January 14th, 2008
11:59 PM ET
14 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)
  1. s.positive

    Actions always prove ones character, when the dust settles, we'll see who showed through CHARACTER....

    January 14, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  2. Dee

    Obama is the bigger person.

    January 14, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  3. Gobama






    January 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  4. Klaudia Washington

    This is truly interesting.

    January 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  5. Amazing

    Clap, Clap, Clap...a man with Character....I support you more than I have ever before.

    January 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  6. Bob, Seattle

    A very naive closing statement. Clinton's don't know how to play 'nice'. They only know to manipulate 'at all costs towards an 'end that justifies the means'. Silly Obama. Poor Obama. A sheep at the mercy of the wolves.

    January 14, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  7. s.positive

    It is the grown ones with WISDOM that seeks peace amongst fellow men...

    January 14, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  8. Wayne, Greenville TX

    It's best to stop the fighting within the party. Their true enemy (and the enemy of America) is in the GOP.

    January 14, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  9. bryce baker, Portland, OR

    What?!? Someone taking the high ground? what a surpirse for Obama ::sarcasm::

    January 14, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  10. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    That's class. That's why he has my vote.

    January 14, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. Emily

    So will CNN also post Ms. Clinton's statement that pretty much echoes what Mr. Obama says? Or are we again in for more Obama-mania courtesy of CNN?

    Do you ever plan to post anything positive about the Clintons or is it negative all the way?

    January 14, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  12. Obama 08

    Once again Obama takes the high road....

    January 14, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. Allen Creasman

    One thing we all should remember is the soldiers overseas fighting for us to continue to have the rights that we have. Black or white, wrong or right most Americans agree petty issues are not important right now our safety and freedoms being protected should remain all politicians top priorities Republican or Democrat!

    January 14, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. Scott, Royal Oak, MI

    Obama once again proves that he is the bigger person...

    January 14, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  15. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Hillary needs to do the right thing and have Bob Johnson apologize to Obama just like she released Sheheen from her staff for his insensitive remarks. There's a double standard going on here by Hillary and find it disgusting. I don't blame Hillary for Bob Johnson's total stupidity but if she doesn't require an apology to Obama from Bob Johnson then she is just as responsible as he is.

    January 14, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  16. Eric Riggs

    It's about time. Now maybe they can get back to the war in Iraq, the economy and health care. Clinton, Obama or Edwards would each do a great job as President.

    Now if the media would just stop shoving meaningless news down our throats and actually cover the real things that the candidates stand for we might elect the person that best fits the Presidency.

    January 14, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  17. Lorraine Santee, SC.

    This a man with integrity. He has taken the High Road. Let the Clinton's be the one to destroy the party. I am a proud republican who supports Obama,

    January 14, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  18. Gobama

    How does one call a 'truce' on a bully? It never worked before. LOL

    If bullies are relentlessly attacking you, how do you call a truce with the Clinton bullies? LOL

    The Clintons are the one who decided do PERSONAL ATTACKS after they lost in Iowa in their bid for a THIRD CLINTON TERM!

    Bill Clinton is using Hilary as a front to sneak a THEIR CLINTON TERM! And they will do anything for their personal ambition.
    The Clintons will continue the divisiveness that causes nothing to get done in Washington on the nation's behalf.

    January 14, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  19. Lev Klinemann, CA

    The best thing I heard in a dog's age.

    You go Obama.

    January 14, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  20. El Grande

    This is great. Now maybe Hillary has time to let us know which white man is responsible for making Cesar Chavez' dream a reality.

    January 14, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  21. J, CA

    Clearly Obama camp is shaken by this. They are worried about Johnson's comments as a passionate anger among African Americans devolping agianst Obama camp for taking cheap shots at Clintons they love.

    January 14, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Connie, Tn.

    Obama is the only one determined to take the high ground in this. The Democrats are bound to "self-distruct". The Republicians will come out in force if Hillary is the candidate and too many Democrats won't back Obama so the Repugs will win again!

    January 14, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Klaudia Shiare

    This is truly interesting. We at this time in history where I am so excited that a gentleman Obama is running not just for president but for ALL of us. All races , all people! I cant believe my people. Im just really amazed. We didnt come from teh blood of "going with the flow"... Think. And as for Mr. BET. Was that personal? This is a time where I am so happy that I am going to create little kid size voting packets for my grandchildren who range from 2 -11! Show them pictures of all...and let them know there is a black presidential candidate right NOW! This is a time also my mother told me a few hours earlier as she was as dissappointed in Hillary as I was that "It did'nt take a village to raise her children, it took a MOTHER and FATHER! As much as I enjoyed the Clinton years well.....most, I am dissapointed that there is such a difference in President Clinton and Mrs. Clintons tactics and causes. And the feminist stuff, well I guess some people are still trying to find themselves. Could you just remember you are all you ever need to be and that means you are fantastic without a label title! Just BE...and vote OBAMA! Bless all. Go MICHELLE AND FAMILY!

    January 14, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. Fred

    Thank you for speaking out against this nonsense before it denigrated this entire campaign for the presidency. Time to get back to the real issues.

    January 14, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  25. Idahosa

    it takes a person (or man in this case) who is committed to change and unity to openly declare a truce even when he didn't start the war.

    i deeply appreciate and respect senator Obama for taking the initiative and making the first move. he has always had my support and always will.

    keep the dream Obama!!!

    January 14, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
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