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. CampaignHillary

    Monster....hmmmm. That's putting it a bit mildly isn't it?

    March 7, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Dana Broxton

    so clinton can bash and knock obama all upside the head but as soon as he says one negative thing about her or responds hes in the wrong? please, now you are just trying to use obamas clean style and trade it in with your dirty politics it just doesnt work that way idiot and she is a monster!!!!

    March 7, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Racewatcher

    Clinton supporters have not descended to hurling insults such as this. The Obama camp has hit a new low. They decry Clinton's campaign for 'negative' tactics, but when they use the same tricks it somehow becomes merely 'aggressive' campaigning. What a load of hypocrites.

    March 7, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Jes

    Finally Obama's camp appologizes for something.
    How sad, he has no foreign experience and his foreign advisor slips up, genis!

    Go Hillary 2008

    March 7, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Alicia

    "Monster"'s all true, Hillary Clinton is a monster, a liar and a ruthless individual that will stop at nothing to steal this election. The Clintons' have a history clouded in deceit and I hope people start to wake up!! America these people have done nothing for you! As a college educated hispanic woman, my vote is for Obama!!

    March 7, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. Pat M Canada

    Samantha Powers is way out of line with her remarks. If this is the type of top foreign policy advisers Senator Obama has in his employ his idea of proper ,necessary and acceptable credentials for such positions is more than questionable.

    Her mother needs to wash her mouth out with soap for starters! And someone needs to offer her a course in ethical and acceptable public speaking and politcal practices! Her language and villanous statements are certainly not in keeping with such high profile positions.

    If I was Obama, in the interest of his public image, I would be seriously considering firing her immediately. As her apology after such a vile tirade in public will certainly not restore her public image and will continue to leave his judgement in question.

    March 7, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Interesting

    Truth hurts. Hillary aggrandizing McCain & giving McCain ammunition against Obama makes her a monster in our democratic midst. Yes team Obama needs to stop looking amateurish & get back to calling her on the politics of old.

    March 7, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. Patricia

    if Hillary is a monster then Obama is a jerk.

    March 7, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Tim

    it is over for obama now!! they are out of control because of tusday

    March 7, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. Paula

    These comments shouldn't have been made as Barack is trying so hard to make sure his campaign is clean..however, people will speak their own thoughts and unfortunately Barack has to go around cleaning up after them.
    Hillary is a shrew, ruthless, cunning, manipulating and just a cog in the old political machine.. monster no..but she is scary .. hang in Barack her Karma is coing soon!!

    March 7, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. Mandi Locke

    I'm not surprised to see Barack Obama discourage such comments. His brand of politics does not involve name-calling or mud-slinging. He is running a campaign we can all be proud of. The truth is, nobody needs to be told that Hillary is a monster. She has done a fine job of making that evident to anyone with their eyes open.

    March 7, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Linda, Columbus Ohio

    And Obama hasn't fired her yet???? He needs to stop keeping these people, they're making him look inexperienced and foolish.

    March 7, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. Amy in Iowa

    Is Hillary apologizing to Democrats for openly endorsing John McCain over Obama????

    March 7, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. Willie

    Wow, that was messed up!?! Too be one of his top advisors and a Harvard professor, that was very unprofessional. Poor people? All of the Obama supporters should "reject" and "denounce" (as you always say) those comments!! The people in Ohio are obssessed? That's a really messed up comment to make. The majority of us African-Americans live in poverty. Are we obssessed too? Those comments were really uncalled for.

    March 7, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Roz, IL

    i'm sure she's been called worse...big deal, CNN you're getting to be like catty women.

    March 7, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. scotchcart

    It would be really cool for those of us watching from other countries if you could give a brief outline of what comes next in your political process. What is the next big event? What will be decided there? etc.

    Many thanks.

    March 7, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. Karen P

    It is outrageous for Clintons to compare Obama to Ken Starr. On the other hand, if the Clintons ever get caught in their own scandals (which of course they hide documents) Ken Starr just might look good.

    Once again the news is always rallying around Clintons, show cute Chelsea and Bill we care? If you're only talking of Obama campaigning, then only do Hillary. We are not voting for Bill.

    What about how the news came out that it was CLINTON campaign who started this Canada fiasco? It was big news until it was proven wrong info but does CNN report that to its fullest? NOOOOOOOO.

    News keeps harping on Hillary's BIG 3 WINS. Yeah right, not all the delegates, using scare tactics, and Obama is winning caucuses...but of course the news doesn't want to report that Texas is split between caucus and primary.

    We're trying to bring this country to a higher standard and dignity, yet the media and the Clintons are dragging us down AGAIN.

    March 7, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. Julie-Albuquerque

    Oh sure, apologize after the fact. It's like a judge instructing the jury to disregard a statement made in court – too late, already in their mind. The fact that one of Obama's top advisors made the comment makes a person wonder if perhaps it is OBAMA'S camp who is now getting desperate – sounds like a little kid name calling.

    March 7, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. Marge Hibbing Mn

    I guess this butt didn't take a very good look at their leader. There is no one in the country more of a monster than he is .

    March 7, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. jane

    Samantha Power is a top foreign policy advisor to Senator Obama? No wonder he's not doing so well.

    March 7, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. jane

    Clearly, Ohio is not the only place where Hillary Clinton can win given the fact that she's taken every major state in the country. These reckless, avusive comments are exactly the type of childish and uninformed messages the Obama camp wants Americans to believe. It is really a shame.

    March 7, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. Heather

    I understand Samantha, its hard to be angry and not be able to vent. I look at Hillary and think 'Ergh' too.

    *******GOBAMA '08********

    March 7, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. JC

    As a lifelong Democrat and daughter of a union organizer, I have to cast a vote that reflects my values. No doubt Sentator Obama is a good person but he is much too inexperienced to be the next President of the United States. If he were a woman, he would never have been taken seriously as a Presidential Candidate. I do believe Senator Clinton is extremely capable, experienced, has demonstrated good judgment over the years and I support her wholeheartedly. I am one of those Democrats in California that Senator Obama should not "depend" on if he wins the nomination. I do not speak alone so Senator Obama DON't count on my vote (or getting California, New York, etal) in the general election. Many of us believe our Country should come before Party Politics.

    March 7, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. Mia, Stafford, VA

    People get frustrated and vent, unfortunately for the Obama Campaign and Ms. Power she vented with the wrong person, not a smart move. I do think if she said it should be off the record it should have been, reporters would be out of business if they reported every bad thing someone said off the record.

    I don't appreciate the Clinton Campaign acting so offended, it is so disingenuous from a campaign that has been per their campaign mgr. "throwing the kitchen sink" at Obama.

    March 7, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. James

    I think Bill is the real monster he`s the one running the country with the – – – – – under the desk
    If Hillary becomes President wonder who will show up under her desk?
    Go Barack
    We got your back.

    March 7, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
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