February 27th, 2008
09:08 AM ET
7 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. paul merando

    DURING LAST NIGHTS DEBATE (2-26-08) HILLIARY WAS NOT ALLOWED TO FINISH SPEAKING ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS!
    WHAT GIVES HERE? IT JUST SHOWS THE MEDIA IS FAVORING OBAMA AND NOT SCRUTINIZING HIM AS THEY DO EVERYONE ELSE. ARE THEY AFRAID TO ANGER PART OF THE PUBLIC?

    WHATS FAIR IS FAIR – LETS SEE HILLIARY GET EQUAL TIME!

    PAUL M.
    WEST TN

    February 27, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. Matthew

    It seems that Hillary Clinton will say and do anything to become the next President of the United States. I think the fundamental shift that the country is seeing in the political landscape is a desire to shift away from a candidate who is willing to do or say anything to a candidate who is an honest steward of the public trust. As Senator Clinton has become more divisive in the last few weeks you have seen people become more turned off by that sort of 'do anything to win' politics. While she may spin accusations or statements on her policy positions and their steadfastness. If you listen to her over time and in different locations it is quite clear she has said different and at time contradictory statements over NAFTA, health care, the war in Iraq, and more.

    February 27, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  3. The Analyst

    I've just checked my figures and the comment that Clinton needs to win by 25% in Ohio and Texas to get back in this race is wrong.

    10% wins by Clinton in Texas and Ohio and a solid win in Rhode Island (she will lose Vermont) could see Obama's lead cut by around 50-60 delegates. That would leave everything to fight for in Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

    An endorsement for either candidate by Bill Richardson could be crucial in determining this election. Obviously if he backs Obama the game is up for Hillary. But if he backs Hillary then it could be a whole new ball game.

    February 27, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  4. lilahenna

    God please help USA
    God please open the eye and the hart of people
    to say no to obama hussion
    this realy crazy
    TEXAS AND OHIO ITS TO YOU TO STOP THIS DISASTER

    February 27, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. dan c

    Clinton really needs to just pack up and go before she does anymore damage to the party!!

    and CNN what a ridiculous headline you've concocted for such an irelevant story!!!

    February 27, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. MICHAEL BURNETT L.I.N.Y.

    FIRST LET ME SAY THAT YOU CAN NOT CONTROL WHO SUPPORTS YOU, I MYSELF HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT, HERE'S MY PROBLEM' THIS QUESTION IS FOR MR. FARAKHAN. TELL ME AS A SO CALLED BLACK LEADER WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR THE BLACK MAN? WHETHER IN THIS COUNTRY OR ABROAD? WE HAVE AFRICAN MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN DYING EVERYDAY IN COUNTRY'S ALL OVER THE WORLD, WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR THEM? AS A AFRICAN MAN I WILL SAY TO YOU STOP THE TALKING AND START THE DOING, CAN YOU DO THAT? I AM SO TIRED OF YOU SO CALLED BLACK LEADERS THAT DO NO MORE BUT TALK JUST TO HERE YOUR OWN VOICE!! WHEN I RETIRE FROM MY JOB GOD WELLING, I WILL BE GOING BACK HOME LIKE SO MANY HAVE DONE BEFORE ME! I WILL BE GOING BACK TO MY HOME COUNTRY OF AFRICA, TO DO WHAT I CAN FOR MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS THAT ARE OR HAVE BEEN LESS FORTUNATE THEN MYSELF. AND YES I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN NEW YORK, BUT THIS COUNTRY HAS A WAY OF TELLING YOU THAT YOUR NOT WANTED. AND MY QUESTION TO THEM IS WHY DID YOU BRING OUR ANCESTORS HERE TO BEGAIN WITH? THERE IS TO MUCH RACISM IN THIS COUNTRY AND FOR AMERICA TO ALLOW SOME ONE LIKE FARAHNAN, BILL CUNNINGHAM, RUSH, TO TALK THAT RACEST B/S ON LIVE RADIO OR T.V. JUST GOES TO SHOW THAT RACISM IS STILL ALIVE AND DOING QUITE WELL!!! THIS IS THE B/S THAT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH EVERYDAY, AND WHEN I SAY "WE" I MEAN ALL THE PEOPLE THAT ARE AGAINST B/S LIKE THIS !!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Dan

    She's done. That's it. Game over. Obama 08.

    February 27, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. maxoutkast

    Here is the definition for "reject":

    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.).
    3. to refuse to accept (someone or something); rebuff: The other children rejected him. The publisher rejected the author's latest novel.
    4. to discard as useless or unsatisfactory: The mind rejects painful memories.
    5. to cast out or eject; vomit.
    6. to cast out or off.

    And here is the definition for "renounce":

    1. to give up or put aside voluntarily: to renounce worldly pleasures.
    2. to give up by formal declaration: to renounce a claim.
    3. to repudiate; disown: to renounce one's son.

    Now, you tell me, which won is more clear than the other for what Obama was trying to say about Louis Farrakhan's so called endorsement. Honestly, I think the second sounds much better, but I don't think one good argue either way. Sure is getting to be slim pickins for Hillary. She's trying real, real hard to get him on anything she can. I really wish she would just worry about herself. Reminds me of childish games at school. I know she has worked hard to get this far, but it is a contest and there is a such thing as a sore loser.

    February 27, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  9. Denounce VS Reject

    There is a destinction between the two words. Hillary did a great job with holding Obama to an answer.

    February 27, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. simcha

    We in the Jewish community need to be careful about ALL our would-be leaders and must examine the record and NOT the rhetoric when making choices.

    Many years ago when Sen Clinton was First Lady Clinton in the White House, she was visited by Mrs Suah Arafat, I think in the White house, and in front of public media and in the presence of Then-First lady Clinton, Mrs Arafat made comments like this:
    " ....The Israelis in Palestine are putting poison in the drinking water of Palestinian children and causing deaths amongst the Palestinian people...."

    Mrs Clinton did not challenge Mrs Arafat about that remark and this has left an indelible mark on my memory of Mrs Clinton. Can your reporters find the old tapes and re-examine them, Mrs Arafat has a right to say whatever, but I expect my friends to stand up for me when I am being slandered.

    Simcha

    February 27, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  11. LITA

    Hillary is still the best .

    February 27, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  12. JB

    Alright, this is stupid. You are going to criticize someone for using the word "denounce" instead of reject. Just an FYI:

    denounce:to condemn or censure openely in public
    reject:to refuse to have, take or recognize

    Actually denounce is a stronger word, and this conversation is retarded. All you Hillbots will attempt to find anything to criticize Obama on. Truthfully this is not an opportunity. Move along. Next topic!!!

    February 27, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  13. Ryan

    How Clintonian. She must get that from her husband. Parsing commonly understood words – as noted in a recent news column in the Chicago Trib. Go Barack!

    February 27, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. George

    Obama is making me nervous. He has to be told he should, without question, distance himself from Farrakhan? Why is he reluctant to do this?

    Is Michelle now NOT very proud of America again because we all expect you, Obabma, to make it clear you do not accept this hatred???

    February 27, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. penny

    Hillary did not attack Barama whatsoever. You Obama supporters are weak if you feel that her pressing Obama was an attack have you any sense for what is an attack and is not? I thought she very gently ande simply asked Senator Obama to answer the specific question asked of him by Russert – do you reject the support of Farrakhan? Obama did not very purposefully answer YES I reject his support – he soft shoed all over the place and this is a concern and it was right for Hillary to ask him to answer the question. He did concede the point and he did answer the question – finally – because he realized that she was RIGHT. So give it up already – he did.
    I for one will watch for some follow-up from the Obama campaign to see how they address the wider question by Russert. Bet there wont be any – lets see.
    GO HILLARY!

    February 27, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. IM4ULORD

    What a sweet scene. The Dem's are imploding. It doesn't suprise me seeing the Dem's emitting this hate at one another. Check your morals and ethics at the door and prepare to defend yourself from hateful, vile attacks. This is what happens when you don't stand fro LIFE!!

    February 27, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  17. Vikki in Northern Illinois

    Senator Obama won the debate against Sen. Clinton easily. He can run his campaign smoothly without borrowing from himself. Also, he shows intelligent, sophisticated leadership above and beyond Hillary Clinton's misuse of campaign funds and mud slinging. She looked very desperate last night.

    February 27, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  18. Dennis Scott

    Denounce: To pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil.
    What is Hillary Clinton talking about!!!!!!

    February 27, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  19. Anonymous

    It is obvious to me and other democrats that Barack Obama started to win primaries and votes when Edwards withdraw from the presidential race. So, how does he feel stealing the candidacy from somebody with a true vote base? If Edwards were still on the race,Hillary Clinton by now would have been the democrat nominate for presidency or close to it. How can Obama say he will reunite the party and bring people together when millions of democrats feel he is cashing somebody´s else checks?

    February 27, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  20. D.H

    Obama is the the cure to the ills of this nation, and Clinton is the same of what we had before–Yuk!! Let's support a Man for a change for the better and help make America great once again.

    February 27, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  21. heatmiser

    I'm sure that the hundreds of thousands of dead in Rwanda will be shocked to find that the Clinton's care now about genocide in Africa, that is, when there is a debating point to be made. When it came to action, Willy sat on his hands and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO STOP IT, the same thing Skippy has been doing about Darfur, get off of your high-horse, Clintons!!!

    February 27, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  22. Sam

    And yet Barack Obama continues to be affiliated with the Trinity United Church, whose pastor equates Zionism with racism and praises Louis Farrakhan. Even if Senator Obama does not agree with such positions, one is known by the friends one keeps.

    February 27, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  23. Fowler

    Dictionary.com

    Denounce: to condemn or censure openly or publicly

    Reject: to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc

    -- Denounce is a more apt and accurate term to describe what Obama said.

    February 27, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. Concerned Voter

    To Sarah Smith...it was Edwards who got haircut, not Clinton.

    February 27, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  25. Myrna

    My take On this: It is VERY Petty on the Part of Hillary.. She is gasping at straws and IT is NOT working !! How Convient that she forgot to Mention that she was ON the 700 Club !!!! Yes she was, and she considers her self a Democrat????? What a Hypocrite !!! I am Just thankful that the debates are finally OVER!!! Hillary Pack in and get out of the race NOW!!!! Obama 08

    February 27, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
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