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. Craig, Ohio

    With a level head and a clear mind, Obama stated in a commerical in Ohio that, "Everyday he is reminded that he is not perfect." I don't see Obama playing on sympathy and his life has been far more difficulty than Hillary could ever imagine. Leaders don't whine, cry and play the victim on national TV! Comparing Obama to Ken Star is going to come back and haunt Hillary.

    Obama is the face of the Democratic Party and a good example of Democracy. Hillary Clinton is not a Leader and if you believe so you are sadly mistaken.

    March 6, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    This is a fore-taste of what a Hillary Clinton presidency will be like, bringing up past grievances and then settling old scores.

    Might be entertaining though.

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

    Bayou Joe,
    moron, you dont get a turn at president, you become president because the people of the country call on you. Maybe I should get in line now, I'm 21, by the time I'm 60 will it be my turn? I mean I'll probably have more leadership experience than she does by then.

    March 6, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. K Mathis

    HIllary is like a ptibull and she will fight for Americans with the same ptbull mentality when she becomes president. Obama doesn't have near the fight Hillary has. Obama might be able to smooze the Americans by his motivation but he isn't going to be able to smooze the ones in that can help make the changes.

    March 6, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Shannon Shiflett

    hillary clinton is a republican!


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

    She goes again!!!!!!!!!!!hahahahihihihihohohohooh

    March 6, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. JJ in NY

    Hillary makes me sick ! After her shrill scare tactics in Texas... what's next ? Now it's Ken Starr ? Next Hillary will be bringing out the Newt card . How pathetic she is .

    March 6, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. AR

    I'm so tired of this – this woman will say anything, do anything it takes. It's way beyond disingenuous by now, it's improv. I wanted to remain positive about the prospect of voting for HRC – voted for her husband twice, but enough is enough – Hillary never, Obama 08, 12.

    March 6, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. Lorna

    Any issues that the Clintons had have for the most part been beaten to death. Obama needs to be careful, nobody has really gotten the full aroma of his dirt yet! He may with this approach shoot himself in the foot!

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

    Thanks for Making Mccain out next Commander in cheif Hillary!

    March 6, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  11. miss k


    There is a FRAUD case pending against Bill Clinton (and Hillary may be added back into the case as a defendant and possibly charged with perjury)! Paul v. Clinton could go to trial right around the time of the general election!!!

    March 6, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. Annamica, OH

    Clinton's camp has clearly said they will release the returns before the Penn primary. Obama, is this all you've got? LOL

    March 6, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. Terry

    All I can say is WOW...the slime that oozes from Clinton's campaign is unbelievable. Still waiting on the reporting of the Paul vs Clinton lawsuit...the fact that it has not been reported on is interesting to say the least.

    March 6, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. Phil, Memphis

    As sstated, clinton has been making financial disclosures for the last 20 years. She is also required, as a senator, to disclose all income sources, including her spouses income sources. All of that info is readily available out on the internet. But if you want more, feel free to set up a web site and post YOUR tax returns on it. Feel comfortable doing that in this day and age?

    This is all a smoke screen by Obama, who seems to have nothing else he can talk about. The Clintons have had more scrutiny of their financial records than any couple in the history of our country. I am quickly losing respect for the Obama camp, as they obviously think the American people are idiots who don't realize this. Give me a freaking break.

    March 6, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. Jonny

    Hey everybody...look! The Dem. Party is torpedoing themselves...What a shock!!

    Every freaking time you people find a way to screw yourselves over. You want Hillary? Have her, because I guarantee you all it means is a a free ride for McCain.

    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. That should be the new slogan for the Democrats.

    March 6, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. concerned

    I don't understand why people state that it is Hillary's turn to be president. Since when has the presidency been an entitlement. The best candidate should be the president. It is this type of comments of entitlement that makes people disinterested in politics. Let the voice of the people decide and not the belief of entitlement. She is no more qualified than Obama. She still has to prove she has experience other than longevity in Washington. She has done nothing as a senator in NY and missed important votes in national security such as FISA. Her judgement is poor. You are right Hillairy actions is more important to words. I have yet to see action from you.

    March 6, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. look byond

    My concern is.
    Hilary uses negative campaign against Obama, and gets away with it, but when Obama reveals the real truth about Hilary, then there comes the attack against Obama.

    Is she having a Royal treatment from CNN.

    I used to be a HILARY supporter, but seeing her other vendictive side.
    Thank God there is some one like Obama running for the presidency.

    March 6, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. paul

    As a Senator their tax returns are veted, this is all polical gamesmenship. Obama equates his street organizing and legal work as experience to be commander in chief, get real, that experience isn't the same as decision making made on a world stage.He values his good judgement, judgements are logically the same as those who think have a value. Nevertheless, I guess Obama must think Hillary's experience as first lady was nothing more than arranging tea parties. The fact is she has seen first hand what being president is all about, the process of decision making, the command of the issues, and courage it takes to move in the right direction. Working the hood isn't the same as working the command center. The campaigns are fighting for delegates, and will spin and work whatever message they can to achieve the outcome they want.
    Therefore, Obama isn't doing anything different than another politician running for office.

    March 6, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. annie

    I am not American but I am watching all this why are you guys letting the Replicans tear you apart with Rush you think he is for you, no they just want the weakest link and they are all going to do that because they know they can beat Clinton get me right I like them both and I think this can be your chance but they are playing you at your own game and to them its polictis as usual be smart enough to read them please I am just praying that you realise. God Bless you and I believe you are smart enough remember the whole world is watching.


    March 6, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. RightyTighty

    Ha Ha!!

    March 6, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Kevin M

    It's about time Obama asks voters to look at Hillary's actions (or inactions) and so called 'experience'. Hillary is delaying releasing her tax return and white house papers. Hillary has little foreign policy experience and a scant legislative record. Obama has more legislative experience and has sponsored more meaningful legislation in his brief time in the US Senate than Hillary has. Check the facts. Hillary screams "Shame on you!'" because Obama tells the truth. Hillary equates Obama with Ken Starr because he asks her to deliver on her promises. Is this the kind of politic we want? No!
    Obama 2008!.

    March 6, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Al, Sacramento Ca

    She said she will released her taxes in April, the Clinton's have released their taxes for the last 10 years.

    What's the big deal???

    Obama supporters are starting to get real nasty and that does not seem to reflect Obama's persona.

    March 6, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. Velvet M. Adams

    All of the old republican war machicen is working for Obama now , He is a republican in the suit of a caring democrate, tring to fool us all again. Eight years under Hillary will bring him to the real light of the good side.

    March 6, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Latina from Texas

    why doesn't Hillary show us her 2006 tax returns now??? what is she hiding????

    March 6, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. Adam Orlando Florida

    Obama is making desperate attacks on Clinton.

    HILLARY 2008!!!

    March 6, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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