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)

    If I thought stupid was a scarce attribute I would be amazed right now. It is not that Obama even brought the issue up.. His supporters did! Also why would she say "it took a president" The reason why she said it piggybacks off of saying that words don't make changes, that "empty rhetoric" doen't cause change but that her experience causes change. If one can not see that she is a scrambling politcal machine that fakes an attack when Barack never attacked her.It is going to be ok Hillary and Bill you can attack all you want to but make sure that no one hurts your feelings!!!!!

    January 15, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  2. Tom Davie

    Just to set the record very STRAIGHT.

    Bill calls obama record on Iraq a fairy tale. Some 'neutral' black leaders get offended. (mistake #1 by obama people )

    Bill goes on Sharpton to 'backpeddle' off something that we all know wasnt racist which promotes MORE conversation and heated debate. Clinton knows exactly what he is doing. He makes it LOOK like he made a comment worth getting offended by, as he is trying to 'backpeddle'. More obama supporters get ANGRY and CHASE HIM because he is FAKING like he has something to hide. (mistake #2)

    Hillary goes onto say that a president got the civil rights movement enacted. This OUTRAGED even MORE Obama supporters who are now obviously trying to catch and diminish her. (mistake #3)

    Hillary (like bill) starts to BACKPEDDLE . The obama people CHASE HER thinking they have CAUGHT HER in a mistake that would hurt her.(mistake #4)

    Hillary now accuses Obama people of 'twisting her words' . Obama people start to GET THE TRAP that the Clintons have set. But now too many subordinates are involved and the media is HYPING it to death . Obama stays quiet to see how the polls reflect the controversy. . (mistake #4, Obama should have stopped the nonsense immediately)

    Obama comes out misjudging the fact all this is a Clinton error ( experienced politicians whom havent lost an election since 1980 are going to make these kind of rookie errors, BOTH of them at the same time?)

    Obama then TAKES THE HIGH ROAD and calls the Hillary statements misguided and unfortunate, and almost is CONDESENDING to how Hillary is trying to make this about RACE.

    ding ding ding BIG ERROR BIG ERROR.

    nobody had brought up 'race' up until then. Obama was the first one to officially say it. Exactly the trap the Clintons were hoping for.

    The onslaught of polarizing sticks african americans in Obamas camp but the far superior in number white voters in Hillarys camp.

    White people HATE racism, and HATE when the african community goes on and on about racial issues that BLAME whites. After 30 years, whites are SICK of the race card.

    Obama, realising he has been PLAYED LIKE A FIDDLE , stops immediately and issues a cease and desist order. The race card works against him as it turns white voters off.

    Welcome to what happens EVERY DAY in Washington.

    How experienced do you think Obama is now ?

    January 15, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  3. Kyle

    Where are these people coming from?? Barack is not the one talking about race here!! Obama never even responded to Hillary's ignorant comments until today! His response was clear, concise, and of a POSITIVE nature. The media has made this whole "fight" up. As always, spinning and distorting stories to make them newsworthy. Get the facts straight, that means you too CNN. Quit reporting this trash and report REAL news with real facts! America will eventually wake up and get tired of this negativity. Real CHANGE, not just talk. This is what Obama represents.

    January 15, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  4. mike

    wow wow woo hillary what else u gonna bring next ? ur so desperate and so scared now u bring this stupid ola man rangel for ur selfish defence and its funny now i open my eyes and see so wide open OBAMA is what we need go OBAMA and be the leader that we are looking for as u said no blk, no white,no hispanic or no asians but only one united statas of america

    January 15, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  5. Brian Des Moines IA


    "Mrs. Clinton quickly said she had meant no slight, and on Monday she issued a statement proposing a truce. At about the same time, though, a prominent supporter of hers, Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, said in an interview that Mr. Obama was “absolutely stupid” for calling Mrs. Clinton’s original remark ill-advised."


    LET IT GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 15, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  6. Voice of China

    Hillary claims to be a supporter of the late Dr MLK yet the facts reveal that as a teenager in 1963, she was taken to a church by her youth minister and heard DR King speak. Apparently she was not impressed because in 1964 she embraced the ideals of segregation, and campaigned for Barry Goldwater for President. Goldwater was a staunch segregationist and against the passage of civil rights laws–along with his fellow segregationists Strom Thurmond, Herman Talmadge, and others of that era. Hillary, the young republican campaigned whole-heartedly for Goldwater and AGAINST the prinicples that Dr King preached about. No wonder she can say that Dr King did nothing, she's revealing her true feelings. I don't give much credit to Bob Johnson and others for their endorsement of Hillary, they need to go read up on the facts.

    January 15, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  7. Cathy

    I used to respect Rangel, but this is ridiculous. Clinton is the one who started the whole "race" issue. David Gergen concurs (read his comments somewhere today).

    January 15, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  8. Voice of China

    Once again, Obama proven leadership and wisdom to bring people together by focussing on the issue for Americans.

    Experience once again falied and Hillary needs yet another new voice

    January 15, 2008 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  9. Shankar

    If Obama is going to change politics in the US, he should start it from his campaign. This cheap, age-old politics that suggest he does not stand for a true change.

    January 15, 2008 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  10. Prayu

    Obama never pulled the race card, he never fanned the flames, and he has only tried to resolve this.

    The outcry against Hillary's remarks were by independent bloggers and thinking citizens, based on the content of HER words.

    And Rangel is an idiot if he thinks Obama was honest about his drug use just to sell books. It's called honesty. It might be a foreign concept to the Clinton camp, but this man has shown that he is willing to do the right thing even when there is no political benefit.

    That's a true leader.

    January 15, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  11. Rachel

    Just a quick note, but as much as I respect the Clintons and all the work they have been doing for the Civil Rights movement, Obama is hardly all talk. He spent nearly 10 years actually working the streets of the South Side of Chicago. He worked with the Churches and the community centers to try to enact change in those neighborhoods and to build up the communities. So, I would say that both candidates are pretty much even. Both have worked in very different ways.

    Also, since the mention of drug use was barely even a chapter long and the book was written nearly a decade before he ran for the Senate, meaning barely anyone knew who he was, I doubt that the drug use was mentioned in an effort to sell books.

    PS–If you want to see a candidate's policies. Try going to their website. Research the candidate before voting for them. The people really stirring up this controversy? CNN–trying to get ratings and internet site hits. Make an informed decision.

    January 15, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  12. danielo

    One of the highest-ranking African-Americans in Congress????
    OMG.. And this all that can come out of his foul mouth...

    Only Hillary's surrogates use such uncouth language... Not Obama's.
    Sorry Bill and Hillary you are losing votes so fast..

    January 15, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  13. Marcus

    Aquart---"Charlie Rangel is Chairman of Ways and Means. People suck up to HIM, not the other way around. He doesn't have to go looking for an "appointment." He's already in charge."

    Are you Kidding me! Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee a Committee that has jurisdiction over taxation and social programs. He is the biggest flunkie in the House! He's "in charge" of a Dead Man Walking. Obama is middle of the road and Rangel/Clinton are about as far Left as you can get... check this out. You wanna know why Rangel is so anti-Obama...........When Obama is elected President, all of those Social programs like Welfare (that are heavily supported by the far left) will be cut out, gone, nilch, zero! and that will leave Rengal without a job! Ways and Means Committee....give me a break! LOL

    January 15, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  14. International student

    I think the Democrats are NOT ready to be president. I pray now that Mccain gets the Vote. As an African, I am beginning to see why most African-Americans youths are below the ladder in a number of socio-political issues. I dont expect every Black to support Obama because that is absurd. However, If Older black leaders in this country are so unawear of the disparity and the feelings of young African-Americans, especially the educated ones, it is no wonder that Black youths suffer so much in this country. Old black leaders are looking out for the selves....youths need to believe in them sleves and vote thier conscience. Infact, Vote Mccain if you have to. These Democrats are definately showing me theyhave far more differences than they let out.

    January 15, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  15. What Martin Luther King Said

    Please read Martin Luther King's words below and, America, please use your brain. First of all, Clinton simply said that Martin Luther King's dreams began to be realized when the President enacted legislation. What is wrong with this? By default of Obama characterizing Clinton's comments as ill-advised and that Clinton was implying that the President had more to do with the movement than Martin Luther, he is playing this game so that he can win based on race. Clinton never weighed or compared MLK to Johnson. She simply said Johnson aided MLK's dream.

    Which is exactly what Martin Luther King said. Let him speak and you will see that Obama is not reacting to this accurately. Clinton was completely accurate with her statement.

    Martin Luther King:

    "Direct action is not a substitute for work in the courts and the halls of government. Bringing about passage of a new and broad law by a city council, state legislature, or the Congress, or pleading cases before the courts of the land, does not eliminate the necessity for bringing about the mass dramatization of injustice in front of a city hall.

    Indeed, direct action and legal action complement one another. When skillfully employed, each becomes more effective."

    January 15, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  16. J.C

    I think Rangel is highly respectable. The draft is a way to ensure political figures to be more wary about their decisions to declare war. It's his point to prove how war is generally fought by the poor, not so much the wealthy. If senators and political figures know their sons may be drafted, they would be more careful in their choice on which wars to fight.

    Everyone is too ready to bash on Hillary. Obama calling truce on the argument doesn't really mean much. The damage is already done. Calling it truce doesn't really change things.

    I think someone mentioned about the Clintons and their impeachment hearings. Wasn't the almost-impeachment on his getting a bj. It's stupid he wasn't faithful in marriage but that is really not of the public's concern, and definitely unnecessary for the government to impeach him on.

    January 15, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  17. Velvet Garriques

    Sen. Obama do not respond to the remarks made by Charles Rangel. You know what their unity is all about! Money to the states, He wants million dollars for health care in New York. New York has been getting their share for the last 10 years, but he's been to busy parleying with the funds. Two partners in crime, he supports Hillary, so that they can manipulate Congress, and the Senate to vote on House resolutions to unleash those funds to benefit him and his cronies. God is watching and doing a workmanship that no man can undo! Mr. Rangel you are a disgrace to the African American comunities, and your representation in Congress is done, you no longer have the clout you thought you had. I have the goods on everyone that changed from the 109th congress to 110th congress, nothing but a bunch of crooks. All this talk about experience, is that experience in robbing the american people? everyone of you sit in your so called high powered seats in congress doing nothing, except trying to figure out how you can divert more funds to benefit your own personal gains. Sen. Obama brush the dirt off your shoulders and keep it moving. Make sure you have your full armour on so you can quench the fiery darts of hell! The more they try to tear you down, gives God more reason to continue to build you up! So welcome their criticism, because they know once you are in there, there goes their manipulative plans. Sen. Obama I have not made up my mind on how I'm going to vote, at this time, but I do suggest you take my advice, Theres only one with the real inside scoop! And all of Capitol Hill knows what time it is. At least Mr. Robert C. Byrd is honest and forthright in his funding resources. Yes he may have been the Big Daddy of all times, well it's time to move over because here comes Big Mama to the big house! Sen. Obama whatever you do, stay focus walk circumspectedly, look not to the left ,nor to the right , move forward straight ahead keep your eye on God, and his vision. See you have to understand if you are who you say you are, then no need to worry about the peanut galleries. Thats my message!

    January 15, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  18. veronica

    (CNN Moderator, please print my comment).

    Perhaps Obama should have not made an issue with what Hillary said. People say he's smart, and if that's so, then he knew exactly what she meant. He knew she would not ever denigrate MLK. She was pointing out the importance people within the political system play in getting dreams enacted into laws.
    But Barack wanted to incite voters, particularily black voters, and it could be because he has an upcoming contest in South Carolina he'd like to win.
    To all of you who think Barack is a golden boy, think again. He's just as calculating as the rest of them. Why else did he vote "present" so often within his brief senatorial career? Could it be he calculated that when running for president, there would be less votes he made to be brought up and used against him? Ah yes, a true "politician"….
    Oh, and in addition, I love Rep.Charles Rangel. And might I remind everyone that he has just as much right to express his views as anyone else (for example, those on this forum).

    January 15, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  19. What Martin Luther King Said

    I really wish CNN would play the tape of Martin Luther shaking the President's hand.

    Obama is not responding positively, accurately or in a spirit of truth here. He is calling Clinton's words "ill-advised," and "unfortunate." Obama is quoted as saying: "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."

    Clinton never compared the two, she only said that Martin Luther's dream became to be realized when Lyndon Johnson enacted legislation.

    I just don't see how that can baffle Obama. It's accurate.

    January 15, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  20. veronica

    CNN moderator, pardon me for double post.

    January 15, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  21. Marcus

    Aquart. Just wait a few days and watch who gets their "ass spanked". I assure you, you won't hear another word from Johnson or Rangel. They won't even make the paper in their home town even if they are arrested for DUI! It's gonna be like the disappeared!!! LOL

    January 15, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  22. Biggdawg

    CNN, please let it go. Enough with the fanning the flames thing, ok?

    January 15, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  23. Dara

    Listen, Watch, and READ this!

    Vote for the candidate that will put food on your table and not for the next poetic speaker who sells you the Brooklyn Bridge. Once Hillary gets the opportunity to debate Obama on issues without media distortions and the distortions and demagoguery claims, black voters, women, young voters, will choose Hillary Clinton. We have work to do. We have an education gap to close and jobs to fill. We want a leader that is ready to lead on day one, not an orator. Voters need to wake up and do some research. reality is that Obama does nothing more than speak. He does not have any actions to support his campaign rhetoric. I am a Democrat, and a very pragmatic one at that. FACT: When Barrack Obama was one of our State Senators, he voted PRESENT nearly 130 times. Think about that. This self-proposed man of conviction, this man who does not believe in “politics as usual”, voted PRESENT on issues that were critical to the lives of the citizens in which he was supposed to be representing. He voted PRESENT instead of an up or down YES or NO because it was the politically expedient thing for him to do. Is this the voting pattern of a man of conviction – a man devoted to change? I don’t think so. In the past 8 months, the U.S. Senate has voted on issues critical to our country’s well-being more than 260 times and of these 260 opportunities to vote for change, Jr. Senator Obama failed to vote on more than 160 occasions. Still think he's dedicated to change?

    But my biggest concern is his lack of commitment on issues of vital interest. When we will need strength, when we will need leadership, when we will need to re-direct our country’s direction, would a then President Obama simply answer “PRESENT”? It is just not worth the gamble.

    Republicans want Obama to be their opposition candidate so they can absolutely destroy him. Hillary Clinton has been able to weather attacks from the Republican machine for 20+ years now and is still able to out poll the GOP frontrunners. Of course Republicans want Obama to win the primaries and they will go to ANY extent to make that happen...it's the ONLY chance they have to keep the noble office under thier power...that's what we need – another Bush. NOT – Vote for Clinton or that’s what you will get.

    January 15, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  24. Eric

    Yes Mr. Rangel, someone here does look pretty stupid. But it isn't Obama.

    January 15, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  25. trokon

    I from west Africa,I am happy for American people.Politic in America is unlike of Africa politic.That is American politic it is not about tribes or races.But rather it base on "Experience and Competency".Obama I don't think you can get intelligent African-American votes easily by bringing out issues about Clintons discrediting the king.Races is not the main issue in this important Election.Rather a person who is prepare to contest against the Repulicans.Politic is not a guess, but reality.

    January 15, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
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