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. jacob

    I have a question,
    Don't African Americans have serious problems that need to be addressed in a serious way. I think if they have a President could be better and will be in better positions to ask and air hard stuff than when they do to white people. Just my 2cents thought.

    January 15, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Ronnie the Republican

    I just love to watch the quadrennial implosion of the Democratic Party. You folks practically have both houses and the executive office placed at your feet and will walk right past just so that you can argue and fight with yourselves.

    Obama interjecting race into the primary is just folly, and then trying to have a faux truce is a sham. This is what we get when America chooses pretty and inexperienced over competence. 8 years ago we all wanted change blah blah blah and look what we get. A weak executive advised by Washington insiders. For all the change that the Democratic 3 promise who do people think will be put into positions of power other than the same Washington insiders that they complain about. Think about it the Democrats were running Dodd, Biden and Richardson, three pols with actual experience and ability, instead they choose photogenic empty suits. You know the next time I have a major life crisis, I will actively seek out a solution from a pretty, unimaginative, inexperienced amatuer instead of going to someone who has been dealing with such problems for 20 years- yeah that is a real smart idea.

    January 15, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. Henry

    Does this guy has mental Problem? People should start thinking who they are associating with since I think we are so different in thinking. I hope Clintons are not laughing off their nose by now.....

    January 15, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Jeff

    wow, what a moron?

    January 15, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Chris

    Funny because When I was watching last night Clinton and Obama – They asked Obama about the Race issue and His Remark was "We should focus on what needs to be done in this country" While Clinton is Back padlling with Dr. King This and Dr, King that , why is she so on edge unless ..... I mean if she knows deep down what she says is being twisted or mistaken why is she backpadlling so bad- Like a deer in Headlights....

    January 15, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. richie

    No wonder Barack is so smart he didn't associate himself with people like this one or run his presidency based on race. I wish him well....
    Go Go Obama!

    January 15, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Hot Rox

    The Clintons are all for an African-American being president, but not at the same time as the Hillary coronation is going on. After the Clintonistas destroy Obama with their dirty tricks, they'll make nice again with the African-American community.

    January 15, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Carl

    Charlie Rangel, Bob Johnson, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton

    NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!

    This election isn't about race or gender. It is about moving forward to bipartisanship for the citizens of this country. Something the Bush's and the Clinton's just don't get and don't care about. Bi par ti san ship! Something that hasn't happened since the 1800's. It will not happen with Senator Clinton. Rest assured, if the the Clinton campaign keeps this up and Senator Clinton does win the democratic nominee, young African Americans will vote republican in droves and here's why.

    Young African Americans are not naive. We know that Rengel's pockets are lined by status quo interests just like the Clinton's are. Young African Americans stand nothing to gain by voting for a democratic era that has passed its time. We will not be duped! This is our time! It's really comes down to Senator Obama or vehemently reject the old democratic era and vote republican. America would be better off voting republican than voting for Senator Clinton. The real opportunity lies within bi partisanship. Word to the wise, pouring tax payers dollars into federal programs does not work. Federal programs is like trickle down economics that lines the pockets of the CEOs and project directors of not for profit programs who use impoverished communities for their economic gain. Educated young African Americans are proud people and it wasn't given too us by our politicians of the past 30 yrs that's for certain. We earned it by studying our history although it was taken out of our schools! It's unfortunate we haven't had authentic African American leadership since Dr. King who bye the way wasn't a republican or democrat, Dr. King was indeed bipartisan. Senator Obama possesses that brand of bipartisan leadership although he is a declared democrat. Dr. King had flaws and certainly so does Senator Obama but, not nearly to the degree that the old democratic status quo does inclusive of Senator Clinton and certainly let's never forget President William Jefferson Clinton. Senior African Americans really stand nothing to gain from the Clinton's either unless of course their pockets were lined and now they feel obligated or they are obligated. I support President Obama 100% and the reason why is because through all of this he has demonstrated supreme character and class. If you have to ask what character and class has to do with it, guess what, you just missed what being the President is truly about.

    If given the chance vote Obama '08 in November if that chance is taken away I'll be voting republican and I know I will not be the only young educated African American doing so.

    January 15, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. Running In This Race

    There are other people in this race. Stop bickering and for God's sake, stop crying. Hillary come out of the panic room and run. There are other creeping up on you while you are in panic mode. I think Edwards is using the both of you to smooth the pavement for him. My hat is off to all of you, But, remember we are suppose to try to win over the Republican.

    January 15, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Tommy

    Has Hillary promised this guy vice presidency position or what. I cannot imagine an African American saying this to a fellow African american. The media is celebrating this so as the Clintons. God Help us all.

    January 15, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Kristine

    I am a lady and I wound love to see a woman president but not Hillary. For Rangel to come out swinging like this will only hurt Hillary not Obama.
    Obama 08, 12!

    January 15, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. Mark C, Asheville NC

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

    Uh, actually the only reason he proposed restarting the draft was to END THE WAR. He knew if rich white kids were dying out there it would get wrapped up in a hurry.

    You really ought to get a clue before posting.

    January 15, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. Chris

    O and for the folks leaning in the clinton camp on experiance ...... WEll all we've had for the past decades is Career politicians and look where it get us , Empty promises and an even emptier pocketbook. MAYBE we need a peron who as the drive , ambition , and dream to make a change with the way things are done and not the same old Lobbist Washington Truffle shuffle ... I mean I want a women to be president too and I like Clinton as a senator , but not as president , come on didnt we learn from the last 8 years of Bush

    January 15, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Meg

    I am so happy this country is not being run by people like this. I hope he is not over 50 because if he is I give him a pass and move on. Give me Obama any time of the day!

    January 15, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. tuna

    To Southern Gal:

    Johnson was very vocal. He was very powerful in Congress before running with Kenendy. So powerful that the Republicans were happy to see him go.

    January 15, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. ezasomo1

    There is nothing diminishing in Oprah speech about MLK.
    Actually MLK didn't live to witness the accomplishement of his dream (speech). The facts say that a black man can now compite in a presidential race in the same level as a white man. There is nothing insolting in Oprah's introductory speech as it was in bob Johnson's introductory speech for Hillary. They are just driven by hate against a young and a promissing USA president.


    January 15, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Bunting

    From a military vet

    Its interesting to me that the many people in this commentary that comment on the 'draft' probably have NEVER served in the military. What a bunch of cowards to make comments like you are making! The draft would make possible for a stronger defense of our country and ensure deeper thinking goes into any commitment of our country to war. The AVF also known as the all volunteer force of our armed forces was manned for a continuous wartime footing of approximately three years. After that timeframe a draft would be proposed to relieve the active forces. Now with both Afghanistan and Iraq wars going into the seventh year both the active and reserve forces are exhausted. They need some help and relief. How would any of you like to go fight a war for the fourth or fifth time?

    Anyone remember 9/11 when everyone seemed a bit concerned about their future and whether or not they would survive the next attack. Well that's never happened because of the continuous sacrifices made by the men and women in the armed forces. What have you done for a veteran lately, have you ever shook a vets hand and thank him or her for their volunteer service. The only reason anyone would be scared of a draft is because it might make them fight for their freedom and take them out of their comfort zone. But is there any better reason that fighting for your country, fighting for freedom – I say not! Bring back the draft and give America's all volunteer military force a break, what are you all scared of. That way we can all continue have the FREEDOM to vote for whoever we want to.

    January 15, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. Jimmy

    Us young people 48 and below have refused our future to be so much screwed up by this guy and the like. We will stand up to what is right. Time to tell them to pack and leave the white house so as clintons. Household names are not gonna run the most democratic country on earth!

    January 15, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Karen

    Time for change and change means People like above, Rangel and alot more!!

    January 15, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. ODC350@aol.com

    Yeah, foo, but look at tha man...he be so handsome with his double, um make that triple, chin and all...me wanna buy tha man some shickan wings to shar, you know ma talkin' bout

    January 15, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Brain

    This guy think the old way of thinking still rule this country. I have loved to vote for hillary but people like this just make me think twice. I am looking for other candidates who deserve me going into cold to vote.

    January 15, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. Me

    Great endorcement for Bilairy... What a joke.

    January 15, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Pat

    Many African-Americans don't like Hillary because she is white; many whites don't want Sen Obama because he is African-American. Get over it people – neither of them can change how they were born. I know people are going to respond by saying I'm not voting for Sen Obama because he is African-American, I am voting for him because he can bring the changes that are needed to this country; sorry but I'm not sure how true you are being to us or yourselves on this one. I'll be honest here, as a woman, in my heart, I would like to see Hillary Clinton become the first woman President, but I choose to use my head and I am voting for Hillary Clinton because she is the candidate whose beliefs on many issues are closest to my own. If she were a man (not matter the race) and held the same beliefs I do, I would surely vote for "him." Granted, in this case, it is just an extra bonus for me that she is a woman.

    At the rate we are going, I would have to agree with a number of posts that if we don't come together as Democrats, we are not going to remove the Republicans from the White House which is the biggest change needed and will hopefully start a cascading effect of changes all over. Forget the inner bickering, start attacking the Republicans and call them on what they have done to this country. The one who does that and continues to do that is the one who is going to bring about change, be it man or woman, black or white.

    I ask all Americans to please vote your head – not your heart. In the long run it will be better for us all. Thank you.

    January 15, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. damonm

    Hillary is scary!!!! I am a democrat but I am voting republican if she gets the nomination. Bill is even becoming Scary!!!!

    January 15, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Obama Mama

    "If Barack Obama is elected President, he will become the least experienced and least qualified individual to be elected President since the 1800s"

    Really – Tessio?

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha ........

    Thanks for the laugh. That prize goes to Dubya!

    January 15, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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