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. Ken

    The statement is stupid period. Obama is were he is at becasue he has EARNED it. He campaigned; people agreed with is agenda; they voted for him; giving him the lead in popular vote, delegate count, and number of states won. Thats why he is were he is at. Not because he is black.
    Also there are just as many voters that WONT vote for Obama BECAUSE he is black.
    Now we should question Ferraro if she supports Clinton because she is a white woman. Maybe she does but Clinton is not were she is BECAUSE she is a woman.
    Thats why the statement has no place.

    White middle age male for Obama!

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. Dave C - N.J.

    I love how you Clinton Idiots keep naging on Obamas experience.

    Look at your candidate! She's got nothing. At least Obama got where he was on his own, not through his spouse.

    And Obama brings more to the table that W did in 2000!

    And how is it all of you can read minds???? I'm white, so I voted for Obama as a novelty, and so did a lot of other mostly white states? Can I borrow your crystal ball???

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  3. 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 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. Yankee Dog

    Good point Peter - I too am a white man, and I too have voted for Obama. It has nothing to do with race as far as I am concerned. I am looking for a new type of leadership that can finally unite this country. That leadership is in Barack Obama. We already have seen how the Clinton gang divide the country, and McCain will be no better. Our only hope is Obama, not HRC that is for sure. The fact that they are using Geradline Ferarro in this way is so sad really. What a shame that our first woman VP candidate has to sully her reputation with this Clinton game of divide and conquer. Shame on them all.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. jill american

    Anyone who thinks this isn't about race and gender is kidding themselves.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. AntiBrenda

    Kelton, you dont have to hope that blacks will not support the "monster". They will flat out wont even bother to vote, period. Its time the DNC stopped her witchhunting somehow or its a republican win without a doubt.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  7. Oracle 99

    Her comments are ludicrous. If black men were as lucky as she claims...there surely would have been more than 3 lucky ones to make it to the Senate in the 300 years that this country has been in existence.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. Bukky, Baltimore

    The problem is that EVERYMAN that is been where Obama is right now has been White. The reason people are saying this is a rasict comment is because she is implying that Obama does not deserve to be where he is. That this is being handed to him because he is black. This is the same arguement people make against affirmative action. No matter what he has accomplished she's say it has nothing to do with his accomplishement but all about his race. He has been an elected official since 1997, longer than Hillary.. why does she deserve it?

    His race is an issue as much has her gender is an issue, but no one is saying she is being handed anything because of her gender. Geraldine comments were ignorant. I dont think she is a racist, but the comment makes her look like one.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Anthony

    The way things are going Mcain will be the next president. I have seen it happen in New York when Bloomberg became mayor. The primary got ugly Green attacked his spanish opponent as being a puppet of Sharpton. The Democrats got so divided that Bloomberg won. The Democrats now seem to be just as divided and it seems very bitter.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. rms

    Clinton camp will say anything to undermine Obama. First they started by undermining his achievements: caucus states don't count, small states don't count, states with bigger African American population don't count etc etc. Then they started undermining his voters; prius driving latte drinkers vote for him, Obama girls vote for him, African Americans vote for him... etc. Now they are undermining his character... They simply can't accept that he is a good candidate with good ideas that people can relate to.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. mike

    James Carville, Ms Clinton’s chief strategist once called Pennsylvania “Philadelphia and Pittsburg with Alabama in the middle”. I think Ferraro’s comments were a calculated ploy to play the race card going into Pennsylvania.

    If Clinton can make this about race she can win white Northern Alabama (central Pennsylvania). What better messenger to start such a gambit than an old sickly woman no one wants to beat up such as Ferraro. And what better way to fan the flames while staying out of the smoke than to offer a lukewarm disagreement, and then claim foul for previous unrelated transgressions. And wht better time than the eve of the Mississippi primary when Obama was already going to inevitably win.

    I found it significant that the mayor of Alabama (Harrisburg), the only place in Northern Alabama with any kind of African American presence, Steven Reed was standing behind Ms Clinton during her speech last evening far from Harrisburg.

    Rove has nothing on Carville when it comes to dirty tricks, and Clinton has said repeatedly that winning is the only thing that matters to her. The end apparently justifies the means, and the means are becoming very treacherous.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. Erikab

    Well, this election has truly shown that the Dixiecrats are alive and well. How blacks ever ended up in bed w/these idiots is beyond me anyway. Now do you see the Clintons never meant you any good, they were only serving their own needs, not yours. We don't need more charity and welfare, get up, get out, go vote for hope and change.

    March 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. jerry

    geraldine is an idiot and anyone that thinks because Obama is black, that this is the only reason this process is still going on or that he is receiving all this media attention is crazy and stupid. Remember 8 years ago when this same process happened and both candidates were white. You people need to take race out of this issue.

    March 12, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Rob K

    It's funny how everything nowadays is being boiled down to race or sex. This whole primary has been mainly talk about a black candidate and a female candidate. I understand how it can be the main point of controversy but we should try to concentrate on the real issues that effect this country. As for Ferraro, I think she's ignorant to think that Obama is at his place in his life simply because his race.

    Does anyone else agree?

    March 12, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. April

    Also for Geraldine and those of you who agree with her, Barack Obama is NOT successful because he is black. Yes, there may be people who vote for him because of the color of his skin. But there are just as many if not quite a lot more who do NOT vote for him for that very same reason. If Obama wins it will be because of his many attributes and because of his optimistic message for this country, NOT because of his skin color. To say that would be the same as saying Senator Clinton is successful due to her gender, which I am sure would draw fire from her side.

    March 12, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. mantisboxer

    Where is the call to fire Ferraro from the campaign? Obama has done this without hesitation with staffers. This is a Clinton ploy to have these seeds planted in voters minds. These statements are not being made by accident and by the time the backlash rises to an untenable level the damage will have been done.

    It completely defies logic that an African-American with a name like "Barack" could somehow have an easier time getting elected than a white woman from suburban Chicago who can loan her campaign $5 million of her own loot (let's see those tax returns). This woman was the first lady of a of one of the most well liked (at least among his party) Governers and Presidents in recent history. She was a partner at a prestigous law firm, a board member for many powerful companies. How can this be a disadvantage? Complete and utter nonsense.

    The only thing that has disadvantaged Hillary Clinton is her poor timing and caustic personality. When people really wanted hope and change, she offered more of the same. Let's face it people, she has simply been out strategized and has not been able to stay on message. Race baiting has been her only effective tactic, I only hope the American public is not foolish enough to fall for this.

    March 12, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. JB

    Ahh. the racist democrats show their true colors, again.. They hid them for many years, but we all know that WV Dem Senator Byrd was in the klan and the south used to be all democrat, well until the Slaves were freed by a Republican President.
    When will you liberals ever try to live in reality?

    March 12, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  18. Mike

    Our Democratic Party must move beyond the simplistic and destructive race-identification / gender-identification political framework. Ms. Ferraro's comments are a gift to Republicans. By and large, the Obama campaign has tried to run a positive, people-centered campaign. His many lop-sided wins across the country, in states with widely varying demographics show that he can effectively carry the banner for the Democratic Party. His wise and strategic campaign to beat the "inevitable" Hillary Clinton shows he has the intelligence and self-discipline to be a good President. His 160 pledged delegate lead shows that he has understood and embraced the electoral process.

    We've just gotta grind it out now. I hope when Clinton's probability of securing the nomination dwindles to nil, she has the wisdom and the grace to concede.

    March 12, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  19. Glenn

    Her comments are sanctioned by Clinton. The purpose is to divide his base, that includes such a cross section of voters, he will win. She needs to turn people against each other to beat him She has decided race will be the tool she uses!

    March 12, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  20. Sean

    Looks like Ms Ferraro has a history of saying this...note her attacks against Jesse Jackson when he was running against her. Also, if the only reason she got the VP nominee was because she was female, why didn't she decline it then, in the best interests of the country?

    If it's a fact that Obama's race is the main thing in his favor, then what about Hillary? Would a male presidential candidate, black or white, be excused for getting stressed out and crying during an interview? Would she have got this far without riding on the coattails of her husband's name? Are the females who in large numbers have voted for her done the same, if she were a male, black or white? If certain things are 'facts', then those facts cut both ways.

    March 12, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  21. Alice Rea

    The media is campaigning for Obama. Maybe it's about time they campaign for Hillary.

    You Go Girl!

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  22. Dana

    All of the racist comments, have come from Hilliary's camp and it's always before an election in a state where blacks have an important role. In Mississippi, there has been a racial divide that has been going on forever. Mississippi just stopped share-cropping YESTERDAY, so why shouldn't the votes fall separately. That is a primitive state in the United States. It is a Republican state for that reason. There is a lot of hatred in the state, it is no different from Jena, Louisiana, FACE IT.

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. Fana

    To Tired of Clinton:
    Even as a "white" woman- your message made me touched me heart

    I am really hurt by Democrat Party today.

    When I am ready to move beyond this black and white..when I am ready to be color-blinded- you are still NOT ready to move beyond it...

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  24. Richard

    As a successful African American male, I am once again offended by the ignorance that permeates throughout the comments of Mrs. Ferraro. While she may not believe her comments to be racist, they are very similiar to the comments of organizations such as the KKK which tend to relegate all of our accomplishments to our "privileged" status as black people in this country. Next she will be talking about welfare and how we all look for handouts rather than trying to work hard for what we get.

    My experience has tended to run contrary to this wildly held American belief. I have found that I have had to be better than everyone else with better credentials in order to get the same job. I would contend that a white man with the eloquence and charisma of an Obama would already have the nomination for his party. And that in fact his color has hurt him with large blocks of voters that are not comfortable with an African American as a President.

    The only good thing that can come of these ridiculous statements is that perhaps Americawill once again openly dialogue about issues like this because the only way these types of misconceptions can be addressed is for both races to become more aware of what it is really likefor the other. Until this happens, Mrs. Ferraro' s comments will continue to be thought and not said. At least she had the courage to be open about her feelings though misinformed they might be.

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. Bearcat

    Wow , some of the comments on here underscore that we still have a long way to go in erasing the ignorant and prejudice attitudes that have haunted this great nation for so long. There is no doubt that there are some who vote for Obama simply because he is black and there are some who vote for Clinton simply because she's white, but if the entire democratic race to this point was based on that logic, Clinton would have already wrapped this thing up. Obama represents much more than an African-American vote and if you believe otherwise then you're probably one of those aforementioned people that vote for Clinton only because she is white.

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
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