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. Guess

    If both of them have called a truce, why are you all still fighting about it and then blaming them for the division?

    Rangel's comments shouldn't have been reported today since they were already made prior to the truce. It makes it appear as though Clinton is still squabbling. Could it be that someone has a vested interest in the Clinton/Obama camp's division????? Nah!

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. James Nelson

    Typical straw man argument. Party Hack Rangel poses a "statement" purportedly from Obama which he then demolishes as "stupid" (Jeez, the quality of political thought in this country has really deteriorated if that's the best pejorative he can come up with. On second thought, maybe it's just the quality of the politician uttering the epithet...). Unfortunately for Party Hack Rangel, that wasn't what was said at all, as we see when we examine the quote from Obama.

    Which leaves Party Hack Rangel looking pretty, well... stupid.

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  3. Liam

    MLK chose to fight and die for freedom. LBJ did not. He was a some what accidental President, who would never have been elected to the office if JFK had not been murdered. LBJ knew that he had to do something dramatic to have a chance to win a term of his own. Look what he did with his own term; he created the mess in Vietnam. This is the guy that Hillary is elevating to the rank of top civil rights pioneer. The two million or more Vietnamese who died in Johnson's vanity war prove that LBJ did not actually care about human rights.

    Hillary voted for Bush's Iraq invasion, and recently voted for the Kyl/Lieberman Iran war ploy. No wonder she touts LBJ over the Anti-War MLK.

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. SusanKay

    Become the change you wish to see in others – said Ghandi – and I believe we all must take a deep breath and refocus on the prize. This world needs leadership, statesmanship, integrity and inspiration from America. I believe Barack IS that change and inspiration. Please balance the love and passion Michelle Obama has for her husband and his campaign with total exhaustion this endeavor demands on a human. She is not a perfect person. Hillary and Bill and 35 years – thankyou, and please no more – that is not experience – that is overexposure.

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. RT

    What Martin Luther King Said January 15, 2008 1:16 am ET

    I really wish CNN would play the tape of Martin Luther shaking the President's hand.

    Obama is not responding positively, accurately or in a spirit of truth here. He is calling Clinton's words "ill-advised," and "unfortunate." Obama is quoted as saying: "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."

    Clinton never compared the two, she only said that Martin Luther's dream became to be realized when Lyndon Johnson enacted legislation.

    I just don't see how that can baffle Obama. It's accurate.

    Hey "What Martin Luther King Said":

    Just to be clear, the statement that baffled Sen. Obama was the statement that the Obama Camp was injecting race into the campaign, not Sen. Clinton's statement on Dr. King. Her statement offended other African Americans and African American Leaders. You will find no comment of Barack Obama stating that he took offense to it, he merely stated that the comment was "ill-advised" and "unfortunate." I don't know but perhaps it was an "ill-advised" and "unfortunate" slip of the tongue on Hillary's part, but Sen. Obama never elaborated.

    Essentially, this whole argument is stupid and for the sake of the party, it's time to move on.

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  6. Bill in CT

    I dare admit it that 8 days ago Dick Morris called it right. He said, and it was documented on TV, that the Clintons will introduce RACE into the campiagn. Don't forget Bill Clinton's Sista Solulja comments. Bottom line: the Clinton want to win at any cost. The side text is the Obama is not electable and BOB Johnson and Charlie Rangle are just running an errand

    Are we so stupid to be swayed by this kind of manuevering.. i hope not.
    OBAMA in 08

    January 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. Mike, Fort Washington, MD

    I'm very confused here. Could someone please tell me that have the Clintons done for the Black community!!! I'm a 44 years old Black man and for some reason I can't figure it out!! Have they solve the race problems in the country? Has the net worth of Black americans drastically changed? Did they resolve the public school problems? Please tell me what the hell did they do!!!!

    January 15, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. california voter

    Wow, I actually agree with Charlie Rangel.

    Obama's inexperience is showing here. He might be trying to rally SC African Americans, but it comes off as politics as usual to this California voter. Obama should have brought up the obvious blunder by Mrs. Clinton, and left it at that. He has bigger fish to fry than to just drag her through the mud. I was voting for Obama until this revealed his inexperience. I could vote for him in future elections, but not this one... if he doesn't have the maturity to pick his battles, how is he going to deal with complicated issues like... pick anything!

    Still looking for that candidate that state their opinion and lead, without degrading the other opponent. I don't think it exists, because no intelligent people want that job. We need to change something in this process.

    It's either Clinton or Romney for me.

    January 15, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. Clinton, Tampa Fl.

    Why is everyone mentioning "reinstituting the draft"? That wasn't even mentioned in this article; the majority of you were scared when the thought was expressed because you think that you have too much to live for. This man scared you, the American people, by hinting that we should make you fight for your rights; now he has you scared because he sides with the ever-so-popular Hillary Clinton? Mr. Rangel, please be careful, some of the people on here sound like they're advocating for your removal because you are a African American man in congress that has the IQ to make intelligent and informed decisions.

    January 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. jbentley

    At least Barack Obama is honest about his past and is willing to admit mistakes. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush lacked the fortitude to be honest about their past substance abuse and their inability to tell the truth regarding this matter was sadly a foretelling of their inability to be straight with the American people about matters that actually mattered once they go into office.

    January 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. wale azeez

    vince if you are not going to quote exactly then don't even argue....the problem is the clintons and their surrogates can't be precise and clear with their words...donna brazille accused them on cnn even before obama was posed the question so what are you blaming the poor man for...It's is just plain rude for you to call an aspiring presidential candidate stupid and dumb on the air waves....these people are full of empty egos including the profane bet leader...I am black and don't even watch his darn channel...they curse women like no other...these people have no right to talk in public...they can shove their money and ego you know where...charlie rangel does not speak for black america at all!!!!!! He is a moron who has used the civil rights to advance his personal cause.

    January 15, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. Mike, Houston, TX

    This is an interesting battle. As long as Hillary can tie Obama to anything doing with race, she can try bring down his broader support amongst other ethnic groups. Clinton is playing the race card almost to perfection, painting Obama as the "affirmative action" candidate without any other appeal.

    Rangel and his kind have never figured out how detrimental they are to the very cause they claim to support.

    January 15, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. Robert A. Hunter Jr.

    Barack got bated into this and it has worked. He made one comment about and it's turned into "all of this". Hillary, Bob Johnson and rangel have gone on an offensive barrage of attacks and no one seems to notice that THEY are the ones that are stirring this pot. Hillary makes a disparraging remark about the civil rights movement and the story is about Barack and his one little comment about the CLINTON'S injecting race into this. Barack & his supporters need to stay the course and not get caught up in the Clinton's childish ploys to get us off our game, which is unity, change, and hope.

    January 15, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. Cochise County AZ

    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 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. JC, Topeka, Kansas

    Thank you. It just reinforces my statement that Obama is the one that made it a race issue.

    I do not think I have ever seen so much mud slinging in a campaign and enough is enough. However, I hold nothing against Clinton, she did not start it, she keep quite a lot longer than I would have before she started giving it back. I said early on that Obama had started up a negative campaign and i stand by it.

    January 15, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Jon, Memphis TN

    One more thought – when someone says "What's wrong with these black men who don't support that other black man?", isn't that just racist as hell? Like rather than thinking something through for himself, he just has to go with the other black person. That's the type of racist thinking I thought we were supposed to be avoiding.

    January 15, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. Greg, OH

    Vince, you are bad comments on race but not be a racist. Most Obama supporters (and Obama) never believed that the Clintons were racist. They just saw them making bad/troubling comments, which don't make someone racists.

    But really, I beg everyone to move on from this topic. Talk about the issue.

    January 15, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Angie Wheeler

    This is the same disgusting behavior and hypocrisy that is witnessed in our current administration. I am exhausted by it and I am sick of it. I am heartsick at the thought that people are ok with this behavior, that they are blinded by hate and intolerance.

    Obama 2008

    January 15, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. Audrey in Alexandria, Virginia

    Both Obama and Clinton agreed to end this back and forth discussion on MLK.
    So it needs to end here. February 15th.

    Move on already.

    January 15, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. pjonathan

    I've got before me a list of 80 attacks; brandished a sheet of paper which purportedly contained the traitors' names; It seems that President Clinton is channeling Senator Joe McCarthy:

    It seems that President Clinton is channeling Senator Joe McCarthy:

    Former President Clinton on Monday complained about attacks from Sen. Barack Obama on Sen. Hillary Clinton "I've got before me a list of 80 attacks on Hillary that are quite personal by Sen. Obama and his campaign going back six months that I've had pulled," he said, speaking to CNN contributor Roland Martin on WVON-AM's "The Roland S. Martin Show" based in Chicago, Illinois.

    1950: McCarthy launches anti-red crusade

    United States Senator Joe McCarthy has accused more than 200 staff in the State Department of being members of the Communist Party.

    He made the startling allegation in a public speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, saying the State Department was infested with communists and brandished a sheet of paper which purportedly contained the traitors' names.

    January 15, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  21. jonesdl66

    Divide and conquer! It worked 400 years ago and it's still working to this day! Enough said!

    January 15, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  22. Tonya in Houston

    Please...Please...Please people don't let these politicians try to TELL you who to vote for. They are keeping this nonsense alive in an effort to disgust voters so much that they just stay home on election day. Vote for the candidate because YOU feel they will be the best man/woman for the job, not based on their race, their sex, their spouse, or anything superficial. Look and listen to what they are saying and how their presidency will affect your life and the lives of your children. The economy is bumpy, education is all screwed up, our troops are 1000's of miles away fighting what seems to be a never-ending war, people are losing their homes, our borders are not secured and we're sitting here bickering over something as mediocre as a comment made during someone's presidential campaign! Come on. It's so disheartening to see us going at it like this (us as in the American people) and not standing up and saying "cut it out already and get on with the business of running this country and getting us out of this rut we're in!!!

    January 15, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  23. Derek

    I don't know why the press never "ever" scrutinize Obama as much as they do with Hillary. What gives? The "liberal" press is too scared to press on.

    January 15, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  24. Mike San Diego

    Charlie Rangle is so childish...He speaks down to our president ...defends Hillary when she is clearly race-baiting...And tries to reinstate the draft to prove a point(which was very pointless)...Bottomline he is everything that is wrong with America right now...Can anyone say TERM-LIMITS.....????????

    January 15, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  25. freetobeme, Rochester, PA

    Mauri, I am not a supporter of Obama, but your comment that we should honor the name of Charles Rangel because he served in Korea is as ridiculous as it is unAmerican. Service in the armed forces does not bestow superior citizenship on anybody. I am offended by the idea that we should scrape and crawl to those who have done military service. Do you suggest that we should hand McCain the Presidency on a golden platter because he suffered more than any other candidate through his service to our country? That's where your argument will lead you.

    Why are we such extremists in this country? Those who were drafted to serve in Vietnam might have been abused by many of the citizenry when they returned home, but it does not follow that we should give our souls away to old veterans or to a new generation of soldiers just because of our collective bad consciences.

    This is a Republic. Not a military dictatorship. Our Founding Fathers were suspicious of standing armies and of militarization in general because of its detrimental impact on individual liberties. I'm not giving one jot of my freedom to Rangel, McCain, or any other politician, whether he served in the armed forces or not. And neither should you or anyone else.

    January 15, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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