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. Vic

    As a senior retiree, we've had the opportunity to watch these two candidates, their campaign spokespeople, and the news entities (TV and print) almost non-stop. Here's what we've observed:

    1) Obama and Hillary coverage has NOT been equal. Example: In today's Houston Chronicle, two noted columnists, Robert Novak and David Broder, wrote about a Q&A session Obama participated in last Monday in which he was quizzed about his aide's statement concerning Obama's stand on the Canada/NAFTA as being like this: "It's just politics; nothing will come of it." At first Obama and camp denied such a statement took place, then were forced to admit it was true. Novak stated that after 7 questions, "Obama left the podium." Broder said "he bolted from the stage." My question is WHY HAS THIS NOT BEEN REPORTED BY TV NEWS CHANNELS?

    2) The repetitive statement about the Michigan and Florida votes, which goes likie this: HILLARY CLINTON'S NAME WAS THE ONLY ONE ON MICHIGAN BALLOTS.

    HER NAME AND OBAMA'S NAME WERE BOTH ON THE FLORIDA PRIMARY BALLOTS - "but HE did NOT campaign there." This leaves us lay people to believe that Hillary DID campaign there (against the rules).

    TRUTH: Hillary Clinton did NOT campaign in Florida but got the most votes by considerable margins. After the polls, she visited Florida AFTER THE POLLS CLOSED and made a thank-you speech. If the stories are to be believed, Obama DID run an ad there, also appearing after the polls closed.

    CNN has corrected its error about the caucus votes, but I wish all news folks would report EVERYTHING that makes news.

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

    Read the facts on Paul v Clinton. This is a civil suit about a guy who claims ex-President Clinton promised to go to work for him because he funded a Gala to honor President Clinton. Most of the charges have been dismissed. There are still some hearings scheduled on the remaining charges which are all CIVIL not criminal. According to the facts of the case, it appears unlikely that any of the charges will stick. This is just another one of those cases where some guy sees an opportunity to cash in at someone elses expense. Also remember the burden of proof in CIVIL cases is much lower than the burden of proof in a CRIMINAL case which is likely the only reason this one is lingering. I really think if ex Pres Clinton was guilty as charged he would have offered a settlement rather than drag this through to trial, so this case is a matter of PRINCIPLE. Rezko on the other hand has been accused of CRIMINAL charges and as yet it is not clear what, if any, bearing this may have on Senator Obama as we will have to let the facts of the case unfold. Although I think it would behoove Senator Obama to release an independent accounting of any contributions that can be attributed to Mr. Rezko and their subsequent distribution to charities in the interest of transparency.

    March 6, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Rod

    I want to see Hillary's tax returns because I think Obama is right. She is hiding something.

    I am very happy to note that Obama is not even listed as a witness for the trial. Mumbles of wrong doing fading fast. He has so much more charisma and dignity versus Clinton. I think he will bounce back quickly and take this thing.

    March 6, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Patrick

    Obama's cult is spinning th truth and and resorting to personally attacking Senator CLinton. The "positive" hate generating campaign is at work!

    March 6, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. stella

    Hey, P.G. I know Clinton has the upgraded version of Carl Rove's play book. Maybe she can publish it so Obama can borrow a trick or two?
    registered as an independent

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

    Obama can attack hIllary all he wants but at least she answers the attacks. And he looks idiotic when hes preaching hoes and dreams and change while attacking Clinton.

    He holds press conferences where he refuses to answer questions to his shady ties and actions instead he gets mad about it... well sorry Obama but youre gonna have to do better than get angry. Hillary has already stated her forms will be released in April... better come up with something a little better than the same old jargon Reps have been using against her for the past 16 years...

    March 6, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |

    who are you people and what do you actually care about with her taxes! she's rich! bill's rich! enough said!

    how about you practice what you preach, obama, and start talking about the issues instead of degrading one of the best members of the party! grow up. talk about the issues....oh wait, you don't have any of your own thoughts. you just say clinton's ideas in a much more annoyinggggggggggg way.


    March 6, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Polly

    Just release the tax returne and white house papers, and then dont worry, if you have nothing to hide then just show what you got.
    Now if there is something to hide or fraud, or things like that, then........mmm I doubt the Clintons will ever reveal anything, if they have not done it 35 years why would they reveal them now?

    March 6, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    My level of respect for Camp Clinton has dropped into the negatives at this point. She is running such an incredibly divisive and ugly campaign, how can any self-respecting DEMOCRAT honestly support her?! I fully supported her husband during the whole Ken Starr investigation but let's all be honest here – Ken Starr turned ou to be correct. He had n affair and lied to all of us about it. So, comparng Obama to Ken Starr – is this her way of saying that Obama is telling the truth as well but she is not ready to admit it just yet?

    March 6, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Jes

    You know what makes me laugh? Obama makes no sense. He talks so negatively about WASHINGTON. If he is against everyone in Washington, I wonder WHY people think he will be a uniter of the parties. He obviously likes no one in Washington... Why even fun for President if you are gonna dog the city of American government.

    He just rubs me the wrong way, and uhh, oh yeah, I donated more to Clinton today....

    March 6, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. roger lodge Wisconsin

    obama camp is desperate...they are broke.
    they arent raising funds..
    obama is finsihed. haha

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




    March 6, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Mark Poor

    By the way, its all in the press. Just google Clinton and Marc Rich, and Clinton and Frank Giustra and you will know the whole story

    March 6, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. X-Man

    It's not Obama's turn to run. It's too early for him, he's too young. He's only 46 years old and hasn't even completed one term as senator. And before that he was a state rep. Very little experience with national issues. Hillary might only be in her second term a senator, but she's been right in the midst of national and world issues for years. Just the fact that she's met dozens of world leaders during her tenure as First Lady and senator is worth a great deal. Why couldn't he wait for eight years to get the needed experience. At 54 he would have been a much better candidate for President. He knew when he started this process that Hilary was the presumed nominee.

    March 6, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. Arkansas Undertaker

    I dont know what possessed Hillary to insist that she be put on top of a "Dream Ticket", she is the one who is behind in deligates.

    She needs Barak Obama to beat McCAin in the fall more than He needs her.

    CLINTON/OBAMA= match made in hell!

    OBAMA/CLINTON= match made in heaven.

    Either way i wouldnt vote simply because she was on the ticket. especially after all the dirt she has pulled in the past few weeks. Win atr all cost.

    March 6, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. lovelydc

    Experience Xeroxed from Bill CLinton. That was a good one LoveObama!

    March 6, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  17. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    The Canadian government is investigating the leak of the discredited memo. This is important.

    March 6, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Austin

    I can't wait till this race is over and I don;t have to see or hear HRC or any of crooked campaign managers. These people are the lowest common denominator of politics. HRC NEVER ANSWERS A SINGLE QUESTION!!!! I don't think she has the capacity to do so.

    I used to think she couldn't be elected but I'm afraid she has too many people who owe her favors or money. She'll find a way to lie, cheat, and steal the White House. The DNC should grow a pair and tell her she's done.

    Anybody is better than HRC.

    March 6, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Missy

    There is a multitude of information available... years of it. Believe me, if there were any funny business, the Clinton's would have been tried in court a long time ago.... every tactic has been tried. I don't wait in eager anticipation for the tax returns. I already know the Clintons have a lot of money, are very successful with investments and have done a lot of philanthropic work..... very admirable. The Clintons know that they are under scrutiny at all times.

    I just don't think the smoking gun is going to be there. I also hope that donors to some of their very successful charitable organizations don't get drug in to the mud in the process.

    March 6, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. vic nashville,Tn

    Last night (03-05-08) I watched GLENN BECK SHOW ON CNN it was good. There was part about Tony Rezko. Obama has to watch that show before ask any question about Hillary tax return. Mrs. Obama must be proud of this country she can get a better deal when she is buying house Chicago Politics

    March 6, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. kevin

    Obama people are bitter. America woke up and saw the rehtoric. It just does not hold water anymore.

    Go Hillary.

    March 6, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Marc

    I watch these negative attacks by Obama and think, "Goooodd... goooood.." just like the emperor in Star Wars when Anakin was turning to the dark side. Instead of being a "New Hope" we have Darth Obama.

    March 6, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Jay

    How can asking for a Presidential candidate to do something legal like releasing his/her tax return to prove transparency be bad? Unless the Candidate is hiding something? Do we REALLY trust the Clintons? I guess it depends on what trust is? THe Reps are waiting for Hillary. If the Dems make another stupid mistake, they will miss the WH again.

    March 6, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Jay

    Home foreclosures are at an all-time high, and Obama chooses to talk about tax returns. What is his plan to help homeowners?

    And where are his 20 years worth of tax returns?

    March 6, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Where's Bill Clinton?

    Just a thought...I was watching ALL the speeches from yesterday. Mike Huckabee was with his wife...John McCain was beside his wife...Obama's wife lead him out to the stage to speak...BUT WHERE IS BILL CLINTON?!?....I"m I the only one noticing that Hillary Clinton and her campagin are trying to HIDE Bill Clinton? Why do I not see them together...You only see Hillary by herself or with their daughter, or you see Bill by himself or with their daughter...Interesting Hillary...Do you honesty think Republicans will not pick up on this if you win the nomination?!?

    March 6, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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