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. Stephanie

    Obama is higher than the rest? He's the one who started this mess in the first place. Please. Give me a break. His comments were foolish.

    January 15, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  2. Mart from Chicago

    Hillary didnt go to CNN for a truce. Her words the day before can already be seen as a truce. However Obama came to CNN and says lets TRUCE, and you guys said it puts him in a higher place? come on, give me a break!!! And please, dont start with Obama didnt start this whole race issue... someone did speculate and say bad things about what Hillary said about MLK.. even if Obama didn't do it personally, im sure his campaign started it. And what is with Edwards? Pouring fuel into the fire... I can see he really wants to be a VP of Obama... geezzzzz.

    January 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. Harry Goss

    Can you please suggest how I might modify this message, is it the word "black", or "racist" or is it the truth of the message you disagree with?

    January 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  4. Bee

    Obama's statement alone reassure my vote for him. He is a stateman and a leader with great vision for America. Despite the Clinton's mud throwing, he choose the high road instead. I am proud of you Senator Obama and i'll work extra hard to make sure you are elected.

    January 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  5. roger, conway sc

    If Obama wants to talk about racist remarks he should check out what is wife is talking about in the black churches in SC....this is not making the media headlines....I can not understand why anyone would be offended by what Hillary or Bill said unless they are looking for something or are super sensative. BUT I will say this if a white person were making the comments Mrs. Obama is making regarding race Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Donna Brazzelle, Jim Clyburn & the other black leadership would be demanding an apology and have out their protest signs. I feel that most reasonable black & white people of america are ready for a black president but the black leadership are not, they want the media attention to complain & whine...If Obama is the nominee or the president this is just a sample of what it is going to be like....so you had better think before you vote for Obama.

    January 15, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  6. Susan

    This is yet another example of Senator Obama's mature leadership - leading by example to raise our political discourse up out of the mud.

    After he lost NH, he graciously congratulated Hillary on the win, and went on to say that all (of the democratic candidates) have good ideas, and all are patriots that serve this country honorably.

    It takes a man with great integrity and high principles to resist the urge to "repay evil for evil" and instead choose to "overcome evil with good." Obama has demonstrated that he has the character and temperament I want in the next President of the United States.

    January 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. TDV

    I want someone to show me a SPECIFIC quote from Obama where he used the race card. I've heard that African-American leaders were upset over HRC's remarks and even a few African-American talk show hosts. However, I'm still searching for that specific quote where Obama used the "race card".

    January 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. Richard

    Eric, MD , has got it right. Clinton had better beware of trading barbs with the Obama campaign. Their tactics remind me of some disinformation agents I have encountered in internet news groups. They would make outrageous statements and then accuse YOU of being disingenous.

    January 15, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  9. Christopher

    It amazes me what moron's people have become. To say that Obama is the bigger man..geesh!!! It is quite clear and obvious that he is only attempting to back off the the foolish comments he made. How do you start a fight, then call a truce and people see you as the bigger person... I sincerly feel that morons that would submit thier vote for Obama very possibly would be the same ones that submitted voted for BUSH...

    Here you have a candidate whom is running on the platform of, "A BLACK MAN THAT SPEAKS WELL".. For god sake, I am a black man that speaks well too!! So, is Colin Powell, Tavist Smiley, Bob Johnson, and a host of other COLLEGE EDUCATED afro americans. Out side of speaking well, what does Obama really offer????? Especially on the heels of the absolutly worst presidency on history of the United States. His record is very clear...NO SHOW..on every major vote since he has been elected. This obviously is to take the position of NO POSITION... yeah, thats what we need for president huh?

    January 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  10. lagosboy

    Obama, you are truly a class act, it shows you are the better candidate. I don’t blame Hillary; she has to do whatever to win. But I must say I am very disappointed with chicken heads like Bob Johnson and Charlie Rangel, for talking smack out of both ends.

    January 15, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. aboga faye

    the white house is not a family affair. put a stop to family business. besides,its going to be hard for a female to rule AMERICA. let clinton face her family and let obama be.

    January 15, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  12. sly

    AJ; Montpelier, VT:

    Obama played the race card "as we knew he would"? What on Earth are you talking about! Obama never once mentioned race and in any event this entire war of words was initiated by the Clinton Campaign, specifically when Bill went on the attack. Barack cannot be blamed for some prominent black personalities taking exception to some of the things that have come out of the Clinton camp.

    You are misinformed and gullible.

    January 15, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. Sammy

    Thank you Obama for taking the high road. I pray for you. Hope you will survive and trump the Clinton machine.

    January 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. Erick Highum

    This is classic Hillary speak, first she makes a statement that is not even accurate, since it took more than just a President to get civil rights legislation, it took a mass movement led by Dr. King and others, to get the politicians to even submit legislation to the President, and then she turns her own statement around to make herself the victim of the Obama campaign.

    The whole argument that she is more qualified to lead the nation is based on arrogance, and is remarkably similar to President Bush and VP Cheney arguing in the last election cycle that they were the only ones that could keep America safe from terrorists. Hillary is not the only person qualified to lead the nation, and as a nation we need a lot more than a new President to fix our problems. She is not the saviour she thinks she is, I mean she can talk her talk all she wants, the bottom line is her rhetoric is demeaning and offensive. Her "electability" argument is also overblown and egomaniacal.

    The Republicans are going to eat her alive if she is nominated, they will do the same thing to her that they did to Kerry, first she was for the war, now she is against it, so where do you stand Hillary, are you in support of the troops or not?

    January 15, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. CJL

    Obama for 2008 and for America. God bless the USA and truly Make us one Nation Under God with Liberty and Justice for All. Obama 2008!

    January 15, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  16. steveo

    Go to the head of the class GRADUATE STUDENT, who said the media is fueling this fight. The leading media outlets are doing such a disservice to all of us. Perhaps the concentration of media has worsened the quality of their reporting.
    Ya know- this country has MAJOR ISSUES that it must come to grips with.

    January 15, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Rob

    To be an American President, you need to have American values, morals, and standards. This Country was founded on Freedoms; not taxes. Obama's views are not the views of a freedom loving America. Dont believe the hype. FRED 08

    January 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. JC, Topeka, Kansas

    Let's see Obama started the mud slinging, let's see if he can in fact stop.

    January 15, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  19. Greg, OH


    I am for Obama, and many of my comments have been deleted too, it is not a conspiracy against Clinton. I use no foul language or slander, just facts and links to facts but CNN doesn't seem to like facts either

    January 15, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Julie-Albuquerque

    Now that Obama's campaign strategy is backfiring he's scurring back for a truce – what a laugh!

    January 15, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. jaila

    Great! I'm so glad he decided to be the bigger person and just end this mess. I wouldn't be surprised if Hillary tries to drag it up again.....

    Obama 08!!

    January 15, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  22. Greg, OH


    If you would please listen to his speeches, he clearly said how he would pay for that TAX CUT for seniors and middle class. He said he would cut the LOOPHOLES for corporations have their "headquarters" in the 12,000 in the Bahammas/ Caymans.

    It is feasible to me and good for the average person in this country. Are you against tax cuts for the middle class and seniors? Are you against closing tax loopholes? I am not.

    Go Obama from a fedup Republican giving a change a chance (I am serious not this is not a ploy)

    January 15, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  23. Can't Stand the Heat?

    This is absurd for the pro-Barack media to once again pick up and elude to the fact that Barack wants to end this. First off, HE STARTED IT. The Benazir Bhutto comment was absolutely a low life statement from his camp and he didn't make a stating it was "ungenerous" as he states he will do as well. Secondly, on Meet the Press this past Sunday while Tim Russert was trying to infuriate a Barack attack statement from Hillary, she stated then how much admiration she had for Barack. And that she doesnt want this to be a Gender-Racial campaign. No kudos for Barack, he just figured out he can't fight with the big dogs.

    January 15, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. Lia Johnson



    January 15, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. I Walter Jones

    Someone anyone please pass on to Obama to make sure from now on He and his staff stay clear of any negative comments regardless of where other negatives comments are coming from about him. Last week Obama you were caught up in a Catch 22 from the Clinton's. Stick to the issures that all Americans are concern about. Keep tell the American people your plan for change from the old warm over soup of the past and present. Do not and I mean do not give the American people any ideal you will or let any one play the Race Card with you in the way you have been doing.. Playing the Race Card has always been a tool for those who are losing votes to play. Omama always take the higher ground with class. The American people, all of us see the smoke screen being played on you from loyal people(some so call black Leaders) who believe they have to stand up for Clinton's. the old divide game.

    The American people want real change. Many of us know real change will not happen with Mrs. Clinton. Get back on track Obama we need you as our President. The American people will elect the person they think will bring about real change from the past and present. May God be with you Obama. You are America's last chance to put our Country back into the hands of the American people. Mark my word America. America don't be fooled by those who want things to remain the way they are.

    January 15, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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