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. Denise

    I see over and over again words put in Hillary's mouth that she did not say. GET THIS STRAIGHT...she did not say the words "did more". She did not even come close to implying that LBJ was more important. I watch the news and they flat out lie when they say she said this. The more it is reported the worse her words get. Watch the video! She never even compared the two men...This accusation is really digging. As a matter of fact she is saying how it took a president to realize one mans dreams. THAT IS A FACT. Get over it!
    I hope she never says she bought a black purse...she will probably get accused of racism for that.

    January 15, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. S Carey, Sacramento, CA

    Just gotta say to good ol' "June (California Voter)" and all others who cast their vote predicated on - what???? If you are actually leaning toward Hillary but could switch to McCain, then you clearly are not predicating your vote on anything of substance – these two are poles apart on nearly every issue and represent parties that couldn't be farther from each other. Unfortunately June represents so many in our country – don't do ANY homework, don't make ANY effort to understand the issues, don't EVER pick up a book or endeavor to understand history. That is precisely how we got the current freakshow in the White House - and we most surely cannot afford another one.

    January 15, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Black Man, Philly PA

    It's amazing that black people are the only group in this country that causes a huge stir of controversy over nothing. Why you ask? It's because of people like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Charlie Rangel, and Bob Johnson. Their minds are still stuck in the past. They give no positive hope to black people. All they do is handicap the black community with their nonsense. Black people need to be aware that we can move beyond the foolishness that current leaders spend all of their time focusing on. You don't see this crap with Hispanics, and you didn't see it when Bill Richardson was a candidate.

    Obama gives us real hope for true change. All things are possible. We can believe.

    January 15, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. rbe1

    To Smitty,
    You know nothing.

    January 15, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Tracy, Los Angeles, CA

    Oh, please, people. Charles Rangle only wanted to reinstate the draft as a deterent to future wars. If the wealthy have at least a chance of having their sons and daughters involved in the war - as opposed to having mostly lower class folks who see the military as a way out of a dire situation, which is what we now have with the all-volunteer army - then those wealthy people might not be as cavalier with the notion of going to war.

    And as for Clinton "controlling" Bob Johnson or Charles Rangle - ha! Good luck. Neither of these men will be controlled by anyone when it comes to speaking their mind.

    January 15, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. IvyGrad06

    So Todd - does this mean that MLK and other Civil Rights leaders and supporters don't get credit for their efforts?

    Further – can I ask if you think that LBJ would have signed anything without the mounting pressure in the country?

    January 15, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. pray for a centrist

    poor, poor Hill. If this is the best crap her and her supporters can dig up Nevada's going to be BRUTAL. I mean really, does this illustrious congressman think this matters in the least when you consider the larger issues? The whole thing is rather pathetic when you stop and actually think about it. Democrats be warned: nominating Hillary Clinton will spell disaster in November. The republicans keep steering their debate and talking points toward how to beat Hillary because they are all PRAYING for her to be their opponent. Truth be told, Edwards has the best shot at the general election, but Obama is by far the best choice for the country.

    January 15, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Travis Sugarland, Texas

    As a child my parents, who are black, explained this kind of foolishness to me. I, like my parents, am a republican. Although, I am far more conservative.

    Black folk love the democratic party for some strange reason. Their love for Wild Bill is even crazier. Seeing Andrew Young smile and talk about Bill's success with black women was sad. Seeing Johnson and Rangel rush to the aid of Mrs. Clinton reminds me of some of the stories that my grandfather told me about bucks and the South. "...leave Mrs. Clinton be. She loves us. She good white folk. She feels our pain. Dat' Obama is a troublemaker dat don't know is place. Lawd, lawd, lawd...dat Obama dun los his mind."

    January 15, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Cheryl

    Obama has been very quiet about this whole issue. He has not sent surrogates to the media to fight a battle for him. The Clinton's are on the defensive for a reason – Change is coming.... Even if Obama does not win... Change of some sort is coming.

    It is the right of the American electorate to voice their opinions about what HRC stated. Every time that she or any of her flacks speak they make the matter worse. She made the comment.

    This should not make you change your vote. If you think this does, you were not serious about your first choice in the first place. AND the issue of race in this context gives you a reason and an opportunity to act on the racism that you know is harbored deep within you. That that says, I am egalitarian, but some folks need to be treated differently, looked at differently, belong in a certain station in life never to equal mine.

    January 15, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Vince FL.

    Charlie Rangel is STUPID !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO OBAMA!!!!!!!

    January 15, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Fran

    How dare you Rep. Rangel. You don't make remarks such as "stupid" especially when Obama graduated from HARVARD Magna cum Laude. Where the hell did you get your college ed from, anyway? Sure shows no class when you start going into another topic regarding his book and drug use which bears no relation to the issues.

    So what if his motive of writing his book was money (which, is very hard to believe). What's it to you? And, what is your motive to present yourself and make innuendos that discredit him? You wanted the spotlight on yourself????? You sure look stupid.

    Another thing, why won't you comment on the reasons why both Bill and Hillary Clinton wrote their own books? MONEY???????

    GET A GRIP!!!


    January 15, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. mk

    Bush to Obhama Make me President of Kennya for a year I will make it like United States in a year

    Obhama to Bush Make me Presidnet of United States. I will make me like Kenny in a month

    January 15, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. S Dean

    I'm so happy Senator McCain has a "lucky sweater" to wear to help him get elected for president. Maybe if he wins he can..."Not change his socks until the soldiers come home", or how about holding a "lucky rabbit's foot "in his hand under the table at all meetings with foreign leaders to get his way. I have heard there is some truth to "lucky underwear" as well

    January 15, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. BSR

    I love it, 7th Angel. January 15, 1:56a.m. Eastern

    January 15, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. chris robinson

    "This is the same toolbag who wanted to reinstate the draft. Warmongers think alike (or don't even think at all)."

    Rangel is NOT a warmonger. He wants a national draft because he knows the real warmongers will never get war if they know ALL Americans will have to sacrifice. Let's face it, if people were drafted to Iraq, we would NEVER be in Iraq.

    National Draft = Peace!

    January 15, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. More Media Hype

    I think my greatest pet peeve in this industry is watching people report news without context. Context isn't just important, it's everything — especially in these days of insta-pickup by blogs and online news sites, where just a snippet of text is enough to launch a million clicks.

    Controversy is the only way to get people glued to watch tv news and it sells a lot of newspapers.

    Everyone knows Hillary will win the nomination, Obama just can't compete with her at this time, hence it would be boring if it was a landslide early on, then there is nothing to report.

    January 15, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. Liam

    At the time that MLK and Lyndon Johnson were working on getting the civil rights bill enacted, Barry Goldwater was campaigning against the desegregation bill. Guess who was supporting Barry Goldwater at that time. None other than "Goldwater Girl" Hillary Rodham-Clinton, that is who. That means that she was actually working to elect a Republican Right winger who wanted to block the civil rights bill. So, if you want someone who was on the wrong side of civil rights history, she is Your Goldwater Girl. You go Goldwater Girl. You can fool some of the people all the time.

    January 15, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. JamB

    In time and sooner than he thinks, Rangel will deeply regret his verbal blast against Barack. When will people learn to reserve comment and let the cards fall where they may? US politics need a major overhaul.

    January 15, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Wufpakmom, Illinois

    I fail to see how "Ill-advised" constitutes an attack on Sen. Clinton. She was, after all, the person who brought up the MLK/LBJ connection, thus inserting the "race card" into the mix. She made the problem worse by cozying up to Bob Johnson, who does not enjoy universal respect from African-Americans, being as he is, a purveyor of cheap, misogynistic, voyeuristic so-called "entertainment". From former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) to her own staffers to Johnson to her own husband to the NV NEA, she has shown a consistent pattern of getting other people to do the dirty work for her.

    Rep. Rangel embodies the kind of shrieking, self-parodying, self-aggrandizing, "preacher man" that was the hallmark of the old style African-American politician – which accounts for the fact that, until this very moment, no African-American has been a viable candidate on the national stage. Mainstream America could not take those candidates seriously, and why should they? It's so easy to make fun of them; "Poor dears, how silly they look." Rather like anthropomorphising chimpazees at the zoo. We have evolved beyond this style of politics. It is time for them to stand down and shut up.

    Sen. Clinton has shown very poor judgment throughout this campaign. Either she is the chief architect of her strategy and in total approval of it, or she is clueless as to what her campaign staff is doing in her name. In either case, she has proven herself to be not worthy of the Presidency.

    For the record, I am an African-American woman. Whether or not I vote for Sen. Obama is still in question. But I will certainly NOT be voting for Sen. Clinton.

    January 15, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Rodney King

    "Can't we ALL JUST GET ALONG... ??"

    January 15, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  21. pam s.c.

    dear mr. rangel, leave obama alone. we all know that bill was the "first black president" how insulting to african-americans is that? there is a reason obama has the support of young americans think about it. we are raising our children that all men and women are created equal. these young people have been raised to judge a person for their deeds not skin color. bill clinton is not black. hillary is not black . what will be next with the clintons ? will hillary be the next "hispanic president".

    January 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Misty

    OK! Enough! This isgoing too far. Word twisting and more fuel in the fire- People don't you get it–it is the media making a mountain of a mole hill. Both Barack and Clintons should understand this and stop and quit making statements that keep the media putting them in headllines. Ramgle should refrain from using stupid remarks himself - Barack never said Dr. King paased the legislation and passed it in to law. Regarding Rangle's remark on Barack's book– people like Rangle and Clintons should be proud of Barack who had the foresight to work for the community without aspirations for gaining money or kudos. I cannot start on Rangle or Clintons– the dirty laundry list will surpass the gigabyte space alloted for letter writing by CNN.

    January 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. Bill

    Ragel was correct in calling Obama to task. King could not have accomplished what he did without the political backing of President Johnson and both liberal and conservative backing. I admirer Obama for his vision of what the future can be but in this case he's the one playing the race card,not Hillary.

    January 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. oliver

    I think Rangel or whatever name he goes by, be educated in the scheme of things. I saw the jealousy on his face for he can not stand the, bright, clean, well educated and a sound mind of Obama caliber. He and Sharpton are impostors claiming to be civil right fighters while in essence they are a menace to the soceity. Looking for who is stupid, he epitomize just that vernacular. Do not the defunct draft of his making

    January 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Marc

    what the clinton camp is doing is using black leaders ( clinton surrogates ) who support them to attack obama ...first it was bob johnson now rangel.......guess what we not stupid. anymore !!!!!.....if obama or edwards do not get the nomination ...am not voting for the democratic party....am sure mccain can use it wisely than hillary......shut up rangel you are not running.........or are you ?

    January 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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