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. T

    Is this really what's going to save this country? Bickering about denounce vs reject? I guess it depends on what your definition of 'is' is.

    February 27, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. Bill

    Well, in this case...

    Obama and smart people – 1

    Hillary and people who don't understand what reject means – 0

    February 27, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  3. Leslie

    Why every time a black person run for office they have to answer questions on Farrakhan? Whites are not asked about their racist counter parts?

    February 27, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. Obamalamadingdong

    As far as media bias goes, why is it that for every photo CNN selects to post of Obama looking thoughtful they pick 3 of Clinton making a grimace? I've been keeping count. Get real CNN! We've had enough of bias in reporting. Leave that game to FOX.

    February 27, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  5. Steven, FL

    Has anyone look at the definition, Obama said the right thing. He is the best choice. Hilary is grasping at straws. It's over, time to look to November.
    de·nounce /dɪˈnaʊns/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[di-nouns] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –verb (used with object), -nounced, -nounc·ing. 1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly: to denounce a politician as morally corrupt.
    2. to make a formal accusation against, as to the police or in a court.
    3. to give formal notice of the termination or denial of (a treaty, pact, agreement, or the like).
    4. Archaic. to announce or proclaim, esp. as something evil or calamitous.
    5. Obsolete. to portend.

    February 27, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  6. DG

    How about focusing on how to run the country instead of debating the difference between denouncing and rejecting someone's support.

    February 27, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  7. forrest kimbrough

    mrs clinton should have denounced and rejected her husband along time ago..what he did many times is far worse than anything farrakan has ever done

    February 27, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  8. Bill Jay

    Hillary great debate...................................08................................................

    CNN excellent .................................................................................................


    February 27, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  9. O NO she didn't imply

    Why is Hillary suggestive in her derrogatory comments?!!

    The moderator asked Senator Obama, "... are you alright ; can I get you anything?" His comment was overshadowed by her saying , "He may need some pillows."
    Senator Obama is not a D/L (DownLow) activist. He is happily and manly married to his one wife. He does not mix nor does he mingles.

    Hillary shame on you! His houshold is not like yours! There is no didrt!

    February 27, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  10. LB

    I hardly call her ;'needng' Senator Obama to use the word 'reject' over the word 'denounce' a 'hit'. There was nothing striking about this to me. It seemed just another area where she was trying to gain an advantage that she just doesn't have. Sort of pathetic actually....

    February 27, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  11. Dem123

    Hillary ,please run as an independent if the primary is won by the cult.You have millions of supporters who are ready to support you all the way.
    HILLARY 2008.

    February 27, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  12. Manuel

    Americans are so naive.Here is a guy who has reluctantly rejected Farrakhan.What else do you need folks?
    Obama wore a purely Islamic outfit known as the Turban and you ignorant CNN folks are calling it African attire? You guys are blantantly ignorant and ridiculous.

    February 27, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  13. SallyJo M.

    As a Jewish American who has family in Chicago that have worked with Sen Obama, I think I have more credibility on this topic to comment. Obama is no Anti-Semite. He has consistently proven (when it was not popular) that he supports my Jewish brothers and sisters. He fundamentally gets the point that we have been attacked and continue to be attacked for our core beliefs and that we are the best friend of the great USA.

    Knowing his background, I was extremely upset by the question and the implication by Tim Russert and I intend to write a letter to him and NBC President today. I think this round of destructive questioning is not good for the democracy. There is no doubt by anyone in the Jewish community who knows the work of Sen Obama that he will be one of our staunchiest allies.

    February 27, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  14. Natasha

    Hillary makes me sick.. after yesterdays ticker news it seems to me she is trying to play on the underlying bigoted feelings in this nation and someone should reject AND denounce her for that!

    February 27, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  15. milton

    O and H need each other. Symbiotic feeding frenzy. Both of these candidates have tainted the campaign process. Caucus overload.

    February 27, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  16. Tony in Albany, NY

    Smackdown...Obama style!
    Can you smell what the Barack's got cookin'

    Put a fork in her.,..she's done!

    February 27, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  17. Bill Jay

    Sarah stop being silly......................................................

    Ohio was the state that gave away 2004 to Bush, remember????????

    February 27, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  18. Politically INCORRECT??? YOU ARE CNN

    TEXAS knows the stories, because of forwarding emails even if we can't get the real stories printed or discussed on any media! Texas and Ohio will not be blind, and by the way, there is always some truth to a story, it may not be the whole truth, but this Larry Sinclair has been threatened, and his life is in danger. Why would a man put his life in danger?

    February 27, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  19. Jason

    There is a big difference between reject and denounce, and obviously if you're not educated with vocabulary of course you wouldn't see that.

    He is supposed to be an attorney, and he does not know the difference? I guess he needs to go back to law school and take Legal Writing/Vocabulary 101.

    Sarah Smith, you're latino?

    February 27, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  20. Tim in OH

    Clearly a win for Obama last night. Clinton needs to drop out – she is getting whiny.

    February 27, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  21. norisha

    Hillary is grasping at every straw she can get her filthy hands on.Hey, anybody remember all the scandals that surrounding her 35 yrs of experience, and it seems that nobody is bringing up the fact that these problems just magically disappear. Hello, she's is so very trivial!!! Denounce and Reject Hillary!!!!

    OBAMA 2008!!!!

    February 27, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  22. Berkeley

    CNN you are a disgrace. You have published 31 comments on Clinton's side and 115 on Obama'd side.

    Why don't you call this site OBAMA'S SITE?

    PS: You probably won't publish this one either.

    February 27, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  23. Toby

    1. to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.:


    1. to repudiate;

    Do you know what a synonym is Mrs. Clinton? This is the type of petty attacks that have driven away the Clinton base. There is virtually no real difference in their platform only experience and judgment. The real problem for Hillary is that her wealth of experience is outweighed by her lack of good judgment.

    February 27, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  24. spyturtle

    Which Hillary will show up today? What hat will she be sporting? The new revised Hillary is embracing her inner racist.

    February 27, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  25. Joanzie

    Obama is the only one to acknowledge Farrakhan as a minister. I take that as a sign of respect. That bothers me.

    February 27, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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