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. From The North

    I believe Hillary and Barack's tit for tat has done serious damage to both their Campaigns. and Credability. The bickering and bantering illuminated the negativity,and unprofessionalism both possess. The race doesn't need another John Edwards and Elizabeth. I would think the disgust that most Americans voiced on the Edwards' style of politics would have enlightened Hillary and Obama on the results of using such tactics. It seemed when Hillary announced she was running her Campaign her Campaign went down hill. Maybe she should hand the reigns over to whoever was running it previously.

    The Candidates with enough wisdom and strength to maintain a Campaign that respects their opponents will gain more respect and support.

    Personally, they both turned me off. And if I had a vote it wouldn't be for either. Before they displayed their childish, petty rhetoric, I would have considered both.

    January 15, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. David

    I love how the "race card" is pulled out once again. Glad to see people are wising up.

    January 15, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. Lisa Gross

    I agree with those of you who say A-anybody,B-but, C- Clinton! I feel this whole thing about what Hillary said was turned onto Barack Obama for no good reason at all. This was taken from the republican playbook! I am moving further and further away from the Clintons. I was so impressed with Congressman Clyburn's comments on Charlie Rose. He answered a very important question: Is Barack Obama ready to lead this country? He answered YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO OBAMA!

    January 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Gil - California

    Clinton did not call a truce, she got her croonie Charlie Rangle to blow this thing up even more. A vote for Hillary is a vote for continuation of sexist and racist behavior in this country. Hillary being elected president will have zero effect on the women in the country because it is not about her gender....it is about her. She is in this for what is only good for her. Charlie obviously benefited from all the pork barrel spending Hillary threw his way and is probably looking for a place on the cabinet. Sorry Charlie, it ain't going to happen. You know how the Clinton camp pay back the supporters? Remember Vince Foster and Ron Brown?

    Anyone but Clinton in 08

    January 15, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. Sean

    If Obama can't take the heat from the Clinton campaign..just wait until the GOP get finished with him. If we really want to take back the Whitehouse, Hillary is the way to go. Even if you are not a fan of hers, hold your nose and vote..its the only way.

    January 15, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. urok

    I think most black people are too jealous of Obama's pedigree and his ability to overcome obstacles to become who he is today. They would rather support the Clintons who are doing nothing more than good "diplomacy" with black people. To suggest that Clintons are better friends to blacks than Obama who is half-black, raised by a single-parent mom, and married to a black woman is "stupid" on its own right. This country always deserves stupid leaders, because voters choose stupid leaders, like the Bushes and the Clintons for more than 15 years and running.

    January 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  7. Angela

    Amazing that when Hillary says she wants to stop this nonsense no one covers it in the media, but he does and BOOM it's all over the press.

    He was not the one with the higher road, he's actually following in Hillary's footsteps.

    Too bad what she said was never bad to begin with. People twisted things so much, when it was clear to me that she meant in working with the President, Dr. King got things accomplished..

    But then, people love to hate Hillary, don't they?

    January 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. KarenCA

    When is Obama going to actually let go of one of these people? I notice CNN quoting everything Bill says, but for some reason Obama's wife never gets quoted.
    Obama is as polarizing Clinton. I don't support either because of their policies.

    January 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Vantresa in Maryland

    I commend Sen. Obama for taking the high road. It demonstrates his character, and his focus on what's important. The state of the America is the issue here. He has scored points with me for being the bigger person and calling an end to this madness that was started by Hillary.

    Hillary is the typical politican, "when all else fails, turn to personal attacks". I have read her book and I personall believe that she cares more about POWER than me as an American, or any of my fellow Americans. And, Mrs. Clinton, I could care less that you are personally "offended" by the backlash you have been getting from the thoughtless comment you made. No crying or public displays of emotion in my neck of the woods will get you votes. You will not get my sympathy vote!

    I am tired of politicans, and a return of a statesmen would be nice. I encourage all the candidates, to stay on the issues. I want to know who I can count on to collaborate with all Americans to bring us out of these dark days.

    January 15, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. Les

    Obama have DIVIDED this country down to race. He ALWAYS bring the race card in every speeches he makes. I am totally disgusted with him!

    January 15, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Anonymous

    You sheep. All of you. Can't someone think for themselves?

    January 15, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Black Man, Philly PA

    If it were a Republican that made the remarks of Rangel and Johnson, there would be a public out-cry amongst the so-called Civil Rights leaders. Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and friends would turn this "race" issue upside down. It's amazing that when "stupid" comments are made with the Democratic group, members are afraid to correct one another. They are all hypocrites.

    Obama 08′

    January 15, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. Ed

    We should not get caught up in the bashing, oftentimes the intent is to confuse and divide us. We Americans are tired of the games from all parties; individuals of all races have sold us out. For this country to achieve its greatest potential it will take each of us from all races to make this possible. There are more issues at stake than just color, gender or war, our survival and position in the world economy is at stake.

    January 15, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Greg, OH

    Does everyone forget the NH recount will happen tomorrow? Why does no media mention it?

    January 15, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. stan pitts pa

    Obama did not play the race card and we all know it was hrc who started and fanned the flames of all this, the only person who will get burned is hrc, voters are not stupid, as for obama losing (white) votes, not gonna happen, he is half white/half black and besides most folks like him and see him as smart, inspiring and a true uniter! the voters can see behind all the smoke screens being put up by bill and hrc, they are the most power hungry and divisive couple in recent U.S history.

    January 15, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Mandy

    Personally, I believe this whole past week was blown way out of proportion. Yeah, they're bickering, yeah they're mudslinging, but, really, that's pretty normal in an election, especially in a Presidential one. The only part that really bothered me was the fake cover-up of the drug reference; the reference itself didn't even offend me as much as the cover-up did.

    Stop reporting non-newsworthy events. In the long run, no one will remember any of this.

    January 15, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. Tre

    Obama has shown grace and leadership throughout this Clinton offensive. Anyone who thinks that Obama or his campaign initiated this "silliness" is plain ignorant. I can't stand ignorant people! They don't read or listen to facts because they're are lazy-minded. They are cowards who throw mud and run. As a supporter of Obama, I am proud of my candidate. He has an awesome background and record of public and community service. He has character and intelligence and he is genuine about his hope for America and his faith in God. Obama supporters, let's keep moving forward. Do not respond to the Ice Queen or her petrified minions. Obama'08

    January 15, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Teacher

    GREG,OH..................Its called A.D.D I think.They dont want you to remember important stuff like voter fraud.Watch Lou Dobbs Tonight or read his book INDEPENDENTS DAY for more insight as to whats going on .

    January 15, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Finally Obama realized that he should stop his silliness. Dr. King was not alone in bring change to America nor was he the first to pay for that change with his life.
    If it was not for the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Obama would not be running for the Presidency, let alone being a U.S. Senator.
    Obama in my opinion was trying to stir up the African-American voters in South Carolina. Obama was also hoping to have even the African-American supporters of Hillary turn against her. Hillary Clinton by her actions has shown that she is not a racist and that she is a supporter of the African-American community.
    So Mr Obama your ploy has failed.
    For someone who wants to bring civility to campaigning you have a funny way doing it.

    January 15, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. James Baldwin

    Prior to New Hampshire, when she thought she was a 'shoo in' for the nomination . She behaved in a manner that Americans could be proud of. Once it seemed as though the nomination (that she seems to believe she is entitled to), was slipping away, she allowed her campaign to begin using tactics from Karl Rove's playbook.
    Hillary Clinton has said that she 'found her voice' in New Hampshire. So can we assume that what we have seen in the past week and a half are her 'true colors'.

    January 15, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. Sue Cook

    What religion in Obma and why does he not put his hand over his heart when the
    National Anthem is played?

    January 15, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  22. Winfield G. James

    I would like to know how someone like Bob Johnson that peddled smut to black kids all the days of his adult life can question anyone's actions or character, especially people that are much bigger and way more decent than he can ever become.

    Moreover, I would like to know why Hilary and Bill would associate with such a character! Can it be because he is foolish enough to do their dirty work?

    January 15, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Melinda

    While everyone is quick to give Obama credit for his statement, and I will as well, Hillary Clinton gave a speech on Sunday decrying this race issue. She then issued statements echoing the sentiment on Monday. The major player in this argument is The Media. With the writer's strike in effect, it is the best show in town! I am just glad to be moving forward before this ugly issue impacts the Democratic party. As a final note...

    HILLARY '08!!

    January 15, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. tony g.

    Wake up democrats. Obama can't win the general election. None of those red states will turn blue, in 2008, if he's the nominee.

    January 15, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. Jon Beckley

    Funny Hillary should evoke LBJ and the civil rights act to bring voters to her camp. First of all, Hill's no LBJ. But even if she was, she was a Goldwater Girl. If she had her way in the 1964 election, Barry Goldwater would have been president and civil rights would be an option for the states, thereby allowing southern states to avoid this sort of legislation, where it is most needed.

    January 15, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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