June 4th, 2008
10:05 AM ET
6 years ago

BET founder to push for Clinton as Obama's VP pick

CNN

Watch Johnsons comments to CNN Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Billionaire businessman Bob Johnson, a close adviser and friend to Sen. Hillary Clinton , launched a campaign Wednesday to persuade Sen. Barack Obama to offer the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ticket to Clinton.

Johnson told CNN's "American Morning" that Clinton knows about his push but "she didn't direct me to do it."

A day after the final two primaries, Johnson sent a letter to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Wednesday to lobby the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Clinton as Obama's running mate. He said it needs to be done for the sake of party unity.

"There's no question that Sen. Clinton will do whatever she's asked to do for the party and she will certainly ... entertain the idea if it's offered," Johnson said.

In his letter directed at the Congressional Black Caucus, Johnson wrote:

"As African Americans we agree that the stakes in this election are far too high to take any chances that this party will not be unified from the top to the bottom in our effort to gain control of The White House."

He further wrote:

"You know as well as I the deep affection that millions of African Americans hold for both Senator Clinton and President Clinton. ... But most important, we need to have the certainty of winning; and, I believe, without question, that Barack Obama as President and Hillary Clinton as Vice President bring that certainty to the ticket."

Johnson, who founded Black Entertainment Television, also owns the Charlotte Bobcats basketball team.

He told CNN he was not trying to limit Obama's options, or force him to pick Clinton.

"My letter was not a pressure letter," he said. "This is Sen. Obama's decision.

"If the Congress members can come together and agree as I do that it would be in the best interest of the party to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket, they carry that petition to Sen. Obama," he said.

"This is not a pressure. This is elected officials giving their best judgment."

Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night, according to CNN estimates of the delegate count.

He praised Clinton in a speech on Tuesday evening and said she will be central in the battle for universal health care and efforts to transform energy policy and lift children from poverty.

But in her speech after winning the South Dakota primary, Clinton said Tuesday night she would make no immediate decision on her next steps.

Obama and Clinton spoke by phone for a few minutes early Wednesday. He told her he wants to "sit down when it makes sense for" her, said Robert Gibbs, an Obama spokesman. She indicated she believed that would happen soon, Gibbs said.

Johnson created a stir and drew wide criticism in January for comments he made at a Clinton campaign stop in Columbia, S.C., that some interpreted as a reference to Obama's acknowledged drug use as a teenager.

In defending the Clintons' record on civil rights, Johnson said, "To me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood - and I won't say what he was doing,
but he said it in the book - when they have been involved."

Many people believe Johnson was referring to Obama's drug use, which the senator publicly wrote about in his memoirs, though Johnson later said he was not.

soundoff (516 Responses)
  1. LaTeef Alade, GA

    No Mr. Johson, Obama do not need you to tell him how to run his political business. You are the same guy who underestimate him durning the primary season.

    June 4, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  2. Enlightened Voter - No hillary for VP

    I have supported Barack financially and with my vote. I avidly support him however if he chooses hillary I won't cross over to repub but I won't vote. How presumptuous to think she should be on his ticket. It is Barack's call and so far he has shown brilliant judgement so hopefully he will not choose her.

    June 4, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  3. KE

    Women are powerful.

    The Rice Riots of 1918 were a series of popular disturbances that erupted throughout Japan from July to September 1918, which brought about the collaps of the Terauchi administration.

    This Rice Riots were started by the GROUP OF ANGRY WOMEN (when house wives found out about the manipulation and all the men were gone and the government didn't do anything, this was before women had voting rights) in the rural town of Japan and spread all over the country.

    Women can vote now.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. biguglywart

    Johnson needs to worry about his basketball team and quit making stupid statements about Obama like he did a few weeks ago....

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. Jim

    Who in the hell cares what some billionaire thinks! Eveyone in this country has an opinion about who should be Vice President, so what makes him so special!

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  6. independent voter

    Let Obama have his moment. His good judgement got him where he is today-the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Let's trust his team to vet ALL the possibilities for vp. Furthermore, Since when is someone nominated by Congress to be the nominees's vp? Again, Clinton and her supporters are trying to change the rules to get something for themselves. This election is NOT about Hillary. She needs to get over herself.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  7. Alex in MA

    Bob Johnson should shut up! We remember how you insulted Barack during the SC primary.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  8. Voting Obama

    Go ahead and vote McCain. What i do get is just because some people don't get there way they start to whine. You are not a true democrat and you are supporting death to our soldiers and our economy. Some people are unbelievable. The racism has really come out. Grow up. Stop the drama and vote Obama. Or just don't vote at all.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  9. Dancindukes

    He is a great man that has done amazing things for the Country of Liberia. I totally disagree that an Obama – Clinton ticket is a solid move for the Democratic party. I hope Obama selects Bill Richardson for his actual foreign policy experience.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  10. Santa Fe Fred

    Where do the rich and privileged get off? This country is not theirs to run. We've had special interests run this country for far too long and we can see the results.

    This guy is afraid his ticket to influence might not be in the White House – and hopefully she won't. The last 16 years have been defined by special interests running this country and they've run it into the ground.

    Sorry Bob Johnson. Sit down and be quiet.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  11. anne

    This fiasco should have been over months ago. Hopefully it will be on election day, November 4, 2008.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  12. Anthony Bradley

    Robert Johnson should stay out of this. We all remember the disrespectful comments he made against Obama that helped Clinton loose the nomination in the first place (when Johnson campaigned for her). Johnson said horrible things about Obama.

    An Obama/Clinton ticket is a guaranteed win for John McCain. Guaranteed!!

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  13. Ron - Florida

    Speak for yourself...I am an African American, and the Clinton's have lost my respect. She could have done a lot to fix that, but her lack of humility last night was the last straw. By the way, she and her supports like to talk about all the votes she got. What about the $18 million he got??? We matter just as much!!!

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  14. LOOK BYOND

    WHO THE HELL IS THIS JOHNSON GUY TO TELL US WHAT WE SHOULD DO.
    I THINK THIS JOHNSON GUY STILL CANNOT GET THE MESSAGE IN HIS THICK HEAD THAT OBAMA REPRESENT CHANGE AND NOT THE OLD WASHINGTON POLITICS.
    WE DO NOT NEED UNGRATEFUL IDIOTS LIKE MR. JOHNSON TO TELL US WHAT WE NEED TO DO.
    HE DOESN'T REPRESENT THE VISION OF MARTIN LUTHER KING NOR DOES HE KNOWS THE MEANING OF CHANGE.
    HE IS A CAPITALIST AND AN OPPORTUNIST.
    AN OBAMA/CLINTON TICKET IS OUTRAGEOUS.
    tHE WOMAN DID NOT EVEN CONCEEDED AND ADMITTED THAT OBAMA IS THE WINNER.

    SO WHY SHOULD HE CONSIDER HER AS A VP? HE DOESN'T OWE HER ANYTHING.
    AND WHO THE HELL IS HILARY CLINTON. OR SHOULD I SAY THE CLINTONS.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  15. ms.sims

    It's kinda like a catch 22 if he picks her he'll lose some of his supporters and bring on her families baggage...if he doesn't he'll lose her supporters and divide the party...

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  16. Inspired

    Bob Johnson has some nerve to offer advice to the candidate that he made such horrible personal attacks on. His opinion does not represent Black America or hell, America!! This decision is the winning candidate's to make. I am sure Obama will weigh ALL his options carefully – without interference from die-hard Clintonistas. I'd rather him run an honest campaign, true to his principles and choose his own VP and lose the election than take Hillary under pressure – someone that has proven, especially last night, that she has HER best interests at heart first and foremost and that he cannot trust as his VP.

    I will be horribly disappointed if he foils under this kind of pressure and Hillary's awful grandstanding.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  17. Jubilated, but Exasperated

    Kathleen Sebelius for VP, Kathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VPKathleen Sebelius for VP

    Hilary for HUD .... not VP.

    June 4, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  18. Esther from Cuyahoga Falls Ohio

    reason has left the building if he puts her on the ticket with him. sorry to say this but she will only bring her own baggage of her and his (Bill)past. Hillary needs to go to move on dot com and do something on her own. the problems created by the old guards can not be fixed by them and Hillary needs acceptance that the majority has spoken amen

    June 4, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  19. Paul

    I advise the Obama campaign to offer Mrs. Clinton a Cabinet position. Health and Human Services would fit her well. Under no circumstances should she be offered any position, such as VP, from which she cannot be fired.

    June 4, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  20. robert

    This man should mind his own business.This is not his decision ..Billary should not be the V.P.–she's like Lady Macbeth–be careful..

    June 4, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  21. Carmen

    Hillary can't play games anymore because no one is listening to her, so she just have to suck it up and for Mr. Johnson you need to shut up and don't persuade nobody to take her. You too are a figure of set on stupid if you think you can talk to Obama about her as VP.

    June 4, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. Sam Rose

    Last night Hillary said -
    she wants 'HER' 18 million voters to be heard-
    THAT is the point ---
    THEY ARE NOT HER VOTERS-

    THEY ARE DEMOCRATIC VOTERS-

    THEY ARE AMERICANS!!!!!! NOT HILLARY VOTERS-
    THIS IS ONE MORE WAY OF HER DIVIDING THE PARTY--

    Her speech was divisive and defiant-
    She and Bill will be nothing but TROUBLE if she is VP-

    THIS IS NOT ABOUT HER-–

    Someone clearly needs to TELL HER THAT--

    June 4, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  23. White 64 male for Obama

    I absolutely agree with most of the people on here. This is Obama's decision. The Clinton supporters need to fall back and let the man make his own decisions.

    June 4, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  24. Dee

    PLEASE don't put her on your ticket....this is a chance to really show your strength...don't let them pressure you!

    June 4, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  25. John

    I will not vote for a ticket with a Clinton on it, that undermines everything that we in the Obama camp stand for. She is a great politition from the old school, that is not what this country needs though. That is why Barack won. We hope that some of the HRC supporters realize Barack is a great man, but if not I would rather lose stand firm with our principals then caving to Clinton style politics, because that is what we have fought to change. We won fair and square, she needs to acknowledge this and work for the party.

    June 4, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
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