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. Pat Va

    Yeah, Bob...float that preposterous idea to those African-Americans in SC about how much the Clintonistas care so much for that community. You are such a sleaze!!!!

    June 4, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  2. TMan

    Oh crawl back into your hole. This man has made his millions by promoting drugs, sex and violence against women to young people. He speaks only for Hillary and his self interest. Away with you, back into your filthy hole. Yeah! remember what he said about Obama earlier. Eat your words.
    TMan

    June 4, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. L

    Money begets money. In the black community it is no secret that Bob Johnson sold out BET to a group of people who have done nothing but caused the channel to degrade and belittle the African American experience. Johnson himself is a politician of the Clinton's era, exactly what Obama is against. Members of the Black Caucus know what is going on as African Americans throughout America.

    Unfortunately, most of the African American politicians who have followed Mrs. Clinton during her campaign were the ones who believe in the crooked back door deals – traditional politics. Barack represents something new and fresh. Look at the campaigns, listen to his message, and check out who follows him most – educated people, young progressive people, and African Americans who always believed that eventually we would overcome.

    My daughters and I (19, 21, and 23) celebrated last night as we watched Obama make history. I am proud to witness history at it's best and will cast my vote for the first African American candidate for President of the United States!

    June 4, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  4. 45 white male

    Hillary is bad news. she is the same old politics, I will vote for McCain if she is on the ticket. Pick webb or nunn for vp. Do the right thing.

    June 4, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  5. fredi

    Obama stands or honesty, transparency, integrity, respect, humility – Hillary Clinton does not score very high in any of these categories. As much as I respected her one year ago, she has disqualified herself from the ticket. Leaving her off the ticket will only alienate people who don't like him anyway – but it will show strenght of leadership and will gain Obama even more respect among his followers and among independents and republicans. Barack, please do not compromise your principles for short-term (and short sighted) political gain.

    June 4, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  6. PSK

    Everyone has a right to feel safe in their own work environment and Sen. Obama deserves that right, as well. I cannot think of anything more frightening than having Hillary Clinton standing in the wings during his Presidency. Four years (at least) of "duck and cover" just doesn't sound healthy to me. Send Hillary back to the Senate- her brand of politics are not welcome anymore- the democrats have made that pretty clear.

    June 4, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  7. Suzette

    Bob Johnson needs to go sit down somewhere. He just wants attention, every month he pops up with some stupid demands via a letter like he is so powerful. His money has gone to his head. He does not have as much influence as he thinks. I hope the Obama Black Congressional supporters do not give him a second thought. "Who does he think he is?" Obama does not need Clinton on his ticket to win; he may need her to help campaign for him, but already she and her husband are trying to bully their way into the VP slot. If he chooses her and they win, they will be "second-guessing" every move he makes. I'm sure he's thinking long and hard about this situation, but I certainly hope he doesn't let the likes of Bob Johnson or the Clintons control him and/or his VP decision. Thank you.

    June 4, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  8. jane

    I can't see Hillary being the VP. When you bring Hillary in as VP then Senator Obama would have to bring in Bill Clinton. It's not feasible for him to bring Hillary without Bill. This combination would not work. Bill still have a lot of garbage that he is carrying around.

    June 4, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  9. multitaskin

    WHY ARE THE STAKES SO HIGH AS AN AFRICAN AMERICAN. IM A WHITE DESCENDED FRON NATIVE AMERICAN AND YOU "MR RICH IVE MADE THE AMERICAN DREAM " JOHNSON FIND THIS ELECTION UNIMPORTANT TO ME AND MINE. THESE AGENDA DRIVEN POLITICIANS AND NOVELTY CANDIDATES ARE THE CANCER IN MODERN POLITICS. TWO THINGS I HEAR AN AWFUL LOT LAYELY FROM FOLKS IS HOW SOMEHOW SOMEONE FINALLY DESERVES THE OFFICE AND HOW THEY WILL HELP THEIR PEOPLE ONCE IN OFFICE. MY TAX BURDEN IS AS PAINFUL AS ANY. I SAT AT A RED LIGHT FILLED WITH PNEUMONIA AND HAVING TO GO TO WORK THAT WAY LISTENING TO THE "DIFFERENT " CANDIDATE KNOWING MY HEALTH AND WELFARE MEANT NOTHING TO ANY OF THEM. MY ONE FREIND I COUNT A TRUE FREIND IS A BLACK BROTHER I MET WHILE HE WAS DENIED MEMBERSHIP IN MY CHURCH. THEY UNDERSTOOD HOW BACKWARDS I THINK THEY ARE FROM THE GET GO. I DIDNT PET THEIR BIGOTRY. PLEASE GET OVER WHATS BEST FOR THE PARTY AND GET THESE HYPOCRITICAL LIARS AWAY FROM POLICY MAKING THAT AFFECTS US A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N-S. OUR AGENDA IS MAKING A LIVING AND PROVIDING FOR OUR FAMILIES NOT POLITICING AND PARTY BUILDING.

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  10. Concern

    Why Democrats all the time put party first and Nation interest second?
    That puzzles me and after this primary was most corrupted, brokered and media bias in American history I don't have same vision of Democratic party as I use to. All this pressure on Supper delegates and intimidation of delegates in Texas is not democratic therefore
    I would rather stay home on election day or vote independent.

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  11. Nat

    Bobby,

    Please shut up!!!!

    Hillary does not need to be on his ticket.

    Oh,by the way..thanks for BET...NOT

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  12. Obama 08

    NOOOOOOO.

    Having Clinton as the VP on the Obama ticket will forever cast a shadow over his candidacy and his presidency when he wins in November. He needs to stand without Clinton and continue his message of change. One of his biggest critiques of Senator Clinton throughout the primary season is that she represents "politics as usual" in Washington. He would be hypocritical to put her on the ticket. Please, Senator Obama, put someone else - Richardson, Dodd, Clark, Edwards, ANYONE but Hillary next to your name.

    Obama/_______ (NOT CLINTON) '08.

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  13. Diane

    Senator Clinton lost the election. Now she is attempting to blackmail Senator Obama into chosing her for his VP. How is this helping to heal the Democrats? She also needs to remember that several of her votes were from Republicans who hope she IS on the Democratic ticket so that it is easier for them to win. I am a women and hope to see a female in the White House as President in my lifetime. However, it has to be the right woman and Hillary is NOT that person. She has no integrity. If she is on the ticket as VP, Obama had better get extra protection! A lot of people in her way come up missing.

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  14. Sam, Grand Prairie TX

    TO: Bob

    America will not be force fed Clinton. You have been an idiot from the beginning.

    Obama/Whoever HE chooses 08.

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  15. JAMAICANS FOR OBAMA!!!

    CONGRATUATIONS TO SENATOR OBAMA!!!!!!!

    ..HE FOUGHT AND WON THIS NOMINATION!!! LET HIM DECIDE WHO HE WANTS..MY QUESTION IS.. IF THE SITUATION WERE REVERSED WOULD CLINTON BE PRESSURED TO HAVE HIM ON THE TICKET???? I DONT THINK SO!!

    HILARY AND BILL NEEDS TO GO HOME, SHE DID NOT EVEN HAVE THE DECENY TO CONGRATULATE HIM SO WHY ON EARTH SHOULD HE BE PRESSURED INTO DOING THIS!! THE WOMAN GAVE A CAMPAIGN SPEECH LAST NITE, WHICH MEANS SHE HAS NOT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGED HIM AS THE NOMINEE, SO HOW CAN ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND EXPECT HER TO SETTLE FOR THE NO.2 SPOT!!

    TODAY BELONGS TO BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA, LET THEM ENJOY IT WITHOUT THE BAD TASTE OF HILLARY AND BILLARY!!!!!

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  16. Nobody Asked Larry But...

    An Obama-Clinton ticket is a train wreck waiting to happen. One, Obama ran on the promise of change and doing away with old Washington politics. Clinton is the poster child for doing business as usual. Two, I don't believe there is a person in this country who thinks that Billary – Hillary and Bill – can and will play second fiddle to Obama and take orders. Can't you see the media circus surrounding the Clintons, especially when Bill's transgressions, old and new, arise. Three, all the posturing that Hillary's women supporters will opt to either vote for McCain or abstain in November, is just that – posturing. When the women discover McCain's position re Roe v Wade and his pledge to nominate as many as three ultra conservative judges to the US Supreme Court will change their mind quicker than New England weather and will support Obama.

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  17. Chris

    If Hillary is not the VP, Obama will loose. Do you Obama buts understand this? Just read these comments. We are SOOO split.
    United we stand, divided we fall!

    Obama/Hillary 08 or sad to say McCain for at least 4 years!

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  18. gobaama

    This is why it will not work! Its all about her team, forcing her agenda. Its Senator Obama's decision and let him choose. No one needs to "endorse" anybody. The day of endorsements are over. Its time to rally around Obama. Stop the division!!

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  19. kim in atlanta

    Bob Johnson needs to shut-up and sit down. As an African-American you are a disgrace. With your inflammatory remarks against Sen. Obama and your butt-kissing with the Clintons; shut-up. What you should be doing is speaking on the historical moment made by our future President; Sen. Barack Obama. But, what are you doing, trying to get Hillary on the ticket. Harriet Tubman said she could have freed more slaves if they new they were slaves. Wake up "brother", no one hears you.

    June 4, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  20. Alicia

    Mr. Johnson, are you okay with how she has inplied that Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama was less than worthy. How she has shunned him. Her tacky ploy of saying she wanted to be VP on the day that was Senator Obama's day.

    She has lost my respect. If she is on his ticket she bess be steppin' and fetchin' to the Commander in Chief!

    June 4, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. Edward F. Breaker

    THE-SUPER-TICKET(OBAMA & CLINTON)! AWESOME! GOD BLESS THEM BOTH & AMERICA TOO! 200 YEARS AFTER SLAVERY, AWESOME! 42 YEARS AFTER GETTING THE RIGHT TO VOTE, AWESOME! OBAMA & CLINTON! ARE CHANGE, WE THE PEOPLE, CAN BELIEVE IN! AWESOME!

    June 4, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  22. Sharon from Dumfries Virginia

    Look at what "BET" and Mr. Johnson has done for African Americans community ...he is full of BOLOGNA

    Having Clinton on Obama ticket does not ensure a win. Obama will win this nomination with a VP he can work with..not a VP that is pushed on him by Clinton supporters.

    Back the Hell Off of Mr Obama

    June 4, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  23. Renee" Va

    He wins and she loses so today you are now part of the we (African American). I hope they do not take your advice after the way you critized him.

    June 4, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  24. joe

    Why would Obama want Hillary as his VP after all of the mud that she and her campaign threw his way?

    June 4, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  25. jAY

    He of all people should be totally ignored. Especially for what he did to Obama 2 times.
    His petition shouldbe for Hillary so show some humility & respect for the winner.............then maybe while Obama covers all options.

    June 4, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
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