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. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    Tom Davie January 14, 2008 10:27 pm ET

    Does anyone want to talk about EXPERIENCE NOW?

    This episode is a case of experience in washington CRUSHING an inexperienced Obama camp. This is how things are done in washington and no green horn newcomer is going to ever CHANGE IT


    January 15, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Mike

    It is amazing to see all the blogs from Obama's supporters as "very uninformed and no class". They want their guy as the President so far that anything the Clintons do is "calculating, manipulating, and evil. I just want you all to check Obama's record in the Illinois senate. Oops! he has not only "present votes" Be real guys, Obama is not ready or qualified to be US Presudent now, maybe in the future. Hillary have paid her dues and ready.

    January 15, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. ragingcentrist

    Can someone please educate me by descibing what EXACTLY the clintons have done for the African-American community?

    Saying someone has done so much for the community and ACTUALLY delivered are two different things.

    Please, someone prove me wrong……..

    January 15, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. Winfield G. James

    I have never considered Congressman Rangel to be that smart an individual. However, I never actually thought that he was as stupid as he now appears to be after making the comment about Barack Obama's response to the foolishness and race baiting statements from both Clintons. I guess Rangel is just another black politician from the outdated era that feels he must still sing for his supper.

    January 15, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Susan Reyes

    When Hillary first decided to run ,I really thought I would definitely vote for a woman in office, no questions asked. However, after Obama came into the race, it was like a breath of fresh air. It made me sick to read of women voting for her in New Hampshire just because she tried her crying act in public to gain support. I thought her husband actually did some good things for the country while he was in office. However, I despise when Hillary, her husband, and their camp start personally attacking other candidates and turning around their words or making up things they actually didn't say. Also, if she gets into office, it will be the same old power broker moves you have seen in the past along with all the hatred. Mr. Rangel looks a bit tired, doesn't he?

    January 15, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. pam Eugene OR

    Will some of you people PLEASE get your facts straight instead of blindly repeating lies generated by the Clinton attack machine. You drive me nuts with the statements that are total fabrication.
    Obama has done NOTHING wrong here at all. HRC made a thoughtless comment about LBJ and MLK. It was not well thought out. Obama said nothing about it until asked by reporters and then responded it was possibly ill advised. He NEVER put put race into it all. The Clintons and there supporters did that and tried to blame Obama. He has taken the high road all along and is the only bright spot on the horizon. Please do not put out this wonderful light with lies and rumors.
    The Clinton do not deserve another chance to live in our White House. Is is sad to see what has become of Bill and also sad to see what Hillary really is. We have had enough of their dirty tricks and smear tactics. Please hear only the truth. You do not have to read between the lines to find it. It is right there for all with an open mind to see.
    Get the hate out of politics and take the Clinton with you.

    January 15, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. AMP

    T all those criticizing Hillary for initially being in the republican camp...............ever heard of the term DIXIECRAT.........................

    January 15, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Cheryl

    Rangel Sold out his people in his district to the highest bidder. What can you expect from him. How much did the Clintons pay him?

    January 15, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Bill

    It is also amazing how many people are willing to give the Clinton Crime Family a pass on anything they say regardless of how racist it may be.

    January 15, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. Brian C

    He wanted to reinstate the draft to force Republican's to put their own privlidged children at risk. It was in no means meant to pass.

    January 15, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. hilraiser5

    Hiliary is doing fine, as she is! Watch her in the debates! Obama can't really cut it in the debates......

    January 15, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Michele C

    I always greatly admired Congressman Rangel, but not any more. I have listened to many speeches made by Barack Obama, and not once did I hear him say that Martin Luther King could have signed the act passing civil rights. Getting caught up in the Clinton Machine of deceit and lies is really beneath Mr. Rangel, but c'est la vie!!!! People change I guess. What a disappointment.

    January 15, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Cassandra

    Thank you Brooke from January 15, 2008! You are the Perfect example of exactly what the Clinton camp was trying to accomplish by bringing race into the debate. You see America, Brooke is right. Americans would never elect a "Black" President. However, America might elect a "Qualified" President which is exactly what the Clinton camp is afraid of (Barack would win). The Clinton camp is the one that interjected race into the campaign by attempting to pander to Black churches and find Black supporters. Would someone please tell me where Barack introduced the word "race." African Americans were INDEPENDENTLY offended by Hillary's silly comment concerning LBJ. The only thing Barack said was that Hillary was 'misinformed' and 'ill-advised.' He never attacked her commitment to Black issues, etc, which he certainly could have because Clinton was responsible for the crack/cocaine sentencing laws which disproportionately detrimentally affected African Americans. I mean really, everyone wants to sit up here and say that the Clintons have 'helped' Black people, but how? Cause he can play the sax!!! Insulting. I want facts, not rhetoric (especially since there are alot more facts to sugest otherwise). Hillary is literally arguing with herself. If anything Barack has been very cautious about discussing Black interests (to the point of garnering criticism) because he and his camp know that he can't possibly win if America sees him as the "Black" candidate. America must see him as the most qualified candidate (which he is) if he is to win. Barack is not stupid, why would he play the race card when he knows it would only hurt him. Hillary, on the other hand, does not want America to forget that Barack is Black because she is banking on deep seated racism and feminism to win her the election. By the way why isn't it equally unacceptable to play the gender card, especially since WHITE WOMEN have been the primary ones to benefit from affirmative action. The only reason why race is coming out now is because HillBilly (Hillary and Billy) knows there is a good chance they may lose the election. They are using their "Black" mouth peices to do their dirty work.

    January 15, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. JLD

    Rangel has been an appaling embarassment to blacks (and yes I am a black man) for way too long. Just seeing him spout his nonsense makes me even more committed to support Obama.

    Obama '08!

    January 15, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    GaryO Virginia Beach January 14, 2008 11:16 pm ET

    Rangel is absolutely correct. President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law.
    If he had not done so, there is no way that Doctor King or any of his supporters could have seen it happen.

    Obama cannot be that unaware of history. Of course, MLK had a lot to do with the advancement of the Civil Rights movement, but he did not sign any bills into law.

    It is YOU who are unaware of history sir.....THE ONLY REASON JOHNSON SIGNED THE ACT WAS BECAUSE OF THE PRESSURE HE WAS UNDER BY MLK AND THOSE FOLLOWING HIM. JOHNSON WAS RELUCTANT TO SIGN BUT HAD NO CHOICE........but I'm not surprised you posted this as it is becoming clearer to me that all of Hillary's supporters are liars, distortionists and historical revisionists.

    January 15, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Bill

    YENDIS, For some reason I doubt what you're saying about who you are,but I'll conceeded that point ..Bush missed Bin'ladin in Tora Bora as we didn't have enough boots on the ground.Bush thought Iraq was more important.It's coming back to haut him. Bill Clinton had to work with the republican controlled congress and he did it well. With regard to the Contract with America it seems the GOP forgot about it and spent like hell not to mention the corruption that pledged and continues to pladge the honorable GOP party.

    January 15, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. scott

    Hillary can say what ever she whats to say and people will still vote for her. I do not understand. She has said everything but what she is thinking that if you are black you have to vote for me. Blacks are aloud to get her into the white house just not walk throw the doors with her.

    January 15, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Lisa in AL

    I am not for either one. I hate to see Obama who will not salute our flag that he will be supporting. I could not vote fo him just because of that. Even if he was the best qualified for the job. I would only vote for Clinton as the best of the worst to select from. I hope to fine someone truely qualified that loves our country for the right reason!

    January 15, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. Vv

    All these nonsense should just stop. I will go for one who is competent, who can lead, who has the experience and good enough to clean up all the economic downturns the country is going to face.

    Whatever the supporters comment, we should just leave it. Most importantly it is to look at the candidates capabilities to govern US. What for elect someone simply good at power play and can't govern the country well. I mean we should look at the objective of what the US president should achieve, and use those as the criteria to judge the candidates. What we need now is peace and stability, so enough of slandering. Nobody's right, nobody's wrong, all has part of the blame. So let's move on.

    January 15, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  20. T - Reno, NV

    Obama does not need to respond to Rangel. He is a member of congress with very little power after attempting to reinstate the draft.

    As for the response that the Obama camp has had to all of these statements from the Clinton's, I feel that he has handled it far better. The Clinton's are really digging themselves a hole in this election, and may not be able to dig themselves out.

    The same tactics that worked in '92 and '96 are just not paying off for them this time around. Now, will someone please tell the former "impeached" President of the United States to put a sock in it! We're tired of the "he's bashing my wife" garbage.

    January 15, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. Gobama

    Americans should DISALLOW A CLINTON THIRD TERM! . . . .

    It is very obvious that the self-destructive Bill Clinton is using his wife to win a THIRD CLINTON TERM in the defiled White House with the interns.

    Last time the self-destructive Clintons built up a huge White House legacy and then proceeded to foul their White House nest and undermine the US Presidency, which has not recovered after 8 years.

    It will take a character of Obama's stature to fix the US Presidency.

    January 15, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. Jeff from Jersey

    Obama is a "Never done anything about anything" egocentric that has tried to associate himself with John and Bobby Kennedy and Dr.King.He makes pretty speeches promising everything and anything that people want to hear to elect one of the worst fakes in our history!

    If Dr. King ever heard him,he would slap his face for deceiving everyone,especially black voters and the black community in such an abusive manner for his own personal fame,fortune and power!

    At last there are enough cracks in his carefully designed con job for people to begin to see him for the fake that he is.Let's just not hope it's already too late to send this con artist packing.

    January 15, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. marla

    This is Obama's Sister Souljeh moment. Bottom line shouldn't both men (MLK and LBJ) be given credit for the civil rights act of 1964 along with John Kennedy?

    Without LBJ's wheeling and dealing influence on this piece of legislation I am not sure it ends up passed at all....

    January 15, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. keith, washington dc

    Already a dead horse. CNN, take this story off your current headlines! There's still on the homepage a heading of "Obama's MLK Comments Called Stupid." That limited information is enough to get me rowled up again but the candidates are past it so CNN should too and in the process will help get us commenters commenting about better things!

    January 15, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Cheryl

    Chris, Orlando FL

    You are wrong. Hillary does not have more black support. That is the very reason why she was booed yesterday. She should have admitted she misspoke instead of blaming Obama for her mistake. Obama never came out and said anything about the issue. However, people like you try to state otherwise. Like Obama stated she misspoked. She should have moved on. But instead she wanted people to think Obama pushed her into it. He did not have anything to do with her and Bill's words. She will not next time to say, " That is not what I meant to say". ? That would have been so easy to do. However, you never hear the Clintons admit when they are wrong.

    January 15, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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