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. Kwame Adu-Darkwa

    It is unfortunate that somehow people do manage to defend Clinton on this, especially elected officials who are supposed to have the adequate moral judgement.

    By analogy we can also say that Nelson Mandela's dream of a free South Africa was made possible thanks to De Klerk, Ghandhi's fight for India's independence happened thanks to the Queen and that same analogy can be used for health insurance companies, drug companies and every non-violent movement.

    These comments were not racist as far as I am comcerned as it came from a Clinton, but they were certainly naive, insensitive and denigrates every struggle against any Establishment. Mme Hillary Clinton was wrong to foward such comments and should apologize not to Barack Obama but to people whose parents and relatives have suffered and died for such noble causes.

    Kwame Adu-Darkwa (Paris)

    January 15, 2008 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  2. shawn

    i just knew the clintons would try to make this about race.. they are so worried about obama taking the black vote. GO OBAMA !!!! i have lost all respect for bill clinton it was black pepole who stood by him during his darkess days now he wants to start this crap!!! should have let the republicans destroy him in 98

    January 15, 2008 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  3. Zebra

    Clintons are in provoking dispute.

    Despite the strategy seems not working, both Clintons are evoking Obama to play racial card. Today in her interview Sen. Clinton has said, “Obama in his New Hampshire campaign has equated himself with Dr Martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy,” adding further she also said “President Kennedy is an experienced leader and also Dr. King had suffered, he was beaten and imprisoned etc, ” she also said “Why experience cannot be change?”

    This message seems a bit clumsy; but designed to meet two goals. One is to provoke Obama to play racial politics so that he would shrink in the face of his admirers. Secondly, by worth mentioning her experience and trying to equate herself indirectly with P Kennedy, she is trying to earn some political fortune over her opponent. The experience of P. Kennedy and Dr. King over Obama cannot be measured in the same scale as both Kennedy and King were lived in the early 20th century but Obama in the late 20th and early 21th century. The era of technology, where there are many challenges has considerable influence in the attitude of humankind. That makes Obama a better candidate than his predecessors. The 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was 46 years old when he died in 1963. Dr. King was 39 years old when he died in 1968. Both JFK and Dr King died at younger age than Obama. If age can be exchanged in to experience, this makes Obama better equipped than his predecessors did. Therefore, what is the ado?

    Listen to Obama’s outstanding campaign speech to feel his wisdom!

    January 15, 2008 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  4. Jeanine

    Dear Mr. Dobbs. I watched your show tonight. You are right. Our politicians are idiots and have lost all contact with the middle class.
    My Comment is: We are taxed to death, yet the illegal immigrants have jobs and are not taxed? Can any politician in our government explain to us why that is?
    Thank you, Jeanine, Ca.

    January 15, 2008 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  5. teddy orlando fl

    we all know rangel is an idiot

    January 15, 2008 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  6. Obama08

    we should have term limit for congress and sentaros, they need to get real job after their term. They can take their dirty politics with them.

    Charlie Rangel, you are the one stupid for trying to have the last say or try to reignite after the truce called by Obama.

    January 15, 2008 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  7. charlotte

    I beginning to think I must have been the only one who saw and heard the Obama/Oprah campaign theme song..I HAVE A DREAM. I said to myself, oh boy this is going to to turn into a race thing. I never even knew about a book by Obama until recently. I guess 'cause it never made Oprahs book of the month club. Must not be a very good book.. This race should not be about race or gender, it should be about qualifications. Regardless of who wins we will, thank God, have a new president. Buch/Chaney should be impeached, but then they haven't had an affair with an intern, that would have done it. Knowing how alcohol affects the libido I don't think we have to worry about Bush. If they had viagra for brain disfunction, I'd gladly pay for Bushs prescription for the remainder of his term and hope it would last longer than 4 hours. We made a big mistake in the last two elections, lets not do it again! Is anyone surprised by a younger person having used drugs, most likely anyone under 40 has at least tried them. But to the point of, in his own words, being a junkie? We need a leader not a follower, and drug use does not show leadership to me.

    January 15, 2008 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  8. converse


    Only problem is, your timeline is totally messed up. Obama took his classy step to stop the nonsense BEFORE Rangel came out with his insults. Guess you're just like Bill and Hillary, trying to re-write history.

    Spanking? That what will happen to the Clintons in NV, SC and on 2/5.

    January 15, 2008 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  9. Doreen Augusta Maine

    This is ridiculous. Congressman Rangel what are you trying to do? Fortunately, you are not respected among most working people. My goodness, this kind of nonsense is divisive, and although I do not like the word "stupid" this may be one time to use it toward Congressman Rangel.

    January 15, 2008 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  10. Karen

    I love Chuck Rangel. He always tells it like it is.

    January 15, 2008 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  11. Tommy

    Charlie Rangel or however he is called seems raw, I wonder how a sensible congressman, who the kids and young politicians should be looking at referring to a presidential hopeful as being stupid and as well finding it inappropriate for a politician to be honesty about his teenage years.
    Well, if you stand for deceit, you are alone. We want to move on and people like you that have lied all there ways through politics should please keep shut and let the players get back to the business of what they have to offer.
    We are more interested in hearing the hopeful messages from Obama, Hilary, Edward and not cheap players like you or Johnson that just don`t have sense to think before opening there mouth.

    January 15, 2008 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  12. cire

    ...and to think that this is the same charLIE rangle who proposed the draft. This man has been a part of the ESTABLISMENT for two long. it is time to send the charLIE rangles back home. He has overstayed his tenure in politics..He forgets that the voters in NY are watcing him. ...next senate election isn't too far away charLIE...WATCH OUT !!!

    January 15, 2008 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  13. mike

    Well, I just think this whole mess is just busines as usual. How anyone would vote for Clinton is beyond me. They (both of them) are such a joke. He plays the support husbund and she plays the ever involved, against the war, change the world player, or should I say poser... It really makes me sick. and to think we have months of this to go. AND it will only get worse. I laugh at the comments made by Clintons team.... attacking Obama, oh how wrong they were. The team members were forced to resign, but wait, they got those jabs in didn't they. Sacrificial lambs??? I also was shocked to see the UPSET in N.H. which consisted of a whole 6800 votes... out of 200,000+ people. Please spare me. She'll be lucky to carry many more states. And if she cries again, we might as well hand over everything to al queda, the tailiban, Iran, Etc. It makes me sick to think her crying got her votes. People saying "oh it really humanized her" yeah, right! she not human, and it took an incredibly weak act for her to get the sympathy vote. I did 20 years in the Navy and now our commander in chief is a cry baby. PLEASE. I don't care who runs against her if she gets the democratic nod..... I'll vote for them. I would however vote for Obama. I think he's really holding his own against the mighty Clinton barage. I am a registered Rupublican, but I'll vote for Obama over all but one, my main NAVY man, McCain!

    January 15, 2008 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  14. Trang, Fremont CA

    This started because of Obama's strength in his speech. He is able to gather a big crowd and energize people and moved past Hillary despite Hillary's win in the general election.

    The way to stop Obama is to call into question his strength – which is words that are used to inspire to people. So, words is cheap and action is important, Hillary wants to point out.

    Obama came back using MLK and JFK as people who have used words to inspire many. And for many, MLK and JFK are regarded as positive in America.

    Hillary came back with Obama comparing himself to MLK and JFK, and it's Lyndon Johnson who fulfill their dream.

    Obama is Obama. He has qualities like MLK and JFK, I dare say, to inspire a large group of people. Those people are rare to come by. I've listen to many who tried to imitate Obama with their words, but none can do it like Obama.

    Whether Obama can win or not, I don't know. Many people say America is not ready for a black president. I hope not. I want to see the spirit of Americans to be lift up, and this he can do. Many people do like him, it seems. They just don't know if he has enough experience.

    The presidency is in the future. Who knows what is going to happen. But I like his approach to solving problems – bringing people together. He avoids offending people.

    As for those who have questions following Bill Clinton's comment regarding 'fairy tale' position in the Iraq position – here is one way to see this:
    – Barack, on the outside, expressed opposition to the war – this is his main principle.
    – Barack, in 2004, after he met his fellow legislators, says he wouldn't know how he would vote. That is Barack is not in the position of these legislators. He doesn't know what kind of information they have received, and wouldn't know how he would vote based on the information he would receive. That is to say, one should not judge other people. You are not in their position to judge. You don't see what they see.
    – Barack voted to fund the war – probably reluctantly. Now that we have troops in, what happen if you cut the fund – it's the troops that get hurt. So Democrats in general wants to push for a timetable to end the war, so they can cut the fund and use it for more domestic purposes.
    Again, this is not what Obama say. This is my take on it.

    As for Charles Rangel, I would be upset at his comment regarding Obama. Now, that is an attack. But if Obama wants to let it go, I am going to let it go. Yes, forgive them for they know not what they do.

    Let's hope next debate there will be compare/contrast on the issues and not attack.

    January 15, 2008 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  15. Carrie

    With the Clinton machine, they always turn it around to blame someone else. They started this crap. Stop the madness! Vote for Change!!

    January 15, 2008 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  16. SecondSage

    I'm calling my people in NY to unelect Rangle. Same thing for Lewis down here in Atlanta. Yes Hilary has black supporters but these supporters are past their time. It's time for them to step down.

    Clearly Obama wants to run a clean race. He never started any of this racial mess. I was neutral observing this. All I saw was Clinton attacking and then getting the cronies to follow up with the "I'm Black so I can speak" attitude. You will be evicted from the black race with Ward Connelly and Clearence Thomas.

    No One is questioning the Clintons civil rights experience but I will say this is a dirty campaign. I'm observing Obama taking the high road the whole time and he never injected race into this campaign. Conservative Republicans use MLK to push an agenda. Everyone does!!!!!

    At first Obama and Clinton were the same to me, but the Clintons are losing credibility fast. They're driving me to do the unthinkable and go Republican.

    January 15, 2008 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  17. Tim Calhoun '08, Moreno Valley, CA

    The first three posters here pretty much nailed my thoughts. Rangel is the same guy who wanted to reinstate the draft. As such, his opinion means absolutely NOTHING to me.

    January 15, 2008 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  18. Dorian, Ca

    Firstly, Charlie Rangel is an honest, straight-talkin', common sense Congressman. He has decades of experience and accomplishments, and has a record of saying it as it is. Again, the Obama supporters are out twisting his words and trying to denigrate him and his record, while at the same time, blaming Hillary for Charlie's comments. Listen, Hillary is not Charlie! Charlie is his own man, no one tells him what to say or who to support.

    Secondly, Obama has been shamelessly playing the race card in one way or another, throughout his campaign: huge rallies with Oprah where they both spoke in black dialect to appeal to African-American voters, criticizing Hillary and twisting her words about Martin Luther King to make it appear she's a racist, and so on. Bottom line: he introduced the race issue into the campaigns in an attempt to steal African American votes from Hillary. Now that this strategy is backfiring on him, he wants to call a truce. A couple of weeks ago (after his loss in New Hampshire), didn't I hear Obama put Hillary on notice that he was going to come out swinging, using rough and tumble Chicago-style political campaigning against her? I think he underestimated his competition.

    Apparently Obama's supporters have chosen to disregard Obama's call for a "truce" as they are still working as his attack dogs. One blatant example as shown in the blogs posted here: they accuse Hillary of sending out Charlie Rangel to do dirty work on her behalf. Yeah, as if. . .

    January 15, 2008 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  19. a. muhammad Atlanta,Ga

    WHAT? I read on here where the Clintons have done soo much for the Black community. WHAT have they done? You better look at the record! You sound just as dumb as Sen. Rangel! Sure Bill connected to Blacks in a way no other white politician has. But WHAT did he do while in office to advance Black causes? NOTHING!! In fact, civil rights, social programs, and affirmative action was severely weakened under President Bill Clinton! What did he do FOR Blacks. Go check the record!!!

    And Sen. Rangel! Bob Johnson types don't represent Black folk! One of you says Sen. Rangel "tells it like it is". Yeah? Thats what they said about President Bush! Just because a lie is said a million times dont make it the truth! Its still a lie! No matter how eloquent, or forceful it is told, its still a lie! But it seems many Americans get duped into believing a lie because they like the PERSON, or because the PERSON comes off as honest. Do you even listen to what is being said? SAD!!

    January 15, 2008 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  20. Michael Joyce

    You people are all doing what the republicans want you to be doing , the he said
    she said has nothing to do with the election . Focus on the issues or the republicans will slip under the radar and take the whitehouse again for another term of war , poor economy , and the rich getting richer while middle class America pays the bills .

    January 15, 2008 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  21. Dan

    Socialists unite!

    January 15, 2008 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  22. s.positive

    This prove the point of how fickle our so called leaders are. NO depth of WISDOM...AMERICA can do better than this...

    January 15, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  23. Angel

    Mr Rangel is probably upset Mr. Obama sold more books. You want to see stupid. Ask yourself what has the Ways and Means committee, number one democratic is Congressman Rangel, done for you lately. This is the mentality or lack of Obama needs to purge from Washington ,once president. If not purge, get them to work for a living, on our behalf. To think Johnson would have considered or signed civil rights legislation without Dr. Kings' influences is stupid, or ill advised. Someone please tell Mr. Rangel, Obama was a civil rights attorney and studied the history Mr. Rangel lived and has now forgotten.

    January 15, 2008 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  24. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Give me a break. Everyone knows that Hillary Clinton of all people would never denigrate the contributions made by Dr. King, not only to this nation, but to the world. Every thinking person on the planet understood what Sen. Clinton was saying and the point she was making. If Obama and his supporters want to jump up and down and cry and wail and scream racism, well thats up to them. Everyone feared that Obama would be playing the race card sooner or later and he did not disappoint. His was supposed to be a "different kind of campaign." His campaign was supposed to be about ideas, and hope and positive change. I havent seen it yet.
    Frankly – I'm sick of both of them. I have never been a big supporter of Juhn Edwards, but he's looking better and better everyday.

    January 15, 2008 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  25. Terry

    This is an example of Clinton croneyism. It's the way she runs a campaign, get rid of her or get used to it.

    January 15, 2008 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
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