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. Patty Don't

    Neither will we Maggie. We know what you're up to and we don't appreciate it very much at all.

    We're not as stupid as you and your boss seem to think we are.

    Nice try though.

    February 25, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Geoffwjr

    Shame on you Hillary you are the most divisive person on the planet. You give some women a bad name in buisness, because of your flip flopping and attacks that come out of no where, but I guess it is win at any and all cost, do we want a president like this?.

    At the start of the campain I would have been happy with either canidate, but the more I listen to Hillary the more disguisted I am. Hilliary is repulsive on the statements she makes, she is also very phony.

    February 25, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Obama said he could not take time off from campaigning to attend the Black Forum, but Obama found time to got to the NIU memorial.
    Does Obama believe that he has the Black voter solidly in his camp that he can disregard them, whereas he still thinks he needs to keep wooing the young college age voter.

    February 25, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. Lydia

    Same old, same old, Hillary, huh? Preying upon people's fears to score political points. You and Bill first tried the race card and that backfired. Now you're preying upon people's fears of all things Muslim.

    You have no shame. Too bad. So sad.

    February 25, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  5. Sarah

    Hillary get control of your campaign!

    February 25, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. David Clute

    The Clintons are obviously getting very desperate. They must see the writing on the wall!

    February 25, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. Lu

    Shame on you Clinton! It is obvious you will do anything to win!

    Obama '08!

    February 25, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. Bill

    Now who is using Karl Rove's playbook? This is part of the reason I switched my support from Hill to Obama. This is the ugliest kind of politics and Maggie Williams has to be the most disingenuous person on the planet.

    February 25, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  9. Fed up in Columbus

    That's it, this is over. Shame on you, Hillary – what a pathetic, sickening smear on a member of YOUR OWN PARTY. I've been repeating over and over to myself that either of the Democratic candidates would be preferable to McCain, but after this I just can't believe it anymore.

    I despise Clinton's tactics. I will be voting for Obama on the 4th, and if Hillary wins the nomination I will be staying home in November.

    February 25, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Saad

    If Clinton's campaign is guilty of circulating this, then she has absolutely reached a new low in desperation. Wow!

    I'd expect this from the xenophobic right, but come on Hillary, what's wrong with you?!

    February 25, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. MD

    Welcome back to the gutter Maggie Williams – or perhaps you never left.

    February 25, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. hms

    I don't see the reason why Obama camp is so upset?

    February 25, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. Raphael

    Wow what a waste of 2 mins it was reading this article.... I'm so glad Obama is beating Billary over the head in this campaign, and I CANNOT WAIT till he steps into office and starts fixing the problems and debt left for my Generation to deal with....

    Obama 08

    February 25, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. nick

    I have seen many with a yamaka on you know the hat that Jews wear in their Holy place and nothing is said. Is Rudy Giuliani Jewish? I have seen many pictures of him with one on. Shame on you Hillary.

    February 25, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. Joy

    C'mon Clinton Campaign! I want to have the stomach to still vote for you if by some off chance you win the nomination.

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. hms

    I don't see the reason why Obama camp is so upset? Is he ashamed that he wore the attire?? Every politician does this.

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. Sam, G.P. TX

    This picture is extremely misleading and inaccurate. Hillary drop out now you are dividing the democratic party to continue your power hungry and manipulative tactics. You are a divider!!! Please drop out now, John McCain's party has begun to come around him Obama will need as much time as possible to prepare for the Republicans. Leave with some dignity!!!!

    Obama/Edwards 08!!!

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. Doris

    She's a desperate, nasty woman! She can sugar coat all she wants, but she plays dirty and I would vote Republican before I voted for her!

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. cp

    Whats wrong with wearing clothes, how dump and stupid have we become. Every states man wears local traditional attire when they visit foreign countries. We are no different from Muslims who arrest their citizens for wearing foreign clothing. This is utter nonsense.

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. Trenchtownrock

    Wow this is an all time low by hillary and her camp.They won't be distracted yet they won't take resposibility for distributing the photo. I am sure Obamaq doesn't object to wearing traditional clothing worn in these countries, but when you have a nation that is fearfull of anything different from them, couple that with his name and all the hate mail that was circulated reinforcing that makes this very divisive. The Hillary camp is going the route of the republicans which is play on the fear of the citizens of this great nation. Shame on you Hillary Clinton!!

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  21. leah

    o my....she is at a new low. desperate, vile woman!

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. Jane

    It never ends. Hillary is a Clinton to the core.

    If she wins it will be 8 more years of war with was with the Republicans and 8 more years where nothing happens.

    8 more years of dispair...

    February 25, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. Mike

    THIS kind of POLITICS was rejected in SC and will be LOUDLY rejected in Texas and Ohio! The Clintons have gone too far.

    February 25, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. No Hillary

    Hillary please bow out with grace. Keep your party in mind.

    February 25, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. Long-term Memory

    Well said, Ms. Williams. We have all seen George W. Bush in the traditional clothing of other nations throughout his presidency. The Obama campaign would do better to criticize the Drudge Report if it feels this picture is being used for "fear-mongering." And the rumors of Obama being a Muslim circulated long before the candidates announced their campaigns for presidency. Clinton's campaign is not responsible for it.

    February 25, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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