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. Gil - California

    Geraldine Ferraro is a no-body backing a losing candidate. Her 15 minutes were up long before the first vote was cast in her losing ticket for VP.

    She may not see her comments as racist or sexist and that is really not the point. Her arguments could easily be used against Hillary. Hillary would not be where she was if she were a man.

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  2. Kelley

    McCain won because he was white, Hillary won because she has women, Obama won because he was black. Give me a break! I was shocked last night when I heard Geraldine Ferraro in an interview stating that Obama better back off or she would not help in fundraising in the GE. The Clinton campaign is very divisive. This election is turning into a circus. Obama continue on with your campaign and we shall suceed.

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. phil

    Good for her. She said something that everyone knows to be true but most people feel bullied into silence by the ferocious Obamaton counterattacks.
    The Obama folks make it part of thier game plan to attack anyone who dares to speak thier mind when it involves criticism of Obama.
    Strange that he who holds himself up as above the racial divide is the first to scream racism when it involves any criticism of himself. Criticism is not racism.
    By the way her comments were actually taken from quotes by Shirley Chism and Carol Moseley Braun, so Obamatons chew on that awhile.

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  4. I'm not black Ferraro!

    These angry old women need to take a breather and let the youth take this great country into the future.

    The future is ours. Vote Obama '08!

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. Lou in Des Moines

    Black, white or purple, Obama is running a better campaign, raising more money, and impressing more voters than Hillary. That's really what Geraldine is upset about.

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  6. New York expat in Santo Domingo

    I am a 40something WASP, married to a Latina. I lived in the same neighborhood as Ms. Ferraro in Forest Hills, Queens, America's melting pot. Yet, generationally, the idea of personal identity and its indicators (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, shoe size...) are attributes that SHE has conditioned come FIRST for the candidate, rather than their personna, ideas and impression of leadership style. For HER, she sees herself as the selected nominee as a female, at that place and time, as some element of tokenism. SHE SHOULD SPEAK FOR HERSELF and not try to characterize the groundswell of backing and support for OBAMA. Her remarks became dated, generational and racist when she attributed the MOVEMENT FOR OBAMA as primarily related to the phenomena of his being black. Although it might seem like I'm spliting hairs, it is significant. She belittles the movement and the genuine support for OBAMA as the PREFERRED CANDIDATE over her dear friend, Hillary Clinton. And, Hillary, by the way, was a viable candidate because of what she brought to the table, with her gender as a secondary attribute. However, Hillary is not the candidate of choice for the WHOLE PACKAGE – ideas, personna, leadership style.

    Hillary says that Ferraro's comments are her own, but she needs to go further and repudiate them, or she belittles the premise of her own quest and campaign for the Presidency.

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  7. Pete

    Hey Hillary, FIRE her NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 12, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. exurbaneye

    Geraldine Ferraro has appeared unreasonably angry at Barack Obama since his campaign unseated Hillary Clinton's front-runner presumption. She has been angry all over the media before this – this last tongue-lashing has finally made the news and finally whiplashed her. It is so sad that the angry and insulting persona has now defined the Clinton campaign, and has again hurt women as a consequence.
    Do we really want to go back to the Clinton wars, even with a woman's face?
    All the women in this family are voting for the future, and for Barack Obama.

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

    Let's put it this way: because Obama is black, the media thinks its okay for the Clintons to say he should be VP (this is the Rosa Parks syndrome, the media just wants to say that he can't sit on the front of the bus when he is leading in pledged delegates), that Florida and Michigan should be seated when Obama wasn't on the ballot, and that Hillary Clinton can still win the nomination even though she would have to win by 60% in every remaining state. And let's not forget that Hillary still has more superdelegates than Obama, even though he is leading in the popular vote and in pledged delegates. That is because of racial bias. And by the way, I think it would be good for CNN to discuss what will happen to Hillary when she wins the nomination (it probably will happen because no matter how far ahead Obama is, he has to sit in the back of the bus), because she'll lose the liberal white vote and the black vote, as well as the votes of many white voters (let's not forget CNN, before you decided that there's such a racial divide, you forget that Barack won in states with little or no black populace, such as Iowa, Wyoming, Colorado, Vermont, etc.). I don't think these voters simply voted for Obama because of his skin color. That is an obvious insult to their intelligence. Imagine if an Obama supporter would have said that gender is the main factor in the women's vote for Clinton? I really think that Hillary would have become hysterical. LOL! What is good for the goose is good for the gander!

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. James

    If he were a white man, the Clinton campaign would have conceded by now opposed to play the race card.

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. Roman, Philadelphia

    This woman is hurting the Democratic party and more importantly, she's hurting America. Someone needs to shut her up. To come out and say that Obama is where he is because he is black, and then accuse the other side of racism because she was called out on her original comments is beyond ridiculous. She is appealing the worst in human nature and I for one am disgusted.

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  12. Amy, Kazoo

    I really don't think you can be so general as to say his success is because of the color of his skin. True, there are states where a large portion of the population is black and has voted for him. But in those same states, a large portion of the white population voted against him for that reason. Racism can run both ways, that's true too. But it doesn't make it right. I believe that both of these candidates have gotten to where they are for several reasons:
    name recognition
    history making
    some experience
    some inspiration
    but most of all, I think that they're where they are because the Bush administration has all but destroyed our nation. I think that's why dems are out in record numbers. If the two candidates were in their positions solely because they have what it takes, they wouldn't actually be there. People like Biden, Dodd, and Richardson would be in the front and the history makers would be long gone.

    This is a very precarious situation we're in. Times like these call for reality checks for sure, but they call for RESPECT even more.

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  13. Daisy In Georgia

    Ms. Ferraro has been in politics too long to make such an ignorant statement. Americans will continue to set themselves back with this type of mentality. Senator Obama is winning because America wants a change from the norm. Clearly, Ms. Ferraro is stuck in the past and definitely stuck on stupid.

    Th statement that Senator Obama is as successful as he is in this race is based on his race is obsurd. He is succeeding because he is qualified, his politics are different and the people of America are ready to move beyond race. Apparently Ms. Ferraro is not ready to move beyond race, she is not ready to accept the fact that a man's content and character are more important than the color of his skin. Ms. Ferraro needs to close her eyes and see Senator Obama as the man he is - educated, good for American politics, a man of good character and more importantly, a man who refuses to subscribe to the low tactics that many politicians are subscribing to because they are behind in their political aspirations.

    Ms. Ferraro, Senator Obama is being nice to you albeit undeservedly. On a personal note Ms. Ferraro, Senator Obama does not need you, he's doing a fine job fundraising and getting his message out. Having you campaign or fundraise on his behalf will set his campaign behind. Your day has come and past, let's keep it that way.

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  14. Tone

    The Democratic party and some of its constituents have shown me in the past month that they are really no different than republicans, the one thing that deliniated the difference between the parties for me in the past was the attitudes regarding race. It seems that the majority of white democrats arent as liberal as people think. The liberal faction is a minority in the democratic party and the predjudiced folks seem to hold the keys to hillary success. So the line that separated the republicans and democrats in regards to race has been obliterated, IMO.

    It has now been suggested by latinos that they dont vote for Obama for two reasons, #1 the Clintons have name recognition and #2 Obama is black. It has been suggested that Obama wouldnt be where he is because he's black but thats an out of place affirmative action reasoning and When Obama defended himself and denounced that statement it was said he attacked that person because she is white. Anytime a black person earns a much deserved spot it is some how attributed to race and special circumstances created for US.

    Its painfully obvious that the Clintons will seek to win by any means necessary including playing the race card insidiously because they have some evidence that crap will work. The Clintons are political chess masters and theres a rhyme to any reason they do anything. They are not as stupid as people think. But they are smart enough to destroy the party in the process to get what they want and in striving to have it their way only, they are no different than bush and rove.

    I would encourage all black people to take a cold hard look at the democratic party and ask yourself what has the party done for you to warrant your membership.

    if Obama loses the nomintation because of political strong arming, vote republican.

    Great post Tired of Clinton

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. Lana

    Okay lets see Barack is getting most of the Black vote because why? Is that not racist? Please explain the difference. Lets be real.

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. Xavier, Washington, DC

    Her comment is ridiculous. Obama has a better political resume than John Edwards did when he ran in 2004. Edwards came in 2nd and was the VP nominee. If a first term senator with no previous experience was qualified, why not a first term senator with eight years of previous political experience?

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  17. Jim Dandy

    If bad things happen to Ms. Ferraro – she says it is because of the racists.

    If bad things happen to Ms Clinton – she says it is because of the right wing

    Are they seperated at birth – are they twins?

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  18. TSD from Houston, TX

    She ought to be ashamed of herself. Her comments are self centered and low blows to the Obama campaign. Anybody who agrees with this dinosaur of a woman should explain to me how Obama won Utah, Iowa, Maine, etc. Not only did he win southern states with strong black populations, but he won random states that most people discount. He won because his campaign doesn't care about your race or gender, it's about people. Obama is trying to unite, not divide. Shame on you Ferraro.

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. Mike in Houston

    I suppose that everytime someone makes a negative comment about Hillary, they are sexist.

    It was a racist comment and she knows it. Senility seems to be the norm of Hillary's top advisors (Ferraro & Bill).

    It seems the Clinton's want African-Americans to follow, not to lead.

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. Dean

    A "fact" must have some basis of support. What is the support for this fact? It is Ms Ferraro's opinion. Actually my opion is that this is Ms Clinton's doing – who put her up to it. If all you need to support a "fact" is a strong opinion – then let's just say that this too is a "fact".

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. Jim

    I find it very interesting that the Clinton campaign jump down the Obama campaign's throat for an "off the record" comment. (that almost everyone agrees with. Now that someone on her campaign makes a blatant racial comment, Clinton only says that she does not agree with her statement but everyone has the right to express their opinion. Why is it that she hasnt asked her to step down, when it would be the right thing to do.

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. Josh

    She IS right.

    What other presidential candidate has ever been taken seriously, when he hasn't even FINISHED his FIRST national senate term?

    Ok, next, why is Obama?


    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. PJ

    I'm interested to hear where Geraldine's logic comes from when she says Obama is where he is because he's black. Obama is where he is because he's a uniter. Obama being black wasn't winning him the popular vote with African Americans 2 months ago. Where's her logic?

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. Texas Democrat

    This woman's comments are horrendous and extremely offensive. She should be fired immediately. She is obviously speaking on behalf of the Clintons and they are saying anything to win. If Obama looses this nomination because of Clintons' racist comments and antics, I will NEVER in my adult life vote democrate again. This is ridiculous! Blacks are discriminated against more than any other race on this earth. When Blacks finally make a little progress, idiots like Geraldine intercept with racists acts and remarks. God – please help our country!

    God Bless Obama!

    March 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. Deadly Buddha

    Angelina Julie
    How can you explain states like Vermont, Colorado, Minnesota, or Wyoming? Did he win because of the huge black population?

    March 12, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14