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. Richard Painter

    Obama is correct in saying this is a fear mongering tactic by the Clinton campaign. My question is, so what if Barack is Muslim. Isn't that what 4000 our brave men and women have died for in Iraq? Weren't their lives sacrificed in the "defense of democracy" so the people of Iraq can be free to choose what religion they practice? Are we not making the world safe for religious freedom? Isn't that the reason that Hillary Clinton voted for the authorization of Bush's war?

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. KerryAnn Chicago, IL

    Love the turbine...lol.

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. Alicia

    This is honestly the most absurd, calculating and divise move I have ever seen in American politics in the last 25 years.

    Hillary you lost my vote, I can't believe this....

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Will

    Why Obama campaign is outraged if they think the picture is fine? I don't understand, someone help me on this please?

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Acacia

    This is another tragic move in Hillary's campaign. How can we as Americans count on her to run the country when she can't even run her own campaign in just manner?

    This reminds me of the fact that she wants Florida's and Michigan's delegates counted after she signed off that it was fine that they didn't count. After she "won" the primary in which many people in Florida didn't vote because the vote "didn't count" she wants to now seat those delegates. Many people didn't vote because they were told their vote would not count. Edwards and Obama weren't even on Michigan's ballot, but she insists on saying she "won" that state as well.

    She will say anything to get ahead!

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. Mike

    All I can say is that I look forward with glee to next Tuesday's election. Why? Becasue it means we as American Citizens only need to hear Hillary's racist, prejudiced, and borderline communist campaign cries for 8 more days. Hillary and Castro have certain ideas in common. they believe that if you dont want what they want, that you dont matter and you will be falsely crucified for believing as such. 8 days and counting...good riddance Hillary!

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. Lonnie

    Now, how stupid of a stunt is this? Don't they realize that they cannot win a campaign through bullying, strong arming, and smear tatics? Don't they realize this only makes them look worst than any picture can make Obama look? Don't they relaize controversy and "fighting against impossible odds" draws many American people into support of the accused and even more? Look at Bill Clinton's scandals. Look at McCain's recent "scandal". Look at your own Super Bowl champion New York Giants for heaven's sake New Yourk Senator Clinton. Realize this- the majority of the American people support the accused, the underdog, and the "hopeful" because most of us have been living out these roles for the majority of our lives.

    If you don't realize by now that these tatics do not work, when will you? How low do you and your campaign have to sink before you realize you cannot win by discrediting someone else. You can only win by proving yourself. And all you have proven to this point, is that it's all about YOU WINNING and not about how you plan on doing so. Because the measures you have taken prove that.

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. Fran from AZ

    This will make great fodder for the Republicans going into the general election. Couple this with his middle name and they will have a field day.

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. Mary

    Between this and her mocking listed in the next article, I am completely disgusted by Hillary Clinton. There is no way I could vote for her if she were to win/steal the nomination. She is taking politics to an even lower level then I thought even she was capable of.

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  10. Larry Buchas

    Nice going, Hillary.

    Why would you use this photo, otherwise? I would have voted for her if Obama didn't get the Democratic nomination.

    She has to issue a public apology. Otherwise, my vote goes to Nader.

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. Chuck

    "Shame on yo.l Senator Clinton. You use the worse tactics of Carl Rove and Republicans." One day she has a press conference about Obama not playing fair and zoom she lowers the standard.

    This continues to rpove to Hillary and company are desperate and that this is her true nature when put in a corner.

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. Moe, NY

    A picture speaks louder than words! I do not trust Obama.

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. Joss

    How sad.. and yet, people still support Hillary. I don't get it – how can her supporters who like her based on her stances, experience, whatever the reason may be not be willing to demand better from her? I am shocked and saddened by what she is resorting to these days and even more so that her supporters are willing to accept this negative, false, irrelevant smearing.

    February 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. sprkl12000

    Wow..she gets more desperate EVERY day...if he did visit a Muslim country, then it would only be right that he wore the traditional clothing..poor Hillary...it must be hard to accept the fact that people do NOT want a CLINTON in office..and if this photo is the best "smear" tactic they have, then I say Barack has nothing to worry about...

    I wouldn't worry about any "drug use" from Barack's past..with all the skeletons in her closet...let the public worry about that Hillary, you just worry about your concession speech!!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. Richard

    Clinton will stop at nothing in her campaign! Is this the type of person we want as President? Go Obama!

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  16. Patrick

    The Drudge story highlighted the context and pupose of Kenyan Chieftan traditional clothing presented to Barack during an official visit as a US senator. The story also showed pictures of Hillary wearing in the middle east, Bill Clinton wearing a traditional African costume in Africa and Bush wearing traditional Chinese clothing in China. Hillary's attempted smear as it relates to Barack Obama reeks of bigotry, deparation, and racism.
    It is time that the DNC, Senior democratic statesmen and women of the deomcratic party (President Carter, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore and others)
    publicly and privately put an end to Hillary's vile, repulsive and destructive campaign.

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  17. Go PSU

    Not an Obama supporter and this is my first comment ever a CNN Blog...

    That is a absolutely disgusting tactic by the Clinton campaign. I'm either voting McCain or Obama. The Clinton tactics are just plain sleazy.

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. PD

    More racism from the KKKLintons. Hillary you are the worst ever, I wouldnt vote for you if my life depended on it. You are very polarizing and dishonest. You criticize Obama for the exact samethings that you do. Taking peoples lines in speeches, dirty campaign tactics, not offering solutions, flip floping on the NAFTA agreement which was your husbands doing.

    Get a life

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. Dee

    Kyle and tb, get a life! Why are you outraged? The Clinton campaign didn't cut and make the photo! This is a real photo, why the outrage? As a Black man and a conservative Christian I am glad to see the picture, not that it changed my support for Sen. Clinton but I am glad to see another side of the candidates. I would also like to see Hillary in tradtional attire.

    Get over yourself Obama! Stop running from your history! Stop whining! Quite frankly, I don't trust BO. I'm sorry but I just don't. I would support McCain insted of Barack (if he is the nominee) only if he changed his position and take us out of Iraq, but we know that's not going to happen.

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. Paula

    Then why circulate the photo if the Clinton campaign does not want to be distracted by answering question as to why it was circulated in the first place?

    This getting too crazy. I can't wait until this is all over.

    Did Clinton ever think that she may be offending people who are Muslim and may not get their votes?

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. mary

    Go Obama!

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Chris

    There is no proof that the Clinton people put this photo out there. Obviously this photo would upset some people so why didn't the Obama camp display it themselves early on in the campaign if they have nothing to hide. We have been led to believe that Obama has come clean on his issues such as his drug use in his youth.

    Why is no one mad that Obama is exaggerating Hillary's stance on NAFTA? This kind of stuff is what campaigns do and you better get used to it because the Republicans are going to use everything they can to create doubt in Democrats minds during the general election. Learn to research and get the truth about things because you won't get it from the news media. Their job is to stir the pot. Don't take their reporting as the truth. They have their own agenda.

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Ray - NJ

    Oh come on. they DID NOT say they sent this out. Obama cult members are just looking for anything to hold Hillary back!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. Patrick, Chicago, IL

    This is absolutely disgusting. First, there is nothing wrong with the religion of Islam; the vast majority of its followers are peaceful god loving people. Second, this is a obvious attempt to put fear in Americans that Obama is some sort of secret muslim agent, which is false.
    The reality is Obama's heritage would be a tremendous benefit in dealing with Muslim nations and nations and there leaders.
    While Hillary says she wouldn't meet with leaders like ahmedijan, they actually WOULD"NT negotiate with HRC because she is a women.

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. James, springfield mo

    obama will be a dissapointment to america just check out european news sad have to go to germany to hear the truth (DER SPIEGEL)

    February 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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