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. Dandy

    Why apologize for something that's true? Hillary is a monster for doing the dirty politics of smear campaigning, swift boating, and saying and doing anything nasty to get nominated.

    March 7, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. Mike

    She is a monster. I take the pledge with many other young voters to not vote or vote for McCain if Obama is robbed of this election.

    March 7, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. Anna Sacramento, Ca

    Well now that is surely personal...Some of the Obama supporters act very poorly. I surely do not want to support ANY canidate who brings out that kind of behavior in a person.
    Hillary Clinton 2008!

    March 7, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  4. Chris Mannoia

    No, she is not a monster; I think that Barack Obama needs to reign in his advisors, you know?

    March 7, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. FP_Amazed

    Though I dislike Clinton, I gotta admit her attacks on Obama's foreign policy capabilities are proving correct. One of his foreign policy advisors interacts with our closest ally (Canada), resulting in what they now call Nafta-gate; and another of his foreign policy advisors has a conversation with a foreign paper.....As President, I can't wait to see to hoopla when his foreign policy advisors are speaking to enemy states, not closest friends in Canada and U.K..

    March 7, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. KF

    Once again politics rears its very ugly head – looks like the Obama camp is going uglier than expected. I worry that comments like these – and these are nasty ones for sure – will hurt the democratic party. Obama needs to get his supporters and advisors back inline before it is too late.

    March 7, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Kentucky

    Well, now who is going to apologize to all the "monsters in the world for comparing Hillary to them? She has done nothing but, distort the truth in her campaign, change her policies. and run the " typical smear" campaign that the Clintons have always done! Give me a break, do we really need to apologize for this? Lets talk more about income tax returns! Hillary made millions last year while she was in the senate. I just wonder how she benefited from George Bush's tax breaks for the rich?

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Spirit of America

    The Obama campaign did not "fxxxx" up in Ohio. They lost big and deservedly so. The fraud of the Obama empty promises campaign was all too evident. It is becoming more evident to Americans all over the country. The initial infatuation has evaporated. Madam President may be monster to Obama advisors, but it has a wonderful ring to it for the overwhelming majority of Americans.

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. Mandelay

    Hillary can deal with "the monster" comment; she tough. But Samantha Powers' full quote (as posted at "" goes on to say: "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."
    The implication here is that "poor" people don't know any better and can be bamboozled by Sen. Clinton. But maybe poor people do know better, maybe that's why they support Sen. Clinton. Leave it to the poor, who know what it's like to be on the outside looking in, to know the difference. Ms. Powers: things are not unattractive to the poor, things are downright ugly. With the lack of jobs, health care, access to higher education, having a "monster" as your opponent is not an issue, Ms. Powers. But maybe having a problem solver as your opponent gives you the green light to make such statements. You don't have anything else to say to the poor.

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. CB in VA

    Power should be apologizing to the monster.

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. Chris

    hahaha,...guess how many votes Hillary got from the last March 4 fiasco...12 votes only!! From two states of total 371 votes.

    12 DELEGATE VOTES !!! AND Hillary's supporters are riding on it.


    Hillary is Fraud WORST than Bush. Obama for change.

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. Shumaine 4 Obama 08

    I hate to admit it but I am starting to believe that about Senator Clinton as well.

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. Bill Elliott

    Guess with all the recent job losses, this woman thought it best to apologize rather than join the ranks of the unemployed. In politics, once you get caught with your pants down, it's game over.

    Very similar situation to the Obama aide and the Canadian consulate dust-up. I have never seen a better game of 'bait and switch". Attention was focused on HOW the information was leaked not WHAT was leaked. Talk about killing the messenger. Let's blame the Canadian NOT the big mouth Obama aide with loose lips. This is "spin" at it's worst.

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  14. Goldie

    Obama knows to denounce those comments, but Hillary won't denounce Wolfson for calling Obama Ken Starr. Hillary instead praises John McCain. How can she believe John McCain would be a good commander in chief considering his stand on Iraq? Is Hillary preparing to change her mind on Iraq or what? I just don't understand her praising John McCain's stand on foreign policy by saying he would be a good commander in chief. How can I trust her now?

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. Peter the Ind.

    Its funny how people will run from words they truly feel and think. From an unbiased point of view of each democrat's campaign, Clinton has obviously pulled horrible tricks. The biggest one – making this Florida/Michigan an issue.

    To anyone who supports this issue, haven't any of you ever heard about RULES?! I think this is the biggest waste of time for anyone to have to go through. Either redo the votes at Florida/Michigan expense (not out of the taxpayers dollars but their own legislatures salaries) because they are the ones who thought they were above the Rules in the first place.

    Basically, it wouldnt make a difference anyways, since every contest is decided around 48/52 anyways, which means Obama would still have the edge in total delegates..... WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Politicaljunkie

    It is interesting that the Clinton campaign is taking offense at this. They are very good at putting the other side on the defensive. The Obama camp has to get better at addressing these situations where they not only defend, but in the same breath attack the other side as well.
    The response should have been-"The aide has apologised and Senator Obama is comfortable to leave it at that. The offense was not as egregious as comparing someone to Karl Rove or Ken Starr, which would have led to her termination from this campaign".

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. Dora

    The truth comes out. Obama is covering up his true colors, it is Washington as always with him. He just speaks soft and gives a great speech but the truth is, it is business as usual for him also. He does not have the experience to be President. Check out CNN's fact check and you will see Hillary has the experience. Wash that woman's mouth out ! Obama's bunch think they can buy the publics vote and now they are scared. GO HILLARY !! HILLARY 08 !! The Republicans spent 8 years trying to get the Clinton's instead of the country's business so Hillary has been vetted. But Obama is a prime target. Go HILLARY !!!

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  18. suraj

    Kate Clark, 53, a cafe owner in Nazareth, a small town near Allentown, said she struggled with her choice. Tempted to vote for Clinton because of her gender, she said Obama's energy and vision ultimately won out.

    "I think we need to see the United States and see the world through eyes that are younger, through eyes that have dreams, through eyes that see something new for the nation," Clark said.

    March 7, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  19. Balaiso, Everett, WA

    It's good that the Obama campaign denounces these comments but isn't she? the voters decide?

    March 7, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. solvier

    The way both campaigns are going at each other is ridiculous and it's tearing the party apart, and before anyone blames it on the other canadiate, it's both of them!

    I hate to say this, but they're making Mccain look very good and civil, especially Clinton, with the way she has been praising him as of late.

    March 7, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  21. enomisa

    The Media keep reporting how Obama does better in caucuses. There would be no logical reason for doing better. The ONLY reason he does better at caucuses is that it is an unfair, undemocratic, and disenfranchising method of voting.
    Obama does better at caucuses because it is an exclusive system. Entire voting blocks can not or are unable to participate in caucuses. Obama's voting blocks are favored by the caucus, while Hillary's voting blocks are handicapped by the caucus.
    As a Hillary supporter, I was unable to caucus and thus, MY VOTE, too was NOT counted. I was not even able to CAST a ballot. Those people in Florida and Michigan were able to vote (NOT denied, just no delegates would count)- and they DID vote. Now it is time to count those votes.
    The caucus system by its very design was unfavorable to Clinton and thus did not reflect many of the voters who wanted to vote for Hillary.
    Lets do away with the absurd caucus system and give EVERYONE the OPPORTUNITY to cast a private ballot at a convenient time, in a convenient way. Then let's COUNT those ballots.

    March 7, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  22. It's all politics

    Hillary's campaign is being monstrous. She's not slick. She is blatantly saying McCain will be a better commander in chief than Obama. It is obvious that she knows she is on track to lose the nomination, so she wants Obama to lose the general so she can run in four years. Sad indeed. Truth be told, there are a lot of people out there who think she is a monster.

    March 7, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  23. Mark, Chicago, IL

    So much for Obama's righteous claims of change and being above politics... it's politics – it is what it is – stop pretending it's something that it's not... that's the problem I have with his campaign... wishing for change and wanting a different political process and dialogue is great but get real – the Republicans want blood! You may need a "monster" to scare the Republicans – the Republicans are counting on Hillary to their monster thinking they can slay her since they couldn't do it to Bill... Bill survived – that tells you something about political savvy. It's not negative, it's not positive – it's politics.

    March 7, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. Chris

    Just prior to the March 4th primary/caucuses Hillary's campaign tried to paint Obama's as 'Karl Rove'ish", now her campaign adviser is saying he's 'immitating Kenneth Star'?! Now who's really the one most similar to the aforementioned people/tactics, Hillary. In all honesty, as far as I've seen Obama is trying his best to take a higher road where as Hillary is encroaching upon elements of slander and libel. Hillary "Tanya Harding" Clinton is seemingly what is closer to the truth.

    March 7, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. Adam - TX

    The Obama camp is coming off majorly petty and desparate! If they want to be considered the campaign for hope and change, they sure do not delineate this at all in their actions. I think its coming to fruition that the camp is the same old Washington as much as they like to deceive otherwise. Obama months ago said personal attacks were unwarranted and would not be accepted from his campaign. Strange how he changes his feelings on this once again (see flipflops on NAFTA, immigration, support of war, etc.)

    March 7, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
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