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. norma

    Thanks Charlie – your defining the situation seems to say you've crossed the racial lines and can still speak the truth. Just like all religions interpret the Bible
    to fit their lifestyles, so do we twist the spoken word. Any of us can take a statement or word and make it look good or evil. What is there about truth that hurts so many. If you don't know the truth, than know the facts – they end up being one and the same.

    Hilary may be a lot of things to a lot of people, but she has never been racist.


    January 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. Stewart

    For everyone trashing Rangel about the draft, keep in mind he only pushed for it to prove a point. He wanted to show how it would never get passed because that would mean that every segment of society would have to prepare to possibly go fight and die, instead of just the poor people who need the money. Of course, his idea never got off of the ground because of how crazy of an idea a draft is right? I mean how nuts is it to ask the entire country to fight when wars breakout? Wouldn't it make more sense? Wouldn't we be more hesitant to go to war? And that was his exact point.

    January 15, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Del

    To allow clinton to attend much less speak at Dr. Kings event is an insult to the King family and all they stand for and have fought for in America. Any political figure who support her i.e. rangel that's a joke, has to be a bribed ,they had to be promised something if she would ever get eleceted Oh, it hurt me to even write that. would anyone really believe what she said about how she repects and worked for civil rights . How stupid can people be ? can't people understand she feels NOTHING for us everday hard working Americans. Family values ! ! that's a joke not there. all hilly-billy are doing is trying to set their legecy "the first to be " in the history books. I hope the 90's will be nothing but a also mentioned at the bottom of a page in our histroy books. Hook, crook, bribe, black mail, they will not lose. All voters should unite to get those two out of the political scene maybe they will ride off into the sunset, hopefully France.
    I hope Obama will stop trying to be the gentalman because he not dealing with any lady. Not be rude he wouldn't do that but make her define her accomplishments let us know what has been done in 35 yrs. Ask her how she has improved the health care in New York in seven years. That's not personal attacts which she will call it. It's just letting America know what shes talking about.

    January 15, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. greengoo

    OH, for heaven's sake. This is exactly why republicans keep winning elections – this in-house squabbling over NOTHING has killed the democrat party. Can't we just stick to the real issues instead of bad-mouthing each other...?

    January 15, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Jeannie, Atlanta Georgia

    You can all "pretend" to want change all you want. When you're in the booth all by yourselves ready to vote for our next president. I can assure you, it will NOT be for someone named Barack Hussein Obama. Stop lying to yourselves. I am a black female and I can't do it. Go Hillary!!!

    January 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. ????

    Why is my comment still in moderation???

    More Media Hype January 15, 2008 12:39 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    January 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. peopleRstupid

    He didn't want to reinstate the draft because he is a WAR MONGER. He wanted to reinstate the draft so that it's not disproportionately kids from the projects who are dying over there – so that the war might end SOONER because middle America might finally get slapped in the face with some casualties.

    Use some common sense.

    And he is 100% right about Obama injecting race into this campaign. "I am the next MLK Jr." is injecting race into the campaign. It sets up an argument that there is no way for her to respond to without race baiters jumping down her throat.

    January 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Joe Tyrrell, Milton, DE

    This question inspired some very lengthy replies. The flap was trggered by the Media intrpertaion – reading in meaning not directly expressed. Rangel is usually right but often over-the-top. He was stupid to call Obama stupid. Both Obama & Clinton need to let this go and stop pointing fingers and trying for advantage where none is deserved.

    (don't use my full name – thanks. This is not a duplicate comment)

    Joe in Delware

    January 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  9. Sarah OC

    Chris, Orlando FL January 14, 2008 10:17 pm ET WROTE:

    Agreed. Stupid Obama. Can't wait to see how Barack is going to turn this last comment by one of the highest ranking African Americans in Congress into a racially-motivated attack on him. Hillary has more blacks on her side than Barack ever will.

    And you know this how? Do you represent all the black people in the world? I don’t know what is more stupid.....Rangle’s comment or the one you just made. Who cares if he is the highest ranking African American in congress? Does that mean he's the smartest black man and the most influenced black man in American Society? Because of that I should respect his opinion?? NO! Coming from an African American I was shocked at Hilary's statement about MLK and respected Obama for addressing it in a dignified manner. There was so much he could have said.

    January 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. JimmyLee

    Obama is channeling MLK, once again. He may think he can "hope" us into a strong economy, a sustained peace in the middle east and less angst about our constitutional rights...it's just a fairy tale of words. The next time you listen to an Obama speech, focus on the MLK-like hesitations, the choice of MLK words and highbrow inspiration and his choice of MLK mannerisms. I believe Obama has his supporters drugged on eloquence, most of which is pure pablum.

    January 15, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Ben

    Come on Rangel do you seriously think I care what you have to say!!! You of all people to say that Obama's comment was STUPID! For decades I have heard you make some pretty STUPID comments.

    January 15, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. stan pitts pa

    I THINK hrc has finally hired rove to help her campaign, obama never stirred the race issue, its too divisive and he know better as for who loses, i think hrc does herself more damage, as the blacks in south carolina will not be voting for her much, also as for losing the the white vote, wont happen to obama folks know he is of mixed raced and not completely black, they like him and know he is a un iter and see great potential in him, obama tried to quell this issue, yet hrc attack dogs are still barking, folks its time to change washington and flush out these old and divisive do nothing people who have been in washington so long they dont know how to get anything done anymore, we need fresh new leadership if we are gonna take this country back, hrc was bought off once when she tried to pass health care reform, who says our whole govt wont be bought off if she becomes president?

    January 15, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. mary

    Before people start commenting on the things they seen on TV and the short shots in ads THEY SHOULD REALLY RESEARCH IT TO SEE WHAT WAS REALLY SAID.. clinton (both of them) made some really stupid remarks then had their supporters add insult to injury. Obama NEVER MADE A NEGATIVE COMMENT about anything said. He won't fan the flame that the clintons have started. Can't anyone read between the lines; the clintons are doing all this to try to make Obama look bad; thankfully he's too intellilgent and has too much charactor to fall into their trap. I'm just surprised that the clinton African Americans supporters involved in this whole mess are making everyone look so stupid.

    January 15, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Mikka Adams

    After reading Rangel's comment about what Obama said, I have come to the conclusion that veracity doesn't have much of a keen role in the manner in which the Clintons and supporters choose to deal with an opponent. I read Obama's statement, and if it was quoted accurately, he did not say that MLK actually signed a bill into action. Do we really want another leader who readjusts facts so as to meet their own personal criteria when it comes to taking care of America?

    January 15, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. Andrea Texas

    Senator Clinton was answering to the public in an educated and well informed manner. The truth. We need to remember that these men have kicked her, belittled her, and have been after her like a pack of wolves. She has demonstrated she will stand up to what is right. She is a good, solid, intelligent, strong candidate, understands the system and knows what it is like to negotiate.
    As an observation of Mr. Obama he appears really over zealous, and just wants to make history. He is a fast talker, and is Exceptional at telling people what they want to hear. He would make an EXCELLENT Attorney if he opened his own practice.
    We need more wisdom, someone that has balance. We simply CANNOT COMPROMISE the highest office in the land to someone that has honestly not earned their way. This is like when we go to the doctor, and see that he is really young. Go Figure..............
    Senator Clinton tells it whether good or bad to keep the public well informed. Don't give up on Senator Clinton.
    These debates, elections have always been this way, and I have followed them for 38 years now.

    January 15, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. Susan

    FINALLY someone calling it how it is. Obama IS using race in his campaign. He tried to do it in a subtle way but got caught. He refers to MLK in every speech he makes and somehow we were all supposed to pretend that that didn't have to do with race? He's not so suave, not so experienced, and not so qualified for the presidency. Clinton '08!

    January 15, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. an observation

    I am glad to see it is politics as usual and that this election year nothing will change – regardless of all the change talk that goes on. Listen people in this day and age who cares about the whole race card. Minorties all have the right to vote, work, play, live, breathe, and die freely in this country. If politicians really want to implement change in this country what thye should do is change the way they run their election campaigns and stick to what really matters. Lowering taxes, working towards peace, and saving the environment. I dare anyone to find me a polotician that will focus solely on that.

    Soemtime I think these politicians start these he said, she said, it said confontations to move away from discussing what should really matter.

    January 15, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. F.A. Ray

    Three cheers for Congressman Rangel,
    Hip, Hip Hooray!
    Hip,Hip Hooray!
    Hip,Hip Hooray1.
    God bless you for standing up and telling the truth.

    January 15, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. Stacey

    He suggested to reinstate the draft as a measure to prove that typically the poor fight in our wars. Further, that if there was a draft then maybe the people sending our troops to war would realize the error of the war since- via draft -would be sending their own children to war.

    January 15, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. Alton Jefferson

    Several years ago many brothers and sisters were calling Bill Clinton "The First Black President". How Insulting! I hope now you see how when race is brought into the cards, "The First Black President", is showing his real colors. If Hillary wins the primary, I'll vote for McClain. As far Rangel and Johnson, They are who we though they were. Out for themselves. Where is Al and Jessie and the rest of these so call leaders now?

    January 15, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. Travis Sugarland, Texas

    I'd like to encourage all of you to read up on Lyndon Baines Johnson. To an extent, I truly believe that LBJ, Bill, and Hillary are a lot alike. Black folk have a certain place and they should be happy. Moreover, read about Everett Dirkson.

    Please, spend 10 minutes reading about Everett Dirkson. Thedn spend 10 reading about LBJ. You may change your views.

    LBJ, like the Clintons, was poll and image driven. Rangel should know better.

    January 15, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  22. Mark

    “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."

    Now, THAT is a stupid statement. Who asked this idiot for his opinion anyway? Obama didn't infer that at all by his remarks.

    January 15, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. jfshima

    Charlie's suggestion that the draft should be reisntituted may be hard for most people to take, but it's not stupid. If everyone was subject to going to one of Bush's wars, there'd be a lot less support for them. Plus we should require some kind of national service for everyt one-CCC, military, Job Corps, etc etc

    January 15, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. AMP

    I am truly shocked at some of the comments I'm reading................

    People are truly sheep............sad!!!

    Say what you want, support who you want, but Hillary Clinton's record on civil rights speaks for itself. Please read the backgrounds of the candidates before you pounce.

    Before you get mad, notice the candidate that the republicans truly fear, that's right Hillary Clinton! They KNOW that if Obama gets the nod, the republicans take the Presidency, plain and simple! Not a peep from them, because they don't have to! Why, they know that they will take the red states (and most of the blue) without a fight! Why do you think the polls were wrong, people will lie in your face! Be careful what you ask for people!!! This is politics!!

    January 15, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Ben

    I keep hearing that the race card is being played but I have yet to see it.

    It's funny too. I read a lot of comments on CNN saying Obama needs to stop playing the race card and that we should never elect this "Muslum" as a president. Clinton's topic is change but her tactics remain the same. Shame.

    January 15, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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