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. Chuck

    Charlie: Seems like you are the one that distorts many of the facts in MANY cases that the race card is used or supposedly used. They just work things out for the good of the party and you go and stir them up again.

    Why in the world are you playing into this very touchy situation especially being a black Congressman?

    People need to leave it alone and let it play out and unite the Democratic party so we can maybe get somethings straightened out after the last 8 years of spiraling downhill.

    Seems to me you ran once and went nowhere!!! Let the young man have a chance which I believe he has with of without YOUR support. By the way I'm a white male and about 10 years younger than you and I think he has a great message. You as most are stuck and don't want CHANGE.

    Get with it Charlie!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 14, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  2. Melody Smith

    Why is it always Hillary's fault...

    January 14, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  3. California Lady

    I agree we need to move on. The Media is also keeping this going.
    Obama is a very classy man and I think he will be a wonderful President.
    Go Obama – we are with you all the way.

    January 14, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  4. Amazing

    Support Obama and forget the rest. The old saying is "you lead by example"....he has shown where he stands on this foolishness so Obama supporters should just let this go because this will just go on and on.

    Now watch tomorrow there will be an unsincere announcement from one or both of the Clintons saying they had nothing to do with this.

    January 14, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  5. Mark Morris, Cupertino CA

    Obama called for a truce, defending Hillary in the most mature of gestures.
    Then Hillary comes out asking for a truce to try not to be outdone, saying nothing of Obama's gracious gesture.
    THEN 3 hours later Clinton hits at Obama using Charlie Rangel!


    Democrats need to see that she will bring the whole party down with her in her greedy quest for power! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

    January 14, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  6. Jack, Greenville, SC

    He misquotes Obama, saying that Barack said things that he did not, then attacks him for these fictional statements. This is beyond what should be acceptable from an elected official. Many news sites have shown, in their coverage, that Rangel gets his facts wrong.

    I hope that when these factual inaccuracies are brought to Rep. Rangel's attention he has the dignity to apologize.

    January 14, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  7. Daniel

    What a sham Rangle. The Sr. Statesman turned himself, at the instruction of Bill and Hillary, into an attack dog. Oh well, those were his words and he will live by them.

    I hope new york people will listen and wake up to replace him.


    January 14, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  8. Joe

    I think Obama is stupid...perhaps naive and uninformed would be better adjectives.
    Clinton is hands-down more qualified, yet we waste articles squabbling about nonsense that ultimately doesn't matter. I want to like him, but I know practically nothing about Obama's policy- only that he speaks well and played the race card to trump Clinton's "crying". I think everyone looks bad now. Where;s the substance?

    January 14, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. Ruben

    sad to talk about a fellow democrat this way for only 1 reason - votes for hillary..
    shame on you rep. rangel...

    January 14, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  10. Angie

    I happen to be an American of African descent.

    Obama can play the race card all he wants, but the Clinton's have an impeccable record on civil rights- a proven track record, not just talk. That's why Hillary will have my vote!

    January 14, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  11. Eric in Massachusetts

    Oh sure, I can see why you would want African American supporters of Hillary to not speak up. That would be detrimental to the Obama campaign. Too late. Obama stirred the sleeping giant. The sleeping giant being the supporters of Hillary who know what her record is on civil rights and working for African Americans. Obama and his supporters threw out the race card, played coy, and now wants a truce. Too late buddy. Be prepared for Hillary's supporters to call you out for what you are....

    And be prepared for America to rally behind Hillary in 08. Say no to Baracka Hussein Nobama. Say yes to HILLARY 08

    January 14, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  12. Chevy K

    This man has has to be the most idiot man in the history of politics not only was he the one who wanted to reinstitute the draft, but is now calling out another african american politician who has the power to unite us all. This man makes me sick. How can he even think such a thing after OBAMA just put an end to IT! The story was posted a few hours ago and many people were getting on with there normal lives now this fool wants to pick at the scab. HRC is an evil democrat for allowing an advisor to say such remarks after OBAMA told the world that he would not tolerate that kind of talk from his campaign helpers! How dare she, anyone reading this should know who the right person to vote for is, Mr. Obama.

    January 14, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. Josh

    Charlie Rangel is a joke! Why even open your mouth, you mean nothing to anyone! People like you are the reason why nothing ever meaningful gets done in this country because of the name calling and bickering.

    January 14, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  14. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    To my fellow supporters of Barack Obama; Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume Rangel wasn't aware. As I said earlier, Rangel strikes me as the type to be poorly-informed considering the substance of his remarks. Chris from Orlando, read Plato's "Allegory of the Cave." You may learn something.

    January 14, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  15. Christian, Tampa FL

    Rangel is a jerk, and he obviously said some very insensitive things. It seems like the two candidates want to stop this firestorm, but that some supporters are carrying it on. Perhaps the two should have lunch and figure out how to put a stop to the nonsense.

    January 14, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Ouch. This guy also said something along the lines of "who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?" As a Mississippian, I am embarrassed of people like Trent Lott...but I suppose it's not that much better up in NY–ignorance is everywhere, I guess (so I'll stay where it doesn't get as cold). You've got to be kidding me with this recent stuff, Rangel. Obama wants to move on...it's likely Hillary wants to move on, too...let's do it.

    January 14, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  17. yochanan

    i am not a democrat but Cong. Rangel put up the draft bill for reasons totally not insuport of the draft. the military does not want a draft does not need a draft and does not want moonbats who have no desire to be in the military.

    Cong. Rangel did it to expose the fact that many poor and working class folks joined the military, Charle was wrong in that assumption. lots of people join the military because they are proud to be Americans.

    I grew up as a army dependent all sorts of Americans serve.

    January 14, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  18. Gina

    What Obama said after Hillary's speech – Here it is again, verbatum.....
    "For them (the Clintons) to somehow suggest that we're interjecting race as a consequence of a statement she (Hillary) made, that we haven't (HAVE NOT)commented on, is pretty hard to figure out."

    Translation – " I'm being criticized by the Clinton campaign for making a statement that I never made, and I'm baffled at this odd behavior." The Republicans must be laughing all the way to election day. Thanks a lot Hillary for tearing us apart.

    January 14, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  19. lovelyjmc

    Charlie is wrong. His ties to the Clintons have colored his thinking(no pun intended). To suggest that Obama injected race into the race is absurd. Unless, you consider his face and that of his wife and children is that injection. Charlie, you need to retire. You are no longer relevant!!!! I think that the Clintons miscalculated the black community. They are, after all seen as merely honorary Blacks. (not by this writer). I have never understood this.

    Shrill, unrepentent Bill did not do Hiilary any good, going on many Black shows, virtually ranting and being bullying and disrespesctful to the questioners. Who is he to chastise anybody for allegedly being disrespectful to Hillary? Who has disrespected her more than Bill Clinton.

    I have not thought much of the Clintons for a long time. My opinion of them has nothing to do with Barack Obama and everything to do with Hill and Bill and their many years of experience. (experience cuts both ways)

    Keep talking, Bill. Keep being arrogant and unrepentant. Keeping talking all over everybody and making your wife ought to be a victim. I no longer find you charming. You and Hillary disgust me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 14, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  20. Bimmer

    No wonder Obama called a truce.

    His rough andChicago politics and attack on Hillary on the race issue are backfiring, big time.

    First BET founder , Bob Johnson, taking him to task and now Chalie Rangel, a reespected African American Congressman from NY, challenging him for not knowing that only a President can sign a bill.

    He should have shown better judgement in not attacking Hillary, who since her days from Wellesly College has been a civil rights advocate and her husband is called the "First Black President of US".

    January 14, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  21. So pathetic

    I'm sure someone from the CLinton camp. will come out tomorrow and try to tell us what we heard him say was not really what he said and we should stop taking things "out of context" and it's "unfair". Has anyone noticed how much the Clintons and their "classy crew" have been having to say "out of context" and "it's not fair" over the last few days? Even on MTP yesterday, I swear, every answer to every other question was answered in this way. Go figure. It IS the Clintons after all. Do we really expect anything else?

    January 14, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  22. bob milligan

    sen obama has no right bringing up racial issues just to get more black votes in SC,he fails to realize it was white iowa and white newhampshire that gave him that recent boost in the polls,but i noticed this so called obama phenomenom has diminished rapidly since this negative racial stuff in the past week.,im sick of hearing the press and others saying hillary cried,she didnt cry,not a tear,she simple got a little emotional,cry?not quite.hillary won NH by 7000 votes for one reason,she out performed obama and that little oportunistic rat john edwards in the NH debate,on the issues,she was clearly more detailed and prepared. iwould love cnn to ask obama 2 questions on next weeks debate..........mr obama u seem to mention your extensive civil rights efforts but we rarely if ever hear you mr hissien obama discuss the evergrowing escalating problem of black on black crime and BLACK ON WHITE crime in the US.....1 million blacks in prison and the welfare issue with african americans and what actions will u take mr obama if elected to fix the black crime problem in the us......??,also another question for mr obama, not to long ago in one of the debates you promised to bring troups home and have national healthcare by THE END OF MY FIRST TERM........most recently in one of obamas repetitive speeches he now says will bring troups home in 6 months whats changed this promise u made just months ago,flip flop

    January 14, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  23. veronica

    Perhaps Obama should have not made an issue with what Hillary said. People say he's smart, and if that's so, then he knew exactly what she meant. He knew she would not ever denigrate MLK. She was pointing out the importance people within the political system play in getting dreams enacted into laws.
    But Barack wanted to incite voters, particularily black voters, and it could be because he has an upcoming contest in South Carolina he'd like to win.
    To all of you who think Barack is a golden boy, think again. He's just as calculating as the rest of them. Why else did he vote "present" so often within his brief senatorial career? Could it be he calculated that when running for president, there would be less votes he made to be brought up and used against him? Ah yes, a true "politician"....
    Oh, and in addition, I love Rep.Charles Rangel. And might I remind everyone that he has just as much right to express his views as anyone else (for example, those on this forum).

    January 14, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  24. AJ, IL

    Charlie Rangel, hmmm..where to start? The Congressman from New York who recently wanted to install the draft again and who also was caught trying to "pork-barrel" spend about $2 million dollars of taxpayer money for a library in his name. This the same guy who was one of the original supporters who prompted Hillary Clinton to run to be New York's Senator when she was not living in New York. (Ah come on, just use the Clinton name you can win).

    Rangel will be turning 78 yrs old this year and for him to be personally attacking Obama is just disturbing. This type of rhetoric should be unacceptable to the American public. This is exactly what is wrong in Washington, the politics of fear and hate. Rangel represents the Democratic-version of divisiveness that exists in Washington.

    Just keep talking and harshly insulting Obama Mr. Rangel. You make him look even more presidential.

    January 14, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  25. stan pitts pa

    wow its nice to see who hrc friends are! folks we have stated over and over again that hillary is too polarizing and way too divisive a figure to nominate, her surrogates are every where and willing to spew venom, once again they prove this whole election is all about gettin the clintons back in the white house and not about the people, at this critical moment in our history we could really use a uniter with good judgement and that person for sure is obama!

    January 14, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
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