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. t

    And I think Ken Starr ended up being right. even if some corrupt judges, and backboneless politicans said it another way.

    March 6, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Clinton's Texas Myth

    For those of you still claiming Texas, 8% of the vote Hillary received was from republicans???? This 8% makes up the 3% that she beat Obama by in the the Math.

    That means that approximately 100,000 votes came from people who HATE her and know that McCain will MOP THE FLOOR W/HER IN THE FALL.

    Now who is deluting themselves. She CAN'T win and the fact that she is willing to break up the party so she feels better speaks volumes to her LACK of character.

    I keep saying, she would make a good veep, but still has a lot to learn from the junior senator from Illinois.


    March 6, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. manlius

    For the record, Obama is calling on Clinton to release her 2006 tax returns, which presumably were filed LAST April. There is no good reason for her to hold off on making these public until April 15 of 2008. And for those who ask if the law requires this, I think the answer is no. BUT it has been a longstanding tradition (several decades old) for presidential candidates to make their tax returns public. So Hillary - why the dodge?

    March 6, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. C.K. Steele

    Why won’t Hillary make her tax returns public? How about the 2006 Tax Returns at least then? The answer is simple—the money is dirty. You will see Dubai and countless other unsavory contributions from some questionable foreign excursions by Fmr. Pres. Clinton. Clinton supporters, is that really ok? Do you really want the specter of foreign influences hanging over the presidency?

    Hillary has the endorsements of a ton of flag officers (generals). For those who may not know, general or general equivalent (admiral) is the only rank that can only be achieved with the recommendation of the President and an act of Congress. Colonel is as high as you can go without the Commander-in-Chief’s endorsement. The President has to make the recommendation and then the 100 members of the Senate have to approve it in order to make general. Now use your brains and figure out under whose admistration that the majority of these generals were commissioned. Pres. Clinton called in a favor and of course these generals have no problem in standing behind the wife of the man who advanced their careers. Don’t take my word for it, look it up and see the truth for yourselves, Clinton supporters. Instead why don’t you look at the enlisted men and the retired enlisted men and ask them who they support to be the Commander-in-Chief? Barack wins that argument hands down. Go to your nearest military installation or follow the campaign contributions.

    Why have Hillary’s Whitehouse records been sealed and buried? The answer here is very simple. Bill didn’t give her credit for many of the things that she is now falsely claiming and there was NO co-presidency. Sen. Clinton had NO security clearance and is misstating her record there. She has made claims of having something to do with the Irish peace process and other platitudes. Not true. Sure she has had dinner with Jerry Andrews and some of SEINFENN but her diplomatic role there is non-existent. Again, just do your research.
    I welcome anyone to dispute these statements. Eventually the truth always comes to light.

    March 6, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. ebc

    Sen. Clinton needs to remember one fact. Numbers don't lie, you could spin it any way you want, but still the numbers don't lie. The elders always say "be careful what you ask for because you just may get MORE than you bargained for"..

    I think the 3 wins has gone to their heads, but let's come back to earth. The Clinton camp still has to beat the numbers.... so when they do that, then they truly have the right to BRAG.

    Who brags after having lost 11 losts? She's dam lucky to win 3 last Tuesday...let's not get too snippy because the Battle has just begun....and like she said "she's just getting started."

    Well guess what so is Sen. Obama and all is fair in love and war!!!

    Let's see if Sen. Clinton can take a dose of her own medicine shall we?

    March 6, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. EFabian

    Poor Obama.

    Hillary is too tough for him but her campaign raises valid points, she IS releasing this info to the public so Obama needs to address his issues more since he has been exposed as being all rhetoric and no substance. Even one of his advisors stated on national TV that he IS NOT ready for that 3:00am call. Too funny but at least she was honest.

    March 6, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    The very FACT that Hillary won't release tax returns and White House papers is a pretty strong indicator that she's hiding something. Hillary is a Bush ally; maybe her papers and tax returns are all missing like Bush's emails. Hillary is a Bush is she's clothing!

    Vote no to the ongoing Bush/Clinton coalition.

    March 6, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Amy, Kazoo

    That's reaching a little, Howard. I mean, I support Clinton, but Obama is no Starr.

    This whole primary is starting to make my head spin

    March 6, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Mike in Ohio

    Kim, Obama gets blasted by the Hillary REPORTERS. Please. SNL embarrased CNN and MSNBC into REAL media bias against Obama. In the same episode, they did an amos and andy skit about Obama having secret plans with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. MSM is now afraid of the Clinton "kneecappers" and will fall in line. And by the way, did you hear that the whole NAFTAgate story? it was the CLINTON supporters who did the ole wink and nod, and her camp flat out LIED to smear Obama two days before the primary. We don't hear any part of that do we? The Media is trying to feed us Hillary as our nominee. Say hello to President McCain.

    March 6, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Miguel

    Hillary Clinton is a typical spoiled rich brat, who when she doesn't get her way she starts yelling at everyone else around her instead of taking responsibility for her own doings. If you have nothing to hide Hillary then just release your taxes. What's the big deal?

    March 6, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. RVKW

    George W. won the white house on his last name. We see where that got us. Do we want to make the same mistake again with Clinton? Let's start fresh and end this Bush-Clinton "monarchy" and vote –


    The Bush family had a chance to prove themselves and the Clintons had a chance to prove themselves and America is in a deep hole...Do we want to waste another 8 years giving the Clintons another go at it?

    We have an opportunity to start fresh....we finally have a voice in Barack Obama who will finally allow the American people, the people who dwell in this great nation, the people that walk the soil of this earch everyday, the people who's hard earned money goes into building this country, to do things the way they should've always been done!

    March 6, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. MANDY

    The question of the tax returns, and the reason they are important, is because she LOANED HER CAMPAIGN $5 million!

    Where did the money for her campaign come from?

    And her postponement is a hoot since they are asking for 2006 tax returns not 2007 (which most of us have not completed!).

    Maybe they didn't file their 2006 tax returns?

    March 6, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. ben

    Seriously Hill, how long does it take to bring your tax returns to kinko's and run off a few copies? Better yet have your accountant scan and e-mail in a pdf. This is her intentionally dragging her feet. She'll release when/if she's the nominee? So democrats voting in the primary don't deserve total disclosure to make an informed decision? Tell ya what Hill, I'll donate $25 to your campaign if you promise to spend it at your local Kinko's.

    March 6, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Kim

    you Obama supporters are going to make your candidate lose this election, your vicious hateful attitude is going to turn everyone off, you have got to reel yourselves in, it's either one of two things, you are all immature kids or you are grown fools, whatever it is, you better take a step back and realize what you are doing, if he is nominated, you WILL cost him the votes of those who support Clinton, you all probably don't even pay taxes, taxes are complicated enough when it's just you and regular income, but it has to be much more when you have large amounts of income and investments, she said it will be released on April 15th so fuss after that point. Obama needs to stop crying and acting like a grown kid.

    March 6, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |

    HRC and Bill should know that Barack is nothing like the Kent Starr impeachment trial. She just wants someone to feel sorry for her, and is putting on this victim act to try to avoid giving out of releasing her tax returns or anything else. This "pity party" is a sham, and if there is nothing to hide ..make the documents public. She seems a lot like the Bush that they always trys to divert the attention from their wrong doing, by making an acusation directed at you. pathetic !

    March 6, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. David

    Excuse me – how long are the major networks going to sit on this story about Clinton's "grain of salt" involvement in NAFTAgate?

    March 6, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Obama Supporter

    All excuses by Hillary!!!!

    She has been campaigning from more than an year and if she wanted to she could have started the work on publishing the tax returns and her work in the white house long time back. Only people who want to hide or manipulate take time and thats what we expect from her. She has done nothing when she was in White House ..... and claims to be experienced.

    On FL and MI delegates, she didn't have a problem when DNC took the decision to not seat them, because at that time she was presuming that she is the front runner. But now the equation has changed and she has a problem of catching up with the delegate count and as if she is touched that these state people's voice have not been heard. Where were you when they were not heard till now?

    She says we need a Clinton to clean up Bush, I would say only one Clinton is enough for White House, No more room for another Clinton 🙂

    Go Obama Go ..... Cheap politics from Hillary will not stop you

    March 6, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. M.

    What's going on here?...1st of all, Obama doesn't have to imitate anyone, least of all Ken Starr...Clinton needs to order a gag on her spokespeople...Can't imagine why any Clinton people would ever want to invoke the name of Ken Starr...You know, this tactic is pretty transparent and I'm seriously reconsidering my support for Clinton.

    March 6, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. MD

    Now the game is on, LET'S ALL GET OUR POPCORN READY.......

    I think Hillary team didn't expect Obama to question them and they thought to use his positive approach to their advantage and run over him. My friends use to say that you can't survive the Illinois politics without being tough.

    I agree, Obama has every right to question Hillary's experience and credentials. That is not a negative attack.

    I think the more Hillary hides her tax returns and white house schedules (experience?), she will get lot ot scrutiny from the voters and the press.....I think she didn't expect this to come.....

    March 6, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. JB

    Upstate Deb... you can't really be serious? If it came out that the Clinton's were doing business say, with businesses known to support terrorist groups, you think it's just their private business? Obama has been nothing but upfront about all his personal financial dealings(including the Rezco deal) whereas Clinton has been obfuscating. If nothing else her approach gives the perception that she is hiding something. If she has nothing to hide then she should be forthcoming about all her dealings...

    March 6, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. AnyoneButHillary

    Can someone from CNN please explain it ALL the voters around this country – How can CNN or any media for that matter flash the entire web page with Senator Clinton's picture and claim that her wins on March 4th is a HUGE victory. She said "MEET ME IN TEXAS, MEET ME IN OHIO" and what not to Senator Obama and claimed that those states are custom made for her and yet win JUST 10 EXTRA DELEGATES than Senator Obama.
    Did Hillary Clinton scare you folks with her "pro-obama media" comment?

    March 6, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. Josephine from Canada

    I can' t believe the media, CNN in particular was so bias the last few days before tuesday's election. Obama would have pounched the Clinton out by now if not for the fact that the media give the public false information about NAFTA. The media failed to confirmed this allegation against Obama before airing it. No TV ever said that the Canadian Gov. denied the above allegation. Was the media trying to compensate Hillary because of her acussation that Obama was getting more attention than her? Any way The Canadian gov. has lunched a full inqury into the allegation. Everybody around the globle are watching this election. So media make no mistake to tip the outcome of this primary. Obama is not only ready but also right from day one. Who wants the clintion back in the White House? Noooooobody. And by the way where 's Hillary tax return? Is the media going after her?

    March 6, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. Steve in Albuquerque, NM

    Obama hasn't sidestepped anything. He has been thoroughly vetted on Rezko a long time ago, and the NAFTA/Canada thing has been explained by the Obama campaign and refuted by the Canadian government.

    So now, fair is fair. Where are the tax returns? Where are the White House documents? Where is the list of Clinton Library donors?

    Hillary can donate $5mil to her campaign but can't get her taxes done. Riiiiiight.

    March 6, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. Shane

    TO all Democrats. I am the kind of democrat who is not desperately fir Clinton or Obama. Though I find Obama leading a higher ground in this political narrative. I am nto sure what Clinton is trying to do. But regardless of whatever happens.

    We have to see the maths. We cannot believe in Huckabee's mircale. It didn't work out for him and it won't work out for Mrs. Clinton. Everyone from Clinton camp is trying to overshadow the mere fact of delegate maths. Even if we give all the states to Clinton from now on it will be impossible for her to overtake Obama on elected delegates, unless she wins with over 65% of vote.

    At last it would look much more fair and democratic for DNC and superdelegates to nominate Obama than Clinton. The ideas of political pundits and MSM regarding Clinton machine and comeback is just BS. Media is just doubling their profit from this dog fight.

    PS: Counting both Florida & Michigan is not going to dent the delegate lead for Obama. Clinton missed their flight during the month of Feb.

    March 6, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. Ken Frederiksen

    There is an old adage that says that he/she who throws the first blow is merely admitting that they have run out of rational arguments for their point of view. The act, timing and desperation of Hillary throwing the first blow also says that she cares more about her winning than the Democratic Party taking back the White House for the good of the nation. It is very telling.

    March 6, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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