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. Mariann Pepitone

    I would like to see Obama's tax returns when he was an attorney for Rezko. And he make plenty of money thru him but was some of the payment in CASH? Hillary should not have to show any tax refunds or should anyone else. Tax refunds are personal and should not be shown to the public. If I was Hillary I wouldn't show them at all. And Obama should mind his own business and keep his mind on his campaigning. Apparently he didn't do so weel in the najor states again. That leads me to believe that if Obama wins the nomination those major states will switch to McCain to block Obama from becoming the president of this country. And that would be good news.

    March 6, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Kim, GA

    Yeah, people lives are being destroyed by our current president and CNN wants to talk about Tax records. Everyone in the USA knows Hillary Clinton is for sale to the higher bidder. Lets move on to the real topics.

    March 6, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. nikki

    Hillary is a liar, if she has 35 years of experience then she should prove it, why doesn't she authorize the release of the WH schedules. Obama has every right to call her on her "experience". Where did she get the 5 million from to "loan" her campaign? For all of the shrillaryites who keep bringing up Rezko, investigate, the witness list came out and Obama isn't on it! By the way why is it so hard to just disclose your tax returns shrillary?...



    March 6, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. Outrageous

    Sure go ahead release them......I mean you BO release all your dealings with Rezko, how about your real state dealings with him that have gone unchallenged?.
    Starr spent over 75 million dollars of our money investigating the Clintons and came up with NADA. NO WRONG DOING. It is time we find someone who will be willing to look into your dealings and that of your wife Mitchell when member of the board at a city hospital in Chicago where her actions led to the firing of 100's of employees (most of them African American). If this is where you want to go, then be prepared to hide from what is coming your way. I feel sorry for your campaing. It is clear that the inspirational words of "change" are turning into "sour" words of accusations and negativity.
    CNN, I hope you do show my comments. It is time you end the honeymoon with this so call "change" presidential candidate

    March 6, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Susan, Seattle

    When Clinton was running against Rep Lazio for the NY Senator seat, she 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 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. Annice-Georgia

    Who cares about their taxes. They have worked hard and invested wise to get whatever they have. I want someone wuth guts that can lead our country. She has GUTS for the job...she has prior experience in all major issues and already knows the in-and-outs of how things should be run. Our position as a super power in the world was much better with a Clinton in office.......Our economy and job market was much better with a Clinton in office.....I say we NEED another Clinton for 8 more years so we can get back on track. She cares about people an that is another plus.

    March 6, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. Mia, Stafford, VA

    Everyone knows that presidential candidates and presidents release their tax returns as well as their health records (to some degree)

    This is not news to the Clintons. It is important where you get your money from, because of the concern of possible influence.

    I think it is interesting that Wolfson would bring up Ken Starr's name, hopefully that will remind many people of what we can expect with a Clinton Administration.

    One of the primary reasons I don't support her is the baggage that she and her husband bring, some undeserved, but a lot of it is baggage they created. We need to move forward, and while I think she is capable I think she won't be as effective because she will be constantly fighting attacks and when fighting attacks it's hard moving forward the American Agenda.

    With that said Senator Obama is capable as well, less baggage and is inspiring people to become involved. We need that whole package!

    Without citizens getting involved, locally, statewide and nationally the American Agenda will never move forward, which is why it is critical to have a leader that engages and inspires the American People to get involved.

    March 6, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Karen

    Hillary will send this country to hell. When is the media going to start reporting on the court case coming up.

    March 6, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. dj

    Come on folks.. bring on the investagation.. WOW you people still have not learned.. The Clintons are good folks.. Yep. Bill messed up in his personnel life. But, for us as Americans. He did right.!!!!.
    You all keep forgetting Hillary is not Bill. And, Like it or not. She will be the next President of our great Nation...
    And, It's about time.
    A man has been running this Nation for eight years now..
    How are you all doing with that? Do you like filling up your cars?
    Have you lost your home yet? Well the year is not up yet... You still have time.. You might.

    McCain's age = retirement.. I mean really.. Most of us Retire by his age.. come on now.. Really..


    March 6, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. enomisa

    The Obama supporters present themselves as well-informed college educated individuals.

    However, one would never know that from the posts. Most comments are inarticulate and many are downright illiterate. You argue from emotion (name calling, insults and denigrating the opinions of others) rather than from reason (a well constructed factual argument). You spew hate instead of displaying vision.

    Ironically, this runs counter to the very positions of the candidate you claim to support. Putting the college education aside for a moment and relying strictly on intelligence and common sense- do you all really believe that this helps Obama in the end, by winning over voters?

    March 6, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. DP

    Trial date to be set in Paul vs. Clinton in October

    March 6, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. Brian

    Hillary, your campaign is so backwards it's amazing that any American in their right mind would vote for you.

    March 6, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. Grif

    You allow the window opened, and then you shut the door!!!!

    March 6, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. John AndrePont

    Obama can dish it out, but he can't take it. Did everyone notice the hard look in his eyes after Hillary won her three primaries on 3/4/08?
    Now that the media is questioning him about some pertinent things, he's getting riled and stepping up his attacks on Hillary. Notice he always refers to her as "the Clintons" and not usually as Hillary or Mrs. Clinton?

    He is an eloquent phoney and the Republicans will annihilate him.

    March 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  15. Kate

    So her campaign compares his question to Ken Starr? who are they kidding they started punching and now start to whine when they are hit back. Maybe she will cry next.

    March 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. PulSamsara

    Let the American PEOPLE see your TAX RETURNS Clinton ! What are you afraid of ?

    March 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. Ken

    Obama is now turning to be like any other politician and is reaching for straws. Anything to try and make Hillary look bad. He should stick to the issues and not be concerned with Hillary's tax return. Besides, that is why we have the IRS, if there is something there, let them do their job.

    Obama is a sore loser. He is ALL TALK and no substance.

    Hillary is the better person, the person who has the talent, skills, knowledge and experience to become our next President. Obama should ask to be Hillary's VP, so that he can gain the talent, skills, knowledge and experience to become President AFTER Hillary does her two terms as President.

    March 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  18. Kim, Pasadena, CA

    I would like to see someone ask Senator Clinton what she means by a "time out on trade." This is the height of insubstantial soundbyte, unless she actually means she plans to stop trade - but for how long, days, weeks, months, years? And isn't stopping trade a rather dubious policy idea? What doesn't someone ask her what she means.

    I would also like to see someone ask Senator Clinton if she thinks that the actions of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in signing bank deregulation into law helped bring about our current subprime and prime mortgage mess. It seems to me that banking deregulation is directly responsible. I would like to hear Senator Clinton explain why she thinks it is not, or at least, tell us if she disagreed with former President Bill Clinton's decision to go along with banking deregulation.

    These are some of the questions I would like to see asked. I would also like to see those tax returns, the list of donors to the library and Senator Clinton's White House records. Senator Clinton keeps saying she is "vetted," but she hasn't been vetted on any of this. No-one doubts that the Republicans will have a field day with whatever is out there - shouldn't the Democrats get a chance to look at it first?

    March 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. Leslie Somerville, Seattle, Washington

    Hillary, you really need to go after Obama deeply. Know one knows about the real Obama. You are superficial, have been around a long time-but Obama is real creepy, and I mean that with a Capital "C"
    Make him cry like a baby. This nomination process in lame by any standards. You know by now how to make him cry, or at least loose sleep. Go to another level now Hillary and beat him up good.
    Another think-who gives a crap about how much money you and your husband have??? If that is all the Obama camp is waiting for, that is pitiful. I hope you have invested well, but by my guess, since you could only donate 5 million to yourself in time of need, and needed the support of your nation of followers, I would guess your tax returns will be boring.

    March 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. RT

    You would think that Hillary, to make a great case for all her experience in the White House, would release the her white house papers to show the American people exactly what she did and what makes her qualified. To not release these raises big doubts about her claims of the so-called experience. If she doesn't, she is nothing but hot air and an empty pant-suit. Just like she calls Obama..........

    Who is all talk now Hillary?

    March 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  21. Raymond Micheals

    Being qualified to be President includes being able to stay above board on those things that disqualify you from being one. If Hillary has difficulties releasing her tax return then she is not worthy to be President.

    She simply has something to hide and she is ready to MISLEAD from day one.

    March 6, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  22. Annice-Georgia

    If the IRS doesn't have a problem, why should we...CNN stop taking sides.

    March 6, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. Peter

    The Clinton attacking machine is starting. they will do anything . they are not thinking about the unity of the democratic party, I personally vote for McCain than Clinton.

    March 6, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. qlinderman

    To JEAN: It is of major importance and you would know that if you did your history homework (or get your head out). CLINTONS are CORRUPT! When they were ion office there was nothing but SCANDAL! We as Americans have every right to question their integrity given their past ! And I am not talking about the affairs Bill had or the affairs Hillary hadhere ( yes, she had affairs as well, do your homework!) I am talking about REAL CORRUPTION that took place while they had the White House last time!

    March 6, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. Ronald, American living abroad

    All these poor people deceived by Hillary's lies are missing the point by claiming "I wouldn't release my income tax return!" Beyond the emotionalism, if you applying for the job of President of the United States, Commander in Chief then you would absolutely release those tax returns unless you had something to hide. Even Hillary and her political support in Ohio demanded that their election opponents in previous races release their returns. The real question is this: if Hillary has nothing to hide, then why doesn't she release her 2006 (not 2007 for those simpletons who keep insisting that they aren't due until April 15) tax returns? Could it be that the return's release would have a material impact on the Clinton's California law suit?

    Why is CNN so slow at updating all the SuperDelegate endorsements for Obama over the past couple of Days? What about the incredible $55 million Obama raised last month? What is CNN trying to hide?

    March 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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