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. Chris

    For all those who are defending her with comments such as:
    "doesn't she have until April 15th to file her tax returns"

    I have an answer:

    We are talking about 2006 tax year! Not 2007! And I don't hear anything about her having filed an amended 2006 form!

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

    First I would like to say I am a female and I want to say what female has on makeup, her hair done and dressed in a pant suite at 3:00a.m
    Hillary keeps speaking on experience during those thirty five years she
    was in college.What did she do run college? The only experience she has is hiring someone to follow Bill all the times he cheated on her and last but not least she has 3 different personalities seems like her magic number is 3 shes trying to get a third term for Bill, not this time theres a new breed ,we a young fresh new way of doing things. The Clintons do everything to benefit them. Hillary was given the Healthcare issue by Bill her husband the President ,okay do you think she was not going to get things done her husband was the President .I also would like to say this is a perfect example (Bush and Cheney) everything they wanted to do it was done ,they were first and second in command.Hillary Healthcare issues was done behind the scenes.The only way were going to fight the taliban is unite as a country and stop this racism, poverty, and people who do not want equal rights ,they will divide and conquer us with fear.People seem like they fear this, thats why I think different about Hillary when she mocked at Barack about this you could still put forth and effort to change the world and make it a better place I can relate to Barack I have a melting pot in my family also. Hillary always plays the victim shes always been wealthy and I can see through her fake ways shes playing on certain races for political status.

    March 6, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Chawn from holland

    HEY Americans, I`m from Holland and I think Obama is the person to beat McCain. Hillary is a sheep in wolfsclothes we believe over here in Holland, and will do anything to get elected.

    Obama is the new world leader to bring peace and unite for all people.

    Obama=UNITER, Hillary=DIVIDER.

    OBAMA 08

    March 6, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. simple thought ?

    april 15th is the tax deadline, why would anyone want the information before they are completed?
    she said she would release them in april.
    sounds fair to me.
    but politicians live by a different code than the rest of america.
    obama mania is no different.

    March 6, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Ken, Tucson, AZ

    President, and Senator Clinton's life has been an open book since they went to Washington in t 1992; the Republicans and other conservatives mad sure of that. And of all the charges hurled at the Clinton's, none stuck. Therefore, I think the Obama campaign could best use it's time by detailing what he intends to do if elected president.

    March 6, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. Ruby marshall

    Sen. Clinton propose the Dream Ticket just as to try to unify the PARTY
    It is a gesture of optimistic value in bringing the party to win in general election..

    Ken Starr's name was mentioned so as to compare what Obama's campaign is trying to bring out after his defeat on March 4. He's putiing a trial which is premature and baseless..Hillarry is going to show her tax returns in due time. She is not hiding anything because her life and dreams are owned by the people and the media already.
    She is a public figure consistent with what she is, credible, honest, revealing and determine, hardworking leader that we can depend on in times of crisis. She handled her campaign well, after the crisis which has occured earlier during her campaign.

    March 6, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Michael

    I like what Obama says about the need for change, and the things that need to be changed. So far, though, I haven't heard him say what exactly the change is he wants to effect, or how he will bring that change about.

    March 6, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    Also, Howard Wolfson is a real weasel. It doesn't seem like the Clinton camp really cares about winning in November. All they care about is getting the nomination at whatever cost.

    Senator Clinton doesn't care about small states or red states (unless it's TX) She doesn't seem to care at all about the millions of people supporting Senator Obama. Otherwise, she wouldn't go out of her way to destroy him.

    Clinton should release her tax returns like every other presidential candidate already has. Obama isn't asking for 2007, he's asking for 2005, 2006. So, they don't need to wait until April 15th.

    Also, why haven't we seen the records from Clinton's years in the Whitehouse? Why are they being tied up?

    It'l legitimate for Obama and the American people to ask these questions. It's not like Ken Starr.

    When the Ken Starr investigation took place, I was strongly behind Bill Clinton. Now, I'm beginning to see why people hated them so much.

    March 6, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. stella

    Hey John, everytime people attacking Obama for not having a meeting in the commitee he chaired, I always wonder what has Clinton done, since Jan. 2007 when Obama just became the Chirman, other than her campigning?

    March 6, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. Edi

    Is this going thru?

    March 6, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. GGamma

    Clintonions to release their tax informations documents is a big deal for the public interest, let us not ignoring that, because the old game Washington politics that tells you that to wait until after pennsylvania primary is a sily politics.

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

    She is getting very nasty is in't?

    March 6, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Ernie

    Why has Obama not answered questions, How did he get the Canadian Goverment to lie about their meeting? why did he lie.? They both lied and the press has not done their job.To find the answers.

    March 6, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |

    I beleive Obama is running the politic of today and Hill is doing anythying to win....
    But you know what the truth will come and Hill will lose...She is claiming victories and getting nothing on delegetes.........
    Whats going on here?????

    March 6, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    Hillary supporters:

    Please be objective. If Hillary wins the nomination, she will need Obama's supporters to win in November. So, before you offer excuses for every Wolfson comment etc..., please be mindful that a lack of objectivity only hurts your candidate.

    March 6, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. lovelydc

    Latino Nation, you would think most people cheat on their taxes and you probably think it's ok, considering! If you don't know what I mean, considering you are probably her illegally anyway and cheating, for most of you and your border jumper friends, is a way of life.

    March 6, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. Tony

    Barack is going to step up his attacks; he has to. The Clintons know how the media works. Barack is a quick learner; he will focus the negative attention on her 2 days before Pennsylvania votes. Not only will she have to release how she "borrowed" money from herself to fund her campaign, but also the records of her when she was in the white house. The Clintons are trying to trap Barack. If he attacks they will say he is a typical politician. If Barack does not attack he losses Pennsylvania.

    March 6, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. aware

    Keep talking Barack. 🙂 This is a non-issue but if it makes you happy and its all you have to say....

    You lied re: Canada and who knows what else? We are still waiting on Rezco info!

    March 6, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. Nancy


    What is the $100 million deal that Bill Clinton just closed?
    Maybe that's the reason for no disclosure of tax returns.


    March 6, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Chuck in Oregon

    To those that think that asking for the release of personal income and business tax information to the publis is wrong. Well all I can say is this is a normal process that all candidates have gone through, it is what is it for many years.
    It has to do with transparency, honesty and integrity of the candidate.
    On a personal note, I would want to know all I can about a candidate. The source of their income is paramount, for example do they have special interest in a particular major corporation that is considered a conflict of interest.

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

    The idea that this is hillary's "turn" is about as ludicrous as Obama bowing out to give it to her when she has no hope of actually winning and he is in fact in the lead comfortably. Every day the Clinton camp becomes more and more like the Orwellian double-speak of the Rove camp. Perhaps they've hired him on. If she wins, it will be a new democratic low in this country.

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

    Would CNN please investigate the Clintons connections to Exxon, Mobil and Amaco, which has been alleged by Rober Baer to have resulted in missed opportunities to get Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein? Also what about the effect Clinton's administration had on the CIA operations?

    She really wants to have a discussion with John McCain on National defence and security? On what basis? What can she say that would possibly trump his 30 years in the Senate and being a war hero? Yet again indications of BAD JUDGMENT on her part.

    And now comparing Obama to Star for just asking for basic transparancy.... just scandalous and vexatious nonsense.

    March 6, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Ed from Atl

    I really want to see how Obama will react. I want to see his true colors. I want to see his real persona. Every single politician in the world is a two face, including him. Obviously, he is portraying a holier than thou image and he hasn't been around old Washington politics to personally know all the dirt that can be thrown his way.

    March 6, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. C. Cooks

    I really hate to see Obama stoop to Hillary's level. It wasn't Hillary's negative ads that helped her win in Texas and Ohio, It was Bill Clinton stating that if she did not win both states she would not win the nomination. If Hillary does win the nomination, I'm voting for McCain. Hillary does not appear to be trustworthy.

    March 6, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. KJ, CA

    How can anyone defend the kind of tactics that the Clinton campaign is using/has been using? This is the icing on the cake for the beginning of the end for her. Wake Up Clinton supporters – this is not what it is about. From the fear mongering 3am commercial, to comparing Obama to Ken Starr – HRC is GWB with the difference being that she has a "D" behing her name and he has an "R". Hillary has no regard for the party, she has no regard for her opponent – the only thing that Hillary cares about it being the President of the United States and she will do anything and say anything to get it done. Absoutely disgusts me – she is destroying any chance that any credible woman has of running for President anytime in the near future.

    March 6, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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