March 6th, 2008
01:00 PM ET
7 years ago

Clinton camp compares Obama to Ken Starr

The Clinton campaign accused Obama Thursday of acting like Ken Starr.
The Clinton campaign accused Obama Thursday of acting like Ken Starr.

(CNN) – A Clinton campaign spokesman Thursday compared Barack Obama’s recent criticism of the New York senator to the actions of Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr.

Since his losses on Tuesday night, Obama has stepped up his attacks on Clinton for her failure to release her most recent tax returns and other documents related to her time as first lady. Her campaign has said that she will release the tax records in advance of Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary, and that it cannot control the release of the White House schedules in question.

On a Thursday conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said that the Illinois senator was attempting to sidestep questions about his readiness to lead the country. “He chose not to address those questions, but to attack Senator Clinton. I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president," said Wolfson.

He also responded to Obama’s contention that Clinton had criticized Rick Lazio, her Republican Senate opponent in 2000, for not releasing his returns by noting that Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had been making that information public for decades.

"As somebody who led the effort to ensure that Mr. Lazio provided his tax returns, certainly at that point he had not provided 20 years of his tax returns to the people of New York," Wolfson said.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton responded to the criticism by accusing the Clinton team of a double standard.

“…We don’t believe that expecting candidates for the presidency to disclose their tax returns somehow constitutes Ken Starr-tactics, but the kind of transparency and accountability that Americans are looking for and that’s been missing in Washington for far too long,” said Burton, in a statement to reporters.

“And if Sen. Clinton doesn’t think that the Republicans will ask these very same questions, then she’s not as ready to go toe-to-toe with John McCain as she claims.”

– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (501 Responses)
  1. Betty Ann

    CNN for Clinton – all the way!

    Hllary says: The media is bias – CNN agrees
    Hillary says: He's got speaches, I've got solutions – CNN agrees
    Hillary says: Ohio is the most important state – CNN agrees
    Hillary says: Obama is Ken Starr – CNN agrees

    Why not make the endorsement official?

    March 6, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Ann, MO

    People better start caring about what the Clintons have been up to for the past 7 years. Believe me, the Republicans have a truck load to start dumping on them if she wins the nomination. Hillary says Obama needs to be vetted, but accuses him of negative campaigning when he does the same to her? Why did Hillary lie about it being the White House that was holding up the release of her papers?

    A lot of you are not old enough to remember the first Clinton administration, but Hillary is running and claiming that as part of her experience, so the Republicans have the right, just as Obama does to bring up all of the unanswered questions.

    Barack wants to turn the page on that kind of politics, but let's be real here, if the Dems want to win, they had better accept the fact that the Clintons have a lot of garbage that is going to come out sooner or later, some of it true, and some not, but we will not win in November.

    Everyone has the right to know what happened when Bill helped the little known Canadian get that mine deal that also netted the Clintons $130,000 million, and that happened in 2006, so we need to see those tax returns. Bill made statements (to get that deal) that were against the US policy on human rights, and that is not right, no matter which party is in the White House, for a former President to do that.

    I find it interesting that it was a Canadian that "leaked" some memo against Barack. Is there a connection there?

    If we do not want that kind of mess again, we had better put a stop to it now and vote for Obama.

    March 6, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Karen, TN

    This is ridiculous! Who's been running the negative campaign so far? Clinton of course! And now they want to bring up their own past sins (i.e. Starr related issues) as a way of discrediting Obama because he might say something negative about her? And people keep voting for her??? The circles the Clinton campaign is going in are just dizzying! What's going on with the American people? Wise up please before it's too late!

    In regards to the tax return, did anyone else notice how flustered Hillary got at the last debate when she was asked whether her tax return would be released before March 4th? She tripped all over herself. One has to wonder why. I know hers is more complicated than mine, but I don't know what could be hard about calling the accountant and getting them to put out a copy.

    March 6, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Mad in Texas

    Good lands Obama people. She has repeatedly told you when she will release her tax returns. She had nothing to hide when Starr was spending all our tax dollars at the Republicans request. He found nothing. Now here comes the whining Obama's crew doing the same thing. If you can't stand to get your butt whipped then don't get in the ring. People what do you think Putin will do to this cream puff. You can say he's not on the Rezko's court list all you want, but before the trial is overwith it will be. He has a lot of explaining to do there. I for one am not fooled by the man nor do I want him in the White House. Hillary can't win what a bunch of dopes. Don't ever underestimate the Clintons. GO BABY GO. HILLARY 08

    March 6, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. No name

    I would question Barak's use of word CHANGE. He is preaching "CHANGE" as if every one in Washington is just waiting for Barak to show up and they will drop their pants of in honor of Barak. He has been there now three years or so. some one in press should ask him a simple question what have you change so far in your stay in Washington? You may get the answer "CHANGE" as that is all he has. Tell him to start walking on grounds.

    March 6, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Jack, Independent

    I THOUGHT HILLARY HAD 35 YEARS EXPERIENCE, NOW I STRONGLY BELIEVE IT IS NOT TRUE AND BOTH CANDIDATES HAVE JUST THE SAME EXPERIENCE. I REALIZE THAT HER FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE IS JUST A "SPEECH" SHE GAVE IN CHINA.

    IT'S CLEAR TO ME THAT "WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND" AND I THINK SHE WILL FACE MORE CHALLENGES AS THERE ARE LOT OF CONTROVERSEY WITH THE CLINTONS TO DIG.....

    OBAMA HAS EVERY RIGHT TO ASK ABOUT HER CREDENTIALS. NO ONE SHOULD EXPECT HIM TO BE SO NICE NOT EVEN TO QUESTION THE OPPONENT IN A CIVIL WAY. THAT IS NOT A NEGATIVE ATTACK.

    CLINTON HAS TO SHOW ME HER CREDENTIALS TO GET MY VOTE. ELSE, I WILL VOTE FOR OBAMA OR MCCAIN THIS NOVEMBER.

    March 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Crystal in CA

    So the Clinton News Network continues to filter comments on this blog.

    Why haven't you all reported the Breaking News out of Canada about how they admitted to lying about what happened with Obama regarding NAFTA?

    Why haven't you all brought up the trial involving Hillary and Bill vs. Peter Paul? How about Norman Hsu?

    These are real issues CNN. Or is it that you guys are not a REAL news network? Judging from the articles you all have posted recently, I'd bet on the latter.

    March 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. TB

    These Clintonites are killing me. Rezko? Are you kidding me? Obama has not been implicated in anyway to the Rezko trial other than them being old friends, so leave it alone. I bet if we brought up all the 'friends' that Hil and Bill ever knew that have since been implicated in some legal issues, the list would be rather lengthy I'm sure...

    March 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. James

    Americans, please understand why Hillary is holding back her tax returns from the past four years. Hillary files a joint return with Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton all of a sudden is getting million dollar deals which many speculate are not for work done, but are for access to his wife for political pandering. Hillary knows this concern and won't release her tax returns because of it. Once the American Public sees that Hillary received millions from the Saudi's, Dubai, etc. and looks at her voting record, there will be a high correlation between donations and votes.

    Sorry, the Clintons are putting the presidency and Hillary's office up for sale. We as Americans deserve to know the full information in order to vet it.

    March 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. Georgette, Imperial Beach, CA

    What a crock of crap! Wish CNN would stop giving credence to this and concentrate one some real NEWS! Leave the gossip to TMZ, plz.

    March 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. Paul

    I AM A CONSTANT READER OF THIS PAGE AND I REALLY WONDER IF AMERICA IS ALL ABOUT RACE OR STATUES QUOTE?
    A YEAR AGO, OBAMA WAS -20 POINTS BECAUSE NO ONE KNEW HIM. STATUS QUOTE MADE CLINTON WHERE SHE IS TODAY. AMERICA, TELL ME THE TRUTH, DO YOU GUYS REALLY WANT A FIGHTER BACK TO WHITE HOUSE THAT WOULD END UP FIGHTING THE WORLD WITH WARS OR DO U GUYS WANT TO REPAIR YOUR INTERNATIONAL IMAGE? DO YOU GUYS REALLY WANT AN AFRICAN AMERICAN IN WHITE HOUSE? OBAMA HAS WORKED HARD SO FAR TO DEFEND ALL CLINTON’S NEGATIVE, DESPARATE TALKS AND AD’S. IS THERE NO TRUE AMERICAN WHO CAN ASK HER ONE QUESTION ABOUT HER EXPERIENCE AND TAXES? TONY REZKO FIRST FUNDRAISED 4 THE CLINTONS B4 OBAMA ISSUE. IF TONY IS BAD LIKE YOU ALL PAINT HIM TODAY, THEN THE CLINTON’S ARE CORRUPT. FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE SHOULD RULE ALWAYS. IF OBAMA NEVER RELEASED HIS TAXES, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT STORIES. OBAMA HAD WON STRAIGHT 11-0 STATES RATHER THAN CLINTON 3 STATES. IF YOU GUY’S REALLY WANT CHANGE, THEN U NEED TO VOTE SOME NEW WITH A NEW AND READY TO BRING BACK YOUR JOBS FROM CHINA WHICH BILL CLINTON SOLD OUT INCLUDING BUSH. TAKE MY WORD, WHAT HAPPENED IN 2004 MIND REPEAT ITSELF AGAIN IF DEMOCRATS DON’T STAY FOCUS AND PLAY A CLEAN N FAIR ELECTION AS WE ALL ARE OBSERVING FLORIDA AND MICHIGAN RESULT BE COUNTED AFTER THE LEADERS SAID NO. GET READY BECAUSE McCAIN IS WAITING!

    March 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. An ex-Clinton supporter

    Obama has already released his tax returns. Furthermore, he is the only candidate who has not accepted PAC money and federal lobbyist money. Can Clinton say the same to either? NO NO NO NO NO

    Tells me that she is hiding something and embedded with the corporate world.

    March 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. t

    Vince,
    It is when there is a history of past discretions, and the fact that she is running for the highest office in the land. You people would be saying the exact same thing if Barack werent releasing his, too bad he doesnt even have to be asked because he's got nothing that needs double and triple chekcing to make sure everything is legal, and the parts that aren't are written out.

    March 6, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Joshua , Portland, OR

    She's SWIFTBOATING Obama 08..

    does anyone in the democratic partry have control over these campaigns.. Serioulsy folks Howard Dean has to be the weakest party chair ever.. I doubt very seriously that Obama or Clinton can win the others supporters.. and without them they have no chance..

    DEAN TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR PARTY .. its your job. Was this how your presidency would of been.. im glad you lost now

    March 6, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Wayne

    Transparency in government is one of the things he wants to CHANGE in Washington. All of the presidential candidates have released their tax returns except for Hillary. If she doesnt want to be transparent..FINE but Obama needs to let the public know that you can expect more of the same from Hillary if she is president. Status quo..no change. Same ol same ole

    March 6, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. CA

    Democrats: Do you really want this woman in the WH? First she lavishes praise on Obama, stating she is proud to be on stage with him....the next moment, the venom comes out of the other side of her face in an effort to "WIN" the nomination. For you people that are blind, this woman, and her husband, will first tear your Party apart getting what they want....then they will further divide this country. If you think for a second that this woman is consiliatory, or in a mood to compromise, you are mistaken.

    Hillary and company consistently demonize their apponents, I guess they will demonize Peter Paul in October in the fraud case against them. I'm looking forward to it.

    March 6, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. Nicole, Birmingham, AL

    The Clinton's are toxic; they are two of the most sinfully greedy and dishonest people in American politics. They are no different than Bush and Cheney! She said a few weeks ago Barack was using Karle Rove tactics, if that ain't the pot calling the kettle black. Give me a break. And this is coming from a female who does not support Hilary; I have my own voice and believe there are more qualified and honest women who can be the first women President. Hilary only has her own interest in mind; she could care less about women and our rights. She hasn't struggled for a dog on thing. I hope you read my comment on t.v. and I hope she's watching, because I've never cared much for her, I have always felt her interest were self serving.

    March 6, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. Karen Wright

    Why doent someone ask why Hillary if she rejects her husband. He supported the MIllion Man March , which was head by Mister Farrakahn

    March 6, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Jeff from the Redwoods

    It is the Clintons who have pulled out the Republican/Ken Starr playbook and are using it against Senator Obama to cover up their own inadequacies -- and that is unfortunate for not just the Democratic Party in November but more importantly the country. The Clintons really do want to dash the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the American people for their own selfish interests.

    March 6, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Bill, Chicago, IL

    Uh, memo to Wolfson...Obama has already won the primary. Hillary can't do anything but whine and try to steal it at this point.

    March 6, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. Adam in TX

    Curious, but where are Obama's Tax returns? After conducting a Google search for them, what appears in the top searches is the rhetoric going back and forth over Clinton's returns. If Obama has previously released his, they aren't readily accesible, which is really what Obama is arguing for...to me, that sounds like the words of a hypocrite.

    March 6, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. What are you hiding, Hillary?

    We are asking for all of her previous tax returns, not just this year's. Surely, it takes no more than a day to release her returns from her years in the White House and las tyear.

    March 6, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. Stephen, Portland OR

    Look, people need to read the news more closely. She hasn't released tax returns for 2006 either. This is not about this year's taxes nor about the April 15th deadline. This started when she loaned her own campaign $5M (and charged interest). The legitimate question is, where did she get that kind of money? Senators don't make THAT much.

    Obama and Michelle released all of their tax returns and we find that, for someone in Washington, their incomes are fairly modest; yet the Clintons have $5M laying around? How is that possible? What are they hiding?

    March 6, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Mike, Arkansas

    Only a week ago, the white house said it was waiting on the Clinton Campaign on the next step. As soon as the Clinton Campaign responds then they will be released.. so its in the hands of the Clinton Campaign now, and Hillary was blaming the white house. Who would you believe?? The white house or Hillary who has time and time again lied to us??

    There has already been proof of her accepting money from criminals, she had her picture taken with them.. its all over the internet if you all would just do your research! She also plays business in Washington.. votes and money for political favors. Maybe she voted yes for Iraq for some political favor. That is the Clinton way. Are you all who are for Hillary so blind you dont research anything??

    March 6, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Kevin M

    Thanks. It's about time Obama asks voters to look at Hillary's actions (or inactions) and so called 'experience'. Hillary is delaying releasing her tax return and white house papers. Hillary has little foreign policy experience and a scant legislative record. Obama has more legislative experience and has sponsored more meaningful legislation in his brief time in the US Senate than Hillary has. Check the facts. Hillary screams "Shame on you!'" because Obama tells the truth. Hillary equates Obama with Ken Starr because he asks her to deliver on her promises. Is this the kind of politic we want? No!
    Obama 2008!.

    March 6, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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