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. Joy Remson-Johnson

    The questioned was phrased as did he reject the endorsement. He should have said right off, yes I reject the endorsement from someone who upholds hate as an ideal virtue. Obama's pause and ambivalence toward directly stating rejection rather than denounciation made it seem as if he was trying to find a way to maintain all the votes and support he can get. For once I would like to see him take a stand on an issue rather than deflect and detract, because this tactic will not hold well against the Republicans. As we all know they will and have already started pulling out the big guns. They will tear him apart. He is great in speeches but in debates he is monatone and flounders around his words. He needs a great deal of debate practice before the national election starts if he is going to be the democratic nominee. The repeated use of the words change and hope can only go so far against McCain and as a Democratic I fear the results of endorsing a man who noone has really questioned on the difficult topics. The media will no longer play nice with Obama once the election for the presidency starts and we need a fighter.

    February 27, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  2. zach lincoln, ne

    Hillary is the best!!!!

    February 27, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. maxoutkast

    Now that I think it about, though, "reject" is more of a physical act. Denouncement is like reject + the moral equivalent. So, in that sense, I take it back. It can't really be argued.

    February 27, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. NewYorker

    Why to go Hillary! Good point to bring up. I hope you continue to bring up these points which Obama chooses to publically ignore. No doubt Obama is headed for the White House, but when he gets there, you watch who comes knocking on his door for favors. The American people will be amazed they were so short sighted.

    February 27, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  5. Concerned Voter

    Clinton won this. Experience does count. Obama also agrees with Clinton on most issues. Go figure.

    February 27, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. Teddy

    is Minister Farrakhan not a US citizen? Has he no right to vote? why couldn't he appreciate and support the candidate he best...?

    February 27, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. Jonathan Harrar

    This is not even a story.. Did the writer watch the debate..it was funny!

    February 27, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. maxoutkast

    and i know I used "won" instead of "one". I meant to that. Just kidding. Ooppss

    February 27, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  9. Charlotte

    Obama-bots must not read any of the previous comments since 9 out of 10 were the definition of reject or denounce. This must have hurt there boy big time, for them to go on and on. His church minister thinks Farrakhan is the greatest..nuf said

    February 27, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  10. Lynn in NM

    Wow. Hillary must have been going to school! She now knows the definitions of "denounce" and "reject." Just a few years ago, she couldn't give her husband the definition of "is." Good dramatics, Hillary.

    February 27, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  11. dean

    Neither one of them will make a good president. No doubt about it. The Democrats have nobody and nothing to offer again at election time.

    February 27, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  12. Mike

    She tried and tried again and still cant make him fall off his bike. Lol she has to give up and go away after tuesday because now she is starting to look old and saggy when I look at her in HD.

    Obama 08

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

    Hillary, if you want to poke at these little things, us Obama supporters can do it all night!

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

    I'll try to make this as simple as possible:

    CNN, the charges of bias that are thrown around on these posts are often funny.

    HOWEVER, your choice to run this headline is outrageous. Someone who had not seen the MSNBC debate would read your article and think that Obama indicated support for Farrakhan. He clearly did not.

    The fact that you still have it as your lead item is a disgrace. This is yellow journalism at its worst.

    Is someone from the Clinton campaign running Political Ticker now?

    February 27, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  15. sheila jones

    The political reporting by CNN's Anderson Cooper and the political team is definitely pro Obama. It would be good to hear more balanced reporting. Thank you.

    February 27, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  16. Ommi

    Farrakhan did not endorse Senator Obama its the media who puts a spin on this one, Farrakhan did say he liked the message Senator Obama sends to the American people. That is in NO WAY an endorsement.

    Now lets us REJECT and DENOUCE the racist comments made by the Clintons in the last few weeks.

    This woman will say and do anything to be elected. I once liked the Clintons but not anymore I have to vote for CHANGE come MARCH 4th 2008

    Obama 08

    February 27, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  17. From PA

    I would never vote for obama!!

    February 27, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  18. Terry

    I reject and denounce the war in Iraq

    February 27, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  19. Sandra Kennedy

    Loved the headlines !

    February 27, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  20. Tesa P

    Mr Fitzwell Nader's ethnicity is Arab... check it out.... Ralph Nader is not a serious candidate.

    February 27, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  21. Obama (AKA "Speeches")

    Why is CNN not analyzing Obama and how he stumbled last night? On the serface these CNN analyst are acting as if they support Obama, but I would really like to know thier Republican pick. And, what will the contest look like between Obama and MCCain?

    February 27, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. Mary

    anyone see commentary on cbs this morning where the speaker said you could reduce Barak's speeches to Dr. Seuss books. Yeah, that's what I'm looking for in a president.

    February 27, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  23. full disclosure

    Why won't Hillary release her tax returns?

    I reject and denounce her for not coming clean, as Obama has.

    What are she and Bill hiding?

    February 27, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  24. Pam B.

    Sen. Clinton, once again, schooled Sen. Obama in the intricacies of the problems facing our country. If Sen. Obama is such a great speaker – why so may uhs and ahs, while stumbling for an answer that is then allowed to go on for ages with no distinct point being made. He seems to like the sound of his own voice.

    Sen. Obama should have been much stronger in his complete rejection/denouncement, of not just what Farrakhan has said, but his SUPPORT whether it was elicited or not.

    Sen. Obama's statement that he had not held a substantive meeting of his Foreign Relations Sub Committee on European Affairs since his chairmanship last January was unacceptable....'because he's been campaigning'. The next President will have to juggle many tasks and still see them through to accomplishments. If that is what we can expect, all our hopes and dreams will remain just that.

    February 27, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  25. anonymous

    Good Job Obama

    Once again another debate goes in your column.

    February 27, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
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