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. Carolyn

    Mrs. Clinton will do all she can to accomplish her dreams. America needs to rethink the first husband issue. Mrs. Clinton will probably have two jobs if she winds: First Lady and running this country.

    January 14, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  2. Carolyn

    Mrs. Clinton will do all she can to accomplish her dreams. America needs to rethink the first husband issue. Mrs. Clinton will probably have two jobs if she wins. First Lady and running this country.

    I will not vote for her.

    January 14, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  3. Mandis

    It is sad that Clinton's remarks are being torn apart into racist/sexist tidbits as a cheap shot to defer voters (of any race/sex) away from her campaign. Anyone can take a simple "Hello Sir." and turn it into a racist/sexist remark, but that's not what the American people are about. I pray that the majority of Americans are past these kind of petty remarks, this kind of behavior should have stopped at hello! There are far more important issues at hand to discuss.
    I have always supported the Democrats. I am only one person my vote may count but at such a small margin that it makes me really nervous to see the behavior of our candidates Democratic and Republican alike. If they can not stand up and speak clearly of their plans of presidency, what will they do in office? What will become of our war against terror, our soldiers, our senior citizens without retirement or medicare, our economy, etc. I could go on and on so.... STOP pointing fingers! No more racist and sexist remarks! We're interested in your campaign for "CHANGE"!

    January 14, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Jean, Sacramento

    Obama is playing the race card, plain and simple!

    January 14, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Jean, Sacramento

    Obama is showing himself as a racist and is now playing the race card at every opportunity.

    January 14, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. Pearl, TX

    Okay...Obama and Hillary.....you're even......now you're tit for tat.

    Let's get on with the show!

    January 14, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. James

    Its a sad day when a black man will play the race card just to get votes. I am a black man and I clearly understood what Hilary was saying and it in no way took away from the MLK legacy, but the bottom line is this. ... If LBJ does not have the courage to sign the law. ... then what people. Get real Obama. ... if you want my vote give me some specifics about this change you and everybody wanting to be president will is talking about. ... or better yet tell me what you think about the law that LBJ signed and the impact it had on the MLK legacy.

    January 14, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. william walsh col ohio

    well,if you asked me ,,, i think everyone on this planet has made at least one bad choice,the fact is that in these x one has to move forward as opposed to living in the past,hence the bush regime, so i can only say that yes i think hilliery has made a few mistakes that today if she could she would change,that being said,let me add that no matter who gets the nomination, that change of this goverment will be esential to the future there of, further, no matter if your black blue or green the point is, if things dont change over the next couple yrs there will be no more united states as we now know it, we can go through another ressesion, we can get threw this mortgage crisis,thank you mr bush for hiring such a sharp financial counsler, and we can go on in tech and development, however, if the tide is not turned,surley the demise of this country will be emminate,,therefore whoever shall be the next president i hope for there sake that the ideas are more than smoke,for we the people shall be a thing of the past if not, im am sure however that a preacher, a pretty boy, or fearfull individual will not lead us to where we have to go, i would put the ball in hillerys hands, an educated mother in the most powerfull office in our world is change for sure, so! if you want change that is your ticket, and if you doubt for a min that a woman could not take care of buss,then i say to you,divorce one and see what happends

    January 14, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. Festus

    Clinton is now walking door to door campaigning. She is going to Black Churches and Organizations to talk to them; things she obviously did not deem fit to do before now. But people, be very wary of those who only come to you only when they need you so desparately: They are sure to disappoint you so desparately too, when the time comes.

    January 14, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. Festus

    Before now, when last did anyone hear of the mention of Martin Luther King's name in Presidential campaigns in this country? Why did the Clintons have to raise it now knowing fully well the implications of it? Why in South Carolina? Did she candidly expect tor believe that there will be no response from the other side? What would the Black Community think of Obama if either he or his Supporters said nothing in response? As usual, Hilary would just stir the hornets nest and then try to stand aside and look innocent about it, and then later, a few hours before voting, cry to the gallery. She does not owe anybody any explanations; she owes everybody apologies.

    January 14, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. RuthieM

    Hillary Clinton knew exactly what she was doing and it backfired on her. She thought she was slamming Obama by saying his rhetoric and speeches aren't anything that they need the backing of the great white president to make impact and in doing so she stripped the civil rights Martin Luther King, Jr. cause from him. It's kinda ironic because at the last debate she's the one who said (Obama's) words mean nothing and he fired back at her and said, no, Hillary, words mean everything, words are powerful. And here her own words are proving so as they come back to choke her as the tries to wiggle her way out. And the other thing is that she now wants to take her own detrimental words and say that Obama's the one trying to cause racial discord. She and that Bob Johnson know Obama had nothing to do with the black community responding to this. Contrary to what Hillary and I think Bill too think, not all black people are idiots waiting for Bill and Hillary to annoint them as long as they 'keep their place' with them. I don't care how much marching Bill Clinton and Hillary have done with civil rights I think they've only been photo ops, like Bush, and I believe they both have slavemaster mentalities that they've only tried to suppress and that will only continue to surface as long as Obama gives Hillary this run for her money in this presidential race. OBAMA '08!!

    January 14, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  12. Greg

    oh, and you've never distorted his? whatever, crybabies.

    January 14, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Shirley

    What is the big deal?. So, Hillary's breif lesson in history was not received well by "us" black folks . So what! Stop judging the candidates with your emotions, but rater with your common sense. GO HILLARY !

    January 14, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Barbara

    Let's see. Communication is the ability to use words or actions to convey a clearly intended meaning. If Hillary is always being 'misunderstood, misquoted, or taken out of context', just how effective are her communication skills? Will they improve if she has the title of President? Will foreign leaders understand her when she address them, or will she need a bevy of interpreters to spin her communications?

    Oh yes, Senator Obama does seem to have been said (by the Clintons) to possess fine oratorical skills. Who would you rather have speaking for you?

    January 14, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Electress

    I think it has been Obama who before now refers to the MLK, refers to Selma,Ala,
    refers to slave songs, JFK, and dreams/hopes & the path of civil rights in his
    speeches. Hillary was not one of people who slighted the blacks on the bus,
    in resturants, hotels, etc. I don't believe the statement from Sen. Kerry:
    Obama can say things a white president can't say to blacks. I suppose when
    you are selling a candidate, opinions such as this one appalls of prejucdice,
    that all whites are alike, and that is not so. For John Edwards to jump up,
    and twist the message of Hillary, and then begin his projection of life in SC.
    when he was a little boy, and play it for all it is worth, only proves that he
    wants to remain a player in this contest.

    January 14, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Tom Davie

    Just like anything else in life, we can campaign and lobby all we want, but in the end if the Politician doesnt actually do anything, nothing will change.

    Hillary said so, in trying to embrace what MLK did . She never belittled it at all.

    She was trying to claim it takes a PRESIDENT (aka someone like her ) to actually make the change. After MLKs hard work, Johnson had the GUTS (it was also bobby kennedys hard work) She was suggesting some presidents resist change.

    Hillary is running for PRESIDENT. Not the vacated MLK position. What is she supposed to say? MLK did everything and being president is a waste of time blah blah........how does that help her campaign ?

    Obama people say SHE STARTED IT , when in fact , Clinton said nothing about Obama or anything in her speech. It was the OBAMA camps REACTION to it that has caused the flare up.

    The obama people could have simply said nothing.

    Next time, please do so. Stick with the issues instead of RIP APART anything one of your opponents say.

    January 14, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. Skipper

    We know the Clintons have been good for black America. We need to stop letting

    words place in the wrong context make us forget that this is a couple we can

    trust too look after our best interest. Obama will not be allow to be president by

    the racist in America. If Obama is nominated racist America will go out in droves

    to elect a Republican. Wake up America & smell the coffee.

    January 14, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. NewDeal

    from The Clinton-Obama Contest Gets Rougher

    Clintons' campaign tactics, right out of Carl, Dick and George playbook, have been pretty shocking of late.
    We're talking events of a week and Clintons have the audacity to feed recent, uh, days-old, hours-old events to the Revise-History, Scorch-Earth, Didn't-Inhale Machine? And who's coming to dinner? Bob who?

    So, last week, during the NH primary campaign when they were feeling pretty desperate with the polls and everything (you with me so far - this is true, right? Happened? We all on the same page so far?), Bill appears at a campaign event and says Obama's story is a fairy tale. He can't make his wife taller, make her male, make her, well, Obama, Bill whines bitterly. Bill's very angry about this - can't you see? You're missing something here - read my lips, he whispers, "she's Female, come on!"

    Then, shortly after Bill's remarks, Hillary herself says:
    "Dr. King had been on the front lines. He had been leading a movement. But Dr. King understood, which is why he made it very clear, that there has to be a coming to terms of our country politically in order to make the changes that would last for generations beyond the iconic, extraordinary speeches that he gave. That's why he campaigned for Lyndon Johnson in 1964. That's why he was there when those great pieces of legislation were passed. Does he deserve the lion's share of the credit for moving our country and moving our political process? Yes, he does."

    After Hillary basically says, "Hey Obama, don't give too much credit to what Dr. Martin Luther King dreamt of - all this hope stuff is false. Yeah, let's not have "false hopes." I mean, MLB had to get Lyndon B. Johnson to do the real work, remember? Unlike what you think, that white man was really the one who got all the work done for your civil rights movement stuff."
    Senator Obama in the meanwhile, stays quiet. All in the meanwhile, with all these headlines going back and forth, regarding what I outlined above, Senator Obama says nada.

    The news sort of talk about these remarks by the Clintons. Sort of. There are other headline news. Clinton comes first in NH, and some people think it's because she almost cried, and she makes a speech and says, "Okay, I'll try and cry more often folks, should've listened to you a bit more carefully - huh. THAT's what you wanted?"
    Senator Obama still stays quiet. All in the meanwhile, with all these headlines going back and forth, regarding what I outlined above, Senator Obama says nada.

    Then, uh uh, problems for the Clintons. Clyburn, the top ranking black politician, gets angry at the Clintons' remarks (and maybe he also got peeved at other vicious Clinton lies, e.g., Bill claiming he was against the war from the beginning when there's undisputed evidence of speeches he gave supporting Bush on Iraq war?). "You guys being racist here?" Clyburn wonders incredulously.
    Senator Obama still stays quiet. All in the meanwhile, with all these headlines going back and forth, regarding what I outlined above, Senator Obama says nada.

    So, the Clintons, who desperately need the black vote, then go on radio to Al Sharpton saying, "Hey, Obama is a great guy, he can win, no, no, no, he's no fairy tale."
    Obama, in the meanwhile, still keeps quiet.

    Hillary now goes on Meet the Press and says, "It's Obama's fault. He's been twisting my words, and oh my god, people, HE IS MAKING RACE AN ISSUE! AND I'M CRYING, SEE MY TEARS???"
    So, Obama finally responds, "Uhm. You know, this is kinda fascinating to me. I mean, I didn't say a word? Did anyone hear me say anything about this?"
    Nope, Senator. It's just the crazy Clintons again, and some crazy Americans believing the crap, as they do sometimes.


    I think the facts really need to be set straight, loud and clear here about who's doing what, even with the headlines, since people seem so forgetful and easily confused.

    January 14, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Jim, Columbus, OH

    The Clinton supporters all try to attack others using the word "shame" when their candidate is morally bankrupt. How ridiculous. Since when did Bill and Hillary become the moral beacons of America? Shame on them!

    January 14, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. Dana

    I wish that regardless of who said what, and who wants to interpret words to what they need to hear that people would stop turning this into a racial democratic run off. It shouldn't have anything to do with what the Clinton's did or didn't do for Black Americans. Hello? You're an American citizen, therefore the Clinton administration did stuff for, regardless of your skin tone. Perhaps, we should all take a breather... take a step back and re exam all the candidates again as people, and as candidates and not as all the mud thats being slung. They're all politicians, lets weed through the garbage and find the lesser of the evils.

    January 14, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. Teachy1

    Hey Democrats! It's the Republicans that are the enemy here. Focus! Focus! or we'll have President McCain and World War III.

    January 14, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. carol

    Robert M. Reidy – you are misinformed.

    The Republicans spent all of their time and our money looking to see what Bill was doing on his on time. They should have been trying to figure out what Osama Bin Laden was doing. They are responsible for 911 and the death of all of our finest by letting Bush win the White House over Gore.

    Grow up. I'm sure your children saw much worse in their own household.

    January 14, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  23. carol

    Robert M. Reidy – also, I've seen your sad, misinformed rants on other sites. It is obvious you are working for the Obama camp. We are not all as stupid as you think we are.

    January 14, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  24. toma aslo

    Everyone is allowing the media to divert attention from the real issues. Anyone who has followed the Clinton's history will see their genuine support for bringing all races and ethnicities together over the years. Both candidates are loosing by allowing this to go too far. Obama's support team can not claim innocence. They are in fact hurting what he stands for.

    January 14, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  25. jeff

    Unfortunately American society is pervasive with racism. The Democrats must stop their bickering amongst themselves. This is exactly what the press , the media and the Republicans want to see. The Republicans want to see the Democrats divided. The Democrats should be attacking the Republicans instead of themselves. The Democrats need to focus on the issues that affect our lives such as Universal health care, the Iraq war. the economy and global warming. The Democrats must be united because where there is unity there must be strength.

    January 15, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
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