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. Madison

    Is she purposely trying to kill the democratic base? This is an outright republican swift boating. Give me a break. The more this goes on the more I feel stupid for ever feeling like I could've supported her. This is outright digusting, and like every other attack, is going to effect her more negatively than Barack.

    Please graciously resign already! This is some of the most nauseating campaigning I've seen to date. And we should be ashamed that it is coming from a Democratic contender, not a republican contender. Is she really a democrat? The conduct of Barack in this photograph is EXACTLY the kind of world leader we need. How can this at all be considered bad for Barack?

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  2. Sherry in Kentucky

    I wondered when this would start. I had hoped it would be the Republican's and not a fellow democrat to sink this low. I am even more determined to vote for Nader in the event Hillary wins the democratic nomination. I am totally disgusted with her.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. MAG

    It is just fine to know...
    Go Hillary!

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. Cynthia St. Louis

    Oh my gosh! Desperation is settling in, and it ain't looking good.

    Pandering to sterotypical fears is the old "business as usual"- I think this type of dirty politics will surely backfire- the public is smarter than the Clinton campaign thinks. Not surprising, but just sad and tired.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. truth be told

    i thought after the debate friday, that sen. clinton's camp will be more civil in their campaigns, that they will focus on the issues that are very important not just to americans, but to the rest of the world. i thought, more especially, that after she had proclaimed that she has truly enjoyed these campaigns with sen. obama, and has even touched sen. obama's arm before they shook hands, she will not let her standards to lower any further. well, lo and behold, it was nothing but a snake's charm.

    i just feel sad for all those who believe in her, blindly. it's really sad.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Tim T.

    Billary is obviously desperate. Such smears and mudslinging is hardly what people are looking for in a candidate.

    February 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  7. Mike Orlando, FL

    It's just a picture of him in their traditional dress. That's all they're showing. Everyone thinks Obama isn't negative at all. I'm holding out for Hillary, you go girl!

    Orlando, FL

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  8. John Karsten

    Jezzz, she will stop at noting man....WOW, I was not going to vote for her anyway, but this really puts the icing on the cake. I do not know why the Clinton people still belive all this hipe. I have been following this for over a year now and I thought we settled this, he is NOT a terriost. But then again, the QUEEN will stop at nothing to get elected, even if it means dividing us futher........

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. Sheri

    Way to go Hillary......this photo just confirms my vote for Hillary...smear photo or not it is was it is!

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. CPrescott

    So? Heaven knows the Republicans won't dig this up and circulate it (insert eye roll). Why doesn't he just say that he's proud to have worn the traditional attire, shrug it off and be done with it? Getting weary of all the whining coming out of Camp Obama.

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. concerned citizen

    Kyle, HRC campaing didn't brought this up...Obama's campaign brought it up....reason why,...to distract stupid people like you from the issues...that includes you TB....go hillary...gullible americans...no wonder the a third of the country in the world hates americans...

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Polkovnik

    This is incredible. Someone in the Clinton campaign should be tarred and feathered.
    When I was an Army advisor in Saudi Arabia, I wore Arab dress for almost all social occasions with my counterparts. This was a simple matter of respect. I applaud Sen. Obama for doing the right thing in Somalia, and I utterly condemn the Clinton campaign for its disgraceful use of innuendo.
    Sen. Clinton owes an abject apology, not just to Sen. Obama, but to all of us.

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. BCNU purple state, usa

    Team Hillary states in the article:

    “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.”

    For once, they are telling the truth! But, the dirty little secret is that the distraction is NOT the objection by Obama's camp, but the actual release of the photo by the Hill-billies.

    Looks like her new spinmeister is no more adept than the old one.

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Peggy, Greensboro NC

    This is typical of the Clintons. I worked for Paul Tsongas in the early 90s, and it's all the same kind of ugliness they spread then. NO, there is NOTHING wrong with wearing those clothes. The Clinton campaign, however, knows very well that many people who feed into Muslim paranoia will be affected by this. And she complains because his mailer was a bit exaggerated? Even if I were sure that McCain would overturn abortion I don't think I could vote for this woman. There's such a thing as holding your nose so hard you can't breathe anymore.

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. Ron, TX

    The Clinton camp is accusing OBAMA of using this as a distraction?!

    Ok, so if I sent a bunch of malicious emails out about Clinton, and she denounces them, then I guess she's just using it as a distraction... it obviously has nothing to do with the person sending it!


    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. John Smith

    I love Clinton. This is so great!
    This is nothing compared to what the republicnas will do so dear old
    Obama better get used to it. Because before the republicans are done they will brainwash us into thinking that Obama is a closet muslim just like Obama brainwashed the democrats into thinking he is qualified to lead this country.

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. swimmergeorge

    Lemons into lemonade. The Obama camp should use this photo to highlight his foreign policy experience. Also, it seems when HRC gains some ground she inflicts another wound into her campaign.

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Eli

    Queen Hillary you thought this nomination was going to be your CORONATION????

    News flash! We voters say, "Hell NO!!!!!"

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. Eleanor

    She will stoop to anything to get a vote.....its pathetic
    Do you really want this crazed angry juvenile for a president
    she is dividing her own party and making fodder for McCain...you know the one who has a loose tongue.. bomb Bomb iran and wishing people dead
    Think long and hard before you choose either

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. Mark, Detroit Michigan

    I wasn't aware that Karl Rove has joined Hillary's campaign team.

    The kind of tactics that Hillary has deployed lately, I wonder if she is getting her ideas from the Republican playbook.

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Tom

    Hillary is what America needs to be afraid of. She and countless others are trying to paint the picture that Muslims are a danger to the United States. That's ludicrous. We don't have to worry about radical Islamists bombing our country. We have to worry about extreme politicians who attempt to change our ideology and our way of life by fear-mongering.

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. Tony in Chicago

    WOW.... Her true colors are coming out at the end.. It is amazing what has transpired in the last few days.. WOW... When these campaigns began, I was a Hillary supporter.. Boy, am I glad I got off of that boat...

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. k. lee

    HRC has shown her true colors! I'm highly UPSET with these divise political tactics to spread more fear. She is dividing the party. HRC GO BACK TO NY!!!(or Arkansas)

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. Alexandra

    This is so shamefull Hillary.
    Do you want to become president so bad, you will resort to this?
    What will be your next steps Hillary?
    You are dividing the party, stop before you have to quit in shame after Obama wins Tx, OH, Vr, and RI.
    I was so proud you Hillary initially, but you have put all women to shame. You have ruined the chances of any woman ever becoming president.
    What a shame.....

    February 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. Greg

    What is the outrage about ?
    Isn't this considered multicultural?

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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