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. canadian observer

    Public opinion is powerless to the spin that CNN and other media put on every nuance of this democratic race. You make your headlines and define the news and flip flop between who your darling is for the moment. It's really getting tiresome and disheartening. Show some integrity.

    March 6, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. WW for Obama

    Hillary needs to be very careful about bringing up Ken Star. She has so much garbage buried and she should kiss Obama for not bringing any of it up. I wish he would press her a little on her honesty but he is too ethical and moral to do that. She is lucky now, but the Republicans won't be nearly as kind to her.
    No more Clinton Bush Clinton. We need new blood and Clinton is the same as Bush. She just wears a different kind of pants.

    March 6, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Paul, California

    Where are tax returns, Hillary?
    Where are your medical records, Obama?

    March 6, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Tansparency.

    So I guess the Obama camp felt it was being transparent when they did the back door into Canada........then attempted to mislead the American voters.........then finally admitted.

    I guess it was the finally admitting to it that was considered transparent. Same old politics....just by a different name!

    Obama is no more transparent than the chair we are all sitting on....get real...his campaign is just full of alot of twists.....nothing more than that!

    March 6, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Houston Texas

    Ken Starr. Now I remember why no Clinton should be allowed back into the White House. Scandal after scandal after scandal.

    March 6, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. Terry

    Does the Clinton campaign think "they can throw the kitchen sink" at the Obama campaign and not expect the same treatment? The Clinton's started going "negative" and now they're getting mad. The Ken Starr comparison is is just a "smoke screen" to divert the voters from the Clinton's many, many skeletons in their closet. By the way, why hasn't updated their readers on the Peter Paul vs. The Clinton's fraud case?

    March 6, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. doug

    OH happy days, Obama picks up another super delegate today. The attacks continue, 68 convention was a picnic compared to what the 08 convention will look like. Wonder what will be left of the Democratic party for the next 20 years if so many become disenfranchised.

    March 6, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. Oh Really

    Further deteriorating the party. Thanks a lot. This means McCain wins.

    March 6, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. for Hillary

    When Obama compare Hillary to someone, you never give for him an article about that. When Hillary fight back you make it a big story. CNN, look at yourself, What are you doing? You dig Clinton and raise Obama. You make me sick and sick. Who are paying you to do that? Obama is not kind of rich to pay for you. Who play negative. It s' you and Obama. You will be paid for all the thing you ve' done. You will.

    March 6, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. john abbott

    it ain,t april 15th yet.

    March 6, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Debby

    Obama the new change in politics. YEAH RIGHT.

    March 6, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. Helga, St. Louis, MO

    I cannot believe there is even a discussion going on about more of Limbaugh's dribble. How is he even relevant to anyone or anything other than those that buy into fear uncertainty and doubt?

    March 6, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. Pat

    If there is nothing to hide, ya-da ya-da ya-da, then by all means release the tax returns soonest. Otherwise it invites negative speculation. Likening the simple call to release tax returns (I thought all candidates do that to support their presidential bid?) to Ken-Star is really side-tracking the issue.

    March 6, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |

    Her CPA's are reviewing it. It's not like Bill hunches over a desktop in some home office using turbo tax. He has to take is time. Releasing any concrete numbers would be reckless until they are completely ready.

    March 6, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. Debra Austin, Texas

    Clintonians, every candidate releases their tax returns so that the voters can see how they make their money (since they will be controlling to a large extent how we will be spending ours). Hillary Clinton blasted her Senate opponent for not releasing his tax returns but now it is comparable to Ken Starr for Obama to bring this issue up?

    Clearly, Clinton had a taste of victory Tuesday and she's pretty cocky but she isn't going to be able to dine on winning. With that great win in Texas, she will lose 5-9 delegates from Texas to Obama. Good job HONEY!

    March 6, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. Matt

    Answer to Tax Returns? Get the quote right!! One the FORMER foreign advisor said that he hasn't had a red phone moment. HOWEVER, neither Hillary or John have had a red call moment either. Remember, when Hillary's advisors were asked the same question, they couldn't think of ONE situation that was red phone for her. What Barack's advisor said was the Barack had the judgement to pick up the phone, Hillary (voting for the Iraq War and Iran as a terrorist) did not.

    March 6, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Jean

    How would all you folks like to release your tax returns? I can't see where the tax returns are anybodys business but the IRS.

    March 6, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. brenda

    it was sad to hear obama say after his loss in ohio, texas and rhode island, the it basically didnt matter because he was still ahead in delegate votes. if i were from any one of those states i would have been insulted. i would have felt like he didnt care about me at all but only cared that i could cast a vote. yes it was obvious that he was angry but he should have expected this to happen. why? because hillary has been in the political arena, in one way or another, for over 35 years and so she knows how to play the game. as far as her being a fighter, I WANT AND NEED a fighter to be my president. i dont want someone in the white house who may be afraid to raise their voice and offend. that job is probable left to michelle.

    March 6, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. April Garlow

    No better way for Obama to take the Resko heat off of him, than to attack Hillary. If there was dirt to be found the Republicans would have found it by now. By God, they spent 8 years looking for it. Obama hasn't seen scrutiny yet.,and already the double dealing NAFTA/CANADA and corruption of Resko have surfaced. Can't wait to see the rest of his character I think squeeky clean, just isn't so.. Don't judge him on the color of his skin, but the content of his Character. Martin Luther King.

    March 6, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  20. mjc

    Obama is such a phony empty suit. wah wah im feeling the heat now, better make petty attacks on the clintons because i'm a wuss who can't stand up to them or the media, let alone the GOP.

    goodbye obama. the bubble has burst. your call for change? we call your bluff.


    March 6, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. Mike



    FALL HARD FOR THE SAME (Clinton's)!!!

    March 6, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. Jeff M.

    As Bush has destroyed the GOP so will Hillary, in turn, decimate the Democratic party. If she is nominated, the Dems can kiss independents and moderate repubs as well as the election goodbye. There is only one other more polarizing figure today in politics and that is George W.

    March 6, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  23. Rachel

    Since when do we consider the presidency as an ENTRY-LEVEL POSITION? That is exactly what obama supporters think.


    March 6, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. James

    When are taxes due – April 15, 2008 – Duh!!!!!!

    They have always released prior returns around the April 15th date. Please check your history and facts!

    March 6, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. Len

    What is she hiding? Clinton corruption of course.

    There is no excuse for not haveing released your 2005 and 2006 tax returns.

    So you need more time to finish your 2007 returns, we understand.

    March 6, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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