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. Patricia

    Please! What does this have to do with economic and national security. Can we get back on track here? And where does all of Barack Obama's campaign money come from? I bet we would be surprised if we knew who some of his doners were. All of his biography and people connections still remain a mystery. The release of tax forms seem minor compared to real issues like job security, healthcare, and realizing that we still live in a dangerous world and have to remain prepared. I've voted democrat for years, but I am taking a look at who will keep the country secure and that includes John McCain. Anyone who thinks that national security should be put on a back burner needs to get their heads out of the Obama clouds.

    March 6, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Kate

    I've never voted on the democratic ticket before and planned to this time because of "change." This doesn't seem like change.

    March 6, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. Donna

    Obama has got to go!! America let's get rid of this pompous, sore loser. Everytime he loses, or whenever Hillary gets applause, his face turns sour. He is a narcissist and megalomaniac...power hungry, ambition driven, and in need of constant praise and attention. For the sake of our country, I just hope he disappears. GO HILLARY!!

    March 6, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. Mike from Calgary

    The Clinton Campaign shouldn't be casting stones. Hillary's attack on Obama for talking out of both side of his mouth should be directed at herself and her own campaign after disclosures in Ottawa Canada that in fact it was Clinton's own aides who indicated to Ottawa that her promises to renegotiate or cancel NAFTA were not to be taken seriously by Canada. I'm sure that the US and particulary OHIO want to sell to to Canada and to receive secure energy sources from Canada. Clinton has again displayed what a HYPOCRITE she is and how silly and small minded she really can be. Obama was right when he said the silly season was here. Congratulations to Hillary and Ohio for doing their best to ensure the that the best man for the job is elected prseident.
    Mike (GO John McCain GO!)

    March 6, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. DTMV

    Please understand that he is only holding her to the standard that all of the other candidates have already met.

    March 6, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. Ty

    I am writing this comment to appeal to all Barack supporters.

    Clinton camp has been deploying all dirty tactics thus far. The tactic has included an attempt to overthrow voters' well and to seat delegates from two non-contest states. By the rule of DMC, these delegates will not be counted and should not be counted. It will only be fair to other states that follow the rule in the process.

    I call for Barack supporters to be unified against this attempt. Once we are organized, we can then voice our opposition to the DMC. If the super-delegates in DMC do not take into account of our opposition, the organization can then boycotting the participation of general election (or abandon the DMC altogether).

    CNN should post this message.

    March 6, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Dennis

    I find it interesting that Clinton supporters have no problem with Hillary "drawing distinctions" between herself and Obama through innuendo and negative ads, yet when the table is turned, they accuse of him being negative and a fraud.

    March 6, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Julie

    I am not Hillary Hater, but I have to ask...are her campaign people the ones drinking hallucinagenic Kool-aid. First we have her saying she and John McCain are qualified but Obama is not...good plan. McCain throw that one back at her and trump her on it...

    Now we have her campaign comparing her to Ken Starr, a man who actually succeeded in having Clinton impeached by the house and led to his disbarment from practicing law or holding a Supreme Court position–for what–lying.

    Maybe its just me, but I wouldn't throw out the name of the man who proved my husband was a liar to defend myself. Guess they are all dizzy from success.

    March 6, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. Simon Buckland

    Does anyone in the Democratic party have the wit to stop this disaster before it consumes the party's chances in the General Election?

    What did so many people always say about Hillary Clinton? That, despite her considerable abilities, she's divisive, hypocritical and evasive – well she's proved it yet again.

    Anyone remember "It's an honor to be sitting here with Barack Obama"? Would that be the same Barack Obama "whose entire campaign is based on a speech he gave in 2002", and whom she compared unfavorably with John McCain?

    Praetorian says "the jury is still out on Obama" – well, they've returned an unanimous verdict on HDC. Guilty as charged.

    March 6, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. Trev

    Kab: I am sorry that you feel that Obama supporters are better than Obama supporters. What a great way to promote the candidate of unity 🙂

    Obama has transparency problems of his own (NAFTA). The Ken Starr analogy is apt. He spent millions of taxpayers money to dig up a little dirt, then lost. Obama is spending millions to dig up a little dirt and can only come up with the fact that Hillary has not done something that I have not done this year (filed all my taxes).

    By the way Kab, calling Hillary supporters losers... Not a good idea. The candidates are fair game. Personal attacks against supporters is going to make it really hard for either candidate to win in the general.

    March 6, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  11. Release your returns/White House papers

    It is standard for Presidential candidates to release their tax returns to make sure that there are no illegal contributions made under the table. This is the highest office in the nation, and integrity in our Presidency is critical.

    Obama has released his returns, so why doesn't she? Unless there is something seedy that she is hiding!!!

    March 6, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. ariel

    I am so tired of both Obama and Clinton supporters saying they will vote for Mc Cain if their candidate isn't nominated.
    A vote for Mc Cain is a personal stamp of approval for continuing the war.A vote for Mc Cain ensures there will be more empty chairs around the dining room table at Thanksgiving.
    Snap out of it.

    March 6, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Larry

    Are you telling me that a candidate for the most powerful position in our country can't get her taxes done any sooner? And the wife of the former president can't get her White House schedule released, now? By not pressing those two issues harder, the news media is allowing her to cover some tracks she does not want to be discovered by the public.

    March 6, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Long-term Memory

    The right to keep your tax returns private until full disclosure is required by law–as in the case of a presidential party nominee–is a civil right. Continuing to badger Hillary Clinton on this is a bad move on Obama's part. If there was anything in them worth knowing (that is, illegal), the IRS would have already investigated it. Thus, the only thing that can be gained by this is information that can be spun by the candidate against her. How many posting here, for instance, have any idea about the intricate (and fabulously complex) details of tax law?

    I, for one, don't care how much money the Clintons have. Barack Obama and his wife have made almost 2 million dollars in the last two years. That's hardly small potatoes. In terms of transparency, he might try releasing his 2005 and 2006 earmark requests. John McCain will certainly win in the earmark debate.

    I can only conclude that if this doesn't get posted, then the CNN writers will be supporters of McCain because Obama will lose the transparency argument against McCain and not to let Obama's campaign know that this is fear-baiting (in the form of "what's she hiding?") is not to let them know just how poor in judgment this badgering is. (Of course, you could just close the comments to this post as well.)

    March 6, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  15. voter

    Hillairy is mistaken. Obama is not sidestepping his ability to lead by requesting her to release her taxes and documents as first lady. If she is saying she has the ability tand experience o lead, than prove it rather than talking about it. I want to see in the documents what she did in the white house that makes her better than Obama to lead. Actions do speak louder than words. If she expects Obama to prove his ability to lead, than in the same token she should do the same. All of the canidadates released their taxes so why can't she be placed in the same standards as everyone else. Release the documents about your taxes and time as first lady and let the American people decide if you have the experience to lead which she does not because she has no execuetive experience in creating policy. There is no difference between she and Obama in experience other than her word. I thought she said words don't matter, but action. If she has nothing to hide, release the documents.

    March 6, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. Brian from Los Angeles

    Go Hillary. We need somebody battle tested. Hire Obama as your speech writer. One day he will learn that experience and solutions are what really matters. His words seem to only work well amongst the naive youth, who want a poet in the White House. Wait till they see the reality of less money in their wallets, due to his dreams and hope speeches that result into the reality of higher taxes.

    March 6, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Deb

    OB thugs you're going to be eating the egg on your face when her returns show nothing unusual.

    This is a very weak attempt to keep folks from wondering what YOU are hiding!

    We've only been exposed to a few of your incredible lies.

    Keep running for office and we'll discover the really big ones that will end your Political Activities for good!

    You are not leader material at all.

    March 6, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. mamady sylla (london)

    If ordinary american refuse to release his/her tax return, that person may expose herself to some penalties. politiciens should not give wrong signals.
    I strongly believe, if hillary was winning as Obama does actually(150 pledged); Obama would have given way for the interest of the party.
    Only Obama gets the best chance to reclaim the the power to the republicans in this election 2008.
    Superdelegates know it, they can vote only one way if they don' t want to see the democratic party explodes into pieces.

    March 6, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. MNDem

    For the record, it is the Clintons who brought back the name Ken Starr. I'm not really sure they want to do that!! Even though Ken Starr went too far, Bill's misdeeds in the White House were definitely a black eye for America.

    Now, that being said, why isn't the media asking the Clinton's about their upcoming fraud and corruption trial involving Peter Paul?

    Do you Hillary supporters think it is some made up story? Well, the California Supreme Court doesn't seem to think so!

    March 6, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Ebony

    Hilary Clinton needs to be put on blast about her fundraising tactics with Peter Paul. She voted for the war, the new bankruptcy law,the no child left behnd act, her present votes as a senator, her lies abput the 200,000 jobs that she was supposed to bring to New York,and her past taxes, and fundraising tactics.There is so much dirt on the Clinton's that it would take many years to discuss.Obama should take her down because she wants to throw the kitchen sink at him so he should throw the whole kitchen at her.She is so crazy and dirty. Does she really want to get into experience?She has 12 years as first lady in the Arkansas Governor house and 8 years in the white house.She is a second term junior senator in New York. Obama has 8 years in the senate, 15+ years combined as a civil rights attorney ,college professor that teaches national security,3 years as a first term senator from Illinois.If Hilary is so strong why did she vote so badly for major issues?I don't see 35 years experience that she is claiming.I did not know that you could claim your first lady status as experience.I gues it is a double standard when you are a Clinton. I am for a woman winning but not this woman with so much dirty laundrybehind her and her husband.I am for Obama! If he is not the democratic nominee than my vote goes to McCain.

    March 6, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. tito

    Clintons playing victims again after all mud throwing at Obama? Obama shall dig out all the skeletons from Billary's closet and throw it her! If Obama can be compared to Ken Starr then Hillary is definitely related to Adolf Hitler!

    March 6, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. California Independent

    Obama really doesn't want to go this route. What happened to hope and change and a 'new' way of doing politics. Poor Obama, doesn't have a clue.....

    March 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. Brandon

    The arguement that Clinton should get the nomination because she has won the big states is very very weak. She did win these big Democratic states, but only by small margins. Thats why Obama is leading because he blew her out in 14 states. Does anyone think that Obama will not win Cali and NY over McCain but Clinton will? Thats just not logical.

    The fact is Clinton won big states because of name recognition. When the voters get to know Obama, he wins. Thats why he does well in small states. By November Obama will have the name recognition to defeat McCain by and landslide. The non-democrat states he wins will become a part of a new and lasting democratic majority. Look to the future, not the past!

    March 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Kyle

    Barak Obama’s Accomplishments:

    0. During his years in the senate, pressed the wrong voting button 6 times....thank God he doesn't have the nuke button next to him.

    1. Bought a cheap house with free garden, saved 300k.

    2. Successfully delayed 15 parking tickets for over 20 years (think how
    much gain he could have made investing it)

    3. Invented a way to vote on tough issues without jeopardize his political future (voting present, he should patent it)

    4. Secured most campaign funding among all candidates from big insurance co.

    5. Successfully (for a while) fooled US voters on NAFTA rhetoric.

    6. Made people faint in rallies. (repeatable results)

    7. Made his wife feel proud of US for the first time.

    8. Successfully held on to the subcommittee chair position for over a year without holding any hearings.

    March 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. CNN never posts my posts

    Thank you Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island. You guys gave me the best birthday present I could have possibly received!!! You really made my day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    Hillary '08

    March 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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