February 25th, 2008
02:15 PM ET
14 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. Bill Clinton

    This is too low for me to comment, I thnk Billary should just step down immediately.

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. andrew jones

    it's sad that Billary can stoop this low and can't be straight with her supporters that her campaign is engaging is smear campaign.

    Sad that she will have to be this desperate to lose!

    I will NEVER vote for this woman!

    Shame on Hillary!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Patrick

    I used to say anyone but Bush will be an improvement.

    Now I'm saying anyone but Hillary. Her campaign is just plain dirty politics. I'm so tired of hier highness I could be sick.

    Go away Hillary. Do us all a favor.

    Mark my words, if she somehow mucks her way to the nomination, I will vote McCain, and so will a lot of other people.

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Committed Democrat

    Just because it was alleged that it came from the sources within the Clinton campaign, how do we know how much of this is true? People make allegations all the time and most of them are not substantiated...I can make an allegation that someone from the Obama camp contacted the Drudge Report indicating that they were from the Clinton camp and provided them with the photo just to discredit the Clinton camp...reality check Obama supporters (including the media), Obama plays just as dirty; he gets free rides from the media...it would be nice to see debate where they ask each other questions and see how much they can really dig from each other...Obama does not fool me – I have been in many motivational seminars – they all sound good at the moment but then once it is over, we will not be motivated or in my case "fooled"...Americans do not be so niave!

    Wish Edward was still running...Ralph Nader sure does souind nice now...I would never vote for McCain or Obama...Clinton resembles most of Edwards ideas – Go Clinton or Nader!

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Terry undecided

    This women is sick, really sick. Save your money for NY you will need it.

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. AJ in SF

    Hillary and her campaign are digging deep into the dirt file. You can almost imagine the scene at her HQ: "what have we got on him? anything! anything! no sense in saving it for later; there may not BE a later."

    She isn't going down without a fight.

    She is a fighter at heart, and is going to fight this one to the death, without any regard for how it is going to hurt her party or her country.

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. Chicka

    All aboard the Hate Express!

    Thank you Hillary. Just when I thought there weren't enough hours in the day to hate you enough, you go and pull this.

    They did it to Jews, they did it to Roman Catholics, and now you're doing it to Muslims. Sure, Obama isn't a muslim, but Hillary doesn't care about silly little details like that, when there's an election on the line.

    I'm really REALLY hoping the Democratic Party officials FINALLY come out and denounce these tactics for what they are – otherwise I will have believe that the Party tacitly accepts that attacks on race and religion are acceptable in political discourse.

    Where is Chairman Dean?

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. jess

    This is the worse kind of politics. She is desperate and trying to pull him into a dirty fight. SHE HAS NO DIGNITY!

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    So if this is a bad photo for Barack, it must mean Obamans all hate muslims. What's wrong with this picture? Isn't Obama supposed to embrace all cultures or just the xenophobic ones?

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. DR. ROY K. BOUTWELL

    With Hillary, nothing is out-of-bounds in her approach to politics and life in general. This is one of the most corrupt, unethical politicians in Washington today. An ethical person would say, "Whatever is right". Hillary says, "Whatever works"! Anyone who wonders why she stayed with Sick Willie during his "womanizing years" in ther White House got their answer when she decided to run for the presidency. It wasn't out of love and devotion, it was for her moment in the limelight right now. When she loses to Obama, I wonder if she'll dump Willie's Butt ?

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  11. JPF

    I don't understand what the Obama camp is reacting so harshly to. This photo shows an American diplomat practicing respect and reverence for another countries customs. If that is shameful, then I'm afraid Obama is not ready to take on foreign relations as the next president. Furthermore, this is a cake walk compared to what Republicans have in store for him. Senator Obama needs to stop playing the victim and realize this is politics, no one gets a free ride.

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  12. John

    It's like if you poeple are on a drug called Obama. What does this guy stand for? Why would you vote for someone who has possible anti-american ties. You will regret it when the truth comes out after he is elected. Do the right thing, vote for Hillary!

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. John, N.H

    This guy is truly pathetic. Y wont he show us the pic ealier? It's like saying that " Folks, look i am not alone in this, Look at her too". what a double standard from Mr. Perfect

    Hillary 08

    February 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. Lynne

    oh hillary. you are just too slippery.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. So

    He's wearing African attire. So what? This is no different from when Regan visited Ireland.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Andrea, California

    Hillary 08.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. Kim P.

    Senator Clinton has apparently resorted to openly running a sleazy and desperate campaign. Leak the photo, and hope that people interpret the Muslim connotation badly. However, if challenged on it, fail to directly answer the question and make a snide comment on gracefully accepting diplomatic gifts. This is substance? This is an example of a solution (to the problem of not being handed the nomination?) Her idea of leadership is somehow making everyone do things her way and accepting her view of things. I think not.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    This picture appeared at the beginning of February in the National Examiner and the RW site Free Republic.

    Since when does anyone trust what Drudge prints about a Democrat???

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. Kate

    Hope CNN clarifies that Senator Obama was in Somalia as part of a five day tour of Africa - South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Chad as a member of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa. It would be beneficial for readers that CNN show the wide picture. That dress is not a "muslim" dress. It is a "Somali" dress. Please clarify.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. Martin Howell

    Shame on you Hillary Clinton. I see a pattern emerging, you attack Senator Obama, wait for him to defend himself and then attack him for doing so. You don't deny that your campaign is responsible, so I can only know that it is responsible. You know that the only way you can get votes is by duping the misinformed, because you know that the more this country gets to know Barack, the more they love him.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. Casy

    How can yall sit up here and oust Hillary when Osama has been getting away with everything from day one?!

    Adn actually, please don't be fooled. The Media and Republicans were going to distribute this info and much more ONCE Obama got the nomination. They were saving it and she just beat them to the punch!

    Obama is one of the biggest phonies I have seen!

    I say GOOD FOR YOU HILLARY-IT IS ABOUT TIME YOU STARTED FIGHTING BACK!

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  22. Jasmyne

    Hillary Clinton is simply pathetic!! She is the definition of a sore loser. Whenever she gets backed into a corner and knows she's about to lose big thats when she opens her big mouth and all kinds of CRAP starts coming out. She did it in Iowa, SC and now that she knows she isn't going to win TX and won't win big enough in Ohio she's doing it again. At least she didn't start crying on national televsion again. How pathetic...

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. Brenda

    Just when I think the Clinton campaign can't go any lower...... They really make me sick.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  24. Amy from Michigan

    This is just ugly. We see Hillary's true colors when she is backed into a corner. And the viewer above, Craig, knows full well that this has nothing to do with Obama's feelings toward the picture-it is a desperate attempt by HRC to stir up racial and religious fears among the bigoted. Shame on Hillary.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. TM

    I'm done with the dems if Obama doesn't win this primary. I was a Dean supporter and saw his own party torpedo him because it was Kerry's turn. If I see the same thing happen with non-issue attacks and superdelegate games, I will sit the main election out – or take a look at MccCain.

    February 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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