December 13th, 2007
10:50 AM ET
15 years ago

Clinton official apologizes for Obama drug comment

A Clinton advisor has apologized for suggesting Republicans will seize on Obama's admission of drug use.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A top advisor to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign apologized late Wednesday night for suggesting Republicans will likely seize on rival Barack Obama's admission of drug use should the Illinois senator win the Democratic nomination.

"I deeply regret the comments I made today and they were not authorized by the campaign in any way," Bill Shaheen, the New Hampshire chairman of Clinton's campaign, said in a statement.

Shaheen, the husband of former New Hampshire governor Jeanne Shaheen, caused an uproar Wednesday afternoon when he told a Washington Post reporter he thinks Obama's chances of winning a general election matchup are seriously hindered by the fact he has admitted to using marijuana and cocaine.

"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight … and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on is his drug use," he said. "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?' There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome."

The comments were immediately called "desperate" by Obama's campaign spokesman David Plouffe.

“Sen. Clinton’s campaign is recycling old news that Barack Obama has been candid about in a book he wrote years ago, and he’s talked about the lessons he’s learned from these mistakes with young people all across the country," said Plouffe.

Meanwhile, Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said the campaign did not authorize or condone the remarks.

"Sen. Clinton is out every day talking about the issues that matter to the American people," he said.

The latest back-and-forth between the two campaigns on the issue of Obama's electability came the same day a new CNN/WMUR poll showed the two candidates statistically locked in a dead heat in New Hampshire. Clinton stands at 31 percent, with Obama just 1 percentage point behind – a statistical tie, given the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Steve, Portland, OR

    Sounds to me that Hillary can't even manage her own campaign personnel let alone the country.

    December 13, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. Elizabeth, Vero Bch, Fl.

    That's the best the Clinton campaign can do? If that is the worst thing that the opposition can find, then I think he might make a good president.

    December 13, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  3. You Know Who Tampa FL

    Pretty pathetic when they have to dig...that deep...that far back. Lol. They've got nothing else on his ADULT character & behavior.

    December 13, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    There was nothing to apoogize for. The comment was valid. What, it's okay to elect a criminal to the presidency, as long as he didnt get caught and later "admits" it? This was not altruistic honesty on the part of Obama. He wanted his transgressions out there prior to his run for the Presidency. It was a very calculated move. He was hoping it would then be a non-issue. Judging by the views expressed in this blog, he was right. No one really cares about a lack of character as long as they "admit" you have such a lack.

    December 13, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. John, Euless, TX

    BARACK OBAMA will be eaten alive by the Republicans if happens to win the nomination. Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot for letting him get as far as he has. He is not qualified enough. He will loose to the Right Wing system. Democrats have done it in the past. It is time to elect the toughest person capable of beating the Right Wing machine. You know who she is.....

    December 13, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Mike. NJ

    It is ironic that Shaheen is claiming the Republicans will bring up Obama's past drug use as a dirty trick as the justisification to using the same dirty trick. I think we have had enough of the negative campaigning found in the Rove/Bush and Clinton days of past.

    December 13, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  7. Jessica M., El Paso, TX

    It is interesting how people are trying to say that Obama won't be attacked because Bush did the same thing. HELLO! Bush did the same thing. I fail to see how this comparison is good for Obama.

    December 13, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  8. NightOwl WinterStorm USA

    Hey Obama – Just Say NO

    December 15, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Anne the Heartland of America

    Did anyone watch the Bill Moyers PBS interview with Dr. Ron Walters lastnight on how race is playing out in the campaign? Dr. Walters is the director of the African American Leadership Center at the University of Maryland. He had some very interesting concerns to say about Senator Obama's campaign strategy. He pointed out that many African Americans just don't feel the connection with Senator Obama nor that he is actually focusing on the major problems which concern them most ie poverty, the fact that 50% of the prison population is black, and the mortgage/foreclosure crisis – which is especially hitting the black community hard.

    In fact Dr. Walters pointed out that Hillary's campaign had a much broader base of diversity than Senator Obamas! And she was very focused and in tune with the issues of the black people, which is why the African American Leadership Center decided to support Hillary. (As much as women love Oprah -she just doesn't live in most women's world. And Dr. Walters actually went further, saying some pretty surprising observations!)

    Even the Mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young has cautioned that Senator Obama does NOT have enough leadership experience yet. And is also supporting Hillary Clinton in her bid for the White House as well. (This is from a black man who was very involved with the Civil Right's movement in the South)

    For me (as a woman who grew up in the Civil Rights era) it was between Hillary and Senator Obama. But to be quite frank, when Oprah invoked Dr. Martin Luther Jr's "Dream Speech" – it just didn't ring true to my ears – Dr. King Jr's DREAM was for ALL children of ALL race and colors to live in harmony as EQUALS. And personally, Oprah seemed to make it into more of a racial issue.

    So after listening to Dr. Walters lastnight and then doing some more research. I'm going to proudly stand up and cast my vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next President of the United States of America.

    I'm so excited for my daughter – that she will finally get to live in America as an equal to men AND no longer as a second class citizen!!

    December 15, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. laurie

    lol ?All these big wigs giving their endorsements to Hillary are simply doing so because they want cabinet seats and billary is promising them! Even the media in the beginning was praising this new man on the scene and how he was so great and then Bill Clinton ranted about the media and then guess what........the media backs off and all of a sudden HIllary was great with them!

    January 22, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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