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)

    We all know cnn does not know any better, after all I have not seen them ask Hillary about the remarks O'Reilly made with regards to Michelle Obama... I mean you are a complete pain in the arse cnn and most Irish press here in this side of the pond as well.

    But come to think of it, It is the Irish who stand to benefit the most from a liberal like Brack Obama. Hypocrites!

    February 27, 2008 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  2. whoopz

    just a quick question, Clinton's universal health care actually means that everyone is require to buy a health insurance right? just like what MA is doing right now?

    February 27, 2008 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  3. Carmen Leon

    Although Obama rejected/denounced Farrakan, he attends a church where the pastor embraces hate towards Jews. If my pastor espoused hate for anyone, I would immediately stop attending. It is not enough to say we reject/denounce, our actions speak louder than our words. Obama is ultra-liberal and not what we need now in our country.

    February 27, 2008 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  4. Denning

    This was the best debate yet. Farrakhan is a spook, and Barack really needed to show more distaste for him from my perspective. Hillary jumped when she needed too in response; the return fire from Barack was “lite”. Does Barack have any fight in him at all? I’m voting Barack only because I think he is genuine and has the best interests of us all. Get a bit meaner Barack!

    February 27, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  5. Joe in Indy

    If you're going to give Hilary's full attack ... why not print Obama's full response? Why not include the part where he talks about the role of Jews in the civil rights movement? Why not print what he said that caused Clinton's "denounce vs. reject" reasoning?

    Poorly done.

    February 27, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  6. Guy

    I would like to know what are the condition to be an american voter . Why is it only a matter of Christians and why not Islamics?

    February 27, 2008 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  7. Rick

    Its the Clinton tactics, such as publishing the pic of Obama, bad mouthing him, allowing her campaign officials to spread rumors, maybe the government should look into her finances, her dealings with foreign minning officials, and where she gets her money from.

    February 27, 2008 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  8. Lynn

    I REJECT Hillary, and DENOUNCE Bill.

    February 27, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  9. john

    Funny, I thought we had freedom of speech in this country.. If Farrakhan wants to support Obama so be it... it is not as if Barack was on stage with him.

    All this, these headlines, these non issues are what put the country in the position it is currently in...

    Time for change...

    Obama 08'

    February 27, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  10. Tiffany, Lake Worth, FL

    I watched the debate last night only because I expected Senator Clinton would give us, the Democrat supporters, a good and exciting show down against Senator Obama, given that she seemed quite appalled by his views on her stand with health care, and keep in mind folks that Senator Obama has stated over and over again, in her presence and on his campaign trails. In my perspective, Obama owned this debate. Clinton started strong, but he took control of what may have been a heated battle. I loved how poised he was as Clinton tried to take jabs at him. Enough with the jokes, let's save them for the professional comedians.

    February 27, 2008 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  11. Katy Hill Prescott Az.

    The more I listen to Hillary the more I hate her. We do not need another arrogant, self righteous pig with a sense of entitlement in the Whitehouse,. If Clinton wants to take credit for the mess Bill left the country in then she needs to own up to all of it not pick and chose what she wants to take partial credit for. Remember she has 35 years of cover-up experience.

    February 27, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  12. TC Orlando, FL

    Well it all depends on what the definition of "is" is...right Mrs. Clinton?

    February 27, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  13. Mark Leary

    I actually think that "denouncing" is stronger a stronger sentiment than "rejecting." "Rejecting" merely indicates that I don't want something, that I'm turning it down. Denouncing expresses that I feel very negatively about it–that don't want it because I find it repugnant. (I can reject special insurance coverage on my rental car without denouncing it.) So, Clinton's effort to imply that she somehow feels more strongly about refusing the support of bigots than Obama was just another feeble and ineffective ploy. I want a president who acts presidential, and she doesn't.

    February 27, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  14. Pete

    Awww, shut up already, Clinton.

    February 27, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  15. PAT M PEI Canada

    IRMA: "Hilary was right to counsel Obama about the need to
    REJECT outright Farrahkan's endorsement. Louis
    Farrakhan is a racist and I was pleased to see Obama
    agree with Clinton that he needed to REJECT
    Farrakhan's endorsement."

    Irma I have to respectfully disagree. Hillary didn't counsel Obama she brought the issue to light during a debate.

    And Obama needed to REJECT Farrakhan's endorsement when Farrakhan made the same, not only because he was pressured to REJECT the endorsement during the debate.

    Why couldn't Obama have stated at the time that Farrakhan's views were completely different from his and he could not accept his endorsement.

    Obama highlighted his weakness by not refusing this endorsement at the onset and has left the public wondering as to why he did not. Could it be that he is more in tune with Farrakhan's beliefs than he would like to admit to Americans? He certainly has left the question open.

    February 27, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  16. Rick

    How can anyone HONESTLY believe Hillary with the tactics she has pulled, you only have to scratch the surface to see her dirt..........release your financial records Hillary, what are you hidding?

    February 27, 2008 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  17. Indie in Iowa

    Farrakhan represents hate and division. If Barrack was truly wanting to bring everyone together and sing camp fire songs in the land of la la, he should have by his own words, REJECT anyone who is as hateful and hate filled as Farrakhan.

    February 27, 2008 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  18. The Republicans Can't Wait - MSNBC Rules!

    The Republicans can't wait to get ahold of Obama. He is beatable and will not have Hillary to "agree with" when debating against MCcain. He will need to stand on his own two feet. Republicans are very concerned with Hillary, as she tore up Obama last night. He could not answer hard hitting questions and often stumbled or agreed with Hillary.

    Obama said a bunch of nothing last night.

    February 27, 2008 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  19. Kevin

    This is how Hillary Clinton responds under pressure? With bitterness and uncontrolled emotion? So she gets the first question; even if that were true, I think she should anticipate getting the first question as president.

    Here's an issue I've not seen anyone debate: I think we should be concerned about a person elected president who has personal resentment attached to the Oval Office. On Day One when she's in her new office, I don't want OUR president to be thinking "this is where my jerk husband was adulterous. Now I showed him."

    Man or woman have a right to be upset at their "partner" for something like that. However, the kind of emotions harbored from such an experience have no place in the Oval Office. As smart as Clinton may be, she's bringing baggage to the White House, and that should be of concern to the American people, both men and women.

    February 27, 2008 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  20. Maryland

    Lets not play on the Farrakhan issue, we may not agree with what comes out his mouth. So why would you ask someone to reject some one support,because he feel that your a good person for the position. Is that not his right to voice his opinion?? Hillary disappointed me stooping that low. Does she feel that she's suffering that bad that she did it???

    February 27, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  21. Joe-Wilmington, DE

    Tuesday's debate in Cleveland further cemented my position:

    1) Obama vs. McCain - I vote for Obama

    2) Clinton vs. McCain - I vote for McCain.

    Very simple.

    February 27, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  22. The Republicans Can't Wait - MSNBC Rules!

    Clinton took the debate by storm. She is a fighter and a force to be reckoned with! Obama did not stand a chance and had a whole lot of nothing to say.

    February 27, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  23. scott

    The Comeback remark of Obama was just the double talk we all must just get use to. it took awhile but he finally did say I reject it. There is no doubt the guy is sneaky on how he operates. people get caught up in his words but I dont think they really listen to them. many say he looked so calm during the debate. was that calm or arogance.

    February 27, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  24. Ted

    This headline and story is extremely misleading. He denounced Farrakhan's endorsement, Hillary then said a denouncement isn't enough Obama must reject the endorsement. Obama, with a solid mastery of the english language pointed out that there is no offer of help to reject, as a result he had denounced it, but if the retorical nuance makes a diffenence he "denounces and rejects" Farrakhan's endorsement. Truely silly season in politics.

    February 27, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  25. The Debate

    Clinton ruled the debate last night. She made Obama look like the rookie he is. However, with some experience he will make a great President in about 8 years after serving as Hillary's VP.

    February 27, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42