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. Nivi Krishna

    Its just plain to see that the Clinton's are good a mudslinging – which is what they did from the beginning to Obama. To "President" Obama i take my hat off to you for being a true professional and an unshaken gentleman. The Clinton's have written it on the wall that they are looking into attaining Presidency for their personal gain. For this fleeting moment they will be at the beck and call of the masses but once they attain the coveted throne – the masses will be forgotten and will be at their beck and call. People should look ahead – embrace change and know that in Obama you will have a gem of a President.

    To the Obamas : We lift you in our prayers, we hold you in our thoughts and pray for our loving God to guide you to a grand victory.

    May your ancestors walk this long and arduous road with you hand in hand.

    January 14, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  2. huh?

    hillary called the truce before obama, but he gets the headline making him seems as the better guy... laughable

    January 14, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  3. Mark Morris, Cupertino CA

    Thank you Obama!! How can Clinton supporters still not see how she was willing to take down the whole democratic party with her in her thirst for power? Obama showed what it means to be a uniter and a true leader tonight, Clinton gave us a taste of how she would dodge and deny any wrongdoing throughout her entire presidency. Please people, take a good look at our two front-runners. Who has the character to lead us out of the mess we're in?

    January 14, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  4. PW Va

    TO MATT:

    Evidently, Matt, you had on your rose-colored glasses when viewing and reading the Clintons disingenious comments concerning Senator Obama. Whether you wish to agree or disagree with me or not, there is one thing that is CRYSTAL CLEAR...Senator Obama has class and integrity which cannot be brought. A commodity that the Clintons are sorely in need of!!!!

    January 14, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  5. Lisa, Las Vegas, NV

    Barack, you have always been a man of high character and morals and now you share these gifts with our country. I know you are the man to lead and I thank you for elevating these political campaigns to a level of excellence and candor never before done in history (well, maybe with JFK). Obama in '08! You are my star and my hope...keep 'em on track!

    January 14, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Dave Corbin

    Will someone tell me what the Clintons have done. I keep hearing all this stuff they have done. What has she done? What has he done? Let's quit giving somebody credit for nothing. I have NAFTA and not starting a dumb war. But the war was the only thing I would give Bill credit for, not being stupid. He needs to be smacked for NAFTA. Please do not give him any credit for the economy. He just happen to be in the right place at the right time. The tech boom and Y2K.

    If you really want to be objective, all the crooks (Enron, Worldcom) did well when he was in there.

    January 14, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. Benton Nelson, Indianapolis, IN

    I wonder if he is calling a truce just encase he needs Hillary as a running mate?

    January 14, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  8. Alice, VA

    Score: Obama!!!! I'm not sure a Clinton will recognize a class act, but that's what you are Barack! Calling a truce probably never ocurred to Hillary....it is not in her nature. You have just given additional cause as you why you should have the Democrat nomination, by your civility. Hillary....you continue to remind us of your confrontational demeanor....you further demonstrated your inability to draw people together..

    January 14, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  9. Stephen

    Why is everyone praising Obama? I don't get it. The man has very little experience in politics and is riding on his ethnicity and LACK of experience as a banner of hope and change? Are people that clouded in their hate of Hilary to support this man? An example of why I don't trust him. According to the 80-20 Educational Foundation for Asian American rights that sent the Obama campaign emails to ask for support for Asian American equality in the work place in which they replied with a astounding NO. Their reasoning: Obama is black so he knows of the inequality of all minorities. if he does then why not confirm his support for the Asian American community rather then assume that his ethnicity will protect their rights when he is in office. Obama is a product of good marketing and nothing else. He will not stand a chance in foreign affairs nor has the experience to fix our economy but rather rely on more advisors. Not a big fan of Hilary but I rather vote for her and have someone that has the experience to fix this country on both the domestic and international level. I think some people have mush for brains.

    January 14, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  10. Ayyub, Richmond, Va

    Lois January 14, 2008 8:45 pm ET

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

    No one, because the Obama camp never said that, Hillary supporters said Obama's camp said it. Sad on your part.

    January 14, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  11. Tyler

    I really wish that the media would just delcare themselves another arm to the Obama campaign rather than continue to call these things news. CNN, ABC, and others all portray Hillary Clinton in a negative light while holding their precious Obama above the rest. Can America be that easily hoodwinked? Are we that easily manipulated? I certainly hope not but I'm definitely calling that into question after reading the posts on this forum.

    Obama is a wonderful speaker and campaigner. This is clearly a stunt to give himself the upper hand after taking some serious blows this past weekend. If he can't stand the heat, he certainly should not be the leader of the greatest nation in the world.

    Another point, for those who are so misled to believe that any of Sen. Clinton's statements were racist I would hope you would have enough sense to look up the speech the so called "racism" came from and read it for yourself. I'm sure you will find, just as many others have, that she was not implying ANY racial slanders, no matter how much Obama wishes there was.

    Clinton '08 because I don't really think we need another President to drink with.

    January 14, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  12. Bwamkip

    Clinton is unsincere. she claims to have done alot.Let her pont out specifically what she did while she was first lady.She has nothing new!
    She did boast after NH primaries that she never got emotional yet everyone could see.Isnt that a big lie? Enough is enough.We arent a monarchy yet!

    January 14, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  13. Linda

    My respect for Obama continues to increase. I never understood why people did not have a good impression of HIlary...In fact I defended her on many occassions. Now I see why people get turned off by her. At no time did I hear or read any fueling of the fire by Obama. Listen carefully. His language is uniting...not one of fueling the fire.

    Thanks Senator Obama. Let the others dig their own hole. It's up to us as a people not to tolerate these 'shanannigan's. We have to be better than this...and it's up to us. Let's vote someone in with a positive vision...not petty bickering.

    January 14, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  14. Greg

    This article points out a great example of why we need Obama as president, not Clinton. Obama rose above the mud-slinging, and re-focused the campaigns back to issues. Only AFTER Obama took the high ground and praised Bill and Hillary's (Billary's) platform on civil rights did Hillary call for a truce and re-phrase Obama by saying all democrats are for equal rights. Am I the only one who see's through the hypocrisy of the Clintons!?!?!

    January 14, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  15. lw

    Who called who a racist?

    January 14, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  16. Prayu

    Wow... it's getting a bit pathetic how some readers are trying to spin this as something bad.

    Obama should have done this earlier! He calculated this out beforehand!

    Please. You're just mad that a truce, and taking the high road never occured to the Clinton camp. Look at Bill's petty list of mean things Obama did. Or Mr. BET's hypocritical attempt to attack Obama's character. The Clintons were ready and on the attack for a mud fight. Obama asked for a truce in a way that Hillary could not refuse and stopped it cold.

    This is a true leader.

    January 14, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  17. Adam Olhausen

    This was about the Obummer campaign misinterpreting words! Why should Hillary Clinton go out of her way to apolagize? Regardless this is just a phase. Lets keep the Hillary momentum going!!!

    Clinton 08!!!!

    January 14, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  18. Matthew

    Let's review.

    Sen. Clinton makes a statement emphasizing the role of the President in enacting widespread social change.
    Overly sensitive elements pick up said comment as a slight towards their professed civil rights hero.
    Sen. Clinton claims that Sen. Obama is somehow to blame for the wake of complaints that follow her commentary.
    Sen. Obama declares Sen. Clinton's comments to be "unfortunate" and her claims of incitement to be ludicrous.
    Sen. Clinton allows peripheral allies to make shamelessly inappropriate attacks on her behalf and fails to condemn them in any way.
    The media picks up on all of this and insinuates that a two sided conflict is ongoing despite Sen. Obama commenting only in response.
    Sen. Clinton goes to a black church and says that she is "proud" of Obama in an attempt to paint herself as a black sympathizer and also as his superior. As though she has the authority to judge his actions and character.
    Sen. Obama issues a truce, no hard thing given his lack of participation, clearly a political action, that puts Sen. Clinton in the position of behaving or being seen as an even more negative campaigner.

    Sen. Clinton isn't winning on her personality, and until this truce fades from the public and media's nano-memory, she can't make gains by slighting her competition. Score one for the Obama camp.

    It just bothers me that so many people perceive this as having been a two sided affair, a view much encouraged by the media, when there was only one side making noise.

    January 14, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  19. Greg

    Mr Bigger Man Obama and his crew are the ones that started this racist debate when they questioned Hillarys creditials about race and now he is a bigger man for calling a truce? And Hillary what a stupid speech.

    Support John Edwards the person that is proposing all the good ideas and drop the two carbon copy corp hacks. John Edwards is the person that will really do the things he is saying, btw what are Hillary and Obama proposing anyway has anyone heard yet? I think Obama wants to mandate you buy health insurance and Hillary won't do anything except keep power.

    January 14, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  20. Terry

    Obama annouces a truce only after evidence was produced that he had attacked Clinton over 80 times in the last 6 months. Howard Dean called him and had a nice chat about his actions and potential to destroy the Democratic party. I applaud Obama for coming to a truce but it didn't seem to be his idea. He is certainly getting all the credit and all is forgotten...all the 80+ knives in Clinton's back....all is forgiven. Yes, Clinton defended herself and attempted to demonstrate differences between the candidates...by doing so she was accused of attacking. learning about the candidates and comparing them is not attacking but all those Obama supporters are blind to it. It is interesting that there seems to be a double standard here. It seems that when Obama does it then its not really an attack. When Clinton responds with facts (she has a lot of them) ...all of a sudden its an attack. we can't elect a president based on how much we like them...because that is how we elected the current president and look where we are. the only way to avoid making the same mistake is to make an informed decision. please keep an open mind and look for the good in each candidate. Please do your own research and make a rational choice.

    January 14, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  21. Ray

    Um Hello? Who called the truce first? I think it was Hillary!!! But this is CNN so of course Obama did it first?

    January 14, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  22. Ron, Palo Alto, CA

    Hillary is only hurting herself – it's quite obvious that this was a tactic her campaign employed in order to turn white voters off of Barack by making it seem as though he was playing the race card. She is trying to divide the democratic party/voters with issues other than "the issues". All this after that whole "crying" thing (are you serious, do people really believe she was crying? How convenient – right after she found out the public thought she was cold and calculated.

    When Barack is talking about "change" he is not just saying it as a slogan, I think his track record clearly proves he is interested in changing the politics of this country – you have to change leadership, before you can start to really address the issues. And I dont understand why people think he is addressing real issues. Look at his website and you can read for yourself what his plan is for this country.

    Extremely intelligent people have said that he is the smartest person they have met. To be president you dont need to have all the experience in the world – thats why you have a cabinet. What you need is a leader who (with all information) can make sound decisions. Add to that, he plans (and I believe him, you can tell politicians from real leaders) to make gov more transparent. THIS COUNTRY NEEDS BARACK NOW.

    I think Hillary is smart – i dont think anybody questions that. I just feel that she has recently realized that she cant beat Barack one-on-one and thus she has employed all of these underhanded tactics.

    In closing...what one does on the campaign trail, one will do in office...think about it.

    (apologies for typos, had to hurry gotta go)

    January 14, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  23. Lawdog90

    Now, can we get some coverage on John Edwards?

    January 14, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  24. Watch Clinton

    Hillary will say that "she meant to say that first too!"

    I wouldn't be suprised. She has stolen so many other campaign ideas from Barack and claimed them as her own too..

    She's even muttered the words 'Fired Up and Ready to Go' , and 'change change change every other word.

    January 14, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  25. Isaac

    Thank you, Obama.

    January 14, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
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