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. Kendall, San Francisco, Ca

    What a jerk!

    Next to Al Sharpton ,Charlie Rangel is the perennial embarrasment to Harlem politics.

    Perhaps Bob Johnson will let him host BET's Comic View. God knows thats were he belongs!

    It's time for some new blood!

    January 15, 2008 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  2. Beaster

    Charlie Rangel, go lie down! If you had a brain you'd be dangerous.

    January 15, 2008 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  3. Michael Dunn

    OK this is really ridiculous...the Clintons start the attach to which Obama responded, causing Hillary to stick her foot in her mouth, of course that's Obama's fault that makes sense sure....

    But really Rangel's support makes complete sense, the last line of this reveals it all, Rangel prefers politicians that lie. God forbid we get a politician that is honest about any portion of his life there's no room in politics for honesty.

    No wonder Obama feels the "fierce urgency of the now", where are we headed when we prefer that our politicians lie to us?


    January 15, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  4. Another Steve

    I expect I feel sorry for the writers of television that are on strike. You probably couldn't write stuff this good, but what a huge amount of material they are missing out on. It doesn't surprise me an old guard Democrat is picked to do another attack on Obama. He has been under attack since Iowa with first the campaign staff of Hillary, then Bills incessant attacks so Hillary can stay "neutral". Now with important political supporters, The Clintons are desperate and it will continue in one form or another as they see their once "shoe in" walking out the door. Good on you Obama, keep taking the high ground and show us that you are a statesman and would make a good President of this country. I don't believe that it will be more than a day or two before Hillary says some rediculous thing agian, reminding us why we don't want her for President. I will also add that hopefully we can clean up congress as well. Too many bloated self important legislators for my liking.

    January 15, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  5. Time Again, Sarcoxie Missouri

    This is the kind of guy who shoots off his mouth with no sense of balance or decency. He reminds me of D'Amato in his willingness to play race politics. He comes off being a jerk and I hope his constituents punish him for this display of unfairness and divisiveness to those in his own party. Shame on him!

    January 15, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  6. Doug, CA

    Rangel is an idiot.
    Focus on Obama's detailed plans and his approaches. Vastly superior to Clinton.

    January 15, 2008 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  7. Joe Brown

    Barack Hussein Obama (Yes that his is real middle name) and his supporters are in fact living in a total fairy tale if they think america will elect a former muslim, african american to President. Wake up people....

    This coy race thing only hurts Obama in the end anyway. I thought Obama was all about the future and not bickering about what happened 60 years ago...

    January 15, 2008 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  8. PUMU

    Americans..... Please Think about good choose and leave the Race apart.
    Because we're Brother's and sister's in Jesus Christ.
    Hillary or Obama doesn't make difference of Race but we need a person can do the best to get out from this Crisis.
    God Bless America.....

    January 15, 2008 03:25 am at 3:25 am |

    He should have shown better judgement in not attacking Hillary, who since her days from Wellesly College has been a civil rights advocate and her husband is called the "First Black President of US".

    January 15, 2008 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  10. Annie

    This guy wants to reinstitute the draft? That is the best way to end the war.

    The only way this war will ever end is if we reinstitute the draft. When rich people have to start sending their kids to be killed, they will care enought to put a stop to the war.

    Right now the only young men who are over there getting maimed and dying are people who joined the military because they had few choices about finding jobs, The people who have power and money don't care about a bunch of inner city kids. The war is not personal to them.

    If rich and powerful citizens have to send their own kids, they will work to end the war.

    Mitt Romney has 5 sons, would any of them ever consider the military? I would like to see him send his sons to boot camp.

    January 15, 2008 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  11. Louis Siband

    Race, race, race. the whole matter favours only one candidate will play this card in order to win.

    My prediction: the next president of USA will be J Mccain. Clinton will lose because she is obnoxious to many Americans whilst Obama is already a victim right now. How sad.

    January 15, 2008 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  12. kimberly

    I respect senator Obama until the word "RACE" comes up. I honestly don't agree when the meaning get twisted.

    January 15, 2008 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  13. John, Dar es salaam, Tz

    hello democrats!! I can read something between the lines!! this is the work of Republicans...and if not carefull......John Mccan is the next president.

    I love Democrat.....but sure this way you will loose big.

    January 15, 2008 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  14. HILLARY 08!

    from "snopes.com". Barack Hussein Obama was born to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel , Kenya. After his parents divorced, his mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia! When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia . Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education. Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta . Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran. The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level – through the President of the United States, one of their own!

    January 15, 2008 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  15. michael, grand prairie tx.

    Charlie Rangal accused Barack of playing the race card today and called him dumb and stupid.
    Barack Obama never commented on Clinton's remark, Rep Clyburn did. His high profile in the Dem party made his comments potent. Obama had nothing to do with that.Clyburn D-SC. interviewed with the NYT's on his on. Now i feel its his responsibilty to come out and let America know that he's not Dumb or Stupid.It's obvious that what Charlie's saying is that any one who who was offemded by her comments are dumb and stupid This was not a mistake by Hillary, these people are gutter politicians who will do just about anything to regain the power that they feel belongs to them. Please don't fall for the hype-its not the first time this tactic has been used.I feel that she's accepted a defeat in SC. So why not take Obama down on the one issue he's strongest on(swiftboat)lets make him seem divisive like us, See first they try and convince you(american people) there better for the country, but you(american people) dont fall for it, so know we'll make him look like us.DIVISIVE. We Want Fall For It Hill/Bill.

    January 15, 2008 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  16. Steph

    Mr. Rangel need to watch the news more often. When did Obama said anything about MLK signing the civil rights act. Clinton comment would let anyone wonder if she was belittling MLK. We know it take a president to sign the civil rights act but it also take the people to bring forth that act before anything can be signed. I give Mr King and his followers all the praise they so richly deserve. Mr Rangel should know better than to comment so poorly on this issue. All these comment are only making things worst. Clinton should tell her supporters to stop this BS because this is only hurting them. Mr Rangel and Bob Johnson need to go back where they come from (wherever that is). We shouldn't fight against each other in these times, we should come together as Obama said. People have a right to choose their own candidate and vote but i don't see the sense in making rude comment such as those by Rangel, Johnson and the Clintons.

    January 15, 2008 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  17. Glenda Driver

    Thank you Senator Rangel for clearing this matter. Unless we had a president that would sign the act their would be no change. The tactic being used by John Kerry and Obama is offensive to black women. Make us chose and you may not like the results. Black and white men can not be all that appealing to some of us. A large majority of 50.

    January 15, 2008 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  18. Sally

    I didn't know Johnson exist until recently but I am so sure he did so many bad things in the past. I'm Positive, so how dare he talk of Obama's past. I knew Rangel exist but i didn't thought he would stoop that low. I lose some respect for him. Maybe they are just jealous because they don't have the guts to do the things Obama do. They see him as a uniter and not a divider and its killing them softly. Obama is too hard to break. He's a people's man. A lover of people no matter our race or gender. Vote Obama 08.

    January 15, 2008 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  19. Paul C

    I see that we are focused on the important issues.
    The media, and I include Fox and CNN, are driven to make news when none exists.
    They have 24 hour news channel and will fill it with any Britney, Nicole or any other non-news item because they know the public will react. We are ill served by encouraging this nonsense and should call them on this BS.

    January 15, 2008 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  20. EveLynn

    Any body who knows anything about laws knows that unless both houses pass the Civil Rights Act and President Johnson had to sign the act for it to become law. I expect more from Obama. I did not expect that he would begin to limit himself into a "racecard" election. Why is he playing with John Kerry. We did not like him the first time he ran. Al Gore, would not use such tactes thats why Bush won, lack of ethics.

    January 15, 2008 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  21. Jufus, Milwaukee, WI

    If you folks think this RACE thing is all HILLARY, you are all far beyond DUMB!

    If you folks think this RACE thing is all about Obama, you are far beyond DUMB!

    It takes 2 people to have a discourse or fight!

    Both of these people are equally to blame for this mess!

    The TRUTH is: ALL this TALK about CHANGE in POLITICS is nothing more than sheer nonsense; no matter what anyone says, it's POLITICS as USUAL!

    January 15, 2008 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  22. Sal

    Unlike most of you corrupt politicians (Rangel and others) Obama favored being honest than lying. Thats why he was so honest when he wrote his book. Anyways , why not be honest and come clean than to have something brought up against you by surprise when you are running for president. He is better off when he tell all and be honest so no one will be able to use anything against him. It is because of his honesty and his freshness why we like him so much. He is clean, smooth and well spoken. I loooove Obama. He's honest and everything good. Vote Obama 08...

    January 15, 2008 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  23. Sal

    TOM DAVIE..... you aren't ready yet. Go back in the hole where you come from. We need a fresh face. We need someone who will unite us and not divide us. Wake up Mr!!!!

    January 15, 2008 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  24. jyfranca

    Its not a big suprise to me for Rangel to attack obama. the first enemy of black is black.Thats why there is growing tension among blacks themselves.Bush got many votes from whtes,to us it was not bad,or it was not racism issue.I dont think if obama gets lots of votes from blacks is bad thing.Blacks deserve the right to vote for someone they will be proud of.

    January 15, 2008 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  25. jeff

    were overreading the race card and underreading gender
    obama's nitpicking has elements of chauvenism.

    January 15, 2008 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
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