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. Douglas

    I believe it is Charlie Rangel, who has actually shown himself as "Absolutely Stupid". Sounds like a man who needs to increase his "fiber" intake.

    He is definitely a Hillary supporter from way back, which means he is also "Entitled" to all the perks and handouts if Hillary is elected.

    January 14, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  2. Dawn

    A high school drop out calling an Ivey League educated attorney stupid. Charlie, I only have an undergraduate, but I do know how to properly use "infer". I can not believe I ever felt compelled to honor and respect these has been negros who seem hell bent on tearing a young Black man down who has done nothing but show them respect and honor. Go to hell, Charlie Rangel!

    January 14, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  3. Derrick

    Congressman Rangel

    Congressman Rangel needs to go somewhere and retire , your time has passed do all of us African Americans a favor and please go someone and sit down. Obama is the future you have lost alot of respect in the black community. Once again please retire.

    January 14, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  4. John William

    Did we learn anything about media manipulation from the New Hampshire election coverage?

    I am very disappointed (as are many of my friends, family members, co-workers and so on) that this discussion has been manipulated to focus on this pseudo "race" controversy. It is depressing that Senator Obama did not have the "superior judgment" to prevent such an instigation by his campaign. This should be a celebration of MLKs contribution to civil rights: American leadership that has ultimately given us an opportunity to elect him as our nominee. You can not unite a country when "hope" is used as a means to divide your own constituency. He should know better than to pitch a "broader pattern of racism." In the end, Americans are not that stupid to fall prey to media ploys. Nor, are we that stupid not to read full transcripts. And, our eyes are now wide open.

    America 08

    January 14, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  5. bruno.sako

    respect,respect and respect is what we are asking for from Hilllary campaign
    she is now trying to turn blacks again blacks.but it won`t work.
    honestly,it look like Sen Hillary has been hanging around with the wrong people.
    who is this Rangel anyway?
    how can this man call Obama Stupid?
    this man lack of respect and intergrity won`t be good for the Hillary Campaign
    however,the rest of the world is focus on what is going on in the USA
    you keep doing what you are doing and we will see at the end who will be the nominee.
    may God bless all of you.
    Bruno Sako

    January 14, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  6. Amirage

    Why is it that CNN can only report the negative attributes of our presidential candidates, instead of focusing on the positive points each candidate is striving for? CNN has become the online National Inquirer.

    January 14, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  7. Fred, Washington DC

    There is no way that the Clintons will let an African American candidate win the Democratic Party's nomination and that is sad, so they resort to these dirty tricks while hiding behind her surrogates. Whether it is playing the pity card or the race card it is disgusting tactics and they are trying to tar and feather the most appealing candidate the party has put forth since Kennedy in 1960......it is really sad that the Clintons who have done so much for Blacks are resorting to this classless rhetoric..........I know candidates will do whatever they can to win, but this is getting really disgusting and its beneath everything Hilary Clinton had stood for in the past.............she had my respect, however she has lost in since New Hampshire,

    Hopefully someone other than Clinton is the democratic nominee, because we dont need that garbage polluting a general election like her candidacy would do..........cant she just retire or something?

    January 14, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  8. OneDropMelanin

    Yeah Mr. Rangel, that's right make it easier by doing the Clinton's dirty work. Make disparaging remarks about a young upcoming individual who shows promise and electability and has mass appeal.

    January 14, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  9. Chris, ME

    Wasn't Rangel's motivation for reinstating the draft to end the war? I thought it was sort of clever....

    January 14, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. Derrick

    This whole comment about Race came from Hilary Clinton , Obama never mention race and did not want to comment about the stupid remarks that Hilary said. Hilary is bought and paid for by Washington and God forbid if she get the nomination.

    January 14, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  11. Alex

    Lol wow, I am pretty shocked. I am not a Clinton supporter, but I won't hold these ignorant comments from Rangel against her. I am still voting for Obama, but not because of what she and her supporters have said about Obama but because of what Obama has said about himself. I could care less for all this bickering, but it's funny how intense it is getting. It is only the primaries people. All we are looking for is a person who has earned the right to have the American people criticize him or her a little more in the general election. Obama might be full of crap, but he has said enough and put in enough substance for me to give him serious interest at least enough interest to check him out in a greater depth in the general election. I know what Clinton brings, and I'm not impressed so lets see what this guy's got.

    January 14, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  12. Derrick

    Tom Davie

    I see you hit all of the talking points from CNN and Fox , do you have any orig thoughts ?

    January 14, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  13. Azar

    Charlie Rangel should attempt to remember the recent events before accusing Obama and calling him 'stupid'. If he were paying attention, then he would have known that the top Clinton advisors injected race and religion into the campaign. The latest was Andrew Cuomo of New York. Also, Bill Clinton called him 'kid' and another top advisor called him 'boy' while talking to a British reporter. If Mr. Rangel, Bob Johnson, etc., continue with their insults, the Democrats may not only lose the general election, but the majority in the House and Senate too.

    January 14, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  14. Robin B

    I think this is GREAT! After treating Republicans to decades of personal destruction politics, the Democrats are finally using it on each other.

    Go Hillary! Go Obama! Chew each other up! Maybe in the process they'll rip their party apart.

    January 14, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  15. melody, Snohomish, wa

    this is not politics as usual. we have some serious issues facing the united states. mr obama people did start this. now that the heat is on. they are seeing that this type of media hype is turning people off. for those of us who lived during the fifties and sixties we know what is was like. if LBJ had not been president the civil rights act would not have been signed into law. you would have had to of lived through this to understand. everything bill and hillary have said has been blown out of context. we all lived through this. it is up to obama to stop this fooling arouond, or john edwards will end up in second place.

    January 14, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  16. skim

    I hate the way Ms. Hillary gets her attack dogs to attack Obama for her. Then you pretends to have nothing to do with it. This is enough to make me vote for Obama.

    January 14, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  17. ji_john

    Dear Mr. Rangle,
    Senator Obama DID NOT criticize Senator Clinton when she made her comments about presidential leadership. WE DID. Bloggers from all over American did. The majority of African Americans did. And then, as some of Clinton's surrogates added fuel to the fire, Senator Clinton felt the heat and pointed the finger at Obama and accused him, of all things, of playing the race card. Let's see; Obama uses change as his message, and Clinton steals his message and then says Obama's message lacks substance. Senator Clinton says that Obama doesn't have a plan for America, but Obama talks about his energy plan during the New Hampshire debates. Clinton has to endure a week of criticism from the media and bloggers across the country, and she accuses Obama of playing the race card. Mr. Rangle, you should know that one of the rules of politics is that if you see your opponent commiting suicide in the middle of the road, you don't go and help complete the job. Senator Clinton, along with hubby Bill and her surrogates have gotten themselves into this mess, with the bad timing being just before the South Carolina Primaries. Both Obama and Clinton stated that they want to move on from this situation. But it's the Clinton's that fixed this concoction, and they nhave to stew in it. it's going to be great, seeing Obama win in `08.

    January 14, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  18. Marko Dezdri, Portland, OR

    I agree with Rangel! Obama is playing the race card yet again. He's trying to pit blacks against Hillary until South Carolina primaries are done. I wonder what's he's plan to recover the whites he insulted all these weeks.

    Hillary has a plan, Obama has words, Hillary has experience, Obama has words, Hillary has the guts, Obama has words, Hillary is tough, Obama just uses words.

    We need action people, not a talker.

    January 14, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  19. cal

    charles rangel,hit it right on the head,mr rangel is an extremely brillaint black congressman for almost 30 years his satements regarding barrack hussien OBAMA are 100 %accurate,i hope all this racial junk wont affect the amount of white votes in days ahead for barrack HUSSIEN OBAMA,especially since all this talk of his admission in his book,of his past apparent cocaine abuse,he wrote it.not a very good message to the young ones.......yeah u could do weed and cocaine in high school and still be president......NOT>

    January 14, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  20. Truethis

    Idiot!!!! He made these remark right about the time Hillary Clinton decided to play truce right after Obama was the better man to stop these remarks that Hillary camp started.

    I have watch this campaign on both side and I know for a fact that Obama camp didn't start this race thing. I'm base my facts on what the candidate going to do to bring us together rather than divide us between race, gender, democratic or republican and I see that Obama is ABOUT US.

    January 14, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  21. Margarita, Los Angeles



    January 14, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  22. stan pitts pa

    New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, isnt this the same guy who wanted to reinstate the draft? yikes talk of the company (hrc) one keeps!

    January 14, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  23. lw

    Common sense tells you that Obama stirred the pot to get the black votes in South Carolina.

    January 14, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  24. Amazing

    It really is time to move on......

    January 14, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  25. 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 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 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
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