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. rocksteady

    The rubric for this article is worded to make it look as if Obama made the boneheaded remark rather than Mrs. Clinton. Making statements like this look like CNN is tacitley undermining Obama in order to Bolster Clinton. Many people will read the rubric and take that at face value, many more people will see it the way I do.

    January 15, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  2. Will

    It is nice to see that Hillary Clinton has no problem tearing the Democratic Party apart so that she can move forward with her vanity run.

    She makes a ridiculous statement that she then proceeds to disown and use to attack the people who called her out on it. Finally she steps back from the whole thing (but not really since she has people like Bob Johnson and Charlie Rangel out there talking against Barack for her, since she is too much of a coward to say that stuff herself).

    This is why I, as a Democrat, will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she is obtains the nomination. I believe that Edwards or Obama truly have the interests of American people at heart, whereas Hillary is doing everything she can to force the nomination her way. And for what? If Democrats won't even vote for her in the general, you can be sure that moderate Republicans and independents would easily choose a John McCain over her any day.

    Hillary has no altruistic intentions at all; if she did she would know that she does not have a chance in the general election, especially against someone like John McCain. Thanks for thinking only of yourself, Hillary.

    January 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. Nobama!

    Well done Obama. So much for reaching across the isle. Now you have other African Americans in Congress calling you stupid.

    Hillary Clinton gets my vote. If she doesn't get the nomination I'm voting Republican. At least Republicans don't throw out the race card like Barack does.

    January 15, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. Rachel F.

    I am appalled that CNN is even reporting this. Barack Obama held a press conference and commented on this sillyness and why we need to rise above such petty politics. Why isn't CNN reporting on this? Why are we still focusing on this nonesense instead of on the real issues? I think both campaigns are ready to move on from this ridiculous epidsode. We need to focus on the economy and healthcare. I think the American people would agree.

    January 15, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  5. chyke

    The problem with Rangel and the rest is that they are jealous of the impact already created by Obama within a short period of time.. All of them put together, have never created half of that kind of impact in politics. So they will go all out to tarnish him. They always have that misguided impression that they represent the African Americans and will do everything to maintain the statusquo. But Americans are not fools, we know them for what they are, race baiters and old fools!!

    January 15, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  6. Amazed

    Tactics being used in this race are the very things that need to "Change".

    January 15, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  7. Reggie

    Actually, the ones who brought up race were Obama's campaign when Jesse Jackson Jr. went on MSNBC after the New Hampshire primary results and told the American public that the white voters of New Hampshire would never vote for a black canidate. He went further and stated that people didn't vote for Barack because he was blakc, but people didn't vote for him because he was black.

    I find it no coincidence that Michelle Obama spoke openly about Hillary Clinton "winning the black vote" right before comments made by Bill and Hillary were taken out of context and they were accused of bringing race into the equation. Now, after Obama's camp removes itself from any invovement and "called for a truce" he's winning the black vote 66% to 12%.

    I'm not going to get into the cocaine stuff, Barack brought it up... if he didn't want to face it, maybe he should have not put it in his book.

    Shame on Barack's camp for dividing the Democratic party. If you want to divide this nation, vote for Obama. If you wanted a united nation that doesn't play games in the media by twisting people words... vote for anyone else.

    January 15, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  8. Joe Boyer

    Clintons are still continuing the same tactics. For what? South Carolina's Black Vote? Well, Democrats let Clintons to destroy their own party. For what? To continue with the Clinton Dynasty until possibly another Republican Dynasty takes over. I have a wishful thinking that this may be the end of bipartisan politics. Americans want to be united. No racial tensions, no partisan backstabbing. Congressman Rangel, this is a free country. You can say anything. You can call Obama or anyone of your choice "stupid". I am sure that telling you anything would be like speaking to the "wall". You will have excuses for everything and honesty means nothing to you. But I want to tell you honestly: "Shame on You".

    January 15, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  9. A voter in time

    I swear on my life, that I will not vote for Hillary Clinton and her campaign of hatred and divisevness. Her tactics have showed that she is no different than the GOP.

    January 15, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  10. Magical

    Oh my – I can hardly breathe when I read such ignorance. Rangel doesn't have any room to talk about financial motives – he is supporting Bill's "girl". It's hard to even comment on this. His remarks are disgusting. Bill & Hillary both made racist statements and to now blame Barack Obama is simply ludicrous.

    January 15, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  11. Retep

    If it isn't already clear Mr. Rangel stands to benefit enormously from another Clinton presidency. No such benefits, for the old guard, seem likely in an Obama administration.

    January 15, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  12. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    We need to start keeping tabs on these Democrats who are attacking fellow Democrats, especially ones as honorable as Obama. This is what the Democratic establishment does people. They don't represent us true Democrats. We need to make sure they don't win when their time for reelection comes around.

    January 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. Mounchili

    This is what Washington does to you when you live there long enough politically. Charly Rangel can't even distinguish logic from stupidity. If someone is studpid and irrational, it is he. Not only is he saying things that were neither said by Obama, nor implied. Could he be that the likes of Charly Rangel are jealous of the visibility a much younger fellow is being getting for the things they couldn't do within their overwhelming experienced political life? You can support who ever you choose to support, but be rational and honest. This is pure definition of dishonesty Mr. Rangel. And why can the journalists just call it as it is?

    January 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  14. Kathy, Columbus Ohio

    I have made my decision, if Obama does not get the nomination, I will vote on local issues only, I will not vote for the president. I refuse to vote for lying Hillary Clinton. I'm a boomer and I don't trust her, she will do anything to be president, even stay with a scum bag like Bill.

    The republicans are jumping for joy because they know they will get back into the white house for at least 4 more years. That won't last long because they will continue on the same path as Bush. The American people will then take back the white house from the repub's in 2012.

    By then the voters will be totally fed up with the repubs and will kick them out of the white house and congress. Then and only then will the people be ready for real change.

    Charlie... we know what kind of person you are as well as Bob Johnson, the type that will sell out your own people!!! I have know respect for either of you.

    People criticized Oprah for campaigning for Obama, what the hell do you think Bill is doing? At least she made a few appearences on Obama's behalf not every freaking day, to the point we can't turn on the t.v. without seeing that big nose spouting hate.

    Oprah...please get back out there and support Obama, you have the constitutional right to support Obama any way you choose too! Besides Bill is doing it and I don't hear a massive uproar about his face being all over t.v.

    Jesus the Latino.. you need to take a chill pill because you wouldn't have any rights if it weren't for Dr. King's sacrifices in the civil rights struggle.

    This is for those of you who have decided to switch your vote from Obama to Hillary because of all the race bating, you were not going to vote for Obama anyway. You are just like those lying N.H. voters, can't be trusted to tell the truth.

    Black people have been voting for white candidates for ages and now that you have a chance to vote for a Black man you will not. It's time for Black america to declare as an independent voter and sell your vote to the highest bidder. And Lou Dobbs you have nothing to do with this, so take that smile off your face.

    And to the rest of you Hillary lovers, if she gets the nomination she will never become president. She will mobilize the republicans as well as the Obama supporters to vote against her. I'm sure Obama will ask us to support her but I never will, so you see she will lose!!!!

    There is no way the Democratic party will heal before November 2008, it will take at least 4 more years. My suggestion to the Dems, you better get a fantastic candidate next time around if you want my vote.

    If I can survive 8 years of Bush I'm sure I can survive 4 more years with another stupid republican!!!!!

    OBAMA 2008

    January 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  15. Jose, FL

    Looks like the house slaves are starting to get worried about the field slaves, getting uppity and not bowing down to the Democrat plantation. The full Clinton war machine is in play now that Obama has a chance of upsetting her coronation.

    THe only thing the Clintons have "done" for African Americans is entrench a couple of political tools like Rangel, so they can have some house slaves that will fight their race battles for them without getting their hands dirty. This reminds me of the Bush/Mccain primary and the "Tarbaby" smears....except this time it's the Democrat dirty tricks machine. Remember, they only need the "black" vote for the general election, and they know you wont vote for a Republican (and why should you!). They'll burn Obama to the ground to win this primary, and then preach how "black" they are once it comes to the general election.

    What have they done for community, besides pay lip service when they need you to vote them in the office? When have you ever seen them DO anything for your race, other than when theyre trying to get their face on a campaign ad next to some of us brown people. I'm Hispanic, and if anyone ever treated me the way Democrats treat African Americans, they certainly wouldnt get my vote.

    January 15, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  16. Joyce Francis Jacksonville,, FL

    Anything Hillary says can be misconstrued as she isn't definitive on anything!!!! She's a phony! As for LBJ, let us all remember that great man and his wonderful contribution - welfare and the end of the black family in the USA.

    January 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  17. Awesome, Detroit, MI

    In a news conference Deanna Favre announced she will be the starting QB for the Packers this coming Sunday. Deanna asserts that she is qualified to be starting QB because she has spent the past 16 years married to Brett while he played QB for the Packers. During this period of time she became familiar with the definition of a corner blitz, and is now completely comfortable with other terminology of the Packers offense. A survey of Packers fans shows that 50% of those polled supported the move.

    Well, Hillary Clinton makes the same claims as to why she is qualified to be President and 50% of democrats polled agreed.

    When told Hillary Clinton has experience because she has 8 years in the white house, Dick Morris stated --"so has the pastry chef".

    I'd vote for the pastry chef before I'd vote for Hillary Clinton. I voted for Bill twice because I liked Bill. Hillary sure as heck ain't no Bill Clinton.

    January 15, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. pbj, San Ramon, CA

    Keep it up Democrats and you'll guarantee a Republican victory in November. What a bunch of idiots; no wonder they keep losing. Say what you want about the Republicans and their policies, at least they know how to keep their eye on the ball and stay focused on their common goal: to make sure ONE of them wins and that the Democrats don't.

    January 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  19. La'Chris from Seattle

    Has is not occurred to anyone that without Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others like him that this country would NOT have ended Jim Crow and the segregation of the South (my mother grew up in New Orleans and was spit at and called "N*****" all the time)? Johnson signed the legislation, sure, because politically he had to. It was getting too hot! Let's remember our history. Thank God for those who said 'Enough!'

    And so I think that is why Obama was offended by Hillary Clinton's comment. I knew what she meant but she completely missed the other side of the coin on her comment. Is it because she didn't think about it? Hmmmm, makes me wonder. I'm African-American and I don't want a president who forgets such important matters.

    January 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. danielo

    Is Rangel actually on the Clintonians mission or is he just feeling threatened that his political influence will go with an Obama presidency??

    January 15, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Rian

    It looks like the Clintons are cashing in all of their "I owe You's" from the past decade in order to win this thing. My question is, if the Clintons are so angry that Obama supposedly made race an issue, why are all those who are responding on their behalf prominent African American politicians with strong Clinton ties? Doesn't that innately make race an issue?

    January 15, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Once again, the real issues are covered up by pointless bickering and nonsensical finger-pointing. Politics as usual doesn't change, even if we aren't looking at the faces of politicians as usual.

    January 15, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  23. Rob

    Clinton News Network at it again........

    Charlie Rangel is an idiot. He's STUPID to comment on this before knowing the facts, and rushing to defend Hillary because she said "it hurt my feelings". Where did Obama say "RACE" Mr. Rangel? I wonder what would be in HIS biography? Probably more things than coke. We all know Rangel has dirt.

    Can ANYONE find a quote, source, or story where OBAMA PLAYED THE RACE CARD REGARDING THIS ISSUE??? Just because Bill & Hillary said it, doesn't make it true. Obama NEVER commented on it until JAN 14th. Even Bill O'Reilly said Obama hasn't played the race card. Hillary has been accusing Obama of this since a SC Congressman got upset about it. THAT'S the REAL issue! She's playing victim again to win votes and turn around a story about comments that SHE made. We all know what either Clinton said was NOT racist, but it does call into question a history of patronizing and dismissive comments from both. YOU ALL ARE GETTING PLAYED BY THE MEDIA. They know the American public is too stupid to do research and will let passion and bias rule their small minds. Some of you that take this BS at face value or let this sway your opinion, probably wasn't that serious about Obama in the 1st place, and were waiting for a reason not to support him. Even while this story of "Obama played the race card" is proven false, some of you STILL want to run with it. PATHETIC. Has it EVER occurred to anyone that it is VERY suspect of Hillary to put of a "truce" statement only hours after Obama did. She could of played this down on "Meet the Press" Sunday. What is he doing, as a former President, attacking a fellow democrat? Has any other presidential candidate ever had that to overcome? Unless Obama insults his wife personally, Mr. Clinton should recuse himself. This is an embarrassing spectacle of quasi-nepotism on the democratic process.

    January 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  24. Gerald

    Rangel's comments were really out-of-bounds and misguided. His calling Obama stupid is inappropriate, an offensive. That kind of language is for the schoolyard, not for Washington, D.C. His reference to Obama's past drug use was a real low blow that has nothing to do with the campaign. A great number of baby boomers tried drugs in their teens, during college and in their 20's during the Disco era. Obama's honest disclosure lends me to believe he is more like a great number of us and less like the elitist, "have-more" Republicans, who have done the same things, but lie and try to cover them up. Bush was a party animal in college and not a good student, and still became President. Obama is brilliant and as honest as a politician can be. He is who this country needs to bring us together and overcome eight years of "compassionate conservatism" and war!

    January 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  25. Mike, Jacksonville Fl

    Obama has said nothing about race. He did not even comment on the situation and people are trying to distort his name. They are both over the whole situation so was as democrats need to follow our future leaders. As a black man is was uncertain of what Sen. Clinton ment by her statement. As a lady with experience she should learn how to choose her words to avoid similar confilcts. But, the fied is over and if we want to get republicans out of office we need to stop blaiming our democratic leaders. That just shows to people that democrats are unstable and are too aggresive. I applaud Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama on de-esclating the situation befor this came into a Racial and Gender fight. It should be about what they want to do to better our country not what they look like


    We need stability. we as a people with our comments and lewd remarks can make or break our party.

    Let it go.

    January 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
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