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. Theda Skocpol

    Your headline is misleading! It makes it sound as if Obama supports Farrakhan. You should change the headline, as that is all some readers see.

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  2. Texas4Obama

    In my opinion Senator Obama WON the debate on the issues with his intelligent answers and he was very polite and presidential looking.

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  3. Damon

    i love how the media babysits Obama!

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  4. jack2

    Petty little Hillary!

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  5. d

    Actually isn't denouncing stronger then reject? A rejection can be either public or private, but a denouncement is always public.

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  6. Alyssa

    Speaking of phony. why did Barack "I don't accept money from lobbyists. I just take money from lobbyist partners" Obama insist on stating he opposed the war? If he opposed the war all along, why did he fund it? Liar, liar, pants on fireeeeee!

    February 26, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  7. john williams san diego, ca.

    poor bubba, you have one irate woman on your hands.

    February 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  8. Elly

    I personally thought Barack Obama handled this question well
    he denounced Farrakhan
    A candidate cannot help who comes out to say something about him..her.... its really out of their control!
    I am sorry no matter how nice she tries to be... she always comes across as vindicitve and mean spirited
    I can never vision her as being able to unite anyone let alone
    the country

    February 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  9. John

    Was there some sort of implication in this debate that Obama is some sort of anti-Semite because the title of his book was borrowed from his pastor that at one point said an anti-semitic was a 'great person'. Ridiculous, is it possible to stick to real issues instead of all this useless bickering?

    February 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  10. AXO

    It's sad that HRC continues to undermine all her good work with this kind of pettyness. Obama can't control who supports him and for her to try and score points with this silly Reject v Denounce hair splitting will backfire just like the 'change you can xerox' line did.

    America still remembers Bill saying "It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is." HRC would do well to stay away from these pedantic word games.

    Obama again won me over by this rise above it attitude, something that I think the democratic candidate will need to run against McCain.

    February 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  11. blkjazz

    This was a pointless question. Old stuff. There is nothing anywhere which even remotely suggests that Barack Obama approves of the language Farrakhan used over ten years ago regarding Judism. Barack response tonight was appropriate and conclusive despite Hillary's attempt to blow it up into a race based argument.

    The debate tonight provided ample evidence of why Obama should and will be the next President of the United States. Clinton should quit now.

    February 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  12. lets be real here

    DENOUNCE and REJECTED the man.

    what left is there too say?

    Obama I'm pleased to see that you stated that toward Farrakhan

    February 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  13. HD - Kentucky

    I thought they both did well in the debate and Obama held his own again. Wow, 20 debates total this year so far. I hope she does not want any more of these.

    February 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. Ralph

    Reject and Denounce.... GET THE WHOLE THING RIGHT CNN... Obama won this point completely.

    February 26, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  15. sonya Josiah

    Everybody is saying CNN is biased towards Sen. Obama, yet your news titles continue to be as follows:
    Clinton says....
    clinton attacks ....
    clinton fiesty...
    etc.

    Please be a little balanced. Didn't obama say anything today?

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  16. Alex

    I thought this was the most ridiculous part of the entire debate. No politician in his or her right mind would accept the support of an anti-semite, and Obama has openly spoken out AGAINST anti-semitism in his own Black community, which to be Frank with Hilary is even MORE powerful than simply saying I reject support from an anti-semite as she has done. It ended up being one of Obama's brighter moments because he transcended the usual political bickering over the defintion of 'denounce' and 'rejection' and came up with a witty answer that left Clinton reeling.

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  17. Dana

    Before tonight, I supported Hillary Clinton whole-heartedly but after these remarks claiming that this man welcomes the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan has brought her campaign to a all-time low which certainly makes her look rather desperate. I am now off this ship!!!!

    Dana

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  18. George

    Barrack's statement is clear. To even suggest that he is is anti-Jewish is repugnant.

    For Clint to suggest that she would go further by not allowing anyone to "say these things" is interesting. Does she intend to ignore or seek repeal of the first amendment?

    As much as I personally denounce/renounce this type of hate speech...the reality is that it is permitted under the constitution. The best way to fight hate is not by suppressing it but by exposing it to the truth in the public arena.

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  19. John

    Well done, Barack. This is such a poorly worded question; how can you "reject" an endorsement? Barack did the right thing. Tonight, we saw just how Barack reacts under pressure, and how presidential he truly is.

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  20. Not another Husein

    What is that about???

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  21. Against the Cult

    Unfortunately, the Farrakhan endorsement & even Obama's rejection of it will remain an issue. CNN, the heading of this issue is misleading stop trying to instigate...

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  22. Brad

    Shame on you CNN for making as your headline a point in the debate which was resolved within the 90 seconds of back and forth between the candidates! No reasonable person could have watched the exchange and thought that Hillary slammed Barack on Farrakhan's support. This kind of shameless headline-writing is racist and meant to incite controversy. Shame on you CNN!

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  23. Patrick

    Please change the headline. It is incredibly misleading.

    February 26, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  24. Not another Husein

    Come on, what is the issue???

    February 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  25. k.daye

    i won't vote for obama.

    February 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
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