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. Pamela

    A black campaign manager for Hillary – will not help her status – which has sinked to the lowest level possible.

    February 25, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. TY

    Hillary has really lost her mind. She has stooped to new lows and proved why she is not worthy of becoming president.

    February 25, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. Indy

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

    SHAME ON YOU HILLARY!!

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

    February 25, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. Mk

    nice work Hillary, and quite predictable.
    She is really a piece of work.

    February 25, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. Allison, NH

    Clinton Camp: You are truly disgusting. Your ship is sinking like the Titanic and your starting to throw whatever you can overboard to salvage what you might have had....sadly, nothing will work.

    February 25, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. Shek

    OMG This is unbelievable. How audacious of Maggie Williams to blame the Obama team of distracting from the serious issues. This lady has some nerve. Did you not feel that when you started off with the "Fairy Tale" and the plagiarism issue? Shame on you, Maggie Williams. You are ruining Hillary's chances by not owning upto your mistakes.

    February 25, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. DG_NJ

    I love it. Hilary Clinton is desperate. March 4th can't come soon enough. Please send this chick back to the trailer park where she came from .

    Nice going Hilary. You've just lost Texas and Ohio!

    LOL

    February 25, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Max from Cleveland

    Hittin' too close to home, is it, Obama?

    February 25, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Texan

    Has Hillary lost her mind?? Take down the Democratic party while you're at it.

    February 25, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. LC

    I AM SPEECHLESS!

    Whether it was Clinton or McCain's camp, this type of fear tactics is senseless. Many dignitaries have visited foreign countries and worn the native garb. Was Bush not just in a disheeki? Does that make him a Muslim?

    DESPRRATION SPEAKS LOUDLY and Williams never denied the claim while an unamed Clinton staffer told the Drudge Report that if it were a pic of Clinton the photo would have been on Magazine covers.

    REGARDLESS, Obama supporters have done their homework and understand that Obama is a Christian.

    February 25, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. Sam of Carolina

    Hillary, I am amazed once again. I don' t think this is a good idea. You might think America is filled to the brim with ignorant close minded people who fall for these tactics. I don't think so though, and most of the ones who are vote Republican.

    But maybe it will work in Ohio...I don't know...I just hope not.

    February 25, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Stacy Clarks, Texas

    shame on hillary clinton, if she did in fact send this mailer. How many other ways does Obama need to prove his faith, and who he is.

    Is this how you want to win the vote of the American people? BY bringing someone down, and putting out what you have to offer. SHAME ON YOU HILLARY, SHAME ON YOU!!!!

    February 25, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. Marisa

    Clinton is now resorting to smear tactics since she is losing the popular vote. The leadership of the Democratic party needs to show some backbone and decry these kind of horrible attacks.

    February 25, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. Liz

    i cant believe the clinton team. its heart breaking to see this kind of material being protrayed this way.
    does hillary have any self respect. please hillary, walk away when you still have a little dignity.
    obama 2008

    February 25, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Mike in Cleveland

    Gee I wonder if this was the "smoking gun" that the Clinton campaign said they had on Obama that would supposedly doom his run for the White House. Funny thing is though, if they would have released this photo before the primaries even started, maybe they wouldn't be in this mess. I've now lost all respect for Clinton because this is complete trash, so much for the VP ticket, Hillary.

    February 25, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. Tony the Ohio Dem

    You lost my vote!

    February 25, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. ceetip

    This is what I think
    .
    1. Remember when the media asked. ”Who would you rather have a beer with? George Bush or John Kerry?” Americans overwhelmingly answered George Bush. And then they voted for him. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY.
    .

    2. Experience is important. George Bush and Jimmy Carter had very little. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY.

    3. Joe Klein says “Obama’s flights of rhetoric are the stuff of legend. But Clinton simply knows more. NOW THINK WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO OUR COUNTRY.

    4. Joe Klein says “Obama’s comments are not only maddeningly vague but also disingenuous: the campaign is entirely about Obama and his ability to inspire” I can’t eat inspiration and neither can anyone else. NOW THINK WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO OUR COUNTRY.

    5. NBC has virtually endorsed the Obama campaign. Shades of 2000 and 2004. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY.

    6. There is an old saying THE PEOPLE GET THE GOVERNMENT THEY DESERVE. LOOK WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY.

    7. GROW UP AMERICA!! Think with your heads and not with your hearts. Don’t vote for a person just because they make you feel good. Stop the all consuming desire for change and start focusing on the issues. Our economy is sinking fast and it needs an expert to fix it. THINK WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO OUR COUNTRY

    Let’s make change in the best possible way we can. Vote for someone with some credentials. Someone who is known for reaching across the aisle. Not someone who just HOPES he can.

    February 25, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Tony, ca

    the Clintons have no shame.

    they are without morals or decency.

    February 25, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Paul

    So, can someone tell me exactly when did Clinton hire Karl Rove?

    February 25, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. Jordan

    All of those commenters who have been declaring "NOW she's really lost it" must be regretting using the hyperbole so early. To be fair, I never would have guessed that she would go this far, but it's not the first time I've been wrong. I feel confident that circulating this photo and then saying that their campaign won't be distracted by Obama's concerns over the blatant fearmongering is a clear indication that HILLARY CLINTON HAS FINALLY AND IRREVOCABLY GONE OFF THE DEEP END. Alas. I once thought she'd be the perfect Secretary of State, now I'm not sure if even that's reasonable.

    February 25, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. j

    Barack Obama’s campaign accused Hillary Clinton’s team Monday of circulating a photo of the Illinois senator donning traditional Somali attire – clothing worn by area Muslims – as a goodwill gesture during an overseas trip.

    February 25, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Brian

    And the Clinton camp hits a new low.

    February 25, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. Frank of DC

    So does Hillary Clinton hate Muslims?

    February 25, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. DT

    UH I'VE worn traditional garb in Muslim countries and I'm just about the most conservative Christian you'll ever meet. It's about showing respect. Maybe if we'd shown more respect in the past we wouldn't be in the situation we are now. If Hilary's campaign is really circulating this picture that is stupid, but so are the people who think this picture makes Obama somehow less American.

    February 25, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. SharonR

    What about Farrakahn endorsment is it true

    February 25, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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