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. Vocie of Reason

    Like I said Yesterday!

    She should have kept it positive!

    This is not going away! and the Republicans are going to be much more relentless!

    Dems, be carefull who you put up against McCain !


    March 6, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Vince

    WHO CARES ABOUT THEIR TAX RETURNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I only care about mine. This is NOT news. GIVE IT UP!

    March 6, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. Charlotte

    My understanding is, unless your are the nominee this is not required. If someone knows the law I'd appreciate the info. This years tax returns should prove interesting, what with the land deal with Rezko and all.

    March 6, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Cindy

    She's sidestepping again.

    Ken Starr has nothing to do with this. Where's your tax return, Hillary? Why the delay? What are you hiding?

    March 6, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. Ron, TX

    Is Kenn Starr really who the Clintons want to be talking about?

    March 6, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. georgia

    is there some sort of requirement for or tradition of presidential candidates releasing their income tax forms? Obama has chosen to do so, but his suggestion that Clinton's choice not to do so is somehow nefarious is ridiculous. It seems to me that if we follow Obama's logic, any candidate could release any records he/she pleases and then deride other candidates for not following suit.

    March 6, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. sky

    Desperate and sad

    March 6, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. owl

    That is stupid and low

    March 6, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. MIchael "C" in Lorton, Virginia

    I think that the Obama campaign hit a "sensitive spot" with Hillary and that referring to Obama as Ken Starr confirm it. Ken Starr concluded his investigation of the Clintons and did his job. Congress allowed both of them to "escape from the jaws of victory" buy not having the character to impeach. It is going to even get more delicious in the general campaign election if Hillary wins the nomination. Her political experience will not be what is questioned, but rather the ethical conduct of both her and William "don't-ask-don't tell" Clinton.

    March 6, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Amy in Iowa

    Kinda like the "Right Wing Conspiracy?" Voters want a candidate they can trust.

    March 6, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. TO

    Ken Starr or not, the question regarding her tax return is valid. By the same token, Obama doen't have any excuse for his NAFTA-gate either.

    March 6, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. owl


    March 6, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. An Army Veteran

    Is this a joke???The Clinton campaign just won't stop. Desperation isugly. I guess they realized that Tuesday wasn't such a big win after all (only net 4 delegates). Clinton has to drop out like Richardson says, because its the only way to save the party for the General Election. Polls show Obama would beat Grandpa Munster by a larger % than Hillary, so why don't we unite behind the clear future nominee? Obama in 08!!!

    Obama in 08!

    March 6, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Playing Games with Uneducated Voters

    Sen Clinton said she would release her 2005, 2006, and 2007 tax returns by March 5. She does not, and yet calls someone else names? Lack of honesty, Integrity, and Morals.
    Oops, sorry, I forgot, she is a Clinton.

    March 6, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Princeton J

    The Clinton camp continues is undignified tradition playing the victim.

    Sure, preemptively accuse your opponents of the dastardly deeds you yourself have committed and will commit again. Decry the media "bias" against your unscrupulously underhanded tactics. Take credit for the accomplishments of the Clinton administration while reacting furiously to any blame for the failures.

    You can't have it both ways. History will prove you to be the worst sort of hypocrite and narcissist.

    March 6, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Grif

    Sour, Obama. His face on TV said it all. Bitter he was after losing in

    Texas and Ohio. I am!!!!!! Day's Obama....

    The choice for Uncle Sam... Not going to happen. Mr.

    March 6, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. mk

    THis from a campaign that compared Obama to BUSH????????

    March 6, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Politra

    . She has polluted the air for her benefit. It seemed to me that she has forgot her main identity- she is a democrat. The way she started and continued undermine and defame another democrat – ideologically its not an honest & responsible approach as a party-person. This type of sub standard politics we find in third world countries where democracy is still getting its shape. Person who , for her win, can ignore party interest how we can expect that she will be a responsible & honest president of a country ?

    Hillary, now, you have to suffer with the pollution.

    March 6, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Brian

    I guess you could say Obama is like Ken Starr if you want. Both asked the Clinton's questions about their honesty that they cannot/could not answer. Whether it's tax forms or White Water forms they double take and attack. I really though 8 years of Clinton and 8 years of Bush would wake this country up!!

    March 6, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. Ben

    Heard about the rumors that Bill Clinton just anothe affair with a rich Lady from Canada???
    Oh Oh

    March 6, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. brandon

    If Obama is Ken Starr then she is Karl Rove.

    March 6, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. Lamps

    Music to my ears..

    March 6, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    This is an unfair comparison–Obama could never compete against his scholarly leadership, tenacious pursuit of justice, and dedicated public service to the nation. Hell, he's only been on the scene for a few years–and that was as a political hack!!

    Unfair–Ken Starr is great American. The jury is still out on Obama!

    March 6, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. D

    Ken Starr...obama???/RU crazy
    Clinton... U as a democrat have hurt me (another Democrat) are dirty and you do not deserve to be the President

    March 6, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. ray

    what about Rezko and Obama's cheap house deal?

    this is just getting ridiculous! I don't see how her taxes have anything to do with the campaign.

    March 6, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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