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. Patrick Murray

    Shame on you Hillary and Bill! You have reached to a new low. You are prefectly willing to take Obama and the democratic party down with you.

    I too am going to Match the $2500 check that jfs is sending. As a black with deep African roots I am offended and frankly find this picture telling of Bill and Hillary.

    I found is interesting that they wanted to show Obama's African roots. Who doesnt know he has one? This is precisely the reason your campaign has stumbled. Hillary has spent all her time telling the American people that they already know about her.

    BTW, Hillary fiercely defended a rapist and the detriment of a 16 of girl. She need to explain this.

    February 25, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. Matthew Jade

    You know I considered Hillary a worthy candidate if she ended up running against McCain and I'd probably vote for her, but this past week has gotten really out of hand. She is manipulative, politically unfair, and far too emotionally charged in her response to conflicts to be qualified to be the American president. She can throw around all the I'm qualified talk she wants but in reality she has managed a terrible campaign and I cannot help but envision her running of the country reflecting similar mismanagement. This week has made up my mind. I will not vote for Hillary Clinton.

    February 25, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. Sheri

    This photo and Obama's wife no proud to be an American. Hmmm......

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. John, Encino, California

    John F. Kennedy was right. NEVER put a hat on during a campaign. Not a firefighter helmet, not a football helmet, not cowboy hat, and especially not a turbin. This image, which is obviously the worst of political gutter tactics, could upend Obama's campaign. His connection to Islam, be it tenuous or not, is not a comforting thought for most Americans.

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. truth 08 time

    every thing in the obama mailers are true and accurate! Americans are not as ill-informed as she would like us to be, shame on her!

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. Scott

    She just lost my vote. Shame on you Hillary. The politics of fear are over.

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. Enrique

    Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with Obama dressing up in traditional Somali clothing, the motive behind Hillary's campaign circulating this photo is sickening and offensive. She is clearly desperate and determined to go down swinging. Disgusting.

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. DSC

    Isn't the same pictures we've seen of Angelina Jolie when she's visited Muslim countries?? Or Christiane Amanpour? I mean this is just Obama being respectful of another culture. Clinton need to stop this....she is using Republican tactics to win these upcoming elections and I don't think it will work. Obama '08!

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. LISTEN!!!!!

    Gosh. I didn't know it was a crime to try on African attire. He is after all, from Africa. Low blow Hillary, but people can see right through you.

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. John

    Hrc has got to be the lowest of the low, i would rather have 4 more years of George Bush then have this low down dirty HRC in the white house. She is truly the worst person, ever. Thank god most of us can see through her dog and pony show. Hillary Clinton you are the worst of the worst. She should not even be allowed to run thats how evil she is. Hillary go to he double hockey stick and take your little dog Bill with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. pmc

    This shows the kind challenges ahead for democrats to fight off republican and right wing conservatives smear campaign for November.

    Republicans and Right wing conservatives will use everything that the Clinton campaign now spreads as weapon for November.

    Clinton does not want Obama to win in November. This is in her self interest in order to keep her 2012 option open. She helped bush by supporting Iraq war. She and the clintons do not help Democratic party.

    Hillary and Bill should be ashamed.

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. Belle

    Hillary was in New Orleans this past weekend and gave a lame apology for her husbands remarks after the South Carolina primary.
    What is she going to do now..... apologize to the many Muslims who live in this country after the fact ?
    Her fear tactics are right out of Roves play book, and she accuses
    Obama !

    Shrillary is shameful AND disgusting!

    Obama 08 !!

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

    Is Obama ashamed of the picture? If not, why is it divisive? I'm sick of Obama and his campaign managers whining every time they think they've been attacked (and even manufacturing attacks) while they lob a nasty remark every chance they get and call themselves above the fray. He knows every time he says Hillary is attacking him, he gets more votes. If we let him get the nomination, the republicans will shred this man.

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. Emily Coletta

    Wow. Hillary Clinton is slime.

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

    "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."

    In other words, yes we (Hill and Maggie) put it out there, we'll let it sit out there for a news cycle or two, and when we get blasted for resorting back to the Clinton tactics of old (because we can't come up with any thing new), but any damage that may be done will have done its job.

    To borrow your words – "Shame on you, Hillary Clinton — it is time that you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public." Oh wait, you can't – you're all over the place.

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. SharonR

    you are so low CNN

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Sly Domber

    Shame on Hillary. Is she that desperate? How can someone vote for such a candidate? If she gets this nomination, I'll vote McCain no doubt.

    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. tc

    Wow!!!!!! How low can Hilary go before her supporters begin to see her true side. She is like Dr. Jeckyll and Mrs. Hyde. Talk about being outraged over something when your camp is doing the same thing. Come on Ohio and Texas, lets come out in record numbers and put an end to Hilary's campaign.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Cathy

    So when Laura Bush or Nancy Pelosi wear a scarf on their heads out of respect for the Muslim Country they may be visiting that must make them Muslims as well? Who ever is responsoble the this smear tactic should be not only be ahamed, but realize the huge blunder they have made, for in the future Americans will be afraid to honor other cultures in fear of
    slimy backlashes such as this. What a pity anyone could chose to be so childish and desperate.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Lisa

    Shame Shame Hillary. You accuse Obama of Karl Rove tactics by talking about the issues. Your issues on NAFTA and Health care? No this is Karl Rove tactics. Sending photos to Drudge, from a trip he went on the Kenya. Hillary is going after the Hillbilly vote!! The lowest educated who will vote out of fear from her smears.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Dan

    Clinton didn't release the photo. It's been online for over a year now. There are several others where he was actually posing. They were on his website at one point, in fact, but were suspiciously taken down in December. I remember it because it made me think he was very worldy and respectful.
    Congratulations to the Obama supporters, you fell for his bait. It's obviously a distraction, as people are beginning to realize that he supported every budget increase FOR the Iraq war, and publicly supported a NATO expansion. I can't believe how easily some people fall for this.
    Shame on you guys for being that dumb. I thought his supporters were supposed to be well educated. I guess that proves that a college degree doesn't make you "smart."

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  22. maddymappo

    HIllary can spew all the poison she wants. These scortch and burn tactics, just gives her electorate a taste of what an HRC administration would be like.

    As long as Obama can hold on, what doesn't kill him, will just make him stronger.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. chaning times

    Well Over you're young-you'll learn.

    It's a play to people's fears, to what's dark inside of us and what's dark in this country. Hopefully people will not be shaken or deterred by this. But then again that would require hope...something Clinton has publicly denounced.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Jason

    Hilary is crazy. Pathetic. Time for everyone to vote for Obama!

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Lee Ann ~ Texas

    I guess Hillary is above dressing like other cultures when she visits other countries. UGH!

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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