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. Katherine

    Rangel's generation of "civil rights leaders" needs to learn to let it go. I don't mean let go of the cause for civil rights, but let go of looking for a fight where there isn't one. Obama did not interject race and did not suggest that King could have put forth legislation. . .King couldn't even swim in a public pool, how could anyone think he could pass a law. Rangel, Obama is a lot of things, but stupid ain't one of them. For you, and the rest of your era, to be attacking him like this is embarrassing and depressing. You whine and scream about blacks not being given equal opportunity, and then you get Obama and not only do you not support him, you insult him publicly?! It's disgusting. You don't really want equal treatment, you want white people to save the race so you have someone to blame when things are bad.

    January 15, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  2. Kim, Dallas, TX

    Way to go....keeping it in the news CNN. I am so sick of this. I am very tired of how HIllary runs her campaign and then all of her pundits twist meaning and make it worse overall. Can't you just accept the fact that Hillary said something she later regretted and people who didn't get the meaning behind it wondered what she meant. She implied that MLK had a very limited role in the civil rights movement. When in fact without him there would have been no movement. All she needed to do was find a way to say that what she really meant was it took legislation to make civil rights really change the country and yes a president needed to put it into law. How on earth this got all twisted and distorted is because HIllary realized what her statement was doing to the black vote and that is what started the comments about race. Hillary I have zero respect for you and Bill now. What you did in New Hampshire, followed by this recent mess regarding race and trying to accuse Obama of the mess makes me despise the current government even more. This is not what I want for my country. I want respect and integrity. You cannot erase those words from Obama. He has held a clean campaign and the only time he has had to speak out against Hillary is when she attacts him. You do need to stand up for yourself, or the sheep tend to believe what is spoken. Hillary is another Karl Rove and I don't want our country to be owned by those who do not care about the general wellfare of all. Hillary is a double talker who is only our for the power. Otherwise, she would show more respect for her own perceived party....Democrats. The Clintons recent remarks and actions are going to destroy the Democratic's chances for the white house. Obama or Edwards would be worlds ahead of this very corrupt lady. I have always voted Democratic and will never vote for Hillary. She is worse than nearly every Republican candidate.

    January 15, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  3. Bryan, Illinois

    The old guard clings desperately to power. Charlie Rangel is simply a member of the old guard who would liek to keep things the way they are today. However, it is time for a new generation to take over. Rangel is somehow accusing Obama of being fickle, but any legislator can be accused of being fickle – Rangel supported a draft for the war simply to strain the support for it – how two-sided is that?

    Clinton is simply assuming the mantle of the presidency...and after her 4-8 years in office we will have had a Clinton or Bush on the ticket for 26 years (1980-2016), almost 10% of the entire history of the United States. Is dynasty politics what a new century is about? Are we a third world country?

    I have grave doubts that she will win against John McCain. Democratic voters should consider whether their are voting for the candidate of principles or some consensus candidate...look where John Kerry got us.

    Obama represents the change we need right now. He is the candidate of principles and sound judgment.

    January 15, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  4. Mr. J.

    I am ashamed of Mr. Rangel. When will the African American community learn how to support thir own people? The crabs in the barrel mentality still persists. It is for this reason the Obama and Colin Powell are the only ones I truly have regard for. Shameless effort to destroy the only candidate that is able to inspire people to see a better and brighter tomorrow! Disgraceful!

    January 15, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  5. Chris

    The candidates should stick to the issues at hand. If Obama makes a comment about Dr. Martin Luther King, which is not about politics, then Hillary has no right to try and downplay his comment, which is what she did and how this whole mess started in the first place.

    January 15, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  6. Brian

    African Americans need to stop being divided among themselves, Obama can't win when african americans ACTUALLY THINK they will be better with a non african american as president. African americans are the only race of people that would think this, and I'm white.........WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!

    January 15, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  7. booboo

    Rangel does support the draft, but he's not a warmonger. In fact, quite the opposite. His point is that if everyone in America had to share in their burden of responsibility and risk then we'd be less likely to commit to worthless war that see thousands of our citizens killed for bad intelligence, petty revenge and financial motives. His draft proposal serves a very strong purpose.

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

    Vince, can u quote one sentence made by Obama suggesting that the comments made by the Clintons were racist?

    January 15, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  9. John

    Charlie Rangel is your typical yessum boss Democrat. How high can you jump Charlie for the Clintons? Your views hold no credence with me and I am a Democrat. With the way things are going with this maelstrom, I am seriously considering becoming as a Republican.

    love ya,


    January 15, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  10. Robert

    Leave it to the Clinton News Network to try boost their favorite candidate by putting this out.

    January 15, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  11. Joann, Cranston RI

    Finally, someone is sticking up for Hillary! Cudos to you sir.

    January 15, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  12. Tim Calhoun '08, Moreno Valley, CA

    Dara: for the millionth time...

    Yes, Senator Obama voted present 130 times...but that was out of 4,000 total votes, and most of the time it was in solidarity with fellow Democrats who also voted present as a deliberate political strategy.

    People really need to do their research before spouting off.

    January 15, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  13. Bein Careful

    Would the black Clinton supporters on this board (or the white imposters) please tell me exactly what the Clintons did for the black segment of our population during those eight years. It seems to me that Clinton backed Nafta which sent jobs overseas–jobs which blacks could have had (or whites). Is there anything other than his, "I feel you pain" comment that you can think of? Please expain to me what they did for you.

    I will NEVER vote for another Clinton!!!!!

    January 15, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  14. Justin, Houston, TX

    It's obvious the media is continually trying to fan this flame of "race." I'm sure this interview from YESTERDAY took place way before this "truce" was called. But by just reporting it today, it seems as though Clinton supporters are trying to keep it alive.

    Shame on CNN.

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

    It's fun to see the democrats deal with the lies they manufacture that the republicans have had to battle for the past 7 years.

    January 15, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  16. Amazed

    I have heard Obama speak about making a change for Americans, I've heard him say he wants to do poliltics in a different way (and it was working for a while), I've heard him call for a truce showing the utmost character.

    Hillary wants the black vote.

    I want a president that wants to help Americans because there needs to be a "Change" not because he feels like he is owed something.

    January 15, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  17. Mke

    This election should not be based on race! But the bottom line is you should consider the source of the comment.
    Obama is far from being the brightest bulb in the pack.

    January 15, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  18. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    It is Rangel who is absolutely stupid.

    Hillary put her foot in her mouth in the process of getting NH vote (she forgot about S.C. at that time). After NH, for damage control, she baited Obama to the mud. A week after Obama did not fall into the trap, she called Obama out on Sunday in "Meet the Press."

    Obama did not comment on Hillary's remarks or respond to her accusations until her one-hour bashing of Obama in "Meet the Press." Obama is decent. Hillary made a mistake and attacked Obama, the victim, for damage control. The Clintons must think that the American people are so stupid to buy her tricks.

    January 15, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  19. Joann, Cranston RI

    Hey Guys, just take a look at all of the above negative comments about Hillary, they're all from MEN! Does that tell you something. Well maybe I'm not ready for another man to run this country. It's time for a woman. I'd respect you all more if you'd all just admit your Sexist and even the racist should come out too.

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

    Will the Clintons let it go. Seriously they are looking like the stupid ones.

    January 15, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  21. Teri Helenese

    Not so long ago I was on the fence about voting for Obama or Clinton, but as Clinton's well orchestrated dirtyball and surrogate tactics continue, the answer is all too vivid. Obama has earned not only my vote, but my respect and my campaign contribution.

    January 15, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  22. Aaron Dabney #88

    I think this guy is out of his mind his is trying to shoot down Obama who by the way is doing a wonderful job representing African Americans. He is trying to give Clinton any little advantage at all, but just the fact that he is African American means that he won’t go very far in way but this is a start in the right direction for all of American but this guy wants to reinstate the Draft…. “THE DRAFT” Come on people wake up and smell the coffee.

    January 15, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  23. Sharon in MN

    Please someone tell me why folks blindly vote for Hillary because of her husbands civil rights record. Things he accomplished maybe great, but he was part of a time that barack was still in high school for. So when Barack was making his decision to help on the streets of chicago that was his time. Please folks don't assume that becuase of Bill you are voting for Hillary. This country FINALLY has a chance to heal. Is not that what we can ever hope for? To get beyond race and gender? Obama is a person that brings all types of Americans together. ALL AMERICANS! He is the future. Folks like Rangel are the PAST!

    January 15, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  24. Eric

    As an Obama supporter I am frustrated how he has been dragged into this. I have yet to see anyone answer the question that has been posed multiple times on here.. Please give me the quote from Obama or his campaign attacking the Clintons or playing the race card?? All I have seen from his campaign is an attempt to stay above the fray, and then call a truce. After Hillary responded and accepted the truce, the trot out this guy calling Obama an idiot. Why are people so easily fooled?

    January 15, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  25. Pamela Jennings

    Congressman Rangel's comments were frighteningly abusive. Why his need to call Obama's comments "stupid" and "absolutely dumb? " He is of the old guard in Black America. He believes in ridiculing his people to keep them in line. Time for a change. No more abuse by Black elders. No more shaming of Black Americans by Black Americans or anyone else as a means of controlling their behavior. Obama has made Rangel and Johnson of BET nervous. They are inviting a lot of "kill the envied,preferred son" aggression against Obama. Move over elder statesmen! No killing off Obama.

    January 15, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
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