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. Independant

    Obama as Clinton’s running mate? Ha!! Hillary is the one who says Obama is not qualified or ready to be president. The VP is second in command.

    March 6, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. Connie Ont. Canada

    It seems that people (and the media) forget that Obama sent out letters to households in Ohio with his interpretation of Hillary's involvement on NAFTA. That was the start of Hillary making him accountable.

    In every speech he always makes sure he comments on Hillary's supporting of NAFTA. and that she voted for the war. ?? He is very careful at throwing shots. That way he does not appear too negative.

    This has been her time to hold him accountable for his actions.

    She is the best qualified.

    March 6, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Jack from California

    WHO besides the Obama people care about Hillary's tax returns! BARRACK get back to the campaign and give us specifics on how YOU propose to fix America!

    BARRACK – how are you going to bring the republicans to the table to give us their gains under 8 years of George and Company?

    BARRACK – how are you going to balance the BUDGET?

    BARRACK – how are you going to get the ECONOMY moving?

    BARRACK – how are you going to add American JOBS?

    BARRACK – TELL us what YOU are going to DO!


    I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU propose to get the RICH to pay their "FAIR SHARE" of our country's "BILLS"



    March 6, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. Ellen

    Hillary, you've been acting like an angry monkey throwing feces, and now that you have been asked to explain your 35 years of experience and come forward with your tax returns, and white house records, seems you feel you have been attacked viciously. "Give me a break." How will you ever handle the republican attacks, if you think when someone questions the basis for your comments, that makes the like Star? You are so dishonest about everything. You cannot be trusted, and you can only finish this with more support (delegates) than Obama, if you do better than 60/40 wins in the remaining 10 states, including Guam and Puerto Rico. You are a nasty person for staying in, because you are misleading your supporters, who love you, but don't really know you. Show a shread of decency by bowing out before you take so many with you. Just try to think about someone other than yourself. Just go for the good of our party and more importantly our country.

    March 6, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. susan

    Kim, did you really read what you wrote. Obama supporters are the worst, to the point of calling people uneducated. You could spend alot of time going back thru these letters and find a whole lotta nasty letters from the Obama supporters.
    Please pay attention

    March 6, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Sarah

    Considering obama and team are congering up phony speculations (and of course the media is going to his dirty work) all I have to say is WHERE IS THE INDICTMENTS? Didn't think so.


    March 6, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. pj

    if this reminds her of ken star, then her campaign reminds me of karl rove.
    this just proves she cant take any criticism and can not go toe to toe with the republicans.

    March 6, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Adrian

    Guys or gals, it takes time to get all the tax returns together, doesn't it? Can't you wait around Apr. 15th before PA primary to have her tax return? She already promised to release it, right? Why is Obama making such a fuss about it? He has lost his coolness.

    March 6, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Unknown

    Just release the tax returns and document of her role in white house during her husbands presidency. Enough is enough No more dirty tactics and excueses. Release the documents NOw.

    March 6, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. Jazz

    He had her down. He will regret not getting her out. Talk about the name game. Ken Starr is persona non grata in faithful democratic circles. They believed he was WRONG at the time. Starr has since PUBLICLY stated he was WRONG to persecute aah prosecute the Clintons. Talk about a UNITER. That name is one of the biggest.
    Talk about trying to OVERTURN the WILL of the people....

    It's politics It's all in the game. If you give people a "blank screen",
    don't be surprised when you get an UGLY picture back.
    Real Democrats Don't Quit!!!!

    March 6, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Chris

    Updated | 12:45 p.m.: Peter Daou, the Clinton campaign’s internet director, offered up some additional details on fund-raising since Tuesday.
    Since polls closed on Tuesday through noon today, the campaign has brought in $4 million from 40,000 donors, 30,000 of them new to the campaign.

    Dating from March 1, the campaign has raised $6 million, a rate of about a million dollars a day.
    For anyone looking to make an apples-to-apples comparison of 24-hour periods after Tuesday’s results, the campaign collected $3 million from midnight that night to midnight the following day.

    March 6, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Deep Throat

    MEMO to Obama:


    How to accomplish this:

    -35 years of experience (question this in detail)
    – Her early years as Republican advocate
    – Her tax returns
    – Her vote to wage war on Iraq (really nail her)
    – Peter Paul fraud
    – White Water
    – Bill Clinton's women/scandals where was she? (this will close the deal)

    March 6, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    and from Hillary headquarters: "Our point here is to point out that after a campaign in which many of the questions that voters had in the closing days centered on concerns that they had over his state of preparedness to be commander in chief and steward of the economy, he has chosen instead of addressing those issues to attack Senator Clinton," Wolfson told reporters in a conference call. "They've announced that this is what they are going to do.

    HILLARY THE VICTIM.... she's been slinging mud throughout the campaign, yapping about her "experience" without giving any examples, and then when cries foul any questions are raised about her.

    Hillary has resorted to Bush tactics of lies, innuendo, fear mongering, and non-substantive gum yapping.

    WHAT THE HELL IS HER EXPERIENCE? Her experience at this point is about as clear as her tax returns and White House papers.

    Hillary is another Bush.

    March 6, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Francie

    Stop the complaining.

    The DREAM TIcket is:

    Hillary/Obama 08

    March 6, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Timothy

    how can anyone here or obama for that matter even bring up candidate you can "trust" when obama just lied about the NAFTA dealings with canada - he can't even run his own campaign and know who from his campaign is meeting with who it honestly makes no sense at all that the same guy (obama) who joined forces with edwards in a debate about calling clinton out for "double talk" and not being trustworthy would then turn around and lie about his NAFTA positioning i mean GET A CLUE

    March 6, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. tasi

    lois in ca: are you running for President? It is common practice to provide your tax returns – to be transparent – she and her husband have ties to the middle east saudis, to the chinese fundraisers, etc, etc... who built her husband's library, where did the 5 million come from? We have a right to know these things as citizens if she wants to be president – we don't want her paying off her benefactors in contracts to Iraq like in the case of Haliburton.

    March 6, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. reggymack

    If Hillary would of kept the campaign positive none of these questions would of came up. Obama had no choice but to start questioning some of Hillary's activities. I can't under stand how Hillary supporters are calling Obama desperate when it was Hillary who started this mess. Please explain to me how you can call a man that won 12 states in a roll and 13 out of the last 16 states desperate. You can't . He is still ahead you know. He is just fighting fire with fire. So shame on you Clinton supporters for being so blind.

    March 6, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Cali

    For the Clinton campaign to bring up Ken Starr is a dangerous move. I'm sure they didn't realize they have just reminded the public about the Clintons personal problems and impeachment issue during their WH years.

    Upstate Deb your statement is interesting: " Unless she is doing something so highly illegal in obtaining her income, give it a rest.."
    The candidates' personal income or how much they earn is not and has never been the issue. Most people know that if a person is running for office, the public has a right to immediately see this information so they know that candidates are not involved in anything illegal. The obvious question the public has is why is Senator Clinton the ONLY candidate still side-stepping and delaying her release, months after both Obama and McCain released theirs? I even hear this question from people who have yet to decide who they will vote for, both Republicans and Democrats. The public will continue to have an issue with Senator Clinton on this matter. As an obvious avid Clinton supporter, it's very interesting that you don't.

    March 6, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Mark Poor

    I guess people in our country have really short memories when they vote for Clintons.

    In 2000, right before leaving the office President Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, a famous tax evader, oil trader with the enemy (Iran) and a fugitive to Switzerland. The IRS and FBI badly wanted him for years and Presidetnt Clinton simply pardoned him, while Rich's wife Denise made substantial donations to the Clinton library and to Hillary’s senate campaign.

    Recently, President Clinton has helped a controversial uranium dealer Frank Giustra to secure one of the largest uranium contracts in Kazakhstan through his connections with Kazakh President Nazarbaev, who has been known for civil rights violations and his never ending presidency. In exchange, Mr. Giustra raised about $21 million for the Clinton Foundation.

    Now that explains why Clintons would not disclose their tax returns. Although I doubt that they tell IRS about all their income. Moreover, Clinton Foundation, which they use as a financial vehicle for their campaign, is a separate legal entity and is not recorded on Clinton’s personal tax returns.

    March 6, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Goodheart

    Obama is in with the Republicans. Despite his campaign speeches, the reality is he is practicing the politics of usual right out of the Republican playbook. Go Hillary!

    March 6, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. Sam Texas

    I used to defend the Clintons during the Ken Starr saga but now I wish he had thrown the bum in jail for lying to the American people. Billary is the worst package for America right now. Sleek Willy is nothing more than a snake oil salesman and the Republicans have a lot of mud to throw at this shameless duo. I can see the Mccain camp salivating over the opportunity to run against Billary!

    March 6, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Mark

    Hillary Clinton can never win the Presidency of the United States. She would lose in a blow out in an general election.

    March 6, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Ratgurl

    You know, we could all just move on if HRC would just release the tax returns. They don't even have to be processed, just show us your 1040. We'll figure out the rest for ourselves!

    Oh, & John Dolan, those records are public, you can just go to the city of Chicago's tax auditor and obtain them yourself if you want to see them so bad! While you're at it, make a copy & publicize them. Then we can get past all this BS & get on with the election process.

    RSP, he probably can't handle answering to THAT woman specifically. (Could you?)

    And thank you, Maisie2008, for stating the obvious.

    March 6, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Jay

    Howard Wolfson , Americans are not stupid! You want Ken Starr's name in the race to win sympathy for Hillary, right? It wont fly. Hillary IS the one running and just like the other cnadidates she must release her tax returns AND the records that prove her so-called experience – the WH memos in the Clinton Presidential Library especially after cricizng Lazio of not releasing his. Who were the donors to the Clinton Library? How many people did Bill pardon when he was leaving the WH? What type of crimes did they commit? Now we are remembering.........Ken Starr ?? I wouldn't open that can of worms if I was you, Howard Wolfson.

    March 6, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Earl

    I thought Obama was "above" the negative potitics.

    What a sham this guy is! The longer he is in this contest and the more adversity he faces, he crumbles. Just like in the debates.

    This guy really is the Emperor who has no clothes!

    March 6, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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