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. rw

    Emily – good point , I was thinking the same as I read the article. Hillary has already come out saying we are all (dem. candidates) for civil rights, women's rights, human rights. But, no, the official Obama corporate medium has to only publish Obama's passing of the peace pipe.

    So I guess now Donna Brazile and Juan Williams will have to stop their unprofessional angry displays of offense, such staged umbrage in political contributors is really embarrassing. And Obama, Jackson, Jr. & Sr.., Clyburn, Sharpton and company can now put the race card back in their pockets. It did not turn out to be the trump card they expected it to be. That is not to say they won't try again. But they better hurry up 'cause they only have until super Tuesday.

    Let this be a lesson to the Obama camp. In the 21st century if someone wants to be a representative of all/for all Americans, leave the discussion of race, gender, ethnicity, religion where it belongs: in academia.

    January 14, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  2. Bimmer

    Did Obama apologize to Clinton for his sarcastic condascending comment about her likeability in the NH debate?

    Did he also apologize to her for openly ganging up (with Edwards) on her in the NH debate and thanking Edwards for doing the dirty work for him?

    Clinton, on othe other hand, has fired her NH campaign manager for expressing an opinion that the Republicans might use Obama's drug use against him. She also personally aplogized to Obama for his remarks, as reported in the news.

    January 14, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  3. anon middle america

    I wonder when he called for a truce? Because I just watched the 6:30pm PST news and they did an interview in Vegas (which appeared dark outside) where Senator Obama made no mention of a cease fire instead he was still taking potshots? It could have been taped earlier – but if that's the case then why couldn't he have had it canned instead of airing it and looking like he was trying to score points because Hillary was at a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. event?

    Don't flame me – I'm just curious and asking if anyone else saw it?

    Also there was ANOTHER speaker (still rattling the sabers πŸ™ ) who was saying that IF it hadn't have been for Dr. King there would not have been any civil right's legislature to begin with – which is isn't quite totally correct because as VP under Kennedy – Johnson served as the head of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities, through which he worked with African Americans and other minorities. AND there are some political anaylists who believe that it was Johnson who actually became the (behind the scenes) advocate for civil rights in the Kennedy administration – which was ironic given that Johnson had been an extremely powerful Democratic Senate majority leader from Texas!!

    Read the book by Taylor Branch "Pillar of Fire" Johnson didn't just sign a bill which was placed on his desk – HE was the driving force behind getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pushed through Congress as well as a 2nd Voting Rights Act in 1965. And as President Lyndon Johnson nominated the very first black justice of the US Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall. As a history buff myself, I'm aware that perhaps not too many people know this about LBJ. In fact, when he signed the Civil Right's Act, he did so realizing that it would cost the Democratic party the white Southern vote which USED to be a Democratic stronghold.

    There is no question that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. WAS the great motivational orator, calling for action and fighting in the front lines, working for change – but in a way they did WORK TOGETHER to realize Dr. King's vision and which Johnson personally believed in as well... I don't believe it diminishes the memory or contribution to the Civil Right's Movement by Dr. King Jr. and I don't think that Hillary meant it as such.

    I'm very thankful that they have agreed to settle the tensions and I'm hopeful that the MEDIA will soon get the word too.

    January 14, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  4. Bryan, Illinois

    Obama is demonstrating why the current generation of leaders is no longer necessary for their petulant need for ceaseless bickering and backbiting. We need real character and judgment in the White House.

    Louis: Why blame Obama for things he hasn't done? Barack Obama is not playing the race card...the media and the Clintons have been doing that.

    January 14, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. Amazing

    Everybody has "one" vote, use it for who you believe in. It shouldn't matter what the supporters think of the other camps. The only thing that matters is what goes on behind the curtains. Polls mean nothing and fighting online means nothing, the answer is behind the curtain.

    January 14, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  6. Roland

    It's funny that the Clinton camp calls CNN biased towards Obama, while the Obama camp equates CNN = Clinton News Network. πŸ˜€

    I'm an Obama supporter and I tend to see CNN skewing things towards Sen. Clinton. Maybe if CNN should just provide oversight on their writers so that both camps are happy with the news. Present the news in a fair, unbiased view. Be more like the BBC. Stop being so sensationalist!

    January 14, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  7. Brett

    If Obama and Clinton joined forces as running mates nobody would have a chance against them!!!!! Or even if one of then was running w/Edwards!!!

    January 14, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  8. aj huntington ny

    Yes , "new chicagoan" Obama voted "present" instead of actually stating his preference for many important Senate issues – MOST GLARING OF WHICH WAS THE IRAQ WAR BILL ! Yes, I too think this is completely unacceptable that someone who actually wants to lead this country abstains from voting. What OTHER reason does a Senator abstain from voting than to be sneaky about showing his hand to the voters? He refrained from showing us which side he takes ! His cowardice should be a much bigger story. AND, his lack of courage in showing voters where he stands should cancel out his claim to want to "change" Washington. He's playing games. Can an Obama supporter explain the reason for this cowardice?

    January 14, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  9. tom

    if hillary would of taken the so-called high road ..ever=yone would be burying her right now..i never saw so many people with such hatredof these people ..if obama was not running you would all be saying positive i dont get everyone..God help us all

    January 14, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  10. Kitty, Denver, CO.

    I think the fact that Obama has taken time to consider the words that come out of his mouth is a sign of a great leader. It proves that he has a firm grasp on diplomacy as well as an issue that has divided this country for over three hundred years. He conducted himself with decorum and displayed his presidential ability.

    As for the tit-for-tat: It began with Bill and was followed up by Hillary. What Obama said today is the first thing I have heard him say, save for the "ludicrous" comment. The comments made by the Clintons were ludicrous. To say that Dr. King's dream would not have been realized had it not been for Johnson IS racially inflamatory, the Clintons knew this given Bill's national tour on race relations during his term. Dr. King united many people across racial and religious lines–Johnson had nothing to do with that.

    If this is Hillary's idea of how she will bring the country together, by denigrating a national figure (Dr. King) while puffing up others (Kennedy and Johnson), I don't want to see a woman in the White House–at least not this woman.

    I want to thank Obama for showing us that being a politician does not have to equate to dirty tactics and blatant lies.

    January 14, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  11. james bierly

    Good for Obama. The endless back and forth between the two camps is getting rediculous, and hurting the party. I'm glad he's telling his supporters to knock it off, and Hillary should tell her supporters the same. There are plenty of real, substantive differences between the candidates to argue about, and the fighting over trivia doesn't really help undecided voters make an informed decision. Again, good for Obama. He's a good guy.

    January 14, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  12. danielo

    Bills list of 80 Obama attacks!!! Sad that Bill was at the forefront of dividing dems.
    Bill should have been given a chance to flash out all his cards or forever shut up! Am afraid he's tucked them for production at an opportune time.

    Thanks Obama for seeing all these was no good for either of them, for the dems and for upbeat voters who'd definitely get weary and apathetic to politics.

    Thats whats called foresight and good judgement....

    January 14, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  13. sly

    It's interesting to see that even though there's finally a black candidate that is electable, likable and is the embodiment of class and dignity, that's not playing the race card and could unite all races, genders, creeds... STILL there are many black voters would find a reason to not support this man.

    With him being president, young African American kids would have a positive role model (unlike some of the rappers etc), for it gets no more positive than President of the United States, but still African Americans cant unify behind this man.

    Instead you have people like Bob Johnson trying to denigrate him by raising the issue of drugs etc. If this was an Indian American running, regardless of his policies or personality, there wouldn't even be a question as to who those of Indian decent (whether they be Sikh, Muslim, Hindu or whatever) would be backing. 100% (not even 99.9) would be behind him.

    Even in 2008, African Americans are divided against themselves. Amazing!

    January 14, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  14. Axl, Boston,MA

    Imagine this, X says something controversial, Y refuses to comment or respond to it, the newspapers analyze X's comment and then suddenly it becomes Y's fault. Further still, X gets Z to attack Y on his drug use admission and Z brazenly says he was actually talking about Y's community activism. Does the Clinton campaign think people are idiots?

    Actually, Yes! Americans are stupid simpletons and don't dig for the facts. That's why negative politics works so well in this country. All the people saying Obama started this are clueless zealots who don't check their facts. How in the world could what HRC said become Obama's fault?

    Obama will lose for sure. Why? If an issue like HRC's statist and condescending stumble on MLK could somehow become Obama's fault, there's no way he's gonna win against the Clintons' negative politics. They're too smooth, and the average voter is too dumb.

    Face it, America's next four years will either be a Republican or Hillary Clinton.

    January 14, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  15. Truethis

    Thank you Obama for being the bigger person. Johnson, you are one of the reason I don't watch BET because you disgrace our people in general with mostly exposing more young African American women in rap video as young men call women profane words in a disrespectful way.

    You don't uplift anything but your pockets and to call Obama "Quess who's coming to Dinner." Was a wonderful movie and very uplifting. To insult a man who decided to turn his life around in a positive way and to be able to go to Harvard and accomplish his dreams but at the same time he was able to keep himself grounded. He's an inspirational to anyone who have or had dealt with the complicatons of drugs who wants to beat this rather than the trash you've done after making billions from African Americans. With all that money it haven't given you class. You're nothing but a disgrace to our races.

    January 14, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  16. John, NC


    You are seriously mistaken and mislead if you think Obama's rabble-rousing talk can bring our country together. His record speaks to the opposite !

    He back-stabbed John McCain on some legislation a while, and that drew moral fire from McCain. If he cannot even work with the moderate maverick McCain, how can he expect to bring aboard the right of center Republicans? This is wishful thinking, and those of u swept off your feet by OBAMA's "smooth talk" better do some homework on OBAMA!

    Unity takes WORK, it takes GIVE and TAKE. Hillary has actually shown that in the Senate! So did Bill when he was President. Welfare Reform would not have been possible without Bill cleverly cutting the Republicans some slack !


    Go HILLARY !!!

    January 14, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  17. Cherish

    I love him more and more every day.

    OBAMA 'O8!!!!

    January 14, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  18. irma

    Most of Sen. Obama's supporters don't remember that most of the country loves the Clintons as does most of the World. President Clinton wasn't elected twice by accident. There were no questions about faulty elections, nor were there any questions about their record on Civil Rights. They were embraced by the African American community and other minorities. I found the whole thing insulting and frustrating. So far the attacks on Sen. Clinton have been relentless and I resent having to defend them rather than having both Senators defend their records. Sen. Obama making a speech against war, when he wasn't a Senator and had no information to qualify him in knowing any of the deeper issues involved, is very daring yet ineffective in convincing me about his "judgement." I guess making a "bonehead" (quoting him) mistake in the Rizk..affair is suppose to convince me. Keep your supporters attacking the Clintons on petty issues Senator, we Clinton supporters are loaded to fire back......I am so glad President Clinton is on the attack. How dare the media, or shall I say "Obama for President Headquarters" redicule and judge him for doing so. People listened when he spoke, having to point out the Obama love fest on T.V. News Networks. Finally, people woke up, it wasn't a "women thing," it was a vote for the most suitable candidate. Just goes to show, we aren't buying what most networks are selling, and get your foot out of our door! I'll always remember the surreal coverage of laughter, ridicule and pure viciousness of all the pundits on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS and even ABC. I watched, horrified all day long. You were all bordering, no you were evil in your coverage. I will never forget it. I was on vacation and I am glad I witnessed it. When the media realized how discusting they were coming across, they toned it down for the evening, when the rest of America was getting home.

    January 14, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  19. tom

    i can see by all these negative posts that obama really is goiung to unite us..........yea right ive never seen so much division in all my years...

    January 14, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  20. Jim

    It saddens me from the very first day everyone on has been on the back of Hillary Clinton for her vote as well as the way she has handled herself a a senator.

    Then they say that she is mean and is heartless well where were they when she was trying to get children health insurance? where were they when the Republicans were distroying the Middle class ?

    If I could I would like to say thank you to the clintons for helping our econoneyin the 1990's where the middle class had at least a chance to make a good living.

    January 14, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  21. blindman

    come on people lets be honest with each other. if martin luther king would have
    never existed do u think that lbj would have inacted and passed the civil rights
    act. this country would still have the same old same old if it had not been for people like matin luther king. and for hrc to make the type of comment that she made really shows me that she is not being honest with herself in to thinking
    that lbj would have done it anyway.

    January 14, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  22. Furious

    I'm furious about the comment made by Bob Johnson. Who is he to make a comment about Obama's past when he (Bob Johnson) has done nothing but depict African Americans in a negative light (booty shakin' videos). His comments should have been about why he supports Hillary Clinton. For him to go on and say "How stupid do they think we are...." How stupid is he not to know that this is just another tactic to divide the African American vote. Yes, we all aware of what contributions Bill Clinton has made to this country and the African American community but Hillary is NO Bill Clinton. She continues to speak about her time in the White House but she (Hillary) was not the "decider" during the Clinton Administration. Americans can make an informed intelligent decision about their choice for the Presidency without invoking race or allowing others who support their campaigns to make comments that continue to fuel the racial fire and divide the vote among African Americans.

    I'm glad to see that Obama took the high road as the Clinton campaign continues to run scared about the possibilty of Obama winning the vote of the American people.

    January 14, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  23. Eric in Massachusetts

    Obama will not unite Washington. You all need a reality check. Our system is made up of 2 parties for good reason. We have checks and balances in our 3 branch form of Government. The President (our Executive Branch) will always have to work with Congress (our Legislative Branch). Do you think for a moment that the Republicans will just roll over after listening to Obama's speeches? Give me a break. Washington will never be united. Believe me, we DON'T WANT WASHINGTON UNITED. The change that our country wants is fine and dandy, but it takes time, perseverance and hard work. Not a speech.

    So, if you want Change you can believe in, vote Hillary Clinton.

    January 14, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  24. mrsbeasley

    Obama I believe is what the older people who remember Kennedy are talking about when they describe uplifting getting you think beyond yourself

    January 14, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  25. Tom Davie

    This is POLITICS folks.

    The only reason Obama wants this so called 'truce' is because its hurting HIS CAMPAGIN .

    If it was HELPING HIM, he wouldnt be calling for it.

    Also, while I am at it.

    The deal with the rigged casino caucus stations in Nevada is the same thing.

    If Clinton won the endorsement, the Obama camp would find a back door way to sue.

    Obama won it so now the teachers union wants to sue.

    The integrity of the caucus is highly suspect with these rigged up polling stations. They should just go to their home base like everyone else in the country is supposed to.

    Stop wasting your time whining about the MASS political games.

    Obama has been tapdancing a very HIGHLY EFFECTIVE campaign on change when admittingly he has no real experience in National level politics to be president.

    Hillary is campaigning as CHAMPION of women while she keeps a high profile , sucessful husband president in her back pocket.

    John Edwards on the other hand, is just a good a candidate as either Obama or Clinton, but has no political ANGLE that can even come close to an African american president or first woman president.

    This should teach Obama a BIG lesson.

    AVOID hard ball politics with the Clintons. They are EXTREMELY good at it.

    Think about it. The clintons have WON every election they have entered since bill was like 32 years old.

    January 14, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
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