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. Maxine

    NEWS FLASH!!!!

    Jesse Jackson, Charles Rangel, Bob Johnson, and Al Sharpton are not the voice for African-Americans.

    As an African American woman I PROUDLY support Obama. I was raised in a republican household and will be voting democrat this year. Statements made by Bob Johnson and Rangel only solidifies my vote for Obama. I guess all of the negative, stereotypical, derogatory programming on his network – BET has done a lot for a neighborhoods? There are A LOT of african-americans that have boycotted BET for this very reason. More cheap shots at Obama is only making him look like the better candidate.

    Vote Obama 08'

    January 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. just joe

    I must admit I had to chuckle reading all the comments from folks who remember Congressman Rangel FIRST for the legislator having the nerve looking for a re-implementation of the military draft. Kiddies, we have to do something.......tour of duty, go home........next tour of duty......go home, and on and on and on. Would you like to live like that? Not enough troops to go around? Hell, we got the National Guard...use them....to hell with natural disasters here at home. I see a glimmer of hope in some of our Presidential candidates suggesting interest in a commitment from young people for national service for a period of time. Man, do I miss the Greatest Generation! With that out of the way, I personally still believe that this whole mess was manufactured by the folks in the Obama camp looking at the black vote in South Carolina and their taking the easiest way out to incite those minority votes to vote for the Junior Senator from Illinois. Think about it. .......and where does Obama stand on the draft.....or anything else, for that matter?

    January 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. rac

    Those who attack Rep. Rangel (and Senator Clinton) here have no respect for legitimate and fair discussion. A respected black leader has given his opinion of a racially charged subject. His views are valid and significant, and the stupidity of some of the comments here (about the Draft!, etc.) are more hate-filled bigotry that people like Rep. Rangel and Senator Clinton oppose. Senator Obama is no angel, he is not a savior and he is not always right. That doesn't make those who point it out wrong. Thank you Rep. Rangel for your honest and important views.

    January 15, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. BCNU purple state, usa

    Where has her accent gone?

    I don't feel no ways tired, I done comes too far....

    A joke, get the Clinton side show off the stage.

    How 'bout the time at a speaking engagement last year when she brought up Mahatma Ghandi, you know, he runs a gas station over here on the corner of....

    I like how she talks about "If it weren't for Dr. King, I wouldn't be where I am today..."

    Give me a break! During the civil rights movement, where was she? She was the president of the Young Republicans at a nice white-bread all girls university in the lily-white northeast, fresh from her suburban childhood home in Chicago.

    The Clinton's are the Genovese family of politics!

    January 15, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. stephen

    i hate this type of stuff. it's why i hate clinton, why i'll vote republican if she's the dem candidate. it's disgusting tired politics, ...this issue isn't about anything other than Hillary feeling the squeeze of Obama as a viable alternative to her, and using lackies to make her attacks so she can lie and play ignorant/innocent later.

    January 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. freedom4all

    I completely agree that Mr. Obama's statement was absolutely absurd. MLK was a great man to both blacks and whites. But alas he was not President of the United States. Fortunately for all of us, President Johnson was an intelligent man and signed the appropriate legislation necessary.

    January 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Greg in OH

    Does everyone forget the NH recount will happen tomorrow? Why does no media mention it?

    January 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |

    I never liked the Clintons or Democrats as well. I am a minority who is considered by many a multimillionaire but live like a lower middle class person because I am taxed to death for what I would call unsuccessful politics, in Washington. I voted for Clinton in his first term as a blow to Father Bush for raising taxes after being pushed against the wall by Democrats trying to abuse the use of Social Security. Clinton’s presidency was only successful because of the contract with America ( a must read ), he had the opportunity to get Bin’ladin and save this country’s respect. Now race is very important in this case because not only do you have a person of color running, you have one who takes then for granted by trying to be one instead of help to culture the minds of their own kind. You now have them enlisting the powerhouses of greed to assist in damage control. Let me define:

    Charles Rangel – Most powerful man in the country ( he control all the money none of which minorities and poor folks receive )

    Bob Johnson ( Billionaire who was discriminated against in NY and now promised Billions by the Clintons to build his Airport in NY )

    Bill Clinton ( Disgraced President who tries to identify with another race by not trying to promote policy that would bring prosperity but to act like them by allowing statements that he is the first Black President as a joke)

    I hate this mess it needs to stop, I will vote for Obama because it is scary that three Families have run this country for almost Thirty-years and we still are talking about race this is not productive nor bring our Economy or pursuits of happiness to flourish ion’ I made my millions from hard work and value not my color so Clinton stop thinking that minorities are voting for you because of Welfare and social programs, they want you to acknowledge the need for balance for all people not just minorities.

    January 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. J

    Congressman Rangel supports a draft as an effort to get Republican's to resist a long-term stay in Iraq. Rangel's position is as long as it's all voluntary, the media and Republican's will try to push Iraq to the back burner. If there was a draft, I bet everyone in this country would be paying attention.

    He is right about Obama's comment. LBJ (Please read, 'Master of the Senate') new how to manuver Congress in order to get the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act passed. He also initiated other beneficial programs through his Great Society initiative. LBJ rightly deserves credit for getting those bills passed. So does the women in the Civil Rights Movement that don't get credit (Fannie L. Hamer, Septima Clard, Ella Baker, Diane Nash, Jo Ann Robinson, etc.), and the courageous reporters who went to the South to report was was going on (please read, 'The Race Beat'). Dr. King and the other leaders deserve credit as well.

    January 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Jake Bouie

    The young Senator from Illinois is a light weight and quite naive about the world. I hear him babble on about his programs and plans to resolve every ill the world and the country has. He has plainly has interjected "race" into the campaign. He is not ready to be president and we are not ready for him. We have a smooth talker in the White House now, look what he has talked us into. We do not need another George Bush type in the White House now, not ever.

    January 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. JimP

    Regarding Rangel's call for a draft, this was nothing more than trying to make a point about how only the middle and lower class are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. A draft would increase the likelihood the sons and daughters of members of Congress and the well to do would also be called to serve. Rangel was calling out war supporters on the other side of the aisle to offer up their own children for their endless war.

    January 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Domingo

    Enough already. Both the Obama and Clinton camps are making the democrats a laughing stock in the eyes of everyone, especially the republicans. We don't need to be reminded that racism in America still exists and we still have a long way to go. Stick to the issues we all care about. The economy and the war. This is so stupid. I think both sides have made their point. Move on!

    January 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. Lasse Christensen

    Well done, Rangel. Obama lost every ounce of respect I had for him by playing the tired old race card.

    January 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. J.C.

    How much do you think Hilary payed him to say this?

    January 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. Jeff b, new york, ny

    I'm completely perplexed by the comments critical of Rangel's attempts to re-instate the draft. Mr. Rangel did this to force the Bush administration into making sure that the armed services were prepared to handle the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Rangel is not a "war monger" as some have claimed, he was simply trying to force George Bush and his chicken-hawk cronies into a corner. In fact, if one knows the facts, they'd know that Mr. Rangel was and remainds completely against the invasion of Iraq. I applauded Mr. Rangel then, and I do now. The ignorence of the comments here regarding this issue is startling. Read the papers once in awhile folks.

    January 15, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. AJ, IL

    Rangel is a avid Clinton supporter. He was one of the original folks who persuaded Hillary to run for New York Senator even though Hillary didn't live in the state. Classic carpetbagging. Hillary knew she needed to run and win an elected public office to be a serious contender for President.

    You don't be like Hillary, involved in politics for 35 years and then decide to run for a public office in the last 7 years without a higher agenda.

    I am disappointed in Rangel and Johnson as well as other Hillary supporters who personally attack Mr. Obama. This a race for US President, not high school student body president.

    Obama has initiated the first sign of intelligence and unity by calling for a "truce" in a speech he gave yesterday. Then Hillary puts out a statement after Obama's speech calling for a "truce". The Clinton camp let this "race baiting" issue get way out of hand on purpose. I usually don't paraphrase anything from FOX NEWS but Dick Morris, former Clinton adviser, had a good analysis of the Clinton campaign tactics. Morris said "The Clintons would rather lose some Black votes by creating a White backlash against Obama." That actually makes some sense.

    January 15, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Ep

    One would tend to ponder an "Elected Offical" public use of words. " Stupid and Dumb" in the same sentence, hence the support.

    January 15, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. Wayne

    Rangle is an idiot. Obama didnt say anything out of line. Obama didnt even respond to Hillary's ill advised comment. I would like to also add that CNN has done a poor job of reporting the fact that it was OBAMA who was the bigger person, who called an emergency press conference to bring this nonsense to rest. Hillary issued a statement AFTER Obama took the lead to settle this mess.

    January 15, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Knowledge

    Whoever said Clinton has more black supporters than Barak... 'Nuff said.

    Now that's the truth.

    January 15, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  20. gigi

    Charles Rangel is a longtime friend and ally of the Clintons, therefore, he is on their side, or Hillary's, by defending her political interest, he is defending his as well. Mrs. Clinton made a remark about Lyndon B. Johnson putting into law what Dr. King started, created and demanded. By saying that without the power of a president no action takes place, she is right, or perhaps only half, it should be added that without the rallies, the recrutiment, and the uproar of a movement that was increasing by the day, and becoming an avalanche, Lyndon B. Johnson would have never even bothered to create the Civil Rights Act, which was the result of a black population that felt menttally and politically segregated ; this movement was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, in other words, Johnson acted promptly to stop a discomfort that was getting out of control, before it degenerated into chaos. Rangel believes that people, especially blacks do not how to discern what the truth is, or ignore their history, and Mrs. Clinton as an accomplished lawyer was playing with concepts and words, to get Obama right where she wanted to; on the race issue, so for those who have not yet figured it out, whites in Iowa for instance, Barack Obama is black, and that was her coded message.

    January 15, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. LaVern B

    To Sen. Rangel and other African Americans in the 'Clinton Camp...', respectfully I admonish, 'Come On, People!'

    The Clintons may insist that there is not and we need to forget about 'black or white,' however, Bill and Hiliary will never forget they are white.

    January 15, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. Joseph

    You people are killing me, Obama has no race card! If he did it would be a race deck! He has no one race background as a matter of fact none of us do.

    January 15, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Janey

    Thank you Mr. Rangel for getting the story straight! Hillary said nothing racist and Obama had his own motives for focusing on Hillary's remarks. Obama is focusing on the young people of this country because they are naive and inexperienced like Obama himself. Wake up America and do your research!

    January 15, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Natali B

    It's amazing how so many are quick to turn a negative cheek to Clinton and leave Obama in the lime light. This race is not a question of race, but truly a question of gender. I don't think people are ready for a woman to play the same games that typical male candidates do, because apparently when she does, she is critizied for things she says and doesn't say. I fail to see the media showcasting Mitt Romney's negativity, or overdramatizing Guiliani's failure to lead in any of the polls especially when he was the projected winner of his party. Yet, when Clinton waves the wrong hand everyone points out how incapable of a candidate she is. One needs to recognize that the fact alone of being a woman and a true contender shows the strength, intelligence, and ambition needed to be our leader. So swallow all the negativity and focus at the issues in hand, and not just for some man who claims to have the experience to bring change, and can speak eloquently. Remember it was Bush's LACK of experience that brought us to this utter embarrassment of U.S. governments.

    Hillary '08

    January 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Gary Richards

    Maybe we shouldn't have a Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. I guess Lyndon Johnson is the guy we ought to give credit to for civil rights. Never mind the guy didn't get anywhere near Selma or Memphis. He did the heavy lifting. Got the job done. ... NOT!

    Hilliary is stupid for suggesting that Johnson deserves more credit than he gets for the Civil Rights Act. And she can trot out as many of her fat cat black show pieces as she wants to explain why I should give her a pass on those STUPID remarks she made on prime time., she ain't sellin' me that. I lived it. I know which way the wind blows.

    She better get back to her issues. Stop trying to knee cap Obama all the time. Even if that tactic works, she'll make so many enemies along the way that she won't win the big enchelada in November.

    January 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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