March 6th, 2008
01:00 PM ET
10 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. HookedonPolitics

    The Clintons only like negative campaigning –"fun" as Hillary referred to it, when they are dishing the dirt. Why can't Hillary and her stupid possey do simple arithmetic. Even if she wins all the rest of the primaries by a 60% – 40% margin (which will never happen), she still will not win the nomination. Girlfriend needs to bow out gracefully before all of the Clinton dirt comes up all over again. Hey - does anyone remember that Bill got a "BJ" in the White House? And poor Hillary, has such low self-esteem that she kept him. Why? So that he could help her become President - hence (all of her new pants suits) now whose the man behind the throne? Give it up - the Clinton era is over!

    March 6, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Roger

    "Witness list was announced for the Rezko scandal.
    Guess what…Obama's name – NOT ON IT."

    So you are saying he didn't really buy the land next to his from Rezkos wife at a discount? Look I'm not on Obamas back but I do think there is more here to see.

    March 6, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Dante Young

    Wake up Americans! you are better than that.
    1.- You have bought the war with Irac even though you complain but have done nothing to Bush who is laughing all the way.
    2.- Now, you are buying the commercial of fear by Hillary Clinton about
    Who will be ready at 3:00 a.m. when the red phone in the white house rings.
    3.- Knowing how Bill Clinton has the tendency to fool around you may get a Call early than 3:00 a.m. That will be a distraction.
    4.- The Clinton people motto is" lets expose Barack Obama's dirty laundry. "
    5.- Barack Obama is trying to change America with honor by showing
    his wisdom and judgement

    March 6, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. 0808

    Listen America,

    If we think that Hillary Clinton doesn't have a lot of payback to do after all her "vetted years" in the White House, think again.

    The drug companies top the list. Check her financial resources (on the web), people. The name Clinton waves as a big banner, but if you'll go underneath, Obama is squeaky clean.

    I imagine that she does have to do on-line fund-raising now. What do you think? it's a way for the big dogs to wait it out now for the general election, if she's the one. Now the little people are giving. They will wake up soon I hope.

    By the way, America, a good example of her leadership is a look at her overall campaign. Fiscal responsibility/accountabilty or the lack thereof (don't forget the $100,000 party – supporters moniey), infighting and staffing issues, just heads up guys. Oh and I remember her saying once that she once again wanted to do something about our moral majority in the world. Don't you think she should start at home first. Seems she good at telling other people what to do without looking at herself.

    Oh yeah, I know this is a little mean, so forgive me, but isn't it time for a Hillary makeover. Perhaps we should call Tyra or Oprah.

    March 6, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Dee from Texas

    The nerve of Clinton's camp to call Obama's camp – Ken Starr. It was fine when in the early part of the week, she was hitting him left and right. Well, Hilliary it's your turn. Get the tax returns, and while you are at it get the names of the secret contributors to the Clinton Library and when you're done with that – get the names of your campaign's secret donors. OPEN UP THAT SAFE-DEPOSIT BOX , RIGHT NOW GIRL!

    March 6, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |

    RSP, why should he be the VP...he's in the lead. It seems like all the hillary supporters were jumping for joy when hillary was running around like a mad woman last week BUT now that Obama calmly bring up a valid point, the supporters are trying to say he's going negative....

    Remember he was nothing but positive until she started throwing the "kitchen sink".....he's always said, he'll try to negotiate "first" and if that doesn't work it's on to plan b. Deal with it!

    March 6, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Darth Vadik, CA

    Calm down folks, looks like those two might unite, then we can all come together.

    Right now as a Obama supporter I want it to be Obama/Clinton, but Clinton/Obama wouldn't is not shabby either.

    March 6, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Julie


    You should correct your European friends, Obama did respond

    “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.”

    I think that is a pretty good one myself...

    March 6, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Hillary has lied four (4) times about when she would release her tax records. If there is nothing to hide, it would not have been necessary for Hillary to lie. The Republicans will say she is a liar and not trustworthy even if there is nothing to hide. And to attack Obama saying this is Ken Starr tactics will not fly with the Republicans, not smart.

    March 6, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. Art H

    I see the Obama strategy here. Put out talking points like "Hillary has not published her tax returns" out in the media cycle and all the hundreds of Obama fans will take it up and churn such a non-issue into a supposed life and death matter.

    The more important question is, has she broken any rules or pledges by not releasing her returns ? If not, then such arguments are specious, irrelevant and should be tossed into the nearest garbage can.

    March 6, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. James

    CNN please report the Peter Paul Fraud trial against the Clintons. Please report how Ed Rendell Terry McAullife, and other key Clinton advisers are being called to testify. Please report how Hillary had to amend her FEC statements four times and still chose to hide the Paul donations. Please report the phone call in which Hillary thanked Paul for organizing events with her white house staff then went on later to deny knowing Paul. Please report how Hillary's lawyers say they will not accept a subpoena for her if filed.

    CNN please do you job and start reporting on this story. Americans deserve to know.

    March 6, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. Lesley, Austin, Texas

    Obama supporters: calm down, I guarantee you, you will soon see plenty of knockout blows coming from our candidate. She will have to bow out gracefully soon enough...

    March 6, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. t

    Yes it is kind of weird that she's using this double talk around the issue. And yes politicians, especially in the middle of elections release their taxes. I mean the gov. from Ohio, her best bud, used it against his opponent as his major campaign attack. Hippocrates.

    March 6, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. barry

    Obama had his Macaca moment last week when he was caught denying the meeting w the Canadian Counsel then having the document show up.. People finally know what kind of politican he will be. Say one thing and do another..wink-wink!!!

    March 6, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. TB

    You cannot be an elected official and a private citizen. Sorry. You are allowed some privacy, but not when it comes to where your money is from. With all of the special interest groups waiting in line to 'fill' their (elected officials) pockets, it is a major, major issue to have full disclosure of all financial matters.

    March 6, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Jean

    Did'nt know that First Lady qualifies as experience.Is that allowed on the resume ? Come on Hillary !!!

    March 6, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. Karen Wright

    Why doesn't someone ask Hillary why she had her husband seal her Thesis on Goldwater in the 1960's. Who really has the dirty laundry

    March 6, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. Fred DeBell

    Any American could do far worse that to be like Ken Starr. Mr. Starr is an honorable, hard working, and knowledgeable citizen.

    I would be honored as I am sure Mr. Obama is to be mentioned in the same sentence as well as to be compared to Mr. Starr.

    March 6, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |

    GIVE UP on this issue- this and the Iraq War Vote from the beginning do not mean anything!!!!


    March 6, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. Robyn

    Obama has been open and transparent regarding his tax returns. What are the Clintons hiding? What more dirty secrets do they not want the Americans to know? She might as well get it over with because the Republicans will DEFINITELY unearth the secrets like they always do with the Clintons.

    March 6, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  21. Martin Grondin

    I keep seeing "Obama is desperate."

    1.) He fully disclosed his own and has called on Clinton to release hers long before his losses in Texas and Ohio.
    2.) Clinton SHOULD release them. She is going into the highest office in the country and American's deserve to know where her income is earned.
    3.) Instead of simply releasing the tax information she has dodged and weaved around the question. Comparing Obama to Ken Starr? Really? That's absolutely ridiculous.
    4.) She refuses to release them before Pennsylvania. Why wait until April?

    She won't release them and instead compares Obama to Ken Starr. There is something fishy and she isn't helping herself at all. She's in a weak position still and this kind of game is really grating.

    Obama's platform has been about transparency. I don't see how asking her to do the same is "desperate."

    Just release them.

    March 6, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  22. Pennsylvania Polls

    Another big state talks:

    Dem Primary:
    Clinton 52%
    Obama 37%

    March 6, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. Roger

    "U.S. Sen. Barack Obama expressed regret late Friday for his 2005 land purchase from now-indicted political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko in a deal that enlarged the senator's yard."

    First paragraph from the Chicago Sun Times. I'll wait for the trial that started Monday to see what happens before I declare he or the Clintons can walk on water.

    March 6, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  24. nellie

    as a canadian, i really feel sad for clinton supporters. One would think as a leader she would inspire positive change, but instead she has taught her staff the same lies she has lived by. If i were a mother i would worry about the youth in her campaign, because as a role model , what is she teaching them. The last week was so negative for her oponent and that is why she won. Washington machine politics won the day, the old way of politics.
    Some clinton suppoters resigned from her campaign after sending out emails they knew were wrong, but since it could not sit well on their conscience, they resigned. If any clinton supporter has integrity, why are you defending the fact that she has not release her returns for 2005, 2006? ......why support the fact that she has not released her library papers..why as a supporter dont you ask your selves the same questions?
    Obama delaings with rezco so far have not shown anything to doubt his integrity...and he has donated more than $85 000 from any rezco support to other charities...
    well what about clinton? Why the delay. She has not even started requesting for her white house a clinton supporter, why dont you ask why..ratehr than immediately write desparate....
    and yes, finally, please google clinton scandals .com/..then ask your selves why you are supporting this candidate....the republicans can hardly wait to tear her apart....she is not immune..

    March 6, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Senator Sleaze

    Clinton = Senator Sleaze... Welcome to the mudslinging.

    People really give Karl Rove too much credit... He was a nobody until the mid-90's, when he copied the CLINTON playbook and got GWB elected. Now we're again seeing the "masters" at work ,attacking where they're weak (seriously, HRC is attacking on ethics and transparency?).

    March 6, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21