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. Saad

    It's not that Obama has anything to be ashamed of in this picture. On the contrary, he's proud of it. But it's what the Clinton campaign is insinuating just by circulating it that is absolutely shameful. They're trying to dredge up xenophobic feelings against Obama. Clinton is hurting this country by taking us back decades!

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Mike

    Eric, dont fall victim to Hillary's ploys. She is clearly trying to rally the prejudiced voters without crying prejudice. Fortunately, the vote has shown to see through her comedic campaign. I emplore you to see this for what it is and not what Hillary has trained you to think it is!

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. SL

    So if the two previous commentators are so sure that Hillary Clinton was behind this "photo smear", then how can they be equally unsure that Barack Obama wasn't behind the negative (and now famous) "1984" super bowl ad that portrayed Mrs. Clinton as Big Brother?? I sense a double standard. Barack can do no wrong and Clinton cannot even disagree with her opponent without scrutiny. Something is grossly biased here.

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Dr. Truth, Boston


    Hillary stop your crying dirty and then playing this game!

    Count another solid Democrat who will vote against the cry baby Hillary Clinton.

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. Penny

    This is possibly the deciding moment - our nation's reaction to this photo (starting with the reaction of people in Texas and Ohio). If it backfires as have all of Hilary's other pathetic smears, then we have truly turned a corner and won't stand for or succumb to this kind of racist, fear-mongering politics, and our nation will begin to improve. If this tactic works, then that's one more nail in the coffin of America's honor and perhaps endurance, which most of us as well as the rest of the world have seen coming since W took power. This in turn will put either of two disasters in power, Clinton or McCain. Think about this, voters. Please. It is time to grow up and rejoin the human race. First we had a president who couldn't pronounce "nuclear," and how we have a candidate who's willing to go nuclear to sieze power at all costs. Does this seem like a functional republic to you? Let's shut this foul spicket off before it's too late.

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Michael

    I wouldn't be surprised if Obama's camp released the photos. THERE IS NO link to Hillary Clinton or her camp releasing the photos, and she has never brought up race or religion in a fear mongering way. She has championed for religious rights.
    I can't believe how gullible people are! A photo Obama willingly took and has been made public is now somehow related to Clinton? If Obama has a bridge in Brooklyn to sell, would you buy it? Delirious is the word.

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Craig H, Mpls, MN

    More shameless smear tactics from the Clinton's. Sad.

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. K,F

    Once again the old politics rears its ugly head – and imagine that, it looks like Obama is in the mix right there with Hillary – he is not a victim people he is as much to blame as the rest. How is this picture offensive? I think we should be offended that the Obama people felt this picture was offensive. I think this is a good thing – at least now the man is really being vetted in public – just think this is only a picture of a great statesman doing what he should – what about the pictures of G. Bush in Africa – are those picutres offensive. No – and neither of these.

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. anon

    What Obama should say:

    "The Clinton campaign has had to apologize and remove staff members for untrue, unethical, and divisive attacks.

    This is yet another instance where Clinton will have to apologize and reprimand her staff. 'It is obvious she is running on the mantra that it is better to ask forgiveness than to seek acceptance.'

    Whether she knew about this recent unforgivable smear or denies culpable knowledge, one thing is true...

    Clinton has shown she can not run her campaign and therefore should not be allowed to run this country"

    I am an Obama supported, and not only to I approve this message, but I wish he would use it.

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Amy


    And I'm sorry, but since when has it been a reason to NOT respect and vote for someone because of them being a muslim? WHICH HE'S NOT!

    But just imagine if he were, how hateful this is. Just awful, awful tactics.

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. MD

    Hillary is not my candidate. But I wonder how many people actually listen to what Obama says. I know everyone hears him, but not that many people seem to listen.

    Barack is very charasmatic. But his is the MoveOn.org candidate through and through. If one really looks at what he proposes, one will see that he really is devoid of economic realities.

    All this other stuff (headgear, plageriasm, etc.) is just distracting.

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Walter

    She needs a doctor, I am telling you America Hillary is a sick woman who is power hungry. She needs help I feel really bad for her.

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. JB

    Shame on Hillary Clinton! These tactics are exactly why the American people are turned off by her. If she is going to engage in mud wrestling, I think Obama needs to turn up the heat on the source of the Clinton's money. I am really tired of these tactics. I hope the Hillary supporters are so turned off by now (and they should be) that if they can't vote for Obama, that they vote for McCain or Ralph Nader!

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. Thomas Koshy

    Don,t Sen.Cliton.Why is Sen.Obama ashamed of his own phpto.Go Hillary.

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Lisa

    I hope this is "hit" on and then dismissed as the drivel it is. For anyone to even consider this wasn't thrown out by the sinking ship that is the Clinton campaign is ludacris. People think it's sad she has "sunk" to this level, but I believe she and her husband both have been much lower. I feel sorry for their daughter. Clinton's campaign has turned into an embarrasment.

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. RDS

    Forget about the presidency, I think New Yorkers, inhabitants of the world's largest melting pot, need to wonder whether this hate-mongerer is worthy enough to be their senator? If those NY superdelegates continue to support her, then they should be kicked to the curb along with her.

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. Iris, IN


    Good to see how true blue you are to your candidate.

    Any proof that someone from the Clinton camp actually sent this photo around?

    I say, good riddance. With supporters like you, Hillary would definitely lose this bid. Shame on you for not checking the facts!

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. Latisha

    The only outrage is that anyone is outraged by this photo....

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. Hillary supporter

    Is this all you have Hillary, is this all you have got? I have donated $500 to you so please tell me that this is not all that you have.

    Please tell us that the campaign and your presidency has more than this..

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  20. Waaaiit a minute

    Besides, whatever happened to the Karl Rove playbook statement she made earlier in reference to the Obama campain mailer?

    February 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |

    Here we go, I don't think so, but here I go, will shut this off and no longer lister to the garbage. Get your respective messages on your policy to govern out to the public and let it be. Stop this, it makes no sense to put stuff like this out, Americans are too sophisticated for this.

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. blake andrew

    is this the woman we really want in the white house. she is not qualify, she is a facker and a power monger. people of texas and ohio think about your vote and make the right decision i was going to vote for clinton in the general if obama did not win, but i change my mind, john maccain would by far be a better leader than billary. womne do not just vote for her because she is a woman that does not put food on your table or take problem of nasfter. obama 08

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Timo Garcia

    what would the democratic party have actually achieved in the past few decades of it werent for the clintons? your slanderous attacks on her are recycled republican trash. some of these obama folks have real short term memory. oh.. thats right. most of them weren't born yet.

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. Yemi


    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. truth

    OMG..How can I consciously vote for this Woman? Lies hypocrisy, and manipulative tactics is why America do not trust her. If it is her and McCain I’ll go for Nader. Clinton Shame on YOU...

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