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. jessica

    This is NOT Hillary's fault. Why are the Clinton's always blamed for others coming out and speaking their mind? I'll tell you who I think is racist, it's the Obama's! I read what Mr. Obama's wife said at an all black church in South Carolina Sunday...Something along the lines..."Ain't No Black people in Iowa, we can do it here..." To me THAT is racist and sickening AND offensive. I would NOT want her or him in our white house. SHE is catergorizing, NOW...who is speaking of race? THE OBAMA'S! I don't know why HER statement didn't get more attention in the media. I'm offended. Basically this race is coming to.."Us" and "THEM"...

    True..if this doesn't stop..a republican WILL get elected...

    January 15, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  2. W. Artis, Goldsboro, NC

    It's ashame that some folk to say that someone should not admit the truth. Obama told the truth about him using drugs in his younger days. So now, according to Rangel, admitting the truth should not be told, just tell lie after lie.

    Also, I've read other posts on other sites that says because Obama admitted using drugs only shows the young people that it is okay. No. It helps young people who are using drugs to know they don't have to continue but can go on and make a better life for themselves, turn their lives around.

    There are several people who have made greater mistakes than Obama with drugs and have turned their lives around and are examples for others and are doing well.

    Something is wrong with a politician like Rangel who says admitting the truth is wrong.

    It looks like the Clinton are pulling out every stop to STOP Obama. He is a threat to them and they know it. Maybe it's time for the black america to see where the Clinton's really stand concerning them.

    January 15, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  3. Jeff

    Although I don't agree with Charlie Rangel wanting to reintroduce the draft, I do think that he has stated the current situation accurately. Senator Obama did start this race issue over an innocent remark by Senator Clinton.

    This bickering must stop. I would like to see both Senators get over this and discuss the real issues. They must be positive and discuss want they would do if elected president, otherwise we will have another Republican elected president and continue in the wrong direction.

    January 15, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  4. Kaleon

    The article quoted Charlie Rangle as saying "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." This statement makes the assumption that honesty and politics do not go together. While Bush's presidency supports this notion, Obama is trying to change this thought and provide a counter example of how it does and how it will when he is president. If we are not well informed as a people, then we run the risk of making ignorant and consequental decisions. We've made enough WRONG decisions over the past 8 years.

    January 15, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  5. from an independent

    I'll tell you, after all of this the Rebublicans look so much better to me. Huh, bi-paritsan ... the dems can never even get along in their own party.. how in the world can they ever cross party lines. This mess will most likely tip plenty of independents (who were open to the dems) in the other direction.

    January 15, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Hillary Clinton dragged this campaign into the mud in the Russert interview, and then got slammed for her own stupid comments and her surrogate's political blundering - which as B. Johnson and C. Rangel demonstrates, is going to continue. Is this the kind of petty bs she wants to bring to the oval office? She already has enough baggage to carry. She should ask her surrogates to step back and let her do the talking, because if this her campaign's idea of "change," she should just drop out now.

    January 15, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |





    January 15, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  8. Boogie Los Angeles CA

    do we notice...that apparantly NOBODY who supports Obama ever says anything stupid according to CNN...Every time a Hillary supporter, spouse or, taxi driver says something dumb or, aggressive that might help to make Clinton look bad or, evil...that makes CNN's headlines.
    I guess all the perfect people support Obama...thanks CNN for pointing that out to me. *insert sarcasm here*

    I'm getting tired of all of this poop...can we start fighting over issues that mean something??? PLEASE???
    this is why we are in so much trouble...America has become a crappy reality TV show... 🙁

    January 15, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  9. Aaron, Iraq

    It is amazing that Hilary supporters have actually swallowed the load of Baloney that Barack is the one who played the race card. I am amazed at how gullible the electorate is and how willing they are to keep the status quo (Clinton) in the White House. I am sure Rangel does not want an appointment. He probably is beholden to the same special interests that Hillary is and deosn't want the teet to dry up on him. He is just as much a Washington insider as she is.

    January 15, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  10. Owen

    Charles Rangel is a puppet for Bill and Hillary, everyone knows this, his comments, like those of Geraldine Ferraro blasting the Obama campaign in yesterday's New York Times article, are worthless. These folks are just not impressive.

    January 15, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  11. Ash

    I think Charlie Rangel's comments are a disgrace. He can rise to Hillary's defense if he feels that's important to do so as a supporter, but no, Obama did not inject race into the dialogue. What he did say is those were "ill-advised" and "unfortunate" words. Well that part is correct – why else are both Hillary and Bill doing damage control for the last few days, instead of talking about her new economic plan? Those words did cause a strong negative reaction in the African American community – and that was entirely her doing. A more tactful way of making the same point would not have gotten her in the same situation – it was a poor choice of words on her side.

    But for Rangel to then imply that revelations in an honest coming of age memoir were motivated just for a few more dollars is disturbing. I guess honesty for its own sake in the context of sharing and telling one's life story is just too new a concept to this guy – he is used to people lying, or only telling the truth when you bribe them with a few more dollars! Obama is a great example for an African American man who overcame significant obstacles to get where he is today. Its sad that even a prominent African American "leader" like Rangle feels he has to put him down to somehow feel good about himself – and since he cant find anything real or relevant, he's talking about things Obama did in his youth decades ago!

    January 15, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  12. Shannon

    I have a great idea for the Candidates who really want change and to server America, take no pay while serving in office and their pay will go pay the deficit. I will vote for that Candidate even if it was just one year. It is time to really give to your country in it’s time of need.

    Shannon Nevil
    Killeen, TX

    January 15, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  13. Chris, NC

    I truly enjoyed Rep. Rangel's expressed puzzlement over Sen. Obama's unusual candor in his books. Yes, he's a truth-teller, which is not typical of a politician. Did he do it for money, Rep Rangel wonders? That's likely what motivates Rep. Rangel, but I'm guessing Obama did it for other reasons because people like Sen Obama plan their whole lives out. Obama knew that he would be a public figure one day in some capacity, and that admission of drug use would be an issue for the little petty people who would use it in the absence of any other sustantive issue. Everyone knows the prep school boy Bush whiffed lines of coke his whole meaningless young life, but wasn't man enough to admit it because he works for the unforgiving and unforgetting GOP. (But he doesn't drink now, so that somehow wipes the slate clean, like when a celeb screws up, goes to rehab, and that serves in the place of any real character change).

    Rep. Rangel has a better idea for America... he wants to introduce the draft! Yes, let's go fight unpopular wars again with an ineffective, unprofessional conscript army that is counting the days until it rotates home... brillant idea! Didn't we already try that (unsucessessfully) in a past war?

    January 15, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  14. colorblind

    this is crazy.... i thought that having a black man and a white women running showed that we as a country were coming together /gaining ground .... but after reading many of these comments

    January 15, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  15. CDR

    The OBAMA ’08 Story: This is No Fairytale!

    IMAGINE a passionate young scholar organizing for progressive change in the streets of one of the largest and toughest cities in the nation. Imagine a trial lawyer fighting for change and civil rights in the courtrooms for the rights of the common laborer against corrupt industry. Imagine a skilled constitutional law professor equipped with a mastery and knowledge of the protections and the checks and balances of our Nation’s most powerful blueprint: The Constitution. Imagine a State Legislature with 8 years of service who is “…not against war but against dumb wars.” Imagine a junior United States senator, with service on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which oversees our nation’s health care, schools, employment, and retirement programs; with service on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which protects our environment and provides funding for our highways, bridges, and levies; with service on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which is focused on providing our brave veterans with the care and services they deserve; and with service on the Foreign Relations Committee, which plays a vital role in shaping American policy around the world, including Iraq. Now, Imagine a Leader with the judgment not to mislead this Nation into a dumb war.

    Now, IMAGINE CHANGE! Imagine a Leader who can UNITE our Nation and its people. Imagine America’s sons and daughter’s – our heroes… our troops. Imagine them safe and coming back from Iraq. You can only IMAGINE ONE LEADER and that’s no “Fairytale!” However, like a fairytale the good guy ultimately wins and with every vote for Obama you ensure a Hopeful future and a Happy Ending!


    January 15, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  16. avg. Joe

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!!!! Can't we have an election where the candidates can stick to the real issues and problems the country is faceing, for example So. Security, fair and equal taxes, IN- SOURCEING JOBS instead of OUT-SOURCEING(middle and lower America isn't as stupid as these politicians think). Just once I would love to see a campain that actually dealt with REAL problems and not this self-centered personal attacks(that goes for all candidates, both parties!). GIVE US A BREAK!!

    January 15, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  17. Walt, TX

    The only thing stupid concerning this article is Charlie Rangel. Now if we could get some inputs from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, we would have heard from the infamous "Curly, Larry and Moe."

    January 15, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  18. warren

    Rangel has done many things of great worth, But apparently he losing it.
    His comments about Obama writing about past drug use is utterly stupid. As a surogate for Clinton he his doing some mud-slinging. He has deminished himself greatly. Now he may just be another political hack–the kinds of people and politics desparately want to to be rid of and hope Obama can help.

    January 15, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  19. Pat Sherlock

    It's painful watching this all over again from another country. Watching Bush win twice was bad enough. The world needs a strong US leader with the integrity and moral authority of Obama. Please wake up, otherwise I fear what waits for the rest of us. The world is paying very close attention for good reason......

    January 15, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  20. Brattleboro, VT

    These Clintons are plaaying with the voters' minds and I am sure they will be trapped. Dig inton your brain and see how these people are horrible.

    Mr. Rangel, You are A SHAME!!!!

    January 15, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. Michael L

    As a black man... I find the Clinton campaign utterly insulting. They spend half of their time cleaning up their remarks because we've so obviously misinterpreted what they've said. When the public got sick of that, they went back to having other people do the speaking for them so they could stay above the fray... "I didn't know he was gonna say that"... lol.

    The LOWEST thing they did was sicking Bob Johnson on Obama at the rally. They did this because they needed something negative to come from a black person. He was just a puppet sellout. It's difficult to figure out what he sold out for... as he is.. or is nearly a billionaire. Then, he doesn't even stand by his remarks.. as usually is the case with this campaign. This Rangel cat is no different. He'll be back tracking in the next day or so. Probably looking for a cabinet position.

    goofballs. They are SO scared of Obama.

    January 15, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  22. Tim

    FINALLY!! Some common sense. What exactly "baffled" the golden child...Mr. Obama? Didn't he do well in history in his fairly well off childhood? It did take a President to move the legislation through or there would not have been any. Admitting that doesn't take anything away from MLK.

    If Obama is "baffled" by something so insignificant...how is he going to handle any real problem? He's a hollow empty shell!

    January 15, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  23. Mike

    This is just typical of Black America selling out its youth. What ashamed..

    The idea that people like Charles Rangel, Bob Johnson and others feel the need to attack their own, to justify their support for Hillary Clinton is baffling, dissappointing and disrespectful.....

    I have never been soooo dissappointed in Black Leadership. It makes me wonder what the future holds for my young children and heightens my concern for all Black Americans and our future in America.

    January 15, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  24. KP

    The headline on the home page of CNN says:

    "Ticker: Obama's MLK comments called 'stupid' " but the item is about Clintons comments being stupid.

    How stupid!

    January 15, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  25. Independent

    I think some of you clearly are not reading the story. I am neither really for or against either of these two people at the moment but deal with the facts. Most of you sit here and say "could Dr. King have signed this bill", and the obvious answer is no. But listen up kids. Just because the president signed his name on the dotted line doesn't mean he had anything to do with the bill itself. Dr. King got that started, he got the ball rolling and applied pressure for the president to sign it. So no, it wouldn't have been signed without Johnson but Johnson had nothing to do with the bill besides signing it. So don't get on here and sound like idiots. Hillary made a verbal mistake, its not like our current president doesn't make those every time he opens his mouth, and Barak did a good job of jumping on it. Its politics people not church service. So leave it alone and let it die out for both of their sakes.

    January 15, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
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