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. longhairgirl

    From everything I've read here, I would have to say that – as in all politics around the world – most people pick a politician/political viewpoint to support, and then find reasons to support them, not the other way around.

    And believe me, despite your efforts to bend over backwards to say to you are doing just the opposite, your words reveal the truth.

    Very few people actually have paid attention to facts or have bothered to look for an undistorted source.

    The true lack of intelligence does not lie with Obama or Clinton, and not even so much in their camps of supporters, but with the people on forums like this who take media reports that agree with their own views as the holy gospel, shunting aside (or failing to seek out) any other type of information.

    To quote:
    ""People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool."

    January 15, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Charlene in VA

    I must make this statement... with all of the negative remarks aim at HRC and anyone that comes to her defense one would think that most of the response that is posted on this board is from a member of the Obama staff posing as a supporter for Obama . A staff of sworn and dedicated staffers of writer keep it negative for the opponents put out any and all that would make the other opponents look bad . So Mr Obama is that whats going on. when you go over to his there are very few attacks on him. So i m calling you all out OBAMA STAFF POSING AND TRYING TO KEEP THIS CAMPAIGN NEGATIVE,

    HRC 2008

    January 15, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. Educated African American Woman

    Who is Rangel in the eyes of African americans. People this guy don't speak about us. Sorry dude, we know too well what is like to make those old comments that don't get anywhere beyond you!

    January 15, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. AK

    This is crazy! All of these people on here having to state that they are African-American. Who cares! Why do you have to justify your vote for Hillary? The race card was pulled a very long time ago. People are not blind, Obama is black. The point of the matter is that whether Obama gets the nomination or if Hillary does, we are witnessing historic change in America. We all know that if either of them wins, there will be a Democrat sitting in the White House. My ideal world is to see one of them pick eachother for a running mate. My vote is with Obama, not for his color, but for what he stands for. If he does not win, I can deal. Then my vote will go for Hillary.

    January 15, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. John

    What did Charlie Rangel say that was wrong? If it was not for JFK/LBJ would the MLK civil rights bill be passed? No way if Barry Goldwater got elected in 1964. Everybody can rip Hillary and Bill about anytrhing they feel like but Sen Obama is off limits. Sen Obama writes a book in 1995 and reveals his drug use (tell all books do sell better). Now that he is running for President that is off limits. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF HILLARY DID COCAINE AS A TEENAGER? Lets play fair here!!!

    January 15, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. Yvonne

    Charles Rangel is an idiot. Sen. Obama has not said one negative word about any of the negative comments that have come out of the Clinton camp. He is not attempting to make race an issue they are. As a African American I am ashamed of both Charles Rangel and Bob Johnson. If you don't like Sen. Obama that's your decision but he, like you, has struggled long and hard to accomplish what he has. The Clinton's are allowing their workers and supporters to drag this election in a very negative direction and when Sen. Obama doesn't respond they make something up. She said what she said and people are intelligent enough to interpret it in any way they wish. This is a perfect example of the Clinton machine at work or should I say the Clinton/Washington machine at work. They will do anything and use anyone to win. Her 30 years of experience is as a Washington insider not experience in an elected office. This is the devisive nature of the Clinton's and it amazes me that some blacks choose to turn a blind eye. They are so focused on what they perceive President Clinton to have done for African American's in the past that they will allow them to disrepect one their own to support them. Let the election be won by positive not negative. Hillary cried when she thought she was going to loose New Hampshire and got the sympathy vote now she is crying poor me trying to sway the Nevada vote. I will not support her even if she steals the democratic spot because I don't trust her as far as I can throw her.

    January 15, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. Educated African American Male

    “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."

    What a moron. I have followed Obama campaign ever since and I know for sure he didn't suggest that.
    Now that Dr. King was abused because of standing up you want to suggest we continue being beaten, dragged, all abuses before we become a president or get any chance for a position in the goverment?
    I am so proud of Obama not injecting race in this campaign. We all see Clintons through.

    January 15, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. Liz L.

    Hillary is the one. She has experience and why is so many people afraid of her???
    Obama is a great speaker but does not say anything. I think times were pretty good 8 years ago and she knows how to get things done and will be able to "talk" to the Middle East, I think that is most imoortant.

    January 15, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. Tom Davie

    I cant believe how many obama supporters will vote republican if they dont GET THEIR WAY !!!! (Obama)

    The republicans dont stand for anything that Obama does.

    You will vote to continue the war in Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, and broken healthcare? All because the beloved Obama isnt nominated?

    This just goes to prove that Americans will give their vote away , and issues dont matter.

    January 15, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Ken, Suitland MD

    Boy there are forests of rubbish being dumped on this thread, mostly by the supporters of the democratic candidates. But you repub-bots who posted here really do stick out like baboon butts in the canopy.

    For all you democrats and so-called independents who hate Hillary or Bill for what ever irrational reasons you have, or for those who have shrilly belittled Obama for no factual or logical reason, and especially for those who have indicated they are prepared not to vote, or vote republican if your candidate doesn't win the primary: please take your ignorance, stupidity, and dogmatic views over to the party that embraces these characteristics, and there you can have fun debating who is the better christian to sacrifice your children in the next quasi-religious crusade for nation-building; who is the better purposefully ignorant anti-science wingnut that will see to it that the oceans rise the most while leaving your progeny little natural legacy; who can cut taxes the most for the wealthiest and sell the most national debt to our foreign competitors; who can most quickly drive our economic system backwards to the late 1800s so that your children's work has the greatest benefit for the wealthiest few; who can game the illegal alien issue the most to simultaneously benefit employers with low wage workers while stoking racist fires amongst the ignorant; who can sacrifice more of your civil rights all in the name of keeping you "FREE"; who can grow the Federal gov't the most while telling you they are for small gov't; who can take the least amount of responsibility for the negative outcomes of their own policies by blaming Bill Clinton's presidency; ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Campaigns are tough, candidate vie for the vote, but those of you who cannot see the major differences between the parties, after all that has gone on over the last 7 years, deserve what you get ..... Bush III. Just stunningly STUPID!

    January 15, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. hidden agenda

    This is truly getting ridiculous. There are at least 300 comments here posted by un-ethical, illiterate, self-proclaimed conspiracy theologists; it's time to stop. Everytime a comment gets posted, people scramble to their computers to voice their objections. The most widely used term on this thread, "Let's get the facts straight" makes me wonder where everyone is getting their facts from because they all differ. Obama is black, he uses it to his advantage to solicit the minorities votes; especially when he finally acknowledged his wife's presence by bringing her into the spotlight to shine light on her personal experiences. Hillary plays the gender/political ties cards; obviously she does something right.

    But, our dilema is this, both candidates are backed by lobbyists; as well as every other candidate out there. They are not working for you or I, they are working for someone who gave them enough money to secure that office. Someone who has their own agenda. They are there to blackmail the presidential candidates into making them more money. Politics are simple: organizations give large amounts of money to candidates, more so to those that they think stand a chance; those candidates talk about issues that they think are close to heart to most Americans, they get voted into office, they now work for the organizations that gave them all of that money. Which in turn, is not advantageous to the agenda of the American people.

    People, listen to me, do you really think that things will change? time has told us that they will not. Do you really think that Hillary is concerned for you defaulting on your home loan and forcing your family to live on the street? Will she offer you refuge in one of the many rooms available in the White House? No. Will Obama petition OPEC to stop raising the price of oil? Will he devote funds to companies in America researching alternative fuel sources? No, he won't. Do they make you think they care about you by claming gender, race, and religion? Yes. They are there to solicit your vote by undermining your intelligence. The republican party is not much better. Will Guiliani withdrawl troops from Iraq and Afghanistan? No, but, here's the kicker does that really affect you? Unless you are currently serving in the military of the United States of America, it doesn't. Studies have shown that 1 in 4 homeless Americans are veterans of war; will either party devote time from their hectic schedule to assist in habitat for humanity? No, quite clearly because they don't care; why get dirty laying foundation for a troop when the lobbyists are not paying them to do so.

    The real choice is clear, Americans do the presidential work themselves; we look after our own, we provide funding for research, and we run the country. Politics is a dirty game and no one will win unless they truly care for the Americans by addressing their real issues; not race, religion, and gender.

    Respond to this if you will, I will sit back and watch the United States crumble from within.

    January 15, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Upper midwest

    I just read the comments by women, and then I read the comments by men.

    I find it interesting how you have decided which candidate to support fueled by emotions and not hard facts. Our leaders like New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, are wasting peoples time, money and air. Americans leaders have far greater issues they need to be thinking and talking about. You know the Issues we’ll have to pay for.

    January 15, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. Peter Australia

    wow, me and my wife thought America is about to go a mile by having an incredible African American. Now, when we see things like this, it takes me back in the 80's where you could only see black people in the cities being dragged and being locked up.
    America should wake up and smell the coffee.
    I honestly agree these old guys should go!

    January 15, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. Mike Sparks

    Here we go again. No matter how good or bad the politician is, the circumstances of this world will bring about things that bring out the good and bad in them. Tell me a President who at the end of his terms was not thought to be a scoundrel for whatever reason, no matter what his intentions were. The Martin Luther Kings, the Billy Grahams, the Kennedys, the Ghandis, and so on of the world are gifted to us but once in a while, and usually the world is not easy on them because they are running against the grain. Musicians capture the moments after the fact with; "The Day the Dream Died", "Abraham, Martin and John", and so on, but the point is, a gift was given to us by each one of them and if we're smart we won't waste them. Unfortunately in too many instances, we do waste what was given to us, and then the rhetoric takes over and what's the point? If you politicians want to get elected, be successful in your endeavor , then know this world is driven by a dark force and stand tall above it all, be a leader for all of us, don't compromise, be righteous, and follow the coin; In God we Trust. The rest is rhetoric.

    January 15, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Eric in Massachusetts

    Educated African American Male, you just injected race and you probably didn't even realize it. Typical of Obama supporters. Since when did "we become president".... Where did "we" come from? Are you on the ticket? Who is we? Gimme a break.

    January 15, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Alan

    When are you people going to wake up. Why are Americans so easily filled by empty rhetoric. Does "Compasionate Conservative" ring a bell – didn't "GW" bring you enough change.
    Change can be a horrible thing, so forget about the words and look for the substance. I personally doen't see anything come from Obama to be excited about. Clinton actually has plans that are there for you to read.
    Bring this contest back to the issues, and not where the "media" wants it.

    January 15, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. ezasomo1

    Did G.W. Bush had experience when he ran in 2000? He didn't even know the name of the president of Pakistan. Did J.F.K had experience when he ran for the presidency?
    Being the wife of a president and sitting in the while house for few years will automatically give you experience???? She became an elected official only after becoming a senator, so how long is Hillary has been an elected official????

    January 15, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. Rita

    I think this country will be so happy to have a third party candidate. I will vote for anyone if Hillary get the nomination. This is getting so dump!

    January 15, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. Nick Flores

    What a polarizing effect that this event has had on most of you on this blog. Both Obama and Clinton are viable candidates and we are judging them on opinions based on legislation passed in the 60's. This is not a race war it's a political contest. Let's concentrate on the major issues that confront America like bringing jobs back to America. Now that affects all citizens of different race,creed and gender in the USA. I think Obama and Clinton have enough friends and supporters that are in those three catagories. Let's grow up. We know whose black and white. We also know that both candidates just got ridiculous for a moment. Time to move on and see that change is inevitable if either is elected. We need to demand change and apply public oversight. We need a Goverment of the people, for the people and by the people. What we demand is what we get.

    January 15, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. jay



    January 15, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. Todd

    Righ on Charlie Rangel! It was nuts for Obama to twist the comments which were actually praising Martin Luther King into something racially insensitive, and make no mistake it WAS Obama who did the twisting because they released talking points on the subject. If an African-American is ever to make a credible bid for the white house it has to be ok to disagree with him or her. It's unacceptable for a candidate for the presidency to pull this nonsense. Senator Clinton is hands down more qualified, more experienced and after a few more years in the Senate Obama will no doubt be a fine leader of similar caliber–he isn't yet.

    January 15, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Ricardo - Boca Raton, FL

    It is really sad that still today, after so many trials and tribulations that we as Black Americans have endured in this country, we still cannot get together on any issue. It seems perfectly alright for every other ethnic group to have political and economic solidarity on issues of importance. But when Black People are involved or try and establish a political platform, plantation politics rears its' ugly head.

    Idealistically, no one group of people will ever vote in a block. But even if Barack Obama got all the black votes, it still would not be enough to win a national election. But wouldn't it be nice if we could ALL STAND TOGETHER, and live the dream of "....Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, Free at Last...."

    January 15, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Bob,u.k

    Why are African Americans going against each other. Shouldn't it time to uplift each other and make it a better country for themselves? I really feel bad about Obama if people like this keep on opening their mouth.
    I would love Obama to be the president because even here in u.k, there is that feeling of a better world when you watch him.

    January 15, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. Jayhawk34

    To be quite frank, it is awfully disappointing to see that people cannot look into the truth themselves. As anyone in their right mind can recall, it was a South Carolina congressman that was offended by these comments and went public-not Barack Obama!!!

    It is clear that the idea of the Clintons was to diminish the admirable traits of Obama and any relative comparisons to JFK and MLK Jr.

    On another note, its quite hysterical how Clinton uses black men to deliver these absurd messages of drugs(WAIT, not drugs–any idiots want to side with him after he just lied, and is so morally perfect??–haha BET?) and needless to mention this most recent fool.

    January 15, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. Kevin

    I surely fail to see how this discussion is about race, or race baiting. Clinton made a statement that could've appeared to belittle MLK's role in the Civil Rights Act. I highly doubt that it was her intention, but the comment seemed to ignore the catalytic role that MLK played in the civil rights era and that would permit such an Act to be envisioned at the time. Some people out there got offended and Barack simply admitted that it was an ill-advised comment. Till this time I still do not see him putting race into the debate, I have not heard Barack say that his loss in New Hampshire was because he is Black or complain of being unfairly treated or scrutinized because of his identity.

    The media has gravely overreacted to this discussion, and they have introduced the notion of race into what otherwise would've been a difference of opinion. In my opinion it is unfortunate that so many people whether Republic or Democrat have chosen to not seek out the facts and make an informed judgment but rather to buy into the media hype.

    Hilary had a right to say what she said, and Barack has a right to disagree. The only thing deserving of condemnation is supporters of either candidate turning this into a discussion about race and bigotry.

    Both Charlie Rangel, and Bob Johnson have done a disservice to themselves by engaging in such provocative speech.

    My 2 cents.

    January 15, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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