January 15th, 2008
01:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Major Clinton supporter calls Obama remark 'absolutely stupid'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/14/art.rangel.gi.jpg caption=" Rangel had some tough words for Obama Monday."](CNN) - As both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to lower the tension after days of charged rhetoric over race, a congressional supporter of Clinton's presidential bid called the Illinois senator's remarks attacking her over recent comments about President Lyndon Johnson and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “absolutely stupid.”

"How race got into this thing is because Obama said ‘race,’” New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in Congress, said in an interview on NY1.

“But there is nothing that Hillary Clinton has said that baffles me. I would challenge anybody to belittle the contribution that Dr. King has made to the world, to our country, to civil rights, and the Voting Rights Act,” said Rangel. “But for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid. It's absolutely dumb to infer that Doctor King, alone, passed the legislation and signed it into law."

Rangel’s remarks came in response to Sunday comments from Obama, who told an audience at a Nevada campaign event: "I am baffled by that statement by the Senator. She made an ill-advised statement about Dr. King, suggesting that Lyndon Johnson had more to do with the Civil Rights Act. For them to somehow suggest that we're interjecting race as a consequence of a statement she made, that we haven't commented on, is pretty hard to figure out."

The New York senator has since tried to explain the intent of her remarks was not to diminish the contribution of King, but to point out the benefit of experience in enacting positive legislation.

Rangel also implied that Obama’s admission of prior drug use in his autobiography may have had a financial motive: "I assume that the book was not written for political purposes. It was honest….It was a big mistake for him to have done it [used drugs.] For him to be honest enough to write about it, I guess he thought it might sell books."
Video: Watch Rangel on the Clinton-Obama spat

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (1,694 Responses)
  1. Chuck Igba

    Representative Charlie Rangel's comments about Barak Obama are irresponsible and may alienate majority of voters in the middle that may be leaning towards a democratic candidate. For a man of his stature, Chairman of Ways and Means to engage in this type of rhetoric is shocking and it is making me question my decision to align with the Democratic Party. Instead of fueling divisive dialogues, he should be engaged in ways to redirect the two campaigns to focus on how to solve the issue facing the United States. If the Clintons win by not playing fairly, or by playing racial politics as well as on the emotions of Americans, it may backlash in the end. I for sure may decide to stay home on the Election Day rather than vote for a Republican, and I may not be alone.

    January 15, 2008 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  2. Nancy Levin

    After reading all the other blogs , one has to conclude that the two major points should be: (1) Even loyal Democrats are turned off by their party"s childish mud-slinging, even though it is clear enough that the candidate (child) who started it is
    the chief loser. (2) The serious problems waiting in the wings but not to be ignored must be addressed immediately or it won't matter who "wins"; we. the people" will all lose.

    January 15, 2008 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  3. Bridget

    I have been listening, watching and reading quite a bit on Senator Obama. After hearing him speak I was so amazed by his charisma and intelligence that I read his book and every other article that I could find on him. After reading his book I was left with to many questions and the more I read the more questions I have. I suggest that you all read the artice in the Christian Century May 07 edition that has a feature article about the church that both he and Oprah attend. It was eye opening for me and I can imagine it will be for you as well.

    Go Edwards!!!!

    January 15, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  4. doro, USA

    “But for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid. It's absolutely dumb to infer that Doctor King, alone, passed the legislation and signed it into law." Charlie rangle
    "I assume that the book was not written for political purposes. It was honest….It was a big mistake for him to have done it [used drugs.] For him to be honest enough to write about it, I guess he thought it might sell books." Charlie Rangle

    It's stunning that Rep. Rangle jumped into the fray, attacked Sen. Obama, belittled his response to the Clintons' attacks, and judged his motives for writing his book. Does Rangle have a dog in this fight? Does Bob Johnson have a dog in this fight? This is exactly the kind of divisive and nasty politics that the majority of us are totally fed up with, and one of the reasons why Obama's campaign is so appealing.
    Voters are well informed and quite capable to analyse the mud-slinging and draw their own conclusions. We don't need explanations from those that only fuel the fire. This is a Presidential campaign not a street brawl. Thank you.

    January 15, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  5. Robin Wagner from ct

    SAD !!! Wake eye your eyes Clinton is showing real color. Like Imus radio guy . Made one bad very bad remark about all basket ball team . All these people for years that knew him could believe he was Racist . Same with Clinton do anything say anything to get a vote . Like 1992 if Clinton did appeal to the African American community he would lost. See now Hillary can't get over fact that a African American man can be president for real. Backed her in a corner now the truth comes out .
    MY eyes are wide open now i see the light maybe most should open your eye see the light . Jack cafferty he said it right today . It was Barack camps that started this stuff was Clinton Camps .

    January 15, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  6. Billy

    Rangel is crazy. And it's scary that he is in office!

    January 15, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  7. nora

    Obama or Hillary do not matter to me.I think John Edward will make a great president,Bill Clinton said it. John got the personality and he is a true leader.

    January 15, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  8. Jake, California

    This guy is confused. He probably doesn't know that for the sake of peace, people decided to let go these stupid finger pointing...but he still hangs on to it.

    It makes the whole African American Community looks stupid.

    How ,for Christ sake, does Hillary manage to get all these dumb African American people behind her. She really needs to give authorization on who should speak on behave of her and her campaign.....she'll be ruin before she knows it.

    You know what, Obama should just ignore him..he's going to feel stupid for saying things like this!

    January 15, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  9. Eric, NYC

    Charles Rangel, has become quite the "Master Politician" over the decades.
    One of those "seasoned" bullies whom could have his "Fat Cat" card revoked, if not diminished significantly under an Obama administration. As would many die hards, on both sides of the aisle. I don't care what color you are or what position your rank, this disgusting rhetoric is exactly the divided politics Mr.Obama has transcended. For peace sake, the Clinton crew really needs to get a grip.
    I use to respect Bill and Hillary but in the past week, I've totally closed the book on them. Too many lies and spins are flying directly from their own mouths. Not to mention their cronies and spinsters. Some are becoming absolutely belligerent. Where is your self-respect? Charles Rangel? Bob Johnson? What is going on? Hey, I'll tell you.

    This tsunami of negative attacks on Obama aren't just some series of unfortunate verbal events. It is clear to me and many Americans that these tactics are ALL part of the Clinton's political machine. It's OK though because we can find the truth. The truth is available. Tim Russert – MSNBC debunked all of Bill's NH lies. Tim interviewed Obama a few years ago and asked him ALL the questioned Bill cried out that no one has EVER asked of Barack and gotten answers to. Tim said, i asked him (Obama) ALL of those. All of which Barack answered thoroughly. So why are you lying for Bill? CNN and Tim both challenged Bill's misquotes of Obama. Conveniently leaving out Obama's complete sentences and context, on his decision against the war in Iraq from the NY times article. Quite a brave stance that Obama took and was correct on. Bill confused and lied to the NH people. Our fellow Americans. That made me a bit angry. That's what they want though. They want to confuse Americans and distract them from Obama's ground-shaking message. Dilute the messenger, tarnish him in any way possible. Chip away at their HOPE.
    Sorry, but it's too late. You can't put the genie back in the lamp.
    We have begun..... wishing. For a better Life. America. World.
    We will elect Obama, a real President for "All Americans".
    Together we will change the way things are, to the way they need to be.
    We The People, have chosen Barack Obama, for change we can believe in.

    January 15, 2008 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  10. 7thAngel

    The year,1863...and "Boy Bobby Johnson" was standing in front of "big house" on the Clinton Plantation crying "Lawdy,lawdy...we have to save Miss Hillary's campaign.Guard da' big house...don't let nobody wit' a diff'nt pinion o' ideea come near da house -oh Lawd""Oh wait a minute,it isn't 1863-it 's 2008...whew...
    The more things change,the more they remain the same....

    January 15, 2008 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  11. Rama

    Im totally disappointed by what I cld have refered to as the most prominent black leaders in this current America. I have alot of respect for Charlie Rangel and Bob Johnson but Im totally disgraced by their improper analysis of the whole Clinton remarks starting will Bill who had to come back to clarify his remarks abt Obama and Hillary's remarks on MLK.This raises an issue of irresponsiblity within the Clinton campaign. This is a hard time for America with a crippled foreign policy and a crushing economy and so the last thing we need is a President asking a pardon for what they say and cant stand by. As for Rangel and Johnson, these are grown men and we believe they should match up their standard with what comes out of their mouths bse its really disgusting...

    January 15, 2008 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  12. Jessica Naomi

    If every time Senator Obama's historic revisionism is questioned, he tosses his race card on the table, the Republicans will use that to swift boat him right back into the last century.

    The last thing we need is any more presidents who ignore history only to repeat it.

    If Senator Obama and his supporters believe that the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 was because of what Reverend King had risked his life for, they have forgotten that a few weeks before Lyndon Johnson pushed that act through Congress, two Jewish civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were reported missing in Mississippi, and the northern liberals made a big enough deal about this that the Act was passed.

    This is about the racists in America, who were not outraged that Dr. King had been jailed, his followers lynched ,and attacked by the cops in the streets to get that long overdue Act passed.

    Senator Obama 's supporters should really stop crying racism every time the senator makes up stories about civil rights, and school him about the truth, known only by those who actually lived through it.

    January 15, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  13. Rich In Seattle

    So Hillary is staying above the fray by having her black friends attack another black man thus leaving it up for her to say "I never said that?"

    Okay, Hillary is one nasty person. To think I ever defended her to my Republican friend.

    If Hillary gets the nomination, John McCain is looking better and better each day. It takes a pretty bad Dem to make me even think of voting GOP.

    January 15, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  14. John Freak

    Obama is the only hope for the much needed change in Washington. However his campaign cannot afford to keep stumbling on Clinton's traps.

    Those tricks from Clinton tell all about how Washington operates and signal that there'll be no change whatsoever with Hillary.

    January 15, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  15. David Snider

    Hey Aquart, Rangel came 3 hours after Obama said a truce. Which means hillary was 1 hour late and Rangel 3 hours late. Learn the facts little one.....

    January 15, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  16. Andrea, California

    Bridget said:
    "As an Edwards supporter I am appalled that Barack would try and hit below the belt. I had a very hard time choosing between Barack and Edwards but the past few weeks have certainly made my mind up. How many times must we hear Obama complain about the remarks Hillary has supposedly made. As I have always heard if you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen……."

    Hilarious...and clever "Bridget, the "Edwards supporter."

    If only Senator Clinton and her supporters would play by the same rules she expects everyone else to play by.

    Let's see, former President Clinton, the wealthiest African American, and a prominent Congressman from NY have all "piled on" Senator Obama in the past week. Had a similar contingent attacked Senator Clinton this week, I can't imagine the wealth of whining we'd have to endure at this point.

    Biden write-in '08

    January 15, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  17. Bastien Beauchamp (NYC)

    This is absolutely low – very low – type of politician, and person.

    He could have said the same things with much more style and raffinement. He just states that he thinks his community is dumb.

    January 15, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  18. noopee

    Wrote about drugs to sell his books>? Thats ridiculous.. This guy needs to search his asoul to find dirty bombs like this. Must not be tough

    January 15, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  19. cherry pie

    Stop this none sense. Focus on issues and the most experience candidates that will lead us from the mess were having now. Dollar is all time low. Our dollar is losing so much value. Hello guys look around a lot of foreclosures. Rising unemployment. Medical insurance premium every year is getting higher. Stocks in limbo.
    Rising unemployment, Huge Deficits. We need a very smart and well experience candidate and hardworking candidate. Use your common sense not to be carried away by speeches only. Be practical. Don't be carred away by emotions. Take a deep breath. If you put another likeable guy like George Bush who doesn't know what he has been doing, we might become third world country. This is serious. Wake up! wake up!

    January 15, 2008 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  20. Wilhemina

    Except for Edwards and Obama, the candidates and their surrogates are senior citizens with senior moments. Wow!, I got so caught up with the button pushing tactics that I had not noticed. Noticed how old and long these people have been in Washington governing. There is no way they can physically, mentally withstand the world challenges of today. So I apologize for my negative views about them, but they can not run this country, no,no,no.

    January 15, 2008 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  21. Bridget

    jerzee gal,

    Last time I checked we were all allowed to post our thoughts on this board. The last people I met from New Jersey were extremely intelligent.....

    January 15, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  22. Mati

    Thanks God some African Americans have good common sense and are not driven by Obama political stupidity. Many things can be said about the Clintons but implying they are racists is outrageous.

    January 15, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  23. Twigster

    That's right, people. Keep bickering until we are ready to go to war over a silly statement. We are falling right into the trap-divide and conquer. We can't change and solve our country's problems if we can't work together. Is all this hooplah worth it? Have we lost sight of what this campaign season was really about?

    January 15, 2008 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  24. Bosco

    I m tired of the clinton and Bush in the White house. The world need change,that means the world need OBAMA. America weak uppp. From JEAN BOSCO in SWEDEN,EKSJÖ.

    January 15, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  25. Sam

    Hillary was only making a point about experience.

    It is a shame that Obama is flaming the racial divide. He thinks that he is the inheriter of Dr. King's legacy. He is twisting words, and then tries to act like a saint.
    He is a wolf in a sheep's clothing.

    January 15, 2008 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
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