February 27th, 2008
09:08 AM ET
6 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. TMG

    Black Lady From Texas February 26th, 2008 11:32 pm ET

    Why is it that the Black candidate always has to answer for what's bad within our race? Is John McCain going to have to answer for Trent Lott's endorsement? I doubt it. The question won't even be posed to him, but Obama has to answer about Louis Farrahkan? Trent Lott supported Strom Thurmond, a blatant segregationist, which is just as inflammatory to Black people as Farrahkan is too Jewish people, however the question is only posed to Obama. And for Hillary to jump in there to fan the flames made me angry at first, and then just made me sad. I thought we'd come further than this…. In the words of Hillary, shame on you Tim Russert and shame on you Hillary for jumping on that racially motivated bandwagon.

    :Well Said

    February 27, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  2. Bill Jay

    This is so much fun.......................we can discuss issues.......................

    Love CNN..........................what would we do without it..............................

    Wolfman is soooooooooooooooooo cool.................................................

    obama oh my...................................................................................................

    Hillary go Girl...................................................................................................

    McCain to blame...........................................................................................

    February 27, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  3. gerri

    I think Hillary is desparate. Obama's record is clear on Farrakan from his days in Chicago. The two do really do not like each other and Obama doesn't like him for the remarks he has made in the past, whether they are anti-semitic, etc. Hillary is trying to stir up trouble. Again her body lanquage says it all. She loathes Obama for stealing her election from her, because after all she was supposed to be sailing in the sunlight to her nomination.

    From her actions so far, she will NEVER get my vote. She showed the American people her divisiveness ways, her apparent disdain for Obama is clear for everyone to see. This is a contest, and Hillary better understand that she will have to fight to win this nomination, but be fair. Bill may have promised Hillary the nomination, but she must go through the American People.

    February 27, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  4. Adrianna

    JEWS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE CONCERNED ON OBAMAS HESITATION ON THE QUESTION ....AFTER ALL ISNT HE FOR ALL PEOPLE? HE IS CLOSELY TIED TO MANY ACTIVISTS THAT ARE NOT FOR ALL PEOPLE BUT FOR THEIR PEOPLE!!! IT WILL ALL COME OUT WHEN IT IS HIM VS McCAIN AND HE IS HUNG OUT TO DRY BY REPUBLICAN TACTICS....HE WONT STAND A CHANCE WHEN IT ALL COMES TO SURFACE....OH AND THE YOUTH MOVEMENT FOR OBAMA...WHAT DO THEY KNOW ABOUT MORTGAGE CRISIS AND HEALTHCARE REFORM...OWN A HOME AND HAVE A FAMILY TO SUPPORT AND THEN COME TALK TO ME
    HAVE YOU SEEN THE AMOUNT OF MONEY MCCAIN HAS TO RUN AGAINST OBAMA IF HE IS ELECTED 2 MILLION TO HIS 14 MILLION. HE WONT STAND A CHANCE...OH AND HILLARY AND MCCAIN ARE LONG TIME FRIENDS IN CASE YOU DIDNT KNOW...NOTICE NO ATTACKS?

    February 27, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  5. J&J

    Dream on and you are all in for the biggest surprise of your life.

    February 27, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  6. Terri Patanus

    Obama said ah 845 times and stuttered like a retard last night.

    What an idiot he is

    February 27, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  7. Kristy

    First of all, you need to realize this was not an endorsement from Farrakhan it was support. You can't tell someone that they can't support you, everyone has the right to support whomever they wish. We don't tell people for whom to vote. We don't say, "No, You can't like me because I disagree with your beliefs." But Obama can openly disagree with their beliefs and refuse endorsements or financial contributions, which is what he did. Farrakhan has not entered into any sort of agreement with Obama, financially or otherwise.

    Also, I'd say Denounce was strong enough to begin with.

    de·nounce (dĭ-nouns') Pronunciation Key
    tr.v. de·nounced, de·nounc·ing, de·nounc·es

    To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible.

    February 27, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. Mae

    By saying something Clinton gave Obama the chance to restate his point and make it sound even better. The word denounce is a strong word and very similar to reject, possibly even harsher, but Clinton wanted to play a game of semantics and she lost by giving him the chance to say he denounces and rejects. Also her comment about having to answer first was weird, and saying let's see if Barack needs a pillow was just ridiculous.

    February 27, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  9. Matt

    Denounce vs. Reject- it's like it's 1998 and we're fighting over what "is" means all over again!

    February 27, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  10. Robin

    It is very streng that Mrs. Hillary Clinton talks about the morals and standards. It is like Dick Cheney talking about moralities of the war in Iraq. Which planet these people are from?

    February 27, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. Terri Patanus

    Hillary 08

    if she is not on the ticket I am voting for McCain

    February 27, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  12. Hmmm...

    I wonder if either of them would denounce or reject endorsements by Castro or Chavez?

    February 27, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. minna

    A better headline would be:

    Obama denounces Farrakhan

    you generally reject an object or thing

    and denounce a person

    Russert didn't frame the question well

    in any case, denounce is a much stronger verb and Clinton was just trying to score points. Obama has been very clear on this.

    I think Obama has more subtlety with language and definitely elegantly won on this one

    February 27, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. BeatrixK

    Hillary is looking more and more shrill with each debate. The whole 'Denounce/Reject' argument solidified my reasons why I can't vote for her and respect myself.

    I found her symantic's lesson to be futher proof she is not capable of handling the pressures of the POTUS job. Under Hillary, we get in a spat with N. Korea, and she's gonna get flustered and try to deflect with an argument over what...'Nuclear vs. NucUlar?'

    Neither party has a philosophy I can get 100% alligned with, hence, I consider myself an independant. I loathe what the Christian Right has done to the republican party, and have found it increasingly difficult to support rebulican candidates of late for that reason. For the first time in MANY years, I am thilled to have a candidate in Obama that I can actualy vote FOR, instead of 'Not gonna vote for THAT one!'

    February 27, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. HIREDGUN

    Think about who would be a possible Vice Presidential choice for Obama; would you like: Jessie Jackson ; Al Sharpton ; or even Louis Farrahkan. No thanks I will pick Hilliary even though I couldnt guess who her choices would be Only on Nov 4th will we know.
    Oh yea Florida votes don't count ( ha ha wanna-bet)

    February 27, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  16. Pat Carpenter

    Enough!!!!!

    What is the difference between rejecting and denouncing? Does anyone know how much it cost us to get the definition of "is"? Does$80 Million strike a familiar note?

    Hillary Clinton is a 100% political animal. She will say or do anything to get elected.

    February 27, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  17. Emmanuel Winner

    Annoying to see this as the first post here on the debate – Clinton was quibbling, and we all know it, yet CNN wants to make an issue of it. After you've denounced a demogogue, what's there to reject? Why not just abjure him? Or should we also repulse him? We can condemn him as well, but isn't that too much like denouncing? Let's deny him and forsake him as well.

    What everyone has missed here, by the way, is this occurred because Clinton realized she wasn't directly part of that question-answer moment and then went on oh-so-humbly (not) to interject herself – 'lookit me, I refused anti-Semitic support, too!' Russert then gave her a quasi-dignified exit by re-directing her remarks back to Obama, who handled the matter in good spirit.

    By the way, the New York Independent Party (the national party was founded by Ross Perot) was not anti-Semitic as Clinton claims, it was just not pro-Israel. The handful of anit-Semites that tried to tie themselves to the party were purged, and the Party went on to offer Golisano for the Governorship of the State; he put up a good fight but lost, and has devoted himself to various philanthropic projects in the western NY area. Not much has been heard from the Independents since.
    I mention this because Clinton was trying to paint herself as doing something heroic; given the strong pro-Israel feeling in the NY City area, this was just opportunistic politics. I recognized that then, but still voted for her, but the fact remains that she has done little for Western NY – less, in fact than Golisano has done with his own monies.

    February 27, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  18. David

    Obama will be a graet President. It unfortunate he will not satisfied exerybody, but he is inspirational and motivate many people to try and achieve great things.

    Obama is set the standard extremely high, so it means Hillary will have to work hard to reach or supersede it.

    Obama YOUR THE BOSS!! I said that long ago and I will continue.

    Jamaica

    February 27, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. Obama all the way!!!

    I think Hillary Clinton is the Scum of the Earth!!!! GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  20. Amused, Las Vegas

    CNN –

    Why are you reporting that a Clinton supporter stabbed a Obama supporter?

    The teaser for the video -"A Hillary supporter allegedly stabs an Obama supporter. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a stab at the story."

    When you listen to the story:

    1. – It's in-laws (think there may be more than politics involved?)

    2. – The Obama supporter of the two started choking the Clinton supporter, who then reacted. Was stabbing necesssary? Probably not. Should you be able to defend yourself when you are being choked?

    Actually it's something of a metaphor – the media believes that Obama can get away with murder, and that Clinton should just accept it.

    I am very worried about winning the election for the Democrats if Obama is the candidate. But more so, I am very worried what this untried and frankly unpromising candidate would do in the White House.

    It's really sad that while most Democrats across the board according to the polls think that Clinton would do a better job as president, they may still vote for the person they think is less qualified. "Inspiration" fades fast when the failure to deliver is apparent.

    February 27, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  21. Waaaiit a minute

    Hmm why are we making this an issue again?

    February 27, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  22. Mischelle from Illinois

    Hillary Clinton was ABSOLUTELY CORRECT to "teach" Obama on the spot that if he wants to take a stand against people like Farrakhan he must use the strongest language to show that he absolutely REJECTS such positions. This leaves him NO open door to embrace any support of such in the future and IF he has received ANY support, guidence, taken a meeting, etc...now it could be used against him. AGAIN only IF he has, but he says that he has not. I take him for his word, that he has not, but I reserve final judgement because so much is still coming out about his connection to RESKO...(See Chicago Tribune articles about Political FAVOR LIST and Gov. Rod Blagovich.)

    February 27, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  23. Murf

    I don't think CNN realizes how offensive it is that an African American candidate should be seen as having to renounce, denounce, reject or in any other way distance him or her self from Louis Farrakhan! The suggestion that someone like that speaks for all blacks is highly offensive. Dragging Sen. Obama through the mud because some person who has said repulsive things thinks he will be a good President only strengthens the resolve of those in the community who have abandoned the divide and conquer politics of Hillary Clinton.

    February 27, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  24. Janet from NH

    Hillary Clinton = Rude, arrogant American...haven't we had enough of that with Geoerge W.

    February 27, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  25. Toby

    All you morons trying to enlighten us to the different definitions of "denounce" and "reject" need to remember that Clinton was criticizing that Obama is only "denouncing" Farrakhan's message, not "rejecting" his and his congregation's endorsement. Obama is trying to have it both ways: appealing to the general public by saying he doesn't agree with Farrakhan, but also saying Farrakhan and his followers have a right to support him. As a leader, he needs to be more clear about from whom he gets his support. If David Duke endorsed a Republican candidate, we would tear that candidate apart unless he/she totally "rejected" that endorsement.

    February 27, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
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