March 7th, 2008
11:40 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama adviser apologizes for 'monster' comment

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" An advisor to Obama was quoted calling Clinton a monster."]

(CNN) - One of Barack Obama's top foreign policy advisers apologized late Thursday after a Scottish newspaper quoted her as calling Hillary Clinton a "monster."

"It is wrong for anyone to pursue this campaign in such negative and personal terms," Samantha Power, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of government and an adviser to Obama said in a statement. "I apologize to Senator Clinton and to Senator Obama, who has made very clear that these kinds of expressions should have no place in American politics."

Power's apology came shortly after the The Scotsman newspaper published an article in which she makes the characterization (a comment she immediately tried to retract), and suggested the New York senator is trying to deceive voters.

"She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything," Power was quoted as saying.

"You just look at her and think, 'Ergh,' " Power also said. "But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive."

Power also said the Obama campaign "f***** up in Ohio." Clinton beat Obama by 10 percentage points in Ohio on Tuesday.

"In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio's the only place they can win," Powers said.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton distanced the campaign from the remarks, saying in a statement that the Illinois senator "decries such characterizations which have no place in this campaign."

The interview came the same day a top Clinton adviser compared Obama's recent actions to independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who prosecuted the Clintons while Bill Clinton was in the White House in the 1990s.

"After a campaign in which many of the questions that voters had in the closing days centered on concerns that they had over his state of preparedness to be commander in chief and steward of the economy, he has chosen instead of addressing those issues to attack Senator Clinton," Clinton's communications director Howard Wolfson said on a conference call with reporters Thursday morning. "I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president."

Obama's campaign quickly denounced that comment.

UPDATE: On a Friday morning conference call with reporters, the Clinton campaign called on Obama to end Power's role with the campaign. "Personal attacks are not the way to convince voters that you're capable of being president of the United States,” said New York Rep. Nita Lowey, a Clinton supporter. “We're calling on Senator Obama to make it very clear that Samantha Power should not be part of this campaign.”

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (326 Responses)
  1. erica

    True colors of the Obama campaign...

    March 7, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. jp/michigan

    Back in Dec. or Jan. Obama stated any one making these kind of remarks about a candidate would be fired. Well, Mr. Obama are you true to your words or are they just rhetoric?

    March 7, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. Chris

    Too bad everything she said is true, you just can't say that.

    March 7, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Jared

    The Obama campaign 'denounced' the comment. But shouldn't they have been stronger? I think the have to 'reject' this kind of rhetoric!


    March 7, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  5. Southerner

    "Obama's campaign quickly denounced that comment."

    Yes, but did he denounce AND reject?

    March 7, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. Average Joe

    It is unacceptable for a campaign staffer to make a comment like this.

    However, as an average Joe on the CNN Ticker... I CAN. You can't really argue with the accuracy of the statement, and it's not like Clinton hasn't earned the title.

    While Obama has conducted himself with honesty, sincerity, grace and dignity, Clinton has stooped to every dirty, underhanded tactic she could to pull her disasterous candidacy out of the fire and continue her quest for power.

    Well, it's succeeded for now, but she can't keep her sinking ship afloat for much longer. Even her own staffers and fellow politicians hate her.

    March 7, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. Sherelle

    I feel the same way,

    March 7, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. Hussien Obama

    What's wrong with calling Hillary a monster? The Clinton Machine is trying to steal the election away from the black voters.

    March 7, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. HG

    A Scottish newspaper hmmmm? I am sure the Clintons had something to do with it. Like they did with nafta-gate when it was them that said its only talk and not Obama. The way they are running this campaign are like monsters. Stopping at nothing to cheat and win. Typically Clintons. Giving Hillary RODHAM Clinton 4 years in the white house is a continue to George Bush. The way she talks recently I would think she was John McCain's running mate.

    March 7, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  10. tomdavie

    There have been a LOT of gaffs by the Obama campaign.
    They remind me of a high powered sports car. Very high tech, but then breaks down easily.

    Clinton just chugs along........

    March 7, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. Jos

    Again, I will like to push OBAMA/KENNEDY 08. My point is that Hillary is a MONSTER! Its unpolitical to say this in public, and Obama can't be held responsible for what his supporters say.

    Hillary is despicable. She now has republicans voting for her so McCain is elected because shes so divisive. She admitted to being friends with McCain and I wouldn't put it past the Clintons to be working out this deal with McCain and the republicans.

    Furthermore, her recent attacks belittling Obama and praising McCain is below any candidate. OMG when will the DNC wake up! They should have stopped this chaos when she used her kitchen sink method. She's making this race now illegitimate. Besides the Republicans, Hillary has elderly women that supported the "burning bra" movement supporting her. The movement that helped destroy conservative homes. She also has uneducated people that don't read the real story and perhaps don't have full story.

    I support having a female in office, but NOT Hillary!

    OBAMA/Caroline KENNEDY 08!

    March 7, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. MNDem

    She IS a monster bent on destroying the Democratic Party.

    Win at all costs I guess. Even if it means helping a Republican against the presumtive Democratic nominee.

    March 7, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  13. Chris

    Poor Obama. Always the victum. Everyone is picking on him. Boo Hoo!!

    March 7, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. Kyra

    Well, at least SOMEONE stated the obvious!

    March 7, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Republicans are smart, they dumped Giuliani quick because of his baggage, smart move. Democrats, not so smart, we know Hillary has baggage and she's picking up more baggage on the road to the White House, not so smart. If we lose the White House voters can only blame themselves. Now I see the clear difference between Republicans and Democrats, Republicans have proven to be smarter than Democrats.

    March 7, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. Anonymous

    She's telling the truth!

    March 7, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Chris, Orlando

    Nice one, Professor. Looks like the Obama campaign has some real winners working for them.

    Listen, this is the big leagues, and I'm so sick of hearing the Obama camp whine and moan about how harsh their critics have been, or how negative the process is getting. The guy's running for PRESIDENT for cryin' out loud... This isn't two people vying for a promotion at the Gap. So quit complaining or get out of the race!

    March 7, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. bluedem72

    In December, Obama said he had "been very clear to my campaign. I do not want to see research that is involved in trying to tear people down personally. If I find out that somebody is doing that, they will be fired. And I have been absolutely crystal clear about this, and I have been clear about this for a very long time."

    March 7, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. NC

    This is why I love Obama...he sticks with his word. He said he wasn't into negative campaigning and he immediately denounced and rejected what someone in his camp said. Hillary does not have the same amount of character and honor because she's so busy campaigning for John McCain these days.

    March 7, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  20. Richard

    Hillary Clinton is demonstrating the politics of desperation with her negative attacks against Obama! So far he has run a positive campaign and has defended himself against Hillary's chicanery! Go Obama!

    March 7, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. New York Democrat

    Whatever you think about the relative merits of the two candidates, Power's comment is clearly beyond the pall. Clinton dismissed advisors for less than that and I hope Sen Obama takes the same approach to deal with transgressions of this nature.

    March 7, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  22. will

    the true hurts bill and hill will do anything to win. hillary just about endorse sen Mccain over obama. what kind of dem says sen.Mccain would be a better president than any dem but her. the fact she trying to make the case that she is the only choice we have on the dem is wrong. let us not forget she is the one who used back channels to talk to Canda about Nafta. If hill wins Nader has my vote. if obama wins he has my vote. There comes time when dems need to draw line on what a true dem is hillary is a want be dem. she acts more like a republican.

    March 7, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  23. Jennifer

    Now now. Monster may be harsh. Perhaps 'vulture' is closer to correct.

    Personal view on Clinton aside, in the context that it was said, I don't really see what the uproar is about. Slow news day? Columnists eager to prove they're not being easy on Obama or hard on Clinton?

    March 7, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. jazzz

    Obama should apologize for Ohaio too

    March 7, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Vivianna

    Unbelievable! This woman is supposedly intelligent and she would allow herself to make such statements? There is no room for such immature name-calling in this campaign. After finally losing a few states, instead of behaving like petulant children, Obama and his camp should clear up some of his recent missteps, instead of lying about them (as in the case of his aide's comment to the Canadian official about NAFTA and Obama's close affiliation with Rezko). This recent comment by his apparently very panicked foreign advisor shows desperation setting in and a willingness to use any sort of language, and any sort of name-calling to deflect well-earned criticism of their candidate.

    March 7, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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