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. paulo

    why is it when we hear a criticism of obama's candidacy from the clinton campaign, it's almost always an honest critique of the guy's ability to lead with a trusted hand. but when we hear of a criticism of clinton's campaign from the obama campaign it's a nasty, derisive, personal attack? this is called 'hope'? i don't think so. with her reasoned, consistent and honest voice hillary clinton and her ability to affect change will get my vote this time around.

    March 7, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Marita Camp

    Here's breaking news for CNN! There are TWO Democratic candidates running for the nomination! During the past week every time I have tuned in to CNN all I've seen is Hillary Clinton smiling, waving her arms, and pontificating to the multitudes. What ever happened to that other guy....what was his name? Obama or something like that! Come on....can't you be less biased?! Up until now I have thought your coverage has been well balanced, but Obama has disappeared from the TV screen. I've seen Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea Clinton......and even McCain......but little if any news, replays, etc. of Obama. Get with it, CNN!

    March 7, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. Kathy, Andover

    I used to respect and admire Hillary Clinton. That respect and admiration slowly declined through this campaign. That gained momentum (in the negative direction) these last few months, and I am now left with NO respect and NO admiration of Hillary Clinton.

    March 7, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. LC


    and they did not apologize!!!

    A reprimand will be adequate. The personal attacks are not necessary.

    However, I must say that I have used the term "monster" as referencing someone who is relentless and tenacious.

    For example, my brother was a monster on the court tonight.

    But I guess since Clinton has been so negative, the monster imagery rings too close to home.

    March 7, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. lugina


    March 7, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. Alex

    Well, she just spelled out what everybody's known for a long time. Maybe it's not OK to actually say it, but it's true nonetheless. The racist, anti-Muslim overtones of the Clinton campaign are well-known to everyone.

    Divide and conquer, triangulate, take away social safety net from the poorest - that's the way of the Clintons. And do you remember how secretive she was during the whole healthcare thing? Hillary is the Democrats' Nixon, it's as plain as day. Reject and denounce her, people, while it's not too late.

    And this small-states-don't-matter policy of the Clintons - you can almost hear them say "flyover country". I hate that, it's so snobbish, yuck.

    I voted for Bill twice and used to live in the small states for a long while, too, so this "only-big-states-matter" line is a huge letdown for me. Oh, and look how far the democrats got with it - 2 straight defeats in the general election! Wow, what a smart strategy, aren't we all amazed by it the third time around.

    The Clintons ARE monsters. Cold, calculating monsters who sold out for Saudi sheiks's millions just like the Bushes did. A plague on both their houses.

    Vote for Obama.

    March 7, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Claire

    Okay Hillary. Then fire your workers that started the muslim emails.

    Better yet, STOP acting like a monster in the first place!

    March 7, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Jesse

    Finally somebody is telling it how it is and not just saying what they think the public wants to hear. Now her choice of words could have been a little more intelligent any kid can call somebody a monster, but either way the comment hit home. Oh and Clinton campaign have called Obama the "Anti-Christ in their mailings and a hard core muslim with ties to Osama and his troop. Calling her a monster really isn't that bad compared to the way her campaign has stomped on Obama. Yea she got rid of two of her campaign people for the comments but lets be honest you think out of the hundreds of workers Clinton has only two of them were mailing out them memos making people who are religious fanatics change their votes. So lets get over the monster thing and move on to something bigger than just telling the truth lets put all Hillary dirt out there on the front lawn where it should be.

    March 7, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. Todd from Texas

    Samantha Power, is right Obama's staff messed up in Ohio and in Texas Eureka Gilkey messed up Texas, I bet Obama wont make that mistake in putting her over another state.

    March 7, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. obamanut

    I AM nuts
    A new type of politics? Name-calling?
    Why isn't OBAMA out advocating the constitutional right to vote?
    EVEN if he may not win because of that vote counting.

    I wasted my vote on Obama. I took a chance on the inspirational new type of forward thinking politician- and got WORSE than those he rails against.

    I'm hopeful there are enough PENDING votes out there to re-enfranchise Clinton.

    What a rigged political process- oprah trying to sway and buy him votes, the silly silly season in politics of the celebrity bandwagon. I no longer respect the Kennedys for trying to sway the electorate.

    Please let it NOT be too late

    March 7, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  11. Dan

    This shows how non -professional Obama's campaign is. He cant even control his own advisors, wonder how he would do with the country...

    March 7, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. NILLA

    Poor Obama, he never did anything wrong, the last thing you would think is for people in his staff calling Hillary a monster, they are so pure. Keep up with it Obamarama people.

    March 7, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. Anton

    Well, I think it's great that the lid is coming off the Obama camp – and they are seen for what they are: far from being the "holier-than-thou" campaign whose farts smell of eau de cologne, they are every bit as down-and-dirty as they accuse their detractors of being.

    With hindsight, the US media will see what happened before the South Carolina Primaries for what it was: Obama's supporters perverting the words of Hillary and the former President, to play the race card to their greatest advantage – to the great detriment of race relations in America for years to come.

    The chickens (Resko, NAFTA, etc etc) can't come home to roost fast enough, as far as I'm concerned!

    March 7, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. Goodheart

    Is this not going negative? Go Hillary!

    March 7, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Bob, Lyons Oregon

    Simple fact, she is a monster and will do anything to win. Her negative attacks and statements are going to tear the democratic party apart and put McCain in the whitehouse. Do we really want that, I don't.

    March 7, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. IsabelT

    maybe hill should reject and denounce obama being compared to ken starr, or karl rove, or george bush, or the ridiculous statement that john mccain is more preferable to obama?

    March 7, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Joanna

    His campaign is just backward in mometum, then begin to show the true colorand a negative campaign. If his campaign were hers, you could not imagine what his campaign would have already done.

    March 7, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  18. Charlotte

    Hillary fired her people for their attacks. Will Obama? Hillary has not made personal attacks, she has attacked his experience or lack thereof. I see nothing wrong with pointing out an opponents weak areas. The Obama camp best not turn to personal attacks, it will backfire. Mr. Clean ain't so clean after all. That's politics as usual.

    March 7, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. Jeremy (Mayfield, KY)

    Quote from ... 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.”

    While I disagree with the negative attacks and name-calling (Power calling Clinton a "Monster"), if Clinton supporters want Power removed from the Obama campaign, then Ken Wolfson should be removed from the Clinton campaign for his remarks regarding "Obama imitating Ken Starr".

    We have to allow our candidates (and their supporters) some room for error. Sometimes our mouths say things that once we hear them said, we try to use better wording. Give Power a break, she tried to retract it immediately after she said it. This is just like the Michelle Obama statement about "this is the first time she is proud of the US".

    Let's look at the REAL ISSUES that Americans are concerned about, and the SOLUTIONS these candidates have for these issues.

    March 7, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. Sean B.

    In response to the update information from CNN: If Clinton's campaign is calling for Obama to fire Samantha Power for her statement, then it should only be fair that the Clinton campaign fire Howard Wolfson for his attack on Obama as imitating Kenneth Starr. Both camps are undoing all of the good they have built up by becoming nothing more then squabbling children vying for the attention of their parents. Stop the name calling and get back to the job at hand, showing the American people two smart intelligent choices and let us decide which direction to go in.

    March 7, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. More 'Bama Drama

    I am not surprised at all by this public display of hatred. While Obama preaches hope and unity, we have seen his supporters result in one of the most negative campaigns ever. Obama has always depended on his little cult followers to do his dirty work. Ask Larry SInclair how many death threats he has received from this pitiful cult movement!

    March 7, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. Will

    Clinton herself, said that Obama is worse than McCain and now that lawyer. She's gotten way more negative then him. She even insinuated that he may be a Muslim Terrorist on 60 minutes....I mean come on!

    She didn't fire any of the people that were caught spreading the Muslim Terrorist e-mail.

    March 7, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. HSNP

    Oooooooooo!! Hillary's a monster! I suppose we should all be scared now. How sophomoric of the Obama campaign. If he wins we'll have our government run by a bunch of high school kids.

    March 7, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. Dave in VA

    Thanks a lot, CNN, for covering this "story."

    An obscure lady in another country calls Hillary a monster who will stoop at nothing to win and that's considered controversial? C'mon, CNN, how much is the Clinton campaign paying you?

    Why not report the news and admit the obvious: After trying to cheat her way into winning delegates in two states the DNC disqualified, after saying her fellow party member is less qualified to be President than the opposing party's nominee, after deceiving gullible voters in Ohio that she plans to "fix" NAFTA, after claiming to be the "most vetted" candidate after placing a moat around her campaign and refusing to release her tax records and all evidence of her so-called involvement in Bill Clinton's campaign, after allowing her toady to compare Obama to Kenneth Starr, SHE IS A MONSTER.

    Stop trying to create controversy when there is none, and wake me up when you're ready to go back to being unbiased.


    March 7, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. Mike

    I agree with the statement. (in principle). She will do anything to get the Presidency. Obama was running relatively clean campaign. In order to win, Hillary applied the Monsterous approach and I don't trust her a bit.

    March 7, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14