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. OMG

    What is Hillary afraid of? To compare Obama to Ken Starr is so totally absurd and out of bounds, that I think there must be some very damaging information in those returns.

    WHat else could anyone possibly think? We do know that she earned almost $12M last year(according to her Senate disclosures), but we don't know the source of her income. Obviously, she doesn't want anyone to know. Why?

    March 6, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Grant

    The public needs to start asking questions of the Clintons and what is really going on here? My first question is where did they get the $4M cash to buy the mansion in upstate NY in 2001 so she could say she is a resident of New York and then strong armed all the competitors to vacate there chances. Who else would walk in the last minute and claim a Senate seat nomination in a state she does not even live in? They view themselves as the Royal Family of the Dems. I tell ya, Karl Rove and the Rep machine is going to have a field day with the Clintons

    March 6, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    What is astounding is that she has NOT disclosed her tax returns to date.. Obama has. She attacked her opponent in 2000 for failing to have her tax returns scrutinized but now says..... we have in the past. Good do it again.

    She contributed $5 million dollars to her campaign right after Super Tuesday and why has no one asked..... where did a public servant with no accumulated personal wealth get $5 million dollars to lend her campaign?

    March 6, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Third voice

    Does anyone know whether Clinton campaign is linked to Canadian's NAFTA memo? I would not be surprised at anything. The memo was made up by Canadians who publizied it willingly and then retreacted it. It came out the day before Tuesday voting. Isn't it too convinent?

    March 6, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. barb

    Accusing Obama of a Ken Starr strategy? Amazing! What kind of cuthroat tactics have the Clinton camp used? Hillary has rejoiced in her ability to ruin and purposely misrepresent her opponent with a degrading and exquisiretly timed smear campaign just before Tuesday. She knows the art of dirty politics and my respect for her has been lost. I would have considered an Obama/Clinton ticket as a good thing, due to her brilliant knowledge. Obama can unite the country though and she can't. He should be front and center. Now I hope that when Obama is nominated, he will choose Edwards or Dodd as running mate. Go Obama!

    March 6, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Krishna & Ranga

    Mr. Obama's whole campaign is premised on his being the' high roader'
    usherer of a new era of politics in place of the 'usual Wahington type'
    politics. Why now resort to accusations irrelevant to vital issues facing the nation and mud throwing. If he continues this he will have no credibility left. Already the tall and flowery rhetoric, his storng suite are loosing their charm on the public.

    March 6, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Tracy

    Where's all of Obama's paperwork involving his real estate deal with sleazy Rezco in Chicago. Where's the list of all his earmarks over the past few years? What about the earmark that went to the hospital his wife worked at? I want to see more info on the Exelon Nuclear deals with Obama in Chicago.

    March 6, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Mike D

    WAAAAH

    March 6, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Peter S, Georgia

    The difference is that Starr had $80 million of the taxpayers' money and subpoena power. And as I recall the United States Senate still said "not guilty."

    And Barack thinks he is going to tear Hillary down?

    Stick to attacking Limbaugh, both of you.

    March 6, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Hillary and her campaign folks are filthy Bush-like liars. Her campaign tactics are disgusting, demeaning, and prove she is not worthy to be president. Rather than stress her strengths in the battle with Obama, all she can do is sling mud, ross out innuendo, and engage in fear mongering worth of Bush. She thinks she is showing how tough she is, but all she's proving is that she's a power hungry and hypocritical politician.

    Hillary VOTED for the Bush War in Iraq. Is this part of her "lifetime of experience"? As catchy a phrase and as empty as Bush's cry of WMD in Iraq. Her "lifetime of experience" has little more substance than Laura Bush's or Mamie Eisenhower's.

    Hillary is a LOSER no matter what happens. Look beyond your egomania, Hillary.

    March 6, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. carol

    I pray that all the American people would be able to see the true colors of the Clintons. Why compare Obama to Kerr when all u have been asked is a simple question? RELEASE YOUR TAX RETURNS? God have mercy.

    March 6, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Mac in Nova Scotia

    Hillary can't rise to Obama's level so he has to meet her down in the mud where she lives. I thought we couldn't find anyone worse than Bush to be President but illary is proving me wrong. What is supposidly wrong with being compared to Ken Starr? He wasn't the one who was womanizing, cheating,lying and getting impeached. At least Ken Starr knew what "is,is".

    March 6, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. t

    ray,
    he's not charged with anything, unlike her husband and probably her, if the courts had any balls. yeah it was a bad political move but if someone you know offered you a great price on something that you wanted you'd turn it down?

    March 6, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. An Army Veteran

    The tax returns in question are from 2006 NOT 2007....that is the issue.

    March 6, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Rachel

    STOP THE MADNESS!!!!!!
    This election is making me sick.

    March 6, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. carol

    I pray that all the American people would be able to see the true colors of the Clintons. Why compare Obama to Ken Starr when all u have been asked is a simple question? RELEASE YOUR TAX RETURNS? God have mercy.

    March 6, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. Pope, Houston, Texas

    SOONER OR LATER THE FAT LADY WILL SURELY SING BECAUSE:

    1. HILLARY CAN'T BE THE NOMINEE WITH OUT CHEATING VIA SUPERDELEGATES WHICH WILL BURN THE PARTY!!!

    2. ALL SHE IS DOING NOW IS POURING GASOLINE TO BURN THE PARTY COS SHE CAN'T CATCH OBAMA ON DELEGATES EVEN IF SHE WON ALL 12 REMAINING CONTEST BY 20%

    3. WHY IS SHE THE ONE WHO SETS THE BAR/THE CLIMAX/THE GOAL POST. THE GOAL POSTS ARE ALWAYS STATES WHERE SHE'S AHEAD BY 20 POINTS. 1ST NH, THEN CALIFORNIA/SUPER TUESDAY, OH TX AND NOW PENN. WHY CANT THE GOAL POST BE MISS OR NORTH CAROLINA?

    4. SHES GOT THE PRESS IN HER BAG, SHE'S TAMED THE PRESS, SHE NOW CONTROLS THE PRESS EVEN THE ONCE OBJECTIVE CHRIS MATHEWS, THEY ARE NOW HER ATTACK DOGS WHICH SHE UNLEASHES AT OBAMA WHEN SHE CHOSES

    5. OBAMA IS THE NOMINEE UNLESS HIS WIN IS STOLEN!!!! THIS IS A FACT

    March 6, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. Independent Ameirican

    Shame , Shame on Hillary for allowing this smear of Obama to take place . One thing is evident she's does have experience learned from the Republicans that took her husband down. And thats how to draw blood from the trying. I was a Dem untill recently she made me feel a great since of shame since I supported the clintons in the past. She's proud of her Ohio win let me tell you I live in Ohio and its very secretive racism rampants ohio gov and economy. She did'nt win I'll bet Reps voted for her just to get Obama away. Were not stupid here were afraid.

    March 6, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. t

    drew,
    love it.

    March 6, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    and where are the photos that tie Clintons with Rezko? They had closer ties to him than Obama.... Hillary is a Bush is she's clothing!!!! LIARS

    March 6, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. Roger

    I'm sorry Bobby I was wrong. He paid above market value.

    "It was simply not good enough that I paid above the appraised value for the strip of land that he sold me."

    Same source.

    March 6, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. John

    I agree with Kathy from Michigan above. But Kathy, the Paul v. Clinton case largely involves her. If I am not mistaken, she may have recently been removed as a defendant, but the judge is going to subpoena her and make her testify under oath as a witness. The evidence that is available thus far looks awful for her. I don't see how she can not be guilty of this. But although this case spans back to her Senate race, her not wanting to release current tax returns may have something to with this case. Now folks think about this. We hear nothing about this case and it is a FRAUD case pending against the Clintons. FRAUD! Why do we not hear anything about this? I think it is because 1) Republicans own these media channels although they try to portray them as liberal, and 2) they are making sure it gets no press until Clinton wins the nomination. Then it will a firestorm. She better get used to Ken Starr.

    March 6, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Uncommitted

    Obama is running for the president of this country. He should show his toughness. He should QUESTION Hillary's credentials and experience. He has all the right to question her of everything she says and WE ALL AGREE THAT SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED AS NEGATIVE ATTACK.

    We all want to see about both candidates. In the past few days, we have heard the questions from the Hillary side. Now I want Hillary to show me her credentials - 35 years of "real" experience? tax returns? Her White house schedules? her ties with donors?

    That's fair for the people to know. I personally think, if Obama starts questioning her instead of being a "bunny", she will be in deep trouble as she has lots and lots of bad stuff to hide. Let's see.....

    March 6, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Scott

    Wait, so who's the one using dirty political tactics again?

    (I say; pointing silently to plagairism allegations)

    March 6, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. dave

    Clinton campaign has sinked a new low. They really think Democrats have no moral? How many more times we democrats have to be embarrased by Clintons?

    March 6, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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