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. James in Ohio

    The joke was in poor taste, but what is even sadder is that Obama clearly didn't mind it by saying the "clean up you act...just messing with you man"

    July 12, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Brett

    If Obama was "in-touch" with American people, he'd realize they do not take JOKES seriously!

    CLINTON '08....at least she talked about what Americans care about.

    July 12, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Republican Joe

    I am a republican who is voting for Barack and I never voted for a democrat in my life. It sounds like you republicans who read this statement have nothing better to do than show hatred. Lets talk about McCains advisors who say such things as we are a country of whiners, we need a terrorist attack on US soil, and thats Barack being shot at. I rather have Obama's friends over McCains friends anytime.

    July 12, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Ashley

    Well Obama is at it again. I love Hillary and all she represented for women in America. I will not be voting for Barack Obama. I am a democrat, but I am not a democrat for Barack Obama. He continues to find real "winners" to represent his campaign. He continues to allow those around him to keep putting women down. "Im just messing with you." Really well Mr. Obama you do have a mess on your hands. If you think that all of Hillary's supporters are just gonna fall into your lap and vote for you well you got it wrong sir. I've met many who would much rather vote for McCain. You're not the man you say you are. You are the slimiest politician I have ever seen because not only do you do exactly what they all do, but you try to make people believe that you dont. Well I'm not buying it. Keep allowing people around you to put women down. You have two daughters. And finally, try, try to be a little more humble. You are not Kennedy, Martin Luther King or Lincoln. As a senator what are your great accomplishments?... Humility is a virtue which would make people a lot more happy to support you. I suggest you try to get some.

    July 12, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. chargy18

    Obama an old saying you should listen to:
    "Play with dirt your gonna get dirty"
    And from the noise of your friends Rezko, Wright, Bernie Mac your downright FILTHY!!!!
    Go PUMA's

    July 12, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. Melanie

    You are the company you keep.

    July 12, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Naomi, TX

    I like Bernie since back in the day but this was not the place for that joke... Yeah, he should have stayed home on that one....

    July 12, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Naomi, TX

    'Hussein Hussein': quit it! Your nonsense is just sickening!

    July 12, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. ruth

    Why is it a big deal? CNN get it together and down highlighting nonsense. This is not a news item I get so sick of much to do about nothing tabaloid reading. Can we have real news items from both camps and not just focus on the people around Sen Obama. We are more than a one dimentional nation of people. Sometimes i don't know if this is news for entertainment only or just gossip. Where is the news?

    July 12, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. RyanD.

    Voter said "This jerk comedian is just..."

    The fact that you have no idea who Bernie Mac is means you're just as confused and out of touch as McCain is.

    Step aside. Let the youth fix the country you all broke, please...before it gets worse.

    Obama 08'

    July 12, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. Marc PDX

    @CE, re: Obama always rebuking his friends...

    I'm not sure what to make of it really. Either Obama has incredibly poor judgement in his selection of friends and keeps realizing their deficiencies after the fact. Or he is incredibly two faced: showing one face to the nation and a completely different one to these miscreant friends of his. Problem is the guy just appeared on the national stage and we don't really know him. I guess we'll find out who he is AFTER he becomes president. BTW, is it just me, or does it seem like there's something horribly wrong with this picture?

    July 12, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Brandon Hillary PUMA for Mc Cain OH

    Obama not now not ever !!!


    July 12, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. johny

    you guys from CNN are against Obama. You are only posting negative comments on Obama. Shame on you, advocates of old politics

    July 12, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. Al Schmitt

    I'm sorry but Bernie Mac is not funny, and he should clean up his act.

    July 12, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. GOP Supporter

    Both are friends...eh? Change? Nothing has changed.

    July 12, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  16. Leslie

    Putting women down is no joke. Any politician who is a friend of someone who continues in 2008 to put women down should not be running for president. Because Barack is not a woman does not give him or anyone else the right to put women down. Prostitution and derogatory language has no place in politic. The same standard needs to be set for women as for race. Anyone making a comment such as that, joke or no joke, should be immediately rebuked. Obama is clearly not the great uniter that he keeps trying to say he is. He should have come out and immediately said that such language was wrong and would not be tolerated. He should have apologized immediately. As a woman his defense of women was in itself a joke. He is not presidential material.

    July 12, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. Eleanor

    Obama continues to give Hillary supporters reasons to support him on election day. Nope.

    July 12, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. election watcher

    Big surprise there!
    Just say Nobama!

    July 12, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Lisa

    I've been trying to explain to Obama supporters that he's more like a friend than a President but they didn't want to believe me.

    July 12, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. RG

    I like Senator Obama

    I like Bernie Mac

    But you don't ask your frat drinking buddies to give you an intro at a job interview

    I've been in Obama's corner in every controvertial thing so far, but this time there was a serious lack of judgement by someone in his campaign in letting Bernie speak at this event

    -1 point, moving on...

    July 12, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Henry

    To Experience Counts.
    Your comment,wanting to ask Obama what 2+2 is, had me laughing. Your descriptive "Obama response" had me picturing him exactly as you desribed.
    On the serious side of the Bernie/Obama exchange ending with "I'm just messing with you" it just adds to a very uncomfortable feeling I get about Obama.

    July 12, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. D Imus

    Bernie Mac for VP!

    July 12, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. nola

    Bernie Mac is not a dumb man so why would he accept an engagement that he knew would not be open too the language that he usually uses in his acts. There is a time and a place for everything and this was not one where you go in an tell dumb put down jokes about women.

    Please let each of us start respecting each other and stop using offensive terms when speaking of individuals. The term used by Bernie Mac is not restricted to describing a African American female but too describing all females, regardless of her race.

    July 12, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. bostonian

    Bernie MAC is an accomplished comedian, and as acts have generated revenue as

    Original Kings of Comedy:
    movie – $40 million
    tour – $40 million
    DVD -$80 million

    my point? everyone knows him and is brand of comedy and clearly $160million of revenue doesn't come from a homogenous audience.

    if they didn't want that brand of entertainment, they shouldn't have contracted him.

    good comedians should be provocative. They are risk takers who through jokes force us to confront realities we deny.

    July 12, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. This is news??

    Phil Gramm gets a few hours of coverage from CNN....and this gets top story in the ticker? Let me go whine about my mental recession now...

    July 12, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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