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. eddie

    He should not have waffled on this question. Most people say he won it, but he clearly waffled and if he didn't want support from farakhan, he would of said it right away that I completely reject anything from farakhan.
    He didn't.

    February 27, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  2. MSNBC Rules

    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 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  3. Ron

    I love our new socialist government don't you!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  4. Kris

    I have mentioned before. I am once agin asking the news media to bring up the facts about Senator Obama about his background so that the voters can confortably make a choice. Otherwise some of us may not even go to the polls with fear of not knowing who he is. Why is he hding Hussaein as his middle name? Why is he so upset to see him in Somali dress? Is there more to know?

    February 27, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  5. READ ON

    Hillary Hillary Hillary, how far will you go? We all know Senator Obama does not support said person, and you are making a big deal of it.... you seem so desperate, so desperate, that it is sad. I gave up seeing those debates, simply because there is no point, you go over the same stuff over and over again. For Pete's sake let it go woman .... walk away with grace and honor,........ oh wait I forgot , your personalities may not agree, just like all of your stands on issues, since you switch from one thing to the next, ............why did you not call yourself on Farrakhan directly?>

    February 27, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  6. Nigeria Muhammad

    Why Use The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan As The Litmus Test For Mr. Obama? If Barack Outright Rejects Farrakhan, Then He Loses The Support Of The Black Community For Whom Farrakhan Has Helped Immensely. If He Accepts The Endorsement, Then He Lose White And Jewish Constituency And Support. Let's Not Use "The Farrakhan Factor" As A Weak Attempt To Slam Obama!!! How About Leveling The Playing And Ask All Of The Candidates About Louis Farrakhan?

    February 27, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  7. Peter Fitzwell

    Give me a break you baboons! Everyone is flocking to Barack like sheep. most of you "act" educated. And "act" like you know about politics, when all I see from Obama supports is a thinly veiled stance on Popularity. Quotes that have nothing to do with politics and a underlying rhetoric that Obama is the hip or cool way to vote. (I am sorry did I use some words that are to big for some of you?)

    In reality the Democratic party has not even come close to serving their constituency in a way that could be even deemed fair. Neither candidate is a good choice. The best Candidate dropped out of the race last month. leaving way for a wench and a baboon to pine for the highest office in the nation. Good luck with that. And Jordan... you're already calling him "Mr. President"... That only solidifies what I said. That arrogant statement, had absolutely nothing to do with the political agenda that Mr. Obama follows. I would feel safe in saying that you have no idea about politics and that you think Obama is "da man" because 1. you think it is time for us to have a black president or 2. its the in thing to do. Neither of those are a good reason for ANYONE to hold the office of presidency.

    I can tell you why Barack didnt denounce or reject fart-akahn's endorsement, because he is playing to the black vote, and there is a significant amount of African Americans that flock to fart-akahn and Obama was hoping Hillary would move on. But she didn't. Neither one of these "candidates" had anything to offer to the nation in regards to making our world a better place and securing the future for our children, they only whined and moaned like a bunch of second graders on a play ground.

    God help us if either of these get elected.

    NADER '08!!!! Just because we havent heard any BS from him like we have from the other .... "4"

    February 27, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |

    I am always told that in this Country everyone is free to accept or not whatever he or she believes; I understand also a US president is everyone's president no matter what he or she belives. I want to ask Ms Clinton this question. In case she is nominated and becoming President, will she be a Christian's President only or every American. Anybody can like or dislike whoever he or she wants, why does the Farrakhan story is the most important for her, does not she have anythingelse to talk about or she arrives at her last word?... she is a two faces Candicate, I don't trust her; no one can believes what exactly she is up to.

    February 27, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  9. R. Davidson

    How many Jewish advisors does Obama have as opposed to Nation of Islam advisors? I am very concerned about hearing the connection of Obama to Farrakhan as well as learning the Obama's pastor is a friend to this hateful person, Farrakhan. However, I have to take Obama at his word and 'hope" that he will mean it. Many people of all persuasions would like to ride Obama's long coattails including that Racist monster, Farrakhan.

    February 27, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  10. jhs

    While reading some of these posts, I have to wonder if Sen. Obama's followers are also followers of Farrakan. He's an awful man and if I was Obama, I wouldn't want him (Farrakan) to even whisper my name. Does he just want all of Farrakan's followers votes? It's good he "rejected/denounced" (whatever).... but he should have done it a long time ago, publicly and loudly.

    February 27, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  11. Vegas

    Why is Barack calling Farakhan a MINISTER? Sinister Farakhan is more like it. Obama is such a fallacy in action. No depth, no substance, all talk. Change this, change that - what has he ever changed or improved in his years of serving in the legislature and in Washington - nothing. All talk no substance. Hear me now, believe me later!!

    February 27, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  12. Damian

    Two points:

    Firstly, I agree with everyone that has denounced CNN's headline for this story.

    Secondly, Obama made and excellent point when he stated there was no offer of help for him to reject. However, he conceded to quiet Hillary on a point that made her look silly as many of you have noticed

    February 27, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  13. Majority Rule Moral Majority

    Clinton won again. She was able to expose the double standard when it comes to being racists for Africans in this country. If a caucasian woman had written a thesis saying whites should rise up and defend their culture and go after blacks like Obama's wife did then she would not be allowed within 100 miles of the White House much less anywhere else decent! Good Girl Hillary!

    February 27, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  14. Sonya

    Hillary was wonderful in the debate and she was right on challenging Barack on this and other issues. All he can seem to do is "agree" with everything Hillary says. I'm proud that she finally put up a fight without being negative. She is truly Presidential. We will all be grateful when she gets the nomination. For those of you that say she is a divisive politicain, go read up on her legislative accomplishments and you won't be able to say that again. Also, why is it that she is called divisive for making a stand on issues facing Americans everyday. She's a fighter, and if that means divisive, then so be it. You have to be able to stand your ground, which is what she does with grit and grace. Thank you future Madame President.

    February 27, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  15. Amy, Kazoo

    wasn't it actually Tim Russert who used the differentiation between rejecting and denouncing in the first place with the question?

    February 27, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  16. Seth

    I would hate to be denounced more than rejected.
    Rejected means you acknowledge and oppose me.
    Denounce means:To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible

    I Think Hillary messed up on the English test, I saw the teaching professor in Obama last night, if your student doesn't understand the stronger word, then you let them use what they can understand.

    February 27, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  17. Frank

    Great point Barack!! We need to seek out ways to get along with those in the world that might hold different points of view. I have been Republican, but this episode demonstrates why millions of other disillusioned Republicans will vote for Obama! Diplomacy at its best gets my vote.

    February 27, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  18. Joseph

    After reading these comments, I am glad to be a Republican........

    February 27, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  19. Amada

    Farrakhan is trly anti-semitic and racist.
    and obama should have denounced AND rejected his endorsement when it was first made public.
    haveing that kind of endorsement truly is – bad.

    still it was great for hillary to point this out.
    because a leader should never support bad people.

    clinton 08

    February 27, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  20. Shaun

    CNN, I think it is interesting that at almost 8:00 a.m., the morning after the debate, and despite all of the issues raised during the debate, this story - with its oddly worded heading - remains the "top" story on the ticker. Although it appeared last night, it states that it was posted at "6:08 a.m." this morning, with no suggestion it was updated since being originally posted last night. It "somehow" became elevated over all other debate stories. Interesting.

    February 27, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  21. Sarah Smith

    Latinos in Tejas and industry workers in Ohio..

    don't REALLY want to see another 4 years of Clinton ANTICS in the white house!

    Bill is dying to get another $800 – wait! indexed for inflation that would be – $1,400 haircut!

    February 27, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  22. Fred

    I find it interesting that of all that was discussed in last night's debate, CNN chooses to focus upon the Farrakan issue. Farrakan is widely recognized as an extremist. Frankly, it is interesting that the topic was actually introduced. Could it be that the powerful Israeli Lobby influenced MSNBC to toss this issue into the debate? What about the real third rail of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the daily atrocities being committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people? Curious!!!

    February 27, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  23. dEE

    Obama is a supporter of Louis Farrakan and that is why he would not reject him. His pastor is also a supporter of Farrakhan and Obama supports his pastor. Hillary's point was well taken and Obama tried to make a joke of it. But is is a serious issue.

    February 27, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  24. Meredith

    It's all about what the definition of "is" is right?

    Pretty reminiscent no?

    February 27, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  25. What now !!

    obama had better make that the last extra pillow he gets. Send her a pillow thru the mail. She's feeling like she' s being picked on and not praised.. so please somebody send Hillary a pillow she's having a menopausal moment and she's pissed off so Obama will suffer. Why not just ask for a pillow. It's the media's fault that she's not treated and respected as a " queen".

    It's not fair that you all ask Hillary the questions first even though she said a couple of debates back " to bring on the questions". She's fully prepared and ready to meet any and all questions head on. "Ladies first Hillary". I am just sick of the debates because she's an aggressor and she shows off all of her attorney skills. Investigating for proable(people) cause, presenting invalid evidence, irrelevant facts that may incrimnate the opponent , wanting more pillows for the alleged victim..give me a break..if she can't do anything else she can sure as hell argue anything .. even who endorses who.. that have nothing to do with her campaign. She is a true motherly individual and that's what i saw last night.... don't do this Obama , don't do that Obama..shame on you Obama.. Go to time out Obama... don't say that like that Obama.. a true woman. The debate was an informercial,on what Obama can't do, per hillary.

    February 27, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
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