June 4th, 2008
10:05 AM ET
7 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. Ray H, Gainesville VA

    Hmmm, the same guy who said Sen Obama is only doing so well because he's black. Well Mr Johnson, you know where you can take your opinion.

    June 4, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  2. changed mind

    Michelle Obama quote" If you can't run your own house how can you run the white house". you can find it on you tube
    Was she talking about former first lady Mrs. Clinton or the democratic party?
    I hope Mrs. Clinton does not.

    June 4, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  3. Loletha

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO CLINTON'S WE CAN DO THIS WITH ANY OTHER CANDIATE BESIDES CLINTONS. OUT NATION IS TRYING TO UNITE. HILLARY CLINTON IS NOT FOR UNITY AT ALL., CLINTONS ARE NOT FOR CHANGE. TO MUCH BAGGAGE AND JUNK IN THE TRUNK. CLINTONS ARE NOT THE DEMOCATIC PARTY. NO NO NO NO NO NO NONO NO NO NO NO NO NONO NO NO NO NO NO NONO NO NO NO NO NO NO

    June 4, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  4. "The Great Elephant Is Wounded"-Kareem From Hampton, Va

    I dont care who it is...its not fair to force a running mate onto Obama! If this was the other way around...no such suggestion wouldve been made. Let him make his own choice!! Its not fair at all!! Hillary lost like any other candidate and needs to bow out like every other candidate! Hillary shouldve thought about this before she threw her kitchen sink! Also, if Hillary wants the VEEP spot she needs to be woman enough to ask for it! Stop making her surrogates and campaign managers ask for her. Last but not least as far as we know she's still running for president...until she concedes she CANT be running for VEEP. I cant believe this...

    June 4, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. Denial

    Obama is the only one allowed to make this decision ... He can't be forced into doing so ..

    he more Hilary & her surrogates (Blitzer etc) push for this VP ... the more Obama will be reluctant to give in ...

    She wasn't successful in getting on top of the ticket .. now she is forcing/pressuring Obama to make her VP ... *ludicrous*

    there are lots of other people Obama can choose besides Hilary ...

    this Johnson guy .. has a hidden agenda .. why does he want hilary back in the white house so bad ... to do some more back door dealings ......

    Democrats 08!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  6. RJK

    Obama/Paul 08' Now lets talk about change!

    June 4, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  7. A Concerned Democrat-NYC

    What does this delusional philanderer know?!?!?! He's just like Bill!

    June 4, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  8. ang/Houston

    Mr. Bob Johnson – please go home and keep your thoughts to yourself. Hillary Clinton is not a god. She is not the only person in the world to bring forth a dream ticket – in fact, her and Bill will only bring a nightmare to us all.

    Get your head out of Hillarys cloud.

    June 4, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  9. jd

    This is the clown that played the 'drug card' against Obama. Surely, his billions account for something, hopefully not for much.

    June 4, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  10. lamont

    who cares what this Obama hater thinks. His opinion on what Mr. Obama should do is mute!

    June 4, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  11. Wanda

    BOb Johnson is the worst person to open his mouth about anything. I cannot believe that anyone would ask his opinion on anything. He totally represent everything our generation wants to get away from. It was his vision to bring all that smut to television and ruin our kids minds. As an african american himself how can he not at least allow 24 hours before you start such a silly campaign.

    June 4, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  12. Denise

    No one has ever been forced by the public to choose a VP running mate and it should not start now! Bob Johnson needs to sit down and shut up!

    June 4, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  13. Lee

    Barack can be President without the Clintons, It's his time, his turn and his party. Let him roll with it!

    June 4, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  14. Natasha

    This is in no way fair, he won let him chose as he sees fit. The Clinton's days a a political juggernaut have come to an end. It is time for change!

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  15. Millie Gee

    If Senator Clinton is the VP, it will not be because it is what Bob Johnson wants.

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  16. Kristen

    Since when does Bob Johnson have political pull? Give me a break, Obama can choose his VP all by himself with out the help of Bob Johnson. The letter was dumb. Hilary won’t even admit to Obama winning the nominee but now she and her supporters are demanding the V P spot. I think the more this is pushed the more ridiculous the idea gets. Bob Johnson does not speak for all African Americans so he can stop trying to act like it. The congressional black caucus would be wise to simply ignore his letter. Obama has the right idea to not make this about race, Bob Johnson needs to either hope on board silently or move out the way. Either way just shut up.

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  17. russell

    it's hard to get people who spew hate to come to gome together , just look at the comments that a lot of Clinton supporters are sayiing , if Hillary doesn't get the nod we will vote for Mcain , is that racist or is that racist , instead of doing the morally right thing they would vote for someone that they know will take away a woman's right to choose ( Roe.V .Wade , really .and I find that disturbing .........voting with the wrong concious because you can't get around the color of a person's skin................................please post cnn.

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  18. Evelyn, South Florida

    I think it is a wonderful idea. The first time two minorities will be up there running for presidency. What a great way for Obama to start his run with showing real change for getting a woman as VP.

    I think the two of them will be unstopable.

    OBAMA CLINTON 08

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  19. cathy h

    This is absolutely ridiculous. It is Obama's decision, and he should not be pressured into choosing Hillary, especially in light of her disgraceful speech and total disrespect displayed to the actual winner of the nomination.
    Also, she and Bill come as a package deal, l and we can't even think of the ramifications of that.

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  20. Michael

    I am glad someone has some sense in all of this. That will be about the only way that I vote for the democratic ticket. I wont vote for the Republicans, I just won't vote at all.

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  21. Keep your oppion Tom

    Uncle Tom Johnson's oppinion is as usless as he has been to the black community. He can tap dance stage left and exit the stage she lost. She lost and now she is trying to strong arm her way to the VP slot. Obama don't bite the apple. Hillary is poison.

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  22. NC for Obama

    As an Obama supporter and volunteer, I knocked on many doors for Obama in NC. I would be very disappointed in Obama if he selected Hillary as a VP. He would not only lose me as a volunteer, he would also lose my vote.

    Hillary has been to wedge that has divided the party. What Bob Johnson needs to do is get a petition together to pressure Hillary to concede the nomination and support the candidate with the most delegates as the DNC rules state.

    Frankly, Bob Johnson is the biggest sell out of the AFrican-American community. BET is a perfect example of what he has really done for African-Americans. BET implies that African-AMerican are so stupid that the only thing we are interested in is shaking our butts and loud music. BET is not allowed on in my home. Bob Johnson has NO clout in the African-American community.

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  23. Tanya, GA

    Why does Clinton need to be Obama's VP when she stated earlier that only she and McCain were qualified to lead the country. Go be McCain's VP.

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  24. Ilona Proud Canadian

    CNN

    NOT ONE SINGLE ARTICLE, CANGRATULATING SEN. OBAMA!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  25. Mark Cross Junction VA

    Would it be any different, Black supporting Black? I don't think so.

    June 4, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
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