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. Vince

    You just gotta love this guy Rangel. I always knew he he wasn`t afraid to speak his mind and here he is again TELLING IT THE WAY IT IS.. If we had more people like him in responsible positions this country would in a lot better shape.

    January 15, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  2. James D.

    The Clinton surrogates continue to do her dirty work and hatchet jobs. Win by distorting their competition's record...block voters rights (NV suit), etc, etc, etc.

    And Clinton supporters cheer them on. Disgusting.

    Please note Obama held a news conference asking for a truce. It isn't making CNN headlines...Rangel is. THAT says it all.

    The Clintons are shameless hypocrites. It's amazing...I'm absolutely irate at the Clintons and I AM SUPPOSE TO BE PART OF THEIR "BASE" SUPPORT. In November, they will reap the consequences of their actions. A a NY Times reporter recently wrote: The Clintons have an uncanny ability to always cast themselves as the victim. Even when they are the ABUSER.

    After being a huge Clinton supporter, I'm officially in the "anyone but Clinton" camp.

    January 15, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  3. Pat -Ottawa-

    all the canditates realize the while house is open-a number of canditates can still win so now it will start to get ugly-every sentence will be picked apart no matter who says it

    i realize i am not american however to me it seems that right now obama would be the best choice especially in regards to improving America's image-I just can not see how other leaders from other countries won't like him

    January 15, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  4. Ken - Long Island

    Rangel – who? Is this guy running on his last steam and decided to get out of his hole?

    When everyone is praising both candidates for cooling off their heals about this topic, this guy wants to add fuel after the fire has been out out.

    I could not agreed more with Jerry comment above

    I am a black Republican and glad to see a black candidate who is not afraid to depart from the ignorant mass; stand up speak his mind.

    Let's the dream begin!

    January 15, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  5. Vince

    This is the way I see it.. The comments the Clintons made were NOT racist until Obama and his camp followers MADE them racist.

    January 15, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |


    January 15, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |

    this remark and article makes absolutely no sense.. i was wondering when charlie rangel would step into this on behalf of the "clintons"...just an absolute disgrace is what this is.. and what the clintons have been able to get people to do for them. the clintons have never cared who's reputation or life has been ruined ,, as long as they get what they want ! they are a shameless team.. with not one agenda for the good of the people only the good of the "CLINTONS"

    January 15, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  8. Shannon in Virginia

    I can see why they would think that she said something ignorant...but she didnt..she only spoke the truth about the president signing the bill..

    Ask yourself this question could he really (Dr King) signed that bill into office...lets be realistic. I dont get why people are so rude and mean to one another it just doesnt make any sense...The goal of this election is to make sure that the country is being ran correctly. It is just a shame at all of this cheap shots that they are taking at obama and at clinton. I am an avid supporter of Hilary Clinton and think that she is the best person for the job but I feel that they all need a chance....

    January 15, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  9. Lisa Hampton Newark, NJ

    I am a big Obama supporter fan and I will vote for him. However, I am starting to believe Obama may be too good for this. I have lost so much respect for the political system and I am losing faith that things will ever change. If Hillary is the nominee, I will stay home.

    January 15, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  10. Jack K.

    Obama, Hillary, Rangel, Kerry–

    They're all desperately trying to hold onto the traditional powerbases of the Democratic Party.

    John Edwards campaign is as much about changing the "old style" machinations among DEM representatives in Washington, as it is about redefining how the President–and our elected officials involve lobbyists and special interests in the Washington decision making process.

    We need an overhaul of the role of President and elected representation in Washington–that places the needs of the people above their own petty needs–and puts "service to the people" back in their mindset. They're all saying the right things–but their intentions are directed at controlling the power, wealth, and influence.

    Only John Edwards stands apart–ready to challenge the party leaders and elected leaders to do better. He can lead the DEM Party in a new direction as President–that we can be proud of.

    January 15, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  11. Iteachdaily

    Enough already! What about the issues: global warming, healthcare, education, the multiple wars we are engaged in. Give it a rest! I need a leader, not someone who will consistently argue about things that are misunderstood. Give it a rest. I am a life-long Democrat who may just vote for a Republican because of this "stupid" issue.

    January 15, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  12. B

    What can we expect from the american people when our own elected officials can't even read for themselves?!?

    VIncent, from Tamaqua PA

    January 14, 2008 10:25 pm ET

    I hope Hillary puts Obama in his place. Its upsurd to even question the Clinton's respect towards the Black Community— after everything the Clinton Administration has done for them

    What has the Clinton Administration done for the black community? I am black and I see nothing positive that they have done. Please explain.

    January 15, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  13. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    Notice to all Americans:

    Charlie Rangal has been a mouthpiece for the Clinton's for years!

    This is the disgusting kind of politics we would have if Hillary gets in the White House! And it's not coming from Obama's camp, it's coming from Hillary's camp.

    I'm amazed at how many Clintonites STILL don't see them clearly.

    January 15, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  14. Ron, TX

    Rangel is on a power trip. He's afraid that if Obama is elected. Rangel will no longer be one of the most powerful blacks in Washington.

    And Obama NEVER brought up the race issue here. He simply said that MLK had a much larger role than Hillary Clinton would lead you to believe. It wasn't the government that changed America. It was America that changed government. Anyone who has seen a 30min show on TV about the Civil Rights Movement could tell you that.

    January 15, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  15. JACK, NY, NY

    FInally some one is talking some sense. Obama should be shamed of himself to introduce race into the mix. He is opportunist who would do anything with his dirty work done by people like his wife, Jesse Jackson Jr then tries to be this nice guy on tv. His main motivation for this was SOuth carolina. He is just stupid man.

    January 15, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  16. wale azeez

    Charlie rangel is actively for trade agreements with china to the detriment of our society and poisoning our kids with lead....please don't speak for hilary....you are only scared of obama because he's calling for a change in washington and you are washington

    January 15, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  17. GMB

    Rangel is as dumb as Clinton ( Hillary) is proving herself to be. She had no issues and nothing negative to say when her lead was big, now, she proves that she can't play in the big leagues without whining and putting her foot in her mouth. She had my vote , and many, many others locked down until about 2 weeks ago. Rangel surely isn't who you want speaking for you.

    January 15, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  18. diamond965

    Senator Clinton is doing exactly what she set out to do and that is to stir up public grievance between black men using the race card and Mr. Johnson and Mr. Rangel; idiots, have played into her hands. If you ask me this is nothing but a modern day Willie Lynch tactic on behalf of Senator Clinton, getting black men to turn on each other. I have monitored Obama while he was running for Senator and he is not about race, he is about issues and that is what makes him the better candidate, because the bottom line is, regardless of your skin color, health care and unemployment effects everyone. Senator Obama indicated that he and his wife just recently paid of their student loans, and that his wife still shops at Target, this is a man who knows what it is like living a modern day lifestyle. How can Senator Clinton associate with the average Americans struggles. The only person who knows what you need is the one who has followed behind in your foot-steps and Senator Clinton does not have a clue.

    January 15, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  19. Les

    Blue state, red state, democrat, republican, or independent; it shamefully matters not. Too many of our elected officials are who they are; pathetic in both character and integrity. How these people got to be in positions of authority, and no less, and not get thrown out is beyond me. These fat cats have it made; pension, health insurance, security, privileges galore, you name it. Whatever side of the track you are on is of no relevance. What is relevant is that we have too many people in our government who are all about "what's in it for me". The disingenuous and callow remarks spewing from the likes of 'I'm a saint' Johnson and 'what's in it for me' Rangel along with a host of others from both camps is, to say the least, a troubling comical site. Yet, no one is laughing except for those who have something to gain. I honestly thought Rangel was above the fecal matter; obviously I was mistaken.

    January 15, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  20. Laura

    re: HILLARY 08! post at January 15, 2008 3:38 am ET

    What you just "quoted" from snopes.com is an email that they prove to be false. http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/muslim.asp Stop being like your candidate and start getting your facts straight.

    January 15, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  21. TrueThis

    CNN you stated yesterday that Obama had nothing to do with this race issue that it was started by the media and the Clintons. Here we go again with this OLD politics. Rangel needs to shut his face because he made these remarks right after Obama was a bigger MAN to say that we as Democratics need to come together.

    I'm at the point that if the Clintons become the Democratic nominee I will not vote but I'll put all my money on Bloomberg or a Republican before I see these power freaks in the White House. The Clintons are still playing these dirty underhanded games by taking the union in NV to court to stop the workers to caucus for Obama when they themselves approved for the workers to caucus closes to their jobs but once the union endorses Obama they want to take them to court. Why you didn't report that CNN?

    This is not Obama, this is all........the clintonS. And they have shown their faces and CNN is not reporting the dirty politics they are doing. It's about us not them anymore this country is suffering and it's time to heal..

    January 15, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  22. Susan

    I agree with Ron of Tx....Obama never brought up race as an issue....Bill and Hill enough already.....they will go to any lengths to discredit Obama....Obama will win in 08 period...

    January 15, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  23. Susan

    I don't mind listening to political sparring, but at least keep it about the issues, please?

    January 15, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  24. Jeff

    This guy is a moron. Race didn't get interjected because Obama said it. Race had already been suggested well in advance of Obama making his statement :

    "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,"

    Just shows to what extent Cinton and her surrogates and supporters will go to manipulate words and wharp things into their favor.

    Very nice how this is getting play now that Obama and Clinton called off the tit-for-tat. Irresponsible for CNN to give this article play like this when its complete hogwash and CNN knows it. Race was interjected by the likes of media well before Obama basically said "huh? how is it you think we are doing this?"

    Fox news was down in the ratings, but I think I'm going to start watching more of Dick Morris on Fox as he states the reality of the Clintons.

    Funny, two months ago, I was a Fox new hater and a Clinton supporter but after solid research and non stop viewing of the coverage, I actually now see the "Clinton machine" and I don't like it one bit.

    January 15, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  25. Not a democrate

    Go Obama! He is the only one who can unite the country. The Clintons never could and never will!

    January 15, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
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