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. KC

    Let's talk about Obama's economic plan, since no one else will. Think about what the Republicans will do with this, while Hillary can easily run on Clintonomics which both parties agreed worked.

    Currently, only the first $97,500 of annual wages is subject to the payroll tax. Sen. Obama wants to remove that cap and tax all wages. This would be the largest tax increase in U.S. history, more than $1.3 trillion in new taxes over the first ten years alone, with significant consequences for taxpayers and the American economy. As bad as that would be in the aggregate, it would be even worse for individual workers. Some 9.2 million Americans would see their taxes increased.

    Obama's tax increase would saddle the United States with the highest marginal tax rate in the world — higher even than countries like Sweden. Studies based on the WEFA macroeconomic model, a metric developed by economists at the Wharton School of Business and employed widely by Fortune 500 companies, suggest that they would cost the United States as much as $136 billion in lost economic growth over the next 10 years, and as many as 1.1 million lost jobs.

    Obama’s tax increase would saddle the United States with the highest marginal tax rate in the world…

    In exchange for this economic catastrophe, we would gain surprisingly little. Even completely eliminating the cap, without allowing any additional credit toward benefits, would result in only eight additional years of cash-flow solvency. That's very little gain for so much pain.
    (credit to Michael Tanner, November 28, 2007, Cato Institute Research)

    February 26, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. sam walz

    c'mon hillary...you're really out of attacks..now you are playing silly games..i mean,'celestrial choir' give me a break...She has had 3 altenating mood swings in 3 days..i wonder what she'll do if she's president...hahaha

    February 26, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  3. Bob G.

    Does BO also reject/denounce his church and pastor of 20 years? He could have always gone to any of the thousands of churches in Chicago!

    February 26, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  4. Colin Hicks

    What a horrorably biased headline. Ashame on you CNN!

    February 26, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  5. ber

    I believe denounce is stronger than reject.

    Definition of reject (noun)
    form plural: rejects
    something or someone that does not match up to standards; object of lower quality; outcast

    de·nounce (d-nouns)
    tr.v. de·nounced, de·nounc·ing, de·nounc·es
    1. To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible. See Synonyms at criticize.
    2. To accuse formally.
    3. To give formal announcement of the ending of (a treaty).

    February 26, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  6. Neuro

    Words matter!

    REJECT: refuse to accept or acknowledge; "I reject the idea of starting a war"; "The journal rejected the student's paper"
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    DENOUCE: speak out against; "He denounced the Nazis

    OBAMA was right, Denouce was more applicable. Next time don't be so academic about it just say reject.

    February 26, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  7. Joe

    Barack owned Clinton on this question. As a typical politician, Clinton tried to trip Barack up on semantics, even though it was clear that Barack was against Farrakhan. Barack didn't take the bait.

    February 26, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  8. JohnX2

    i think hillary tried to go for this low blow. Lol but Obama made her look as ridiculous as what she was trying to insinuate that somehow Barrack is antisemitic or whatever.

    February 26, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  9. HM

    Obama scored big points on this question. He said again and again that he didn't agree with Farrakhan's anti-semitic statements and sought to distance himself. He wound up winning the semantic argument, making her look a little petty. However, he still has a fair amount of explaining to do about how he will proceed with peace talks in the Middle East

    February 26, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  10. Chad

    "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.

    1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly: to denounce a politician as morally corrupt. "

    February 26, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  11. Linda Porter

    I think Hillary is overreaching. I don't expect her to get on TV an tell someone, from whom she has not sought a positive comment, that she doesn't want a compliment from him or her. It's utterly rediculous for her to expect that from Obama.

    Linda in Atlanta

    February 26, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  12. Steve

    He did reject it. What an idiotic headline and article by CNN.

    February 26, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  13. pat

    Obama's rejection of Fararkhan was too little to late,, I think it was no sincere, I don't trust his answer.

    February 26, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  14. Alyssa

    Hillary was amazing tonight. Obama is not ready for this kind of job. Maybe after Hillary's done with her terms he will be a seasoned leader.

    February 26, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  15. Bobbi

    Go, Hillary, go! I am very proud of Hillary Clinton for standing up against anti-Semitism / racism. She would make an excellent president.

    She always takes a stance, unlike Obama who wavers and often comes back to comment after she does because he does not make a clear enough stance the first time around.

    Simply put, Hillary Clinton would be a better president because she knows what she needs to do, knows the issues, and is more of a leader when it comes to taking stances and getting things done.

    Clinton '08! Substance is more valuable than charisma!

    February 26, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  16. HRV

    Tim Russert question on Louis Farrakhan was an insult. Why is it that every African American must bear the sins of Louis Farrakhan? If Farrakhan was the leader he claims too be, the majority of African American would be Black Muslims. Is Tim Russert obligated to repudiate every Kook who happens to be white? Tavis Smiley and Louis Farrakhan do not speak for me or most African Americans. I am not my Brothers keeper.

    February 26, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  17. rafael

    hillary is really desperate what does it matter if he says reject or denounce, she tried to score some hits when she said that. It just made her look stupid everyone knows denounce is stronger than the word reject that's why the crowd laughed at her for her stupid comments. She butted in while obama was being questioned so she could make him look bad for not saying reject instead of denounce. She is retarded and desperate.

    February 26, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  18. bill in houston

    Obama both rejected and denounced him whats the point?

    February 26, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  19. Chris

    LEAVE HILLARY ALONE !!!! SHE'S NOT WELL RIGHT NOW !!!

    February 26, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  20. Stacy

    LOL. REJECT AND DENOUNCE! I love it! OBAMA 08

    February 26, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  21. Jon

    Good for you Hillary, someone needed to point this out; the useless media loves Obama too much to.

    February 26, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  22. matt

    for those of u that are gonna comment here, please watch the debate on MSNBC before u comment. Obama clearly expressed his point, in a presidential manner. He's the best candidate for president. I am 40 years old, white male, i've seen a lot of politicians in my life, but i must admit that Obama is the best of what i've seen in this country so far. People who really watched the debate, and people who are really honest with themselves, will vote for Obama. If u're a hillary supporter, i dont mean to offend u, just like Obama, I respect Hillary, but I think Obama is better, and has the best chance to beat John McCain. We need someone new, someone who can bring all walks of people together to one common goal. That's something Sen. Obama can efficiently do. Please vote Obama for President. Thank u one & all, my fellow Americans, please think carefully before u make your vote, i hope u will make the right decision. Please vote for Obama to make this country economically vibrant, and safe in this 21st century. THanks

    February 26, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  23. Lina

    This is exactly the kind of hair splitting that we are tired of. Obama did not seek this support and he said he denounced whatever the person said. So it doesn't matter to the American people weather he used the word reject or denounce.

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  24. Marie

    If you were watching the debate, this occured AFTER Obama already said he does not condone what Farakkan stands for.

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  25. mariposa for life

    Nice to see that Clinton is playing the race and religion fear card. Who is straight out of Karl Roves play book? Farrahkan saying nice things about Obama has nothing to do with health care, the economy or the war. To be honest I didn't even know that man was still alive. This is a petty distraction and Obama called her on it.

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
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