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. Lisa Gross

    Hillary is so desperate! She needs to stop the Karl Rove tactics, it is just hurting her. She seems to have no morals or values. She is never going to get my votes!

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. D

    "Clinton's campaign manager Maggie Williams ... did not directly address the substance of the allegation." Why am I not surprised?

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. R

    Another case of Clinton doing anything saying anything to get elected. No more HillBillies in the White House.

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. Lucy

    I see nothing wrong with the photo. What's the problem. He's being open while visiting another country. How is this bad? Anyone?

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. Jeff

    Can someone explain 'why' Obama was even wearing this? Is it religious, cultural, political? I must admit – i'm curious and a little concerned by this.

    If he took a trip to Cuba, would he play dress up in 'Castro green' and light up a cigar with them?

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  6. PJ

    Love how you folks are blaming Clinton even though there's no proof her campaign submitted this. Obama supporters are sounding more and more like Bush supporters every day.

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. Frank of DC

    Hillary has lost the plot. Obama will unite Christians, Muslims, Hindus,Sikhs,Jews,Buddhists,Atheists,Mormons and everyone else. We are all human beings

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. midwestmama

    This is just silly! This is why I want a change in Washington and Hillary is not it! Stick to the issues please or the Democrats will lose the general elections with this petty childish behavior.

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. disgusted

    I hope people will see Hillary for what she is. To stoop so low.

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Sarah

    Sleeze knows no limit with Clinton.

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. Dylan in CA

    Hillary do you have no shame?

    Who's taking pages out of Karl Rove's playbook? YOU. This is disgusting Republican-esque fear-mongering at its worst.

    How can anyone support this woman? It is now undeniable that they will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to win... even if that means destorying her own party. Clintonistas need to wake up and she that she is nothing but a wolf in sheeps clothing. I do not trust a word she says.

    This is despicable.

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Chris

    This photo matters why?

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. Democrat Voter

    Why is Obama upset, exactly? How is that photo a smear? If he feels those clothes are "smear" then he shouldn't have worn them. I think it's an insult that Obama is saying that people who dress like that are somehow smearing themselves? Something's wrong with Obama...

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. con in PA

    How truly pathetic of the Clinton campaign. This is dirty politics at it's worst!
    I am not afraid...after 7 years of fear mongoring....I have risen above the FEAR machine.
    Lumping all muslims as terrorists is no different than racism, or genderism!!
    SHAME ON YOU HILLARY CLINTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Dene in Charleston, SC

    With one week to go before the bell tolls in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont, the Clinton machine has found it necessary to turn to the type of politics that have turned so many away from her and toward Barak Obama.

    Ever had a gut feeling about how a candidate will behave if elected?
    I have. His name was Bush. Enough said.

    February 25, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. Coby Austin

    I like how the Clinton camp is always like "What?" "We have no idea what your talking about."
    Be sure that the Obama camp is prepared for this last minute desperation by the Clinton campaign. She's so freakin pathetic.
    I think majority of the voters here in Austin and other parts of Texas care less about Hillary.

    February 25, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. ZedLoch

    Wow, Obama doesn't just talk the talk on diplomacy. He actually walks the walk! In my travels abroad, I've learned first hand that participating in a host country's culture and customs is the best way to gain understanding and friendship.

    "what any great leader should do — he accepted the gift, accepted the hospitality, accepted that token of friendship."


    February 25, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Divider............

    So.....you all have proof that the Clinton campaign released this picture? Dang – you folks are really good. Get a job in the news media or the FBI !!!!

    Senator Obama is the divider of both the candidates. Unequivocably!!! His proposals consistently (and it is the only consistent theme) create the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.....he is willing to disenfranchise millions of voters for her own personal benefit. And according to Oprah – he is one of them – whatever that means. Not one of us but one of them.....duh!

    But, his playing 'follow the leader' is probably the most annoying. At the debate he parroted what Senator Clinton had just stated in her response to a question....she left her name on the Michigan ballot and he followed the leader and ended up leaving his name on the Florida ballot....Senator Clinton had always said that to meet with other world leaders would only come after preparation, etc. – now Senator Obama is saying that..............so I guess that is how he learns!

    I want someone who is the leader when they take the office, not someone that is playing 'follow the leader'............

    And as for the picture.........I saw this months and months ago – where have you been?

    February 25, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. JJ in NY

    Another Hillary "Do as I say, not as I do" hypocrisy ? I guess it's OK for the queen apparent to lie, cheat and steal in her campaign, because Hillary thinks the country "owes" her ? Perhaps Hillary wants some more "cheezy" with her whine .

    February 25, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Lynn

    What is appalling is that the Clinton campaign is distributing it because it believes Americans are gullible enough to believe it shows Obama is some kind of scary terrorist. I see absolutely nothing wrong with a U.S. Senator trying on local garb when visiting a foreign country. People do it all the time. So why does Clinton think this is somehow helpful to her?

    Maybe she's right and the people ARE gullible enough to be frightened and run to her. I sure hope not. Sheesh.

    February 25, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Eric

    A good reason not to vote democrat this year. Hillary is a smear monger and Obama is a closet muslim seeking to destroy the country. Vote Republican!

    February 25, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. joe

    i loved saturday night live..mocking the affection of cnn and obama

    cnn was a joke around the world...they are the left version of fox news

    so much for balance and fair reporting cnn...they made a fool of

    john king...never will see him on one of the prime news network after


    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. A concerned citizen

    You guys point fingers. There is no proof she did this. Again, big media trying to make HRC seem bad.

    She's the only uniter for 2008. Go Hillary!

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. Beans

    And she wonders why she's going down the tubes.

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. Mckell Ashcroft

    Its sad to see that Hillary has stooped down to dirty campaigning. I have been pretty torn between choosing Hillary or Obama as my candidate, but due to instance such as this she has made up my mind for me. I'm choosing Obama. I hate when politicans stop talking about the issues, and instead focus their attention on slandering their opponent. I know its part of the "politcal game", but I still think its dirty.

    So here it is in a nut shell...

    Hillary, try to win Texas and Ohio an honest way.

    And Obama...you got my vote!

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23