November 18th, 2007
09:47 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama to Clinton: Don't 'Swift Boat' me

Obama reacted Saturday to reports that a smear from the Clinton campaign may be coming.

(CNN)–Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called on his rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, to put to rest a report that agents of her campaign are spreading word of an alleged scandal involving Obama.

"She of all people, having complained so often about 'the politics of personal destruction,' should move quickly to either stand by or renounce these tactics," Obama said in a statement released by his campaign on Saturday.

Obama's comments stem from a newspaper column by the journalist Robert Novak published Saturday. Novak claimed that surrogates for Clinton have mounted a word of mouth campaign among Democratic circles regarding scandalous information the Clinton campaign has about Obama. Novak said that experienced veterans of Democratic politics believe the Clinton campaign is withholding the release of the information because it wants to avoid a re-play of the 2004 nomination fight, when attacks on each other by Richard Gephardt, and Howard Dean were credited with assisting the rise, and eventual nomination of another candidate, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

" The cause of change in this country will not be deterred or sidetracked by the old 'Swift Boat' politics," the Illinois senator went on to say in the statement. "But in the interest of our party, and her own reputation, Senator Clinton should either make public any and all information referred to in the item, or concede the truth: that there is none."

"We have no idea what Mr. Novak's item is about and reject it totally," Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer told CNN Saturday. "Instead of pointing fingers at us, Senator Obama should get back to the issues and focus on what this election is really about."

"Once again Senator Obama is echoing Republican talking points, this time from Bob Novak. This is how Republicans work," Singer went on to say. "A Republican leaning journalist runs a blind item designed to set Democrats against one another. Experienced Democrats see this for what it is. Others get distracted and thrown off their games. Voters should be concerned about the readiness of any Democrat inexperienced enough to fall for this. There is a campaign in this race that has engaged in the very practice that Senator Obama is decrying, and it's his."

"The Clinton campaign has admitted that they do not possess the ‘scandalous information’ in question and we take them at their word," said David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager in a statement on Saturday. "But what we don’t accept is their assertion that this is somehow falling for Republican tricks. This is exactly the kind of smear politics, Democrats need to fight back on, regardless of the source or the party. Democrats should know that when Barack Obama is their nominee, he will not allow the ‘Swift boat’ politics of fear and diversion to prevail in this campaign."

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- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

soundoff (337 Responses)
  1. Jacob, Des Moines, Iowa

    all those who call obama "barack hussein osama" and say he is an islamic terrorist can kiss mine

    you all are just racists, religiously intolerable, ignorant people.

    now i know there are some people in my own republican party who have the same attitude towards muslims



    November 18, 2007 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  2. David Branch, Waco, Texas

    Obama shouldn't worry about it. The Clintonistas in the trailer parks won't remember it tomorrow unless Jerry Springer makes a reference to it.

    November 18, 2007 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  3. James,NH

    Let Obama grow up first, before he wants to run ( ruin ?) America 🙂
    Posted By Jim Bremer : November 18, 2007 9:14 pm

    You grow first..... I am sure you won't even grow to be an inch of Obama is even if we add you another 5000years to live in the universe. Just access this, if you are 25 and he is 46, do you even see yourself to be any close to where you are or you be left there whinning......I am sure even if he doesn't have a shot on this one, he still have a chance. If he doesn't make it he still have a life to live and I bet a very nice one. He already worth 2million. So go figure!

    November 19, 2007 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  4. muthoni,boston,ma

    You put an intelligent comment stating your views and gave supporting info why YOU like Hillary Clinton. The response to your comment was to get lost and implied you came across like an idiot. We both know from that response who looks like the idiot on here. Don't get angry, I'm sure you understand when people like that spew ignorant hatemongering statements that have no factual basis all they can come back with is idiotic responses.
    Posted By fair,washington,dc : November 18, 2007 7:16 pm -------------–
    you are just showing you are another idiot that live in America and just want a fake reputation of your leaders who are ruining your country. Unfortunately, those of us who are not Americans, but live here know this country is far from what the worlds look at it. No wonder people like you see no problem to have Bush in the white house. To be short, just open up your eyes it might change a thing or two in your resourceful and capable country....

    November 19, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  5. Ron Nebraska

    Give it up, Barack Hussein Osama.

    Hillary's gonna win ( Osama's quaking even before Hillary released the scandalous info

    But if Obama somehow does the impossible and gets the Dem nomination, guess what – me and a lot of other Dems are gonna vote for the Republican. Yes we know how bad they are, but atleast they're NOT MUSLIM JEHADI sympathiser.

    No way we can have a Muslim Jehadi guy running ( ruining?) America, the last defense against global Islamic terrorism.

    Posted By Jim Bremer : November 18, 2007 9:12 pm

    Wow, that's really clever Jim. Do you listen to Fox news much or did you make that up all your little self?

    November 19, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  6. David Columbus, OH

    Thanks for censoring me CNN. You guys are a real piece of work.

    November 19, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. Frank tulsa, ok

    Could it be that Novak is trying to stir the pot? Why doesn't he try to 'cannibalize' his own party?

    Consider the source folks, he's a pot stirring idiot using legal anonymity so he doesn't have to divulge the 'sources' that he doesn't have.

    Do any of you think it's ironic that this comes on the heels of the Rove advice to Barak? This is calculated crap. Why does Nofacts and Rover all of the sudden care about the Dems primary so much? We're so stupid, we fall for this ridiculousness every time. If we keep buying into it we'll lose the general election for sure.

    We all talk about how these idiots have no creditibility then react on this blog like fish to bait.

    WAKE UP DEMS THEY STILL THINK THEY HAVE OUR NUMBER!!!! And we're proving them right.

    November 19, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. JC, Topeka, Kansas

    Once apon a time there was a canidate named Obama. obama was a breath of fresh air, then political handlers got ahold of him, and he became a typical canidate without apparently out a history to stand upon. Why do I say this, because Obama started attacking other canidates rather than talking his ideas.

    Turn off, now that he is being attacked by parties not named, he crys foul, wwell, all I can say is if you want a public life and you want to thrown stones, you had better be prepared for some stones to be tossed your way.

    You want it to stop, ignore it and run a positive, up front campaign. Talk your poliicies and ideas and attack no other canidate. But don't mind me, you lost my vote when the handlers got hold of you.

    November 19, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Anonymous, NC

    Are we seeing evidence of Hillary's goon squad Dick Morris is so vocal about? Say it isn't so...

    November 19, 2007 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  10. Jennifer, Denver, Colorado

    I am disappointed that the reporting on Iowa polls is understated. The fact that Obama is leading should be the opening line, not hidden paragraphs later. Obama is ahead of Clinton at present and that IS big news. He has been behind Clinton in the polls for a long while, and Iowa is very important. So, why not amp this up as done with Clinton's meager performance in Nevada with a favorable audience? What is the goal in reporting these days? Is the same-old-same-old better news than change?

    November 20, 2007 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  11. therealist

    "Don't 'Swift Boat' me"

    Hey Obama, I think you would have actually had to have been in the military for a group of fellow US officers dispute your accounts of combat..

    November 20, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. Jacqueline

    Hmm...Fool us twice CNN and MSNBC and Fox and you get real good at it...You can get away with stealing another election for your corporate candidate...not a problem...Hillary as nominee is a shoe in for YOUR choice of corporate sponsor to win. I'd wish you luck but you guys don't need it as long as YOU own the disinformation/propaganda channels.

    January 9, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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