(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
Hillary was asked today was Berrack Obama ready to be a President ?
her answer was let the voters decide I can respect that after all she is running
her self. She was then asked was he ready to be Vise President ? she again answered let the voters decide if I am correct the presidential nonminee
the choose a running mate. she has shown her true colors on CHANGE
and further more nothing against Hillary and Bill but were would the change be with the two of them Back in the White House
The Clintons are up to their power hungry tactics at the expense of the intelligence of the American electorate. Please let them know we are smarter than they think and vote in protest. Hilliary is not 1/32 of a Maggie Thatcher.
" WHILE THE DOGS ARE BARKING, THE CARAVAN IS PASSING " OBAMA 08 !!!
Placing the Clintons' (race) comments in full context
The debate over race is continuing to rock the Democratic primary, and I now feel obliged to offer a mea culpa. In the post in which I summarized the complaints of Obama's campaign against comments made by the Clintons, I quoted the version of Hillary's quote on MLK as it appeared in the New York Times - but it now looks like the quote used by the NYT and most media accounts might have mischaracterized what Clinton said by completely truncating her comments, in a way that makes her words look much more condescending to King than the full quote does (this is being reported and pointed out by TPM's reporting team).
This is not to say that Clinton's words were not inappropriate, but that this leaves room to interpret her comments as a swipe to John F. Kennedy (to whom Obama is often compared) rather than at MLK. With Clinton's comments now at the center of a firestorm, the meaning of what she said is being debated with increasing heat. And voters can still decide that Clinton was disparaging King's accomplishments, but they should do so after having looked at the full quote. So here is the the NYT's account I relied on in my original post:
“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Mrs. Clinton said in trying to make the case that her experience should mean more to voters than the uplifting words of Mr. Obama. “It took a president to get it done.”
And here is Clinton's full quote:
I would point to the fact that that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the President before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became a real in people's lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it, and actually got it accomplished.
As I said, this does not at all clear up Clinton's comments, and her comments about "the dream" becoming reality towards the end appears to hint at MLK's dream, seemingly diminishing the momentous importance of King's actions, marches and organizing. But Clinton's criticism of Kennedy seems more relevant to what she was saying - in essence that JFK trumpeted his commitment to civil-rights but did not have the capacity to back up his speeches, whereas Johnson actually rolled up his sleeve and acted. Both interpretations are possible, and the "it took a president" could be diminishing to MLK or to JFK, depending on how people want to read this. But debating on these grounds and using the full quote seems much more fair than relying on the truncated version.
I am getting so tired of the Clinton's twisting their own words around after the fact to make it seem different than it really was. Now blaming the Obama campaign is the hight of the politics of fear and negativity. As a woman, I am embarrassed by her deliberate and transparent pandering and grab for power.
I am getting so tired of the Clinton's twisting their own words around after the fact to make it seem different than it really was. Now blaming the Obama campaign is the height of the politics of fear and negativity. As a woman, I am embarrassed by her deliberate and transparent pandering and grab for power.
I hope that this doesn't further spiral into a huge campaign battle.
I pay close attention to the campaigns, and I haven't yet seen any indication that Obama's camp is spreading anything false or exaggerating things. I am drawn toward Obama mostly because his campaign is very civil and well-mannered, and so far his attacks on rivals haven't been deeply personal.
Hillary needs to demonstrate her own capacity for civility and if she wants to be President, she must not engage in the same old attack politics.
I will be very disappointed if this starts to become a race/gender war. Everything is taken out of context.
Its o.k. for Barack to reference MLK, but when Hillary challanges his reference it becomes racial. It was quite obvious to me that she was referring to the need to have political support to in fact make MLK's dreams happen. He was not a politician, but had great influence on the people and impressing the need for change. He was the voice of the people. But, without support of the white house, his quest for change would have been just a dream. I wonder if Barack wasn't black and references were made if any of this would have really mattered.
As far as Bill's comments, the media takes 1 sound bite out of the speech and plays it for the world to hear. Reporters don't just report, they create controversy. Listen to the entire speech Bill gave – it was clearly about Baracks campaign with regard to Iraq. He clearly references his 2002 speech and the removal of his previous comments from his web site and how his stance changed. I did not hear anything about race, and again wonder if Barack were not black if this would even be an issue.
The Al Sharptons of the world need to stop stirring the pot. THEY are the ones that will not let racisim die and keep the divisivness between the people of this country. If they didn't, they would be out of a job! Lets not get carried away and begin to nit pick each and every word that when created as a sound bite could mean anything – and twisted and contorted. If presented completely the true message is heard.
Its almost as if the media and everybody else is afraid to challange or comment on Barack BECAUSE he is black. I have not heard any bad press on Barack at all with regard to his change in stance on Iraq or his denial of previously being a muslim. Give me a break is right Bill! Stop tip toeing around and lets start getting to know the real Barack!
Billary Clinton will say and do anything to get back in power, I'm not surprised, it just scares the crap out of me.
and to blame her gaffes on
Right Clinton! You said it but it is Obama's fault. Same old blame game. Some day maybe you will take responsibility for your own stupid statements.
Remember, also, with the exception of Bobby Kennedy (and he cut deals with southern officials) it wasn't the Democrats that were avidly supporting civil rights. Don't recall Senator Byrd out front on that one. Nor many other Southern Dems either.
No, some other party helped put the CRA on Johnson's desk. Now which party was that again? Hmmm.
Billary Clinton will say and do anything to get back in power, I'm not surprised, it just scares the crap out of me.
and to blame her gaffes on Obama is out right disingenuous
HILLARY'S NOT GOING TO CRY AGAIN IS SHE, BECAUSE I THINK I'M GOING TO BE SICK.
When i first heard Hillary make the comment re. MLK and LJohnson, I knew what point she was trying to make about Obama vs. herself [poetry vs. prose], but cringed because the example she used was bad. What makes me angry w/her is that she doesn't admit her mistakes, whether on the Iraq war or her poor choice of words. Instead, she just points fingers back at someone else. Why can't she ever just admit she made an error and let people move on? And I don't recall Obama or his camp making any jab at her or Bill because he doesn't run that type of campaign. It took on a life of its own until she brought his name back into the argument and now he has to defend himself. I'm so tired of her crap. She's brilliant, bla bla bla, and she knows policy and can be a great Pres., but it's this type of crap i can't STAND about her.
Big surprise the RACE card is being brought out. No wonder the media doesn't go after Obama - they'd be accused of playing the "race card". People wonder why racism is still alive here in America - because the "race card" is played every single time from the black community.
I a frustrated with this Sunday CNN who talk over the candidates to each other so we cannot hear what they are saying. I am speaking particularly about the commentorrs at this hour of 11:00am Sunday. Let's hear less of them and more of Hillary and the others.
Both Clinton's are putting a spin on their comments and trying as hard as they can to back peddle. Then trying to blame others for what they said.
We need someone who will fight for the American people, not just on day one.
But everyday for us. Obama is the real deal. He can bring us together. Clintons will divide the nation, you can already see that happening. Wake up America!
No more Clintons in the White House.
Yes We Can!
Who black politicion in Power did anything for the betterment of the blacks. It is the whites who felt the plight of the black people who helped them, marched with them. Black politician is a puppet guided and run by the white politician. Note all the Governers and mayors, who are elected and prosecuted for illegal gratification.
IT has been 20 hasn't it. I'm stuck between Obama and Ron Paul. It's extremely hard to back a texas republican but he had me rollin in the debate in Myrtle Beach.
It's beginning to look like the Clintons are yesterdays news but I think the media is playing a part in that. They would not concieve her to win NH until like 99% of the votes were counted.
Having said this I'm also seeing Clinton mold her campaign after Obama's. The Change thing is obvious. But I'm also noticing before Iowa she was I,I,I, and carried that into NH. Obama always empowered the people in his campaign. Clinton stole that page.
Who's playing the race card?
Hillary would have been done eversince in New Hamshire. I have no idea why all the media decided to cover up her DRUNK DRIVING adviser? Please America, don't let this Clinton bunch get any further!
You are actually what you are. If you are negative, you'll always be negative even when you are trying to be positive because negativity is inherent, so is positivity!
I guess the Barack Obama comparisons to Martin Luther King (not to mention JFK) were too much for Hillary to bear so she attempted to belittle MLK’s contribution to history and to the civil rights gains made in America in the 1960’s. Now, of course she must backtrack as primary/caucus states where African American and Latino voters matter are in play.
For myself, as an African American who remembers the civil rights era, Mrs. Clinton’s comments were very insulting to me. Further proof that she is not equipped to be the kind of president who can bring a polarized nation together. If you do just a little research, you will see that Barrack Obama has a record of bringing opposing sides together to accomplish goals for the greater good, not to mention, this is a major tenet of his campaign. That, in my opinion, seems like the kind of ‘experience’ and attitude we need right now.
One thing Billary needs to do is have Bill shut up and go home. I can't figure out why he is playing such a large role in her run for President. None of the other presidential hopefuls have their spouses on the front lines sprouting off. Billary doesn't have a clue. As far back as I can remember she ALWAYS blamed someone else for her screwups-you know the "right wing conspiracy" garbage. I am sick of the Bushies and the Billaries–it is time for a change. 20+ years of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton is just more of the same.
Clinton focuses on economy in Presidential race Obama focuses on RACE!LETS ALL CONTINUE TO DO THE JOB THE MEDIA FAILED TO DO, EDUCATING VOTERS AND NOT PUSHING AN INEXPERIENCED RACIST DOWN OUR THROATS!!! IN A TIME OF WAR AND PENDING WAR AMERICA WOULD BE FOOLISH TO THROW SUPPORT BEHIND OBAMA...IT WOULD BE THE LAST FALL OF THE US. WE CANT AFFORD TO GIVE HIM 4 YEARS ON THE JOB TRAINING SEE HOW THAT WORKED OUT WITH BUSH!!! SENATOR CLINTON IS THE BEST CHANCE WE HAVE TO START HEALING IMMEDIATELY! SEND OPRAHBAMA BACK TO ILL TO GET SOME EXPERIENCE AND SOMEONE NEEDS TO TELL MICHELL OBAMA TO SHUT UP!!! WHITES AND HISPANICS ARE EXTREMELY SICK AND TIRED OF HER RACIAL REMARKS!!!! WHAT A POOR EXCUSE TO BE FIRST LADY, SHE NEEDS TO LEARN TO BE A LADY FIRST! ALL AMERCIA NEEDS HELP NOT JUST BLACK FOLKS OBAMA!!!!
How sad it is for American politics to have a somewhat Clintons being a 'couple' running for president and both meddling with mud-slinging in their own stupid twist of words – shame on you Hillary & Bill.
Obama – you need to step up your campaign explaining to the people your stance on these issues and drive your passion for change into actions that we can understand. Go Obama!
Bill Clinton, thank you for your service and remember that we forgave you once for your illegal moral conduct in office so please do something else like gardening.