July 13th, 2008
10:20 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama camp rebukes Bernie Mac over joke

The Obama campaign said Mac's joke was inappropriate.

The Obama campaign said Mac's joke was inappropriate.

(CNN) - Bernie Mac made a surprise appearance at a Barack Obama fundraising event Friday evening - but given heckling from the crowd and a rebuke from the Illinois senator's campaign for an off-color joke, the comedian may wish he'd just stayed home.

Introducing Obama at the high-dollar fundraising event in Chicago, Mac delivered a 10-minute standup routine during which he joked about sexual promiscuity and referred to women as "hos."

"My little nephew came to me and he said, 'Uncle, what's the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?"' Mac said toward the end of his routine. "I said, I don't know, but I said, 'Go upstairs and ask your mother if she'd make love to the mailman for $50,000."'

"Hypothetically speaking, we should have $100,000. But realistically speaking we live with two hos," Mac said, delivering the joke's punchline.

Some attendees of the $2,300 per-person event immediately registered their displeasure with Mac's joke, and asked that he leave the stage.

"It's not funny. Let's get Barack on," one man shouted.

Mac introduced the Democratic presidential candidate shortly after and Obama called the comedian a "great friend." The Illinois senator also joked that Mac needs to "clean up [his] act."

"We can't afford to be divided by race. We can't afford to be divided by region or by class and we can't afford to be divided by gender, which by the way, that means, Bernie, you've got to clean up your act next time," he said. "This is a family affair. By the way, I'm just messing with you, man."

But the campaign issued a statement shortly after the event that was decidedly more serious in its condemnation of Mac's comments.

"Senator Obama told Bernie Mac that he doesn't condone these statements and believes what was said was inappropriate," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (790 Responses)
  1. TheTruthHurts

    I think Bernie must have been drunk. He clearly knows better.

    July 12, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Jayson

    Senstor Obama? Come on this is CNN, you should be hiring someone who at least knows how to use the spellcheck function....

    By jokingly telling Bernie Mac he needs to clean up his act he has made himself a joke when it comes to respecting women. An area in which he is already considered weak on

    July 12, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |


    July 12, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    moral of the story:

    don't get a comedian to speak at campaign events. They are no place for humor and fun.

    (note sarcasm)

    July 12, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Marty

    Get over it.

    it was a dumb joke, an old joke, and it was inappropriate... Thats all.

    This dosent reflect on Obama, his politics, policies, intentions NEARLY as much as McCain seeking out endorsements from Bigoted, Xenophobic, Elitist Homophobes like Revrend Rod Parsley and Pastor John Hagee.

    July 12, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. TheTruthHurts

    Better than what the pastors on both sides have said IMHO because at least he was TRYING to make a joke.

    July 12, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. judgement

    if BO lakes the judgement to bring a comedian who is known for crude jokes, then how is he going to have the judgement at the oval office... havd BM at the dinner was a clear issue... he's like Chris Rock or Eddie Murphy... they tell crude jokes. BO knew this, yet he took the RISK to have him on. it shows he lacks good judgement IMO. i know we all make mistakes, but this was an indication of his youth... he's not wise.

    July 12, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Manolo

    What a dumb decision to have a comedian who is known for racy humor (which I love by the way) introduce a presidential candidate. That would be like John McCain being introduced by Andrew Dice Clay, or Dane Cook. Come on people, GET SMART!! This is your's to lose Obama...

    July 12, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. yandoodan

    This is a variant on an ancient joke attributed to Ben Franklin. "Madam, would you make love to me for a million francs?" "Well, I might." "What about 25 centimes?" "Sir! What do you take me for?" "We have already established that; now we are dickering about price."

    The joke condemns relativist morality, and affirms absolute values. It is not an immoral joke.


    PS for Nation and Dr. Mimi. STOP SHOUTING!

    July 12, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. Electress

    Keep peeling away at the layers of the onion skins. No matter Obama would never would have got it if the people didn't yell out and protest. Can I spell it out, stop with the sexism in your campaign.

    July 12, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  11. Jason

    That joke has been around for years and is still funny. It can be told about any race or religion. So to make the joke a racial issue is dead wrong. Bernie Mac is hysterical. The only thing he did wrong was to perform for a bunch of uptight stuff shirts who have no sense of humor. Remember this about the words people say, it's not the words that you should be worried about. It is the intent of the person using them. Keep on Bernie Mac.

    July 12, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. lil

    Bernie Mac is a comedian and did what comedian do.
    Its not hard to be a friend to Obama, You just have to remember that
    everything you said can be held against him by the republican party
    and network TV just look at this article. Its being held against Obama.

    July 12, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. Voter234564

    Bernie Mac should know better – there's a time and place for everything and he should have modified his act based on the crowd he's entertaining – it's not rocket science! Barack was right to rebuke him.

    July 12, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. Ed

    This is SAD! It shows how disrespectful to women this guy called Bernie Mac is. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Shame on you. Shame on Jesse Jackson, also. These guys could never become the US president. They are too gheto for that job!

    Go, Obama. Go!!

    July 12, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. yen

    Yes, in the name of comedy, you Mac. should evaluate the type of audience he is talking to. It is confusing to young people to sit and hear certain jokes that are meant for adults.

    July 12, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. Brandy, NJ

    I'm a democrat. But I will not be voting for Obama. Frankly, I don't care if McCain becomes president – because I am not going to vote this time for the lesser of two evils. I don't like any of the candidates.

    Obama has no common sense. He changes his position every day on one issue or another and his supporters praise him for his good judgement.

    We've had a president for the past eight years who had no experience or business being a president ... actually Bush had more experience running a 'government' than Obama and look where that got us.

    All Obama will do is do one thing, say another thing, and apologize every other day for being an idiot and making the wrong decision.

    This is just another example ... Obama tries to stand up to Mac and say the routine needed cleaning up ... that we have to respect other people and women. Then he adds at the end of it " just kidding with you man".

    WHY add that appeasing last thought? He is such a double talker. He repremands him and then says 'just kidding'? Completely juvenile and irresponsible. Hey Iran stop doing what you are doing or there will be consequences, just kidding!

    For the first time ... I'm not voting ... I'm not voting for the lesser of two evils anymore.

    NO BAMA!

    July 12, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. robert

    HRC is pretending to be all nice and sweet !

    Do not trust the woman , least of all after she was egging others on to hurt Obama !!

    How could anyone even contemplate her as VP
    She is evil and must remain away from the campaign

    Please do not trust her Senator Obama , you will live to regret it !

    July 12, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  18. Desiree

    Maybe they should have researched some of Bernie Mack's material before they hired him.

    July 12, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Voter234564

    Lisa – you are very missinformed individual – whatever source you get your news – stop – righ now because you don't sound too smart.

    July 12, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  20. deedee

    again, another cover up to the personality of obama,,,he is good friends with bernie mac for years, but he tells him to clean it up JUST NOW? I am sure he had no knowledge of bernie mac's vulgar comedic show.......he's never attended any of his shows, and would have denounced the friendship had he known......get real folks. obama is just a lot of hot air and he's playing all his voters for fools

    July 12, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    I'm not a fan of Obama's but we have to pull together. I like McCain but could never vote for him. He is an idiot we did that for 8 years. All the hatefull blogs are'nt helping.

    July 12, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  22. Shotta Nic


    Well I guess a man who cheats on his wife and leaves her after she is disfigured is a better father.

    Please explain that one to me

    July 12, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. jean

    To the person who is touting that this is a bad time to be Obama's friend. You are narrow-minded. We all have friends who say things that we agree and disagree with. Only, they are not under the microscope so it doesn't matter. Some of you posters are so anti-Obama that you find any justification to post your hate-filled comments. This campaign highlights the war between good and evil. Bush has been the worst president in history, yet that's okay for many of you. Obama is trying to salvage this country and all you demons do is criticize him. He's going to be the next president. If you don't like it, then find yourself a new country.

    July 12, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. lehigh389

    More manufcatured news courtsey of Axelrod.

    July 12, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  25. Joe in NJ

    Obama to Iran:

    "You need to stop your nuclear program as well as threatening Israel and its alllies. I'm just messing with you man."

    Obama to China:

    "We need to establish a more balanced fair trade system and you need to improve your position on human rights. I'm just messing with you man."

    Obama to Americans:

    I am going to bring about a much needed change and make this country what it once was and what is should be. I'm just messing with man."


    July 12, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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