March 11th, 2008
05:25 PM ET
14 years ago

Clinton campaign manager rebukes Ferraro calls

(CNN) - Clinton Campaign Manager Maggie Williams said Tuesday that Obama campaign is making "false, personal and politically calculated attacks" over supporter Geraldine Ferraro's controversial comment that the Illinois senator is only in contention because of his race.

"This campaign should be about the leadership we need for a better future and these attacks serve only to divide the Democratic Party and the American people," Williams said in a statement sent to reporters.

Ferraro, the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee in 1984, told the (Torrance, California) Daily Breeze that "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

The Williams statement came a few hours after Obama senior strategist David Axelrod told reporters that Ferraro's recent remarks were part of "an insidious pattern that needs to be addressed."

"When you wink and nod at offensive statements you're really sending a signal to your supporters that anything goes," he also said.

Obama himself also issued a statement on the Ferraro's comments Tuesday afternoon, calling them divisive and 'patently absurd.'

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. Nan

    Ms. Ferraro's comment is not a racist comment, it is true given the number of votes cast for Barach by African Americans. It's absurd to think we can totally ignore the fact of his race. There is no shame in African American's wanting to vote for an African American. There are many whites voting for him also, but the African American vote make his totals more impressive. We can't stop from acknowledging Barach's race any more than we can stop acknowledging Hillary's gender.

    March 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  2. Raymond

    Hi Maggie Williams –be fair, The Clinton's drew "first blood" on the race issue. Not because you are Black, speak to your own campaign with regard to stayine on the issue. It is so blatanly obvious: Bill Clintion's comment, the picture of Obama in a turban and now this with Ferraro! Maggie, I am also Aferican American, if you had any dignity you would resign from the Clinton campaign.

    March 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  3. John in FL

    Obama is leading because he's not a phony.

    I also want to say that there's no "rock star status." People are excited about Obama because he's simply an inspiring guy.

    March 11, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  4. kcw2288

    It is true... He is leading because of his race, but mostly because he is a man.... The country has shown that they are not ready for a woman to lead, especially a white woman. If Hillary was a different race, but staying with her same personality and views, she would be much closer if not exceeding Obama...

    Obama has great charisma, but no substance. Reminds me of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. Chanting "Change" means nothing if you dont really breakdown the "how". Anyone can point out problems, but it takes a leader to point out solutions.

    March 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  5. Bipartisan

    America will continue to decline in comparisson to the other industrialized nations. Obama is clearly the better candidate for soooo many reasons. Primative ideals plague our society. The time for change is now............... Obama 08

    March 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  6. TheLeftNut

    Clinton is over because of the McCain-Obama-Commander-In-Chief Comment.

    Let's move on.

    Obama/??? is the next question.

    March 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. Charlotte

    Obama-bots are really stupid, Geraldine is merely a supporter. She is neither a consultant nor a paid staff member. You can't fire someone who doesn't even work for you..Obama is expected to carry Mississippi, DUH... He would not be where he is if he weren't black. Oprah would not have ever campagined for him if he were not black. He would not have won all those predominately black states if he were not black. MLK would never have been mentioned if he were not black. I have a dream, would never have been mentioned. Black delegates would not be strong armed into switching to Obama if he were not black. Sorry, just the facts

    March 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  8. roger

    Ferraro's remarks are undoubtably just another attempt by the clintons to inject race into the campaign! First it was bill in S.C., then it was hillary after Obama swept the southern states, dimissing it as just "the black vote", voting for one of thier own. Now it is a third and more obvious attempt by one of her senior staff! While one of her advisors says she doesn't agree with it, I notice hillary hasn't "renounced and rejected" it. Maybe the only part she disagrees with is that if he was a woman he wouldn't be there. She obviously disagrees with everything the dem. party has preached about racial equality for the last 50 years!

    March 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. vtaylor

    Apparently, the only response the Clinton campaign is able to make to any situation is ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK. This says a lot about the campaign's leadership. Is this the kind of leadership that would be effective in a President?

    March 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  10. Susan

    Obama is where he is because he is black. That is neither racist nor divisive. He has the coercise support of blacks who promote him simply because he is black, not because of his political message. If he was white, those same blacks who now support him wouldn't give him a minute of their time. It doesn't matter what he promises – we don't know what that really is. "Change" can be negative as well as positive – Obama would never be where he is if he was white, saying the same things he says today. He would be ignored and ridiculed as a light-weight with no substance.

    Ferraro is right.

    March 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  11. Brian

    It is a fact that Obama benefited in college and law school thanks to affirmative action admission policies. He was a junior professor in Univ of Chicago before running for senate 4 years ago.
    His achievements are at best dismal if not pathetic. It is not wrong to claim or conclude that If he were a white male, his chances for presidential bid will be impossible.

    March 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  12. MGBYG

    "This campaign should be about the leadership we need for a better future and these attacks serve only to divide the Democratic Party and the American people," Williams said in a statement sent to reporters.

    How Clintonian. Do what you accuse them of and just scream indignation louder than your opponent.

    If it's about leadership why is Ferraro commenting on skin colour?

    March 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  13. Mike

    I believe that what Mrs. Ferraro stated was taken out of context, her point was accurate, based on how it was said.

    Just as I believe that he has more of an advantage over Senator Clinton because she is a woman, and most men will not vote for a female.

    When Obama goes head to head with McCain, the white male vote will go to McCain in volumes (in that voting booth, people vote the truth).

    Go Hillary!

    March 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  14. lana

    As a woman, I find it absurd that the racist comments – by a key campaign strategist in the Clinton camp – is allowed to be accepted by these same women apologist on this board who complain about sexism.

    So it's okay to be blantantly racist as long as a white woman says it? This type of discourse should not be accepted by real progressives who believe that all of us are created equal. Unlike Senator Clinton, real progressives don't believe that a republican is better than a Democrat at governing America.

    If the Clinton suporters believe and/or accept anything that Ferraro and Hillary clearly meant, you're not a real progressive...you're not a real Democrat.

    I now know I voting for the best person for President next month – Senator Obama.

    March 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  15. Virgil Warren

    The Clinton Camp should close shop. How sad they are do anything and
    say anything to win.

    OBAMA !!!

    March 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. Rafi, NY NY

    Many of you defending Ferraro's comments because you don't think they're racist are missing an obvious point: Not being racist doesn't automatically make them true!

    There have been at least half a dozen African-American presidential candidates in the recent past (two of them ran just four years ago!). By Ferraro's logic, they would have made it much closer to the nomination, but not one of them came within an inch of that.

    At the same time, do you honestly believe Hillary Clinton would be a senator right now if her husband hadn't been president? Or a candidate herself? Be honest now.

    How anyone could miss such obvious counter-arguments is beyond me.

    March 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  17. dj

    hey hunter.. in bend, org. get over the tax issue. No one gives a crap about that. Move on.. More important issues out there.. About our Country.. !!!!
    HILLARY ALL THE WAY!!!

    Go Hillary!!!!!!!!

    March 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  18. JD

    There is a pattern here. A few days ago, he was Ken Starr. Now he is incompetent but a lucky black guy. Oh that's right, Jessie Jackson won South Carolina. You remember that Obama used drugs in his youth . He isn't Muslim, as far as I know.

    Monster is too good of a word for her. I wish she would flame out . Hey I hear NY needs a governor .. Hillary they are calling you .

    March 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. Michael O'Neal

    Tell me, if Obama was white do you really think he would have gotten the percentage of black votes he has so far? Pointing out he is something of a novelty, is not racist.

    You wanna know was is racist? A man who is mullato, refusing to call himself what he is, if he called himself white, wouldn't that be labeled by the press as shame and self hatred?

    How far would he have gotten if he had done that, insead of labeling himself as black?

    March 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  20. Jay

    America will DENOUNCE and REJECT Obama and all his use of Race that is dividing the Democrats. His camp has done it over and over again!! Its getting old. It all started in South Carolina with him running with the spinning of the 'Fairy Tale" comment.

    Obama – NO WAY!!

    March 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  21. john L Cerrato, Rockville Centre, NY

    However you categorize Geraldine Ferraro's statement re: Obama, it happens to be true. Why is Obama ashamed of his blackness? Why are more than 8o% of blacks voting for him? They, {the pundits} say that their position on the issues are pretty much similar with differences on the margin.
    The difference is He is a Black Man and she is a White Woman. I know the American people are not racial or gender biased. Sure, no one is biased in America.

    Hey if you want to believe this , go right ahead. Ferraro was saying what she believes and it happens to be true at the same time. That's my humble opinion,

    March 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  22. MissyE

    I am wondering how qualified the last president was... and the one before that? Hm... I guess times were just perfect with those last two. I think it was because they were black ... Oh no, that's right they were white men, youngish, with a plan and a dream. I guess those options are just really not for ALL Americans huh?

    Sometimes we can be too bitter and ignorant to be ashamed. I for one, am very happy this is all coming to light. It's funny how equality has a leash for some people.

    March 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  23. Alice

    Yeah, Maggie, are you going to say the same thing about testimony that comes out of the Pellicano, or the upcoming Peter Paul fraud trial that implicates Hillary in wrongdoing?

    CNN, shouldn't you being doing a public service to inform the voters on the Pellicano and Peter Paul trials? Why is the Press so mute on these trials when they involve a Presidential candidate?

    March 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  24. Darth Vadik, CA

    Meanwhile......

    The lobbyist who represented Ahmet Chalabi, you know who this guy is, dont you, if you don't pleaase google him, is RUNNING John McCain's campaign.

    Three Airbus lobbyists are a part of the McCain campaign, and one of them is his finance chair.

    Oh yeah, an American company called Boing, we know this company don't we, just lost out a huge contract to Airbus, a European company, and John McCain is bragging about this.

    ...and John McInsane says he wouldn't be affected by lobbyists.

    How many of you who will be laid off because of this injustice alone will be laid off, and how many of you are actually going to vote for McCain?

    WHERE ARE YOU CNN, WHERE IS THIS STORY?
    WHERE IS THE REAL JOURNALISM? WHERE IS THE JUSTICE?
    GET TO WORK CNN?
    EXPOSE THIS CREEP FOR WHAT HE IS.

    March 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  25. maya

    Obama was too busy campaigning to go the Tavis Smiley's STATE of the BLACK UNION. Literally that was the reason- too busy campaigning. Hillary went.

    Front Page Sunday 3/9 NYT- Obama in Senate: Star Power, Minor Role. Seems the only thing BOLD and AUDACIOUS about him is being presumptuous enough to launch a presidential campaign the MINUTE he entered the US Senate 2005.

    He gets 80-90% of the AA vote but he has no policies or programs created directly for them. I'm not the only one to think this. AA come out in force to support him- is he BOLD and STRONG enough to speak for them-NO he does not speak to any AA specific issues. Hillary has worked YEARS DEFENDING and SUPPORTING gender issues- for women and children. We in turn support her.

    Tell me then- who is a more AUTHENTIC and BOLD leader?! HILLARY.

    March 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
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