January 13th, 2008
09:15 AM ET
10 years ago

Clinton blames Obama campaign for comment controversy

The campaigns of Clinton and Obama have sparred over recent comments.

The campaigns of Clinton and Obama have sparred over recent comments.

(CNN) - Democrat Hillary Clinton said news reports that a key black lawmaker in the early-voting state of South Carolina had criticized her campaign for recent comments were inaccurate – and blamed the stories and much of the recent controversy on rival Barack Obama’s campaign.

"Well you'll have to look at the sources of some of it, but it is something I was disturbed by… I think it clearly came from Sen. Obama's campaign, and I don't think that it's the kind of debate we should be having in our campaign," Clinton told reporters Saturday after a campaign stop.

Clinton had faced criticism over comments she made in Fox News interview in which she tried to make a point about presidential leadership by comparing the legacies of President John Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done,” Clinton said, in a claim that her experience was more important than Obama’s soaring rhetoric.

Several African-American leaders objected to the comparison. On Friday, Democrat Rep. Jim Clyburn, a powerful member of congressional leadership, signaled his displeasure with her remarks in comments published in the New York Times.

“We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics. It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone’s motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those. That bothered me a great deal,” said Clyburn.

Clyburn, who has not made an endorsement in the Democratic presidential primary, later released a statement signaling his intent to remain neutral and encouraging White House hopefuls “to be sensitive about the words they use.”

African-American voters make up roughly half of the Democratic electorate in Clyburn's key early-voting home state of South Carolina, where Obama now holds a double-digit edge over Clinton in most recent polls. The Democratic primary there is scheduled for January 26.

Clinton and Obama have spent the past few days locked in a heated back-and-forth over the issue, culminating in a Friday Politico report in which Obama spokeswoman Candice Tolliver said “a cross-section of voters are alarmed at the tenor of some of these statements,” and that the New York senator would have decide whether apologies were in order.

“There’s a groundswell of reaction to these comments — and not just these latest comments but really a pattern, or a series of comments that we’ve heard for several months… Folks are beginning to wonder: Is this really an isolated situation, or is there something bigger behind all of this?” said Tolliver.

Clinton tried to defuse the issue when asked how big of a factor race would be during the primary season. "I hope none you know I don't think either Sen. Obama or myself want to see the injection of race or gender into this campaign. We're each running as individuals."

–CNN's Sasha Johnson and Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. Jimmy

    Obama 08,

    Your right Clinton will never be a Matin L King or a John F Kenndy, but she will be a Hillary Clinton.

    Barack Obama is no Martin L. King or John F Kennedy or even Bobby Kennedy as he was claiming earlier on in his campaign. He is not even a good Senator yet. He keeps missing votes. Claims he is running for the Presidencey and should be excussed. Senator Clinton is still doing her job along with running for President. It has been months since we have heard anything that Obama has done, other then campaign for office. Why does he not have to do his job also. Can he not multi task.

    In Clintons Fox news Interview, she also spoke of her respect for Senator Obama, this is nothing new. Yes Obama is playing politics right along with Clinton, its just Obama's supporters are the most ruthless people, White , Black or yellow, They are the rudest blogers. If you don't agree with them (Obama supporters) then you are a bad person. THIS REMINDS ME OF GEORGE BUSH> MY WAY OR NOWAY> OBAMA'S NEW SLOGAN.

    Senaotr Clinton for President of the United States. A ticket with Obama as Vic President would be unstopable. Obama will faulter under the Republican rule..l They have been playing him for weels. He is not mature enough to figure it out.

    Again Senator Clinton for President of the United States.


    January 13, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Candace

    Many other examples of what the Clintons will do to get back to the White House. Another one of the latest: comments in the British paper The Guardian by an anonymous Clinton adviser that the only white voters supporting Obama are those wanting a "cool black friend" (as opposed to those voters wanting social change, presumably, Clintonistas). This is but the latest of a series of comments by the Clinton campaign seeking to inject race into this election. This appears to be consistent with a past prediction made by Dick Morris - a Republican spin-meister who was a previous personal political adviser to Slick Willy, until Morris scandalously had a telephone conference with the Oval Office while Morris was in his office on speaker phone with a prostitute. The prostitute later went public, leading to an acrimonious breakup with then sitting President Clinton. Morris, who knows the Clintons and their scorched earth political tactics, predicted that Hillary would seed stores drawing attention to the topic of Race. Each story could be individually spun, but collectively would create a media story focusing on this divisive issue. She and her team hope - according to Morris - both that her complicity in the incitement will be sufficiently measured to avoid detection or blame, and for Obama to overreact.

    January 13, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Trucker Tom

    Typical Ms. Clinton tactic, blame the victim. Only in this case with Obama it doesn't work, because Obama knows the simple secret of how to handle injustice so that everyone can see who the real racists are. The Clintons are has beens and need to move to China, Venezuala, or Cuba or somewhere they would better fit in.

    January 13, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. Amy

    I can't believe she would lie that Obama had anything to say about her remarks. Other people were upset about her remarks and commented. Obama ignored them as is correct. She is playing her political games as usual. I am so determined to NEVER vote for her.

    January 13, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Glenn

    Hey Clintons (Bill & Hill),

    I know this always works for you in the MY community (I'm Black), when ever someone does not agree with you it's time to attack them. Most of the time you have been on the mark. This time you are wrong. I know that you can't see it but all of your views come from your world not ours. You both come across as if you know what it is to be Black in America. You seam to think that only you can speak for Blacks. That a Black man can't speak unless he has been beaten, gassed, arrested or treated like crap by whites. You are off the mark.
    Want to know what its like to be Black in America try this.

    Pick any Black male, put him in a $2500.00 suite in downtown New York (your turf), then you or Bill stand 10 yards past him with jeans and shirt on. Both signal for a cab. See who gets one. You can also try this in any city in America and get the same results.

    If I'm wrong I will go back to supporting you. Thats the other thing until the past week I was for you 100% but after see what you both have had to say of late not now or ever.

    You can think you know us and feel our pain but you don't and never can. I'm not changing because of race but because the both come across as if Blacks owe you something, we don't.

    Obama may be only half Black, may have been raised under in a different enviroment than most Blacks but he still has a better understanding of what Blacks and all minorties (by color or class) have to go through each day in this country.

    That cab would pass him by 9 out of 10 times. Not so for you or Bill.

    January 13, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. jeff

    many in the media are still in denial about the hillary factor, which remains poorly characterized. how did negative spin toward hillary cause such a swing in the electorate?

    bringing up the bradley factor when obama doesn't carry that kind of weight is a form of denial and shows a lack of focus on how the issue of sexism may continue to influence this campaign.

    January 13, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. PW Va

    To: Zoo (love the name, by the way) 🙂

    I couldn't have said it better myself!!!

    January 13, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. connie - Michigan

    You know its funny how every time Obama doesn't like something that is said about him it automatically turns into a race issue but when CNN is praising him as they always do there is never nothing wrong so the only thing that I have to say to Obama is that this is what you asked for when you threw your hat into the ring to be president so either get used to it and defend yourself w/out throwing race into the mix or get out of the way.

    January 13, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. Steven McCain

    Remember the mentally ill guy Bill Clinton sent to his death when was Governor just show he was tough on crime. Remember the Sista Sojer moment in 1992 when Bill wanted to let the red states he could be tough with colored folks. Bill and Hill are not playing fair. Beat Obama fair and square and the Black people will respect you. But this win at all cost plan you are running is gonna back fire on you. Toni Morrison's comment that Bill was the first black president can only insulate you for so long. Personally I think Morrison's coment should have been taken to task many years back. What it said in truth was that we are so wanting of someone black to be president that we had to adopt one.Black leaders supporting Clinton should watch out too.

    January 13, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. TexanforHillary

    Do any of the Obama supportors EVER bother to check the facts or just listen to spin..
    Here they are for those of you that do not know or do not care do any research.
    When John F. Kennedy secured the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1960, he surprisingly chose Johnson as his running mate, hoping the Texas senator would appeal to southern voters. Shortly after winning the election, Kennedy named Johnson chairman of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. With Johnson’s encouragement, on 11 June 1963, Kennedy framed civil rights in moral terms for the first time during a national address.

    Following the assassination of President Kennedy on 22 November 1963, Johnson challenged Congress to pass the civil rights legislation that had been deadlocked at the time of Kennedy’s death. King publicly supported Johnson, saying that Johnson had taught him to recognize that there were “new white elements” in the South “whose love of their land was stronger than the grip of old habits and customs,” and expressed optimism that Johnson’s term would benefit African Americans (King, 1964).
    On 2 July 1964 Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a far reaching bill he hoped would “eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in America” (Kenworthy, “President Signs Civil Rights Bill”). King stood behind Johnson as he signed the bill into law.

    Can't gloss over the truth. Si se puede.

    January 13, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |


    January 13, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. Ann


    January 13, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Matt

    For you naysayers...have you actually looked at the Clintons' history with African-Americans vs. Obama's?

    Even though Obama is half African-American, it doesn't mean that he is necessarily more supportive or more receptive to African-American causes.

    Hillary walks the talk.

    January 13, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. asheto

    Hillary should not blame anyone for his or her husband's comments but herself. She said it and people of racial background were offended about her comments. She should appologise to all those that are affended ,instead of blaming someone for her comments. This exactly what everyone is worried about her porous candidacy. Her presidency will divide the nation, especially Democrats .Obama's presidency will give hope to every American of various racial ,gender,and religious background,of becoming president of the United States.

    January 13, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. Courtney S.

    What is HER real experience. I know she is experienced at making excuses, placing blame.

    First lady of Arakansas, First lady of US and a carpet bagger 1 term now serving her second term Senator.... I didn't know that being the wife made you experienced. I guess that means Laura Bush should run for office next because she's got SO much experience.

    How do you blame the Obama's camp for comment made by Clyburn who has remained in the middle.

    The Clintons are race bating... "I'm so proud of Obama" to a crowd of all Black what should they say...Thanks Masta? She is desperate, and the Clintons are gross...

    January 13, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  16. Tom Davie

    texan writes.....

    .......Is it a Fairy Tale?
    " I voted against the war"
    Obama was NOT in Congress during the vote to go to war. He has in fact since his short time as a Jr. Senator voted to continue funding the war on each and every vote. There is no public record about his view on this vote or indication that he was even aware of such a vote. He has only been in the Senate since 2004 and for the last year has been on the campaign trail in his quest for President.
    I do believe that senator Obama says 'im the only one who DIDNT vote for the war'

    He fails to mention he had no say in it. He didnt get to vote.

    This is why the Obama camp has walked on eggshells around Hillary voting for the war. Because he didnt vote against it. Otherwize she would have been attacked to death by now.

    Is his Iraq vote a fairly tale . ABSOLUTELY YES.

    Is his campaign an entire FAIRYTALE?

    No. He has run an excellent campaign and i am delighted an African american has a real chance to win the white house.

    Is his actual experience in Washington going to translate into an ability to be president and UNITE the senate and house magically?


    January 13, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. James Brown ( Independent )

    The Clinton's are getting desperate and you can look for them to be digging down deep into there dirty bag of tricks. But you know , the American people are smart enough to see through Bill & Hill , and they are doing a pretty good job of shooting there selves in the foot.

    Obama 08

    January 13, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  18. concerned in TN

    I am a Clinton fan,or shall I say Bill Clinton fan, He has a record of supporting minorities, but I do not know where Hillary stands on many issues concerning minorities. She seems to riding her husbands coattails on a lot of issues . She continually says "We Have done"this and that. No Sista your husband did!!!!!!!! What has she truly done since she became Senator. She wants to talk about distorting records she should first look at her own record.

    January 13, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  19. Don

    Enough, I am done while I still have a brain. Just to point out how this all gets distorted, Zac above states Clinton BASICALLY said MLK was a dreamer......read the rest if you like. Clinton did not BASICALLY say that. Be big enough to say everything she says or say nothing. All this does is to continue to spread a lie. As a matter of fact, these blogs are so misuesed. Its not a place to speak your mind. Its the new backyard fence, where you can start a rumor based on little fact and distort it until someone is hurt. I am sure there are truthful honest people here who would like to talk ISSUES, however, most blogs have turned into a political hate machine fed by lies and lisleading "facts". As in the post, just because you write it, does not make it true. Grow up America.

    January 13, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  20. teddy orlando fl

    More Clinton Garbage........... as usual – are you clinton supporters deaf or are you Blind????

    She is a liar and will say anything to get elected and no its not spin she lies

    Hillary please go away change is coming and it aint you

    January 13, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  21. Allen

    Hillary said in NH that LBJ's legislation was more important than Dr. King's moral impact on the United States. What Dr. King did was far more profound and important than the legislation (although both were great acts).

    January 13, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  22. Lisa

    Ginny Ca January 13, 2008 10:49 am ET

    Everyone who has been paying attention over the years knows that both Clintons have a solid record on civil rights and that they have had great support from the black community because of it. It is on the record that ,since Hillary's college days, Martin Luther King was her hero. It was a life-altering event for her when he was killed.

    --actually I thought that Hillary laughed about being a Goldwater girl, complete with cowboy outfit (whatever that means) and campaigned for his election in the book that she wrote about her life. This would have been after MLK Jr's death.

    January 13, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  23. PA Guy

    It’s the good cop / bad cop routine. Good cops, Obama and his camp claim to say nothing about racism while Bad cops, Donna Brazile, Clyburn and Sharpton inject the race issue. This was well played. Kudos to them!
    Obama reaps the the benefits.

    January 13, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. me

    This whole race card issue is getting carried away completely by those who seek to benefit by it! Lest we forget, Sen. Obama had 2 parents, not one, a black father and a white mother and his mother raised him since a young age!

    What is at the heart of this matter is LEADERSHIP! A true leader does more than sit back and do nothing when controversy is flying around, a real leader stands in the middle and deals with issues and puts an end to them! Sen. Obama has allowed his wife, his campaign back roomers, certain media types and even Sen. Edwards entice and or twist things around while he sits around keeping his hands clean, appearing to take the high road as some call it when in fact he is doing what he has done his entire political career, avoiding the controversial issues and not showing leadership in attempts to further his own agenda of seeking power!

    What this candidate is showing is a complete lack of LEADERSHIP! I sit in the middle, and in doing so, I will call out things that are going on or lacking going on!

    I, unlike most it seems have read verbatim what Sen. Clinton said regarding the MLK issue and she was making a point in talking about working together and not alone, there definately was no racism in it, aside from those who just want to make things up for their own agenda!

    Former President Clinton’s statements about Sen. Obama on the war in Iraq issue (which again some in Sen. Obama’s party have again backdoored into play the racial card) and it is fair of him to bring it up since Sen. Obama has been going around preaching it only in a way that benefits him leaving out the balance! The unfortunate thing is Sen. Obama was not in the trenches when the matter came to be acted upon and since he wasn’t, thus he has no right to talk about it in limited context, either talk completely or not at all!

    This to all those who have burried their heads in the sand, face the facts, many don't like the Clinton's and espire to rehash parts that demean them, but we can do that about anyone, even JFK, so why rehash Republican crap again, because one thing about the Clinton Presidency that is clear, the Economy and a multitude of other things that mattered did change for the better when he was President, ruined by Bush Sr. and Regan years!

    And as for Sen. Obama, he is an eliquent speaker and motivator, he's managed to inspired us, some might say since the writers strike took up and Oprah lost her writers to the strike, but we won't! So lets not be sideliners or seek out another Sen. Kerry as we did in 2004, history will once again shows us where that got the American people just another 4 years of Bush and Republicans!

    So this advice to Sen. Obama, show your LEADERSHIP abilities and not Kerry abilities because we definitely do not want or need another Republican Whitehouse and when the time comes to face the Republicans, they will have a field day with everything about Sen. Obama should he win the Democratic race, and the sideline stances will go the way of his endorser Sen. Kerry did 4 years ago, like it or not because the real hatred in America worse than racial or gender is the real HATRED Republicans have for Democrats!

    January 13, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  25. Twigster

    The only goal that the Clintons have in playing both the race and gender cards is to pit us all against each other and keep us from uniting behind Obama and his message-change Washington. Change the status quo. Both MLK and LBJ were necessary for the civil rights act to be enacted. And stressed out women who cry also support Obama. Let's not lose the real meaning of this campaign season.

    January 13, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
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