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. Matt

    Is CNN just jealous that a real action debate didnt occur on their own network, but on a rival network?

    Obama owned Hillary in this instance as well as most of the night and when Hillary "tried" to make a big deal of this issue, Obama again showed why he is superior to her in debates.

    February 27, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  2. Alan

    Why is CNN wasting valuable front page space over stupid things like this when there is still a war in Iraq, war in Africa, war everywhere! I'm so sick of this I'm going to change my start page to the guardian!

    February 27, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  3. Eugene

    With this all open war media has declared against Hillary, I wonder why she continues staying in the campaing...this s not democracy...this is a false state of democracy where media can distort every record and yet people get somewhat blind...God save USA!!!!

    February 27, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  4. William

    I think that Barack did an excellent job when responding to this question. He showed that he is in fact "Presidential". He was very calm and did not over react.

    February 27, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  5. BMW

    The more I get exposed to Obama, the more I am impressed by his poise, professionalism, and leadership. The more I get exposed to Clinton the more I am annoyed and turned off by her petty tactics, mood swings, and adaptive policies and politics. She keeps nit picking at Obama and it continues to backfire, you would have thought that she'd learn from her mistakes but it just continues to get worse. I hope Ohio and Texas take note and end this campaign so that the Democratic party can move forward and work towards a Presidential Campaign.

    February 27, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  6. Chris in TX

    sheesh. This from the woman that says words don't matter? 🙂

    February 27, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  7. midge from ohio

    This is just another case for the fact that Obama can seem to do no wrong, and I just don't get it. Somehow Farrakhan saw "hope" in him also, and that scares me. He is not strong enough to run this country. Republicans know McCain is their candidate so they vote in the primaries as a Democrat and vote for Obama because they don't want McCain running against Clinton. It was on the news the other night. Do your research please.

    February 27, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  8. Vega Diamond

    this is just proof that he is able to work with people all over and work on uniting people who usually wouldn't unite or even take the time to deal with the other

    February 27, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  9. Patick

    Denounce; to proclaim; to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil; to announce threateningly; to inform against; to announce formally the termination of (as a treaty).

    Reject; to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use; to refuse to hear, receive, or admit; to refuse as lover or spouse; to cast off; to spew out.

    I think Denouce makes a stronger case!

    February 27, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  10. Jeff

    They did not ask Hillary Clinton about comments made by Bill OReilly and Bill Cunningham because they did NOT endorse her candidacy. And by the way, if you cared to check the news, McCain, whom Cunningham endorsed, was asked about those comments and he said he did not support them. On the other hand, Obama was endorsed by Farrakhan. That is why Clinton brought it up. By the way, when is using a person's middle name a problem? Some people must have a little guilty conscience if Cunningham calling Obama by his full name offended them. Geez, don't turn this in to a black and white thing. That is petty and insipid.

    February 27, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  11. con in PA

    Obama said right away he denounced Farrakan, his views and language. He went into detail about Isreal, anti-semetics, and he denounced again, Farrakan and his views and language. Hillary TRIED to take the negative and used the word "reject". Obama then reitterated he DENOUNCED Farrakan, but is Hillary needed the word "reject" then he would denounc and rejected him.
    It was another failed attempt by Hillary to attack Obama. Barak used his calm demeanor, his intellect, and his intelligence to defuse a situation that Hillary was trying to build into a negative.
    What a great President he will make!! The ability to communicate, to diffuse rising emotions, and to LEAD EFFECTIVELY doesn't always come with experience!
    What a great President he will make!

    February 27, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  12. Howard, NY

    Hillary for Parser in Chief!

    February 27, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |

    HIllary won the debate..CNN do you truly have anything else to say or do?

    February 27, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  14. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    As a bleeding heart Republican, I never thought I'd find myself defending the Clintons, but here goes...

    I am quite dismayed by the ruthless treatment Senator Clinton has been receiving by the media within the last few months.

    Is it my imagination, or doesn't it seem like a short time ago when most Democrats and media outlets replied to Bill and Hillary's indescretions with "OH, YET ANOTHER VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY" by those nasty Republicans.

    My, how times have changed. I have labelled such people (i.e., liberals who now support Obama and detest the Clintons) as CLINTON'S TURNCOATS.

    February 27, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  15. Jon, Pittsburgh, PA

    It's not petty if you are Jewish and I find it interesting that Obama didn't reject Farrakhan until pressed to do so. Nice try at walking that tightrope Barack but, intelligent people can see straight through you. You are as political as a person can be.

    February 27, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  16. Sue Williams

    I have said ever since day one that the Media has been against Clinton It is about time we let a woman try to run this country look how many years men have messed it up Obahma has not the age or experience to run this country and at least when we had a
    clinton in office things turned around I have been a Democrat all my life but if Obahma makes it I will vote Republican and I am from Illinois and it is sad what the media has done to Clinton always putting her down the Media is almost made up their mind who they want to win and try to sway the public to do the same. The one thing that really makes me mad is people saying he is Like JFK NO WAY he never could fit JFK's shoes he never even served this country and doesn't have even the knoledge JFK had.

    February 27, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  17. PJ

    Obama didn't "denounce" the support of Farrakahn, he denounced what he stood for. When Russert asked him point blank if he would reject the support, he waffled on the answer and didn't say no. It was only when Hillary said in a similar situation she completely rejected the support that Obama got a clue about what he would say.

    And stop with the "shame on you's" everyone, it's getting annoying and fairly unoriginal.

    February 27, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  18. Charlotte

    Hill is clearly in panic mode and is saying and doing everything she can to smear Obama. The thing about that is she is making herself look bad and Democrats are moving further away from her and her negative campaign. She is desperate. Next thing you know she will be lifing up her shirt and yelling, "Obama doesn't have these, does he?"

    As a Dem, I was torn between the two but have moved very quickly away from her, as has most of the people I know. She will lose to Obama and she will only have herself to blame.

    Obama Supporter, Indiana

    February 27, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  19. Carrie

    Typical Obama, playing the middle road instead of taking a stand. He only conceded to "reject" Farrakhan AFTER Clinton called him out on it. She had it right – Obama is unable to stand up for what's important. He would be a weak leader because in his effort to please everyone he would please no one.

    February 27, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  20. PA

    There is a very significant difference between denounce and reject. One can denounce another's opinions and still accept their support. Barack has rejected the support of Minister Farrakhan and those who follow him. Hillary backed him into spurning the support of the man. Wonder how Minister Farrakhan feels about that? I don't like or agree with what you say is not the same thing as go away, I don't want any of your help.

    February 27, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  21. Michael James

    It is ludicrous to say that Obama is not being favored in this election. I am a news junkie and read 5 newspapers a day and watch the major channels news shows. I have been stunned by seeming favoritism towards Obama. The only major news people to come out and say it and take the media to task for their favoritism are Dan Abrams of MSNBC and Geraldo Rivera. Abrams said "You guys simply do not like the Clinton story." If SNL made fun of this favoritism (hysterical) it means that it is there. The best comedy arises out of truth.

    February 27, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  22. Sally

    Why should he alienate himself from Black people? He answered the question correctly...denounce and reject mean the same samething. In fact, denounce is a stronger word. It appears that America is going in the direction to get Sen. Obama to isolate and alienate himself from Black people. Soon, the argument will be that he's been around too many black people lately. Sen. Obama has always said that he wanted to negotiate with his alies as well as the enimies..even Fidel Catro who has killed many of innocent people, unlike Farrakhan....so why should Farrakhan be an exception. Trent Lott still endorses McCain, but no one is questioning why is Trent Lott endorsing McCain and the racial implications that goes along with it. As a white female, I think the Hillary needs to get a grip and bow out of the campaign.

    Go Obama!

    February 27, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  23. Lawrence

    It's very interesting to see how the Clinton fanatics have embraced the lies and smears of the infamous e-mail. Tim Russert gives them the gift of some old fashioned race-baiting and yet they still act like the media is against them. Can we finish this already? I'm tired of listening to this pitiful element of the party.

    February 27, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  24. Joe

    coOol! Bow! amAzing! booM! yeAh!
    all capital letters make OBAMA.

    February 27, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  25. Ms. Miami

    Youuu Gooooo Barack, make Hillary look like a Fool

    February 27, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
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