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. Rob

    It seems apparent to me that Obama is using MLKJ, mirroring his style & approach, as a "tool" to harness the support of the African-American people. Senator Obama, you're NO Martin Luther King, Jr.! I, for one, haven't heard anything more then his hot air blowing kisses in the wind. Talk is cheap and won't change anything in a country that is at a crucial crossroads in its history. How about offering the American people some details on his supposed plans for "change"?

    Senator Obama, and even Senator Edwards, continue to misconstrue Senator Clinton's comments, taking them out of context and ultimately misrepresenting the messages Senator Clinton is relaying to the American people, all in an effort to discredit Hillary Clinton, the candidate who has offered the most details of her plans for change, the most qualified, the real leader who has been nothing but up front and honest, the one who has offered realistic plans, not just "fluffy words", like Senator Obama. Senator Obama, as well as Sen. Edwards should be ashamed of themselves for going out of their way to distort words and facts.

    January 13, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. shirley

    I sure hope people begin to see the light. Obama understands english I hope, he needs to come out in public and tell Bill Clinton that I was not makinf a Fairy Tale racist remark. Shoud he not then why would we want a president who allows his camp to go around and spread untrue remarks. Obama is sure not ready to be prsident of the United States I think, don't you we need a president who understands english. I wonder why so many blacks do not understank english.

    January 13, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    I saw both Senator Clinton's and former President Clinton's remarks.

    Both remarks are being distorted by the press and media, and by Senator Obama's campaign.

    I also saw Senator Clinton's appearance on Meet the Press (new name should be Meet Tim Russert). He is so blatantly supporting Senator Obama that it shames him and NBC to call this a non-partisan news program. Senator Clinton was right to correct the way he characterized former President Clinton's remarks. Russert was handpicking bits and pieces and blatantly taking things out of context.

    I surfed through the rest of the Sunday programs and they were only marginally better. Wolf Blitzer seems to be angling for Press Secretary in an Obama administration.

    And, the Obama campaign has already thrown down the race card (when there is no basis for it), and tried to front load the caucuses in Nevada. Their attempt to allow caucuses to be held at work ir wrong. Work and politics don't mix, employees feel obligated to support their boss or supervisor's position for fear of losing their jobs. Obama supports this? Is this Democracy?

    Where is the duty the press used to have to report "the facts" to the American people, instead of pushing their personal agenda's?

    January 13, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Why would Black Americans want to vote for Hillary. The Clintons obviously believe they own the right to make your voting decisions. They don't think we're intelligent enough to make the right choice, listen to them carefully. I'm a democrat and did vote for Bill Clinton who didn't do anything for Black Americans. I won't be fooled this time because I now see the Clintons' for who they aren't. Don't be fooled, listen to them carefully.

    January 13, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Maria, Houston

    End justify means? Clintons are arogant narcissistic politicians willing to say anything to distort facts. How embarassing. Next time you're whining about "boys ganging up" on you, Hillary, remember, you and your husband are throwing the mud around...Gee, I wonder why people don't like you....

    January 13, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    This is outrageous! Barack Obama and his campaign did not comment on any of those remarks until AFTER the outrage arose! Jesse Jackson Jr. brought them up AFTER the outrage first began, that memo came out days afterwards, AFTER the outrage began! She basically got up there and said Obama's playing the race card! If I were Clyburn or Brazile or any of the people who took issue with the words of the Clintons, I would be LIVID at the assertion that it's Barack Obama or his campaign who are responsible for their criticism. Is she playing the part of the victim? Was she race-baiting? What the heck is with this distortion?

    January 13, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. sarah

    Recently Hillary Clinton revealed an inability to understand complexities, her tendency to oversimply glibly. In a debate with Obama, she dichotomized "words" and actions, saying something like what counts are not words, but actions. Obama is big with words.I pause here because any thinking person knows that words can certainly be potent action in themselves, that words and actions must not be put in two separate piles. Our society recently focuses way too much on physical results, physical properties, physical wealth and refuses to look at wth respect the intangible, the invisible, the stuff that often guides people to their choices, to their own battlelines. "Words" simply cannot be put on one side of a trench as opposed to 'actions." There are as we all know it empty words and worldchanging words, just as there are petty, destructive actions and courageous, life giving actions. Hillary's vast oversimplification here is a harbinger of the kind of shortsighted approach she often brings to important conceptual matters. Hers is the kind of polarizing reaction I would hate to see at a delicate negotiation.

    January 13, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    I'm so tired of all this baiting by the Clintons. Let's move ahead!

    January 13, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. PSbro

    Yes, she is absolutely RIGHT!!! Obama's campaign is being allowed to play the race card to the highest & as usual being allowed to get away with it by the ABC media.
    No one in their right mind with both Clinton's record on civil can legimately make this claim.
    It is a historical fact that it was a team effort between Dr. King & LBJ that gave us the Great Society & started turning around this country.
    The Black leaders especially those who lived thru it & remember it should speak up.Clinton should force Obama put up his record against hers on civil rights.
    He would be shown for the pretender he is

    January 13, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. Eyzwidopn

    There's coincidence and then there's an unmistakable pattern that the black community obviously would be more sensitive to than the white community.

    1) Emails forwarded by HRC staffers suggesting Obama is a Muslim
    2) Shaheen raising Obama's teen drug use and suggesting Obama may be accused of being a drug dealer
    3) Mark Penn using "cocaine" on national TV as he referred to Obama's drug use following Shaheens's comments
    4) Kerrey's repeated use of Obama's middle name and "madrassa" on national TV
    5) HRC stating that it took LBJ, a white President, to fulfill MLK's and the Civil Right's Movements' dream
    6) a HRC staffer suggesting people want Obama as an "imaginary hip black friend" as reported in The Guardian
    7) Cuomo's "shuck and jive" line
    8) Bill referring to Obama, a grown 46-year-old man, as "kid" which associates too closely to black men being called "boy"
    9) Bill referencing Obama's campaign for POTUS as unqualified, too risky, a roll of the dice, etc.
    10) HRC charging that Obama was giving people "false hope" and that Obama, with an accomplished resume, is not ready to lead.

    I think separately these issues can be considered harmless but there have been too many of them and too many have been presented in a negative context.

    It would be nice if Obama and HRC made public statements denouncing the use of "racism" and "sexism" in this campaign and in general. Also, that they've instructed their surrogates to stop fueling the fires with politically motivated rhetoric.

    January 13, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Lukyoh

    To you hillary supporters, don't you ever wonder why she attacks obama on her 'fact hub'? Shouldn't she be defender her OWN position instead of attacking A FELLOW DEMOCRAT? Why does she have so many ellipses (...) on Obama's remarks? Could it be that she's omitting key facts to distort Obama's position?

    Case and point: from hillary's 'fact hub'

    In a meeting with Chicago Tribune reporters at the Democratic National Convention, Obama said, “On Iraq, on paper, there's not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago. […] There's not much of a difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage.” [Chicago Tribune, 07/27/04]

    They are cutting out very specific references that explain his positions. Namely, when he said his stance wasn't very different from Pres. Bush's on Iraq, he was very specifically answering a question about the idea that "as the Iraqi people stand up, America will stand down." No one argues with this point. The Clintons have just utterly altered reality and truth.

    I suggest you all read the original chicago tribune article

    January 13, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Kim, Los Angeles, CA

    Shame on the Obama campaign. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton have been life time supporters of the The Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King. Both Hillary and Obama cleary support the rights of African Americans. And it is very wrong of Obama to try and make this a campaign issue. This is one area on which Hillary and Obama agree. Obama, debate the real differences between you and Hillary. The American Public can smell when you are trying to "create" and issue that does not exist. We know and can read about Hillary's record on Civil Rights and her efforts on behalf of African Americans. This trumped up accusation looks like the very "old school" politics that the Obama campaign says it will fight. This is a smear campaign, and the American Public will turn against you, Obama, if you persist.

    January 13, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Jack, Greenville, SC

    Please give Obama's full response to Clinton's statements. The conference in which McCaskill endorsed Obama provides a clear response to several accusations that Clinton has made.

    It should also be noted that she keeps stating that she "clearly" knows that these things came from Obama but provides no evidence whatsoever.
    She misspoke. She needs to just say so, understand that some people might have been offended, and stop trying to blame someone else for what she did.

    January 13, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Given the politicalization of the Bush Justice Department, it behooves the Democrats to find out if Obama will be given a clean bill of health by the Bush Justice Department about Obama's dealings with Tony Rezko and with Tony Rezko's upcomming corruption trial.
    And if the Bush Justice Department can not give those assurrances then has any information been leaked to the GOP.
    It would be disastrous for the Democrats if Obama is the nominee and linked to an on going corruption trail.

    January 13, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. California

    Sorry Hillary – you want to win so bad, you are not thinking about the things you are saying. The Obama camp did not need to do anything to spin this, you did this on your own. Now you are and Bill are trying to clean up your remarks after catching backlash.

    I was going back and forth between you and Obama. I have viewed both of your records and lately, which are suprisingly more alike than disalike. Unfortunately, I do not like the things that have been coming out of your camp and I am not the only voting person who feels this way.

    January 13, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  16. Jimmy

    While Obama is kissing the back side of the Republican's, Senator Clinton is working to bring about true change. She has introduced a stimulus package for congressional consideration, while Obama is out promising unity with words, but no Action. He still has alot to learn. One being multi-tasking. Not only is he running for President, but he is still a Senator, does he not have to earn his money. We are still paying him and since running for President he has not introduced nothing. Not even showing up for important votes.

    He will say what you want to hear, but has proven NOT the ABILITY to deleiver. Clinton still has several more fellow Senator endorsments then Obama. That is the ability to unite. When you do it within the area you work and with the people you work with. Obama has failed at this too. Also an area that Kerry showed weakness in, getting his fellow Senator's behind him.


    January 13, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. bbln

    AND NOW – CNN is printing the truncated quote. What has happened to journalism? Are the media so interested in swaying how people think, how people vote, that they would NOT ALLOW PEOPLE TO JUDGE FOR THEMSELVES? Print her entire quote, and stop the bias.

    This is trash journalism – please Howard Kurtz save us from CNN's own distortions.

    January 13, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. Poor

    "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."

    You said it yourself, what is there to distort?

    January 13, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Craig H, Mpls, MN

    So the Clintons are upset because someone has misinterpreted their statements in an unflattering way as they themselves were offering unflattering misinterpretations of Obama's history by trying to paint him as all talk and no action? Can you say "poetic justice?" What sort of a crazy universe do we live in where people tend to treat you as you have treated them. What comes around goes around. The Clintons are just going to have to take what they have dished out. They might find that if they dish out fewer distortions themselves, people will tend to offer kinder interpretations of their own words.

    January 13, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  20. kate

    Diminishing the legacy of Dr. King and comparing yourself with LBJ, one of the great war criminals in American history (until Bush, Jr.) is probably not the best campaign strategy for Sen. Clinton. She brought this upon herself.

    January 13, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. Pinga

    How convienient for her, to use these desparate lame political innuendos to discredit MLK's achievements in favor LBJ's , accuse Mr. Obama of fooling the american people with "false hopes" , playing the gender card from the "... hurt my feelings" comment in the debate, all the way to her crying for the women vote while visciously attacking rivals saying their are not ready ... win the NH primaries BECAUSE of these tricks , and now simply repudiate everything she did as unfair interpratations, dissmissing them as an Obama strategy to "twist" her and her husband's comments to play the racecard. Ooh, I'm sorry , so its Obama who's 'playing the race card' ... she's nauseating, really ! That women MAKE ME SICK IN MY STOMACH ... AND I VOTED FOR HER HUSBAND TWICE !!

    January 13, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. Julia Medin

    Only the media can clear this up.................if it wants to. Lyndon Johnson was an important element in civil rights. What's wrong with that? Obama was NOT in the Senate at the time of the vote on Iraq and only gave a speech earlier and he has not been consistent in his view of the war until now. Why won't he admit that? The media has a responsibility to set all of this right.
    I was impartial but I'm beginning to lean away from Obama if this is the kind of campaign he is running.
    But I really need to know the truth. Only you, the media, can bring it to the American public

    January 13, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. pam Eugene OR

    Clearly the Clinton's are distorting this, as they do with most words that come out of their mouths.
    The fairy tale is Princess Clinton believing the WH is her castle and she deserves to live there. That one is a whopper!
    THEY can't keep THEIR campaign clean for 10 minutes without trashing someone. I am sick of their lies and negativity. How do they expect to unite a nation when theu create so much havoc within their own party.
    Please note: They, Their, Clinton's. Don't believe for one minute this is Hillary's run. She would still be sitting in a diner in Arkansas without running on her husband coat tails. She is nothing on her own so please do not give us 4-8 years just like the last 20.

    January 13, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. virginia nielsen

    The problem with the Clintons is that they are desperate with the Obama surge and people are wondering about who is going to run this Country, Bill or Hillary !!! Senator Obama is making this nation breathing again !!! Go Obama 08 !!!

    January 13, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. Gobama

    The Clintons are about PERSONAL AMBITIONS. How do we know this?

    The self-destructive Clintons built up a huge White House legacy and then selfishly proceeded to destroy their own legacy and marriage, undermine the Presidency and encourage bungling bush to continue the destruction of the US Presidency.

    If the Clintons can't care about THEIR OWN White House legacy, how less will the Clintons care about America! A lot less!


    Obama 08

    January 13, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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