January 13th, 2008
03:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton: Obama 'distorting' my remarks

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/13/art.clintons.ap.jpg caption="Hillary Clinton said Sunday the Obama campaign is distorting recent comments made by her and her husband."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton accused Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign Sunday of distorting remarks that she and her husband have made in recent days which touched off concerns among some African-American voters.

Clinton and Obama are in a heated fight for the support of black voters, particularly in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Jan. 26.

Speaking to NBC's "Meet the Press," Clinton accused the Obama camp of "putting out talking points" about the recent remarks.

Obama rejected Clinton's complaints as "ludicrous."

Sen. John Edwards, also in the running for the Democratic nomination, stepped in with his own fresh criticism of Clinton. Speaking at a church in South Carolina, he accused Clinton of suggesting "that real change came not through the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, but through a Washington politician."

In an interview with Fox News last week, Clinton said, "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." She has argued repeatedly that her experience shows she can get more done as president than Obama.

Some African-American leaders criticized the remarks as denigrating the civil rights movement and Dr. King. Both Clintons have long been popular among African-American leaders, and have extolled the civil rights movement. On "Meet the Press" Sunday, Clinton referred to King as "one of the people I admire most in the world."

Full story

- CNN's Josh Levs

soundoff (530 Responses)
  1. 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 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Dom

    Oh come on ...Bill and Hilary have always attacked Obama either directly or indirectly whenever he gets ahead.

    Fairy tale indeed !!!!

    January 13, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Obama4ever!

    Obama finished first in Iowa's Democratic caucuses. Clinton won in New Hampshire.

    "Clinton has re-established herself as the Democratic front-runner, especially among Democratic women," Schneider said.

    How is that Possible, Mr. schneider?

    January 13, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Bill

    Lyndon Johnson was not a saint. Nor was he an inspiring visionary speaker. But he was willing to put the future of the Democratic Party on the line to pass civil rights legislation.

    Dr. King's courage, and that of thousands of individual people willing to march, boycott the bus, defy evil law, run the gantlet of hoses and dogs and worse, created the conditions within which such a thing could even be contemplated. But surely it takes nothing away from Dr. King to observe that Johnson stepped up to drive the political process to burn that critical part of Dr. King's vision of change into law. Maybe given the imperative Dr. King led in the creation of, someone else would have done it if Johnson did not. But someone still needed to do it. It did indeed require a president.

    Epochal change carved into law probably never happens without inspiration and personal courage. But it also never happens without hard political work, and real political risk. It was certainly a political risk for Johnson and the Democratic Party, and they got it done anyway.

    We are by no means done with what Dr. King called us to do, and we will remember Dr. King, and revere his memory, and work with his inspiration as our drive, long after we've forgotten Johnson. But the things we must still do, in civil rights as in so many other spheres, will still need hard working, practical minded, get-it-done people driving the political machinery to make it happen. If we want to turn inspiration into change, It's up to us to elect the people who can do that - who have the political, not just the moral, courage to undertake that.

    It is fair to check to see if Senator Obama has that. It's fair politics to raise the question. We know he can inspire us, and I hope and trust he will go on doing so. Can he also work the machinery of government to turn the inspiration into change on the ground? Has he been willing to step up and take political risk to his reputation and his career, to his power base and his ambition, to confront the entrenched powers, to fight for what's right, win or lose? These are fair questions, and asking them does not disrespect him.

    January 13, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Marge Hibbing Mn

    Obama is using race to try to get the votes from Clinton. And it is a shame he is causing all kinds of racism. But the problem is....the press never ever calls him on any of the crap he spews.. He is given a pass on everything he does and of course ...the corporate republican MSM want him as the candidate, who else could they beat.

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

    @ Marvin, Dallas, TX

    Thank you. And this adds my theory and proof that the Black vote has been consistently undermined throughout history, but persistently throughout the Clinton's political reign as the fine gentleman from Tx eloquently explains.
    1st: A prime example of this is when Hillary Clinton went down to Harlem, almost two years ago, in the Abbyssian Baptist Church on "MLK" day, and stated that “The House “has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about,” said Clinton, D-N.Y. (U.S.A. Today)–”NO MRS CLINTON WE DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT” , which is so faux pas of her to do what people have been talking about for years that is so typical of the Democratic Party! The Clinton's have been abusing the black voter and people of this country for too long! Obama and everyone is tired of the legacy of the "Status Quo's"; Bush's and Clinton's they are all in the same.

    2nd, Hillary Clinton is being backed by Right Wing Republicans, because they know that this country has been Bushwacked enough, and that their candidates are garbage, and a large majority of "Right Wing" Republicans has been supporting Hillary. The proof is Rupert Murdock, the Media Mogul who also owns Fox (racially controversial) News Channel and other radio stations across the country which had made it hard for Air America and other Democratic airways to have equality in ownership, recently last fall through a large fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in New York, which means BLACK PEOPLE SHE CAN AND WILL BE BROUGHT LIKE BUSH IF SHE GETS IN THE WHITEHOUSE!!! –It's time for change!

    Thirdly, An interview with Hillary Clinton, conversations with 35 Clinton administration officials and a review of books about her White House years suggest that she was more of a sounding board than a policy maker, who learned through osmosis rather than decision-making, and who grew gradually more comfortable with the use of military power. It can’t be said often enough: Obama has been in elected office longer than she has, and they have the same amount of executive experience (zero)Her rivals scoff at the idea that her background gives her any special qualifications for the presidency, and on the campaign trail have increasingly been challenging her assertions of unique experience. Senator Barack Obama has especially questioned “what experiences she’s claiming” as first lady, noting that the job is not the same as being a cabinet member, much less president. And last Friday, he suggested that more foreign policy experts from the Clinton administration were supporting his candidacy than hers. (Hillary Clinton quickly released a list of 80 who were supporting her.)
    ( Hillary’s Resume Facts By the New York Times, Patrick Healy) 12/26/07.–Vote Obama...it's time for change folks!

    January 13, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Amit Mitra

    Statement made by Clintons are same as some people may suggest that it is not Gandhi and peoples effort which made India free from British Colonialism, it is the Queen and British Govt whose goodwill made India free. These couple are bad news for this country. These are the folks who avoided the issue of gays and left it with the "policy" of Dont ask Dont tell. This is the same lady who lied about her knowledge about Bill's affair for last 35 years but not shy about using those 35 years as "experience"

    January 13, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. Obama4ever!

    Yes We Can:
    I can not say it any better. You seem well balanced too with your thought. It is not carried away by any wind that is blowing right now........

    January 13, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Bruce Taylor

    Hillary and Bill Clinton have done nothing in the African-American community. I have always tried to evaluate their claims but they are disingenuous. African-Americans should not vote for any candidate simply because of the color of that person's skin. However,in this election the landscape is very clear. Lip-service is not community service.

    January 13, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. kate

    Those Clintons lie and lie and lie ... Bill said the WHOLE THING IS A FAIRY TALE .. when people started asking he then turns it around and says its just about the Iraq question (which he knew very well that he was taking out of context) ... the Clintons are good at planting these things because they know damage will have already been done by the time they come back to claim innocence ... Hillary and Bill might not be racist but they know other people might be and they just want to get those sentiments up and going .. whether Hillary wins or not she'll always be as low as they come ..

    January 13, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Who's distorting who?

    Many other examples of what the Clintons will do to get back to the White House.

    Check out 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.

    January 13, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. R

    More billary spin! she said a stupid thing trying to drive home bills "fairy tail" point and now they both have egg on their face, and now their going to try and blame Obama for what THEY said... I just read something that a hillary "supporter" just said as well " I constructed this whole complicated theory that I was resistant to the election of Barack because, if he won, then I and every other black person in the world was going to have to accept a new paradigm in American race relations—namely racism is not as pervasive and encompassing as we might like to believe and that the victim stance was going to be pretty hard to claim in the future. So then I became really excited and imagined how inspirational a black president would be, especially to the young black men who feel hopeless. Then came the 'You're likable enough, Hillary' moment, and I swung sharply back to Hillary...." if Barack wins, blacks will lose the race card!?! talk about dirty!

    January 13, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. BILL Schenectady,N.Y.

    Anyone concerned about what the clintons said publically should be more concerned about what they told those 200 supporters they bussed in to say to NH voters to swing votes in Hillary's direction. Now what could they say that would infer that a black president would be bad for America without actually using the "(N)" word ? It would have to be something that voters wouldn't be offended by and wouldn't report to the media. How about " The White House is too beautiful to be burned to the ground,a vote for Hillary will prevent that " ?

    January 13, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. Mike

    The days of unbiased media are over.

    The days of inaccurate polling, calling a win in the NH primary a return "Back from the Dead", and sensationalist journalism are here to stay.

    In the end we are voting for a leader of our country. A leader who must have a balanced agenda.

    Frankly, being moved to tears by a presidential candidate... how exactly does that make them fit to run a country? Because they're good public speakers?

    Therein lies our problem.

    This is NOT, nor should it be treated as, electing the class president in high school. The vote should not be based on charisma or looks or a game face... the false hope of getting better lunch in the cafeteria, that everyone must get along (remember Bush promised the whole everyone getting along thing too... it's nothing new).

    This is reality. As Americans we're ALL going to have different views, we're not going to get along 100% of the time.

    The thing that makes our country so great, is we have the right and duty to question, to make our voices heard, to strive and sweat and push to try to make things better. There is passion and purpose, but there most also be a game plan, a strategy, an infrastructure, rules and logic to apply to a common goal. Without that, nothing will be accomplished.

    I'm sure you've noticed our country, indeed the world, is in some pretty dire straights right now. Issues such as the environment, nuclear weapons proliferation, intolerance, failing education / healthcare, bankrupt social security etc... should be important and vital selling points for prospective leaders.

    So, please make your decision rationally. Do some research, get the facts, dig a little bit deeper than what you read on CNN.COM or watch on FOX.

    This is most likely one of the most important elections in our country's history.

    January 13, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. QuietStormX

    You Must Be Kidding ME! She, He and her staff started the talk. I remember those comments from a white person in her staff. Plus what the Clinton's have been saying, now running away from and trying too explain???

    Now they are trying to say Barack Obama's staff put this stuff out there. "Wrong"

    They started it, now they are getting caught! The Clinton's get nasty when they see and maybe feel something bad is going to happen? Nevada & South Carolina plus California and more.....

    January 13, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. jacob

    Let us be more recent in our judgement. If hillary actually cried in NH because her campaign was in shumbles, where was she when Black America needed her when they were stuck in New orleans. Why didn't she cry then during Hurricane Katrina?
    I am seeing through these people!

    January 13, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Jeffrey

    This accusation from Edwards and Osama (oops Obama) is absolutely ridiculous. Hillary and Bill Clinton have been champions of civils rights as far back as research on the Clintons goes. It is a shame that Obama and Edwards are resorting to such nastiness by twisting words for political gain. This is exactly what is wrong with this country, and if this campaign and showing how Obama and Edwards would govern, I hope Hillary creams them. They are pathetic, and I would have expected better from them than this.

    January 13, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. Tauasyman

    I would like to thing there is a difference between supporting there troops and supporting the war; I think that is what Obama did ; the troop needs the best suprot American people can give them

    Vote Obama

    January 13, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. Alice, VA

    How anyone can defend Bill and Hillary Clinton in a discussion of unethical, "low politics" is beyond me. These two are the definition of "low politics". Their history of lying, denials, spin, mudslinging, and bullying has been demonstrated during 8 years of Bill. Obviously, it still continues. What in the world were the Clintons doing with FBI files on their political opponents? You remember the ones that were "lost" and suddenly just appeared on the Clinton's coffee table. I don't think they were looking for mailing addresses to send birthday cards....BUT i'm sure their supports think so. Clinton....ONE OF THE WORST PRESIDENTS IN RECENT MEMORY....surpassed only by Jimmy Carter.

    January 13, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. Lewis

    The Clintons have been pandering to political constituencies for years. The truth is, Obama represents a threat to a core constuency and they will do whatever it takes to take him down because that's how they operate. They will say and do anything, and triangulate any position depending on what's most politically expedient. At the end of the day, it's all about them, not what's best for us. And the worst part is that they will take down an African American who inspires millions, much like Dr. King. Her divisiveness and smug superiority, and Bill's willingness to sacrifice his presidential legacy to promote her candidacy is pathetic. Dems, if we nominate HRC, we not only lose the presidency but everything we've gained back over the past several years. She will unite the Repubs and drag down state and local tickets everywhere. Hillary is unelectable and, when it comes down to it, our worst nightmare.

    January 13, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. jp/michigan

    Mr. Obama is more concerned with the people of Africa then he is of the American people. He uses the scars of Dr. King to describe himself as the choose leader of the American people, the uniter. He personal has no scars and he selectively takes out of context quotes to pump up his place in history. Its a ugly game Obama is playing. What he did said in 2002, 2004 2005 and 2006 can be looked up on the Internet and one can judge for themselves. His words written by his writing staff does inspire change and unity, But has yet shown me what scars or actions of the past that he has the ability to provide unity.

    January 13, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  22. Terry

    Anyone who is stupid and foolish enough to even suggest that the Clintons are racist are themselves racist, bigotted and paranoid. Obama is a slick phony who has lied before and isn't about to stop now. Obama isn't just black; he's also white. For him to constantly ride the one race and not the other is also racist and bigotted. Apparently, Obama is ashamed of his white race. It's deliberate distortions like this, which Obama, Sharpton and others keep vomiting out of their evil mouths that helps to create a false racial element. Don't fall for this hype. And, Edwards is a wannabe and a big loser one at that!

    January 13, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Sis

    Hillary is not being truthful. She should focus on the issues and stop trying to bait Obama with her divisive dirty politics.

    January 13, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. nicky


    As a minority woman in a southern state, I was very excited and rooting for Obama, and even contributed what I could to his camp. However, his inability or unwillingness to own up to the fact that he is in someways, implicitly, using the race card with people like me, a minority who really supported his message has changed my mind. In addition, after hearing Michelle Obama saying "wake up and get it" (I saw the entire speech via c-span)is insulting to me, almost saying I have to vote for Obama b/c "us minorities" have to stick together. I have many non-white friends as well as many white friends who helped me pursue a graduate degree and I find it incredibly insulting that I should be expected to vote with the "minority block".
    I really supported Obama, and now I am not sure who I will be voting for. I am not that much of a fan of Hillary Clinton, but I am absoluted appalled that the hillary clinton and her husband are basically being called racists. I read what she said, it might have been a tad insensitive, but it was not racist, and frankly I don't want a president, woman, black, or white, who will basically cry "sexist" or "racist" every time his/her decision or capability for certain decisions is questioned.

    I will not be voting for Obama for my primary or in the general election, and I guess I am again back to square one as to who to support, I may end up voting for Hillary Clinton, having really no other choices or voting for someone on the republican side.

    January 13, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. Smith J


    January 13, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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