March 12th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Ferraro: My comment wasn't racist, it was a fact


Watch Ferraro's comments Wednesday.

(CNN) - An unapologetic Geraldine Ferraro said Wednesday morning that her comments about the electoral impact of Barack Obama's race have been taken out of context, and that she stands by her words.

Ferraro stirred controversy with her recent remarks that Obama's campaign was successful because he was black.

"It wasn't a racist comment, it was a statement of fact," she said on CBS' Early Show, adding that she would leave Hillary Clinton's national finance committee if she were asked, but would not stop raising money for the New York senator's presidential bid. She also blamed Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, for misinterpreting her remarks.

Ferraro also told ABC's Good Morning America that "every time" someone makes a negative comment about Obama, they are accused of racism.

Late Tuesday, she told interviewer that she felt she was being attacked because she was white.

"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," she told the (Torrance, California) Daily Breeze. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

Full story

Related: Watch a clip of Ferraro's interview with Diane Sawyer

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (326 Responses)
  1. Tisha Todd, Hampton, Virginia

    This is Clinton genious at it's best! Let's use race baiting to scare up the white folks in PA and then win big! I don't care what Hillary says she is SO behind this. Her whole campaign is about being devisive. It is really funny how Ferraro's comments came out right before Mississippi, where the Clintons knew they were going to lose and that blacks would vote overwhelmingly for Obama. So you through this out and now the story line is how race is against race.
    The problem with the Clintons is they are taking the black vote for granted. I am a black woman, I support the democratic platform this year but I will NEVER vote for Clinton. I can't trust the woman and I would rather have McCain and SOOOOO many other black folks feel this way. CLINTON DOES NOT HAVE A STRONGHOLD ON THE WHITE VOTE. She is devisive so she needs latinos AND blacks to beat McCain and she does not have the blacks so she will lose.

    March 12, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. Danielle

    I think Ferraro definitely has some truth in her claim! I think the outcome in Mississippi proves her point further. How can (apprx.) 91% of Black voters vote for the Black candidate and this not have something to do with race? Taking race, and for that matter gender as well, out of this race is crazy! You can't really believe that all these Black voters really like Obama (who lets face it, has almost the exact same platfom as Clinton, and vice versa) better and it not be about race. Race and gender, it seems one more than the other, are playing a huge role in the decision making process. Also, Ferraro is right, we do still suffer from a sexist media when it comes specifically to politics, our society seems to still have issues with seeing a strong woman stand up and do/say what she really believes instead of playing nice. She is also right about the racist issue, anyone who critizes Obama is seen as racist, no one takes into account that maybe they just don't like his policy choices or doubt his experience. I think the medias unfair coverage of Obama stems from being overly politically correct, they too are afraid to speak out against him on anything because they are afraid of being labeled racist.

    March 12, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  3. jimmie Jenkins

    Thanks for being brave enough to tell the truth. Anyone with half a mind can see that the black vote is primary to Obama's success. Some don't care if he is the best person for the job, they just want a black President. This is not politics as usual.

    March 12, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. md

    Yeah, he isn't smart or anything. Too bad he didn't go to college. He knows nothing about government. He got to the Senate because he was black. My goodness he can't even talk. There is no way white people would vote for this stupid man who knows nothing, and is only successful because he is black. Just the stupid black people vote for him right? Everyone know that Ferraro has suffered oh so much because of her white skin. Let's all cry for her.

    March 12, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. NW

    Is anyone aware that Ferraro said this same thing about Jesse Jackson in 1988? Politico has uncovered that. What is this woman's problem?

    March 12, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. sam

    I thought Geraldine was history. She is as bad as Hillary with the things they try to twist. She should definitely apoligize, but she isn't the type, just as Hillary.

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  7. DC gal

    U don't find her comments so far off base from the truth. Yes, it makes people uncomfortable to think about and confront their biases, but that doesn't make Ferraro racist. I am black woman, who absolutely believes that 9:10 of blacks are voting for Obama b/c they want to see a black man in power. It makes it no difference that if he was of any other minority sect (Latino, Jewish, etc.). No, it doesn't make it right that the office of the presidency is decided on pride and an uplifting movement, but it is what it is. Ferraro just stated what many believe and know but would never go on public record to say

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  8. Brian, New York

    As a black man, I guess my question is, why wouldn't Obama be there if he wasn't a black man? The comment is irresponsible because it fails to address specifically address how he is benefiting from being a black man. I would argue certainly that George Bush would not be President if he wasn't a white man!!!

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. Adam

    At the beginning of Obama's campaign, I heard he would never win because he was black. Now, we hear statements that he is winning because his black. That is just a ridiculous statement. Obama has won in the so called "white" states. I am a white male and I support Obama. I don't support him because he is black. I don't care if he is blue, green, yellow, etc. I support him because of his stance on issues. If Ferraro wants to jump to that conclusion, then the only reason Hillary is doing well is because she is a woman who happens to have the last name Clinton. Take those away and this thing would be wrapped up. The truth is both candidates are doing well because they are intelligent individuals who are able to inspire large groups of people. I agree with some comments I have read that state everyone not named Clinton or Obama need to shut up. This divisiveness is going to give this election to the Republicans. A vote for McCain is nothing more than a third Bush term. Is that what you really want? Good lord people, build a bridge!

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. Thomas

    I'm an Obama supporter and I do believe that there is some truth to Ms. Ferraro's comments.

    But calm down people. She hasn't said there was anything wrong with it. She is simply saying that he is fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. She said the same thing about herself.

    If you think about it, what she is saying is the opposite of racism. She is saying that this country, for the first time in it's history, is ready to vote for black man for president and that Obama has benefitted from that.

    The only issue I have with her comments is that is giving him credit for helping to create and foster that environment.

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  11. Barry

    And for all the Hillary supporters calling the young voters dumb and uninformed... Who's getting more votes from the more educated? I'm sorry to sound harsh but I would be willing to bet the more educated younger voters have a much better grasp on the true issues than the highschool drop-out factory worker in Ohio who chooses the candidate who he or she heard say something about "getting jobs back to the American people" or something just as vague. They're the ones that are "easily charmed" as you call Obama voters.

    I laugh when I hear Hillary supporters state that those who vote for Hillary are more informed...

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. Jab

    I can say, as a white woman, Barack Obama will never get my vote.

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. Dee, Tx

    This is the okey doke that Obama has been trying to warn us aganist. Ferraro is a season veteran. She knew these comments would ignite a fire store. Now she is trying to turn it on the Obama camp for calling her a racist. She injected the term racist. Reverse okey doke. This is a political tactic at its worst.

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. Pennsylvania for Obama

    The old lady's comments were very mean spirited and unfortunate. This is not the 1930's. It is 2008 and we need to move beyond racial differences and move towards uniting the country. We do not need candidates that are going to divide our country and fragment it more than it already is.

    Obama has won Texas, so CNN, FOX, MSNBC and the Clintons need to quit saying that the Clintons won it. Obama has won more delegates from Texas and was behind in the primary by 4% (after trailing by 20%).

    He has won the past 15 of 17 races. If that would be Clinton people would be demanding Obama to step down.

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. Mel

    CNN, please post this. –Let's get real. If we want to look at facts, let's look at the U.S. Census. According to 2005 numbers, African-Americans make up 13.4% of the total U.S. population. That is a fact. Obviously, that number in any one state may be higher, or lower. However, overall, a candidate cannot win with just 13.4% of the vote (and not all African-Americans will vote for Obama, or necessarily vote at all, just as with white women).

    So, let's get real. This pseudo-logic may be appealing, and I have no doubt there is still sexism in media, just as there is racism, even "unintentional" racism. But the reality is - no candidate, black, white, or green can win the nomination with only 13.4% of the vote. The majority of states have voted, and Obama is in the lead. He is a real candidate, with real substance. Disagree with his positions, but don't demean the race with phoney logic.

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. jhs

    Wow, what anger here. Even though I don't agree with most of her remarks, there are some that ring true. Every time a poll is done, someone cries racism. Everytime someone uses "words" that Obama doesn't like… racism. Everytime someone uses his middle name… racism. Call it like it is. She merely pointed out what SHE thought, not what Clinton thought. Besides, if there's not an issue of race, why did 90% of blacks in Mississippi vote for Obama?

    March 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. sascha

    The Clintons are doing everything to win the elections, unbelievable!!! Such smear campagnes won't stop and the Republicans will benefit in the end when McCain becomes President of the United States. Well done, Mrs Clinton!!

    March 12, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. Brooke

    I think what disturbs me even more than Ms Ferraro's comments is the way she was attacked by Obama supporters. Any time someone says something even slightly negative about the man they go on the attack. That's not good for this country and it's certainly not good for democracy. Regardless of how wrong she was or how much we disagree with her she has every right to speak her mind. This isn't Obamaland yet, we still have freedom of speech.

    March 12, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Mireille, Charlotte


    March 12, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. naja

    Race always come up when a intelligent and smart black man is winning.

    March 12, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. stunned

    Okay, lets just talk about everything but the important things. How about the stock market, say what about those high gas prices, how about those poor souls who are in foreclosure. Yep good thing we have GF to make us stop thinking about some real issues.

    March 12, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  22. Sammy

    I'm sorry, Geraldine, but you are a loser. You lost in 1984, and you are going to lose again 24 years later.

    – Sammy
    Boston, MA

    March 12, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. Sudhir

    How is talking about Obama being black anything to do with problems faced by the world? She said that. Hillary can do anything to win and this is just another example... I am just tierd of Hillary now. I am done. If Obama looses I am going with McCain atleast that man has character.

    March 12, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  24. Mickie in PA

    It would behoove Hillary to try to woo the black voters, not alienate them by refusing to disconnect from Ferraro. By the way, I am a white, elderly, blue collar female who has been a democrat all my lilfe and I would not vote for Hillary if she was the only person on the ticket.

    March 12, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. Uncle Sam

    I believe the reason that Senator Obama will not win the presidency is not because of his race but due to his immaturity. In 2005 when he entered the US Senate, he said that he would unequivocally complete his Senate term, citing that he did not have the experience to be president. Having campaigned six times in the twelve years of his political life, it seems that Mr. Obama is certainly ambitious and gifted in the art of persuasion, but his record indicates that he lacks the ability to make the difficult decisions and take the heat for them. As much as we might like, we simply cannot be all things to all people. A president must have the courage of his convictions and be willing to take actions at times that others will criticize. To only placate others may bring temporary comfort and apparent unity, but it requires strength of character to be a true leader and make substantial change.

    March 12, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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