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. Francesca

    Jack,

    I've spent all my hope that she would work after she dismissed his victory last night. She could never work true at heart for him because she'll still dwell on the fact that she did not WIN.

    June 4, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. Tyler in Raleigh, NC

    Here comes the "kitchen sink" strategy on being the VP.

    Make him look weak, make him look sexist, bribe him, blackmail him, threaten him.... whatever it takes so that he looses or picks her as VP.

    Obama CAN NOT choose a VP that will not even acknowledge that he has won the primary.

    June 4, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Doug S

    Hillary can demonstrate by her actions over the weeks leading up to the Convention that she is putting the Democrating Party and America first by actively and positively campaigning for Obama without preconditions, deals, qualifications, "yeh, buts..."

    Furthermore, the choice of a running mate is an important one, requiring that Obama VERY CAREFULLY vet those on his list to minimize the risk that a negative may pop up in the middle of the general election campaign. It is particularly important for the process to insist on full disclosure of the Clinton's activities over the period since Bill left office, given the certainty that the Republican attack machine will pounce on any dealings with sheiks, oil barons and other lobbyists, etc.

    June 4, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Mike

    For the many supporters of Senator Clinton who want to persue such an option, I believe that it may do more harm than good. To try to force the VP on Senator Obama will only serve to make the option less likely as it will be imperative for him to make his own choice.

    Additionally, as long as Senator Clinton is still in the race, it wouldn't make sense for Senator Obama to offer her the VP spot as she is still opposing him. This is clearly the case as some of her Washington colleagues just this morning refused to acknowledge that Senator Obama has enough delegates to be the nominee, stating that 'anything can happen'

    The longer this type of attitude continues, the more damage it does to the image of Senator Clinton. It is now FACT, that Senator Obama has garnered enough delegates to be the nominee, it's time to come together as a group, let Senator Obama make his choice for VP, and work towards victory in November.

    June 4, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Concerned

    The dream ticket does not include any Clintons....

    June 4, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. D.Williams

    NO, NO, NO, IF HE PUTS HILLARY ON HIS TICKET I WILL NOT VOTE FOR THE DEM. PARTY.

    BOB JOHNSON YOU HAVE SOME NERVE, AFTER DISSING OBAMA WHY SHOULD HE LISTEN TO ANYTHING YOU HAVE TO SAY.

    June 4, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. JJ TORONTO

    AFTER CALLING OBAMA ANY KIND OF NAME - THIS BILLIONAIRE WHO MADE MONEY BY EXPOSING YOUNGBLACK WOMEN'S DERIERE AND BOSSOM WANTS WHAT- HE HAS NO SHAME- IN ANY CASE PUTTING HILLARY IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION HAS TO MAKE NOW. HIS FIRST DECISION SHOULD BE TO UNITE THE PARTY-WE CAN'T AFFORD A COALITION GOVERNMENT OR A COPRESIDENCY

    June 4, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. maca

    I think Hillary should run as independent, and we the people(not supper delegates) will vote for her!!!!!(18,000,000>-)

    June 4, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. VM

    I'd be happy to never see Mr. Johnson on my tv screen again. He has absolutely no credibility with me. None.

    June 4, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Brad

    You people need to understand that the President doesnt always choose a VP because they like them, let me refer to Kennedy in 1960 who picked Lyndon Johnson not because they were friends but because he WANTED to win in the south. if obama doesnt pick hillary he will most likely anger her 18 million supporters! THIS IS NOT ABOUT WHO HE IS COMPATIBLE WITH BUT WHO WILL GET THE DEMOCRATICS BACK IN THE WHITE HOUSE

    June 4, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. demcor

    Sorry Bob, new Sherrif in town!

    June 4, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Kemite Sound

    It's interesting that a man who's television station has been promoting images that bring down our moral standing in the world is NOW attempting to co-op a campaign by a man who's has acted and spoken like a beacon to a dark world.

    Hearing him talk is just noise. I trust whatever decision Barack Obama makes will be for the good of the NATION, not the same old lackies.

    June 4, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. MARTA

    THE CLINTON'S NEED TO GO AWAY! HILLARY IS THE MOST CALCULATING PERSON I HAVE EVER SEEN. I THINK THAT OBAMA IS THE BEST PERSON FOR THE PRESIDENCY WHITHOUT THE CLINTON'S BREADING DOWN ON HIS NECK. SHE COULD NEVER PLAY NICE. BAD IDEA, STOP ALREADY, GO AWAY!
    GO OBAMA – MAKE US PROUD AMERICANS AGAIN! PROUD OF YOU!

    June 4, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. Muhammad

    no way, she didn't even acknowledge the moment to unite the party and she want to be VP. since when someone owns the voter's who voted for them. she is out of her mind!

    June 4, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. GetRealBots

    I guess it's going to come down to how many Obama supporters would defect to McCain if Hillary is on the ticket VS. Clinton supporters who would defect to McCain if Hillary is not on the ticket (myself being included in the latter group). Things are looking better for John McCain everyday.

    June 4, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. cynthia

    Obama should not be pressured into this.
    Hillary Clinton spit so much venom at Barack this entire time ,and now he is supposed to trust her enough to be his VP.
    Someone said that if he does he needs a food taster, and have bomb sniffing dogs around.
    So why does he needs that and her rattlesnake ways.

    June 4, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. MARTA

    NO HILLARY! GO OBAMA!

    June 4, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. TLD

    Johnson is a big ignorant idiot.

    June 4, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Manuel TX

    Whitewater: Disproved
    Travelgate: Disproved
    Filegate: Disproved
    Rose Law Firm: Disproved
    Vince Foster: Disproved
    John Glasgow: You must believe in little green men too
    Gennifer Flowers: Who cares...has nothing to do with Hillary
    Monica Lewinsky: Who cares...has nothing to do with Hillary
    Impeachment: Has nothing to do with Hillary

    You should be worried about all the garbage on Obama...

    ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

    June 4, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Sean

    It's hard to imagine Obama selecting Hillary as VP when she won't even acknowledge that he's won the Democratic nomination yet. Even this morning, she's still out on the campaign trail talking about why she thinks she'd be the best choice for President.

    Is she trying to say that if he doesn't select her as VP, she'll do whatever she can to subvert his general election campaign?

    June 4, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Gringo

    Don't do it, Hillary. you don't want to get mixed up in this mess !!!

    June 4, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Andre

    Bob Johnson and Lanny Davis should try giving some praise and congratulatory thanks to the winner before they try to pressure him to pick her up. They know that she needs him more than he needs her. 18 million voted but if they are real democrats then they will support the candidate that makes sense. All of those other will get real taste of McCain, and realize that is Bush's 3rd term and vote for Change. Hillary and her supporters should show graciousness in defeat. Hail to Chief, not to the Captain.

    June 4, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Jared2151

    Shrillary as VP ..... NO WAY !!!!

    Obama better check out the Vince Foster story if he picks her as his VP.

    I don't trust her any further than I could throw her and Bubba tied together in a gunny sack. ( ~ six feet)

    Doesn't anybody remember: Travelgate, Whitewater, FBI folders re-appearing mysteriously, turning 10k into 100k overnight on a stock deal .....

    Run Forrest, Ruuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnn

    June 4, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. Scott

    Bob Johnson who are you go back to BET. NO way NO way. what is he getting out of this more money are low Rating BET again, you slam Obama NOW you wont him to pick Hillary as the No. 2 spot. but would you same if she in the winner. I don't think so... Obama will pick not a Billionaire who think nothing of him and the people.

    June 4, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. weh

    Excuse me......and who are you suppose to be telling folks who to pick and why? I am not sure there are ten people in the African American community that would follow your suggestions on any issue. Just as you and other Hillary supporters believed that Hillary was ENTITLED to become the Democratic nominee thus having four more years of Bill, you now feel she's entitled to be the VP. The only entitlement she has is to return to her seat in the senate.

    We need a fresh start. Hillary would not provide that.

    June 4, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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