January 14th, 2008
11:59 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama calls truce with Clinton

Obama is calling for an end to the heated back and forth between the two campaigns. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

RENO, Nevada (CNN) - Barack Obama is calling for a truce of sorts with rival Hillary Clinton following days of a heated back-and-forth between both the Democrats' presidential campaigns over Clinton's record on civil rights.

“I may disagree with Sen. Clinton or Sen. Edwards on how to get things done or how to get there, but we share the same goals, we're all Democrats, we all believe in civil rights, we all believe in equal rights," Obama said told reporters in Reno, Nevada.

The comments follow several days of heated rhetoric from both campaigns following Clinton's remarks to a reporter last week on the legacies of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. "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 said, in her continued argument 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. The criticisms were amplified by Obama's campaign and Clinton later said she was "personally offended" the campaign was "distorting her words."

Meanwhile, speaking at a Clinton campaign event Sunday, BET founder Bob Johnson lashed out at Obama's campaign over the criticism, and seemed to take a swipe at the Illinois senator's 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," he said..

Johnson later claimed he was not referencing Obama's past drug use specifically, but was referring rather to his time as a community organizer.

Speaking Monday, Obama said he wanted to end the current "tit-for-tat" with Clinton.

"I don't want the campaign in this stage to degenerate into so much tit-for-tat back-and-forth that we lose sight why all of us are doing this," he said. "If I hear my own supporters engaging in talk that I think is ungenerous or misleading, or in some way is unfair, then I will speak out forcefully against them, and I hope the other campaigns take the same approach."

Shortly after Obama's comments, Clinton released a statement saying it's time to "reach common ground."

"We differ on a lot of things. And it is critical to have the right kind of discussion on where we stand. But when it comes to civil rights and our commitment to diversity, when it comes to our heroes – President John F. Kennedy and Dr. King – Senator Obama and I are on the same side," the New York Democrat said. “And in that spirit, let's come together, because I want more than anything else to ensure that our family stays together on the front lines of the struggle to expand rights for all Americans.”

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Chris Welch

soundoff (390 Responses)


    January 15, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Sophia, Los Angeles

    Why does Hillary get to talk about the Historical significance of a female president....But Barack has to keep his mouth shut about a Black president????

    She is using the female card...and no one is whining about it. Only Racist want to keep race in the dark.

    January 15, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Julie-Albuquerque

    Obama was taught by his mother to understand all religions but not necessarily to be committed to one – because supposedly religion is a "cultural" thing. Okay, that's fine. He has the right to his own thoughts about religion and his own expression of belief or non-belief – that's what this great Country is all about. But why does he seem so bothered about the simpliest act of showing his patriotism TOWARDS the country he wants to lead (like holding his hand on his heart during the pledge of allegiance or wearing the American flag pin proudly). He wants to lead us – but I seriously ask WHY? I'm sure I'll get the scripted answers to my question from all his supporters: he wants to change things for the good, he wants to help the poor, he wants to take away from the rich – yes, I know all the political rhetoric but if he objects to the simply things of showing love for this Country, what does he really want......?

    January 15, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. Valerie

    Talk about double standards. If Obama (or any man) was to publicly break down or cry on the campaign they wouldn't stand a chance. Since when does emotional weakness translate into electability? I don't want a crybaby president. I want a strong president.

    January 15, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  5. Sharon

    Obama not holding his hand to his heart during the National Anthem – why do people have a problem with that? Maybe he just doesn't want to be told what to do. Why should he honor the flag by holding his hand symbolically on his heart – get over it. If need be, when he becomes President, he'll do away with the National Athem altogether – we don't need it to show allegiance to this country.

    January 15, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. mark wilkes barre pa

    Anonymous,,, Graduate student , or should I say mike from birmingham AL,. or what ever other Allias you mass comment dem talking points,,,,You must be behind in your pledge to post 100 talking points a day college boy,,, your posting in two different names on the same story,,, just like when you did the same thing on the Bush low poll numbers story ,,, Folks this is what is really behind the false polls and fueled hatred that drags down the political election process and continues the great divide in our parties,, If we are to accept change,, real change ,, WE all need to look closely be observant,, dont sit by and watch some one do exactley what they claim the otherside is doing,, lie, cheat, mis-lead, use in-accurate data to confuse and spread fear, all in the name of getting elected or staying elected,,,, DEMAND BETTER OF YOUR SELF FIRST and then demand better from our leaders,, we have many problems to solve as we go forward into the future,,, and no time to waste listening to people who's sole ambition is to cloud the waters and scew your reasoning so you either vote there way or dont vote at all

    January 15, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. Ron, Bronx, NY

    Response to Julie-Albuquerque.
    If you read the US Constitution, all an American needs to run for president is to be a natural -born citizen who must be at least 35 yrs and have resided in the US for the last 15years. I believe Obama meets this minimum test. There is no requirement that you lift your hand during the pledgeand wear the American flag pin.
    This is the problem with the politicians of today. The current president who does all of the things that you just mentioned has done more damage to the constitution than any other president. When a country's leader disrespects the constitution with impunity, that is more serious than not wearing a flag pin or raising a hand during the recital of the pledge.
    Have you also noticed all the politicians who touted their patriotism and their love and "support' for the troops only to lead the very same troops into a disastrous war and deny healthcare to the wounded and maimed. Don't let the flag pin and the ceremonies of the pledge fool you. That's not the true test of a patriot.

    January 15, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    The good guy always wins in the end.

    John McCain 08

    He'll be the only one left standing after the Democrats all beat each other up.

    January 15, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  9. mark wilkes barre pa

    See what I mean folks !!!!

    January 15, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. Linda Pacifica

    It's about time you he spoke up. He sure did wait long enough....benefit perhaps? NOT

    January 15, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  11. BP

    Obama is impressive in many ways. Taking the lead in ending the sniping is just one more example.

    January 15, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. Peace

    I think this shows a lot of class on his part. This is a prime example of why I am voting for Obama for president- in 2016.

    Go Hillary!

    January 15, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  13. mark wilkes barre pa

    Two completely opposit "anonymous" comment senders ,, scroll up and check it out,, who do we believe ? neither , there probably the same person

    January 15, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  14. jeff

    i think there is a great deal of enthusiasm throughout the world to see if america elects obama president. this is a genuine point of electability. that someone could come so immediately from a third world economy to ascend to be president says alot about the country's ability to see past a persons origins and recognize true leadership not only for themselves but the world.

    January 16, 2008 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  15. Julie-Albuquerque

    Oh Ron (from the Bronx) – you just don't get it. Holding your hand to your heart during the National Athem has always been a sign of patrotism, a sign of pride and allegiance to America and what this country represents. It is a sign of solidarity with your fellow Americans. It's such a simple gesture but such a profound one when you think of so many men and women who have fought and lost their lives for the freedom to continue waving this flag so proudly. My father fought and was injured during World War II, and until he died, he held his hand to his heart during EVERY National Athem, proud with the knowledge that he had done his part in securing the freedom we all enjoy, including the freedom NOT to show any display of respect for our flag. It has nothing to do whether politicians are good or bad, holding your hand to your heart is a sign of respect. You are right, though, Obama doesn't have to do this in order to meet the criteria for his politcal ambition, but I would expect more from a man who is trying to be President of the United States.

    January 16, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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