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. David, Silver Spring, MD

    This is nuts. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with Barack Obama wearing traditional Somali garb while visiting the region. Hence the photograph of the occasion.

    The question is why the Clinton campaign would think it a worthwhile thing to do to distribute the photograph. How does the Clinton campaign see this photograph as evidence of Obama's fitness, or lack thereof, to govern as President? What is Hillary trying to show us through this photograph, and why can't the HRC campaign tell us what their motives are behind distributing it?

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Rob

    Stick a fork in her she's DONE!

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. An Agnostic Democrat

    In your words, Mrs. Clinton : Shame on you! While I don't think you deserve the mutual respect to be called Mrs. at this point – now that you have sunk so low and ruined your chances of running for any office ever again. Rememer all your "moments" of instability will be on film and replayed for many, many years to come by future opponents. Not too flattering for a presumed leader at any level! Best wishes to you and your sleazy, low-life husband. And thanks for taking us on this eye-opening odyssey of the real Clintons and soiling your reputation in political history.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Liz

    I really want to know if President Bush would don this garb during our War on Terror.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. DMyers

    Uh oh, Here we go...
    This is something I expected out of the Republicans during the general election system. The Clinton machine is shameful, divisive, derogatory, and obviously unapologetically ignorant. Obama had better get ready because this sort of thing is waiting around the corner for him as he gets nearer and nearing to sitting in the oval office.

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. Jack

    Obama / CNN '08

    February 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. Jim, Burlington

    I'll never vote for her after these shameful antics. This seals my vote for Obama...

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. U.Sh.

    I just can't believe that Hillary Clinton's campain is behaving this way. America doesn'nt need a president with this kind of behaviour.

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. mel

    "This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today" (Maggie Williams)

    Very well spoken. That's exactly what it looks like, and it's nice to see an honest explanation for a change. I can't imagine a more clear statement about what the Clinton campaign was trying to accomplish than this.

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. Over

    I am a Black male (25 years old) and a staunch Christian and I don't know why Barack is so upset about the picture! Clinton didn't fake or sneak and take it! It is a public picture for crying out loud!

    Clinton 08, all the way!

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  11. BC

    I would like to see CNN show this picture of Obama, since they did not show the picture of the Cuba women and her flag. CNN is very bias, it is obvious in all of their political team. I would like some real side by side comparison on issues both Obama and Clinton have been involved with throughout their careers. I am waiting for real Jornalism from CNN. This whole business of attacking Clinton is getting ridiculous. How about focusing on well-founded and important issues for once.

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. Eric S

    Obama's ploy shift voters' attention to a non-issue.
    Shame on you Obama

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. jfs

    Hillary and her SUPPORTERS............SHAME ON YOU HILLARY CLINTON!!!

    I have supported you since DAY-ONE........AND CONTRIBUTED OVER $1000 !!!!!! I am supporting OBAMA and sending a check off today for $2500. THIS smellls of White Water, Travelgate, and Bill's impeachment. I wish you would take yourself and what ever supporters you have left and see if NADER or McMain need you. They would love to have this kind-of experience. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. John, N.H

    To obama supportsters,

    Get over it. all politicians say anything to get elected, there is no perfect politician like mr obama is making us believe. Whose spouse said she wasnt sure she would vote for one of the candidates? MO or BC?

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Anon.

    Wow, I hate Hillary Clinton. She just can't get out of the spin-cycle. I hope she is never president. Not this time, not any time.

    I'm not even American and I can't vote.

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. larry

    poor taste, I feel hilary is tring to con the public in to untruths, may ? Is will she try the same as president?

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Eric in JC, TN

    This crap keeps up and we are going to end up with the gila monster and Huckleberry Hound in the white house. Man the Clintons get scary when they are desperate.

    BTW, all you Clintonistas who keep complaining about the Obama bias of CNN, for the last 6 months, many posters here and people on my college campus have dubbed CNN the Clinton News Network. It's not that there is an Obama bias. She (Hillary Roadwarrior Clinton) just keeps doing things, that when reported (news site's job), she just keeps making things worse.

    But alas, if she doesn't drop out soon, the crusading war pigs will stay in power.

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. steve

    Doesn't seem like he's the best person to lead 'one country under god'........there are just too many of these type of photos and questions.

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Abby

    I have no problem even if Obama ties to any moslem community. My concern is he just doesn't have IT to be president.

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Will

    February 25th, 2008 12:00 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Why Obama campaign is outraged if they think the picture is fine? I don't understand, someone help me on this please?

    February 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. Cab, Miami Florida

    You know what?

    He looks more american than ever!

    Respectful of culture, true to himself and proud of his father.

    Go O 08.

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Jeff

    I can’t believe this. The Clinton camp is using Mr. Rove’s tactics. Shame on you Hillary Clinton!

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. McCain?

    McCain '08 for what? 100 years of war and an economy that will no longer be in a recession but a depression? Wonderful.

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. Pat

    Hillary: you are by far much worst than Carl Rove. I am a lifelong democrat but will do whatever it takes to help McCain win the presidency if you are the democratic nominee.

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  25. DAVE B.

    Well it was a gift, so I don't see the harm in Obama accepting it. The proble I have, is the context that its perpetuating. Its being used to insinuate that Obama is a Muslim. Lets hope the DNC lashes out at the HRC camp for this.

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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