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. Too

    Can HRC and her campaign go any lower *shakes head vigorously*

    Obama "08!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. Ashley

    How stupid does the Clinton campaign think we are?

    Clearly this is a last ditch effort. I never thought she would go down gracefully, but I never expected this.

    "No one can stand in the way of millions of people calling for change!"
    Obama 08!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. nadia

    after all she did and said, Tuesday she will say that she's honored to be in a debate with Barack Obama, absolutely honored, great actress....I am sure that Hillary will be a great leader she will solve this country's issues with ANGER AND HATE....

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. deb in az

    do you know for a fact that hilary clinton did this? dont think you do unless you were there. maybe he did this to see if he can get some kind of reaction from the american public. i would suggest that you check this man out. do you really know who he is? check out his church that he attends and the comments that his minister made after 911. 911 a wake up for white america!!

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Scott

    Gotta love it...Hillary sends out a photo aimed at smearing Obama, and then accuses Obama of not sticking to the issues. To take a line from McCain, the hypocrisy is "breathtaking."

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. Mike


    Please tell me that you arent one of the weak minded people that Hillary preys upon. What a ridiculous comment by you!

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. jack

    Shame on you Hillary!

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. JJ

    if this is indeed from members of Clinton staff, I am very dissapointed in the conduct of her campain. They must think people are idiots.

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. CP

    Now lets see if he can take the heat, afraid of a little photo Obama

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. Thomas

    THIS PHOTO WAS NOT GIVING OUT BY HILLARY'S TEAM, it was on the internet and common email for weeks, with the photo of Obama not putting his hand over his heart!!!

    This photo was distributed by the bloggers who dont like him, please add that someplace on your site...

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. Ann

    I am sick of the Clinton style politics.. This is why nothing gets done in DC..

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. Matt Scott

    Hillary...the anti-hope.

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. kc

    Guys, calm down. I don't think that's Clinton's style. She wouldn't use this low level tactics to attack Obama. Let's wait and see what Clinton will say.

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. Jesse Boren

    Just shows Hillary and Bill will do ANYTHING and everything to get back in the White House. Clearly one of the lowest things we've seen in this race. Hang on if can get lower they will.

    February 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. Patricia

    Maggie Williams is lying. They did put this out there, the same way they did the E-mail stuff, for the nincompoops who will believe it's further proof he's a muslim.... Hillary, get on your broom and fly into a tree.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  16. E F G

    Consider this a thank you note to the Clinton campaign.

    Thank you for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Thank you for ensuring that once again a republican president will sit in the White House. Thank you for providing the giddy republican smear machine all the fodder it could ever possibly need. Thank you for portraying Democrats as the party that eats its own. Thank you for galvanizing the republican base around a candidate that was floundering. Thank you for pushing me and my entire family away from voting for you, the candidate we long considered the most capable but now see, demonstrably, as the most petty.

    You are a queen with no crown.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  17. Walt, Belton,TX

    Doesn't he have one of her on her crawling out from under the desk where she got her 35 years worth of experience?

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. clg

    If the shoe fits....looks like Obama's right at home!! Beware American's; a sheep in wolves clothing.

    Food for thought for those of you out there... Have you ever considered that Obama's camp is the one circulating the photo?

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. Chaz B

    What's the big deal? The fact is this isn't a photoshopped image trying to misrepresent anything. The man wore it, and he is now trying to be the face of America. If he wants to be such, he should expect all his actions to be recorded, scrutinized, and published. Anyone calling this a "smear" photo should look in the mirror. It's simply a photograph of something Obama did. If you read negativitiy into it, you're just as guilty as the tactics you supposedly deplore.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. JP

    All Hillary can do is double-talk. She should be ashamed of the campaign that she has run. I considered supporting her but after all of the negative campaigning that she and her people have engaged in, I cannot. SHAME ON YOU HILLARY!! SHAME ON YOU!! see, we can say it too!

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    You know something,

    He looks more american than ever!

    Respectful of other cultures, true to himself and proud of his father.

    go O 08

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. Mark From Hollywood

    Nice way to get votes in a general election Hillary. I am an Obama supporter who will never vote HRC. I'd rather go w/ McCain. The Clintons are a disgrace to themselves and all of America.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. Democrat Voter

    Come on, CNN. This is a bit ridiculous. First of all, there's nothing wrong with wearing the clothing of other cultures. Many senators and high-profile Americans do this when traveling to other countries. If Obama is ashamed and feels like this photo is a smear, then he should only be ashamed of himself for being so small and not understanding that it's okay to adopt other cultures (especially in travel).

    This shows more about Obama's character than anything. It shows that he is very self-centered and unworldly.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  24. Dylan in CA

    The intent of releasing this photo is clear: play on the common man's fear and ignorance of Islam to create doubt about Obama's patriotism.

    That is smear tactics at its worst. SHAME ON YOU HILLARY. How incredibly hypocritical of her after accusing him of playing dirty.

    Can those of you who, for some reason, still support this woman now see that she will stop at nothing to subvert the will of the party for her own personal agenda?

    Thank goodness that in 8 days she will be gone from this race. These types of disgraceful attacks are expected from Republicans; not from progressives.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. Lionel

    She should have been doing this a long time ago; re: health care distortions by Obama, and also saying that Bill Clinton made bad economic decisions. Sounds like a Republican!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
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