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. Alex

    I work in the media myself and one of the first lessons they teach you is there is no such thing as "off the record" especially when dealing with politics. This advisor should have known better. At this stage of the game both Clinton and Obama should borrow a page from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's playbook. During his last campaign he all but physically muzzled his candidates and advisors, in order to prevent just this sort of "loose lips" scenario from happening. At a time when the Democrats are falling behind the 8-ball in national campaigning Clinton and Obama need to make sure their respective teams stay on message and not give their rivals - and that now includes McCain as much as it includes each other - any ammunition. Or make comments, like this one, that could come back to bite people in the backside later.

    March 7, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Keith, GA

    "Monster?" what are we in 1st grade?

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. pal

    It is ok that she apologized, but it is true; who else would continue marriage to an adulterous man, just for political gains.

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Joann

    Whoever that Powers lady is – she sounds like a nut. What a nerve to call Hillary a Monster because she won Ohio. They are the one's who will say anything to win. Hillary is just stating facts.

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. Illinois

    This is just another example of what Obama's supporters aretruly like. Followers emulate their leaders................

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Change we can't believe in

    Obama said in December that he would remove anyone who attacked personally. So, when does that happen Senator? Or is this more 'politics as usual' that you so often decry? You sir, are a hypocrite and a speaker of untruths, in other words, a liar.

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  7. Jim

    Once again, CNN, you try to blame an Obama's backer's comments on the candidate himself. Why don't you write a positive article on him for once, and stop showing your bias. And also, a "monster" isn't all that bad a thing to say, considering what most Obama's backers think of Clinton.

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Mark

    But why is the Clinton News Network not addressing Hillary's NAFTA problem. She was completely dishonest. It"s an integrity issue.

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. O P, WI

    Hillary Clinton would rather see John McCain in the white house than any democrat besides herself. Her "be afraid" attacks and "say anything to prevent an Obama victory" approach is pathetic. The fiasco of the Clinton campaign is an indication what ANOTHER Clinton presidency would look like. Obama is a phenomenal canidate that has motivated millions of people to get involved in the political process....let's take our democracy back and move this country into a new era of political engagement. Go Obama!

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. Carby

    Come on Hillary – OLD Lady!!! Get out now – you lost!
    No one I talk to wants a whiney, lying and mean-spirited woman as president. Besides, "what will you do when the phone rings at 3:00am?" You answer it, ditwit! Besides, if you were president (and you won't be) your concentration would not be on the nation but on your husband – what with you worrying about him being around so many aides again....

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. Sharon

    Does Samantha Power really believe that her candidate doesn't or hasn't stooped to a little deceit? How naive can she be – most Americans know that politicians are experts at deceit when running for political office – the only true test is what the candidate has done in their political career to show what they'll stand for in the future.

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. Dee

    Obama once said he was a 'bonehead' for his dealings with certain criminal slimeballs...and it looks like his chosen advisers are fellow boneheads too. Good 'judgement' Barack. OOOPS! Don't look now, but your facade is slipping!

    America: you are finally ridding yourself of one bonehead...don't elect another.

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Brian

    Im proud to be an Ohioian today. We don't want Obama or anyone like Samantha Power in our state.. If he is elected, we would like to hold our own election here in Ohio for our own President. Exclude us from the union. We will become our own country. Wake up America.

    March 7, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  14. Obamacan!

    Denouncing isn't enough! Did they reject it? Else, Clinton might get offended 🙁

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  15. George

    Change we can trash. Dirty staff is starting to come out from the one who said he'll take the high road. Well, Obama's camp is finally reflecting lack of leadership in their candidate. This guy is losing because people have realized that talk is cheap. He has copied all the talk from all his sources, repeated every speech and has gone blank. Thats what happens when you have no experience in any job, let a lone the presidency of this country.

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  16. Laura Herold

    Sorry but Ms Powell is right! God Bless American if Hillary wins. People are not getting it and I feel as a "no conscience" society Clinton will fit right in. She is trying to change the rules with Florida and Michigan because she has never followed the rules. The Clintons make their own. I am shocked that so many good Christian families out there approve of the Clintons! Sad Sad Sad...

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  17. jgr

    All these candidates are terrible.

    I had great hope at the beggining, but the Hillary came in and brought the worst out of everyone. Hillary does that.

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  18. Ruthless

    It must suck to have to apologize for revealing the truth about Clinton. She's ruthless and will do absolutely anything to win, including her attempts to destroy Obama. She is the least common denominator.

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Bubba

    I'm not feeling Obama as president today.

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. Dennis

    Unfortunately, in spite of her apology, Power behaves in the same arrogant, self-righteous fashion as Obama and so many of his supporters. Obama preaches unity and positive politics, but he's more than happy to let his surrogates express his true feelings. This apology means nothing.

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Upstate Deb

    The only monster I see here is the ugly little green monster called jealousy, Mr. Obama. Jealous that you couldn't take three states this week.

    GO HILLARY! I just sent in my donation AND bought a tshirt – keep it going until November!

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. The Political Ninja

    Its 3 am, your spouse is safely sleeping in bed, and the phone rings and its a chubby intern, what do you do?

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. PA

    I am glad that Obama's camp has apologized for this. I wish that Mrs. Clinton's camp would apologize comparing Obama to Ken Starr. While I know that the Ken Starr time period was an upsetting time for the Clinton's, Mrs. Clinton should keep in mind that it was the beginning of a very hurtful time period for the whole country. I hope that we are not entering again into a negative time that is focused on Clinton scandle instead of what we the people need.

    I chose HOPE. OBAMA 2008!!!!!!!!

    March 7, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. AJ

    A lot of these comments need to start coming from people who don't really need a job for the Obama camp. She is out there selling a book and works at Harvard. I think this was a great play. Get nasty right back!

    March 7, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. smustaro

    Oh yes...... I want this woman taking the 3 am calls regarding our National Security as his Senior Foreign Affairs Advisor. Well that's 2 in as many days. We have Austan Gollsbee, Senior Economic Advisor & this brillant woman. Gosh, I'm glad we know ahead of time what "Experts" he's surrounding himself with. My goodness, who needs experiance?!

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