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. Reality check

    Swagger, swagger, swagger, that will get you in trouble Mr. Obama. If you don't want Louis Farakhans support just say so but I'm sure you do want it. Hillary was the sure winner tonight.

    February 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  2. ssweep

    Obama got caught up in his own game and just made a mistake that may cost him the general election. It has been proven that his "spiritual adviser" and his minister is good friends with Farrakhan he tried to leave himself an out. Why? With a half hearted answer he "denouned" the praise of Farrakhan. He will have to answer a lot tougher questions from the republicans in the general election. He will have to explain the relationship, and do it in a way 40% to 50% of the moderate republicans and republican leaning independents to win. It remains to be seen if he can?

    February 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  3. JT

    "Denounce" is stronger than "reject." Read your dictionary.

    February 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  4. Erik

    Hillary was really reaching on this, and it hurt her in the end. She didn't hold true to the items which she might have been able to exploit, and the fact that she's now resolved to play a symantics game about "reject" or "denouce" shows the desperation of her campaign.

    February 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  5. Whitney God Bless Obama

    Denounce: to give formal notice of the termination or denial of
    to condemn or censure openly or publicly: to denounce a politician as morally corrupt. to speak out against

    Reject: to cast out or eject to get rid of
    to refuse to accept (someone or something); to refuse to have, take, recognize

    Is she serious? REALLY? HILLARY ARE YOU ALL SERIOUS?

    I do not want this childish, hot headed, whiny, PMS suffering woman running our country. BOTTOM LINE. Her actions are the reason why she is where she is and getting the negative attention. SHE BRINGS IT ON HERSELF.
    She is acting worse than my 8th graders with these word games.

    GO OBAMA!

    February 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  6. Not another Husein

    what is it??!!

    February 26, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  7. Ankie

    Hillary will be the next President of the United States of America. I am very sure with all our prayers.

    February 26, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  8. John

    Don, you say "reject any support for that racist hate monger," which in itself is a flawed remark. He clearly doesn't support Farrakhan, but how can he possibly reject an endorsement? Watch your semantics.

    February 26, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  9. Jason

    ANYONE that doesn't tolerate the differences of the world's religion, should not be tolerated AT ALL!

    Above comment in regards to: "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."

    February 26, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  10. Molly

    Annimeca...

    Moderator used the word renounce when going to commercial, an error on his part. Obama only used denouce. No confusion, just little verbal tripping by commentator. I picked up on it as well, but he did correct himself.

    February 26, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  11. MariaofLuna

    It's about time someone questioned him about this; only they didn't really go afar as they should have. They should have asked why his Minster Rev Dr Wright holds Farrakhan in such high regard. And while were at it, below is the 10 points of his church.

    And someone explain to me, how someone can take the Oath of Office of the President of the United States of American and belong to church congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA?

    Trinity United Church of Christ
    Rev Dr. Jeremiah A Wright
    About Us

    We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

    The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision:

    A congregation committed to ADORATION.
    A congregation preaching SALVATION.
    A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
    A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA.
    A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
    A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
    A congregation committed to the HISTORICAL EDUCATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE IN DIASPORA.
    A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
    A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
    A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY.

    February 26, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  12. Guy

    It's all in the wording and that's why I agree with Obama here. By saying he rejects Farrakhan, that is implying that Farrakhan is seeking something of him. But since that is not the case, he denounces him. If people think that there is a difference between the words here then it is nitpicking and an attempt to cast Obama in an infavorable light.

    February 26, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  13. ME

    Yes, but did Clinton do anything to change minds? No.

    She has command of facts and plans. He does too.

    He has the edge on looking "presidential." This is both because of the debate calmness and poise, but also because she degraded herself with the sarcasm and the Jekyl/Hyde act over the last few days.

    February 26, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  14. Michael

    There's a huge difference between rejection and denunciation. Obama himself officially "denounced Farrakan's anti-semitism" during the debate, but actually said he wouldn't rejecti Farrakan. By his own admittance, before Hillary interjected, they are two different things.

    Hillary succeeded in pointing out the difference, and he patronized her afterwards. After all, she is just a woman.

    February 26, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  15. Jack

    I think Obama has been vetted. He has been vetted by the Clinton campaign. Now Hillary get out of the way but thanks for the preperation.

    February 26, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  16. Kevin, Port Orange, FL

    Wow, this is a misleading headline from the actual story. Perhaps Clinton News Network has some truth?

    February 26, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  17. Andrew

    What I don't understand is why is any coverage of this debate on cnn.com buried about 10 levels deep, as if an afterthought? Why didn't it get bigger spot on cnn.com's home page? Is it because it was on msnbc.com (I don't understand that either, many people don't get MSNBC, like many of us here in Canada, why didn't they keep it on CNN, a very sneaky trick if you ask me)? If so, that's disgusting. The divisiveness and childish behaviours of the media are really something to be ashamed of. Why can't we all live with each other in peace and respect each other for our differences?

    February 26, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  18. mike

    Obama trounced Clinton tonight – end of the primary campaign – on to Nov.

    February 26, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  19. Raymond Ito

    Hillary Clinton's insistence on Obama using "reject" instead of "denounce" is nothing but a ploy to project herself as being more a supporter of Israel and the jewish community than Obama which she's definitely not. What's really the difference between the two words? To denounce means you want nothing to do with something or somebody.

    She and her husband have made disparaging statements about blacks in this campaign trail that incensed the black community. Their estwhile 'image' of being lovers of blacks was exposed for what it really is to the surprise of many!

    Her futile attempts to consolidate or increase her jewish community base fell on barren grounds.

    February 26, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  20. Against the Cult

    @ Shannon, you are right Obama sure is bringing a new style of politics, the one that deceives you and ropes you in until its too late...the only people who see clearly through it are the republicans who voted for GW because he gave them hope, promised to unify and brought a new style of politics & spoke with conviction

    February 26, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  21. California Voter

    and we care because the minister of the church (Trinity United Church of Christ) he has belonged to for twenty years supports Farrakhan. It also is a church that has strong separatist ideas. Sometimes you have to connect the dots.

    February 26, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  22. Tyrone

    I am displeased that CNN is leaving this as the header when it wasn't a "slam" and he didn't waver because she pushed him.

    To borrow Hillary's construction: "Shame on you CNN"

    February 26, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  23. watchin n va

    I love the fact the he reamins so calm, while Hillary scrambles leaving her looking desperate and SILLY!!!!

    Do we REALLY want to talk about all the supporters of Hillary that she should have rejected????

    two words... white water.

    February 26, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  24. careful

    This headline is quite misleading

    February 26, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  25. Kevin

    He's slow to renounce Minister Farrakhan and promises to embrace President Ahmadinejad. Go figure....

    February 26, 2008 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42