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.

β€œI 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. β€œAnd 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. H. Truman

    Truce Hell! The Clintons have overplayed their hand and know it. There is no true truce – only a brief respite to gather forces while lulling the competition into complacentcy. Just wait for the Clintons to catch their breath – then watch out!

    January 14, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. Wayne

    Wow. Obama, amid scathing and underhanded attacks from the Clinton's takes the high ground. Geesh. Im just so impressed with this guy. He has my vote hands down. He has experience. More years in elected office than HRC actually..but experience isnt wnat impresses me. What impresses me is his JUDGEMENT. He saw the party and campaign fraying. He takes the high ground to repair it. Hillary would find more sarrogates to do her dirty work but not Obama.

    Praise God for Obama.

    January 14, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  3. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Both of these inexperienced and megalomaniac Senators are confirming my decision of several months ago that I will not vote for them no matter who the GOP runs. They're simply not ready for prime time.

    January 14, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. Mechelle

    Smooooooth Oooooobama!

    If Mitt doesn't win the nomination, I switching over. I encourage all the other "independents" to do the same. Trash the GOP for their religious bigotry!!

    January 14, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. WOW

    Thank you Obama for taking the high road. You are proving to me that you are someone who can really bring people together.

    Alot of people said that it was Obama who is going back and foward with this race thing but we all know that when the comments were made, he refused to comment on them.

    It was the media who made a big deal about it, CNN, MSNBC, FOX. There the ones who heard the comments and then asked for a response which the Obama camp did not give.

    The media had people on their shows giving their own opinions about what was spoken from Hillary and the Clinton camp said it was comming from Obama. If so much was comming out of the Obama camp then where are the quotes? Where's the proof?

    This game of politics is so frustrating and I'm glad that Obama took the high road.

    January 14, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. carol

    Why can't they run a clean campaign. I don't know why they have to get so ruthless about everything. It is America and their own people they are representing. I really like Mitt Romney and if I was an American, I would definitely vote for him. I think he has a lot of good qualities and has proven himself in offices that he has held in the past. Only a Canadian's opinion and maybe that's good, someone from the outside looking in. Vote for you choice, but vote.

    January 14, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. Rob Mitchell

    Hillary would have been in trouble if she didn't agree to the truce. After all, it was her supporter, the BET guy, who added fuel to the fire as she stood by and did nothing. Obama, rather than dig up stuff said years ago, decided to take the high road. (The book was published in 1995 and it happened in the past. America is only kidding itself if it thinks Obama is the first presidential candidate to use drugs before–and his usage was well over 13 years ago at least.)

    Hopefully, both of them can get back to the issues and put all of this mudslinging behind them, because frankly, I'm sick of reading articles where Bill or Hillary make open-ended remarks about Obama's candidacy and then try to cover it up. It's not the 4th grade election to decide who brings home the hamster this week. It's to decide who will become president and despite being an Obama supporter, I have to admit that I can't tell the difference sometimes.

    January 14, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. Larry Buchas, New Britain, CT

    As much as I applaud and support Obama, Hillary has done the same.

    Now let's see if it continues. I have my doubts when Bill is involved.

    January 14, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. Fred

    Carol, Mitt Romney has probably run the most negative ads out of any of the presidential candidates. I wouldn't necessarily call that a clean campaign.

    January 14, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. Looking for the Real Leader

    Who's the one with "35 years of experience"? Senator Clinton has acted like a petulant 7 year old the past week.

    Anybody with kids can relate. One kid pokes the other in the ribs until the second kid finally smacks his/her brother or sister. Then the kid who started it starts whining to Mommy and Daddy about how they were just hit.

    Thank you Senator Obama for showing poise, maturity, and grace in the face of unfortunate comments from a campaign who claims to be ready to lead.

    January 14, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  11. Eric in Massachusetts

    I'm glad the Nobama is finally putting an end to the racism comments. Does that make him the bigger man or classy? Heck no, he should have never let it start.

    We'll see how long it lasts..... probably not long. Can you imagine Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Chris Rock, Oprah, et al not opening their mouths any and every time Clinton makes a comment? We'll see if Barack will publicly speak out "forcefully" against his supporters the next time they bring up race. I hope he does.

    AND, I hope he can get back to the issues and trying to lay something out there for the American people. Not sure he can do that with his limited background. Personally, I don't think Oprah would make a bad Secretary of State, but you never know? I can see Chris Rock as Secretary of Defense. Al Sharpton as FBI Director. Jesse Jackson as Treasury Secretary. πŸ™‚ Where will John Kerry fit in? Perhaps Secretary of HUD?

    January 14, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  12. buster

    This issue has been kept alive to feed the media. Get back to the issues.

    January 14, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. Deborah

    Obama is a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He is definately the statesman of the group.

    Obama '08

    January 14, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  14. Lauren

    You can't argue with this... Obama proves he is the TRUE candidate for change

    January 14, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. Kin

    Listen, I do applaud Obama, but he might not be doing this for genuine reasons. He might be doing this to cement his status as the man with the high ground. Is he faking the whole reconciliation thing? I don't know, but if some of you can claim that Clinton faked her tears, I can certainly claim that Obama is faking this call for unity.

    Also, Obama has not done a great job of shutting up his supporters. Just look at what some of his advisors had to say on Fox News and CNN through YouTube.

    January 14, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  16. sandy

    I feel this is just another political move on his part. He realizes you can win over people by making a truce. If this had never started, he might have looked better in my eyes. Tell us what you plan to do and stop saying "change" which is just an empty word.

    January 14, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  17. Grace Smith, Charlton, SC

    I was just in tears when I read this. As George Clooney rightly said, the kind of leadership Barack Obama exemplifies, is somehing that cannot be taught – it's something natural.

    God bless you, Senator Obama.

    January 14, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  18. Class

    This man exudes such class! Not one time did he stoop to the level the Hillary campaign and the media wanted him to stoop. He carries himself as a president should. I find it interesting that Hillary did not mention finding "common ground" in her multitude of interviews, and did only after Barack Obama did. Leaders lead.

    January 14, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. Lester Aponte

    Clearly Obama could not stand the heat that his own campaign people unleash. Hillary is not John Kerry. If you attack her she will come back at you twofold. Obama called a truce because he knows he was taking the worst hits and he can't afford to have his pristine image damaged.

    January 14, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. gehoward

    Mr. Obama, as a Black American, who has been through the rough and tumble whlie you were at Harvard and saw first hand the work President and Hillary Clinton did, while all the time since they hit D.C. the republicans were nipping at their heels, I am ashamed of you and your staff, to allow such bigotry to go as far ans it has gone. The time to take the high road was when it first begin. This to me only demonstrate more the need for you to take your time. If ment to be it will be, but for now, its not your time. You are too inexsperenced and we need a person who can and will take command on the first hour of the first day, my brother!

    January 14, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. Alan

    Obama, YOU HAVE MY VOTE. You are the only hope of this nation to gain its respect in the world.

    January 14, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. EE

    Im not an Obama supporter but I must admit that Im thrilled by the character of this guy.This is classy from Sen Obama. Im totally thrilled by this.

    This is real leadership in America. I wish the GOP would immitate this. This back and forth between Romney and McCain is even gettting donw further than the Clinton Obama fight. These two literally hate each other to the core. Huckabee plays the role of the old fox in the mix

    January 14, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  23. basil

    Oh, Pleeeeezzze.

    Obama's pretty good at strategy but HRC is better. I predict he (or, most likely, his staff) has overplayed their hand.

    The Queen is going to check the King and then all will be right in the world. The end.

    January 14, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  24. Jaime Scottsdale,AZ

    You have left out one small thing. No, one big thing. Hillary was saying the same thing yesterday on "Meet The Press." Were you not listening??? Common ground and that she was proud to be part of all of this. Come on, OBAMA saw this going nowhere...just take a look at the SC polls. I will applaud him for following Hillary once again on what is right.

    HRC in 08! PERIOD

    January 14, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  25. John McAteer

    Please seek from each candidate that individual's strategy for working constructivly with the opposite political party after the presidential election. Have them explain how to move this nation off dead center to real progress in domestic and foreign affairs before our young people become totally disillusioned about the American system of political parties.

    January 14, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
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