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. Vig

    Obama is starting to play the game pin the tail on the donkey – but he keeps missing. Obama is a "personality", whereas Hillary is a person.

    March 6, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. Nowlin

    This woman is not acting like she should be president of these United Sates.She doesnot hit the little states, she sends Bill, then tries to attack Obama because she can not fabricate qualifications that are substantial
    so who does she compare herself to?

    March 6, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. David C. In Indianapolis

    Transparency, transparency, transparency!!!!

    Obama '08

    March 6, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Mark

    The Obama=Nafta comments are really starting to get on my nerves. It was BILL CLINTON who signed NAFTA, and HILLARY CLINTON who supported it and wrote in her book about how great it was.

    Kind of the same way Bush made John Kerry out to be a war criminal, even though Kerry had the purple heart, while Bush was AWOL fro the guard. These are Rove tactics at their finest.

    March 6, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. LEN

    If she wins the nomination she will not stand a chance against John Mcain because she will not have the votes to do so. She is DIVISIVE.

    March 6, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Universal Bob

    If asking to see which of the "lobbyists" have been pushing money into Hillary and Bill's pockets is a "Ken Starr",

    then Hillary's tactic of who is on the phone at 3AM fear mongering is a "Dick Cheney".

    March 6, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. kevin from alaska

    The Clintons won't release their money sources because then voters would find out that she's getting her money from the Saudi Royal family. Which would mean, yes, that Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, and Osama Bin Laden all got their money from the same oil-rich tyrants (who, yes, also have a vested interest in a "Democratic" Iraq).

    March 6, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Cindy

    Memories of Ken Starr...

    Memories of scandals and slick sidestepping... cigars and blue dresses... and Bill's impeachment. That's why I don't see Obama sharing the ticket with the Clintons.

    March 6, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  9. GDK

    It looks like Hillary Huckabee is getting traped inside her own dirty game...

    She wanted to go hugly, right?
    She said that Obama wasn't vetted, right?

    Now, let's see who wasn't really vetted...

    P.S.: Now CNN, be my guest and start giving prime time to this story, ok? Oh...and that includes the last days before Pennsylvania...

    March 6, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. HSimon Palm Bay, Florida

    I'm down with Steve, give up the tax returns and shut the hell up.

    March 6, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. PDC

    Hillary is too delusional to be President.

    She has a closet full of tinfoil hats, and skeletons.

    March 6, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. barbara

    Clinton needs to show her tax returns.

    She also needs to hurry up and release the white house papers from her "tour of duty" as first lady.

    A Food Network Star just got fired for padding and exaggerating his resume. I am betting that Hillary should be fired as well!

    I don't believe she negotiated treaties on behalf of the US or stopped ethnic cleansing. I think the only credible thing she did was to give a speech on Women's rights in China

    ahhhhh........ more speeches..... doesn't that sound familiar.

    March 6, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. TC from DE


    March 6, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. Vern

    Why are we acting as if Obama is the first one to call for Clintons tax records? People this is politics...get over yourselves & may the best candidate wins. I have nothing to say negative about either of the two. So many of us are quick to sling mud towards the other. There is a way to stay positive...keep the nastiness from entering your minds!

    March 6, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. Mike, Fredericksburg VA

    So, how will it be before "Her Majesty" wipes away another tear, and chokingly sobs "'s not fair, they're not fighting fair cuz I'm a girl..." I am reminded of PT Barnum's comment "...there's sucker born every minute..." with the rejoiner, "...fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

    March 6, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. anon

    Rather than worry about tax returns, what about senate records?

    How many bills have Obama, Clinton, and McCain authored that became law? I mean primary author, not one of 50.

    How partisan/idepenedent are their voting records?

    March 6, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |

    Hillary listen up it is we the people who want to know what you are hiding. Are you call the people of AMERICA Ken Starr. WERE ARE YOU'RE TAX RETURNS HILLARY !

    March 6, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. MARYANN Oswego IL

    After millions of $$$ spent during that whole Ken Starr investigation nothing negative was found. The Clinton's will release their tax returns as stated. Give it up Obama..we know nothing about you and your wife. Maybe Ken Starr should investigate Tony Resko and that Million dollar home of yours!!!! I was always a Clinton fan,but my husband was on the fence...I can proudly say that we are a united democratic party family...UNITED for Hillary Clinton as our next President!!!! M.A

    March 6, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. What is she hiding?

    She's always sidestepping the issues. The Clintons are dishonest. Always have been. Always will be. Sadly, that is what Americans are looking to elect. What about truth and honesty and being a good person?

    March 6, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. Channell

    You are an absolute fool if you think The Clintons have nothing to hide. There is not a politician alive that does not have skeletons in the closet. The way you people hold Mrs. Clinton on a pedestal makes you wonder. Obama supporters have been accused of being brainwashed and worshipping him its pretty evident the same holds true for Clinton supporters as well.

    She will probably get the nomination ...but most of you are in for a rude awakening once she does.

    March 6, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Prince George

    What are the Clintons hiding? They should release their tax returns immediately for the public to see. They should not wait till April 15th to do so. Is transparency stupid? Their action reminds me of the series of investigations they went through last time around. America does not want the Clintons in the White House.
    Prince George

    March 6, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. Barb Reynolds, US Citizen - Ontario Canada

    Since when does releasing tax forms that all other politician's have done during a campaign equate to Ken Starr tactics. Is she trying to play the victim? How presidential is that?

    March 6, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. LisaMpls

    In answer to Kathy in Michigan and Maisie2008, takes the air out of Peter Paul's claims against the Clintons, proving that the claims are pretty much garbage (not to mention seven years old).

    March 6, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. BigAce man

    He is only now starting to point out the hypocrasy of the Hillary campaign. You can't expect him to sit back an continue to smile while the kitchen sink is being thrown at you.

    Hillary supporters need to get off the "he's showing his true colors" tip because he's responding in like kind to what the Hillary campaign started.

    If you can't stand what you see, move from in front of the mirror!

    March 6, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. LatinoNation

    Maybe Obama should be answering the questions he will not about "Tony" Rezko !!! I think more is to come from this , if there was no more then we would have seen Obamas dealing with it

    March 6, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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