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. jmw

    The main thing is that Hillary's campaign did not deny circulating the photo. Her tactics are to be nice in debates when she is face to face with Senator Obama and then resort to an ugly smear campaign in public outside of debates. She is resorting to dirty politics and I will not be a part of voting for her.

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Amy in Iowa

    No apologies needed this time Hillary. Because it will not be accepted.

    Your dirty attempts at fear mongering confirm why change is needed in America. I am donating $100 to the Obama campaign right now!

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. A. Harrison

    LOL.....why is this photo an issue? Please re-read what Ret. Gen. Scott Gration said on the last paragraph.

    THe question is why is the Obama camp up in arms? Are they ASHAMED OF THIS PHOTO?

    Please do what you do with pride and stop trying to hide who you are. BE A HUMAN and stop trying to be A SUPERHERO.

    Hillary 2008!

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. john

    how much did hillary pay off nader to help destroy obama? I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT OUR POLITICAL LEADERS, think we are so stupid. I am emailing everyone I know about this. You are all crooks!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Kay the Dem

    I am a hardcore Obama supporter, however I am not quite sure why his campaign is so upset about the photo. I think they could easily put a positive spin for Obama with it, and thank Hillary for showing his human side, something that Hillary obviously lacks.

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. carrie

    i find it hilarious that the clinton camp is getting mad at OBAMA for getting mad about them sending out the picture and trying to make him look bad! the cilntons act like they are so innocent! they circulate the photos, wait for obama to defend, then say...i don't know what he's getting so upset about? its just a photo...yes, it is public, and nothing more, but then why are the clintons circulating it? because they want to imply something..cast doubt on obama's religion or patriotism...PLEASE, hillary! i'm not falling for it!

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  7. Special Interest

    Exactly what is the problem? Does Senator Obama not like the way he look in the picture?

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. Mike

    Can anyone just imagine the dinner conversation between Bill and Hillary as these next set of primaries approach? I for one don’t find it hard to believe that the Clintons are going for a scorched earth approach regarding Sen. Obama. Desperate people tend to do desperate things. Let’s not count her out yet – but should she win – well… President Billary Clinton should provide the late night talk shows with months of material.

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

    by the way this is hilarious.

    February 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. Annamica, OH

    What? Is he ashamed of the photo or something that he doesn't want it circulated? LOL…and for those idiots (yes I know its sad to say they are supporters of Senator Clinton) who claim that Senator Obama is a Muslim…well no true Muslim would hide behind another faith just for political advancement. So please, don't bring religion into something where it obviously does not belong. And as I have always believed, there should be a separation of church and state. So what if he happened to be (and I am not saying he is) a Muslim? Big deal, do you think Muslims are inherently evil or incapable of leading this country?

    Anyway, I am proud supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and she will blow us away March 4th!

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. D. Eubanks

    I can only imagine what she will do if she is let back in the White House… As soon as she runs into opposition, she will pull out ALL the stops to prove her point (whether right or wrong). It is this type of attitude that will keep this country from moving forward. I’m not saying Obama is our only choice, but he is the best choice for change.

    Thanks Hillary, for showing us how you really feel about hope and change…

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Austin 4 Hillary!

    What's Obama's middle name?

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

    An apple don't fall far from the tree.

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. Grif

    I stated Obama was a Moslem Turncoat, right at the beginning of his campaign. Prove it? Don't need to, you'll find out when it's too late.

    They'r determined to get your country one way or another.

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. ella

    I dont think Obama shd get upset about this....so he has wrapped his head.....HRC is frantic but who cares....Americans will see beyound this... We might as well bring up Bill Clinton's infedility in the white house

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. Observer

    s Obama ashamed of this? Worried in light of the Farakan endorsement? If not, why the reaction from his political team? If Clinton were to denounce the circulation of this photo, critics would say she is racist. If she doesn't deny circulating this photo, then she's … you guessed it… racist. What is the right answer here? I think the one that Maggie Williams (Clinton's campaign manager) gave is correct:

    "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."

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. James Butler

    How sad!!! The Obama camp has no proof that Clinton put the picture out and yet they still want to blame her. This is a sad attemp to get voters thinking that Clinton is dirty.

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  18. Doreen

    Hillary Clinton not only deserves to go down - knock her out, but she also deserves the disrespect of all Americans with this type of misleading photo. She and all her people should be ashamed of themselves.

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. AnnitaR

    Gee, Obama a little touchy are we on this subject?

    Why the outrage? Are you not proud to wear a gift presented to you?

    Once again the Obamamaniacs go nuts over something that Obama campaign clearly put out themselves & then tries to blame on Hillary!

    SHAME ON YOU OBAMA!

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. amy yance

    Is this what all the media is supporting. I am a democrat and if Hillary doesn't win the nomination, My vote will go to MC Cain. Tell Obama to come clean and start answering the tough questions.

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. Todd from AZ

    Wow, politicians from Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton have done the the whole native dress thing when they travel oversees what's the big deal. The question we should be asking is how did Hillary lose such a big lead in the first place. If she is supposed to be ready on day one how come she can't manage her campaign? Why is her staff overpaid and fighting with each other? Why can't she control her staff or her husband ? Is this what we should expect if she becomes president?
    Yes action do speak louder than words.

    OBAMA '08!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Michelle, Ontario, CA

    I for one must say that I am outraged that the HRC camp has stooped to such a low. Then again, if she continues this pattern it should work well in Obama's favour as people don't respond kindly to HRC's negative remarks towards Barack Obama.

    All in all, however, I am very disappointed that this rubbish has come from her and her camp. Grow up.

    February 25, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. joseph gattlin

    Why should he be mad about this picture circulating. Is Obama ashamed of who he is, what he has done or POSSIBLY WHAT HE IS HIDING

    February 25, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. LaTeef Alade Alpharetta,GA

    Senator Clinton needs to focus more on issues affecting this country, and what her administration will do if elected president. Senator Obama has all the right qualities to lead this country at this critical time.

    February 25, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. Timo Garcia

    CNN STOP CENSORING MY THOUGHTFUL COMMENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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