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. Jim griffin, NY

    Anyone who is even remotely familiar with Rangel knows him for what he is, a crude, loudmouthed, Boor. The Clinton's have NO compunctions whatsoever about resorting to any means to achieve their ultimate goal of getting back into the white house. Impugning reputations comes quite naturally to them (They've committed far more egregious offenses during their careers as we all well know). Barack Obama is a conscientious, introspective man. You can see this when you listen to him speak. And I personally tend to trust the judgment of a man who thinks CAREFULLY before he answers Yea or Nay (Obama), as opposed to one who merely tries to ASSUME what it is I want to hear and then say that (Hillary). And I find it particularly ironic that the only people who are truly fooled by the Clintons are those who choose to fool themselves. But putting on blinders will NOT help us solve the problems facing our country. We're going to need someone who will TAKE a stand and fight the unscrupulous, profit minded, corporate entities that prevent Economic stability, Ecologic stability, Social stability, and international stability. What we don't need is yet another insider, sneaky deals done behind closed doors, sell out your own people and their children's future, politician who values only power, money and influence. Lest you forget, we've had that for about 25 years now, How's that workin' out for you?

    January 15, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. Walt, Belton,TX

    We need to remove all the Clinton and Bush clan from the Washington, DC arena forever. That's why my bumper (Rear Window) sticker reads:

    Politicians, like diapers, should be changed often.
    And for the same reason!

    January 15, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. African American educated woman

    I am black but Rangel is only a "brown-noser" for even suggesting that Obama had some sort of powers over my thought processes is absolute "stupidity"!!!
    I am a woman of color and I heard what Hillary said and the tone she used and I was immediatly offended.
    Dr. King forced the hand of change mainly because of boycotts and not beatings as Clinton stated. The American system of government respects money more than brave men.
    Barry Goldwater was vehemently against the Civil Rights Act and Hillary Clinton worked for his campaign. If she was a racist Republican then, her nasty disposition tells me she is still a racist Republican!!!
    Realistically, what have the Clintons ever done for minorities???

    January 15, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. Nalla

    Clinton's political genius masterminded this whole saga by injecting just enough fuel to spark a controversy within the black community and uses this divisive tactics to play up her main voting block in CA and Nevada–the hispanics. We all know there has been tension between the two communities, but it is despicable for the Clintons to use this as a wedge to split the votes.

    Folks, wake up, the Clintons are playing the race card so Obama may get more black votes in SC and a few other Southern states, but they will use that as a factor (just like the "tear" factor) to get the bigger prize–California.

    But Obama will rise above all this divisive political trickery by the Clintons and we will not be fooled twice–once by the Rove Evil Empire and now by the shady Clintons. As Obama said, we are all one people, one nation !

    Obama, forever !

    January 15, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. Action Rangel

    Mr. Rangel, Get a Job !!
    'cause as a representative you are not doing very well.
    How Stupid can you get, Randal?

    January 15, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. NickNas

    Ok .......so WHO exactly is SURPRISED that life long old school politico is sideing with Clinton??? If Washington changes even 15% Old Dinosaurs like him will have nothing to do. C'mon!!!!

    If you think Clinton didn't engineer his comment after claiming to call a truce...well you haven't learned much over the last 7 years. SHE has!

    January 15, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. mike

    It seems to me by these posts, that the real issue is who you like, not race!
    You simply don't want anymore division in this country. You are true Americans and your voices will one day be represented if Obama don't go beyond february 5th.

    January 15, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. lucy

    Wow! "Stupid" huh? Great vocabulary! I see the Clinton's haven't called off their surrogates yet.

    GO OBAMA!!!

    January 15, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. Bob

    The agents of change against the benefactors of the status quo. It could not be more obvious!

    We can't change the past but we can certainly improve our future.

    Yes we can!

    January 15, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. Steven

    Somebody stole my thunder! I was was going to say Rangle introduced legislation to reintroduce the draft and when it came up for a preliminary vote, he voted against his very own work. Talk about stupid!! I guess I won't say it now!

    January 15, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. Inquiring Mind

    what have the Clintons done for the Black community? hire a couple of people to there administration (Bush has more blacks in his administration and at higher positions then Bill did) what because Bill Clinton has an office in Harlem he's heaven sent for blacks naw yo. Martin Luther King started the movement he organized the people the community to get what he dreamed of into reality. President Johnson just added his stamp of approval.

    After Obama and Clinton called a truce Rangel had to chime in this his 2 cents, how come Hillary didnt condone his comments when Obama has taken the high road, in sorts defended her. All Obama has said after the press asked him about Hillary's remarks is "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,"

    January 15, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  12. Tim

    Rangel calling a brilliant, talented, educated man an "absolute idiot"?! Classic case of someone spitting straight up in the air – you know where it lands, right?

    January 15, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Vince

    Also, why in the world is it so wrong to make an issue of Obama's drug use? He is running for President. I joined the Marines and they asked me about my possible past use. Now, being a MArine is a great thing and it's important to know that those applying are worthy. Why not when running for President?

    I have respect for sen. Obama. I have followed him all through and would be a true inspiration to our young society which hasn't been a case for a long time!

    January 15, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Nora Spencer

    As far as I am concerned Obama is neither honest nor trustworthy, he has shown himself to be a conniving, deceitful person at the highest level. He is using race at every turn, and may not realize how damaging that will be for him. For every black voter he wins he will be losing white votes. We in NH voted for Hillary because, the more we saw and learned of Obama, the less we liked him.

    He makes wonderful speeches full of promises. But what happened to the promises that he made to the people of Illinois when they elected him to the US Senate?? His voting record shows that he didn't bother to show up for for 66% of the votes this year, which means the people of Illinois have not had representation in the US Senate and thus have been disenfranchised in the political process by Obama, that is unconscionable.

    If he didn’t fulfill his promises to the people of Illinois who sent him to the US Senate, I don’t see how we can depend on him to keep his promises to the rest of the country as President.

    If Obama can’t handle the heat now, just wait till the republicans get hold of him they will eat him alive and spit out the bones.

    With Obama as the Democratic Nominee we can look forward to 8 more years of Republicans.

    Go Hillary !!!!!

    January 15, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Sara

    Obama comparing himself to MLK is something , I have to see carefully. He looks very dangers to me IF he gets white house

    January 15, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. NickNas

    "Crabs in a Bucket" It is sad!

    January 15, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. Zak

    Stupid are you "media" who follow this guy like he's Jesus Christ. If you want to be for this guy, fine, but to suggest he and his staff didn't try to milk this and turn it into an issue when it wasn't is pure bull. You guys are practicing Bush politics. Your man can do no wrong while the opposition is sinister. That's how we got into this mess in the first place. All of you clowns need to wake up. Obama has been a incredible man. Just a good example to our world today.

    January 15, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. C.R

    I voting Hilliary if she gets the nomination. The Clintons record speaks loud & clear. I don't know anything about Obama but I do know while the Clintons were in office the ecomnomy flourished. I will not vote for Obama simply because he's of African American decent. I am voting for a candidate that I feel I can trust and whom I'm familiar with. Have you people forgotten the peace and prosperity we all had with the Clintons in the office.

    January 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. Andrey

    Obama is too young he makes a lot very bad mistakes. He very naive and it will hirt him in this elections

    January 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. SGC

    As yourself these simple questions when your in the voting booth:

    1) What policies and what not are most important to me and who do you feel can solve them or help them?
    2) What is in the best interest to your state and this country
    3) Who can best handle this global market and economy and help put America's exports back on the map
    4) Who's foreign policy will make America more safe and not in jepardy of another attact either on our soil or one of our allies?
    5) who can will the 2008 election, the world is watching and they have little faith left in this country after putting this Administration and president back in office in 2004

    January 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. JI

    You knew this would happen! First Bill helping Hilary with her campaign. Then Bob Johnson trying to stir stuff up, now Rangel. She's trying to get "top" African American figures to put Obama down to boost her campaign, but it's so transparent! I guess she couldn't get Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

    Give it a break Hilary! PLEASE

    January 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Ashley

    Charles Rangel should be worried about putting more Jell in his hair instead of politics, he obviously does'nt know what he is talking about.

    January 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Mia, Stafford, VA

    This ticker blog reminds me daily that RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE USA.
    Blame the media, blame the Clintons, blame Obama OR JUST LOOK IN THE MIRROR and reflect on how you think, what you write and how it would be perceived.

    January 15, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. aware

    Race isn't the big issue.

    Gender is the big issue in this election! Misogyny/sexism is a major evil in the USA and all over the world. It transcends ethnicity!

    The dehumanizing of women that we allow produces violence – prostitution, savage beating, murder, rape, pornography, sex trade/sex slaves, ridicule of young women/exposure..., and all of this is covered by the media – sometimes obsessively, sometimes as humor and often without human respect.

    In this country we still have a male establishment. There are a few exceptional woman who fight the battle and gain a voice! However, the only real change we have are the ethnic males who have been let in the club. This is true in politics, in the church and in our culture. It is an ego/power/control issue.

    If you want real change – healing, unity, peace..., get out of the silly attack mode and challenge the real issues – make a difference – not just a noise!

    Face it CNN!

    January 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. ES

    Mr. Rangel is a respectable man and has served this country as a soldier, a veteran and as a congressman. He made things better for his constituency and does anyone of you can say that you have more than equal his achievements? He is right to chastise Mr. Obama who has been written about by a black journalist that Obama seems to pass that thin line many times of being brash, cocky, and arrogant. These demeanors certainly showed after winning in Iowa. Most voters have probably noted the air in his head. Obama must have gloated on the side when he played his race card about the Clinton's factual remarks that made some black leaders and journalists stepped up to his plate and started attacking the Clintons as well. Was that a dirty ploy or what? It was right for him to throw in the truce since he started it with his remarks. It is very scary to put Americans future in Obama's incapable hands. He is just another politician who may inject subtle ploys to garner votes. Do you think his campaign for change is realistic? He has already started a campaign of racial divide with his attacks on the Clintons, not racial unity. He has in many ways seems to have successfully put wools on the eyes of many. Hillary all the way. She is the most capable, gutsy, knows the issues that our country faces and has the smarts to lead this country and make it better for all Americans and she will deliver those changes that we desperately need.

    January 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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