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. Amy

    I don't see what is so upsetting about this photo. It seems to me like Obama is scared of something. It's just a picture and i don't see this as a horrible act on Hillary's part, especially since none of you are in the least bit sure that she had anything to do with it. Those of you that bash her really and truly will no longer upset me because I see that you already have had your minds made up for a long time. All you want to do now is put Hillary down. Find something else to do with your time!!!! I am personally glad that she is finally calling him out in public any chance she gets. He's not the person he portrays himself to be and if she is going to lose (which she won't) than at least she lost for being true to herself and not having to play nice with a man that doesn't deserve it! How easily people forget the good a person has done......it's disappointing. CLINTON 08'!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. Brent

    Clinton is the democratic version of Carl Rove. Both Clintons have always been know for running scorched earth campaigns in which anything (ethical or not) is permitted. It is time to end the divisive poiltics old = vote Obama.

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  3. Mike

    Barack's campaign should not be upset with the Clinton campaign if it did indeed circulate this photo. They should be ashamed that instead of proudly acknowledging Barack's respect for a region's cultural identity, they immediately cry foul and allege the Clinton campaign is using smear tactics.

    People up in arms about this should be equally dismayed with Barack for the false representation of certain positions taken by Senator Clinton in the past. Both campaigns are using whatever tactics they can to win this nomination. Get over it and vote for whomever you think will represent your voice the best as President and will be the most effective in putting his or her policies into practice.

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Julie

    You know what- I want to see who this source is- Drudge has printed false info before! I don't think Hillary is responding to this because she doesn't know who did it- and whether it was from her campaign or not.

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. Sonya

    Hillary has just sat back and let Barack and his followers do and say anything to her and now she is tired of it. He has let his followers hand out and make incorrect statements about her positions for months now, and it's finally payback time Barack.
    BTW, at least she has taken positions and made offers for solutions about our problems that he can actually make incorrect statements about!!!
    He has done very little to make comments on, but what little he has tried to do has been emersed in controversy. That speaks volumes.
    Go Hillary!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. jenny

    Dear Hillary,
    How utterly ridiculous,instead of tearing each other up and down like a set of animals why not unite for pete sake ! stop all the silly he say she say,work together for a united states.Dont let the republicans have a field day with the dems.If you and obama wants the same thing then get together. You did say that you will garnish the wages of those who did not take you healthcare ins,so where is the LIE. get over and work together.REMEMBER the whole world is looking at both of your behaviour.I have asked the same thing of mr obama and he is not a muslim!

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. RT


    "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!"

    You hit the nail RIGHT on the the head!!! You are totally right and that is the point!

    Go Obama!!

    February 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. pmc

    Hillary = McCain's best friend. Period.

    McCain-Lobbyists-Nader-Hillary Coalition against Democratic Nominee!

    McCain-Lobbyists-Nader-Hillary Coalition
    McCain-Lobbyists-Nader-Hillary Coalition
    McCain-Lobbyists-Nader-Hillary Coalition
    McCain-Lobbyists-Nader-Hillary Coalition
    McCain-Lobbyists-Nader-Hillary Coalition

    February 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Denise

    Oh my GOD, I can't believe this woman. Our country is at war and to try to paint a picture of Obama as being part of the attack on American. Oh! my God.

    Hillary you're shameful. If you can't win–to hell with the democratic party and our country as well.

    OBAMA 08 all the way

    Virgin Islands

    February 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. B from Miami, FL

    EVERYONE is missing the issue here! CNN has not reported this accurately, either! From Drudge Report: "Wouldn't we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were HRC?" questioned one campaign staffer, in an email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

    What they are talking about is the MEDIA BIAS towards Hillary! They never questioned what he was wearing people!!!!!!!

    Excellent work from the Hillary Team! Obama's team has now entered the Hillary No Spin Zone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    HILLARY '08

    February 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. Vee

    I am shocked Shocked SHocked..
    Is not America Land of everyone?
    First Race and now religion...
    WHen a President Candidate can bring race, religion in between- what do you even expect from this country?

    February 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Michelle

    I guess she doesn't care if American who happen to be Muslim vote for her. Maybe she doesn't count them as "real Americans". We should all remember the saying "United we stand, divided we FALL" – our country is in too much of a mess for all this BS. Candidates, state your positions and leave the rest of the crap at home.

    February 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. blair

    I have good word that it was Obama's insurgent camp that sent the picture so Hillary would be blamed or Nader.

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

    Why don't we hunt for the truth about Obama. There is more to this picture than most people really realize. CNN why don't you dig deeper into the past of this man. You all seem to be oblivious as to the real obama.

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

    The majority of you people who post on here are idiots! Not all of you, but most, seem to believe whatever the media reports. How the H%#* do we know sent the picture out? Fools. Unfortunately, the majority of people have lost the ability to think things through for themselves during this campaign. In case nobody has noticed, EACH candidate is starting to go negative.

    February 25, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. John P

    When Bush visited Israel's wailing wall and he wore a Yalmaka no one accused him of being a closet Jew, nor did they ask if he was proud to wear the Yalmaka. You crazies and your anti-Muslim crap is getting old, you are applying the same set of questions and prejudices that has been directed at every group of new immigrants to America since the Mayflower.

    Hillary should be ashamed at her self for distributing this crap. She is trying to evoke people's hate & prejudice. Again she is showing the kind of person she is which is why I will be voting for Obama.

    February 25, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. shanee garner

    How low can Clinton Go. While there is nothing shameful about this picture-when in Rome do as the Romans. It is a CLEAR AND OBVIOUS attempt to divert attention from the fact that Hillary is in trouble.

    They will not be distacted?!...they are distracted if they think that the American people will be ignorant enough to buy this. Hillary is exploiting Islam in the same manner that Bill exploited Blacks in SC.


    February 25, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. con in PA

    CNN, why don't you put the other pics that are in the drudge report. The one of Hillary wearing a muslim head scarf??
    Or Bill Clinton wearing a "costume" on a visit to a foreign country. This is the worst article I have ever read on CNN...it is out and out fear mongoring and racism!

    February 25, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. AJ, IL

    As an Obama supporter, I just laugh this one off. HA! HA! HA! Obama looks like he has tissue paper (and not cloth) on his head. Of course this is a Hillary camp ploy to play the "fear-card" by trying to show Obama as a Muslim. It does not surprise me. Expect more of this Clinton camp negative "spin" over the next 7 days, especially if it plays well for the Clinton camp in the media. The Hillary camp is hoping that Obama will be spend time answering questions about the picture versus talking about issues important to Ohio and Texas voters. Hillary, the "say-anything and do-anything" candidate, will not go out quietly. It will take a sweep of March 4th primaries and caucuses to knock Hillary out!

    Obama in 08!

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

    this woman is trying to tear her party and country apart, is this the type of rule Americans want? i sincerely dont think so, i believe in the American people, and they will make the right choice and vote for obama!

    February 25, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Indy for Obama

    This is an outrage. Disgusting.

    Precisely what is the Clinton campaign trying to say with this photo? That he's Muslim? He isn't. But if he was, does she think that would be bad? Is she playing upon the ignorant prejudice against the sight of a turban that strikes fear into trembling hearts attached to wee, tiny, idiotic brains?

    That was the final straw. Hillary is done. That was disgracious. Subhuman. She deserves all the loathing she has accrued.

    February 25, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. Neva Stoltz

    The Obama cult isn't ready for the slime that is coming! You people need to get a life or go to an island and live with your God of all things. I'm tired of the Obama gang's tactics. CNN and the other news media are also in the Obama cult. I'm sick and tired of him even now, before his members get him in the election. He wants to represent all Americans, what a laugh, he doesn't even take email if you are not within his state. That really is representing all Americans. The votes he cast or did not cast has an effect on all Americans, not just Illinois! At least McCain and Clinton takes emails from everyone. Maybe it is that Obama can't handle anything more than his state! Maybe he can be elected as President of Illinois???????

    February 25, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. christine

    she is dispicable and makes me sad to say we are of the same gender. Hillary, you just lost my vote.

    February 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. DEM

    Hillary, can't we afford to leave this crap to the Reps??

    Obama 08'

    February 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. Kevin in OK

    There is absolutely no proof that this photo was circulated by anyone in Hillary Clinton's campaign. On top of that, as usual, the idiotic Barack Obama supporters are blaming Hillary Clinton, directly, just to make her look bad. Will Barack Obama and his supporters go even lower? I am quite positive that Barack Obama is behind this whole thing, trying to make it look bad for Hillary Clinton.

    However, people are much smarter than this. If Barack Obama is ashamed of wearing this outfit, he needs to just come out and say it. Don't try to blame Hillary Clinton. She's not the one in the photo! Barack Obama and his supporters, playing dirty, yet again!

    February 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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