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. Hot Rox

    Another Clinton surrogate doing her dirty work. Why doesn't Hillary come out and denounce his comments? Because her campaign gets the benefits with no accountability. The Clintonistas are truly despicable. Win at all costs is their motto.

    January 15, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  2. Doug

    Surprise surprise, another Clinton attack dog doing what they do best ... attacking. This is no stunner, the Clintons have used this tactic over and over in their careers ... having their supporters do the dirty work while they get to keep their hands clean and apologize, but the words still get said and the damage still gets done, and people are stupid enough to let the Clintons keep getting away with it.

    Rangle is a tool. And bad for the black community. It was said earlier and it certainly rings true to me ... folks like Rangle need to be forced into retirement and allow a new generation of Barack Obamas and Harold Fords to take the reigns for black Democrats. Not old guard morons like Rangle.

    January 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. Sheila Harris

    This is why our country has gone down hill, there is so much negative reactions to everyones comments. When we took God out of our business we lost what our country needs. Politics are dirty we need to confess our sins before God to make it right, then maybe we can start to florish as a nation that was the greatest that has now become no better than the communist country. The so called government us ruining each other lives so why would we even want to vote to take part in any of this nations governement.

    January 15, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. Frank Esper

    I cannot tell if this is a sign of Hillary's desperation or ignorance. The only thing I can tell is that we will be better off without her as president


    January 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  5. A.J.


    This speech was delivered by Willie Lynch on the bank of the James River in the colony of Virginia in 1712. Lynch was a British slave owner in the West Indies. He was invited to the colony of Virginia in 1712 to teach his methods to slave owners there. The term “lynching” is derived from his last name.

    [beginning of the Willie Lynch Letter]


    Gentlemen. I greet you here on the bank of the James River in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twelve. First, I shall thank you, the gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia, for bringing me here. I am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves. Your invitation reached me on my modest plantation in the West Indies, where I have experimented with some of the newest, and still the oldest, methods for control of slaves. Ancient Rome would envy us if my program is implemented. As our boat sailed south on the James River, named for our illustrious King, whose version of the Bible we cherish, I saw enough to know that your problem is not unique. While Rome used cords of wood as crosses for standing human bodies along its highways in great numbers, you are here using the tree and the rope on occasions. I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree, a couple miles back. You are not only losing valuable stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are running away, your crops are sometimes left in the fields too long for maximum profit, you suffer occasional fires, your animals are killed. Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems, I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I HAVE A FULL PROOF METHOD FOR CONTROLLING YOUR BLACK SLAVES. I guarantee every one of you that, if installed correctly, IT WILL CONTROL THE SLAVES FOR AT LEAST 300 HUNDREDS YEARS. My method is simple. Any member of your family or your overseer can use it. I HAVE OUTLINED A NUMBER OF DIFFERENCES AMONG THE SLAVES; AND I TAKE THESE DIFFERENCES AND MAKE THEM BIGGER. I USE FEAR, DISTRUST AND ENVY FOR CONTROL PURPOSES. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little list of differences and think about them. On top of my list is “AGE,” but it’s there only because it starts with an “a.” The second is “COLOR” or shade. There is INTELLIGENCE, SIZE, SEX, SIZES OF PLANTATIONS, STATUS on plantations, ATTITUDE of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine hair, course hair, or is tall or short. Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action, but before that, I shall assure you that DISTRUST IS STRONGER THAN TRUST AND ENVY STRONGER THAN ADULATION, RESPECT OR ADMIRATION. The Black slaves after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for HUNDREDS of years, maybe THOUSANDS. Don’t forget, you must pitch the OLD black male vs. the YOUNG black male, and the YOUNG black male against the OLD black male. You must use the DARK skin slaves vs. the LIGHT skin slaves, and the LIGHT skin slaves vs. the DARK skin slaves. You must use the FEMALE vs. the MALE, and the MALE vs. the FEMALE. You must also have white servants and overseers [who] distrust all Blacks. But it is NECESSARY THAT YOUR SLAVES TRUST AND DEPEND ON US. THEY MUST LOVE, RESPECT AND TRUST ONLY US. Gentlemen, these kits are your keys to control. Use them. Have your wives and children use them, never miss an opportunity. IF USED INTENSELY FOR ONE YEAR, THE SLAVES THEMSELVES WILL REMAIN PERPETUALLY DISTRUSTFUL. Thank you gentlemen.”

    January 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  6. Lazyfirefly

    The Democrats are imploding on themselves. If they spent more time actually campaigning and a little less time pointing fingers at one another, we might actually walk away from this election WITHOUT a Republican president.

    January 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. jamie

    You know what, i think we should reintroduce the draft, then this war would end, when having every class having to participate in this war.....

    January 15, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  8. RICH

    As a long time constituent, I like and respect and have voted for Charlie Rangel...but i think age is rearing it's inevitable head. I've listened and read what Obama has stated regarding the entire Clinton/Race thing...I do not recall him stating "..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...".

    I'm a strong Hillary supporter, but what the hell is Rangel talking about??? It may be time to retreat to that old timers home on 125th street!

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

    We all wonder why Democrates can not be elected.... Well lets see instead of talking politics and concentrating on what we the voters are more concerned about, the Democratic party always seems to self destruct when they start playing " I am Better then You" name calling, dirty trash talking Politics. Geeze can the Democrates actually go a whole year with out beating themselves up and do something like work on making America a better place to live and succeed. As long as we have MORANS leading the Democratic Party, they will always be a bunch of Dead Beats, who are all talk and no action. Get a Life Democrates. Right now all you are doing is telling me not even to bother in voting in November, because by then the Republicans would have won the White House for another 4 years and more of my money being wasted as my taxes go up while the Rich are getting Richer..... Thanks For Nothing ...........

    January 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  10. Joe

    This is overblown; I am happy each canidate has made recent declarations to move past this. The media should as well. "Obama's MLK Comments Called Stupid"... The headline alone is worded to make Obama in some way sound wrong, and the article seems to have no other purpose than to divide, fan race flames, etc. I second a shame on CNN for putting this rubbish near the top of their supposed headlines. There exist so few valid criticisms of Obama, it is quite sad that people who don't want to see him elected, for some reason, have to resort to regurgitating this.

    January 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. Carmen

    Charlie Rangel needs to sit down and be quite. It is time for him to retire. His comment is just another way the Clintons are trying to keep this in the media. I love how they strategically place African Americans to speak about the comment that Hilary had no business making. Enough already. Obama is the bigger person in all of this because he has taken the high road and continues to remain focus on the issues.

    I was on the fence before but the more I see Hilary whinning the more I am leaning the other way. It is time for real change. When Hilary was running for the Senate she was at every black church and meeting. Since she has been in office I have not seen her come out first on any issues affecting the minority community in Harlem. Once she is in the white house it will be more the same. I am ready for new fresh ideas.

    January 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. JUDE CT

    Charly, you already lost your ANGELS. You know, usually with old age comes experience. However, you have to be checked into the elderly home. Your time have past charly boy, you have benefited from all the racial divide for centuries . Could you be jealous of Barack, could you be supporting clinton so if she wins office your ancient agenda continues? This election is going to come down to good over evil. Barack for president.

    January 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. sairefgm

    in the old days the african american call this Charlie Rangel a BOJANGLE! THE BET JOHNSON IS ALSO A BOJANGLE!


    January 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  14. SusieQ

    This is why I do not like Hillary. She and her husband are not the best people out there. Smart as a whip, but not the best of the group. Just because she is a lawyer and was in the White House for 8 years does not mean she is any more qualified than any other person. She was not the President, although you would think she was the way she talks. We do NOT need a Bush or Clinton in the White House. She has twisted words on this one and blamed all others when she just chose the wrong thing to say. Do not place blame when it belongs on yourself.

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

    I am black myself and I couldn't stand how Hillary handles her campaign!

    I have no doubt that if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, Republic candidate will be a US president for other 4 suffer years!!

    Hillary loves black community but she has no gut to tell you the truth that Clinton's statement "I didn't inhale" is false. Come on! ...


    Hey Obama, I believe in you with all of my heart! I will be there for you all the way!!

    January 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. TOM V


    January 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. Shana

    Bravo to Congressman Rangel. Those of you who are too dumb to see how the Obama camp is playing you all like fiddles keep right on following him down the slippery slope he is taking the Democratic party in. If it's a choice between him and ANY of the republicans on the ballot come November, I just won't vote. Oh, and I'm an African-American woman, so keep the comments about racism. Idiots.

    January 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  18. Karen L. Reimer, Mt. Bethel, PA

    This news article is no more than another attempt by CNN to manipulate the election by repeatedly manufacturing so-called "news" . I am torn between believing that CNN is supporting Hillary Clinton, who by the way has demonstrated in this primary that she has absolutely NO LEADERSHIP ABILITY WHATSOEVER, as a matter of fact she has demonstrated how divisive she can be as she sure is dividing the Democratic Party with her candidacy. OR, is CNN promoting Hillary Clinton because they are driven by the Republican Party who wants Hillary to be the candidate because they realize there is no way she can possibly win the GENERAL ELECTION. I say Barack Obama and John Edwards UNITE and defeat this "has been" Clinton family once and for all. Get rid of Bush and Clinton and repair America.

    January 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. Dick in NH

    Charlie's comments only show that he is a puppet of the Clinton machine....where's your pride, Charlie? Never mind....I know where it is.....right there in Clinton's pocket, along with your honesty....shame on you!

    January 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. Andy J, NY

    I wanted to vote Democratic in the presidential election, but the more i watch the garbage from democrats, the more i lose respect for them. Such childish garbage.

    January 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  21. FVM

    Charlie, Charlie

    Your Clinton blinders are on. You and some other African American pols and national figures are attacking an honest , good man in Obama. We know the Clintons BOUGHT a lot of loyalty with you, Jessie, Reverend Al, and Mr BET. This is the time for a good intentioned, intelligent, and honest man, who is Afircan American, to get a chance to be heard and seriously considered for the office of President. I ask, then, why do you , the Clintons,and the rest of the of the crew attack him and try and poison the African American vote? Only you know for sure.

    January 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Chuck Coleridge

    What is wrong with the draft? Why do folks in this country want the benefits of the freedom that this country provides, but think they should not have to be prepared to fight for it. It is essential to be in a constant state or readiness in the world we live in today. I think every able bodied American should be trained and prepared to defend this nation. Be all you can be!

    January 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. Joe

    Without the aid of a teleprompter like he used in Iowa and New Hampshire he does come across as not able to answer a question. When asked who he would pick as a Vice President he said: "A paper person"

    "You know what you can’t do is you can’t put me in charge of some paper. I will lose it and I’ll be like, ‘Did you just give me? Where did that speech go?"' Obama joked, "You don’t want me as the Chief Operating Officer. That’s not my job. I’m not a systems guy. I’m not somebody who would, you know, make sure that, you know, everything’s running on time."

    January 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  24. Bob

    OK who is suprised by the rhetoric and the race card that is being used? No one should be...the race card has been used like a get out of jail card or a free pass card. I think that Obama does not deserve the nomination. He talks about bringing the country together but yet the race card is always played and he has already contributed to the division of this country. This is who he is and who he will be if he is elected for the nomination. His nomination will only benefit black people and continue to opress even more other races in this country....

    January 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. grayslake, il.

    It's really sad to see that we as a party can't even come together and put this non sense behind us. come Feb. 5th there will be a nominee and we will unite around that person. but If it obama then a lot of these same clinton supporter swill be looking to get back into his good graces and this is something that i would remember. For a congressman to call a presidential hopeful stupid is a display of lack of common sense. these are people who jumped on the bang wagon when Sen. clinton was assumed to be the nominee and now that it's not so certain they are attempting to tear down the man that could cause her not to get the nomination. If you noticed they've not made any comment on John Edwards. and I personally take issue with her comment of saying that she's attempting to break the highest of all glass ceiling in becoming president. I personally think that a black man becoming president would be the highest of all glass ceiling. To from a class of people that were slaves to the highest office in The United States would be the great achievment in the history of any black American.

    January 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
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