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. GreyStreet

    Can someone tell me why it is ok for Hillary to bring up how important and "personal" it is for her that she is a woman running for president. She consistently campaigns about 'breaking through' as a woman in what has been a man's game. She has no problem exploiting the gender issue but has problems with Obama involking the race issue. Which happened only after she sparked the discussion in the first place. Rep. Rangel can do her dirty work for her because she knows she was in the wrong. In point of fact, her previously unscheduled apperance at a MLK birthday in NYC to speak about his greatness speaks to the fact that she was engaging in damage control. Why do we do damage control? Because there is something to clean up. I am sick of this double-standard that she beleives she is immune from. She should put up, or shut up. I prefer the latter. I was on the fence after New Hampshire but now Obama can count on one more vote, mine.

    January 15, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. steph

    Most of u are just Obama haters, if i see a video or hear any comment Obama made that was so stupid....then i will believe. But everyone that has been talking abt all this has been clintons supporters. Leave that guy alone, y'all know that he is pulling grounds and so u are looking for every means to put him down.
    Obama 08

    Clinton, i thought u were very smart but now i see what u can do when u are very desperate. Am a black woman who is voting for Obama, let that be heard.

    January 15, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  3. Chris, Jacksonville

    Good Lord I wish there was a third party for people with common sense and decency.

    The Democrats and Republicans are simply not working for the good of the American people.

    This childish, dishonest, argumentative behavior is just not acceptable anymore.

    We as the people irregardless of party need to set higher standards.

    January 15, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  4. Kate

    This is exactly why we need someone new .. whether its Obama, Macain or Huckabee .. ANYONE BUT CLINTON AND THE WASHINGTON GANG!!

    January 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  5. Springer

    The most unbelievable line of Rangel's is this:
    "For him to be honest enough to write about it, I guess he thought it might sell books."

    Unbelievable! The only reason someone would be honest is to "sell books"? Hell, don't lies sell even better?

    January 15, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. mARILYN

    you know what? I am sick and tired of all this mess. When I get like this I just sit and do nothing. Obama, Hillary, Bill, Rangel and who ever else has any negative comments, I suggest staying home on election day and let my vote sit in my chair. what about that?

    January 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  7. Ted

    Funny how you democrats are so quick to disown one of your kind simply because he disagrees with this moment's opinion. Next week you will appluad his efforts in another field forgetting all of the detest you speak of now.

    January 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  8. Jason

    What did Obama do? Answer that for me.

    Obama only commented about her remarks after OTHER PEOPLE (i.e. Jim Clyburn) complained about it. Then, for some reason, Hillary thinks Obama started it?!

    Then Bill Clinton starts waving around a note with "80 things" on it, Robert Johnson from BET throws a fit, then Rangel chips in - after both sides have agreed to put it behind them? That is not necessary, and definitely not conducive to "getting along".

    Obama is the only reasonably intelligent person in this situation. When Obama becomes president, the only problem that he will have is ..other people.

    January 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. Jay

    Really, What would the Clintons have to gain by this? Your all saying it was a stupid move for her to do this, but you also say that she is very good at getting what she want. I am sick of hearing all these people on here attacking Clinton as a bad person. Look at her voting record as a whole, look at what she has done for America. Then look at Obama's! You state that the Clintons keep stating that their words are being used out of context. Of course they are! The Clintons are not stupid to say such crap, that would isolate a large voting block that they will need to win. Clinton has always been a strong supporter of civil rights from back when she was 15 and snuck to MLK meetings and throughout college, and onward. So if you want to talk about race. Talk about what Clinton has done to better race relations and what Obama has done regarding race issues. Long before Clinton moved to Ark. she was on the front line!
    Unlike all of you attacking Clinton, and saying such petty things, I think Obama is a great man, just not ready to lead this nation. You say that Clinton is destroying the dem. party, dividing it! How so? because a majority of Dems favor her and not your canidate? Get Real!

    January 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  10. GR baltimore

    the media created this little battle between hillary and barack - c'mon! get real, people......!

    January 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. Sad to Say

    He had better not ask me for any more money.

    January 15, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  12. Mike D

    I don't know why HER statement didn't get more attention in the media.

    Well actually, SHE's the only one who actually made a blanket statement. If you pay attention, Obama has stayed out if it for the most part and instead of firing back at Hillary, he calls a truce to the whole race issue.

    January 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. J Williamson Buffalo, NY

    It's the Obama people playing the race card – does anyone think the Clinton"s would be so dumb as to try a stunt like this and get away with it? It's been tried with some success by other Black politicians before – it goes like this: the Black camp says something racial and gets the other to respond – no matter WHAT their reply is the Black camp says something to this effect; "Oh dear me! How COULD they say THAT, this is so TERRIBLE, etc., etc. Let's get beyond this – put it to bed forever!

    January 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  14. interested party

    I find it funny that no one bothers to realize that it was Hilary who brought up race by even mentioning the Civil Rights Act. That act is something that is endemic to the African-American existence. I agree that the President signed it into law, but who started it and gave their life to see it come to light? ThisRangel guy needs to use better SAT words instead of stupid and dumb, it sounds so elementary. lol

    And as far as Obama's admitted drug use when he was younger, how many people can say they haven't made mistakes in their past? But I guess it's more noble or acceptable to say you didn't inhale than to admit you did anything at all.

    January 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  15. Ray

    Its SImple. Obama did not release this Statement Lat week when this started. He wanted to add fuel to the fire to help himself out. Had he said this Friday or even Sunday, We would not be where we are now. So, It is Obama's fault, for releasing little hits at Hillary and not putting the fire out before. So when Obama says he is all about "CHANGE", he is not. He is playing the same book everyone else is. Hes just not playing it well.

    Hillary 08!

    January 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. Michelle

    This is depressing. WHY, CNN, are you promoting Rangel's moronic comments as one of your lead stories? The media is hyperfocusing on every remark made and elevating this silly, petty tit for tat into something important, which it is not. Let's actually listen to what the candidates are proposing to do if they become president. CNN – you and all of the other media outlets are ruining this primary. Take a time out and change direction. I am afraid to turn on the TV because I don't want to be sickened by more and more of this pettiness.

    January 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  17. carmen

    Who is being abusive and agressive here? Through this whole campaign and until today, I have never heard any untasteful, derogatory or infamous comment coming from Senator Obama, all the attacks started from the Clinton's camp because they felt threatened, so the Clinton's puppets should just go back to the hole where they came out from..Americans be aware, they will do anything to get the power back, it is time to give a chance to young, smart and honest people to run this country...

    January 15, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  18. Charlotte Hugh

    How is Hillary Clinton's statement causing such a coordinated attack against Barack Obama? Do people even listen to what others ACTUALLY say? Or do they just listen to the comments made after the fact?

    Obama NEVER stated nor implied that MLK could have signed the Act. I heard Mrs. Clinton's comments on a news station and wasn't offended, but I felt she certainly belittled MLK's contribution by the comment that she made. I don't think it was a racist comment. It was certainly dumb... she put her foot in her mouth. I didn't hear anything from the Obama camp before I formed this opinion. Once again the media and pundits are spinning this into something that we need to be too smart to fall for. Clinton made a dumb statement and Obama AND Edwards replied. But no one is implying that Edwards is spinning this into a racism race... Clinton needs to take responsibility for her statement. Several people have called Clinton to the mat for what she said. Certainly Obama cannot be held responsible for every negative opinion formed of Clinton based on her statement. He's not a magician. He's just a man.

    January 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. larry fort wayne. indiana

    When Hillary Clinton had her fundraiser in New York with of the lobbyist she guess who was there....good old Charlie..

    January 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. Black Man, Philly PA

    Black people do not owe anything to the Clintons. Yes, they may have done good things, but please, come on, they are not the only ones. They are not the savior of the black community. The Clintons, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Rangel, Bob Johnson, and all the other goonies can all retire. Young black people are sick of these fake people. We do not follow the advice or leadership of these people. We want a new leader with a new vision.

    Obama 08.
    Real black men stand up!

    January 15, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  21. Eddie

    As a democrat, I see obama as an absolute vulnberability, because he is a new brand name. He has zero experience with a lot of proposed potential. IMHO he is running 10 years too early and for him to talk about change is just ridiculous. When he is currently in the senate, he has accomplished absolutely nothing, and he has missed quite a few important votes. So how can you be for change if you miss the votes that would lead to change?

    Hillary is experienced and she has been through the fight. She has my vote and I hope people open their eyes

    January 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  22. Tom, Ottumwa, IA

    I don't see how they can blame this on Obama, Clinton made the remarks. The response from Obama himself has been extremely low key, and only very recent. Most of the snafu has been caused by the over zealous media and pundits trying to pick apart everything about this campaign, and most of them should be ashamed for it.

    January 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  23. ebp

    Rangel's stupid. There seems to be a set of rules for the Clintons and another for Obama. A truce was graciously called by Obama and then another one of her attack dogs stirs things up again. It'll be fun to watch when Rangel ends up on the wrong side of history.

    January 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  24. Joyce Francis Jacksonville,, FL

    Yes, this is Hillary's fault, Jessica, and you better start your research right now if you intend to vote in this next presidential election. The Clintons did little for this country - we would never had had 911 if Clinton had gone after Bin Laden after the first attack on the World Trade Center; instead we had a man in the office that raped one woman and womanized many others and he had a wife who condoned it so long as the power remained. She does not have experience such as the likes of a Biden or a Dodd, but the democratic party took care of things for us and got rid of the experienced contenders and instead have given us two "faces" with no experience to run for president. And the American public is so stupid, they'll elect one of them.

    January 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  25. kj227

    As usual, WE are our own worst enemies. When will we learn not to play into being used as the "tool" against our own people and bringing each other down??? Can you say crabs in a bucket? I think both camps let this get out of hand, but hopefully we (the dems) are back on track and will be discussing the issues ONLY. All of this race baiting is getting old, and all of these incumbent senators and reps. need to keep their mouths shut because if I get my way, I'll be voting each and everyone of them OUT of their comfortable careers as soon as I get the chance. Rangel needs to keep his ignorant mouth shut because none of them (the incumbents) have made a positive change in my life over the past 8-12 years.

    January 15, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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