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. DC

    Florida votes should be counted and counted as we voted on that Tuesday. A recount, expensive as it is, is not an excuse for those Floridians that chose not to vote because their vote wouldn't have been counted. There was an important property tax question on that ballot! That question was counted and that vote counted.

    March 6, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. Richard Campbell

    She has something to hide... watch out!!!!!

    March 6, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Texas4Obama

    When the media finally starts reporting on the CURRENT lawsuit in California in the court system PETER PAUL vs. CLINTONS then the Clintons will be heading home with their tails between their legs - the tax returns from last year will just be the 'cherry on top' - Hillary IS NOT vetted but soon she will be and America will see her for what she is – A FRAUD, a money grubber, and a schemer!

    March 6, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    "Obama attacking Clinton?"" Really?

    People are smart enough to know that the Clintons are the ones continually attacking Obama. It is sickening now and will be even more so if "they" are back in the White House.

    They seem to have no moral ground to stand on. It is very, very sad!!

    March 6, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Theresa Duff

    I'm beginning to think that this MESS in Florida and Michigan over delegates was caused by a bunch of idiots. Why on earth is the only answer to any problem spending money?

    ONE SIMPLE SOLUTION to the problem, without spending money and is the only FAIR thing to do is SPLIT THE DELEGATES between Obama and Clinton. Half for each candidate. Problem solved.

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

    I'm sorry guys but I franlky dont see how releasing one's personal tax returns becomes relevant at this stage of the process. I'm more interested in hearing candidates' positions on issues bordering on the economy, health care, national security, etc

    March 6, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Lynda, Missouri

    I hope that people will begin to see through the Clinton tactics and increase Obama's momentum again in full force; as Hillary and/or her "campaign people" are following the road of least resistance in despaeration with their "kitchen sink" style of politics. It is nothing new and that is my point. Most of us have been disappointed in the past by these tactics; which is why Mr. Obama's message has been a breath of fresh air.
    Democrats: I do not want to be against an idealogy or a people; I want to be for something. I was for Obama and also for Hillary; as she is truly a good candidate as well (for different reasons). Is there any way the Dems can run this race with dignity and respect? I hope we can. – Lynda in Missouri

    March 6, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. realist

    Whats the big deal about tax returns... if you haven't done anything wrong then you would show them without the fuss. It's obvious shes in money trouble and she wants to divert the attention to another bs claim. Props to obama for not giving in to these gradeschool tactics.

    March 6, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Jed in Texas

    when I see Ken Starr, I feel very sad for his parents.To me his face says it all.

    March 6, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Sherri

    I think it's great that people have their opinions but be brave enough to look at the facts.

    Obama regarding Resko – Obama donated the 85,000 received from Resko to charity rather than keep it.

    Clinton regarding Peter Paul – There is so much of a scandal brewing here and once again they are not being transparent. What is apparent however is that the Clintons have become masters at getting around scandal, after scandal, after scandal...I'm surprised the media hasn't taken more of a run at this. How can we really know the truth. As far as we know she hasn't donated her share to charity...what was it 1.2 million? Is that why those tax returns haven't been released???????

    You will never get perfection from a candidate, so don't except it, but maybe a little forthrightness would be good. GOBAMA08

    March 6, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Joan

    I'd compare Hillary to Karl Rove or Jesse Helms after her racist comments of late.

    March 6, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Truth Be Known

    When the truth comes out on Hillary and Bill Clinton involvement in organization outside of the US and doing Business with Russia and UEA many will be surprise. CIA has information that they are holding back....

    March 6, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. Adam B

    Cute. She's a victim again now.

    March 6, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. Gary

    Now you've done it, Hillary!! I had warned you about it. But you still embraced the dark side, and have released the demons from hell and resurrected the sordid scandals of the past. The Democratic party is headed towards Armageddon

    March 6, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  15. Nevada for Obama

    Calling for the Clintons to release their tax returns is just a start. Every one else running for president has released theirs without asking, but for the Clintons, you have to remind them, which reminds everyone that the Clintons cannot be trusted. She claims that she has 35 yrs of experience which includes her 15 yrs as a co-owner of Rose law firm in Arkansas. I hope Obama looks into who she represented during those lenthy 15 yrs in the Rose law firm.

    Hillary claims that she has a "life time" experience in dealing with foreign leaders. What a habitual liar!. America would like to know the names of the foreign leaders and the treaties she signed on behalf of the United States. Can somebody point me to one foreign policy achievement ever credited to Hillary Clinton?

    It is time the media stop chasing shadows and start asking tough questions of Hillary's bogus 35 yrs experience on everything from Health care to national security. 35 yrs of policy experience stretched back to Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and this woman is about 60 yeras old, give me a brake, this whole thing is the most fairy tale that I have ever seen in my life. Obama should get down from his "Mr. nice Guy" chair and into the trenches with this ruthless woman who would do and say anything to win election.

    March 6, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. AMK

    Obama isn't the change we were looking for after all.......politics as usual, eh Obama?

    March 6, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. Joy in Missouri

    All candidates are supposed to show their IRS forms... it's just that Hillary appears to be stalling, waiting out the calendar of primaries and the chance of people finding something objectionable on her income tax filings... and her White House itinerary showing her activities while first lady (and the chance that people might judge that her activities were mostly social rather than being closely involved in anything relating to policy)... etc. It's very telling that she withholds this information during a campaign that is focused around all her "experience" which, turns out, was mostly 15 years or so as a corporate lawyer in Arkansas and being first lady... with less time in state/federal senate positions than Obama. No mystery... she's withholding information... for a reason that will serve herself.

    March 6, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Carol McGruder

    Obama has done nothing but try to respect Hillary Clinton. Isn't that what all women want. Maybe she likes it better when her husband Ex-President Bill Clinton humiliate her all over the world. Obama knows how to throw a punch. It's a clean punch. Obama is his own man. Hillary's camp can go roast weiners. She was the First Lady not the President.

    March 6, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. Rico Williams

    I find it stunningly ironic that the voters for Hillary in Ohio voted for her based on experience; But wasn’t it that same experience in Washington that let their jobs go overseas? Wasn’t it that same experience that sat and watched America move in the direction that it has? My country didn’t end up here over night; it was following all that great stale experience that has caused me to hang my head a little lower.

    March 6, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. HC


    March 6, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. r

    Amen. Actually Ken Starr was right about her and her husband. Do we really deserve a cry baby as a president.

    March 6, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. From PA

    Ask Obama about his lobbyist money....THIS GUY IS A LIAR!!!

    March 6, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |

    asking to see tax returns is perfectly legit. some might say Obama is being desperate because of his losses on Tuesday, but where were the Hillary supporter's morals during his streak of victories while she constantly became more and more aggressive and had to start bringing "experience" into the equation (by the way having experience at saying your experience doesn't count)

    OBAMA '08

    March 6, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Maxine

    Boy they just don't stop. First he is a Carl Rove, Geoge W. Bush, Ronald Regan, and now Ken Starr. HMMM I think I smell a RAT and yet people love her. The world is looking at us to see if we are so stupid to bring the Clintons back in.

    The tax thing is customary for all who are running in an election and it isn't this years it is last years. Obama and the other demos that were running already did this. She is the only one holding out.

    If she gets elected expect more of the same.....investigation after investigation...nothing will get done.

    March 6, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Delores Clark

    I realize that these comments wont be read ,but I feel that Hillary Clinton, and her husband are running a very negative campaign.I as an african american veiw this election as a hoax, and it show s the world, nothing has chaged.It's the same old games with the same player's.I will never vote again,the people's vote doesn't count for anything.I think the way the media is attacking Obama, and Hilliary's negative statements, and attacks on his creditability wont be able to be repaired after this election.I would rather vote for John McCain, than Hillary, and I think you will see a lot of this if Hilliary Clinton wins the nomination.

    March 6, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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