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. clare

    who is looking desperate now, mr hope for change. I knew it, just give him a little more time and his true colors will finally show.

    From the very beginning obama is the one that was negative and divisive by villanizing Hillary. He thinks he can hide under the protection of the media and the fact that he may not have "bad political history," but that is just because he hasn't done anything so far.

    Obama, this is a race for the President of the US. We are not electing the next church leader. Go preach somewhere else and let the adults take care of our beloved country.

    March 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Nins

    What about Obama's sweet real estate dea in buying his mansion.
    What about the previous owners. Can they come back and said that they were cheated. I hope more is disclosed about that "sweet deal"

    March 6, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Lucy

    Oh what a short memory voting Americans are showing by voting you remember all the scandals during the Clinton first run in the White House...White Water, travel department, failed health insurance initiative. Clinton's are notorious for not wanting to give up their financial information...where did the $5M come from? Other candidates have not had a problem giving up their financial information. Do you remember the movie and book Primary Colors...the book by one of their former Secret Service agents....??!!

    If we truly expect change in Washington to get things done for the average American citizen, electing John McCain or Hillary Clinton who have lived most of their life in Washington, is not it. They "talk" about Obama's inexperience....he has been in Washington long enough to know it's broken and calling on our American citizens to make a bold vote for new direction!

    Michigan/Florida: all candidates...and govenors...knew the rules and consequences...stay tough Howard Dean with your no changes mid-stream...spending money that especially Michigan cannot a symptom of everything wrong with the current system. It's another Clinton machine tactic and/or manipulation which again points out the difference in characters between those that abide by the rules and those that do not.

    A vote for true change in Washington and the United States world relationships is a vote for Obama 08.

    March 6, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |

    To DC Obama is getting desperate now that the people want to see her tax returns. Her people want to know too!!!


    March 6, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. serah

    Remember no one is clean in this world we all at some point have done things that we only want to keep to ourselves. we do not even wish to share with those we are in love with even though we love them to death. Obama or Clinton have their portion, what voters should look for is ability to do the job which as many employers always highlight....."teamwork" if you are unable to work with others how will you perform your task satisfactorily?

    After Clinton and Obama tear each other up what will the democratic party be like after August 2008? Are they not aware that EVEN JOHN MACCAIN IS MAKING HISTORY TO BE THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE US AT AGE 72 WHEN HE GETS TO THE OFFICE? OR DO THEY THINK HE IS NOT SERIOUS ABOUT MAKING THAT HISTORY?

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

    Hillary will do anything to win.

    Btw, all you Latinos rooting for Hillary:
    Wait what Bill and Hillary have to say if there ever will be a viable Latino candidate ...

    Check with your African-American friends.
    The African-American community now knows that all this "first black president" talk was just a mirage.

    Hillary and Bill will play you the way they played the African-American superdelegates on her side who now look stupid supporting her sleaze campaign.

    Go Obama 2008 !

    March 6, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. J from PA

    People...People... before you uneducated folks get all in a tizzy about releasing tax returns since its early in the tax season...... remember we are talking about tax returns prior to 2007.

    Geez, you would think some people would educate themselves BEFORE they post here.....

    March 6, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. henrie alabama


    March 6, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. LostFigs

    Hillary has been preparing to run for President for the past two years; trust me, there is nothing in her tax returns which would compromise her chances. What I want to know is why Obama is so intent on deflecting questions about NAFTA and Rezko? He is very well known for responding quickly but these questions have been out there for over a week. Is he just hoping they'll go away?

    March 6, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. taruna

    I just saw someone say that 'Obama thats old tactics..".ha ha, real double standards for Mrs. Clinton i guess..and then what about all the anynumber of scandals that the Clintons have been involved..well i guess the moment she opens her mouth the republicans are just going to have a nice time ..beginning with the tax returns..

    March 6, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. t

    I just don't get how people can vote for a a person, especially the possible first woman president of the US, who has achieve nothing on her own. How did she get elected to senate? Illegally funded campaign fundraisers (clinton v paul), carpetbagging, over 70% of her fund from outside the state from people who owed favors to her husband. I would have sooo much respect for her if she got to this point in her life without all the help from her president husband. I mean she claims to be a feminist that doesnt conform to the male dominated world, but look at how she got to where she is today. And come on comparing Obama to Ken Starr? They dragged that man through the dirt with a more than likely unlawful smear campaign of their own. this family is despicable and if we as a country want to do better for ourselves and the world we will keep these people and the cronies as far away from the White House as possible. M

    March 6, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. P King

    I think the Clinton Camp should clean up their act. Obama has displayed integrity throughout this campaign and shows to me that he is the better candidate he does not lower himself to mud slinging as the Clinton camp has. I will vote McCain before I vote for mud slinging woman that has no integrity!!!!!!!!!!
    FYI I will be speaking at the DAR meeting this weekend and will most definitely give my opinion of the underhanded ways of Hillary Clinton she apparently will do anything to win the election and I do not want a person of this low of character in the White House.!!!!!!!

    March 6, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. LNAB

    The candidates are not required to release their tax returns until the general election. Period.

    I do believe that after years and years of scrutiny, the hyperbole from Obama supporters about Clinton's tax returns is much louder than the whimper that will occur when the actual deed is done. But it certainly gives Obama "something" to talk about.

    Give me a break people, why isn't Obama talking about "his superior experience" and "exactly HOW he can be the agent of change" in this country? He keeps claiming these things but has yet to point to any meaningful action where he has actually accomplished it.

    March 6, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. wild schield

    130,000,000 million dollar brokers fee for that KAZHKSTAN uranium mining contract with a CANADIAN ming corp-BILL CLINTON.
    who just happened to be in canada the day before that mystery nafta memo surfaced leaked by PRIME MINISTER HARPERS top aid .
    if it looks like a rat smells like a rat acts like a rat BACKDOOR BILL CLINTON IS A RAT!!

    March 6, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. California Independent

    To Dee.... she doesn't want your vote. No one wants your vote. You are obnoxious.

    March 6, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Donna in ID

    She has already said that after 4/15 she will release her tax returns. What is he doing trying to just pick a fight? He can't wait a month? Looks like panic time to me.
    I for one would love to see a list of his campaign donors. With some of the contacts he has in IL and family that are not citizens and live out of the country lets take a look at his list. See if any forgien money is coming into his bank acct.

    March 6, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. S. Shay

    If Obama is like Ken Starr and Ken Starr is a bad person why would she suggest Obama as her running mate?

    I swear it's true that she plays upon the unintelligent. Only a dummie would not see through this sorry excuse for a woman.

    If Ohio is the only state that matters what about the other states that voted for you? They don't count? Furthermore, if the majority of Americans voted for Obama it means the majority of people have not chosen you! Go home!!

    March 6, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. David in Brazil

    Congress (Republicans) spent $90 million during the '90's trying to find something, anything the Clintons did that was illegal with no results. It seems that after all the years and dollars, there are some who still WANT to believe them guilty of all they were accused of. I wonder if these people can remember that things were pretty darn good for most Americans during the '90's.

    March 6, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Karen

    Did Obama just bring up transparency? Ha! Ha! Ha! This coming from the guy who refused to answer questions and ran from reporters.

    March 6, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. Cathy

    Obama supporters, beware, your candidate is far from squeaky clean. He is not totally transparent. Wait until all of the skeletons start coming out of his closet. It's not going to be pretty. Check out youtube, there is a lot of dirt circulating about Mr. Clean.

    March 6, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. Boomer

    Democrats slinging mud at Democrats, both in the presidential nomination and on this site! What could make the Republicans happier?? There's not much policy difference between Hillary and Barack. Everybody should make it clear to both campaigns that they are sick of mudslinging. The candidates should present their policies and show their styles and then the people should decide using both rationality and intuition. What is happenig now is pure power struggle and doesn't look good on either candidate. Enough already!!!

    March 6, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. Rich in Seattle


    March 6, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. Denis van Dam

    If everything is clear and transparent, what's the problem of releasing the tax-returns? Or is there something we shouldn't know or see?

    March 6, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. Kerry

    If you search for "Tony Rezko", you will find a picture of him standing in between ... Bill and Hillary Clinton in front of blue drapes and US flags.

    That is why Hillary is afraid to attack Obama about Rezko.

    In fact, 12 of the Clinton's biggest donnors are in jail and more are joinning them – Norman Hsu and Tony Rezko.

    March 6, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. AJ, IL

    What is Hillary hiding?!?! No joint tax returns! No Hillary White House papers! It's been over a year and Hillary still hasn't released her tax returns from 2003 to 2006? What's the hold up?! What have the Clintons been involved in since 2002 that they are hiding now?

    Witness list for the Rezko trial does not even list Obama! But the Peter Paul trial coming in October 2008 will have Hillary and Bill on the list!

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