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. Jen, California

    Because the photo was taken for goodwill reasons and yet, someone, I'm not going to say who, chose to release it for the wrong reasons. It's clear as day. Come on. I mean, what's this photo supposed to do anyway? Scare voters? It's ridiculous. Dignitaries travel the world and are always trying to respect the culture(s) they find themselves in. If the intent of releasing this photo was to smear Mr. Obama, I just have to shake my head and hope that such tactics don't get rewarded. It's sad, how this election has gone.

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Thomas For Hillary

    People, how do you know she actually put those photos out. Obama could have put them out himself too make you think she did it and cause an uproar. All officials that visit foreign countries were the country's traditional attire. So, I see this is not big deal, like Obama is trying to spin it to be and some of you are buying it/

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Barbara M Campbell

    So why did Hillary publish the photo then? Rather than focus on the issues, she has consistently sought to damage Obama. This photo plays to the rumor (known to be false) that Obama is Muslim, and is in lockstep with Bill Clinton's speeches reminding voters that Obama is Black ("like Jesse Jackson").

    Publishing this photo, in my opinion, is racist.

    It's obviously Hillary who is trying to distract voters from the issues in this campaign, and that Obama is more authentic, ethical, unifying, and electable.

    More dirty tricks from the Hillary camp – they're coming on a daily basis now – and WE ARE SO TIRED OF HER AND HER SLEAZY TACTICS!

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

    You know, the more I see of Hilary the more I dislike her, she has issues with mood swings that is obvious! Just what makes her or her campaign people (who apparently have no clue) that we would ever want someone with her attitude in office. We have seen eonough of her she will be lucky to ever be elected into any office again wow she has really blown it!

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Tonya from DE

    I am so ashamed to be an american woman at this time. Hillary disappoints, alientates and insults the very people who she attempts to gain trust and votes from...African Americans and women.

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Iowan for Obama

    Hillary Clinton is pathetic!

    Let's put come photos of Bill and Monica and the "blue dress" online.

    Then, let's find pictures of Hillary in native costume, when she has visited other countries, or is she so full of herself to ever identify with individuals from other countries?

    Vote for integrity and the end to the Clintons and Washington politics.

    Obams 2008!

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  7. Michelle in KS

    HRC is simply ridiculous. Her negative mud-slinging tactics are doing nothing but dividing the party. This is obviously far different from Hillary wearing traditional clothing when visiting other countries– Barack has had to fight the false claims that he is Muslim from the start of this campaign. Circulating this photo provides more "evidence" for the unintelligent individuals who perpetuate this rumor.

    February 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Keven

    Instead of jumping on Hillary for pointing out an obvious flaw. Why not call it what it is. Half the baseball and football fans are not running for President. If a Person running for President cant put his hand over his heart for the NAtioal Anthem to a flag I fought to protect for 22 years then he can go back to the streets of chicago and continue to talk and get nothing accomplished just as he did as a senator. He can talk the talk but has proven he cannot walk the walk.

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. JF

    If her campaign didn't do it, shouldn't she deny it?

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Jensen

    Wow, Clinton really is desperate...how can she be doing this to the democratic party? We need at least a semblance of party unity here. Instead, she's willing to demolish the reputation of the democrats and destroy the Clinton legacy, all at the same time...I am amazed (and horrified).

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. Natasha/Supporter of Obama

    LOL....... Well, well, Hillary out of respect for other country just as Bush do(dance) please don't insult. Chelesa with to Hawaii and wore their culture attire to welcome you. Now look at you Hillary...... He was in another country in which he simply respect the culture. Come on......shame on you ........LOL You are really presssed,huh...........LOL So you are again showing you are against other people period. STOP IT GIRL, GO HOME!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

    Congrats Hillary.......

    U won are you happy – U have just handed the presidency over to McCain.

    As a democrat if you win the nomination – I VOTE NADER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. Incredible

    Why do people feel this is offensive?. Is it not him?. First of, don't we need to know more about the man so many are so eager to coronate? Is he the one in the picture? if it is, I am sure the eloquent Obama can explain and does not need to feel offended.
    People are so easily driven to believe she is behind this. So many of her supporters are so sick at the discrimination she is being subjected to. We have lowered the bar for Obama so low that anybody that questions his record is either a racist or un-American. This has to end. Let everything be known and out there. EVERYTHING ON THIS MAN IS PERTINENT.

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. DE

    Absolutely, completely, utterly disgraceful of Sen. Clinton. This is the final straw. I had resigned myself to support the Democrat, no matter who it was. But this, this is something straight out of the Karl Rove playbook. Disgusting

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. HomoSapien

    Shame Hillary Shame!!

    I am a Democrat, and if you win the nomination, I will stay home. After seeing this despicable behavior from you, I will vote for a DOG before I vote for you.


    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Iowan for Obama


    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. Mr M

    How stupid can you people get to realize that this is from HRC campaign!
    Seriously people! Wake up! Anybody could have done this with photoshop!
    The pathetic people are the one's who believe this was sent by her campaign!

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. John, Racine, WI

    And NOW you see the NEW President of CHANGE!

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. nicholasknack

    Why does hillary's campaign have to be racist? Obama can't wear traditional garb of a place he is visiting? Nice. Welcome to communist Russia under Hillary's rule.
    And you wonder why people don't like her? She is visibly angry and needs help.

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. Jamie

    I wish we could just fast forward to March 4 now so Obama can wipe the floor with Hilary. I am SO tired of listening to her campaign's babbling.

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Kevin, Louisville, Ky

    This picture is cute.....poor Hillary killing her own campaign by the day....

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. Excuse me from Texas

    Who is distracting whom? They put this stuff out then claim Obama is distracting them?????????? Unbelievable just unbelievable.

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. chaning times

    If this was meant to bring fear out in people, then its a travesty. Many politicians have donned the attire of other countries out of respect, especially during special ceremonies.

    If Maggie Williams, Hillary and Penn choose instead to pander to people's worst fears and prejudices then she just lost any hope of me voting for her.

    Let's not peddle hope, lets peddle possible fears instead! a great banner for the Democratic party.

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. Sally

    Enough is Enough, Hillary! You have now shown me your true colors! I am switching my vote to Barack Obama! Hillary, you are Pathetic!

    Obama '08!

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Over

    The Clinton campaign didn't cut and make the photo! This is a real photo, why the outrage? As a Black man and a conservative Christian I am glad to see the picture, not that it changed my support for Sen. Clinton but I am glad to see another side of the candidates. I would also like to see Hillary in tradtional attire.

    Get over yourself Obama! Stop running from your history! Stop whining! Quite frankly, I don't trust BO. I'm sorry but I just don't. I would support McCain insted of Barack (if he is the nominee) only if he changed his position and take us out of Iraq, but we know that's not going to happen.

    February 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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