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. Brenda

    Hillary was being so petty here, she should have just left it alone. Obama said he renounced Farakhan, that was good enough. She is obviously a desperate woman grasping at straws.

    GO OBAMA!!!!

    February 26, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  2. NickNas

    A new Low! So whats next? Is Obama supposed to dig up some Clansman who is supporting Hillary so Obama won't win? Well it won't happen..he isn't as low as she is. Even the most radical Billarybot had to wince at that attack.

    Man!! No Shame in her game!

    February 26, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  3. peter

    No worth any comment – waste of time over words and what they mean. Turn the page and move on.

    February 26, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  4. Mike in TX

    Spot on! Our President should know the difference between "denouncing" and "rejecting" something.

    Something tells me Obama wanted to "reject' Louis Farrakhan about as much as Hillary wants to show you her tax return.

    February 26, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  5. Tommie Reed

    Hillary appeared to be grasping for straws. This is the night where Hillary officially jumped the shark. Referencing a SNL skit during a national debate was verification that she is indeed living in 'Silly Season'

    February 26, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  6. Avis C, Richton Park,IL

    And yet she doesn't admit her failure for voting for the Iraq war UNTIL Tim Russert asked about a vote she would take back. Her response "I would not vote that way again". How dare she make a big deal out of Barack's denouncement of Farrakan! This is another example of if it's not done Hillary's way it's not right. Jeez I hope this is the last debate I'm really tired of this nonsense!

    February 26, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  7. Craig

    Of course Obama won't denounce Farrakhan.....he will accept the endorsement of anyone if it helps his cause. And in this case, it is the endorsement of an avowed racist, anti-Israel radical. How completely in character for him.

    The good news is that Hillary will continue to make for an extremely strong senator in working with President McCain.

    Hopefully Obama will do what all one-hit wonders do (rock stars) and fade away....just like MIlli Vanilli fooled the whole country, he's managed to get every lemming-like Democrat to follow his tune, even if that tune is nothing more than puffery with no substance.....


    February 26, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  8. leah

    gosh she's desperate!

    OBAMA '08

    February 26, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  9. Yes Sir

    First day in office, Obama takes down Washington's portrait and puts up Minister Farrakhan's.

    February 26, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  10. Hulk Hogan himself

    This was a great moment for Obama. The "I would reject and denounce" line both got his point across and made Hillary look silly. Overall, this debate was a clear win for Obama.

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  11. Veronica

    Denounce is actually a stronger word than reject. Obama made Clinton look silly by going on and on about the issue. He said he denounced it that should have been enough. She is WAY too much!

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  12. a student

    CNN, let me try again, with all the issues have been discussed in the debate, you chose the non-issue for public to discuss. What's wrong with your network??? Is this the so called "best political team"???
    You lost your credibility

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  13. Gary in CT

    He not only looked more presidential at this point, he actually made her look foolish for pushing it.

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |


    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  15. Leigh

    I am disappointed that Barack did not immediately say "yes i reject Farrakhan and his views."

    I find it a little worriesome. I can understand getting an unwanted endorsement but he should not have floated on rejecting it. He actually did dance around that.

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  16. ginaswo

    try to be more balanced on your blog ledes

    past 2 days has been more even handed on CNN


    before that it was like all Obama all the time

    but this many faces of Hilary crax is totally sexist guys

    come on

    i never saw that said about any male candidate

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  17. TS

    Funny how Russert didn't ask him if he denounced his minister for giving Farrakan the award. Of course it is easy to denounce the idiot. who is Farrakan, but a more important question is do you renounce your paster (who you credit with a lot of your moral development) for saying those things. What about calling America the "great white west".

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  18. robert

    I thought she looked incredibly petty here, but actually did him a favor. She set him up for a wonderful moment.

    Obama had already been INCREDIBLY clear that he rejects Farrakhan's ideas, and has stood against them for years in Chicago. I'm glad he threw her the semantic bone so that the right wing attack machine doesn't have something to somehow quote entirely out of context to go alongside their other racist attacks and lies about his beliefs.

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  19. Excuse me, but...

    I, also "reject" and "denounce" the Clinton's, you can choose which word is a stronger.

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  20. tms

    As stated on The Huffington Post, the difference between rejected and denounce:

    "...Then, Clinton asked that Obama both "reject" and "renounce" Farrakhan, which, in the interest of semantics, he did."

    First Read notes:

    "For the word-o-philes out there, Obama wins with the word denounce which is more applicable to use when you find someone's positions distasteful."

    re·ject -a verb used as an object...
    1. to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.: to reject the offer of a better job.
    2. to refuse to grant (a request, demand, etc.).

    de·nounce -verb (used with object), -nounced, -nounc·ing. 1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly: to denounce a politician as morally corrupt.

    Hmmmm...OBAMA '08

    February 26, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  21. jr

    I find it funny that all these young college kids are getting swallowed up by the Obama wave. They are backing him because it's the cool thing to do…they don't even care if they don't know what he stands for. He can do no wrong but Hillary is always the "b". The race card has been used but never once has the "gender card" been played. The answer is always that Hillary is whining, Hillary is a baby, blah, blah. She really doesn't have a chance because it is so one sided in so many different ways. Any news story always starts off with what Hillary did wrong. NOBODY is perfect, so why is it stated by the press and anybody supporting him (which is pretty much the same thing) that he never does or says anything wrong. I think many people are not strong enough to have a woman president.

    Facts not Fantasy
    Hillary '08

    February 26, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. cozy

    Here we go again, everytime there is a black candidate running for office,there's always this speculation that somehow they are aligned
    with minister Farrakkan. It's getting more and more ridicluous, face it the minister has One(1) vote just like the rest of us, and may cast it for whom he pleases and we should not hold that against the candidate.

    Certainly, Obama should not have to denounce or reject every controversal individual that wants to vote for him.

    February 26, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  23. Lis

    This was Obama's high point of the debate! I love the way he puts her in her place. Who does she think she is?? She acts very immature....


    February 26, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  24. NickNas

    A new low! Even the most hypnotized Billarybot must have winced at that attack.

    WOW! I can't believe I supported her husband.

    Gonna make that Harlem NY Headquarters the Clintons have a little uncomfortable now.

    February 26, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  25. Dora

    If you look at his church's stand, those 10 points you will see why he did not reject or denounce. Go get him Hillary. This country needs a new direction but not to Africa. Look up it for yourself and see and hear what is not said by Obama. Great speech's do not mean great actions. Vote Hillary 08

    February 26, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
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