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. JoJo

    This is the exactly what the Republicans would like to see. They want to use this issue of to divide the Democrats and Black & White voters.

    I have lost much respect for Senator Clinton and former President Clinton. Senator Obama has impressive plans to unify and improve the country.

    Senator Obama has my vote and volunteer campaign support as of today, January 14, 2008 at 10:00 pm.

    Senator Obama – CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN


    January 14, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  2. Mark Bierly

    May I point out that when it comes to the constitution. The Democrates view it as and obstacle to overcome, while the Republicans view it as a set of guidelines to work within.

    January 14, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  3. irma

    Oh yeah. Good for both of them.

    January 14, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  4. Amazing

    aj, You have one vote so use it for the person you want to support. It doesn't matter what you think about Obama. Support Hillary, stump for her and vote for you and your job will be done.

    January 14, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  5. Jimmy

    What a lie!I saw the situation room and they reported that Obama called for a truce within an hour after Clinton called for unity.
    The media is so biased towards Clinton. Did Obama apologize when his chief strategist implied that Clinton's lack of judgement lead to Buttho's death. Obama knew too well that Clinton never implied to diminish MLK's actions. What she said is historically true and we all know it and the Obama camp just played the race card knowing the Clinton's commitments to civil rights. Shame on him.

    January 14, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  6. Ryan

    Obama rises above the typical "I'm a victim" politics of the long-gone Clinton era. Hillary had her 8 years, and look what we have to show for it.

    January 14, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  7. B. Ambrose

    I have doubts this site will have the audacity to publish these comments because they have eliminated most other comments to no surprise because of their biased support for the Clintons. The use of surrogates such as Bob Johnson, and Proxies such as Bill Clinton should tell the American people that there is something amiss here. If one boasts 35 years of experience, what in real terms is this experience consist of. And if Bill calls Obama's campaign a fairy tale, then turns around and refutes all, this reminds us of two other cases that are well documeted of his past. If Bob John says what he said and turns around to reinterpret it differently, we must all go back to the Washingtonian Schools to be part of America. I am not just ready to be part of that Washingtonian School yet, and I am not ready to be so disrespectful of the truth. It is my belief that HRC and Bill Clinton were on the side of civil rights when they needed a pivotal constituency to win the Presidency. The current strategy seems for Bill to usher his wife into the whitehouse to salvage his name....What do you think...............

    January 14, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  8. Joey

    I'm SO sick of the Hillary bashing! CNN can always be counted on to present the Senator in the worst possible way.

    No matter what she says or does, someone will always be there to criticize. The woman has devoted her entire life to this country. Love her or hate her, why do the attacks always have to be personal? If the same type of cheap shots and attacks were levied at Obama he'd cry "racism"! I like Obama, but where's his record? What does he stand for? I wish he would spend time talking about the issues rather than trying to be a great orator.
    Furthermore, why do Republicans feel the need to assert an opinion on Hillary? Seems to me you have your own problems, mainly that none of your candidates are electable.

    CLINTON 2008!

    January 14, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  9. william walsh columbus ohio

    do you really, imean really think that the clintons would even consider a race issue in an election,or debate or at dinner,wake up people this race thing is just a media thing, these people have been around the block more than once,do you think they would get caught up in such bs, grow up!if this is an issue its not from this camp, and you need to read up on your history and what the clintons have done for the poor whites and blacks, arnt we a little more mature to be still about color? what yr is this? 1800, get a life,ill tell you what you better address and thats the mexican gangs that are taking over this country, along with there rivals, now thats a issue, they have as many guns here as any military, i think i would let the black thing go ,and concentrate on that instead,

    January 14, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  10. MARIE

    no obama supporter can show anything they are very close minded and they will help this idiot take the economy down to the pitts
    hi middle name is playing games anyone that vote for obama will ahve a rude awakeing and its not going to be pretty..what a bunch of strange people to stand up for a coward and he should have said something first about the racial comment he made after a lot of black leaders scolded him "stupid" for making those remarks
    are you people really paying attention or did you forget your meds? or do you need some meds?

    January 14, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  11. lw

    I don't remember...how did this whole thing start?

    January 14, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  12. Once again...

    Marsha from Portland, Oregon- Thank you for your views. I enjoyed reading it. It's time we beat back the sexism...

    January 14, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  13. USA partisan

    and they lived happily ever after...

    January 14, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  14. Mary hawk

    Obama is the better person here. The Clintons should stay home and try to save their marriage stop using the White House to keep it together. The USA needs a man like Obama to run his honest and He knows what his talking about.
    Obama all the way......

    January 14, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  15. dn

    Bill Clinton should stay out of it. If Hillary can't stand the hit, then get her out of the kitchen.

    January 14, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  16. Josh

    I'm happy that Sen. Obama stood above the fray, unlike the Clintons!

    Obama 08

    January 14, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  17. JD, WI

    The questions I have for Obama-supporters is this.
    How Obama is going to handle attacks from Republicans if he can't survive this kind of a mild back-punch from the Clintons?
    You think Republicans will agree to a truce like the Clintons did?
    I know you guys trying to damage controll by saying it is nice for Obama to do that.
    But the bitter truth is Obama couldn't handle the pressure, when the very problem that he started backfired on him.
    He just chickened-out.
    If you get into politics thinking that everyone will play nice, that is very naive thinking.
    Dirty is the name of the game, and don't get into it if you don't know how to play it.
    That is what happened to Kerry in 2004. That is why I like Clintons. They don't take any crap from anyone. They hit back vigorously.
    I don't have anything personally against Obama, and I don't even hate him the way you guys hate Hillary. But it make me furious that this guy is going to ruin our chances of getting the whitehouse back from the republicans.

    January 14, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  18. let make nice

    It is funny that Obama calls a truce but that is not good enough. Why is it still his fault? He was a gentleman and she should be one too. Yeah a gentleman. Hill supporters it is funny that you are the biggest race card players not Hillary. She is still a hypocrite just not as bad as most of you. Grow up Hill supporters. TRUCE……..till next time.

    January 14, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  19. Amy

    Leaders inspire. Students of the school of Rove politics do not.

    January 14, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  20. carlo

    For everyone's information, this was posted on Yahoo before being posted on CNN. For some HRC supporters, there is nothing Obama can say or do that will change their minds. I can respect that-however, if Hillary had called for a truce first, HRC supporters would want EVERYONE to know that she took the "high ground." If Obama started or participated in the attacks, show me with "words". Show me with evidence of precisely what came out of his mouth in response to the attacks and inuendo that was vile, malicious, or sexist in any way. I heard Bill Clinton claim that Obama has attacked his wife 80 times, but NOT ONCE did he inform us of a specific time when Obama did this. In addition, her record, her policies, and her plans are up for attack-that's called a debate. However, when HRC wants to chant "women for hillary" with women holding up signs saying such, neither she nor her supporters are in any position to claim someone is playing the race card. I have yet to see any Obama supporters holding up "blacks for obama" or of him saying that having the first black president in america is change as Hillary did in the New Hampshire debates. People would be in an uproar. THIS IS A DOUBLE STANDARD. She wants to profit from being a woman, but when Obama doesn't try to profit for being black, she wants to try to pull it out of him. This entire situation could hurt no one but Obama, and HRC and her staff know this.

    People referring to him as "Barak Hussein Obama" when no other candidate is required to use their middle names, or calling his church "racist" when other candidates attend all white churches and they aren't called racist is ridiculous. As far as the refusal to put his hand on the Bible, that was a Muslim Congressman from Michigan who used the Koran pulled from the National Archives that belonged to one of our founding fathers-THOMAS JEFFERSON!

    It's painful to watch people post on here with all zeal and absolutely no knowledge. Libraries are free-read a freakin' book.

    January 14, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  21. Christian, Tampa FL

    It's noteworthy that Obama showed leadership on this issue and took the first step toward a truce. It is a major indication of his leadership style and personal qualities that all voters should keep in mind.

    January 14, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  22. Nick Ann Arbor, MI

    Amen to senator Obama for practicing what he preaches, and throwing away the divisive politics of old. It makes the Clintons look like paranoid fools... this is why we need him running the country. Hillary cannot bring people together, but rather tries to divide them to her own advantage. It is exactly her kind of "experience" that has poisoned washington and destroyed the system. You cannot be the architect of that destruction and simultaneously be the one to change it.

    For the record - the Obama campaign NEVER ONCE impugned the Clintons' comments as racist. A number of African American leaders did so independently, and of course Clinton sees it as an Obama "conspiracy." But the fact is that the reactions have all been independent. Then Johnson, a devious leach whose channel constantly shows us the stereotypes of black men as being misogynistic gangsters and black women as being sexual objects, somehow rises up and speaks for the black community, pretending that he does so more than many of our most successful African american congressmen and women and TV commentators who INDEPENDENTLY took issue with the Clintons' remarks? It's disgusting. The Clintons have no right to criticize Obama for a mess they created by themselves.

    January 14, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  23. Mary, Westmont, IL

    I think that the Clintons' anti-Obama strategy is more subtle than commentators are realizing. It is in the nature of a "provokatsiia", as the Russians say. Cuomo didn't utter the phrase "shuck and jive"without forethought; nor did Clinton bring up LBJ and MLK on the spur of the moment. Both are experienced street-fighting politicians who don't say that kind of thing to the press without thinking it through. Such comments are a provocation, waving a red cloak in front of the Obama people. When they respond angrily with charges of racism, suddenly they look like Jessie Jackson redux...just the kind of angry, militant black folks who scare white people (btw I think black anger and militancy are completely understandable...this is just a point about how much of the white public reads such charges of racism). Then the Clintons deny responsibility.
    The whole point was to get the Obama people to respond angrily, which they did. Clintons win.

    January 14, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  24. Q.G. of Georgia

    Honor and humility is the hallmark of a great leader and visionary. Senator Obama with this single act of civility, exemplifies these traits. Even after suffering from a continued onslaught of attacks on his record and character; he resisted responding on the level of the Clintons. Experience does not equate to Character, and by all estimates Obama and Clinton are fairly equal with experience and public service.

    It is the character of the leader that makes "Change" possible. We must decide if we want a polarizing figure or one who unites. In the wake of 911, a failing economy and the war; only the later will yield a brighter day. Obama is the candidate for unity and change.

    For the good of the Democratic party and the future of America, Obama stands above the fray and calls for sensibility. Now if only the media that fanned the flames of the race-card, could do the same. Let his election be about the issues, and not divisive attacks.

    Godspeed Mr. Obama!

    January 14, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  25. stan pitts pa

    folks in this critical moment we need a uniter, not a divider, the challenges we face as a nation can only be tackled together as one united states, we need barack obama for new leadership, inspiration and unity, folks pls vote with your hearts and your head! obama 08!

    January 14, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
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