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. olutayo

    Well this is politics and its a dirty game. I think looking back to all the comments, the Clintons have been dirty and Bob Johnson and Rangel have degraded them selves. For 1 thing, no caucasian will come out to destroy a fellow caucasian the way both have! Absolute shame on them. During a radio show, Bill Clinton distanced himself from Bob Johnson but was fully aware of what they told him to say!

    Hilary has shown she'll do anything to get in! We're back to the same dirty game of politics which destroys opponents without coming out to show what candidates can do. I won't vote for her. This presidency is more like a credential booster for her!

    January 15, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Lorraine

    He challanges anyone to belittle the "contributons" that Dr. King has made, Ok. Here goes....Dr.King's real name is Michael. His thesis and doctoral dissurtation was plagiarized. Professors were happy to award a doctorate to such a candidate no matter how much fraud was involved because it was the "political" thing to do.

    The list is long on this so called Dr.
    He is a fraud and here is a source of info to ponder.
    1. The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.- – (an official publication of the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change).

    2. "King's Plagiarism: Imitation, Insecurity and Transformation," The Journal of American History, June 1991, p. 87) David J. Garrow
    3. New York Times" of October 11, 1991, page 15.
    4. "The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.", David J. Garrow, (1981).

    5. "And the walls came tumbling down," Rev. Ralph Abernathy (1989)

    January 15, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. Felly

    Charles Rangel is the one that is stupid. He needs to find his own voice first before speaking. I guess he is jealous of Obama's potentials to be the next President. He is living in the past. I will take Obama's messages of hope, vision and inspiration any day than boring Charles Rangel, Johnson, and Hillary's messages put together. Hillary has nothing to offer than status quo. She is the crying candidate, and has used up her last life line in New Hampshire. She is desperate and knows that she cannot fool the people by crying again. Hence, she resorted to playing a race card. Who needs a crying baby in the White House when the going goes tough?

    I used to respect Bill Clinton, but not any more. As a spouse, I realize he has to support his wife, but the way he is forcefully inserting himself in this capaign leaves little or nothing to be desired. It's a do or die for him and Hillary after spending 8 years in the White House. This is nothing but buy one, get one free package. This is a bad product. As a formmer president, Bill's gaffes during this capaign has diminished his legacy as far as I'm concerned. It is for this reason that I will vote for Obama no matter what the outcome maybe. If this bickering does not stop, democrats may end up losing the general election come November.

    January 15, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. jls-florida

    Can't we all just get along?

    January 15, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. david

    The most astonishing thing of all is how the clintons and the media managed to spin this as "Obama's MLK comments."

    January 15, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. NJ Steve

    Politics is almost by definition polarizing as evidenced by the comments to this article. What has Hillary done so wrong to illicit the vicious attacks by Obama supporters? What has Obama done so right to illicit so much hope? Change, we want change? maybe Michael Jackson had it right, - look in the mirror and change. Electing a woman would be change. This country has been run by men for over 200 years, it is an "old boys club" nearly an all boys club and Hillary is an outsider; Obama is not, he is a fully inducted member of the club and he will not bring about change. Look to his voting record, in the tough votes where loyalties vs. right, he has abdicated and not voted; a true politician.

    January 15, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Adrianne

    Housewiving during Bill's governorship and presidency isn't exactly leadership experience! Tell me who is getting a free ride! The media needs to wake up!

    Obama showed strength and courage in opposing the war from the start...whilst the democrats in the house rolled over their backsides, for fear of being labeled weak!

    January 15, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Eric Esq.

    It might be time for us to run all of the old, hardliners like Rangel out of office. They keep up a lot of bickering and are very ineffective at crafting legislation that actually benefits their constituents or the American people as a whole. What is the last piece of meaningful legislation Charlie Rangel has written???

    January 15, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. Marv...

    What? Does Rangel even know what day it is. When did Obama say this? When did Obama bring race into the picture? Please Rangel, read before speaking. Especially before using the word stupid.

    January 15, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. FCR


    When Hilary was behind in NH, she, Bill, and her campaign made gender the issue. She was losing because she was a woman and the "bad men" were picking on her. The women evidently bought into the hype and voted for her. My question was then, if she is the tough one, the one ready to take on unfriendly world leaders, then why is she the one who broke down and had to have her "big, strong man" come to her rescue? That was an insult to women and they didn't even recognize it.

    Then she, Bill, and her people made remarks that were offensive to people and seen as racist statements. To control the damage made by their remarks, they immediately began an attack against Obama for bringing race into the campaign, when in truth they were the ones who did so. They were the ones who used "white speak" to bring out racist thinking, with the belief that non-whites would not catch on to it. Or perhaps it was done to bring race into it where they could attack Obama openly for getting the "black votes" they were counting on.

    Anyway, it is time to let this drop from our open dialog but remember it when we vote. I will never vote republican, but I also will never again vote Clinton. In fact, I wish I could go back and undo my 1992, & 1996 votes for Bill and all the times I came to his and her defense in those troubled years. I still don't believe what the republicans did was right, but now I wish I had just stayed out of it all and not really cared.

    January 15, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Anthony Rubio

    First off, I believe that neither of them were correct in stating any of their arguements. Anybody who has taken a history class will know that historically speaking, women-regardless of what race they are- were inferior to men of any color. I say that because some felt that what Hillary was saying fell along the notion that 'it took a white man to help the black man out.' If that were so, I would not take any offense because that is historically inaccurate and simply stupid on her behalf; not to mention the fact that African Americans had civil liberties before women ever did.

    January 15, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. Glen

    I have always liked Congressman Rangel as a fellow African American, but for him to jump on Barack like we need a black person to bash another black person to rescue Hillary Clinton is stupid. Let's not be house blacks coming to the rescue of the master's wife...Hillary opened her mouth and not only is her husband coming to the rescue now we have a black leader coming to her rescue...if she keeps this up and is the nominee...I think a lot of blacks will NOT vote for her now...either make peace with Barack and try to win the nomination on her record not using others to fight her battle after the tears....give me a break....I use to like Hillary too but she has gone over the edge...stop dirty politics and run on your record only...

    Glen H.

    January 15, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Marc

    The Hill made an accurate comment. It took white folk who were inspired by MLK and others to make all this happen. As a former Marine I don't totally disagree with Mr. Rangel. What better way is there to stop a bogus war than to get everyone involved. A draft would definitely do that. I think he has said that before. As for Barack, I am still ticked-ff that he inserted the immigration issue into the debates by trying to blind side the Hill. As a latino living in the state of Arizona this issue hits too close to home. I have literally lost all respect for Obama. Where is the humanity when you act like a republican to score points.

    January 15, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. John

    I challange anyone to list a time when Obama has injected race into this campaign. Name one time. He has simply said that Hilalry's commenst were ill advised...which quite frankly they were. For some reason now the CLinton's are tring to blame this baklash on Obama. It is laughable.

    January 15, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Paul - CA

    Great examples of stupid, nasty liberals. That any group of people could elect and idiot like Rangel speaks volumes about the American idiocy that is the electorate.

    If you lib's do elect Hilliary, you deserve everything you get. You already know what a vapid, immoral, self-serving whack job she is. You already know they will steal the furniture upon exit from the White House.

    I only hope that enough people with a brain look to elect a real leader, someone like Rudy or McCain, as these are men with real leadership experience, who have made difficult decisions while those around them have lost their minds, not just professional blabber-mouths like Hilliary and Obama.

    January 15, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. Matt

    What the heck does support for the draft have to do with this issue folks? Personally, I'm against war but think there should be a draft. The "haves" would have as much to lose as the "have nots" if this were the case. But again, this doesn't have anything to do with the subject matter. Sheesh!

    January 15, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. Harry, NY NY

    All of these issues are meant to distract from Hillary's record in the Senate. Her selective recollection of which measure she supported with regards to the Iraq war vote, the fact her foreign policy adviser is chairman of a company that specializes in offshore outsourcing, the fact she voted against alternative fuels.

    Without topics like these, and her public displays of humanity, her record would sink her. Its now just another sporting event to see who can outlast the other and win the "popular" vote.

    January 15, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. SpeaktoMe

    Well, I say this Rangel, a lot of us act out on our emotions, but you acted out without the benefit of intellect. Did you ever think, "what make her call on me now", you have not made no public statement as of now concerning Hillary campaign remarks, so why now. She needed one of her high ranking African American to speak on behalf of her stupidity. Like, Forest Gump said, "stupid is what stupid does". So what does that make you. Again, Hillary underestimated the voice of the people. Believe, the people are not going to put Bill Clinton back in the White House.

    January 15, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. Attacked by the Establishment

    So called civil rights laws are nothing more than an excuse to push reverse discrimination. When we get rid of these laws along with all special laws for certain groups of people the present discussion will not be necessary! Until that time the country will be divided along racial lines, all Africans hating caucasians and some caucasians hating africans!

    January 15, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. Sheri Abernathy

    The mud slinging is just starting and people are reading into it what they want.
    I righteously can't vote republican because they not only help the rich, but they are taking away our freedom under the disguise of homeland security for a war Bush started. He knew about 911 and let it happen. All the lies under the current administration Bush/Cheney totally outweight Clinton's affair. Republicans are dirty and know how to hide their dirty laudry and not get caught. They fire anyone who speaks the truth. American's are going hungry while Bush sends our hard earned money to his war. Bush won't let Congress do their job by vetoing their acts, yet blames them for everything that is wrong. How about coming down from your high horse, where everything is my way or the highway, and start working with them. The republican's claim to be Christians yet they don't act charitibly and they won't even own up to their mistakes and indiscressions. People, vote for the best candidate, by watching them. Actions speak louder then words. If their words are fowl, or they talk about everyone else and not what they are going to do, don't vote for them. I'd rather see a woman or colored person voted as president and remove the traditional white male from the white house. People, it is time for a change!

    January 15, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Anthony

    None of these comments were talked abot until the MEDIA MADE it a race issue. Once again the MEDIA is dictating the talking points. When will the rest of you idiots wake up and realize you are being manipulated by the MEDIA.


    January 15, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. Zoraida Krusina

    For goodness sake, would you stop already!!!! I actually had an open mind about all of the candidates, including Hillary, when the campaigning began. NOT ANYMORE!!!!

    Both candidates called truce, but Clinton's camp is still badgering. Clinton...will you call off your dogs.....geezzz

    Very annoyed

    January 15, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  23. Jason


    January 15, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    "and if he really did swear in on a koran then they should show that,

    How many times are people going to repeat this stupidity without checking FACTS? All the people who aren't interested in truth keep confusing him with Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison. If you are going to vote, you owe it to your nation to have some interest in TRUTH.

    January 15, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. NewChicagoan

    Rangel wanted to reinstate the draft not because he's a "warmonger," but because he's anti-war and knew that it would quickly lead to an END to the war! nice attempt to spin (i.e. dishonestly distort) his position!

    January 15, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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