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. Richard F

    If anyone wants to feel offended by this comment or debate its merits, he/she should first read the entire statement. You'll quickly see that it is not at all like the truncated version that seems controversial. Here's Hillary's actual quote from the interview:

    "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."

    January 13, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. Lisa

    After three generations of Democratic voting in my family – we will pick Bloomberg or the Republican nominee (depending on who it comes down to) rather than Hillary. Hillary will never earn my vote or anyone in my family. She is a bigger liar than her husband.

    I would love to see a woman president, and believe it will happen in my lifetime. Hillary is NOT that woman.

    January 13, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  3. Frances

    To Mrs. Clinton: In past presidential campaigns, many candidates have evoked the names of former leaders whom they hope to emulate should they become president. This seems to be the case with Senator Obama, yet you have ridiculed him for saying he’d like to follow their examples in bringing about meaningful change. Was your criticism an attempt to eliminate one of his most powerful appeals to voters – his inclusive and healing approach to governance? Isn’t a little hypocritical to say you’re for all these good things while you attack someone who’s worked in the trenches in Chicago for many of the same things you say you’ve fought for?

    January 13, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. Bev

    Hillary and Bill Clinton's bloopers.
    Hillary and Bill are veteran campaigners. They know exactly what they are doing. It is getting Hillary free time on TV and the reporters and pundits discuss the latest Blooper. It gets her twice the coverage that it gets Obama and may even get her some sympathy votes. O poor me I didn't mean what I said, you misunderstood me etc. etc. This is also ensureing that reporters are always with her and Bill in case they make another blooper. The reporters and pundits like the bloopers, scandal or near scandal gives them something to talk about, is news for them to report. Oh how boring it would be without the bloopers. Might have to accually talk about the issues more, and how much more can you say. I expect that we can expect a blooper out of the Clinton camp again as soon as the uproar from the latest blooper starts to die down. What would be the value of the free TV coverage if she would have had to pay for it.

    January 13, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  5. erin Tampa, fl

    Let's take a look at the facts here, people. We all know what the Clinton campaign has said over the past few days. We've all heard the quotes and seen the video.

    Has anyone seen or heard a comment from the Obama campaign making this into a race issue? No, you haven't. Because Obama hasn't done that.

    The outrage, which I believe is warranted, has come from America, and Hillary is frantically trying to back out of her comments by pointing the finger at Obama, saying he's the one playing the race card.

    Sorry, Hillary. I think the American people are going to see right through you on this one.

    January 13, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  6. Frances

    It seems Hillary Clinton, who is considered to have a polarizing effect on Republicans, is now doing her darndest to divide our Democrats as well. If she wins the Democrat nomination, we'll be handing the presidency to the GOP. Clinton, in some ways, is "George Bush in skirts" – her approach is we have to go her way or the highway.

    January 13, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  7. TJ, California

    Hillary is the best chance to have a Democrat in the White House. Obama will never win in the general election. Hillary will win California and probably Florida and NY as well in the primaries, so it's really a done deal. Obama might win South Carolina, but after that I don't see him doing very well. In a general election, the reality is that Obama won't win, and the stakes are just too high.

    January 13, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. Jay

    Isn't ironic how during the debate prior to the Iowa caucuses Hillary said everyone was slinging mud at her because she was in the lead and now that Barack Obama is a real threat Hillary and Bill are taking every shot they can at Obama?

    January 13, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  9. America

    If Hillary is willing to lie about this attack....well then she"s just another Bush.

    January 13, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  10. pam

    Oprah was the first to bring in the race card when she stumped for him. read her remarks: view the tapes.

    January 13, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. TexanforHillary

    Emmanuel, where are you from? "simple women to vote for her ?" comrades ? gender issues?...................You are scary......
    Facts please
    si se puede.

    January 13, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. ANew

    I believe that it is now time for the candidates to make clear their "plans" for America's future.

    January 13, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  13. merli gili

    Don't get offended, that'snormal in politics. Every single thing that you've done that would make an issue will be thrown back at you when you aspire for a position.
    Ok, Obama is good, he can be a president. But everybody can promise a change, even a six year old child can say he can bring CHANGE. But the question is, can he do it?
    Obama have to wait for his term, he could be the president after eight years, he'll be a perfect candidate for vice president. Together with Hilary, they would be a great team, that would send the republicanschasing up their tails on how to beat their tandem. Someone should step back in order to have a better leap.

    January 13, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. ibrahim

    Experience, experience that's wat everyone's talking about, just a reminder when abraham run for the presidency he was jst a second-rated country lawyer with no experience, however he was the one who united America and abolished slavery.
    beside that president, bush had bunch of years of experience even 4 years in the white before he got elected for his 2nd term, WAT A HECK HAS BUSH SO THRILLING BUT SCREWING THE COUNTRY.give Obama a chance. and to all my black friends, don't u wanna see a black president of u.s before the end of your breathing days, believe or not he's the only chance we've got.

    January 13, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. usha

    If Barack Obama prides himself and also run his campaign on his ability to work collaboratively, and bringing people together, then he could easily have put an end to this by speaking to Hilliary Clinton's campaign, if he felt they were using race. It is very obvious, that Obama's campaign are using this to their advantage.
    From the New Hampshire debate, it has been clear that Obama and Edwards are ganging up against Hillary Clinton. He did not stop Edward then or ask him not to speak on his behalf! We see thru this, and it will only backfire!

    January 13, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. Glazed, Detroit metro

    Obama is on the way of doing what the RNC has always wanted but never figured out.

    January 13, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  17. TENI

    Oh Hillary. We already KNEW that Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights act! Come on now. What we didn't know was that Martin Luther King had nothing to do with it? So, thanks alot for letting us know that the 25 year old PhD student from Atlanta who sacrficed his life (not just his pen and conscious) to confront Jim Crow and tear down the evil walls of racism owes all his success to LBJ. Thanks Hillary.

    January 13, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  18. 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!

    January 13, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  19. People for the Truth

    Does this woman ever stand behind her remarks? Again calling a foul play. This woman changes her statements every time she receives criticism. Just do us all a favor and just shut up. You are fast becoming a disgrace to the whole political process, not to mention setting this country back about 50 years.
    Again speak first and blame others for your statements.

    January 13, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  20. GC Johnson

    Oh for heaven's sake . . .
    She meant Dr. King was the innovator and catalyst of the Civil Rights movement but that to make "his dream" a reality, it took Lydon Johnson, a PRESIDENT, to make it CONSTITUTIONAL and LAW ABIDING, and that AS PRESIDENT, SHE TOO would know how to be as effective. She was not taking anything away for Dr. King. At this very important time in our history, try not to be bias, regardless of your race or gender. Try to be objective. Clearly, those of you who criticize Clinton in this particular instance no nothing of her history. Civil rights has been a part of her life even before she met Bill Clinton. At least know what you're talking about – do some homework. And nothing against Obama but his personal and political history/efforts pales in comparison, especially regarding this issue.

    January 13, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  21. Mike

    I personally do not know what Sen. Clinton ment by her remarks regarding Dr. King but having the "experience" that she has, she hould have known to choose her words wisely. I am voting Obama for president, not simply because he is a black man, but because he is a stern man. Every other president I have voted for in the past was white, so i do not see this as a racial thing. I believe Hillary would tear this country apart. Hillary is not consistant. Especially when it comes to the war on Iraq. I was in the United States Marine Corp, I understand what our military puts on the line everyday in Iraq, to be honest alot of us dont even know what we are fighting for anymore. Iraq has the democraxy that they were asking for. We can not hand feed them, It's time for us to come home. Seriously. She downed Obama because he said he will bring our troops home. Its time. We are not baby sitters. Its up to them to keep their nation going in the right direction.

    January 13, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  22. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    She put her foot in her mouth in her despire to win NH. Now she is playing victim. Even worse, she is swiftboating Obama. That is, her attack on Obama's perceived weakness did not work, so after Iowa she has turned to paint Obama's strength (such as character and eloquence) to weakness (such as alleging him distorting her words and giving false hopes).

    She has used "fear," "wear," and "tear." She has used the gender card. Today she started to use the race card. Since Iowa her behaviors have gone beyond my immagination.

    I used to defend her, but now I understand why people call her a "witch."

    January 13, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  23. PA Guy

    Edwards is up to no good already. On CNN, he claims how he and Obama are so much alike on issues. LOL....I can see how this next debate is going to go! The guy is really scratching. I am looking forward to the next debate. My only hope is that the debate with Tim Russert is a REAL DEBATE! Not like the love fest we saw last time between Obama and Edwards. Russert should "NOT" allow this to happen. Stick to issues. Obama and Edwards truly displayed their weakness after that fine display of debating.

    January 13, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  24. Kat, Huntington, West Virginia

    thank you elaine! Not to mention that one of the most important votes of this congress was whether or not to vote to label the Iranian guard a terrorist organization and he didn't even show up for the vote! I hope people start to look past the great speeches and try to find the substance. It reminds me of the wizard of oz, "don't pay attention to the may behind the curtain."

    January 13, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  25. Rashid

    What's all this mess about!!

    It doesn't take much for Obama to come to the support of the Clintons as he certainly knows that they are not racists based on their record. I am clueless why he doesn’t reveal his decency and stop listening to advisors. People are smart and they will feel it. He will win if he does the right thing.

    It doesn't take much for the Clintons to apologize for poor choice of words that seem to diminish MLK's role in the real change for more equality in our nation. We all understand what Clinton meant to say: To have a real change, it is critical to have a president to lead and take up the challenge of making the right decision no matter how controversial. After all, it’s the Constitution! Presidents have to sign bills to become laws.

    I hope both Obama and Clinton come clean and do the right thing:
    Obama needs to show the decency not to let this story to develop any further dividing our people.
    Clinton needs to have the decency to say sorry that she unintentionally hurt the feelings of many people. The media said she won NH when she showed her “humanity”. We all have slips of tongue and the Presidents are no exceptions. We all do it!! I hope she apologizes not only to “leaders” but also to all black people.

    I have no doubt that Obama is not behind all the publicity. I can be wrong though. Obama needs to address the charges. I think it is the sensational media (we have soldiers dying in Iraq and they are keeping us up-to-date if Paris Hilton, Simpson or Spears emptied their bowls today!). Just watch the coverage of the Democrats on Fox. Thanks for making their day!! Still, Obama needs to SPEAK UP and say if he is really playing the race card.

    My final take: I expect my President sometimes to misspeak, be silent when he should speak, and speak when he should shut up. I expect my President to be an imperfect human. However, I also expect my President to have the decency to say sorry when she or he makes a mistake, and to rise and defend people who are falsely accused and say the truth. I still vote for Obama because a President’s lack of decency to say I was wrong is the most worrisome. Please, Mrs. Clinton, show the decency of saying you were wrong and stop spinning and you may get my vote. Say you were wrong for voting for war. Say you were wrong when you described how the civil rights movement came to fruition.

    Ms. Clinton, show us your decency to admit your mistakes and the thoughtfulness to learn from them. Then, you can be my President!

    January 13, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
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