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. VicePrez

    Can any of you so called HIllBillary supporters show me or tell me where did OBAMA call the Clintons racist or has played the race card? For your info OBAMA has not it has been the Clintons and the like of Rangel and Johnson who have constantly made disingenious remarks that he did.

    People you need to stop lying and saying that OBAMA played the race card, we know you are just jumping on the lying HillBIllary Bandwagon of LIES. Every controversy of race was brought about by Hillary.

    Now here you have Sharpton, Rangel, and Johnson who are afraid of their own blackness have resorted to race baiting. Enough of these old dirtbags and the lying Clintons. These people are irrelavent. Rangel, Sharpton and Johnson have no choice but to support their master because they owe the Clinton, IOU friends.

    Now she wants to cry foul when it is not going her way and Obama has not taking her bait. Obama has shown more character than all of these losers together.

    January 15, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. George from Minneapolis

    Hillary must of promised Rangel a job in her administration. It never ceases to amaze me how quick ignorant people jump to a white persons aid to attack another black person (Johnson, Rangel etc)

    If Obama is done in, it more likely will come at the hands not of white voters but dumb black politicians who try to derail the movement to gain favor with Clinton for their own short sighted personal gains instead of 1) speaking for the people who put them in office 2) doing whats in the best interest of the country.

    As a culturally conscious African American I can say that today white people don't have to do anything to keep us back, we (generally speaking) are so conditioned to undermine each other that If Obama wins the nomination it will be in spite of alot of ignorant politicians who are suppose to be speaking for us.

    January 15, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. David, Brooklyn New York

    Charles Rangel I am ashamed of you. I know how you play. As soon as President Obama takes office you will be one of the first to send him a letter, congratulating him and say, "It wasn't personal, just politics".
    Mr.Rangel, The people are sick and tired of politics as usual!!!
    that is precisly why we are voting for Obama.
    It is time for smart politics, not DUMB ones, like yours.
    Just go and retire somewhere.

    January 15, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. Yvonne

    Hillary has stated that she's been doing this for 35 years, well I certainly do not see any IMPACT in my life where her services has made any difference. I would be embarrass to say that, especially where health care is still going up, and up, and up. She cut from the same mold "business as usual". WAKE UP PEOPLE, there's no change where Hillary is concerned, she's even campaigning like days of old with attacks and insults. Obama is not tainted, and he doesn't have alot of lobbyist in his pockets, as Hillary does. Change means just that, NEW.

    January 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  5. scotty


    January 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. J. Carson

    "Come on people," this is just another indication that all too often we can be our own worst enemies! People like Charlie Rangle, Robert Johnson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, etc. have fallen into the trap of the "Clinton Machine" and have become party and part to the racist media coverage of this situation. Who planted the seed about the drug thing playing into the insecurities of white america as they relate to African American males in this country. Shame on the Clintons and our people who continue to support them.

    January 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Barack Oprah

    I am really glad that I am not American.
    People in this country, especially, people who post comments on this kind of political thing are pathetic and ignorant. You should know you are the main reason why this country is falling very very rapidly. While old people are living in the bible and young people are living in hope, the reality beats Ameria up. Can you see? China and india are catching up you!!!

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

    Perhaps you should all actually know a little something about Charlie Rangel before calling him a "warmonger." Do any of you know why he wanted to rintroduce the draft? Because he opposes this war! Because the point he was trying to make is that it is easy for rich white men to scream "let's go to war" when it's not there sons dying over there. The point of his campaign to reinstate the draft was to scare people into ending this war!

    And it is in fact the Obama campaign that has brought race into this. I was finally leaning towards him even though all I hear from him is that he is going to change things, but he won't tell us how he plans on doing that! Now, I may be leaning more towards Clinton since Obama is running his campaign in such poor taste, which is politics as usual.

    January 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. Susie B. Smiley

    Charles Rangel, stop lying. You kow what is stupid? For you to say that Obama mentioned race. Hillary Clinton meant just what she said. She said that it took Lyndon Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act. She is inferring that a black man's dreams weren't realized until a white man put the dreams into action. A white man is no smarter than as black man. Stop all this racism. There should not have been a reason to have Lyndon Johnson sign one in the first place. Racism is the key in this United States of America. Division. Charles Rangel, you are still not accepted. Get off of your high horse. Hillary Clinton is an opportunist and she steps on whomever gets in her way.

    January 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  10. Chris

    This continues to be a sad time in American Politics. I am a Republican, but I need to this time defend something a Democrat said. What Hillary said the other day about LBJ and MLK is absolutely correct. The Civil Rights Act would never have become law unless LBJ signed it into law. MLK inspired a nation to move forward and we should always be grateful to him for this. I do feel bad for his legacy because I believe he is turning in his grave knowing that 40 years after his great speech this country cannot sit down and have a honest and open dialog over race.

    Barack and supporters – again, the statement by Hillary and supported by Rangel is factually true. If you want to interject race into the statement by Hillary you can but you will be doing our country a great injustice. It is time to have a civilized open dialog regarding race.

    January 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. Marcus, Great Lakes IL

    This does not surprise me in the least. Politics as usual and both sides will be getting further into the gutter as the race reaches the finish line. If anyone thinks that the Republicans are above gutter politics, just remember how the Bush skanks went after McCain.

    American politics rearing it's ugly head.

    January 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  12. Brian

    This is unbelievable. All Barack said was that Hillary's comments were "unfortunate." Weren't they? She compared herself to LBJ and diminished MLK's role and was broadly criticized for that. And then her surrogates have the nerve to suggest that this is somehow all Barack's fault. Clinton is incredibly disingenuous and does not deserve to be president. I now have much less respect for Rangel. Barack is facing a real challenge in trying to defend himself against these tactics with some measure of decency. I wish him luck.

    January 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. terry


    January 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. jp

    The Clinton comment was questionably worded and ill advised. It displayed a deep lack of cultural sensitivity . These are touchy times and the times require that any of us, politician or not, take some time to understand the cultural framework which shapes the reaction of others to what we say.

    My concern is that the leader of this nation, my nation, must be mindful that our country is filled with many cultures and the world is filled with even more cultures. Comments should be inclusive of all of us because it is time for for a unity of spirit between all Americans...it is time for us to come together !

    January 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Rob in Dallas

    I am not an Obama fan but I understand his statement perfectly . He did not say that Dr. King signed the Voting Rights Act into law and Mr. Rangel is obviously a Clinton supporter who is trying to get Hillary out of a difficult corner by changing the import of Mr. Obama's statement.

    January 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. ntc

    Reintroducting the draft? Stupid? Hardly! If there was a legitimate draft that could sweep up ALL of our children, maybe congress would think twice before engaging in a war of choice.

    January 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  17. stogiecarmikal

    What a spin! How does she blame an opponent for something that she said? Baracks remarks were vanilla to say the least. He could have went on a tirade especially considering that MLK day is approaching but he didn't. Very poised and classy while Hilary is on the defense AGAIN. Will she cry her way out of this one? Do the Clintons know that African-Americans dislike Bob Johnson and Rangel? Those 2 clowns are making her defense weaker and weaker by the second.

    January 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  18. helen

    OMG. OMG. I just cannot believe this man. I am stunned. What else can I say? I wish the Clinton supporters would shut up on this.

    January 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. Obama Fan

    We'll just add this latest pack of shameful lies to the list of reasons why I can't wait for Obama to lead us away from the Clintons and their politics of personal destruction. It's so inspiring to have someone like Obama running his campaign with intelligence, integrity, and class.

    January 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  20. supports no one

    Clinton campaign just will not let it go.....and Hillary is racist....black better wake up and see that...These old school dems want nothing more but to keep yall on their leash....break away!

    January 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. nctodc

    Any more black folk the Clintons want to trot out?

    January 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. S

    Someone please explain to me why it is racial discrimination not to vote for Barack Hussein Obama just because he is black but it is not discrimination to vote for him just because he is?
    If someone reported that 60% of the non black population would not vote for Barack Hussein Obama because of his race they would be called hate mongers. Yet, it is almost expected that he will carry the black vote just because he is black. Is America moving the direction of the third world where tribal and religious affiliation are more important then honor and ability?

    January 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  23. Dee - Atlanta

    Reinstating the draft was a way for Rangle to force an end to the war. More people would rise up, as they did with Vietnam, and it would end. When you think that you may have to fight, you may actually fight to stop the war instead of simply giving it lip service.

    Obama is polished and charismatic but we need experience.

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. keith, washington dc

    Every word by every candidate seems to get twisted into a story. I don't believe Clinton is a racist and her family (ie, President Bill) has in fact done a lot for the African-American community. I do believe she didn't think out her statement about LBJ though, considering her comparison of LBJ's role to MLK's came in the context of her emphasis that experience trumps oratory. So it was a bad comparison and that's been proven. But that should not be the death card for anyone. I'm glad the issue was addressed but we cannot get bogged down in semantics or the Democrats will lose the general election. But we need to get past the role of endorsers on either side (including ex-presidents) playing the role of Swift Boat Veterans.

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. Mo Unity

    Reasonable people can witness the same set of events and interpret them differently, but who are we trying to fool here. I happen to be African American and those comments by Hillary Clinton shocked me. And i have deep respect for Bill Clinton, the President. I went on to conclude that they were contrived strictly to inject race into the primaries. This situation only helps Hillary, all in an effort to pull white support from Obama – to divide us again. Obama is smarter than that and he showed me something very Presidential when he stepped up and called a truce. We are one party people. Let's not self destruct. But who do you really want running things in a heated and dangerous situation, Hillary, who fans the flames or Obama who can douse them and unite a nation, a world even. Think about it very deeply, because if we get this one wrong, it might do irreversible damage to this country. IOWA and New Hampshire showed for the very first time in a long time people of all races united and voting together for what they want and not what they were told they want. Let's not go back. A house divided will not stand. So, stand up now for change. I'm definitely voting for Obama after what i've seen from the Clintons lately and i hope reasonable minded people black, white, green whatever will join me for voting for the future and not the past. We can not waste anymore time looking back and that goes for the Clintons, the Civil War, slavery anything standing in the way of uniting this country. We must move forward now.

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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