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)

    Barack Obama is just another politician.

    Late in the campaign for his current Senate seat, his opponent was sued to release his previously sealed divorce papers. Jack Ryan certainly wasn't behind his embarrassing divorce papers being unsealed. The Republican party certainly wasn't behind it. No Obama didn't go down to the courthouse and file the papers – he didn't have to . All he had to do was stand by and watch – which is all he did. it's the same passive way that he is allowing the race card to be played now. He's not doing it himself. He doesn't have to because its being played for him. Again, all he has to do is stand by and watch and he hopes reaps the rewards. Actions speak louder than words.

    January 13, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  2. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    Since Hillary cried that she doesn't want this country to go backwards, then she should let it move forward with a new fresh leadership that can actually get something done in Washington!

    You all KNOW few would work with her in Washington, very few Dem's are even supporting her now.

    Moving backwards = having to vote in the wife of a former divisive President.

    Moving forward = the chance to vote in an exciting & positive person who wants to bring ALL people together, for the greater good of the entire country.

    Dem's better watch who they put up on the board, One can unite, One can divide.

    January 13, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  3. Joseph Davidson, San Diego, California

    I'm sure my previous comments on the lying Clintons got deleted by the Clinton News Network!

    January 13, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  4. Matt

    Obama needs to put an end to this racial nonsense. Trying, or permitting his handlers, to paint the Clinton's as racially insensitive, or racist, is simply offensive. I was undecided, but now I am 100% for Clinton.

    January 13, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  5. Mike

    ..But its Okay when Bill Clinton slanders and distorts Obama's words???

    January 13, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  6. Indianapolis

    I'm black and i'm voting for change, a change that has experience and not just rhetoric

    I'm voting for Hillary Clinton.

    January 13, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  7. Amy

    Hillary is playing the "dumb card." Polls have shown that most of her supporters are less educated and dumb enough to believe her distortions.

    January 13, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  8. I was There

    Anyone taking offense to Hillary's remark about MLK, did not LISTEN, nor did they know or research, the Clintons' history of working for the African Americans! I was there during those days and the Selma march. I believe in Dr. King's dream. Listen up! Hillary Clinton does, too! It did take a President!
    And it STILL "Takes a Village"!
    Hillary Clinton was not "SENT" by anyone anywhere! She is her own person and is strong. She did not "CRY", for heavens' sake! The video is on cnn.com! Watch it! Sitting in a coffee shop, she was taken back by an unpreceptive person who asked a non- political question "How do you do it? And who does your hair?" Hillary admitted being tired, having a little help with her hair..and continued with genuine remarks. She became only a little teary-eyed while explaining her desire to turn America, once again in the right direction!
    After 8 years under the "dictator wanna' be, GW. Bush" (He said that, I heard him with my own ears!), America NEEDS turning! I just hope we make it until election day, without him trying to force Democracy on Iran, as he did in Iraq.
    I was there in ALABAMA!

    January 13, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  9. veronica

    One of the things I don't like about Obama is the fact that he often doesn't take a stand on tough votes by voting either "Yes" or "No". Instead he votes "Present".
    He appears to be sidestepping so that he can claim all sides of an issue.
    It also appears very calculating, so I'm not sure all the Obama Rock Star Fans are clearly seeing that Barack Obama is NO different than any other politician. He is not heaven-sent after all.

    January 13, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  10. Dee Ward Mena, AR

    I would like to know if obama thinks that Martin Luther King could have signed any legislation on civil rights. Of course he was very instrumental in bringing it about but only a President could sign it in to law. That is all that Senator Clinton was saying. She was not taking anything away from Martin Luther King on the work and sacrifice he put into the civil rights movement. It is just that he could not sign a bill in to law and I would think that obama, as a senator, would know that. I watched the interview with Senator Clinton and there was nothing she said that was racial or demeaning to Martin Luther King. Anyone who knows the Clintons would know that they have worked tirelessly for African Americans and should deserve credit for what they have done. Martin Luther King deserves much credit but so does President Johnson for signing it into law since MLK could not do that. obama must be getting worried about the African American vote if he is trying deliberately to bring race into the Presidential Primary.

    January 13, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  11. Mary Tarrant

    Mrs. Clinton knows and remembers history being made, such as the wonderful leadership Martin Luther King showed this nation. She also knows President Johnson done a lot for the poor people, food stamps, and numerous other opportunities. He made it possible for Martin Luther King to accomplish "his dream". She was simply setting the record straight, as obviously the "news media" is not doing. They are all to busy trying to make history, instead of reporting it. Tim Russet interviewed Mr. Obama as if he were some kind of "idol". Listen to his tone when he interviewed Mrs. Clinton. It was accusing and hostile. But, then he is male and Mrs. Clinton is female, so he obviously feels that is reason to talk down to her. I also do not understand why the news media is not telling the truth about Barack Obama's accomplishments, which are few, except he is an excellent politician with no substance to back up the rhectoric. How would anybody know what he stands for? Most of his voting record shows "present". Does he ever take a direction? Mrs. Clinton is also a minority in this race, however she is being beat up by everybody. Both male opponets, every media person, especially Jack Cafferty with his remark saying "just wait until she gets beat in New York. " I use to have the greatest respect for Jack, but CNN is sufferring from "tunnel vision" also. I think the two gentlemen in the campaign has trashed her enough, they sound like overbearing husbands talking down to their wives. So which minority is being mistreated. "Race or Gender" ?

    January 13, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  12. Joeley Reno, Nevada

    The fact that some are bringing race into this process makes me wonder who that issue hurts and who it helps.

    It's very obvious that it is more hurtful and harmful to Hillary, so, do I think she'd interject the notion…No, I do not!

    The Clinton's have always been on the forefront of issues important to Black Americans. ALWAYS.

    If the African American population has developed doubts about where Bill and Hillary stood and continue to stand, on issues important to all people of color, a horrible metamorphosis has occurred.

    One would simply have to ask the question, who would benefit when such a transmogrification of the truth?

    Shame on Barack Obama.

    January 13, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  13. Jeff

    As a Black American, I do confess an affinity for the Clintons. Although I don't believe that any policies during the Clinton administration specifically targeted the black community, I believe that Bill was an encouraging figure for many blacks, the down-to-earth manner in which he spoke to us being the primary reason for that.

    However, I am supporting Obama in this race because I believe that the window in which to use his incredible talent is small; the strengths of his youth and his capacity to think freshly not everlasting. After reading his books, I realized that what I appreciated most about Obama is not his story, which is incredible, or his policies, which I agree with for the most part. It is his analytical skills that won me over. He carefully observes, astutely analyzes, and makes pragmatic judgements about the issues. He isn't able to convey his thoughts while making speeches, which requires an emotional approach rather than a cognitive one. His reasoning is too deep to captivate people at campaign rallies, but I trust in his judgement.

    I like Bill. I think he was the most likeable Democratic President (by Democrats) since Kennedy; our Reagan. However, while I respect his presidency, I don't respect his politics. He has employed deciet and other political tactics that I would normally expect from a Republican. Democrats usually engage in debate based upon reasoning grounded in facts, while Republicans are generally more emotional (i.e. Rudy Gulliani, who has absolutely no credentials to be president and was a very unpleasant figure as the Mayor of New York, yet is polling well because of his circumstancial proximity to 9-11 and the percieved terrorism experience gained from that day.)

    I, for one, am tired of the left-right divide, and am sure that many people share this sentiment. It get's us nowhere as a nation. Clinton is not the candidate who can fix this. In fact, she and her husband will exacerbate it, as they are right now. This is why half the country won't even consider voting for her. I'll vote for a Republican like Huckabee, Romney, Paul, or even McCain before I vote for Hillary.

    January 13, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  14. Jo

    I was really shocked when i first come to the US. I thought Americans of the 21st century have learned from their history and have turned the race page behind them. Much to my surprise, this is not so. What are the Caucasian people so scared about? that's what i wanna know.
    Because only a scared person, can think that a mixed-race person like Obama, who cares much about his parents, can turn around and instigate a fight between their "races".
    I trully think that the problem with u Americans, is that u like to solve issues quickly, which explains your propensity for stereotyping.
    To all the scared ones out there, i'm calling on u to pick up some courage and live this great experience of life to the fullest instead of staying in your statut quo.
    I'll end my comment, by paraphrasing Gaston Bachelard who remarked that : " science shapes itself by reshaping itself ", thus is life if one wants to grow just as science does everyday.
    Let us all remember that change is hardly brought by those who'd been around too long.

    January 13, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  15. DMAC

    I would like to know how this upstart Obama has the guts to compare himself
    to either MLK or JFK. Was he even born or old enough to remember. And Hillery was right that if there had been another Pres. besides LBJ. things might still be in the shape they were back in those horrid deadly days. This egotistic Obama should never use any of these men to compare himself to. He'll never be there.
    He yells to much and then tries to act like an old tie preacher. He hasn't shown me anything to look fwd to with him as a Pres. Maybe 10 yrs down the road he might learn something and come up with some real ideas to get himself elected.
    I am an Independent and have been for a long time.
    Who ever I vote for better have the stamina to jump in and start making big changes first day to clean up the mess Bush has gotten this country in. Who ever is going to have their work really cut out. Also not use the Veto Pen for blackmail like Bush has. And right now I want to know just what these guys are promising to do and I don't mean yrs down the road. At my age I may not have years to wait to see this country straightened out.
    There sure has been a lot of beating around the bush with no real plan of action that I can see. Hillery has come up with some real plans that I think I like. Be nice to hear someone else with some real plans.

    January 13, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  16. Sam jr.

    I am sorry but I fail to understand why the statement is incorrect.

    Despite the overwhelming opposition to civil rights and despite reports of a potential backlash, LBJ had the congress pass the law in 64. So YES it does take guts to do that and YES it takes a president who believes in whats right to take the step despite the consequences.

    Now how does that undermine what MLK did?????????????

    Why is it that every word/sentence has to be twisted?

    January 13, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  17. Vicki

    Freedom of speech is not freedom to speak when it is controlled, or moderated.

    January 13, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  18. Doug, Ca

    Hillary should not have to explain her remarks about Martin Luther King. There was nothing wrong with them: they were true, they in no way showed disrespect for MLK or his courageous work. But, because so many Obama supporters and Republicans (pretending to be Obama supporters), set up such a howl about it, she felt she needed to clarify what she said. She is being sincere in attempting to do this but it is a losing battle. No one can get a message through to people with closed minds, those that are without logic, and those who speak without knowledge of the subject at hand.

    January 13, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. Tim Toffoli, Florence, MA

    Rather than bickering with heated rancor, perhaps we would be better served by relating in ways that we demand of those who represent us. People of power do not hold the patent on inspiration. We have the opportunity to inspire as well and express opinions that are forged by reason and compassion.

    As members of the electorate, we owe Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton our scrutiny and honest inquiry, but we also owe them the common courtesy we would extend to any American undertaking any task that is meant to serve the common good.

    Whether this latest exchange between candidates is intentional or not, our own commentary is an opportunity to reflect the type of exchange we expect from our leaders: civil, informed, and respectful.

    We do our best. We make mistakes. We make amends. We move on.

    January 14, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  20. Robert M. Reidy N.Y.

    If you have any sensitivity to the great positive transformations in human societal evolution you know that it requires a paradigm shift in the collective mindset initiated by an individual with vision and courage combined with action on that inspiration.

    Such individuals like a Mahatma Gandi or a Martin Luther King are the prime movers who create new possibilities that people like and that politicians at best recognize and latch onto in order to benefit from a shift in public opinion.

    The Clintons are trying to muddy the waters on such a visionary leader
    presented by Barack Obama and they are actually becoming spoilers
    of the next positive transformational shift about to occur in our culture
    and therefore they are actually anti-change agents !

    They are now seriously in the way !!!

    The Clinton's are not progressive but actually retrogressive.
    In short their time has passed.

    January 14, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  21. Tracy of Ca.

    This is a sad state of affairs, when our nation has such serious problems. The best person for president should not be based on race or gender. I can only hope for a stronger United States. Hillary Clinton so far seems to be the only candidate with ideas on how to fix some of the situations. I hear alot of candidates talking about change, but I do not hear A game plan. My vote is for you Hillary. Good luck.

    January 14, 2008 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  22. maryanne

    no, reality is that not every white person believes ultimate power is with this one race and if you keep chosing to paint all issues between blacks and whites simply black and white your perpetuating a very narrow minded cycle. Everyone who knows about this part of history knows that Dr. Martin Luther King was THE catalyst for change, but the LAWS changed because of the president (LBJ). "white folk" aren't always trying to monopolize credit or power. Seperate the emotion from the facts and current affairs. Can we try to keep this (a race for the leader of this country) not about which race "wins".

    January 14, 2008 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  23. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Obama didn't say the Clintons are racists.

    The Clinton says the Obama campaign says the Clintons are racists.

    There is a difference here. Another demonstration of her distorting the facts.

    Now what they say might offend many people because many are inspired by MLK. Yes, Johnson put it in action. However, without the support of the people, Johnson would not be able to do it. Kennedy tried to do it, but people were not ready for it.

    We all play an important role. While Obama tries to lift people up with his words, Hillary tears people up inside with her words. Obama uses words positively, and Hillary uses words negatively.

    Hillary, can't you be positive like Obama for a change? I mean, we are very sick of this.

    So, your point was it needs a president to fulfill MLK dream to make it a reality. Well, Obama can the the inspirational leader and the executive leader at the same time. He can bring people together. Three for the price of one. This is a great deal, folks! Don't pass it up.

    January 14, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  24. Lia

    Why hasn't Hillary repudiated Adrew cuomo's "shuckin' and jiven' " comment? That is really injecting race into the campaign in a hateful way.

    January 14, 2008 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  25. Idahosa

    anyone can post anything on the internet with anonymity and it makes the whole issue of blogging very shady. as i read through these blogs, i wonder if some of these comments are not sent in by members of hillary or obama campaign teams...

    i must admit though that some of them do make for some interesting read, and wonder what criteria CNN uses to make its selection?

    for some wired reason, i think CNN is for Hillary... (except for a very few people like Roland Martin) its the only reason why their so called best political team is made up of people that have worked for the clinton's at one time or the other.

    hey, when do i ever get to see someone who worked on the Bush campaign team be part of the best political team on CNN?

    January 14, 2008 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
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