February 27th, 2008
09:08 AM ET
12 years ago

Clinton hits Obama over Farrakhan

 Clinton criticized Obama for not outright rejecting Farrakhan's support.

Clinton criticized Obama for not outright rejecting Farrakhan's support.

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton criticized Barack Obama at Tuesday night's debate for not directly rejecting the support of Louis Farrakhan.

“There's a difference between denouncing and rejecting," Clinton said. "And I think when it comes to this sort of, you know, inflammatory - I have no doubt that everything that Barack just said is absolutely sincere. But I just think, we've got to be even stronger. We cannot let anyone in any way say these things because of the implications that they have, which can be so far reaching.”

Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, recently made positive statements about Obama’s candidacy. The controversial leader has made many remarks that have been deemed anti-Semitic, including calling Judaism a "gutter religion." Asked tonight if he accepted Farrakhan's endorsement, Obama denounced those statements.

"I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought," Obama said. "And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan."

Pressed if he specifically rejected the endorsement, Obama said, "I can't say to somebody that he can't say that he thinks I'm a good guy" and that he didn't "see a difference between 'denouncing' and 'rejecting.'"

Responding later in the exchange directly to Clinton's comments, Obama said, "There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it."

"But if the word 'reject' Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word 'denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce," he added.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (1,043 Responses)
  1. Nancy Lorback

    I want the public to be reminded of Hillary Clinton's many different positions on her Iraq vote. A year ago she said, “If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or who has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” .
    I do not reject Hillary because she is a woman. I do not reject her because she is shrill. I reject her because she is still representing the "third way" of the DLC. The nation is ready to go back to the "first way".

    February 27, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. Elaine in Atlanta

    This debate was pointless and a complete waste of time. Billary asked for this debate. Just drop out of the race already, you are not going to win!

    February 27, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  3. concerned educated woman

    oh boy! Guys you really hate Hillary! It looks like whatever she says or does is and will be always wrong.... Thats sad, she is very smart women. This country jumps from one extreme to another-Bush vs Obama.... Oh well I guess each nation deserves its leaders.... SAD SAD SAD

    February 27, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  4. Viv

    Can we move on already????

    February 27, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. Tim, DC

    CNN takes one of Obama's best tactical answers of the night and makes it appear like Clinton got him. What pathetic reporting.

    February 27, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. RightyTighty

    liberal eating liberal

    Ha Ha!!

    February 27, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  7. Brenda

    I am now able to see what I have heard people say about Hillary (e.g. she is a cold b..., she is hard, power hungry, argumentative, combative). There may be a warmer, softer side of her but it seems that under pressure her truer nature comes forth. Shame on you Hillary Clinton in trying to use something so divisive as Farrankan to win points. Not only did you fail, you completely erased any favorable impression I have held in reserve for you. Obama – good job! I am praying you become our next president to lead this country in transformation and living up to its promise. Your clear, focused mind is admirable and I completely loved when you said (I am paraphrasing so forgive me if there is an omission/mistatement) "to change this country we need to inspire people into action – paying attention to as well as to our government and holding us accountable." This has been a strong desire of mine for soooo long.

    February 27, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  8. JOhn

    OBAMA is a joke. He want to sit dfown with world leaders? Does he think they are going to kiss his feet and do what he wants?
    He can't win a debate, so what is he going to say to them? Just agree to what they want? He may be a good speaker, but that is all. He has no ideas about the issues. He can answer a debate question if
    Hillary hasn't given hers first. Noone to copy.

    February 27, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. Ron

    The headline should read: Clinton Undermines Nation's Trust. The Farrakhan question was in poor taste and clearly MSNBC's & Tim Russert's feeble attempt to throw Barack off guard. Too bad it failed miserably! He countered and threw it back in their smug faces! BRAVO BARACK!

    February 27, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  10. TheUrbanRevolution

    To all – as soon as the Farrakhan hit the press – Obama came out and "denounced" his rhetoric and endorsement – it was on his website maybe 5 minutes later.

    For the record, Hillary is too intelligent to resort to this type of pettiness and denounce is a stronger word than reject.

    February 27, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. Rod

    Obama was so Presidential. I think he is going to be one of the greatest Presidents ever. Bush of course being the worst.

    February 27, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  12. jb

    This exchange was another perfect example of the type of "leadership" HC brings to the table - wasted time arguing the semantics of word choice when the man had already DENOUNCED what Farakhan represents and says. But NO, Hillary, always the "my way or the highway" politician butts in and insists he says it her way if he really means it. She is like debating with a whining child, which by the way, is the way she came across for most of the debate.

    The end was even more disgusting when it seemed to degenerate into a "feminist" movement reminiscent of the '60s.

    The choices for the next President are now VERY clear: Obama or McCain. The Republicans are hinting at it, the Independents are expressing it and a majority of Democratic voters are voting it. She should bow out gracefully before she completely throws away what little support in DC she has left after this debacle of a mismanaged campaign.

    February 27, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. Tommy2

    One question. Does anyone know if Barack sits on a pillow during the debates, so he will look taller than Hillary ? Hillary said "ask Barack if he needs another pillow".

    February 27, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  14. Charles

    Stop the madness! Senator Clinton looked very much like a person on her last breathe. She was rude to the host and was nearly in tears. Her skies opening/celestial chorus, Saturday Night Live comments were unbecoming for a candidate for the highest office in the land. Minister Farrakhan did not, I repeat did not, endorse Senator Obama. He did however speak very highly of him. May I point out that Minister Farrakhan is an American citizen, not well liked, but still a citizen. Subliminal racism permeates the political battlefield again and is constantly brought into the contest by the Clinton Team. Hispanic's and other minorities that support Senator Clinton in Texas, Ohio or any other state should pay attention to her continuous marginalizing and undervaluing of them. Senator Clinton had that I'm tired and I'm losing look all over her face last night. Senator Obama looked presidential and rested, even under fire the entire debate. Bow out gracefully if you can Hillary! OBAMA is the people's choice!

    February 27, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  15. Ian

    The last debate was a good oppurtinity to see where the candidates say they stand on the issues. They've really found that balance by telling the voters what they want to hear without going overboard. It was also nice that neither side pointed out the fact that their voting record absolutely doesn't match what they say they are for. Keep up the good work everybody. China is counting on you.

    February 27, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  16. Jordan

    Clinton has the right stuff to lead our country right now. We need a strong and experienced President to handle very tough issues here and abroad.

    Obama is too inexperienced and his ideas and proposals are unrealistic. There is not enough money to complete all of his promises.

    Obama is only 46 years old. He should let Hillary run in 2008 and then he should run in 8 years, in 2016. He'll then be 54 years old – a perfect age for running as President and he'll have much more experience for being President and to succeed. I'm afraid he'll make a lot of mistakes now. It scares me.

    February 27, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  17. anonymous

    I find it amusing that the majority of this blog centers around matters of simple semantics, while the majority of Democrats here can neither spell nor use proper grammar. It feels really good to be an independent.

    Anyone But Clinton 08

    February 27, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. Hessie L. Harris

    This is pathetic. We have the flower of America's youth dying in Iraq in needless war, the country is nearly overrun by illegal immmigration, people from all strata of society are losing homes, jobs, and cars due to the financial crisis and Hillary Clinton is worried about the which verb is appropriate for Obama to use and how he should respond to an endorsement? Sadly this is so typical of Hilary's attitude toward Obama. She does not treat him like a peer but rather a twelve year old that she must control and direct. Remember her recent speech that began with her waving her finger and saying repeatedly shame on you? She also told Obama what she expected of him. Hillary could have easily been a school principal. She would have bee more effective in that role than as a presidential candidate.

    February 27, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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