(CNN) - Barack Obama’s chief strategist said Tuesday that a comment by one of Hillary Clinton’s top fundraisers that Barack Obama would not be a major presidential contender if he were not black – coupled with Clinton’s “own inexplicable unwillingness" to deny that he was a Muslim during a recent interview – indicated “an insidious pattern that needs to be addressed."
David Axelrod called on the New York senator to drop former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro from her finance committee. "When you wink and nod at offensive statements you're really sending a signal to your supporters that anything goes," said Axelrod.
Ferraro, the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee in 1984, told the (Torrance, California) Daily Breeze that "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
Ferraro said the New York senator had suffered because the press "has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign."
"I was reading an article that said young Republicans are out there campaigning for Obama because they believe he's going to be able to put an end to partisanship,” she added. “Dear God! Anyone that has worked in the Congress knows that for over 200 years this country has had partisanship – that's the way our country is."
(Update at 2:15 with Obama campaign comments, context)
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand