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. concerned citizen

    I am amazed at Obama supports saying he won the debates even though political pundits in MSNBC (who love Obama) said Hillary was more prepared and Obama had a little trouble responding to Hillary. And did what amaze me is the question of Russia and Obama had no clue who the new up comng president of Russia and probably didn't even know the name of the guy. All he said was Hillary is right about Russian...wow...yeah wait a go obama you are an empty suit...And people will reply that Russia is insignificant...wait until Russia being part of the U.N. security General will veto Kosovo's entrace to U.N...Russia is still important and you better know how to manuever against Russia and the first think you need to know is who the president is and Hillary showed that she knew the upcoming president of russia and the issues about him...Obama bombed on this one...As a support of Obama, I have now changed my mind and support Hi9llary Clinton because as an Army Officer I believe that Foreign Affairs is essential to the survival of the United STates...

    Go Hillary,

    Sorry obama supporters but the debate showed Obama lack of Foreign affairs issues.

    February 26, 2008 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  2. Audrey

    She kicked his butt. Ohio is a different game. We don't want to be inspired or otherwise put to sleep with eloquent speeches with no game plan. CNN doesn't seem to want to score the whole debate, so you know they agree.

    February 26, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  3. VL

    Truly Obama should make his view of Farrakhan more public, as he should have done a long time ago. It makes one curious why he's not done this before. Is he afraid of losing those votes? Personally, I would respect him a lot more. Still don't respect Michelle though, she's educated enough to have been able to "speak what she meant" the FIRST TIME.

    February 26, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  4. Jo

    I feel like I was a judge in a late night high school debate round. Hillary is that student who tries so hard to win a point that isn't a real voting issue. Barack parries and co-opts her word, "reject", making his position against Farrahkan's incendiary rhetoric even stronger. When they post the teams that break into the out rounds for tomorrow morning, Team Obama makes the list. Team Clinton better have some individual events to compete in because they don't make the cut.

    February 26, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |

    GOOD ! ! !




    CLINTON 08 ..................................................................

    February 26, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  6. Another Husein 08

    Come on!

    February 26, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  7. Rozanne

    I REJECT and DENOUNCE Tim Russert and MSNBC for even asking Barack Obama about Farrakhan's support!!!

    February 26, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  8. Another Husein 08

    Way to go!

    February 26, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  9. andrew jones

    I dont know what part of reject = denounce Billary did not understand, maybe she needs a dictionary to get her words right!

    Billary, we reject = denouce your smear tactics on this campaign and to borrow your words:" Shame on you Billary!"

    Go Obama!!!

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  10. Darth Vadik, CA

    A new low for Hillary, ow can Obama control who supports him?

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  11. Josh

    I find the title of this mis-leading, Sen. Obama clearly denounced and back awayed from any percieved positive love from Farrakhan's positive comments.

    In the end Sen. Obama obviously won this exchange, making Sen. Clinton's difference of "reject" and "denounce" look foolish and childish.

    Not too mention if you look in the dictionary, Denounce is a much stronger word over Reject in this situation.

    Overall, Obama won the debate by far!

    Obama 08

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  12. Another Husein 08


    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  13. A. Underwood, Cincinnati, OH

    As usual, the CNN spin machine tries to spin Obama's response to the Farrakhan question to make Hillary come out smelling like a rose. And as usual, failing dismally.

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  14. Tom in Ohio

    Barack held his own during this debate and for that he is crowned the winner. Hillary promised to deliver a stance on why she is more experienced and why Americans should vote for her. She also was the one who insisted on these debates witha promise to throw out the "kitchen sink." While it's true she through out a lot of things- not much landed. This debate was hers to win, and she didn't. Barack will be the next President of these United States. McCain is seen as an over-the-top, too old war-monger. As in all other states he's captured in the past few weeks, Obama will come out as the winner in the upcoming primaries and caucuses and will gain an even bigger lead among McCain to outbest him for the nomination.

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  15. Eritrea

    Hillary is literately trying everything! You have to admit it was a good move to try to sway Obama. But you have to admit even more, Obama came strong with the counter.

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  16. Jonathan in Chicago

    Senator Clinton was disgraceful in her attempt to make political gain on the backs of American Jews and the issue of anti-semitism. To question Senator Obama's principles and character on such an issue was shameful and belies a craven lack of sensitivity, and a willingness to corrupt her own integrity for perceived political advantage.

    As an American Jew, I was offended by her comments and I am grateful for Senator Obama's grace and eloquence in the face of such pettiness.

    And Begala, this was not a schooling of Obama by Clinton - this was a shameful act - your spin aside.

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  17. Sean

    What country do we live in? Clinton says: "We cannot let anyone in any way say these things because of the implications that they have, which can be so far reaching." Just because you disagree with someone does not mean that you try to censor them. To suggest that anyone should have control over what others say is as un-American as you can get. Free speech still exists, and Obama was correct for taking the denounce stance.

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  18. Sue, Michigan

    Give me one example of where he said anything tonight about the nation coming together? He was gungho on being willing to invade Pakistan and go back into Iraq. Clinton should grab that comment and run with it, after he's spent the last year skewering her about her vote. Frankly, the man is just too calm-does he HAVE emotions? Even when he's in preacher mode, he never looks excited. I heard nothing about what he will do to bring us together...health care? Social Security? Jobs?
    Sorry, I am not sold. And you are just spouting his stump speech for him. Hillary is nothing like GWB and never could be.

    February 26, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  19. leslie

    why is cnn making this a talking point. Obama has never done anything publicly or privately with the nation of islam. This is race baiting CNN and shame on you. Obama handled correctly and moved forward just like you should.

    February 26, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  20. Cecilia,Dallas,Texas

    Clinton shame:(

    February 26, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  21. James Smith

    It was well within Senator Clinton's right to challenge Senator Obama on this issue. It was far from a petty argument on word choice, as some of my fellow bloggers have intimated. As Sen. Obama has said before, words matter. I also think he handled the question fairly well. And I'm a Clinton supporter.

    February 26, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  22. jp/michigan

    Obama was against the war. Then he was for those who were for the war. And when ask how he would have voted, he stated, "I DON'T KNOW."

    February 26, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  23. ZK Shakiji

    wow Hillary you are giviing all you have .and still you still lose go home and stop with the attatude. You had more than a fair shot and lost it all . "if this was vegas you bet the house and lost it all"

    February 26, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  24. Steve

    Would Farrakhan even be an issue if Obama wasn't black?! Give me a break. No one made a big deal out of Fred Phelps endorsing Gore back in 2000, so why does anyone care about this sort of thing now?

    I denounce and reject this whole "issue."

    February 26, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  25. Rechi

    Look, no matter how much Obama can deny and play nice, but the whole country knows how much he dislikes Israel. He is not being honest when he says that he supports Israel because the country also knows that he is so much in love with Palestine. Come on Obama, be honest and just say what you like and what you don't. Don't play politics.

    February 26, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
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