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. LIZ

    Clinton actually won the debate because she discussed issues like average people would at the coffee chop. Obama still speaks eloquently but says very little...If he becomes President and the U. S. gets sideways with another country, maybe he can talk them to death...

    February 27, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  2. freddie

    this is ridicolous. she cant even manage her own campaign, what kind of experience is she then talking about. 11 straight loses? may be she strongly needs Farrakhans endorsement

    February 27, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  3. Natasha M. in KY

    It is actually stronger to 'denounce' something than to just 'reject' something. Look the definitions up in the dictionary Hillary!

    Obama '08

    February 27, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  4. Evan

    I don't know. I have been rejected many times when asking someone out for a date or a dance but I have never been denounced. I think being denounced is a lot worse than rejeced.

    But who am I to know that reject is worse than denounced, because I don't have the money to afford college!

    Common this is a non-issue and for CNN to put it out there is wrong and for Hillary to nickle and dime Obama for it is a cheap play from the Republican Play Book and written by Carl Rove.

    February 27, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  5. Leonardo

    Hillary Clinton plays dirty and unfair, Obama stays fair and nice.
    I can't trust the Clintons anymore. Im very disapointet about how the Clintons play at this campaign.

    February 27, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  6. Austin in Illinois

    Hmmm.... I kinda feel like Hillary won that debate, which is a shame.

    February 27, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  7. Jay

    Clinton's point was that Obama did not reject his support immediately. He had a long winded answer not to offend anyone without any real substance. That is worrisome to me!!!

    Rejct/Denounce – the words dont matter. It is the fact that he was not strong in his response to Tim Russet question – Do you reject his support? He said denouce, not reject (as a way to be less stern)

    February 27, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  8. Don't be Ignorant

    About this word choice thing: 'denounce' is actually a stronger word in this case than 'reject'. As the very astute senator from Illinois pointed out, Farrakhan had not made any sort of offers of support that Obama could reject. That's why he 'denounced' Farrakhan's statements. You don't 'reject' statements, you 'denounce' them. I guess Clinton's experience doesn't include much reading (maybe that's why she never read the Iraq report?).

    February 27, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  9. Walt, Belton,TX

    How about we just reject Hillary on general principles? That goes for slick Willie too...........

    February 27, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  10. yns

    Hillary was quite savvy in getting O to concede. Why did he not denounce/reject this when first asked? Do you want a presdent who will give in so easily? He was quite quick to concede! What a whimp!

    February 27, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  11. Z.R., Winston-Salem, NC

    Hillary Clinton feels that she is losing against Barak Obama. She is desperate to argue and criticise the tiniest things.

    She appears like her husband used to when he siad: "It depends what the word 'IS' means." Don't we all know what the word 'IS' means?

    Also, I doubt that in today's political arena either Gandhi or MLK would win. Their peaceful approach and attitude would not create the media circus shareholders (and the public) want to see...

    February 27, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  12. Dusacre

    Denounce is actually stronger than reject. Many of our words have latin roots, denounce comme from the verb "Denuntiare" in latin which is multirelational hence public.

    February 27, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  13. manny james marietta ga

    Glad I didn't watch the debate. I will not give MSNBC another moment of my time. They are clearly backing Obama. With one exception, Dan Abrams.. There ratings have been tumbling since New Hampshire. glad to see Hillary started taking the MEdia on. However, it may be to late. She should have been durning this all along.. I still support Hillary. I will never vote for Obama..

    February 27, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  14. ceetip

    I think this whole issue of Louis Farrakham is quite troubling. BO still attends the church where his pastor accepts the rantings of this man. BO church would not even make his dead white mother feel welcome. I was thinking of voting for BO but not now not ever. This man is scary.

    February 27, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  15. Jerry griffin

    I don't understand the whole Farrakhan question. Who care if the man like Obama? We do know there are a lot of white people who wants to kill him, that is why he got Secret Service protection early. There are racist people in both party. Go Obama !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  16. RC Lendz

    There is a difference in reject v. denounce in this case. Obama basically said that he does not approve of what Farrakhan says, but left out that he did reject his endorsement. At least not a first. Only when pressed hard by Clinton, did he say he rejects the endorsement.

    What Clinton did there, making her opponent back down, is a great sign of a great President.

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

    Why is this an issue. I do not understand why this is an issue. Is America scared that if Obama will somehow conspire with Minister Farrakhan for some type of ethnic cleansing in America? I men come on stop it, Is white America really that afraid of the minister, because this is not an issue in the black community.

    However the issue of the civil rights paper Clinton wrote when she was in college is an issue, why did her husband have it sealed, what is she hiding?????

    As far as the relationship between the black community and the jewish community, well what happened is this. Blacks are always being told let slavery go... but in America we acknowledge and apologize for the holocaust....... America even gave money to the surviving victims, somehow it felt like a slap in the face to blacks in America.

    February 27, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  18. Sharon

    Vast right wing conspiracy. Is it now a vast 'left' wing conspiracy? The media is against 'us. No 'evidence' that my campaign planted that photograph. Won't release documents. Sound familiar? Good job to Obama in handling the Clinton crap with grace and intelligence.

    February 27, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  19. Troy-Boston

    Obama looked extremely weak and confused last night. I guess he was expecting another "friendly" debate. He stuttered way to many times. He also "completely agreed with Hillary" on many of the issues. I guess gov. Patrick was not there to write his answers.

    February 27, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  20. Get Real!

    For those that say they'll quit their church if the pastor/minister says/do something that's offensive, tell me, why is the Catholic church still in business? Why are most conservative churches – Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart, etc still in business?

    You have nothing on Obama! You complainers are grabbing on straws.

    February 27, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  21. Walt, Belton,TX

    On second thought, how about seeing Hillary and Slick Willie's last seven years of tax returns, so we can see how much they really got for all those end of tour Presidential pardons? Couple that with what they got in terms of "legal" contributions to her campaign funds and it will show the world how to buy a President!

    Yeah, it'll never happen and the ignorant will probably never care.........

    February 27, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  22. noemi

    To all the Barak fever stricken take it easy it was a good debate and the way I saw it they both need each other to win the White House. Barak needs to fight because if he doesn't the Republicans will hammer us again and we will lose the White House – again.

    February 27, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  23. jason twombley

    More whining from Billary..GEEZ, does this woman EVER stop whining ?? America is in huge trouble if she becomes President !!!

    February 27, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  24. Mike Con

    Seems like they always ask the African American about Minister Louis Farrakhan but they never ask the caucasian about controversial or negative comments that caucasian's make. For example, why didn't they ask Hillary about the "lynching" comments that Bill O'Reilly said about Michelle Obama or what about what the radio personality said today while introducing John McCain to an audience of supporters? I think the question was designed to bring Obama down. Same old backstabbing politics and this is what we're all tired of! I can't wait for Obama to wipe McCain off the floor!!!

    February 27, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  25. Keisha

    There was no endorsement by Farrakhan. He was only commenting on Barack Obama's ability to heal this nation and bring the country together towards a more positive direction. Obama handled this questioned well and looked VERY Presidential. Hillary showed her true colors... whiny, rude, temperamental, emotional, and out of control...America cant afford this risk this time around!

    February 27, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
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