February 25th, 2008
02:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama camp slams Clinton team on controversial photo

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/25/art.obamasom.ap.jpg caption=" Obama's campaign accused the Clinton campaign of circulating this 2006 photo of Obama Monday. "](CNN) - Barack Obama’s campaign accused Hillary Clinton’s team Monday of circulating a photo of the Illinois senator donning traditional attire – clothing worn by area Muslims – as a goodwill gesture during an overseas trip.

In a statement, the Clinton campaign called the charge “an obvious and transparent attempt to distract” voters from serious issues – but did not issue a denial.

The picture, which appeared on the Drudge Report this morning, was attributed to sources within the Clinton campaign – although the Web site did not reveal how many, or who, might have received the photo.

In a statement, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said Clinton’s campaign was engaged in “shameful, offensive fear-mongering,” though he did not point to any proof beyond the original item that appeared on Matt Drudge’s blog.

“This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire,” said Plouffe. “and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world."

Earlier this year, some Clinton volunteers left her campaign in those states after circulating e-mails that falsely claimed Barack Obama was a Muslim – an inaccurate rumor his campaign has worked hard to dispel - and suggesting that his drug use as a young man might make him vulnerable to Republican attacks were he to become the nominee.

Clinton’s campaign manager Maggie Williams responded to the photo controversy with a Monday morning statement that insisted the New York senator’s team “will not be distracted,” but did not directly address the substance of the allegation.

“Enough. If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely,” said Williams.

“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry. We will not be distracted.”

On a campaign conference call with reporters, Ret. Major Gen. Scott Gration, who traveled to Africa with Obama, said the photo showed that “he did what any great leader should do - he accepted the gift, accepted the hospitality, accepted that token of friendship."

UPDATE: On a conference call with reporters Monday, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told reports that he had not seen the photo, that "I’m not aware that anyone in this campaign circulated it -- I don’t imagine that you have any independent reporting to suggest that we did."

Late Monday, the campaign sent out a memo in which Wolfson said he had not been aware of the release of the photo, and that it had not been sanctioned by the campaign -- but added that "We have over 700 people on this campaign and I’m not in a position to know what each one of them may or may not have done."

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (575 Responses)
  1. qlinderman


    February 25, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. truth 08 time

    this attempt at smear will back fire big time! Americans are disgusted at things like this, i see her paying a huge political price for this, does she really think Americans are ill-informed? there will be a serious back-lash from super delegates and the voting public, we are sick of this kind of campaign dirty tactics and tricks!

    February 25, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. Tom , Flagstaff, AZ

    Hillary–and her potential co-president Bill–will do anything to win. Their campaign is about them, not about our country.

    February 25, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Terry

    Hillary's true colors are shining through that open sky.

    Shame On You Hillary!!

    OBAMA 08'

    February 25, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Patch


    This will take the steam out of November's contest!

    Thank you Senator Clinton!


    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Boxer3

    The plain fact of the matter is that while there is nothing wrong with dressing in local garb, the photo being leaked by HEC creates the impression that there is something to the unfounded rumors circulating about Obama.

    Perhaps this is designed to shore-up continued support by her base, the uneducated, the poor, and fearful elderly.

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. oh god

    My question is why would he pose for this photo in the first place?
    What was he thinking?? What would we think if George W. dressed like that right after 9/11??? He refuses to pledge, doesn't wear the 9/11 pin and now this??? Wake up America. THIS IS NOT THE CHANGE WE NEED!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. Len

    Anyone whom does not see this as sick from a desperate,angry politcian is just as bad as she is!! This is a perfect example as to why people dislike becoming involved or talking about politics. This is the world according to the Clintons'. Do anything to win no matter who suffers incliuding the democratic party!! I do not see anthing wrong with a good discussion about the issues ,but this totally unnecessary and despicable!!

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Larry

    Shame on YOU Hillary Clinton

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. Ron

    So now Obama is a terrorist?

    This is just deplorable. This is a new greasy, dirty low – even for a politician. How could anyone defend this type of behavior in a campaign? This is the kind of thing you see in movies. The kind of the thing the bad guy does to the good guy and yet, there are still those of you who are rooting for the bad guy to win? Do you see now, Clinton supporters? Do you see what accepting these types of attacks ultimately says about you? Are you that full of contempt and hatred that you would go to any lengths to damage the character of the people's candidate? By painting him as a killer?

    Hillary has put her cards on the table and her supporters still do not cry foul. It's no wonder why Michelle Obama would declare that she has not always been proud of the politcal process in America. I couldn't agree with her more.


    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. Jacque Bauer

    Clinton toast: Oh so burnt, but oh so tasty!!

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. James

    This smearing behavour is unamerican. I am ashamed.

    February 25, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. Jake

    I wonder how the public would react if Hillary decided to don the traditional Muslim female attire.

    The hysterics on this thread are priceless.

    February 25, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Davis

    Every time you think that things are getting better in this country you get a reality check. South Carolina in 2000 (Bush) and 2008 (Clinton), and now this. These are supposed to be our country's leaders, and this is very dissapointing. Makes the claim for hope seem that much more real.

    February 25, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. des

    I guess one would do anything out of desperation. And this is proof that Hilary will lose and she didn't deserve it to begin with.

    Go Obama!!!!

    February 25, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. kerry

    Wasn’t there a picture of Hillary and Chelsea wearing headscarves when Bill was President? I think they were visiting an Islamic country. This is desperation, sheer desperation.

    February 25, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. SM

    This is another indication of how low Hillary's opinion is of the American public. To think that we would not be able to see through this for what it is – a desparate attempt to hang on. First the contrived crying, now this

    Hillary – You are not qualified to be our president, you don't deserve to be our president.

    February 25, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. T.W.

    Hillary supporters aren't very judicious. They seem not to understand what is going on here. I am sure he is not ashmed of wearing the garb. But Hillary being Hillary sure know s how to play the smear game doen't She? When will she have another break down? She got a standing O for copying her husbands speach in 92 and Edwards speech on this campaign at the same talking about plagirism. She is a JOKE!!

    February 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Roz

    It's just a picture people, get real.

    February 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Joe Chicago

    Let me try to understand this. That is Obama in the photo, right? Most presidents wear traditional dress when they go abroad. It's a sign of respect. Is Obama ashamed?

    Unfortunately it appears to be a legitimate question.

    February 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. angela

    Obama is a fraud plain and simple. this is not the change we want.
    Vote Hillary. She is the only one who can fix the mess we are in.

    February 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Karin

    Trying to put fear into americans heart ,Hillary!....but yet say your going to end the war ....I dont think you will......This is only showing that you and your campaign have fear in heart and that you act and think just like Bush....You see something you think is going on and you act on it without looking more into it 1st.....the same acting that got us in the WAR.....Come on Hillary ....like I said before think before you do...because everything you trying is not working.....

    February 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. Mainely Carol

    True Colors are now coming out for Hillary. First it was the racism and now contributing to the typical Republican sytle (yup..Rove like) fear mongering to those who falsely portray Obama as Muslim,

    Sadly, this negative campaigning is all over the news all weekend and again this morning. It's working because the media keeps it going. If she wins, just look forward to the same old nastyness that Americans said they dont' want. Hillary will do anything to get her way. Just one more example.
    BTW. Hillary supported NAFTA.. read her book and MANDATES mean you MUST even if you have no money. Spin, spin, Spin....

    February 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Grace

    Shame on you Hillary, we all know including your supporters that you are an angry lady, and that you and Bill will do and say whatever it takes for you to stay in power.
    I am glad the true colors are coming out, they always do, specially when you feel you are loosing.
    It is sad that you are resorting to such lame things, not just this, but the other stuff you and your husband have been saying and doing.

    this offends not just AA but all people in this country. SHAME ON YOU BILLARY

    February 25, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. Marie

    Wow-these comments make me ashamed to be an Obama fan. If his campaign made an issue of this, I have to wonder if he, himself, thought of ot in a bad light. I would think he would see it and be proud-he was showing respect and honor; And I like to think that he is not so small minded to think the way most of his supporters are thinking. He says he is Hillary's friend, and I think he believes her to be a very decent person, and a an excellent person who represents the Democratic party. I bet he is angry that "his camp" put this negative light on such an innocent thing. Hillary and Obama both know a lot happens that is not a part of them, or representative of them personally. I am proud that these two people are Democrats and I refuse to lower myself the way so many here have. Go Democrats!!

    February 25, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23