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. Alana

    The Media has spun this to be a back and forth war of the words, but it really isn't.

    The Clinton Camp, which is one I've supported in the past, is really starting to make me ill. They have been devious, and allowed their "supporters" (investors) to be slanderous.

    First Bill attacks Obama,
    Then Clinton strategist Shaheen attacks Obama,
    Then Bob Johnson attacks Obama,
    Then Charlie Rangel attacks Obama.

    Clinton had to get Shaheen out of camp after his comments, but it's alright from Johnson and Ragel to attack Obama because they're black and therefore it must have some higher validity and doesn't need rebuffing.

    The media acts as though this has been also coming from Obama and his supporters, but it has not. They've barely commented at all.

    And you all are buying into it whole heartedly.

    It's Sad. And Disgusting.

    January 15, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Michelle

    everyone wants change?????

    then vote for "real change"...vote Obama
    America has had enough Bush , Clinton dynasties and who will be after her Jeb Bush??? and then Chelsea??? Please wake up!!!!!

    So sad to see the race factor so focused on when it should be the issues!!
    Blacks are smart enough to know where their loyalties lie
    if its Clinton fine and if its Obama thats fine too!
    whats really destructive is the dems attacking their own
    playing right into the republicans with that factor

    January 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Frank tulsa, ok

    Ryan from Indianapolis, Bush gave a new meaning to the term CRONIES! Hillary has yet to prove that she promised Rangel a cabinet seat, absolute authority in his position to better their political position even though she's the decider, and a future position at Halliburton. You're rants are annoying and mindless. No let me guess, saying anything against this administration is treasonous...we get it.

    As for the Obama-Clinton clash, the head of the DNC, Mr. Scream, needs put a muzzle on people who are fanning flames that is consuming their own party. Rangel is an idiot for bringing this up when both campaigns are trying to tamp it down. Too many free spirits running around on the Dem side. This is senseless debate that has nothing to do with the urgent issues Ryan's heroes have so graciously bestowed upon us.

    January 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. lewis

    I think that what this congress man said was stupid. Barak did not make any comments that were negative about Martin Luther King. I understand that you support Mrs. Clinton but you and her need to own up to stupid comments..

    January 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. America as One

    Lay off Obama for now. The fact that he used drugs, voted "present" so many times as a state senator, buying his house at a great price from political insider now going to trial are all issues to be further investigated as the campaign proceeds. We read about these things being reported.

    He has a full plate without the injection of race into the campaign. Charles Rangel is right to challenge him because it seriously erodes future opportunities of the African American community. We need to move past the issue of race.

    January 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. antonio edgers

    I use to like Senator Rangel,but he is taking this campaign over the top with his downplaying of Senator Baraka Obama,get it together brother,the only reason why you like the clintons is ,because you are just like them self centered and not wanting to vote for a man of color,i am not bringing race into it,but i have seen hillary's ads,i have counted 3 african-americams in those commercials,Bob Johnson can go sit down,because if you got to bring up someone's past then you are not worthy of anything billionaire or not.Clinton should stop playing the tears of a clown game,tell me mr.rangel would you want a president that will cry when the heat gets turned up?And why haven't you never run for office.I know you are scared.

    January 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Ignacio Cruz

    Who's Borak Obama? All Hype!!! There's nothing there people.

    January 15, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Kerwin

    Okay, now we are really. And I mean really pulling hairs. This should be a non-story by now. There's no reason for this subject material to be news-worthy anymore. It's just time to move on to "real" issues, now. We know that "race" would have played a part. Ahem...whatta shocker, right?!

    January 15, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. Becky Montgomery

    I am amazed that people hear that Obama said something, they automatically believe it. People–look and research and see IF that happened at all. NO ONE has shown the sound bite of Obama calling the race card, and if he had said it, that would be everywhere. Don't believe everything you hear, because there are many people out there who will lie. Get the facts straight before assuming something is true. Don't reward the loudest voice just because it is screaming for attention.

    Here is the quote from a previous poster who DID the research: What Obama said after Hillary's speech – Here it is again, verbatum…..
    "For them (the Clintons) to somehow suggest that we're interjecting race as a consequence of a statement she (Hillary) made, that we haven't (HAVE NOT)commented on, is pretty hard to figure out."

    Translation – " I'm being criticized by the Clinton campaign for making a statement that I never made, and I'm baffled at this odd behavior." The Republicans must be laughing all the way to election day. Thanks a lot Hillary for tearing us apart.

    January 15, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Voter

    See, this is the reason we need change in Washington and this is why we all should vote for Obama. Obama said that he never commented on what Hillary said. Yet the "high profile people", some who have been in office forever and a day and haven't done anything to bring about change, feel threatened!

    They need to keep their comments to themselves because Martin would not be pleased with the way they carried on his vision. Most of them settled into a nice cushy position, got on some company boards, some government positions, and forgot the dream and the mission.

    These are the same old attitudes that don't want change because they are benefiting from the system as it is now. Hillary stuck her foot in her mouth. She made a mistake. STOP blaming OBAMA for her mistake; He said he never commented on it.

    By the way, the "old school, high profile" need to be worried, our goal is to get you out of washington too and get some fresh ideas, movers, shakers, and people servants in those positions.

    January 15, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Auddin

    Low politicians Like Rangle can make this kind of low class language talk. If you are a Clinton faithful, its O.K. But don't act like a Ruthless barking Dog.

    January 15, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. kim

    What gets me angry is that we have these two black men degrading another black man. Regardless of what they feel they should not do that. All they are concerned about it trying to get appointed to an office if Clinton wins. I just think it is sad that 2 "prominent" black men would act like that. It's just not right. They do not have to be Obama supporters but they could at least have some respect. To me it looks like they are acting stereotypically and not truly showing the media and the world that they can disagree respectively with a candidate. It is just ridiculous!!

    January 15, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. Scott the Keeper (atl06)

    why is my comment still awaiting moderation??? Same as my comment yesterday... What's going on CNN, am I not steering the conversation the way you've pre-planned it to go???

    January 15, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Adam, Pittsburgh, PA

    What Obama attacks? When did he attack her for the comments? His statement that he could see why some "might find them offensive" is pretty tame in my book.

    CNN ought to rethink that headline.

    January 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Jimmy Jones

    Clintons are playing dirty politics and dividing the party. If Democrats nominate Clinton, Obama supporters (which include large number of Democrats, independents and reasonable Republicans) will probbaly vote for a Republican.

    Clinton and Obama have in essence the same experience. Both trained lawyers. Him being a law professor may give an edge here. They are both Junior senators. He has also been a state senator.

    Being a first lady gives an exposure not an experience. Since when a wife was given a job based on her husband's job experience.

    January 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Does it really matter in the end anyways? We've already seen that the popular vote of the people means nothing, it's all in the hands of the lawmakers and lobbyists.

    January 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. loren

    Very coerrect remarks from Mr Rangel regarding Barack Obama, he is creating an issue regarding race in order for him to gain more votes against Senator Hillary Clinton. Senator Hillary Clinton is the last pereson you will ever think of being a bigget. She is a very reasonable person and compassionate to any race. Obama is creating arguments amongst All.

    January 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. RA, CARY, NC

    Range is right on!....I don't think I have seen extent of stupidity as it came from O'Bama!...Reminds me of the old staying: "Stupid is that Stupid Comes!"-Unless O'Bama's Advisors want him to bring in the 'RACE CARD'!..... Is this a shining example of O'Bma's uniting people, or an expression of his exalted 'experience'?

    January 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  19. Rick

    The subject of race seems to come up in every aspect of our government. One thing everyone should remember, the longer we break down things into race categories the longer it will never be a people issue. After all we are people not a race... Every politician is vying for position and that ladies and gentlemen is the bottom line. Get past the race issues and get on with the people issues. We are a nation of mixed religions, blood and cultures, we should be addressing issues concerning our nation, like illegal immigration and how these people are taking away benefits from the citizens of our great nation. We should be addressing the inner city drug problems, gang problems, high cost of fuel, medical benefits for those that cannot afford it, jobless people, homeless people, security, etc... the list goes on and on. Promises are promises and nothing more. Politicians listen up: stop playing at politics, you are not princes and princesses, do the job you were elected for and stop lining your pockets with the lobbyist dollars.......

    January 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. IM Canadian

    Y'know, guys... this whole experience blather is silly, because... NONE OF THEM HAS "IT". None of these people has been President. Bush has/is and I suspect his experience would not entice support if he could be running again. Get off it – they all possess different mixtures of experience and the primary front-runners are all reasonably capable of taking the role and moving ahead with it. So, to reiterate... Hillary has no more experience value and Obama no less. This is really a misleading topic – wasted debate.

    January 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    What is the problem? Dr. King march for civil right, President Johnson sign the civil right bill. That the truth. But all these other statement is personal. Race has always been in politic. Sen Obama need to stick to his massage "It time for change"

    January 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. roger

    The Clintons,

    It's the clintons' dirty politics at works. Saying what they said and then insisting they did not. Leave it to Bill and Hilary to tell define the words "UTTER" or "SAID" for us to use. Smoking but not inhaling, and definition of sex/relations, and standing by her man in sixty minutes to say BILL never cheated is a vivid picture of how Obama is less honest and truthful than the CLINTONs are. As Hilary said, she's had 30+ years of HONEST to GOODNESS experience, and we should take their word for it because they are a lot more honest than OBAMA.

    January 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. Cyndie

    All of the questions and requests being asked of "Obama" by all those who are for the 'Black' Voter's. How did President Bush, President Clinton, President Bush Sr answer them, how did President Reagan answer them,. SO why are you so upset that Obama is not answering them. I want anyone to Answer.... "Which President/Candidates has addressed any African American Issue's..... if you didn't demanded then why are you Now. Let's move forward........

    January 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  24. George Graham

    I have lost respect for New York Rep. Charlie Rangel. His unfair criticism of Barack Obama simply brands him as a member of the Democratic establishment that has failed the country so miserably. Obama did not introduce the discussion of race into the campaign. The news media did.

    I watch both CNN and MSNBC (and occasionally for comic relief, Fox News). And I am dismayed by the way in which commentators so often have chosen to inflame rather than inform. Obama's response was that he had no comment to Senator Clinton's "ill-advised" remark. I found that to be characteristically even-tempered. Of course, Senator Clinton's remark was "ill advised." I am sure she didn't mean to belittle Dr. King's contribution to justice and liberty in America. But she did not phrase her comment deftly.

    It was a clumsy remark. But it does not warrant the attention that television commentators have given it. And as for the clown who brought up Obama's past drug use, shame on him! But this is a tempest in a teapot. Can we return to substantive issues please?

    George Graham, Lakeland, Florida

    January 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  25. manny_thome

    It's this simple. Neither Hillary nor Obama were playing the race card. They are both honorable and worthy of our respect on that issue. A bunch of mouthpieces who have no right to speak for them (as well as some who do (Bill?!?)) have turned this into a story because the Dems have a few days without a primary vote. Yeah, there's an elemenet of the powerful Clinton machinery at work, and yeah there's an element of Obama making some political alulations. But anyone, white or black, who votes for or against Hillary or Obama because of this story line is a woefully uneducated voter.

    January 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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