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. carol sullivan

    FORGET IT NO HILLARY AND BILL THEY ARE OLD NEWS NO CHANGE HE WILL PICK SOMEONE WORTHY TO SERVE AS VP BAD NEWS WITH HER

    June 4, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  2. young and black

    bob johnson is a traitor to the black community on so many levels. he founded a network that makes black people look like idiots. why should anyone - the black caucus no less! - listen to him?

    June 4, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  3. Charlotte

    The only way Obama will get my vote is if Hillary is his VP. Even with her on the ticket, I will (puke) and vote for him. Otherwise, I will write Hillary Clinton on my ballot in November.

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  4. TJ

    I've never liked this clown. Hillary had a chance to be VP before she went on that rant about how she "won" the popular vote" last night. Obama can't get 5 minutes to just enjoy the moment without Hillary and her posse breathing down his neck about a VP position. Leave the man alone and let him do what he wants!
    Obama 08

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  5. bill

    You havent ran an honorable campaign like others are stupid enough to say, but a joke of a campaign. you make women all across america look horrible, like whinners, or cry baby women who punch the sexism card if things don't go there way. You should have quit this race 2 months ago as you knew you couldn't win, but you stayed in because you needed time to further divide the races.

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  6. Michael, ATL

    Give it a rest. It has been 24 hours and they are making demands on Obama. Let the man enjoy the moment.

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  7. Aries(NJ)

    Let Bob Johnson take a seat back, I am an African-american, and where was he when Hillary Clinton was injecting race into the campaign, let Obama pick his own VP, why they want to pressure him into choosing her, there a lot of quallified candidates out there, that don't have the baggage that Hillary and Bill has, since when does the nominee has to be told who to chose. Hillary thinks she is entitled to be President and when that did not work now she is entitled to to VP, heck NO!!!

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  8. Patricia- Indiana

    "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."

    Bob Johnson – Definition of Arrogance: "offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride". I suppose Mr. Johnson is now a self appointed LOBBYIST for Hillary? I am certainly glad Obama is adamant about his disdain for lobbyists and will not find himself blackmailed into choosing Hillary for his running mate. Hillary continues to maintain her arrogance, while Obama has finished the race with grace, humility and DIGNITY!

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  9. G. Canada

    first I am Canadian and looking at this from the outside.. Obama does not have a chance up against McCain unless he has Hilliary Clinton as his VP. Obama is a Talker and Hillary Clinton is a doer, together they can win!!

    I hope for your Countries sake the Democrates take over the White House but I honestly belive they cannot do it without Hillary Clinton, Obama is just to week to do it otherwise!! His biggest mistake would be not to have her join him..

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  10. Corey

    "You know as well as I the deep affection that millions of African Americans hold for both Senator Clinton and President Clinton. …" which of course, went out the door as soon as there was an African American candidate. What happened to not being judged by the color of your skin? Not having preferential treatment because of one's race? I guess the most important thing is to have "control of the white house".

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  11. Uncle Sam

    What does Barack Obama believe?

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  12. KE

    Sen. Obama should ask Hillary to be his VP.

    But if the Democratic Party refuses..

    And if you still want a change, forget the demobureaucrats.
    Go with the third party.

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  13. JB

    Senator Obama-

    DO NOT PICK HER AS YOUR VP. Here is why?

    She fires up Repblicans more than anyone other than her husband.
    She has bad mouthed you, lied about you, and accused you of everything under the sun.
    She has angered YOUR supporters.
    She refuses to do what is right.
    She never apologizes.
    She can't play by the rules.
    BILL CLINTON, he will be making dumb statements throughout your tenure in office.
    She doesn't want to be number 2, and she will not sit quietly.
    Some of your supporters despise her so much, they may switch sides, like ALL of her supporters claim they will do.

    SHE LIES WAY TO EASILY. That Bosnia thing was disgusting.

    Please ask Rendell or a woman.

    Thanks!

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  14. James, SC

    Only one other person is more a pain in the you know what than this person.

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  15. Cheryl, Upstate, NY

    NO HILLARY!!
    OBAMA/EDWARDS

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  16. TSD from Houston, TX

    Bob Johnson needs to sit down and shut up. If HRC was the nominee, would he be writing the same letter asking her to make Obama her VP? I doubt it. Bob Johnson, if you want the elected officials to do the right thing, don't involve yourself. Your not elected.

    June 4, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  17. Jon Cruz

    Originally, the link on the front identified Bob Johnson as the "BET founder." Now that's been replaced with a generic identification as a "billionaire." Why does CNN try to hide that Hillary Clinton has black supporters? Why does CNN want to make it look like Hillary Clinton is the candidate of "billionaires"? Why does CNN want to thwart a healing process? Why does CNN not stop its unbelievably biased coverage of this election?

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  18. Mike

    This guy is a JOKE. He has been one of the Clinton's biggest negative cheerleaders against Obama and has said some outlandish things throughout this campaign. I find it very odd that he and other Clinton allies are trying to undermine Obama's historic victory and demand her to have the VP spot.

    Obama does not need Hillary to win in November.

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  19. Ed M

    I hope Senator Obama does not choose Hillary as his running mate. Like many others, I feel very strongly that she has a problem with ethics and values, and so I will never cast a vote for her. And however she decides to proceed with her campaign, I know her choice will be a self-serving one, not one based on party or country.

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  20. PA

    Maybe a cabinet position...
    Maybe a Supreme Court justice...
    NOT Vice-President.

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  21. RDW

    Ahhh, helloooo!!

    I thought it was "to the victor goes the spoils." You people are acting as if this is Hillary's right to be VP. Last I checked, Barack will win the nomination and the decision is his alone. If she chooses her, then fine, otherwise, it's his choice not hers. And if her supporters want to vote for McCain or not vote at all, then so be it.

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  22. Greg

    No way she should be his VP. She couldn't even concede the primary election she blew so why should he even consider her? And why are her backers so interested in pushing this. What kind of corruption are Lani Davis and Bob Johnson trying to inject into an Obama general campaign or presidency?

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  23. ron

    YOu don't care about this country hillary, you just care about yourself. now, after you did everything you could to move the goal post back so obama couldn't win, you won't even conceed when he's reached the number you claimed he had to have to make you get out. all you want to do is drag this thing out, so that obama can't heal the divide, then he'll lose in Nov, for you to run in 2012. What in the hell makes you think that blacks and young people will vote for you in 2012? Oh..you think that things will get so bad from a mccain presidency that will be begging for your to come back? YOu pathetic woman.

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  24. paul porter

    you may have a lot of cash but poor eye sight

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  25. Ed M

    Why does she have such control over hBob Johsnoln?

    June 4, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
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