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. Adam-Atl. GA

    In all seriousness, what does Obama's campaign think will be uncovered by releasing Clinton's tax returns? How is this relevant to whether a candidate is qualified for the Presidency? Seems as if Obama's campaign is really reaching here. He should worry about addressing the NAFTA situation as well as his ability to go "toe-to-toe" with McCain on national security.

    March 6, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. The facts please.

    Everyone wants a fair process which plays by the rules. The fact is that Hillary may have won big states. The fact is that Obama won more states. The fact is that Obama has more delegates than Hillary. The fact is that Michigan and Florida cannot seat it's delegates. The fact is that if Hillary wins the remaining primaries, the way the delegates are partioned out Obama will still lead in delegates. The fact is that Obama will be the Democratic nominee. Just the facts folks. I know it hurts.

    March 6, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    He may not be on the witness list...he may be on the list of accomplices or complicitor's to Rezko's activities.

    Besides–the current Grand Jury may not be for anything that Obama may have been tied to.

    But since Rezko's such a rat–don't be suprised if Obama–and other high level politicians in Illinois are implicated. This rat won't go down the river alone.

    March 6, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. Bed Ro

    Cnn has now become the Clintons News Net work. It is very obvious now how bias their reports are. They only give good info on the Clintons and bad news on Obama. I wonder who told them to do this.

    March 6, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. David

    nice try Hillary and company, but you're morons. anything to deflect while you employ the same tactics.

    March 6, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. SP, Albany, NY

    Americans with no vision are all fools, fearful of a new way of life in this dull and boring political ring we call a democracy. They cannot entertain the thought of new and fresh ideas from an unsullied candidate such as Sen. Obama. He is a gentleman, a scholar, and a diplomat, while his opponent is sneaky and cut-throat – it's in her conjugal DNA. So, good luck to everyone who intends to enjoy 8 more years of dirty tactics, making it a 28 year Bush-Clinton dynasty. Instead of going forward we are reverting back to pre-revolutionary times. She won't be happy until she slaughters her opponent and hangs him out to dry – fraternity hazing tactics at their finest. Sickening!

    March 6, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Will

    Obama is a fine gentleman, but he does not have the experience. What the pundits speak of when they talk experience is really political currency. Hill has it and Obama does not. Hill knows where the bodies are buried, she has been horse trading with the GOP for years, even as first lady. Obama runs the risk of being the next Jimmy Carter.

    March 6, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Bayou Joe

    you Obamaites have no respect for our former First Lady and patriotic American, Hillary Clinton. Don't put her Husband's follys on her lap.
    This shows how ignorant you all are.

    March 6, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Derrick

    Who cares about her tax returns? Is her tax returns going to base her decisions on how she will lead this country?

    This is just another feeble attempt by the Obama camp to smear the Clinton's again. Obama needs to keep his eye on the ball because the Clinton Machine has started and there in NO WAY of turning it off!

    Obama had better focus on the REAL issue and SOLUTIONS to this country and his campaign.

    Obama is driving his bus (campaign) into a canyon!!!


    Go Hillary 08' 12'

    March 6, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Joka007

    BAYOU JOE Please do not lump all hispanics as we all love Hillary. I am Hispanic I live in NYC and I hate her. She has done nothing for NYC or the state of NY except bring her scandal ridden name to the state. The only reason she won NY was because of her husband which is the only reason why she can even run for presidency. She has failed on every issue she has tried to change. I wonder how many lobbiest are blowing money up her u know what.

    March 6, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Mel

    Just because one has not been found guilty does not mean that one has been without much fault and cover-up.

    March 6, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. Kathy from Michigan

    Speaking of witness lists! In the appeal of this Clinton Fraud case, the possible witness list could be all of her political and business buddies. I don't think the Clintons saw this coming. The timing is horrible, right around the general election. As badly as dislike her for the office, I feel worse that it is going to make the party look like a bunch of crooks. Obama is not in one place named in the Toni Rezko trial. Bill and Hillary are the Defendants in this fraud case!!! The appeal is coming. This judge is not a Bill Clinton appointee. Its happening. They are taking depositons now! It is not over. I only wish that it was.

    March 6, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Thabo Mda

    By comparing Barack Obama to Kenneth Starr simply because he is demanding the release of Hillary's latest tax returns as well as other documents related to her years as first lady, the Clinton campaign is in fact engaging in an effort to cow Obama into silence through their usual intimidatory tactics which have worked for them in the past and must not be allowed to work this time. While this invocation of Starr's name further crystallizes the desperation that underlies Hillary's attempt to suppress the release of the documents in question at all cost and whatever it takes, even if it means tagging further smears on his opponents. With this in mind, furthermore, it cannot be in doubt that they are -for all intents and purposes- bringing into public discourse (wittingly or unwittingly) the spector of the Clinton scandals. The Clintons campaign have no one else to blame but themselves for implicitly and indirectly bringing up that sad chapter of American history that will without question be a furtile ground for invevitable Republican attacks

    March 6, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. Kevin, Louisville, Ky

    And I forgot ..why has CNN not mention the Peter Paul Fraud in the Hillary Senate Campaign when contribution over US$100,000 were not reported....

    I bet CNN is not saying ...We need information on that and OBAMA please throw this punch..come on boy ......

    Who let the mud fly? splat , splat,splat....(to the tune of who let the dogs out?) .....Hillary no?

    And will Wolf and the best political team on tv please let us know of Peter Paul...come guys

    March 6, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. joseph

    Ha ha ha Ken Starr, good one Billary. Didn't he catch Bubba messing around with an intern in the oval office? How would you control Iran when you can't even control your man. Worthless you are Billary.

    Scoreboard Obama

    March 6, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Brian, Ohio

    Stop with the "it's not April 15th yet blah blah" garbage.

    It's not her 2007 tax returns they are asking for, its her 2006! returns. The ones she filed LAST YEAR! Make a copy and release them. ALL the other candidates did LONG ago. She's clearly hiding something since she knows she will have to release them at some point, it's not a privacy issue. She's been putting it off and putting it off. First she said "March 5th or maybe earlier". Then it was "on April 15th". Now its "around April 15th" When we get to April 15th it will be some other line so that she doesn't have to release it till after April 22nd and the Pennsylvania primary.

    They've already stalled for a year now to release her schedule from the white house showing her "experience". They've filed to have her phone logs held for another YEAR, pushing it past the November Election.

    When will people learn they are lying cheats?

    March 6, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |


    March 6, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. Mike

    Tax returns! And we demand to know how much they spend on phone calls and parking, and we demand to know how much they pay for breakfast yesterday morning... So we can forget important things like the Canadian memo. Yes, we can!

    March 6, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. terry

    Hillary should really check the stains of her own husband. She really shouldn'tallude so much to her cheating husband. Why would she bring that up ?... that's real stupid of Hillary.

    March 6, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. End Game1

    Obama caucus captains give back the caucus packets you filled out prior to the caucus. Obama caucus supporter shame on you closing the doors on other democratic voters. Becoming norm with Obama camp, I can not wait to hear all the stories, this is just 2 actual events that have been verified as truly happen.
    SAD, There is no control with this group.

    March 6, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. JC

    WE CAN'T TRUST Hillary. She will lie and spin to win. Shes' a Hypocrite.

    March 6, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. rr

    He is asking to see the income tax in order to pull attention away from him and Rezko. I thought Obama was interested in what is best for the nation....the economy, the war, immigration etc. Now he's showing he is no better than the rest of the political world. Stop, think....How does a senator with no experience that has shady friends climb the ladder so fast? And why is he preaching, if he couldn't afford such an expensive house, why did he buy it? Isn't he also not living within his means? How many people are lined up waiting for him to become President so he can scratch their backs for helping him climb to the top.

    March 6, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Emily Coletta

    Obviously she hiding something. She taking money from drug companies-that's why she's pushing mandatory healthcare.

    March 6, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. Lisa in Memphis

    Lois in Ca: Are you KIDDING me??? HC has been accused of financial misdealings for decades! And it is common practice for presidential candidates to release these records. If a person doesn't want to release those personal records, they shouldn't run for president.

    March 6, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Sarah

    The one that has been shown to be hiding something is obama, he hasn't answered the questions about his financial dealings on rezko. Hillary doesn't have to file taxes until April 15, and none of you are anyone to say other wise, neither is obama.

    I want to know what is going to come out with the rezko trial, ayers, and the iraqi businessmen.

    so while obama is wasting time and the media again aren't doin their job where obama is concerned, we are all waiting.

    March 6, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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