January 15th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
15 years ago

Rev. Jesse Jackson warns Democrats to stop fighting

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Watch Jesse Jackson speak out Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who blazed his own presidential trail in 1984, had blunt advice for the top Democratic contenders this year: Stop your sniping or risk losing the general election in November.

"This is in some sense an inter-league game now. The Super Bowl is in November," Jackson said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Washington.

"There should not be so much blood-letting now around the edge issues, which could become wedge issues, until there is not the strength left to coalesce after Denver and fight the big fight."

He said similar ill-will between the campaigns of Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts doomed Democratic chances in 1980.

"I remember so well in 1980 in the Kennedy-Carter primary struggle," he said. "There was so much anger and bloodletting that they could hardly embrace each other on the stage in New York City. They never recovered and they lost the campaign."

Jackson's comments reflect concern among Democratic Party leaders about comments made by Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and their campaign surrogates in recent days.

Former President Clinton kicked up a controversy when he spoke about Obama's claim of having an unbroken record of opposition to the Iraq war, calling it "the biggest fairy tale." Hillary Clinton drew criticism for a comment that some tried to say gave more credit to President Lyndon Johnson than civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights legislation.

"As campaigns grow, we're in fatigue and competition gets strong, people start angling for advantage. But they should not make the mistake of short-term advantage and long-term damage to relationships," Jackson said. "These are team members on the same team, competing for who will lead the team. If the team is destroyed there is no team to lead.

"And when that battle is over, then the winner and the loser can embrace and then help lead the nation to the next level. The supporters of the candidates must see the value in keeping this campaign back on the issues.

Jackson announced that he will lead a march next Tuesday outside the Department of Housing and Urban Development calling for federal help for people faced with home foreclosures as a result of the mortgage crisis.

Asked about whether celebrity endorsements would have an impact on the political primaries, Jackson said he saw that only in the early days of the campaign. "The candidates are more celebrities now than the celebrities are," he said.

- CNN Producer Charley Keyes

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soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Tamika Jackson

    If Dr. King were alive today does anyone doubt he would be supporting Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton? What has Hillary Clinton ever done for Black folks in this country? NOTHING. The so called black leaders are terrifed Obama will win and thus put them out of the race baiting business. There won't be any t.v. reporters with their video cameras wanting interviews with Jesse Jackson anymore and that is quite upsetting to him and all the other race hustlers.

    January 15, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  2. alive&well

    well well, if it isn't the righteous right "reverend" JJ

    hey Jess
    how about some truth huh?
    how about disclosing the information you have been asked before and seem to weasel out of it

    the financial records of your Rainbow Coalition
    or do you wanna pull out the ever handy "race card" on that question too?

    until you come clean and want to speak truth – shut up please

    January 15, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |

    OH NO BUCK 4 YOU IN THIS, SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!! LMAO!!!
    GOOO HUCK!!!

    January 15, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  4. Maria

    Is Bill Clinton a candidate? If Hillary really believes that she has the experience to serve as president on day 1, then act like one. Let her run her own campaign without the help of her husband and tell her husband to stay in the background. He had his time. He is over shadowing her. And if she is really tough enough, how come she choked publicly the night before the New Hampshire caucuses? How is she going to tackle the economic problem and world terrorism when she chokes under campaign pressure alone?

    January 15, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  5. ash

    Take the sermons with a pinch of salt. Reverends wear designer cloths while the poor masses shiver in old torn cloths.
    Live by example and we will follow you.
    My experience is from Africa where most of the reverends/preachers/donation collectors are running to – playing on our guilt and collecting tithes and make living out of the same.

    Middlemen get the cream and skimmed milk diluted with water is left for the needy.

    Lord through Jesus and these days another layer has been added – bible/quran/gita trotting reverends/mullahs/priests.....

    Listen to your accumulated wisdom and not empty promises and borrowed slangs..........rhetoric...............

    January 15, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  6. Mike

    Elect Obama and expect 4 years of this. I am black and find it stupid that whites always have to watch what they say about certain "sensitive issues" about race. Give me a break!!!! These so called racist remarks by Bill and Hillary Clinton is all media hyped and Obama should have spoken up and said understood what Bill was talking about. He said nothing The Clinton's didn't have to explain themselves to anyone.

    January 15, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  7. Scared for our country

    Frank Chase Jr in Huntsville, AL – I couldn't have said it better myself! Dem's we are ripping apart our party! The Republicans are laughing all the way to the White House!

    They way I see it right now is Obama supporters hate the Clinton supporters and the Clinton supporters hate the Obama supporters. Across the board all 3 leading Democratic candidates have better plans for our country then having another Republican in office for 4, likely 8 more years. But, if we cannot rally around a candidate we are getting exactly what we ask for.

    I for one have decided that as both Obama and Clinton are too polarizing I will be completely supporting Edwards. I only hope that others will join me! I think it would all work out nicely if it was Edwards w/Obama as VP and Clinton as some top adviser! See now everyone is happy!

    January 15, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  8. John, NC

    I am beginning to wonder about the so-called "OBAMA SUPPORTERS" on this, and other boards.


    Fellow Democrats, Jesse Jackson is right: Let us NOT tear each other apart. Please.

    I am for HILLARY 100%, but if Obama wins the nomination, I will support him over any Republican out there. Guys, let's see the BIG PICTURE! Please.

    The way some of you hate on Hillary is unbelievable. Let us please not be like the hate-filled right-wingers. So much hate in one's heart is not healthy, and God will not look kindly on you.

    January 15, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  9. Tom, Boston Ma

    racist idiots are alive and aplenty as ever. if they're not against Obama, they are against Jesse Jackson, charlie rangle and Al Sharpton. all three are so much smarter and better than most previous presidents. again, these stupid racists will put another racist idiot in the white house. mark my word.

    January 15, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  10. RightyTighty

    Democrats lost in 1980 because of Jimmy Carter. Period..

    January 16, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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