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. Justice

    Thanks for this picture Senator Clinton, its really solidified my vote for Barack Obama. He appreciates and respects all cultures, even Muslim cultures that we have alienated so much. If we have any hope of ending the ideological war in the Middle East, we are going to need a President like this!

    Help us, Obama-Wan Kenobi. You're our only hope!

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Wow!

    Did CNN quote Maggie Williams correctly? Did she really say, " 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.”

    This is crazy...why did the HRC camp put it out there today? I feel like HRC's camp is in the clouds here...you know Maggie's degree's from Harvard are cool...but her comments seem uneducated...odd mix

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. Gerry

    If the democrats want to beat McCaine in November, someone had better get Hillary out of the race.

    This style of politics is exactly what's wrong in Washington. Time to review all her corporate contributors and put pressure on them

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Tevin, Raleigh, NC

    Hillaryland is pathetic. Every day they remind me why I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. She can't even run her own campaign efficiently and she wants to run this country? I think not.

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Donavon

    clinton camp "“Enough. If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed."

    its like; why did hrc camp put this out if they were not trying to use photo smearing?

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. BB

    CNN,
    you need to headline this article and make sure the Clinton campaign gets every bit of disgust that will surely come to them. This is absolutely outrageous. I never thought I would miss the Solis Doyle-Penn machine, it seems the Maggie Williams-Penn machine is nastier.

    This kind of politics is so beyond over. This generation is so sick of this crap, just die off and remove yourselves as an obstacle to a better world.

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. matt

    hes pathetic

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. JWellington

    It is a sleazy tactic by the Hillary campaign. It is also shrewd and clever. We will be seeing this photo constantly now, and it will have a negative impact. There is no question about that.

    The Clintons are brilliant at this sort of thing. Shameless – and effective.

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. KeithN

    This photo is simply Obama being respectful while visiting another country. I see absolutely nothing wrong with this.

    I am concerned however over the reports that Farrakhan supports Obama and says "OBAMA'S THE 'HOPE OF ENTIRE WORLD'". This is very scary as it makes me wonder why someone who is racist, anti-semetic, and homophobic supports Obama. As an undecided voter, my vote will now be for Clinton.

    At first I was VERY inspired by CHANGE, but now I am starting to question the true meaning. I am sure he would be a good president, but it is just too much risk with Obama.

    February 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. LENA

    I am BEYOND WORDS.

    She sent out her mailers to scare people into thinking that Sen. Obama is a radical muslim (HE IS NOT) and now she is AGAIN enganging this smear tactics.

    (Trust me, I know. I received her e-mail telling me that Sen. Obama can't be trusted because he is a Muslim–RIDICULOUS LIES).

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. Max from Cleveland

    Hey, what are you guys saying? Where's the proof it came from Hillary's campaign? Oh, that's right, when you belong to a cult, you don't need proof of anything, just gullibility.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. Seam, Philly PA

    These are minds games being played out by the Clinton campaign. The Clinton Camp will "not be distracted." Talk about reverse psychology. It's really ammusing to see the desperation taking place.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. t-bone

    Hillary, this beyond pathetic. Try and show a little dignity in defeat.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Ken

    Given that this photo has repeatedly shown up in my mailbox attached to a hate filled and far right-wing diatribe against Muslims and Barack Obama, the Clinton Campaign has revealed its utter moral bankruptcy in pushing this, and to claim that it distracts from real issues only shows how Rovian Mark Penn is and will be until HRC fires him–which at this point is not going to happen, unfortunately.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. Winner

    This statement from Clinton's Campaign manager is true!

    “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.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Rob

    it's somewhat shocking how inept the Clinton campaign has been.....

    She gets booed the other night for being negative, and gets a standing O for being positive.

    Now, in my world, 2 plus 2 is 4. Not so in Hillaryland, from what I can tell....

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Walter

    Hillary is a sick power hungry woman, she needs professinal help from doctors.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. Stoney/Texas

    CNN and their so called best political team always twisted a story to help Obama.
    CNN, you are disgusting.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Clinton the Butcher

    Clinton is certainly not trust worthy, as she attempts to do anything to win. She reminds me of one of the rich kids who feel as though they are entitled to positions in life because of who they are and how much money they have. I dont like her!

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. Go Hillary, Fort Lauderdale

    What a shame. And this man wants to be our President? God Help US.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. JT

    This is ridiculous. Hilary just continues to divide the democratic party…Talking about old politics.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Lucas, Nashville TN

    Deny, apologize... cry. Whatever works.

    It's nothing compared to the stupid-looking getups she's worn here in the USA!

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. HillaryClintonIsDesperate

    I am completely and utterly disgusted by HRC and her campaign. For all her talk about trying to take the high road, she has shown time and time again that "bowing out with grace" is not in her vocabulary. Can this woman sink any lower? If she wins the nomination, I can guarantee one thing, I won't be voting for HRC under ANY circumstances.

    Congratulations Ralph Nader, you just got my potential vote.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  24. Rich in Seattle

    No, SHAME ON YOU HILLARY CLINTON! And you have the nerve to accuse Obama of using Karl Rove type tactics.

    Just another example of you using racism to further your agenda. Shameful and sick!

    This is why I always say I would vote for John McCain before I followed my party and vote for you. Obama 08!

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  25. Lisa in Iowa

    If I were Obama, I would run with this and be proud of the foreign affairs experience that it demonstrates.

    Sure, this is a tactic by the Clintons to make Obama look like something he is not, but the Clintons need to realize that we, the voters are NOT THAT STUPID! We ARE listening and we ARE making informed judgements. I am offended by the sarcasm directed at Obama supporters, including myself. I don't have dreamy, pie-in-the-sky hope.

    I'm looking for a leader to get us out of this mess we're in as a nation. I am looking for a person with outstanding leadership qualities. If Hillary had those qualities, her $120 million dollar campaign wouldn't be in the toilet, trying to crawl out.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23