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. pat

    Obama has alot to hide, lets get it all out.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. Sam Rose


    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. proud american

    Imagine if the Obama campaign were to circulate a photo of Hillary Clinton marching in a gay pride parade with some leather-clad individuals- and then say something like "Oh, there's nothing wrong with gay people, why should the Clinton campaign take offense?"

    Sleaze- that's all there is to the Clinton campaign.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. Christine from NJ

    This is outrageous. To think you had the audacity to cry outrage over your perceived attack from Obama over NAFTA. Meanwhile, you circulate an obvious fear-mongering “maybe we can make them think he’s a Muslim” photograph. You are beyond shame. You are below contempt.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. Phill Edou

    What a beautiful picture!!! Sincererely the pause is very interesting. Mr Obama looks ridiculous but we all know that never happened.
    When Clintonians want to attack, they do it without reserve. And when they are attacked they are yelling out .
    Clintonians are the most sensible and they will be the most affected by negative ads!!!
    Obama 08

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. Steve

    Disgusting gamesmanship by the Clintons. As badly as I want a Democrat in the White House, I would abstain from voting if by some rare chance she steals the nomination.

    I hope she loses her Senate seat over this kind of Karl Rove garbage.

    February 25, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. douglas

    Must admit,,,he looks so natural in that attire.....

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Tom

    This is just sad. I'm sorry to see things have progressed in this fashion for the Clinton campaign (I wonder how long they have been sitting on this photo).

    The bottom line is this, going to an Islamic country and not abiding by its laws will get you killed. Obama was following the country's customs, being a good statesman, and avoiding injury/death to himself by not following the proper dress code.

    Shame on you HRC – this really breaks my heart.

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |

    Similar to the photo that circulated with the Clintons and REZKO and Obamamites accusing them of having "dealings" with him too...

    GO HILLARY!!!!

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Sleazy but brilliant! Just like the "Guru ad" cost Bill Scranton Jr. the PA Governor's race against Bob Casey Sr. many years ago In the last week of the campaign, Casey's campaign (led by former Edwards manager Joe Trippi, as I recall) ran an ad with a photo of a long-haired Bill Jr. sitting around the hooka or something at Yale with a bunch of fellow travelers.

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. Clayton St.louis, Missouri

    that is a good point TB, you cant elect someone who cant even run their own campaign correctly.

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. Belle

    Oh....why is it always Anonymous sources ALWAYS seems to be from the "CLINTON CAMPAIGN SUPPOSEDLY"

    Are you certain Obama's Campaign didn't send the photo just to drum up some more Clinton hate?

    After all, the "MASTER" at misleading with his words is the one who drummed up the "Race" card and took it out of context. I am wondering who this Obama fellow is....not the one I thought I would vote for six months ago...unfortunately, he is proving himself to be way worse than Clinton in too many ways.....

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. Arin

    Perfect example of Karl Rove politics. Clinton you stink!

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. aPuerto Rican

    Oh my Lord, How Low Can you get and be. When you hope thing counldn't get any worst with Mrs. Clinton, it does. So dirty. If by some unlikly way Sen. Obama lose, I will vote REP. NEVER!! will she or any other CLINTON get my vote, Never!! Shameful.

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. DSF

    Kyle: are you on drugs? 'Obama plays to the best...' is nonsense and you know it. He is as divisive as anyone. Look at his propoganda and get a reality check.

    As far as his Muslim roots go...well...he has them. Simple as that. Deal with it, dont deny it.

    February 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. Oh! The Irony

    Hillary Clinton has gone too far. Her campaign is absloutely disgusting. If she wins this nomination, I will forfeit my right to vote.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. Matt

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

    Why say any more than that? Even if the Hillary campaign "leaked" the photo, why should the Obama camp have such a severe overreaction, esp. when, as the quote says, he "did what any great leader would do", that is follow the customs and traditions as a guest in another country? No reason for the Plouffe statement, imo.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Patty

    Obama is not presidential material. He did not deny this photo because it is TRUE. He does not put his hand over his heart for the pledge, he refuses to put on a flat lapel pin, his wife made comments about not being proud of being an American, and her racist thesis was recently made public.
    Patriotism with a presidential candidate should not be an issue. It is with Obama. He would never be able to go up against McCain and win.
    Vote Hillary! It's about time this came out to the public!

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. kevin

    He's distracting? SHE SENT OUT THE MAILER!

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Bill

    That's what he gets for putting the garb on.
    I won't be voting for him.
    We need someone who cares about the country.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. Trish

    What exactly is the Clinton camp hoping to gain from releasing the photo? I see this as a deliberate attempt to play on the fears that many Americans hold about muslims. The irony is, the photo is not of Obama in Muslim garb, but in traditional Somali garb, which is worn by both Christians and muslims to fend off the country's wind and heat.

    I don't believe Obama is upset about the content of the photo but about the intention behind its release.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. Darth Vadik, CA

    If it doesn't work, just keep trying, this is insanity Hillary.

    Just bow out gracefully.

    I can't wait until the backlash of this one.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. HClark

    Only in your pathetic country, is this form of gutter politics tolerated by the voters. On the other hand, the population that make up the voting public are some of the worlds most ignorant people, bar none. For Hillary Clinton not to come out with the same visceral response I have to this is the primary reason the country does not need her or her husband. May be Bill left a stash of Coke in the White House he'd like to have back. They've demonstrated they are desparate to get back there and will do and say anything to acheive that end. Pitiful.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  24. Robert Las Vegas

    Another illadvised attempt!!When will she stop? When she has ruined all chance of showing she has any political smarts?Negativity in this fight only shows a lack of true differences in thier positions..

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  25. Donavon

    i have also come to the conclusion that hillary has given up and is simply trying to toughen up obamas camp for rep smear. thats my take.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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