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. Anonymous

    Hillary traveled to China to speak on women`s rights.
    She must be kidding.What did she say?
    You must stay with your cheating husbands.

    March 6, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. California Voter

    Obama's campaign is run by David Axelrod. As I recall he is/was part of the old Mayor Daley machine. So I'm sure there are plenty of "dirty tricks" left in his bag of tricks. Obama can't get away with just calling his errors in judgment "bone-head" mistakes, Rezko for example. What about Obama's membership in a separatist church? How can he be the great uniter?

    March 6, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Selena

    This comparison is absolutely ludicrous and desperate!!! But thank you Sen. Clinton, you have just made me donate to Obama's campaign and purpose once again.

    ON another note, where was your husband the night of your big win in Ohio?

    All the other candidates has their spouse right by there side.

    March 6, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. Edward Green

    Is pathetic the Clintons are bringing up Ken Starr.Question people have to ask is was it Ken Starr that dropped Bill's pants? HILLARY WILL DO ANYTHING TO WIN ELECTION.The Clintons have a lot of things in their closet but their have the gut to question Obama on Rezko which upto now nobody,I repeat nobody has found anything wrong on Obama's part.Go back and look at Hillary's record of inside trading where she committed illegality to make profits that were statistical impossibility.Look at their estate dealings,look at their dealings with China and again who are the contributors the husband library project. Americans should asked themselves who they want as President- Is it the manipulating Clintons or someone who is fresh and Honest. When asked if Hillary has answered the 3 am call before her campaign could not come out with anything but take credits for things that happen during the husband's presidency,yet she does not want to take the negatives that come with it. When the Obama team was asked they admitted that none of them has answered such a call before but he has the judgement. That is the difference! Honest leaders will want. In any case what was Bill's experience in foreign policy before he became president? Those who love the Clintons because of Bill's work should ask themselves why Obama cannot be a good president.

    March 6, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. Theresa

    Hillary is so obsesed with being the first woman President she will do anything to accomplish her mission. And I mean anything. It's about time the news media called her on the devious tricks she is pulling. I have lost all respect for her and I'm hoping everything back fires on her.

    We all want real change and honesty. She lies so much, all I see is a crooked administration again.

    March 6, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Louis

    Pu-leeze!!! Folks, it appears to me that Obama has done all he could up to this point to keep this race clean, fair and on the issues. Clinton, in her DESPERATION, resorted to old guard smear tactics. It worked for her; so she's going to continue. I would be the LAST person if I was her to start a smear campaign. Obama has not BEGUN to use the kind of fodder against her as he could. Just a re-hashing of she and Bill's past dealings would be enough to have people questioning her ethics and integrity from here on out. She should have kept it clean; now, she's probably going to have to answer for more than her tax returns.

    March 6, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. John in Charlotte

    What's the matter Hillary? Scared America's going to see who really loaned your campaign 5million dollars?

    March 6, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  8. Anonymouse

    aww, what's wrong kids, your man Obama has a little scrutiny thrown at him and he can';t handle it? Clinton has been under scrutiny for the past 16 years, Obama scrutiny has only scratched the surface – and the Rezko thing and his ability to command (or lack of) has really hurt his tiny feelings – he even accused the press of being against him, hahahahahahahaa – they have treated him with kid glove to date until very recently. What a powder puff....and this is the guy who we want to handle international emergencies for us? Not me folks, I care about my family.

    He loses all the big blue states and you point out lamely how he has more states... hahahaha

    Idaho and most of the other small states Obama has won have many less electoral votes than the big blue states – ALL of which Hillary has won, except for Illinois (no need to speculate on that one).
    More than half of the states votes he has won could be wiped out by one big blue states votes – like NY or California easily. So that is really a nonsense posturing point. The supers need to vote for the candidate with the best chance of winning and best qualifications to plan policy including foreign affairs and lead the nation, not just blindly and lamely follow what the popular vote as all the BO whiners keep asking for. That candidate is the one who can carry the BIG BLUE states – again many of those small states will 1) not vote BLUE, and 2) even if they do, they have a pitifully small number of votes.
    Study up kids, there will be a test in November....

    As Ohio goes so goes the nation, Hillary you go girl, keep fighting all the way- right to the convention!

    March 6, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. Ellen C Canada

    I think both Clinton and Obama should be concentrating on the
    Issues and how they intend to make the changes they have stated concerning the issues.

    The attack me and I'll one up you is making both candidates look like high school kids and will soon get tiresome, nerve racking to listen to.

    Adults need to act their age.

    March 6, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. MickyD10

    Why is it that my comments rarely get posted? I have not broken any of the CNN comment policies. Nor has anything I've said been inappropriate in any way. Not even close. And it has nothing to do with volume either. Many comments have appeared long after I have made mine. Does CNN have something against fact and rational thinking? Or is it that they just want to see a particular slant which fits into their own bias position on the issues being put forth.

    March 6, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. mike

    Clinton is the one who is so desperate, and has been for awhile. Clinton's are making me sick and speechless about politics. Well, now it"s a sure thing for me: she won't get my vote if she wins by such means. Frankly, first I was more lean towards Clinton, but, began to have doubts when she and MR. Clinton started their negativeness on Obama...

    March 6, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. Tom, Y-town, OH

    Hill wants to sling mud............then she'd better be set up to receive mud. She said she's used to it. She indicated that Obama wouldn't be able to handle it when the going gets rough.'s getting rough so let's shop the whinning. I have a feeling Hill is only starting to hear the tip of the iceberg. She'll be pouting and accusing press,
    Obama, and Republican's for the oncoming onslaught. She'll once again attempt to use the old "squeeky wheel gets the grease" tactic she's so good at........and the press will bite into it bending over backwards to prove they don't show partiallity.

    March 6, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  13. Susan, Seattle

    When Clinton was running against Rep Lazio for the NY Senator seat, he hounded him and hounded him for his tax returns even having someone in an Uncle Sam suit chase him around. And now she won't release hers? This is pure hypocrisy. And it's also quite suspicious. Why not shut everyone up if you have nothing to hide? Why do we have to wait until 4!15 to get her 2000-2006 tax returns? Perhaps it's because Bill Clinton has been getting millions of dollars from the Arabs, Dubai and other Islamic organizations. This is not rumor, was reported by Dick Morris, former Clinton political advisor of 20 years - Google it and see for yourself.

    March 6, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. Carol

    Rezko is a small name compared to BUSH/MCCAIN/CHEN. Oil is high because Hiliburton has Americans working the oil fields in Iraq. Before this election is over, we will probably see more heads roll than expected. Hillary Clinton has opened up a can of worms for a lot of people because of her supreme power attitude. She started mud slinging and suggesting Obama is not qualified. I don't think her credentials will reflect all she says. She knows how to talk politics. It would be wonderful to see her and Michelle Obama debate. Michelle would tear her out the frame.

    March 6, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  15. Gary in CT

    Why doesn't the Obama campaign show the video with Hillary thanking Petter Paul, the convicted felon who donated $1.6 million to her Senatorial campaign she later claims she that doesn't even know?

    March 6, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Hillary is the QUEEN of lobbyist money.... that's why she's not releasing her tax returns... She is so tied into special interests and big corporations (and yes that includes Mideast oil) that the tax returns would prove her to bey yet another BUSH.....


    March 6, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. aso J


    March 6, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. Richard

    Obama is a cry baby. He didn't get his way! Too bad. That what spoiled kids act like. So lets pick on Hillary!

    We Love you Hillary! Hillary 2008!

    March 6, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Smart

    Obama is so desperate to divert attention from his limited national security experience that he’s not just misleading voters about Sen. Clinton, he’s also misleading voters about his own supporters. That is not change you can believe in.

    March 6, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Pappu

    A desperate man who had no substance to begin with, got high on the media spin and thought he could be President of this great country. I feel sorry for him already.

    March 6, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. Adam, CA

    Who's like Ken Starr?

    The person complaining about a land deal or the person asking for tax disclosure a normal occurance in a campaign?

    Now if you want obama to act like ken starr lets start back up the innuendo machine about what the young attorney with substantial billing for McDougal's failed and bailed S&L should have known. Lets talk about the governor who succeeded bill getting tangled up and convicted in that scheme. Let's ignore that Clinton like Obama has not been indicted and play the innuendo game in the court of public opinion.

    Perhaps in talking about the Clinton Tax records we should remind the american people of Bill Clinton's and maddeline albrights affiliation with the Dubai Ports deal while Senator Clinton was attacking the deals in the senate. Innuendo and scare tactics are republican weapons I would hope our party rises above it but right now it is Seantor Clinton not Obama playing the innuendo card.

    A card that is just as easy to play on Senator Clinton and I ahven't even gotten to Hsu.

    March 6, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Theresa

    Let's get real folks!! Why is the only solution to any problem costly? Are you all air heads? This problem you're having in Florida and Michigan and the delegates can be solved without costing a dime.


    March 6, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. JJ

    Tell me honestly why will she not release them NOW??? Because they are being "prepared" for public viewing.. thats why. If someone told me to release mine and I had nothing I wanted to hide I would release them immediatly. I suspect that when she does finally release them they wont have anything that will prosecute her on them because they are now being "worked on". The Clintons know people in very high places that will fix this for them for a price.

    March 6, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. rusty

    My guess is, by the time the Clinton's release their tax returns, they will have been washed, dried, stir fried, and won't resemble anything close to the truth. Will Ohio then have "buyers remorse" over their choice? The Clinton's are experts at "spin". Unfortunately, that is the only thing they are good at.

    March 6, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. Ruscle

    WORSE than that... Clinton's latching onto the Canadian Neo-con lies about Obama's position on NAFTA... as the dust settles, sure she won Ohio... by deceiving the voters of Ohio. It makes her look awful. More like a Republican than anything Obama has done. Who cares that she's rich rich rich. (What her tax returns will show.) She's got poor judgement. All her experience means squat when she's falling for neo-con NAFTA/Canadian lies... which is exactly what she did when she supported the war... before she was against it. Same with NAFTA. We've already had a candidacy like that. How long is it going to take for the Flip Flopper charges to stick to her?

    March 6, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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