January 14th, 2008
07:18 AM ET
10 years ago

Clinton backer appears to raise Obama's drug use


Clinton and Johnson attended services at the Northminster Presbyterian Church Sunday (Photo Credit: AP)

(CNN) - BET founder and prominent Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson said Sunday he is 'insulted' with the Obama campaign's latest criticisms of Clinton, and appeared to take aim at the Illinois senator for his admitted drug use as a young man.

"As an African American, I'm frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing but he said it in his book," Johnson said while campaigning with Clinton in Columbia South Carolina.

In a statement released by Obama's campaign Sunday afternoon, former South Carolina State Rep. "I.S." Leevy Johnson, an Obama supporter, said he was offended Clinton did not condemn Johnson's comments.

“It’s offensive that Senator Clinton literally stood by and said nothing as another one of her campaign’s top supporters launched a personal, divisive attack on Barack Obama,” he said. “For someone who decries the politics of personal destruction, she should’ve immediately denounced these attacks on the spot.”

Clinton's campaign says Johnson was not referring to Obama's past drug use, but rather his career as an organizer and state legislator. Meanwhile, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, another African-American supporter of Clinton, said of the comments, "Sometimes people say things that aren't sanctioned ... I can't speak for Bob."

Later Sunday, Johnson maintained the comments were not in reference to Obama's drug use: "My comments today were referring to Barack Obama's time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else," he said in an issued statement. "Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect."

In Obama's 1995 book Dreams of My Father — a book that was little read at the time, but recently reprinted — the future presidential candidate writes he was once headed in the direction of a "junkie" and a "pothead."

Referring to his emotional struggles as a young man, Obama writes, "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."

Last month, Clinton New Hampshire co-chairman Bill Shaheen resigned his post after suggesting Republicans would likely raise the issue in a general election.

"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight … and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on is his drug use," Shaheen said then. "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'"

Both campaigns are locked in a heated back and forth over recent remarks from the New York Democrat and her husband that have touched off concerns among some African-American voters. Clinton has alleged Obama's campaign is distorting the remarks - an accusation Obama has called "ludicrous."

Related video: BET founder on Clinton, Obama

- CNN's Sasha Johnson and Alexander Mooney

soundoff (1,037 Responses)
  1. Michelle

    Bob Johnson is lying.

    This cannot be construed as anything other than a refernce to Obama drug use:

    "As an African American, I'm frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing but he said it in his book.

    And to say he was referring to his career in office, with a straight face, concerns me the most. If Hilary has any integrity she would admit the obvious, apologize and distance herself from him and anyone else who lies on her behalf.

    She will not though. He is nothing but a 'token' black supporter to her.

    January 14, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Bacadra

    I'm an African America woman who have raised children in the disgraced horrific period of the beginning of the "so-called" hip hop music that was really the beginning of the "gansta thug drug rap", in which Bob Johnson stood by with his hands greased to catch all the laundried brand new crisp millions of $100 bills that came through his hands as quick as the bullets that fly through the African American neighborhoods, that are programmed by the demonic music, that he set back in his expensive chair and signed the approval for documents to be aired on his "OWN" network station.

    January 14, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. james, newport, KY

    The Clintons are vile people. I'm not even sure they are people, maybe droids or aliens. Regardless, don't vote for them again, please. For the children.

    January 14, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  4. Bacadra N.

    I made a typo on the Bacadra comment.

    I misspelled laundered.

    I meant to say....that set back in his expensive chair and signed the approval documents for those videos to be aired on his "OWN" network station.

    January 14, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. PA Guy

    Since the candidates are willing to cool the race issue, why does the media continue. Let it go guys. Let the candidates compare and contrast the issues of the country.

    January 14, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. Brandon

    Maybe she should grow a set and say these things herself instead of sending out one of her rich donors to do it. This is the type of politics that Democrats are hoping to move past. With each glob of mud she slings, she just makes Obamas point. I will support the democratic nominee no matter who or what it selects, but think about 8 years of Neo-Con attacks. Do we really want to go throught this again?

    January 14, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. carol

    The media started the race crap to take the heat off of themselves for failing so miserably to predict the outcome of the NH primary.

    Stop it. We don't like it.

    January 14, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  8. Kay, Las Vegas, NV

    This Republican is finding it fantastically amusing to read all of your blogs fanning the race issue....it was only a matter of time! HA! Go ahead Dems, pick each other apart. We'll be there to pick up the pieces after you all self-destruct...as usual. "Can't we all just get along?" I think not...

    January 14, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  9. Mario, Nashville

    If Hillary receives the nomination, I'll vote for McCain!!!! This is the same old playbook- when you are down; seek and destroy with half-truths!!!

    January 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  10. Delan

    Let's remember that Bob Johnson is the creator of boody shaking, ghetto blasting, similating sex, degrading women video shows. Not very credible. Interesting the Clintons chose him to appeal to African American voters.

    January 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. phx. az

    I agree with Kay in Las vegas. i'm a independent watching the democrats simply self destruct. go mccain!!!! or anyone else besides the clin-trons and ho-bama.

    January 14, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  12. Kobie' Kiambu

    It's a shame that Robert Johnson and other African-American like him would choose a time like this to berate another African-American. Robert Johnson and Andrew Young, in the most inarticulate way might I add, spoke ignorantly about Sen. Obama in hopes of assassinating his character. Some African-Americans have align themselves with Hillary because of her husband. Others have embraced the Clintons because of past favors and that the Clintons were sympathetic to African-American issues. You shouldn't by any means choose a candidate based on race (although I believe most do), but you should at least give him or her support they deserve and not attack one of your own. Don't let the Clintons and some of these so-called media appointed "Black leaders" sway the African-American vote.

    January 14, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  13. sharpteeth

    So what if Obama isn't as experienced as Clinton. To effect a change you need to take risks. You've seen the end of the Clinton movie, change the tape.

    Two lots of Bush didn't do anyone any favours.

    America needs some integrity and honesty.

    Here's hoping Obama brings it with him.

    January 14, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  14. Steph

    Bob Johnson need to go back where he come from (wherever that is). How dear he made such comments. The Clinton campaign should APOLOGISE. Obama is innocent when it come to these attacks. Clinton campaign start it all. Why would a black man start a racist comment. We are wiser than that Hillary. The Clintons are only looking for someone to blame when all they should do is put a end to this by apologising and doing away with Johnson. I'm really sick of the Clintons these days. GO OBAMA!!!!

    January 14, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  15. Tony

    Clintons are liars and cheaters. And as we all know cheaters never win!!!

    January 14, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  16. Pat

    I am not sure who I am going to support yet. I am a republican, but even so I am not dedicated to one party or the other. However, I was very happy to see Obama admit to his drug usage. In no way do I condone the use of drugs, but I am glad to see a politician take a stand and admit to something, without trying to side step it. Many people have tried drugs, and some have fallen deep into their destructive path. It's good to see someone show that through hard work you can accomplish something great, and what's in the past is in the past and you need to move forward. Good Work Obama!!!! Stay honest.

    January 14, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  17. Eric

    Who's listening to Bob Johnson now? What about his other than noble tactics &
    dealings with the Viacom company. I think he should get the rafter out of his eye
    rather than look at the straw in Obama's eye. Ask Michael Jordan

    January 14, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  18. Kay

    Where is my limbo stick? I remember the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Johnson, and there is no way that Johnson was ever respected or admired, and couldn't even be thought of in the same league as MLK. For Hillary to make that remark was typical of the Clinton mean-spirited, win-at-all-costs strategy. Obama has the dignity, intelligence, and vision to lead and heal this country. Hillary and Bill are a disgrace.

    January 15, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  19. Raymar Hampshire, New Brunswick, NJ

    Ok so let me get this right....Hillary Clinton is relying Bob Johnson for damage control?
    Robert L. Johnson the famous Founder and CEO of BET who made a fortune off violent gangster rap videos and soft-porn music videos of half naked African-American women. Hillary many women don't like this guy for exploiting black women to make money, should have done your homework.

    January 15, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  20. David Snider

    Adam January 14, 2008 8:45 am ET ,

    Are you eating your words now or are we going to hear another excuse?

    January 15, 2008 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  21. j.r.

    Good morning South Carolina and Navada! Are yuo'll ready to make a change in America. We need two changegest first one to make Mrs.Hillary Clinton the first women President of the United Estate of America. Time is over due it will be the first women to elect President ,in over two Centuries,is't a shame. But not just elect her cause she's a women but becuse she's fhe best caullify candidate off both parties the Democrast an the Republicans! About Obamas drug use ,it's going to use agaisnt him you'll know the Republicans. Wemon don't miss out on this change! She's going to see about making wemon getting same pay,for those doing the same job ,this will help dose that are struglind to make ends meet.

    January 15, 2008 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  22. 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!

    Where are Clyburn, and Donna Brazile now? At Sharpton showed his face last night and said “something”. The airwaves were filled with racism. They started this mess and now they sit back, smirk, and watch controversy grow. Think of the millions of dollar$ they will make in book endorsements? They are not doing anything to help the Afro-American. They just added another 150 years of discrimination. They need to apologize to Americans that it was they who took the word out of context.

    January 15, 2008 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  23. marian

    It's time for Bill and Hillary to pack it up and go away. They had their chance -it's time for a change. HIllary always talks about the right wing conspiracy, but she and Bill have a conspiracy of their own going, and a lot of us are astute enough to figure it out. The two of them are invoking race just like the republicans have donw all through history. Being the spin doctors that they are, they want to place the blame on Obama's campaign for the race issue, thus hoping some people will become spooked by race. Robert Johnson is an absolute disgrace. He was used plain and simple. The Clintons know how hard it is to accuse a black person of racism, so they used Johnson to do their bidding. It was hard for me to look at the clip of Robert Johnson – his unattractive face contorted and twisted in anger as he spewed what I'm sure he will regret one day. I don't care whether he's black or not, he needs to be called out just the same.

    January 15, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  24. Brandon

    Im Insulted that the BET Founder would say such a thing. As an African American, I think that Obama should have all our support. Its a Shame how we as an African American Culture and Dislike the Government, and when we have a chance for True Change, (Obama) we run scared and vote for someone else. 2008 Can be History if we want it to be.. The only way 08 could make History if..i.e. Hillary Clinton becomes the first Woman President, or Obama is the First Black. Right now, the capaign should be about issues, and not someone else's. Our Country is at War, Gas is at an All time High, and the Economy is headed towards a recession...does anyone care? ...No..because they are all too busy throwing slanderous comments at one another. I think Im going to vote for the opposite party.

    January 15, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  25. carol

    Hey – if Obama's camp stops asking Hillary about Bill's infidelity, Clinton's camp will stop asking about Obama's illegal drug activity.

    Fair enough?

    January 15, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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