary is turning red she looked like she was flashing on stage.

    February 27, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  12. last debate

    He is so presidential......he wasn't whining, complaining or using SNL as a point of reference. He didn't even take a swipe at her when they showed the clip of Hillary mocking him which was disgraceful.....but as always he handled the foolishness.

    February 27, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  13. Brandon

    Come on Juanito CNN is the biggest Obama homer out there!!!! Obama would not even be in this race if it wasn't for CNN and other like media!!!! OBAMA HOMERS !!!
    Huckabee 08'

    February 27, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  14. carol

    All Obama does is agree with Hillary. What would he say if he could not agree with her all the time. Obama supporters you better watch out, the Republicans are sabbotaging our election, go to rushlimbaugh.com and read for yourselves.

    February 27, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  15. Wayne, Greenville TX

    I believe that come next Tuesday, my fellow Texans will denounce and reject Hillary Clinton. 🙂

    February 27, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  16. Angelika

    Haha, go Obama! Hillary is, once again, trying to play the religion card by bringing this up. Believe it or not, she's tying him with Islam. I watch the news a lot, and didn't know this guy supported Obama. Anyone notice that Obama only points a finger at Hillary when it's something like a misleading picture? Hillary, meanwhile, screams about everything.

    February 27, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  17. Barry

    . please look up denounce and reject in the dictionary.

    Denounce is a much stronger term than reject. Hillary's argument was stupid, and simply trying to 'catch' obama on something stupid.

    February 27, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  18. Rex

    Russert was way out of line for even bringing up the issue. He should be punished for his race-baiting question. No matter who, or what a person represents, they have the right to endorse a candidate. To make an issue of Farrakhan's support was ridiculous. In retrospect, shame on Clinton for hashing the subject. Obamas original answer was sufficient. His second answer was a grand slam.
    One more week of HRC, thank God.

    February 27, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  19. Idah

    I am far away in Africa and have followed the presidential candidacy from some time back. I have to admit it is not difficult to like Barack Obama. From seemingly nowhere to come to lead the race. I just wish Hillary would stop behaving like a typical female: whiny, catty, unsrupulous. She is standing against a man, for goodness' sake, where composure and quiet strength are inborn. The end is in sight but its not too late to change..Pardon the pun

    February 27, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  20. JB

    My feelings on the debate:

    Clinton looked like a fool. The whining about being picked first to answer a question (if it's true you address it in another environment), the whining about ads. All the while, Obama seemed to be trying to keep her wheels from falling off. He seemed conerned about her well being.

    He looked Presidential. He did what he had to do, while I think, polishing up certain areas. Well done Mr. Obama!!!!

    Game, Set, Match!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By the way, Hillary knows where the Obama/Africa picture came from. And we will find that out in the next few days. She has no intentions of releasing those papers, or her taxes. At least that was what was conveyed in her answers, to me!

    February 27, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  21. v

    First I was dumbfounded when she she said so..then I laughed loud when he said so....Denounce and reject...hahahaha

    February 27, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  22. Eric

    Where are all the Hillary whiners who say that CNN hates Hillary? If that was so, wouldn't this article has been about Hillary's pathetic attempt to deflect the tax return question?

    February 27, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  23. mark

    I think Clinton is whining. But for a man who speaks about the importance of words Obama should recognize the important difference between denouncing and rejecting. It would have been better for him to clarify what those two words mean for clinton (take her to school, so to speak) His reaction makes me somewhat uneasy. Although it may play well in a courtroom. Are words important, or are only the words he speaks important?

    February 27, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  24. Frazier

    I REJECT and DENOUNCE you Mrs. Clinton.. You just lost my vote!! In my view you lost the debate last night and you're trying to destroy the party. I can understand now why my republican friends dislikes the Clintons

    February 27, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  25. Denise

    As much money as Sen. Clinton is paying consultants, this is the best strategy they could come up with? Sen. Obama has shown me that he can rise above the "silliness".

    I haven't always agreed with everything Minister Farrakan has preached, but Minister Farrakan currently speaks against racisism. What is this saying about her opinion of Muslims? What bothers me is it looks like she doesn't mind alienating African Americans herself. In the beginningl, she probably thought it wouldn't matter.

    Since Sen. Clinton is on a denouncing kick, why didn't she come out and "denounce" NAFTA? Because it wouldn't have benefitted her husband. Now she wants to make a mediocore attempt to judge Sen. Obama becuase he didn't denounce someone that complimented him as a candidate? Why didn't she "denounce" the Iraqi War from the beginning? Hey! Sen. Clinton could congratulate Sen. Obama for denouncing the Iraq War.

    Sen. Clinton shouldn't worry about Sen. Obama being a threat to her campaign. I think she and her campaign will sabotage things themselves.

    February 27, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
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