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. sairefgm



    January 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. AP, NC

    Good, God! It is shocking how the Clinton camp is still trying to blame Obama for their bad judgment. Obama has said from the beginning that he wanted to get past this foolishness and get on to the real issues. The way the Clintons are consistently trying to blame Obama for "playing the race card" WHEN IT WAS THEIR COMMENTS THAT STARTED IT is disgusting. Do we really want that kind of politics in the White House again, people? I say no to divisive, under-handed tactics and yes to Obama.

    January 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. Derrick Buckingham

    My advice to Charlie Rangel is to shut up and stop displaying your ignorance.

    January 15, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. mrsz

    First and foremost, Obama never brought Race intot he conversation, everyone else is bring race into his campaign except him. as an african american, i think he's done of great job of not plyaing the quote on quote race card. Race shouldn't be a factor in an elected candidate. We need someone who will stand up for all people (black, white, hispanic, asian, middle eastern,) of this country. I hate when a person reads one side of a story and goes with it. Please let's keep race out of the elections and look at the candidate for who they are, and not what color/sex they are, that's when politics gets dirty,

    May the best person win

    January 15, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  5. blakqueen21

    Charlie Rangel needs to sit himself down and just be quiet. obviously he hasn't heard of the "WILLIE LYNCH LETTER" OR REALIZE THAT DIVIDED WE FALL.!

    January 15, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. LD

    Wake up Dems, the other team has to be loving this. Stop the madness and let's get this Country back on track with the best Dem candidate – Hillary.

    January 15, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. mmsmith

    I have to agree with Obama, If MLK had not of marched and gotten the people together to protest how blacks were done. Do you really think things would have changed. I happen to be 61 years old and I live through those times. If king and the protesters had not of died and marched . This country would have done nothing, nothing he and his movement was the one that showed he country and the world how sad we looked. So please don't take this away from the people who fought and died to get the vote. Yes, Johnson sign the bill but why, to help heal the countries wounds and to show the world we in America could do better.

    January 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. Fernando from Montreal

    Experience is important but means nothing in some cases. Karl Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld have a lot of experience, but they used it to go to war with no valid reason. They used their experience to manipulate a Nation and crush anyone trying to raise flags or doubts.
    The President is not going to be an expert in any subject he will see in the White House. The President needs to be a smart person with lots of Common Sense. Obama had the Common Sense not to agree with Bush for the War in Iraq. For him it didn't make sense attack a country that was under control by the US already.
    G.Bush problem is that he thinks he is an expert... in the Military, Economy, Education... and because of that he doesn't accept any second opinion.
    Nobody has apologize to Chenseki yet. He wanted 400,000 troops to have a total control of Iraq. That could have prevented American soldiers from dying. Rumsfeld went on the cheap. That was the wrong policy. With the present small surge is obvious that less Americans are dying. Imagine with 400,000 troops.

    Americans need a president with more COMMON SENSE !!!

    January 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Myke of Maryland

    To Southern Democrat

    If it wasn't for Martin Luther King, there never would have been Legislation to sign.

    THE US GOVT didn't change, it was MLK and others who were part of the movement who FORCED THE GOVT to change.

    LBJ signed a piece of paper which brought COMMON SENSE into LAW!!!!!!!

    January 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. Robert Brotz

    Read for about 10 minutes in the comments before I decided that this was some sort of joke. Charlie is joking, or someting.

    January 15, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Tee

    OBAMA, is the one Running NOT on experience, NOT on his record (that lacks) but on his RACE. Hillary Clinton (as opposed to what media bias you read) did not start this trash. OBAMA and his campaign has. NEVADA is a perfect example. Once OBAMA is kicked out (Thankfully) This will end. All he is RUNNING on is the "race" thing.

    January 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. Frank D

    The problem is not with African Americans but with some leaders like Rangel and Bob Johnson in the African American community. Leaders who are so much concerned about their own benefits to the detriment of the whole community.

    January 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. mike b

    I wasn't finished with my comments , I accidently hit send.
    Anyway I have ZERO respect for the black old gaurd politicans like Rangel John lewis ect , they are actually the reason blacks in this country are still in the position they are in today, they have arrived and care nothing about the others whom are suffering , look at the blacks whom are on the Hillary gravy train, Magic stupid Johnson , Bob Johnson, Charles Rangel , get the picture all fat cats, they care nothing for the message of hope and change that Senator Obama brings that is the reason Clinton says it's false hope, Blacks wake up whites wake up Senator Obama does not play the race thing that is the reason he is supported by young and old white black and brown , that is the reason the old demagogues does not support his candidacy , what he preaches removes the victim mentality, with that removed the few blacks at the top will loose their legitimacy and self righteousness , I have donated to Senator Obama's campaign and will again.
    Obama 08

    January 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. Oscar, Rio Vista, CA

    After reading these comments I think the exit polls are correct with the results that intelligent people vote for Obama. All you Hilary backers are just repeating the crap that the Hilary camp puts out. There was no mention of race until Hilary decided to bring up MLK.

    Just because Oprah is a supporter of Obama doesn't mean that he is being racist. Is George Clooney an African American?

    All the Clintons are doing is showing us how they will keep this country polarized for another 4 years. Is this sort of politics what you want? I guess it is.

    January 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. RG

    CNN, really your headline to this story should be Congressman calls Obama Remark Stupid. The current ticker title implies Clinton was behind the comment. Be fair, CNN. We're tired of your slanted reporting.

    January 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Chris-Seattle

    Obama is stupid! Hillary is stupid! Rangel is stupid! Wow is everybody stupid! America is stupid! WIll the last stupid person please turn out the lights!

    January 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Henry, Montgomery Village MD

    It is almost MLK day. We should not just remember MLK, but we should all remember the movement that he helped to bring to the fore. Many people played a part in the strides made during the Civil Rights Movement and it is completely irresponsible to suggest that one man did it alone.

    The issue was never did Barack personally attack Hillary; it was did Barack's people attack Hillary unnecessarily. As a leader, one is responsible for those they lead, hence Barack is responsible for what his supporters do in his name. Barack didn't immediately come out and denouce the statements against Hillary; he simply made an open ended comment which attempted to make Hillary look petty.

    I don't have an issue with what Hillary said. It was factually correct. LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act which was a huge step in the right direction in terms of Civil Rights. MLK served as a catalyst which allowed the movement to apply the necessary pressure to get certain changes. LBJ didn't have to do anything, he could have vetoed the legislation, and he could have used the full power of the presidency to stop the bill from ever coming before him. Do not downplay his contribution.

    Many people bring up Rangel's support of a draft. His support of a draft was to allow America to realize the cost of the war. Soldiers by in large are coming from specific communities; so if you are not from such a community the likihood that you will be affected personally by the war is negligible. If everyone's child had the spectre of going to war, it would make people question the rationale for war and the constituents would demand and end to the war.

    Leave Mr. Rangle alone for doing what he thought was right. Leave Hillary alone for trying to speak to people without worrying about how someone else who was not at the event woudl twist what she said.

    January 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. historybuff

    Southern democrat just rewrote history. Johnson did not start the Civil Rights movement. It was started after the Civil War. It was Repbublicans who started it and had to push and push till democrats finally gave in in 1964 with the help of Dr. King. Actually it was Southern Democrats who opposed it the most. After their failure to keep it from becomming law, oddly enough a great deal of them joined the Repbulican party.

    January 15, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. Dowell

    I voted for Bill while in college...because I was not educated. I am now getting more education on poiltics...because now I care...because of Obama. I don't know what God has in store for this country...but if anything like 9/11 ever occured again...I'd sleep better at night knowing Obama would oversee matter on our behalf.

    Obama can handle people's words...he can handle Hillary...he can handle Bob Johnson...he can handle Rangel...Magic and etc..The loudest one is the weakest...and that is Hillary's camp. I can just she her during a crisis...and this is just not what we need. As I said before, people have the right to voice their opinions...but its like these crazy African-Americans for her are just ignorant. Bui this is politics as usual for the Hillary. Its kind of like me showing my mom how to use the internet...she gets it for a while...and then she forgets how to use it...Hillary forgot how to be a politician.

    Obama will win Nevada, and South Carolina...and then move on to Feb 5th. He has work to do...and what HRC and crew are doing is to distract his focus...

    Obama is like a movement...and the more he gets to people all over...the more they switch their stance...HRC wants drama so he will put out fires...but he sees through this BS...

    If I were Obama...I'd have one of my people handle Hillary and crew...so he can get back to the campaign.

    Its like these fools got loose and are acting ignorant...due to fear...and sadly, these are the elders of Washington...

    People have a right to voice their opinions...but Hillary's supporters are the most ignorant African-Americans ever...

    I understand that Politics and Capitalism differ...and Hillary and Bill belong with Martha Stewart...playing dirty. Obama belongs in politics...

    I am 30 years old...and I respected the Clintons, Bob Johnson, and Rangel...now I am like if these fools dont have respect during a campaign...what do we expect during office.

    I just want peace and progressive change...

    Obama hire someone to handle Hillary...she needs to be kept...and entertained by gossip and lies...

    You have work to do Obama beyond this...for us

    Regardless what God has in store for you-Obama...you have inspired a generation to get involved...and to really get rid of people like Hillary, Bill and Bob, and Rangel...etc...

    My generation has been letting the elders do all of the work...and its time for us to do work and get these people out of politics. They are doing this because this is how they were loved and introduced to politics...and its evident that they have not broken their morals and ethics to change what has been going on...

    But we the Gen X and Y...we see whats going on...and so does God

    January 15, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. JNB

    How come Obama has to be seen as a African American or a black man? Each time the critics target the Clintons as white people they seem to forget that Obama's mother was white. Why does this race thing have to be continued? If it's because Obama is brown then what about anyone that is brown.

    I feel that if Obama is elected the so called African American community will complain about him constantly. He will not be capable of immediate change in our culture. We still have Hispanics with major social problems and I have not heard anyone crying for the rights of the American Indians.

    January 15, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Cindy

    Chris Rock in introducing Obama before a largely black Apollo Theater crowd admonished them not to be on the wrong side by supporting that "white lady."

    Michelle Obama has REPEATEDLY invoked race including saying that black voters would soon "wake up" and support Barack (not all voters mind you, just the blacks one for some reason...). After Obama's Iowa victory, Michelle again told a largely black audience, "Ain't no black folks in Iowa" to point to Barack's appeal to white voters. If that isn'ts capitalizing on race, what is.

    The bottom line is Clinton AND Obama are politicians. Don't think that either are above using whatever tools they can to win. Be that as it may, as informed voters we owe it to ourselves to ignore the rhetoric and inform ourselves, not just read the headlines and listen to (slanted) sound bites. This entire thing is starting to resemble school children picking sides in a playground fight.

    January 15, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Dan, NJ

    If HRC says it, it must be true.

    HRC supporters, take of the blinders. Obama does not want race to be an issue. Race polarizes (far more than gender in many ways). The addition of race alienates Obama from racist whites and non-racist whites who will resent race being an issue. Additionally, it poses to cause some backlash in the black community.

    THAT IS WHY CLINTON HAS MADE RACE AN ISSUE. Obama has tried to avoid this and the Clinton camp keeps bringing it up. Obama called for a true on this, Clinton agreed and the NEXT day, Rangel brings it back up as Clinton's surrogate.

    Clinton will do anything to win, including alientaing an Dem party. Where's the change when she just keeps practicing politics as usual.

    January 15, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. Copocleon

    Barrack Obama is more white than Hillary will ever be. Why isn't Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other civil rights leaders backing him? What has Obama done or tried to do for anyone? Except talk the talk. With the mess the current administration will leave behind, i for one will feel more comfortable with someone who can bring change with experience. And as a black Hispanic male, I will vote for Hillary.

    January 15, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. objective observer

    Thank goodness someone has spoken out about stupid the media is making this out to be. Isn't it a fact that Johnson signed the Civil rights act? I mean I don't understand the controversy in the statement Mrs. Clinton made.

    January 15, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. MarkW

    The quote from Clinton that has ignited this debate is a very small snippet taken from her interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press on Sunday.

    Whoever you support you owe it to yourself to listen to the FULL CONVERSATION on the topic before making a decision about who's injecting race into the discussion and lettingf that influence who you vote for.

    Guess what:

    It's not Clinton

    It's not Obama

    It's THE MEDIA

    I watched the complete interview, and the way the media is reporting her ocmments is NOT even close the meaning that was plainly conveyed in the conversation (if it had been, you can bet Tim Russert would have jumped all over her then and there!).

    I was sickened to see how the media took NOTHING and manufactured a wedge so they'd have something juicy to talk about - it's disgusting, and I've stopped watching CNN becuase of it.

    January 15, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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