April 7th, 2008
03:40 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton calls on Bush to boycott Olympics

 Clinton is calling on President Bush to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Clinton is calling on President Bush to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton is calling on President Bush to boycott the opening of this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

In a statement released by her campaign Monday, the New York senator pointed to the recent protests in Tibet and the Chinese government’s failure to pressure the government of Sudan to end the violence in Darfur.

“These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China,” said Clinton. “At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing, absent major changes by the Chinese government.”

Last month, Clinton – who has long advocated a tougher approach toward the Chinese government – declined to call for a U.S. boycott of the Olympic Games, but called for greater pressure leading up to the summer event in Beijing.

"I think that what's happening in Tibet is deeply troubling, and this is a pattern of the Chinese government with respect to their treatment of Tibet,” she said at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. “I don't think we should wait until the Olympics to make sure that our views are known."

Barack Obama has said he is torn in his views on the issue.

"I'm of two minds about this,” said the Illinois senator in a CBS interview last week. “On the one hand, I think that what's happened in Tibet, China's support of the Sudanese government in Darfur, is a real problem.”

But, he added: “I'm hesitant to make the Olympics a site of political protest because I think it's partly about bringing the world together."

Last summer, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson – then a Democratic presidential candidate - said the United States should boycott the Olympics entirely if China did not take a more active role in ending the conflict in Darfur.

“We need China,” Richardson said at the June 3 CNN presidential primary debate, “which has enormous leverage over Darfur. If the Chinese don’t want to do this, we say to them, maybe we won’t go to the Olympics.”

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd disagreed with that approach. “I don’t think (boycotting) gets you there. It will delay the kind of influence and support China should support,” Dodd responded.

(Full campaign statement below):

Statement by Hillary Clinton on Olympics

The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for Presidential leadership. These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China. At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing, absent major changes by the Chinese government.

I encourage the Chinese to take advantage of this moment as an opportunity to live up to universal human aspirations of respect for human rights and unity, ideals that the Olympic games have come to represent.

Americans will stand strong in support of freedom of religious and political expression and human rights. Americans will also stand strong and root for the success of American athletes who have worked hard and earned the right to compete in the Olympic Games of 2008.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (484 Responses)
  1. Frank, Dayton, Ohio

    The headline is misleading. Hillary only asks that Bush stay away from the opening ceremony. It seems such a small gesture–too small to make much of an impact at what is supposed to be a non-political way for the world to come together in spite of our differences. Bush (and Clinton) need(s) to find some other way to express disapproval of political stance than a non-political event.

    April 7, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Phillip Tembu

    How does boycotting the Olympics help the situation in Tibet? The Chinese government already knows that the rest of the world is aware of their appalling human rights record. This is an issue that ought to be addressed from a different avenue. Simply boycotting the games is a very immature way of tackling this problem. Hillary Clinton is desperate to get some undecided voted by appealing to their emotional attachment to the country and the people of Tibet. Something i call the propaganda of sentimentalism. If she really is serious about this, he should have said it months ago- and not today after the protesters have done a superb job spurred the biggest wave for her to jump on and surf.
    She should be using her foreign policy expertise to tackle the situation in Zimbabwe for example, where almost two weeks after the presidential election, the results are nowhere to be seen.

    April 7, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. Mary Gardener

    Well, America's human rights record is no screaming hell either.

    Shunning China is no way to convince them to change their ways. It will only alienate them more. Let America have the decency to attend the games as the gracious country it is and work behind the scenes with diplomacy to help bring change to human rights conditions in China.

    You don't get people to change by poking them in they eye.

    April 7, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. abclives

    Yo clinton, you just lost 3 votes from my family!!!!!

    April 7, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. people's voice

    On this issue, Hillary is as wrong as she was with the sniper story!

    April 7, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. dave

    one final thought on HRC call for olympic boycott this summer by USA – – if nothing else, 1. she got a good degree of extensive press coverage and lots of blog posts; 2. whether planned or not, she definitely has obama in a corner where he needs to respond....
    if he says no to boycott, then he can be painted as in cahoots with gross human rights violators in china... but if he goes along with her, he will be pictured as being swept up in the tide..... or 3. he can follow her lead, and join the growing thought in many democratic nations around the world..... ditto for mccain, but for mccain, this is less of an issue to have to deal with ASAP than for obama..... some good strategy on HRC on this one...

    April 7, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. Sean

    For those that think some of us don't read the articles, we do. And we think that boycotting the openings is just as bad as boycotting the entire event. As Lana said, "The opening is all about pagentry and celebration". It is also about the Olympians, not about China. You are hurting the olympians, not China. If you want to punish China, there are more effective ways. If you want to get your point across, hit them where it hurts. Stop importing lead-tainted toys and contaminated medicine. Stop outsourcing manufacturning. China doesn't care about the opinion of the world, and therefore boycotting the opening ceremonies does nothing but punish those who have truly worked hard to get there. This is, after all, their Olympics. Why shouldn't they be able to celebrate in the pagentry and celebration that is the Olympics opening ceremony?

    April 7, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. Tristan, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Once again, inexperience, ignorance and/or blind optimism shows...

    The statement was to boycott the OPENING of the games, not the games itself. And for those who are too blind to see that the modern Olympics have always been used as a political tool, as much as an economic engine that boosts the city/country it's held in.

    The spirit of the games is one thing. The realities of politics and business with regard to it are another. Dreaming of Hope and Change but not addressing the realities of politics is just idiotic.

    April 7, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. Jim

    Obama's position as always is to appease everyone. He said he is torn between our president participating versus non-participation. I am afraid this is exactly what his policy making decision would be. He will be like this until the citizens cry out to take action. He has no backbone and that's not what we want. We want a strong independent minded decision maker. I totally agree with Hillary on this. Tibet has been oppressed so long we have forgotten this little peaceful country. World sporting event always has been used for a political reason. China needs our participation more than anything. Instead of invading a country who is helpless like Iraq, challenge powerhouse like China to do the right thing. This is not political or sporting event. Olympic never brought the countries together as long as I lived. Political pressure and much needed dialog will solve the problem.

    April 7, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. Liz

    Thanks Senator Clinton.
    You are double working. Campaigning and staying up the world. Being a Senator, you still have to do your work at the office and represent your people. It is right that you have ask President Bush to boycott the Olympics (or a portion of them). Thanks for staying up on the affairs of the world as you campaign.

    Go Senator Clinton.

    April 7, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. christine

    I dont think us should mix olympics and politics if they are us teams competing in the olympics i dont think bush should boycott what about our american players how do they fill that their president is boycotting and they are there representing america no hillary is wrong on this one, bush should go, these are different events olympics and politics if

    April 7, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. Charlie

    Congratulations Senator Clinton, you have just lost a good chunk of your supporters.

    April 7, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |

    In answer to your question no, will not vote for Obama and I personally like Obama enough but I will not vote for him because of you and all the other Hillary haters that keep the slandering and throwing hate against her. I will not vote for him because of all the calls for no counting all the votes and all the calls to drop out of the race without completing the task at hand.

    April 7, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  14. jeremy

    do you think that she is taking this stance because she actually cares about Tibet? i think not. i think that it's hot in the news now, so she is going to champion the cause for votes. i have a really hard time taking anything this lady says seriously now.

    i think we should boycott, but i have felt that since day one. not because some poll told me how to feel or act.

    April 7, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  15. Canadian Vinny

    How did she even get voted into the Senate?? What has she done but #%&^ Bill since college. With George...at least politics was installed at a very young age and was around him his entire life. Most of us Canadians don't like Bush but as much as some of his decisions peeved off a lot of us...we'd still take him over Hillary....Obama....undecided if he can do it or not.

    April 7, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. people's voice

    Now I understand why she is losing...does not have the brain, does not have the heart, simply tries to follow whats popular, Wrong!

    April 7, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. Angela

    If I would not vote for Obama in November is because of the supporters he has, including some people in this blog.

    There is no respect for the fellow democrat anymore.
    Good Luck!

    April 7, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. porchhound

    Right Hillary and Bill gave away military technology to China so they could bomb us with more precision..remember the supercomputers for weather data??!! She is just trying to set the narrative to get it off Penn and her taxes..more of the same..blah blah blah.

    April 7, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  19. no to obama

    Thank you soon to be President Hillary Clinton. I agree with you 100%.

    April 7, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. Sheryl

    I feel the United States should not boycott the Summer Olympics because this is not fair to our athletes who have been training for a long time. I do think it is appropriate to boycott the opening ceremony as Sen.Clinton suggests.

    April 7, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. Nate

    Can Hillary Clinton make up her mind about ANYTHING??? She has changed her mind on everything from the WAR she voted for to NAFTA which she helped her husband push through and now she says President Bush should Boycott the olympics a month after she said that we SHOULD NOT boycott them.....I think she is the worst candidate ever. She has blatenly lied to everyone and continues to change her mind on things that matter. I personally don't want a president who can't stand firm on a topic either important or not as important.

    April 7, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  22. Ben

    I say we show China how we feel by sending our athletes there and beating them soundly in Beijing.

    April 7, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. b

    Don't punish the athletes for something they have no control over!

    April 7, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  24. ryan

    Why would Bush Boycott the Olympics in China, Bush dreams hecould implement these types of torcher and lack of human rights, so he and his buddies could further there profit sweepstakes in Iraq!!! Bush already believes in execution and waterboarding, what else does he believe in... not human rights!! thats for sure!!

    April 7, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  25. Alonzo Demetrius

    People complain that Pres Bush is a lone cowboy, riding roughshod over all the rest of the world? What is this that Hillary is trying to make the President do? Hillary trying to be the boss of the world through President Bush? What kind of mixed messages do Americans send to the world anyway?

    April 7, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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