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. Fred

    Summerville, SC

    This is not the same thing. He in no way said he was proud of Hillary, he just says we need to move past this and unite as democrats. What she said was patronizing, especially given her audience (a Black Church). He's a grown man, she's a grown woman, and they're both running for president. There is no need for either to say that they're proud of the other because of their gender or race and running in this election. That's patronizing, plain and simple.

    January 14, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. Margaret

    I hope and pray that OBAMA wins.

    January 14, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  3. Joe, SoCal

    Good move Barack. There's was no way you could win the race debate in the eyes of the American public. Hillary was trying to bait you into reacting and destroying your whole campaign, Again, good move, and continue to take the high road.

    January 14, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. Andy, New York, New York

    First, former Bill Clinton advisor, Dick Morris accurately predicted, right after Hillary lost Iowa and won New Hampshire, that her campaign would go all out negative against Obama by playing the race card. I couldn't see how that was possible.

    Today, Obama and Hillary are going at each other because of words used by her husband, which he later had to clarify; by Hillary, which she later had to clarify, and now by BET's Johnson, which he later had to clarify.

    Obama did not start this race war with Hillary, and to see Morris' prediction come true just proves that he knows Bill and Hill better than most, so whenevr he says anything in future about Bill and Hill in this race to the White House, I'll pay closer attention.

    I'm black and support the Republican Party, but to see how Bill and Hill, supposedly close to the black community, go after Obama who did nothing nor said nothing bad or ill towards or about Hill, makes me wonder what exactly is their grand motive? This level of desperation by Bill and Hill to win the White House scares me stiff!

    January 14, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  5. Vitorrio

    I respect Bill and Hillary, and I always will. But let's be honest here. During this whole ugly scene, it was Barack who remained above the fray. Barack has amazing character. And look, with just a few words he unites our party and avoids a potentially serious disaster.

    January 14, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. xtina - chicago IL

    Are Hillary and Barack supporters ever going to get to the topic of qualifications? It's not about what these candidates say they "would" do, but about what they "have already done" that makes them qualified . What obstacles has Hillary overcome in managing government duties that turned out successful and profitable? What difficult decisions did Barack have to face that show leadership? Rudy Guiliani took a city that Newsweek or Time (I don't recall which) called "ungovernable" and brought violent crime down by over 50%. Gov. Romney didn't go to the people for tax money out of their paychecks to raise revenue in Mass., but took it out of licenses and fees that were not necessities . Hillary and Obama have no clue about business management or the type of crime prevention that worked like a charm for NY, so what is their talent ?

    January 14, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  7. Ryan

    The media keeps talking of some sorta clash between the two. Frankly I have not been able to find one thing that Obama has done. At most he said her words were "ill-advised". I guess if the media says something it must be true, and it seems that the spin has come mostly in the media. The Clintons for their part fed in to it. I guess it might be to their benifet to divide the democratic party up in to lttle bitty pieces.

    January 14, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  8. Carl Smith

    I prefer Clinton over Obama because she's a 2 term Senator from New York. Also she was First Lady when Bill Clinton was President, so she knows how the White House works. This gives her an advantage over Obama a 1 term Senator. And I think Hillary would make a much better President than Obama due to her experience. And Bill Clinton will become our First Husband In U,S, History. Go Hillary in 2008!!!!!!!!!

    January 14, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  9. s.positive

    No matter how it is spinned, we know you called it off first, I for one will not be deceived. WE know the instigators by name...

    January 14, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  10. Tara

    As a Clinton's supporter, I call for my fellow Democrats, either Clinton or Obama supporters to stop attacking each other for at least a couple of days.
    Those who act otherwise are clearly Republican spies.
    Cheers to our Democratic party!!!!
    Go Hillary!!! Obama will follow you!!!!

    January 14, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  11. Andy, New York, New York

    Clinton's statement urging a truce came only after Obama issued his! Why?

    Clinton got into the presidential race only after (actually one week) Obama announced his candidacy. Why?

    Clinton got nasty with the race card only after Obama trounced her in Iowa. Why?

    January 14, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  12. RealB.G., Sacramento, California

    Once again, Sen. Obama takes the lead to unite and Clinton follows. Of course this is three days after dumping on Obama along with her husband. I will not vote for her in the general election. I still have faith, but I want there to be a record of my opposition. She is not fit to lead.

    January 14, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  13. dave

    hillary made the initial cease fire remarks while addressing a predominantly black audience in NY for a MLK event where she said, and I paraphrase, we may have our differences but we are all family". Not sure why CNN would not acknowlege that the NY Senator initiated the truce. They are both great candidates but the NY Senator is very disliked by the media and it shows through and through. Be fair, the country deserves better.

    January 14, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  14. Dlynch

    You are all fools to discredit the clintons. I am not discrediting Obama by saying that either. With a man like Bill, our country thrived, why wouldnt you want it again? Smart, couragous, and smart...unlike the thick skulls we have currently.

    January 14, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Lois

    So who all agrees with the Obama camp that the Clintons are racist?

    January 14, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  16. Patrick, Bethlehem,PA

    Obama could have taken on the Clintons if he wanted to.

    Anyone who saw the Iowa debate saw how Obama silenced Hillary's gotch-ya laughter, when Obama was asked by the moderator why he has hired some of Bill Clinton's former staff. That was smooth, classic, brilliant stuff from Obama. The Clintons better be careful; Obama can play dirty if he chooses to.

    As for Billionaire Johnson of BET, what more can one say of a man who made his billions pimping black women via rappers on BET. A channel with nothing of substance.

    January 14, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  17. Christine Atlanta, Ga.

    Hillary Clinton has a similar statement on her wedsite today. But of course Senator Obama is 'Jesus' because he said it. I believe Sen. Obama came out with this because if this was turning into a race thing, he was going to lose with a lot of people on that.
    I am a volunteer for the Clinton campaign in Atlanta, Ga. I spoke today with a fellow volunteer, an older African American women who PHYSICALLY marched with Martin Luther King. She said she had not misinterpreted nor was even slightly offended by any remarks made by either of the Clintons.
    The fact that Mr.Obama called for a truce was appropriate, because his campaign created the whole thing.

    January 14, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  18. DW

    Clinton herself stepped into this mud.
    She should be made to wallow in it.
    Obama did the right thing tho' because she was gonna drag him into the mud.
    But really how long will this one-sided truce last?

    January 14, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  19. JACK ny, ny

    Obama supporters are again putting up Obama on the pedestal as if he has great deed. He should have done this 48 hours ago however he didn't.

    He should stopped Jesse Jackson Jr was barking at every news channel who would allow to say that Clintion tears were fake- there were no tears first of all. Obama kept quiet because he likes to use people Jesse to do his dirty work.

    His wife was running her mouth at all african american event last night. He never stopped her. It is hard to believe that she was there without his knowledge. So again he didn't stop her.

    He knew that it was making him look really bad, actually almost like a child or his true self was coming out.

    Give me a break. It is so silly from obama supporters to come here and pretend as if they just decided to vote for him.

    CNN I hope you post this because you have posted lot of negative posts for clintons.

    January 14, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  20. d

    I find that cnn, foxnews, and cspan appear to be all for 'Obama' .

    Obama stay home and be with your little kids. GO HILLIARY !!

    January 14, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  21. Mariann Pepitone

    How can Obama show integrity when he doesn't have any to begin with. This country would certainly be in a total disaster with him as the president. God would really have to help us. He has no capabilities, give a good lying pep talk, doesn't know anything about foreign policy and experience is out of the question. What does he have? NOTHING!! Of course he has this generation fooled because if he told them the moon was red they would believe him. Give me a break. I am voting for someone who can run the country and doesn't need extensive training. That leaves Obama out. Say all the comments you want about the Clinton's but I still believe Hillary will win the nomination as she is leading Nationally and now with Bob Johnson supporting her she will get a lot of black votes. And how was your day?

    January 14, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  22. Robb, New York

    This whole feud has once again made the choice very clear for the Democrats, or at least it should. The way Clinton has been behaving the last week is the way she'll behave in the White House. Let's face it– she's trying to split this party to get her way. Obama has done nothing but respond– the Clintons initiated the attacks to begin with.

    For the Clintons, it's always about them, it always has been about them, and it will always be about them. They pull their little tricks, do their little spin, and try to make the other side the enemy just like Bush plays his little tricks, does his little spin and tries to make the other side the enemy. The Republicans weren't enough for them to tick off– now they have to go after the half of the Democratic Party that doesn't want to sell its soul for the White House, that core of men and women of every background who are so sick and tired of the way things are and want to change things and who just happen to favor Obama or Edwards over Hillary. Now they're dividing and conquering their own political flesh and blood, all for the sake of victory.

    Let's put it this way– you don't hear Hillary talk about bringing Republicans, Democrats and independents anymore. You don't hear Hillary talk about getting everyone on the same page to really, genuinely change this country. You don't hear Hillary talk about hope like it's a good thing. You don't even hear Hillary talk about how this election is about the American people. Everything always comes back to her and her husband. They act like the whole freakin' world revolves around them, and more troubling, they act like they are entitled to having the whole freakin' world revolving around them. The way they whined after Barack shocked them in Iowa was the most absurd evidence you can find; they acted like brats in how they complained about everything from press coverage to track records of "making change."

    So again, Democrats, I ask you– is Hillary Clinton really what you want? Do you not think she would behave this way with Republicans (who would despise her from the get-go)? You think that would be a positive trait for this country at this time in our existence with all these problems (the wars, threats of terrorism, the sluggish economy, just to name a few)? Can't you SEE this? Can't you people see she's not the right pick here?

    I don't know– some of these Hillary supporters, it's almost as if they don't mind living in a divided nation and a divided government that can't get anything done. It's almost as if they like being and playing the role of loser and like putting out presidential candidates who'll always turn off Republican voters, who treat us common folk like idiots and always try to instill that they're right on everything. These Hillary supporters who call themselves Democrats, I have to say, are the most self-loathing, narcissistic voters in this entire country. They love her so much that they don't care what you and I think about her, nor do they care about the importance of the outcome of this election. They don't care who they have to hurt or how much they can put this nation in jeopardy. They don't care– they just want to vote for their goddess Hillary. And why? Because she was married to their god of a president. Talk about "experience."

    If these self-loathing, narcissistic voters force Hillary Clinton upon us as the Democratic nominee, the Democratic Party can just forget about winning the White House this year and for many elections to come. If this party allows itself to be divided, swindled and conquered by the Clintons, they're doomed to failure. Yeah, Obama may not be a sure thing and, yes, he may lose to a guy like John McCain. But it would be a heck of a lot easier to have a genuine Democrat whose amiable with Republicans and Independents alike on the ticket than a polarizing elitist who'll do everything in her power to maintain the status quo.

    January 14, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  23. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    I have followed the whole thing closely. Hillary started the mud slinging to rewrite history and blamed Obama for her own offensive remarks about MLK.

    Hillary baited Obama to get in this mud for a week. After Obama did not fall into the trap, she draged Obama to the mud herself by accusing the Obama campaign for her own mistakes publicly in "Meet the Press."

    Obama responded forcefully yesterday and today showed his leadership to end this thing. But peace will not be long before you see the Clintons' getting negative again.

    There is nothing the Clintons will not do to stop others from takiog the White House, because the Clintons had planned on how to use the Lincoln bedrooms again years ago. The stake is high for the Clintons. The stake (not Lincoln bedrooms, of course) is even higher for the country.

    January 14, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  24. Tim Calhoun '08, Moreno Valley, CA

    Two things here:

    (1) Farrell from Houston, Texas is exactly right. There IS a double standard going on here by the Clinton camp. Let us be candid here: for whatever reasons, race and gender evoke different responses from the American people, whether right or wrong. One can play the gender card either implictly or explicitly and garner the sympathy vote. We saw that happen in New Hampshire. But it is incredibly difficult to shift the focus to race or make any complaints related to the issue of race without appearing "petty," "militant," "racist," etc. No doubt the Clintons know this, which is why they have consistently and slyly played the gender card while also baiting the Obama camp and his supporters into focusing on race. They know they have the political advantage in this battle, as unfair as it is.

    (2) Is this a possible positioning for a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket? I certainly hope not. I think the two of them running together is an awful, awful idea. I'm as big of an Obama supporter as they come, but I will not endorse either of those tickets.

    Mr. Bloomberg is looking better and better...

    January 14, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  25. steve wilmington

    Obama has the foresight to understand the pettiness of the situation and how negative could affect all Democratic votes. Its best to support one another. Senator Clinton has used the likes of Bob Johnson and her husband Bill to triangulate against Obama.

    Standing next to an ex president or a black leader is more of Hillary's Political Theatre that continues to show non leadership and an inability to stand on her two feet. Senator Clinton lacks any credibility with black americans, let alone the poor. Obama worked to help those under-privileged when he was a lawyer. Senator Clinton might not be a racist, but she doesn't understand the black movement, let alone black folks as she has spent so many years in her mcmansion and privileged life as she stood for photographs and writing failed healthcare policies.

    January 14, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
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