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. Ryan

    Obama never suggested MLK signed the bill into law. Obama simply said that men like JFK and MLK pushed for changes and couldn't have pushed for those changes if they'd have given up when times got rough. This man is obviously part of the Clinton power-machine, part of the Clinton/Bush axis of power that's run this nation for far too long. Forget him, we've got a new man with a new vision, and his name is Obama!

    January 15, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. shanna

    I know lets all read all articles on obama,start with the chicago papers.the illinois citizens dont seem to fond of him,why? and if he really did swear in on a koran then they should show that, and I for one would like to know who is this person with to many ? marks by his name.

    January 15, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Myke of Maryland

    To Steve,

    Why don't you vote Republican and while you're at it, join the military and go overseas and fight!!!

    January 15, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Tom Dedham, Mass

    You Clinton sheep are pathetic, dumb and totally blinded by what she is doing to your own party.

    He campaigns STATED strategy to play the softer, kindler woman card to split the gender vote was part #1.

    Her campaigns strategy #2 (and CORRECTLY forecasted by Dick Morris beforehand) to have surrogates including a FORMER PRESIDENT go out and throw carefully worded bombs just waiting for Obama to have the gall to call them on it, and the Queen then jumps in the fray with the tired "He is misquoting us or twisting our words", "He is injecting race into the campaign" etc, etc.

    Shaheen, Kerrey, Cuomo and now Rangel are all supporters, do you want them as cabinet members?

    As a Conservative leaner I should be thrilled with this but I am not, as an AMERICAN first and foremost, we can't afford to have a President that is so hated like she would be by half the country and half of the congress, NOTHING will get done and we ALL as Americans can't afford that.

    Why did she not speak out when the BET founder blatantly LIED about what he meant in regards to Obama?

    Why did the MSM not REPORT that because of the Clinton's actions, she WAS BOOED at an MLK event YESTERDAY?

    Why did Bill Clinton state that his mentor is J William Fulbright a high profile segregationist, who Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of FREEDOM to (a segregationist – FREEDOM????????????).

    She is dividing Democrats on race and she get's the white vote, she is dividing the Democrats on gender and she get's the women vote.

    More whites and more women = she wins the Democratic nomination.

    I am no Obama supporter, but I respect him greatly and he tried to not get pulled into this BS, but the Clintons are the dirtiest players in the game.

    January 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. CJ

    Well America we have another one. Mr. Dangler, sorry I mean Rangel. He is just a puppet on the Billery string and the only part that is in motion is his mouth being pulled up and down when Uncle Rangel is needed.

    January 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. Dennis

    Early today it was reported that Obama and Hillary announced a truce to this whole ordeal, which is the proper. The link to Mr. Rangel's comments should be replaced with the new announcement calling an end to all this. It's definitely not where we as a nation need to be exerting our time and resources in such miscommunications. We have a number of bigger issues at hand (i.e. employment, health care, education) that need more attention. We desperately need change and either one of these two leading candidates would provide the necessary change we need.

    January 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. Nicki A.

    I can't believe that in the United States we would ever allow a man who refuses to say the Pledge of Alliegence to be President. Obama is playing the fact that he " Has African American IN Him ". He doesn't claim his other heritage becuase he is using his race as a campaigne strategy. His views are twisted and he is to worried about getting Oprah in is corner. For such an intelligent woman she is ignorant for supporting an unAmerican, Black? man.

    January 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. larry buchas, new britain, ct

    You know what's stupid, Charlie.

    Beating this thing like a dead horse is stupid. I guess you didn't get the memo? Obama & Hillary have called a truce. It's time to forget who is right and who is wrong regarding this stupid topic.

    Maybe all of this would have been avoided if everyone said it takes white & black to get along to gert things done? Sounds like Republicans & Democrats doing the same thing, don't you think?

    I speak for 99% of Americans. Let's start working together or else shut up!

    January 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Smitty

    Congressman Rangel,

    We the American people clearly understand how politic operate. And President Lyndon Johnson had nothing to do what-so-ever with the civil rights movement until it reached the momentum stage.

    The administration at the time was forced to react to all the many american who's civil rights had been denied for well over 400 years. It was the movement that was brought and lifted to the level of momentum steered headed by Dr Martin Luther King and the SCC.

    I'll like to know whether you or your father ever left the harlem and marched for so many people in the south who were denied the right to vote. So for you to speak up for Hillary Clinton (whom I support) is degrading towards Sen Obama. She was out of place to say the least .. as whoever would have been president at that time would have had to sign the civil rights bill. Remember the people have the power .. and not the politians. I think you need a young Obama to run against you for your seat and put you under pressure ...

    January 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Tee

    BTW, Those of you Attacking Rangel (and for OBAMA I am sure), how funny, I'm sure your all white attacking him (a black man). I smell Hyprocits.

    January 15, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. W.D., Silver Spring, MD

    Charlie Rangel really needs to excuse himself from the discussion!!! No one needed his input or cares for that matter!!! It baffles me that he seems to miss the point. These old guards of the past need to go an retire!!! I use to think age brought wisdom but now I see it brings ignorance and near sited!!!

    January 15, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Erik

    I think Obama is un-American. Do we want want an un-American President? I don't...

    January 15, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. Monte Brown, New York, NY

    Those of us who passed U.S. History in high school will agree with Hillary Clinton. There is no emotion about it. I am a black man and I want black kids to pass their tests in school. If a kid answers the question: "Who passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964", with an answer: "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.", the question will be marked wrong. Plain and simple. Dr. King was the fire, Lyndon Johnson was the decider who had the power. Both men were great, and I am greatful for their actions.

    There are a lot of demagoguic posters on this blog who are simply trying to appeal to black people's emotions to swing black voters to Obama. They know that Obama can't beat Hillary on the issues so they are trying to play the race card. As a black American, I am insulting by these actions. The Clintons are not remotely racist and to suggest that they are is ludicrous. Please. Knock it off. Come on America. It is amazing that there are still Hillary haters lurking in the blogosphere.

    January 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Bella Girl Chicago, IL

    I love this guy!

    Barack made a grave mistake playing the race card. Of course, he only played it after losing NH. They tried to play the race card so hard after NH, critizing Hillary when she speaks the truth, saying NH is racist because they vote behind a curtain. Funny, they didn't say anything about reverse-racisim in IA during the open caucus now did they. Give me a break. Barack should thank his lucky stars he made it this far along. He has zero experience and is running his campaign on a wing and a prayer and trying to fool the gullible along the way. I was so turned off by his speach after IA, how his voice changed to talk like a southerner and echo the voice of MLK. MLK was a great man and still is, he walked the walk and didn't talk the talk like Barack does. MLK made a difference in this country. Barack just wants to give a pretty speech. MLK had a vision and plan for CHANGE. Barack does not, he just SAYS it. Still no insight to what his big change plan is. Oh, it's about bringing people together and making the government all nicey nice. Yeah, when was the last time we heard that, from GW Bush. Look at what happened, nada. Washington isn't full of hippies, so stop the rhetoric, those are rough and tumble peeps in there and don't play nice. It's dispicable he's trying to win on affirmative action. I thought you wanted to unite people? Boy that lasted a whole 15 minutes.

    Barack, put the race card away, you've been trumped. You played it way too soon dear, there is still a hold stack of cards against you, mainly from the GOP, and boy do they have an ace in the hole.

    January 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. impolitico

    I think Obama has more to lose with this than Clinton. The details are at http://impolitico.wordpress.com/ which also points out how today's debate in Las Vegas gives Obama a fantastic opportunity to recover.

    January 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. LovelyLisa

    Please! This man is trying to position himself for arole in the Clinton cabinet. Obama is a real threat to him.

    It is no coincidence that suddenly a slew of "black leaders" are being paraded out, and are suddenly on the attack.

    As a black woman, I am frankly offended by it.

    January 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Black Man, Philly PA

    If it were a Republican that made the remarks of Rangel and Johnson, there would be a public out-cry amongst the so-called Civil Rights leaders. Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and friends would turn this "race" issue upside down. It's amazing that when "stupid" comments are made with the Democratic group, members are afraid to correct one another. They are all hypocrites.

    Obama 08'

    January 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. Carl

    the Civil War amongst the Democrats is why Republicans will win again...

    January 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. Joe

    How is wanting to reinstitute the draft stupid? America should have a compulsory military service. Our volunteer soldiers are stretched thin and young Americans need to learn about service to country and discipline rather than entitlement.

    January 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. j.smith

    hey charlie, you are a certifiable disgrace, why are you still in office? political hacks like you are why the democratic party is so ineffective...reinstate the draft???name a 2 million dollar library after you??? While i would never refer to an esteemed member of congress as an ignorant moron, Who was it that called an ignorant moron like you esteemed to begin with???

    January 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. ready to win

    I know that Mr. Rangel understands that Mr. Obama did not mean that M.L.K. could have signed that bill into law. I admire him for trying to help his long time friend but her camp is clearly responsible going negative. Has everyone forgotten who the Clintons are, how the left the Dem. party beaten down and ashamed. With them its just politics as usual, dont be fooled.

    January 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. jean v

    the truth is that without the grassroots organizing of the black church, the brave jewish activists and other people of good will and a particular delicate international situation, the cold war and the non aligned movement, the Civil Rights Act would not have passed because the political climate would have prevented it.

    Did LBJ's experience have anything to do with it? Hardly, the power equation made passing the Act inevitable. We need to move away form the race and gender pimps and begin to formulate policies based upon the genuine needs of the American people. Health care, renewed infrastructure, funds for math and scicence education, r and d funds for green tech and green collar training programs. Since one cannot put new wine in old bottles I am voting Obama because the Clintons had their chance and ended up triangulating not leading. It is time to turn the page on the psycho drama of the Nixon years that are still influencing a lot of our divisive politics and wake up to the demands of a new age.

    January 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. Brooke

    If Obama becomes president the media will have the toughest mess on their hands ever. The media will be criticized for being racist, too demanding of an African American and non-patriotic. This country does not need racial issues in the White House, or spreading across the headlines. But with Obama you will have them. More time is needed and as a country I don't think we are ready.

    January 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Ron CK

    If Obama is going to play race card or lack thereoff, we sure don't need a leader that gain support and popularity from all races and represent only the Blacks

    January 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Bella Girl Chicago, IL

    Hillary was not boo'd at the MLK event. Turn off Faux News. There's a YouTube of the MLK and not a single boo.

    Google is your friend.

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