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. David

    The Clintons are old school politics. You cannot take anything they say for a grain of salt, they proved my point in the 90s and they are proving my point now. Everyone says experience this and experience that but if experience means being callous enough to attack someone after they have called a truce then I don't want it. The Clintons, and make no doubt about it; this campaign is as much about Bill as it is Hillary, are the personification of what is wrong with Washington.

    January 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. FCR

    It surprises me that no one has addressed the hidden message behind Clinton's MLK remark. Pointing out that it took a president to make King's "dreams" become a reality has little meaning for Clinton since she is not president. But any white person that grew up in Clinton's era should know that her words translated in "white speak" to "blacks talk about things but it is the whites that do the work to get those things done". The minute I heard her say this, I recognized it as racist and went "Oh my gosh, she did not go there!" By the way, I am white and grew up in the Midwest where Ms Clinton is from.

    I will not vote for her!!!! If she is the Democratic candidate, I will either vote independent, green or stay at home. Her dirty politics go against my ideals and are just too similar to those of bush and rove for me to stomach. Down with the double talking (lying) Clinton twins

    January 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. Douglas

    Rangel is an absolute joke. no one should even pay any mind to this blow hard.

    January 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. Deanne,KS

    This whole Democrat campaign is about race and gender. Let them both bring out the dirt, we all need to see it. Why is it ok for Obama to use race to his advantage as he sees fit but God forbid anyone else mentions it. He has pledged his allegiance to Africa anyway, now tell me that is not about race!! I want to hear them say what they intend to do for the Country as a whole, not for each group that they happen to be talking to at the moment. They talk about change, but I still believe we are in the BEST place in the world and no one, Democrat or Republican will really be able to make the changes they all profess.

    January 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. Kai

    I think Clinton's remarks were taken out of context. She didn't belittle King's contributions in her speech at all!

    January 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Why do people (and they always seem to be Obama supporters) continue to make posts like the ones below. Do they not know how hypocritical they sound?


    Is there anything positive in this post? What exactly was the point of this post except to denigrate Clinton supporters. Read your posts people , before yu send them in. If you dont you just sound ignarant, like Deborah does. As for you little Debbie, are you 6? If not grow up and try and sound like an adult.

    January 15, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. phin s.

    The folks who deride Congressman Rangel for calling for a draft have completely missed the point here. He is not a war monger - quite the opposite, in fact. He was pointing out the the hypocrisy of Americans who support foreign interventions so long as the only lives at risk are either non-Americans, or Americans at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. When it's your own children who are in danger of being sent to the front lines, it focuses the mind on the merits of the case for war.

    January 15, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Sophia

    Shame on Rangel.

    The Clintons have done alot for African-Amerians. And while there is no comparison to Dr. King, Barack has certainly done a great deal more.

    Obama '08

    January 15, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. ~Always~Ashley~

    Go carl!!! i hear you on that!!! Thank you!!!!!

    January 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. vb

    wow. do none of you listen? the fasted way to end the war is to reinstate the draft. that's the congressman's point! get all the dick cheney's of the world to send a kid over to that mess bush has made and see just how fast the american people stand up. this whole 'race' thing is ridiculous anyway. they both need to drop it.

    January 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. John Q. Public

    Absolutely awesome! This rivalry is like watching a low-end car manufacturer performing crash tests. Both vehicles wind up destroying each other and inadvertently showing their inferiority. Go Obama! Go Hillary!

    January 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. pf

    Rangel is exactly right. The attempts to twist an innocous statement by Clinton into a racial thing never made any sense.

    January 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Mark

    Strikes me that Clinton is playing the same game Karl Rove and the Republicans played the last two presidential elections – let others raise controversial issues (in this case race-baiting by African-American supporters) so she can claim clean hands. Sadly, this is the exact type of political environment that Obama has been seeking to change. Clinton is a creature of the past and I'm ready to move on to a new era. The last 7 years should be a reminder to everyone where this type of politics leads. As a not-so-wise man once said:

    "'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame... shame on... we won't get fooled again!"

    January 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. Jennifer

    Charlie Rangel is right. Obama is one slick character. He has a million watt smile, and is slyly crafting words to use against Hillary. She and Bill have always stood up for the poor, the blacks and downtrodden. They keep getting slammed by nasty right-wingers....and now comes Mr. Obama, from the left. He has been picking words from other people's speeches....he doesn't have the depth of knowledge and experience to fix the huge mess our economy is in and to be commander in chief. At least Hillary has served on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate and has done a lot for our veterans. Bill fixed the economy after the Republicans left it a mess the last time.....let's go Hillary.

    January 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. William Terry, MD

    What's "stupid" is that Charlie Rangel, someone for whom I have the greatest admiration, is allowing himself to become a part of a traditional Clinton game.

    Here is how the game gets played. Sen. Clinton, Bill Clinton, or some Clinton surrogate makes a provocative statement. The press/media see it as news and give it some prominence. Some part of the community reacts negatively to the original statement, thus providing more media coverage of the original statement. The Clinton person that started the whole thing then becomes outraged and attacks the opponent (in this instance Sen. Obama) blaming him for intentionally misquoting her, which of course gets more media coverage of what she said originally. The enemy (in this instance, Sen. Obama) then says I never attacked you, providing the Clinton person to forcefully state "Yes you did" and then to become the victim. After the issue has been milked for what it's worth, The 'Clinton' then backs away from the issue, takes the high road and says 'let's forget about this and get back to business' (which of course gets more media coverage) and then, after a suitable interval, another Clinton surrogate (in this case, Rep. Rangel) puts the whole thing back on the table. It's a brilliant game – but I'm tired of it and I dread the possibility that we will have to endure 4 or 8 years of Clintonian media manipulation.

    January 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. LouNYC

    Hey Sean... It was Hillary that called to a stop to the bickering about race, not Obama.

    Secondly, it was definitely the Obama camp that brought up the issue of race by saying that Hillary's comments, which were meant to highlight the importance of experience, were an "insult to many African Americans".

    Thirdly, why is his admitted drug use not a legitimate topic to raise? Just because he's black? Was it ok for Bush's supposed cocaine use to be brought up in 2000? No outcry was heard from the Democrats back then.

    Whether most people care or not, some will; and don't think for a moment that if Obama gets the nomination the Republican candidate's surrogates won't be bringing this up. Therefore, it is right for other candidates to question whether his admitted cocaine use will make him less electable in the general election.

    January 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  17. Carolyn Dungee Nicholas

    Hillary Clinton's real racial slur was made, while she was "teared up," when she said she was afraid for her country because a man with little experience might be president, a subliminal message that a Black man might become president of the U.S. This same type of subliminal message was used against Harold Ford, another extremely attractive, polished, accomplished Black man poised for higher office!

    The media, the political pundits & the public let Hill & Bill get away with the real racial slur!

    Hill & Bill believe they are entitled to the White House & will do ANYTHING to win it again. They have been scheming that each would be president since they met.

    January 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |

    Obama has NEVER played the race card. He has never made his race an issue. He is very smart not to do so. No man or woman can run based on their race or gender alone. Obama has to appeal to everyone. At least given the man some credit. To bring up the race card would be foolish for Obama. What would he have to gain? HIS MESSAGE HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT UNITINIG PEOPLE – RED STATES AND BLUE STATES, DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS, AND INDEPENDENTS -- NOT ONCE HAVE I HEARD HIM SAY ONE WORD ABOUT BLACKS AND WHITES.

    January 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Marvin G.

    Rangel is obviously a Clintonite and has been. It don't take a rocket scientist to see the guy is looking for an appointment. Rangel, Bob Johnson and the rest of you disillusioned Negroes should vote for whomever you choose, but to make these deregatory comments about Obama is really sad.

    January 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. ACD, Silver Spring, MD

    I love how all these poweful rich black congressmen and business men are "shucking and jiving" for the benefit of Clinton. This is ridiculous to me as a black female to see soo many black powerful men still claim slaves to a white person. I am not saying support Obama because he is black, but to be a fellow african american and sit there and bash the only first and god forbid last african american presidential candidate and they cant even respect him for what he is doing. but everytime I turn the news on there is another black man of power bashing Obama. I bet MLK would be turning in his grave right now. This is utterly ridiculous.

    And shame on Clinton for even suggesting that if it werent for a president the civil rights movement would have happen. WHAT!!!! If it werent for MLK to bring up the injustices of minorities and the fact that everything should be made equal, then no president would have done anything about the civil rights of minorites in the United States... Obama please, we need a change!!!

    January 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. Dar

    ok, I have been a fence sitter for a little while and have been watching Edwards, Clinton and Obama. this is really getting out of hand with Mrs. Clinton. I think I am now officially down to Edwards or Obama. She needs to get her supporters in line and stop with the division. seems to be a pattern with her recently, too. with friends like these the lady doesn't need enemies.

    January 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. Jack K.

    What's wrong with criticizing someone of being stupid!

    It's STUPID–to admit in a book your drug use–unless there's a lot of it, and many people know–thereby making it public record somewhere perhaps. Either way–to admit in his memoirs of "volume" drug use, alchohol use, gambling, etc....show's at least at some point in his life he lacked the self-control/discipline to not commit felony misdmeanor offenses.

    Sure he can recover and become a respected member of society. But why. There really are Eagle Scouts out there who NEVER used drugs–and those people matter.

    Yep...he's stupid. Or there is a big skeleton getting ready to tumble out of his closet.

    January 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. AB

    This is what concerns me about Hillary being President, constant fighting with the Republicans and Democrats and nothing gets done. same ole, same ole. I guess she saying if I can't win "No Democrat will Win."

    January 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. ragingcentrist

    Can someone please educate me by descibing what EXACTLY the clintons have done for the African-American community?

    Saying someone has done so much for the community and ACTUALLY delivered are two different things.

    Please, someone prove me wrong........

    January 15, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Observer, Jacksonville, FL

    I think that Mr. Rangel is a fool. Obama is not the one who made the comments, it was Hillary Clinton. Did he not watch and listen to the comment made by Hillary? We know that Rangel has blind support for the Clintons because he feels indebted to them. His support for Clinton has nothing to do with taking this country into a new direction, that of progress and unity in this country. He wants the status quo to continue, which is what a Hillary win would ensure. We are watching you Rangel!

    January 15, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68