March 24th, 2008
05:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton campaign blasts Obama supporter's 'blue dress' comment

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Obama and Clinton camps have been trading increasingly negative rhetoric."]
(CNN) - Senior Clinton advisers blasted Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign Monday after a major Obama supporter in Iowa compared Bill Clinton unfavorably to Joe McCarthy and referenced the blue dress at the heart of the impeachment scandal.

"When Joe McCarthy questioned others' patriotism, McCarthy (1) actually believed, at least aparently, the questions were genuine, and (2) he did so in order to build up, not tear down, his own party, the GOP,” wrote Gordon Fischer, a former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, wrote on his blog. “Bill Clinton cannot possibly seriously believe Obama is not a patriot, and cannot possibly be said to be helping — instead he is hurting — his own party. B. Clinton should never be forgiven. Period. This is a stain on his legacy, much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica's blue dress."

Fischer was referring to President Clinton’s comments over the weekend that a race between John McCain and Hillary Clinton would be a contest between two people who love their country, which some Obama supporters - including former Air Force Gen. Tony McPeak – have interpreted as an attack on Obama's patriotism.

Fischer later removed the post from his blog, replacing it with an apology. ”I sincerely apologize for a tasteless and gratituous comment I made here about President Clinton,” he wrote. “It was unnecessary and wrong. I have since deleted the comment, and again apologize for making it. It will not happen again. I hope my readers will accept my apology and we can move on to the very important issues facing our state and country. Thank you.” Fischer endorsed Obama last fall.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Clinton aides said Fischer’s decision to attack the New York senator in “starkly personal terms” reflected “gutter tactics that (the Obama) campaign is now deploying.”

“It would appear to be that their high-minded rhetoric seems to be falling short,” said spokesman Phil Singer.

"This is now the Obama campaign’s primary message to the American people," said spokesman Howard Wolfson. "Not to build him up, but to tear Senator Clinton down."

He also dismissed Fischer’s apology. "That's all well and good… In my opinion the remarks of Gordon Fisher are very much in keeping with the campaign Senator Obama is running. So I don't know why he would apologize."

They also distanced themselves from remarks this weekend made by Clinton supporter James Carville, who seemed to compare Bill Richardson’s decision to endorse Barack Obama to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.

"I'm not an expert on the topic to give a good answer," said Wolfson, who added that he would not have used those words and that in his view Richardson had served his country honorably.

UPDATE: Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton responded: "As Senator Obama has said repeatedly, comments like this have no place in our political dialogue and he strongly rejects them," said Burton.

In an e-mail to CNN's Richard Greene, Gordon Fischer said of his decision to remove the post: "I took it down becuase it was wrong. And stupid."

UPDATE at 3:29 p.m.: “I was quoted accurately and in context, and I was glad to give the quote and I was glad I gave it,” Carville told the New York Times, after Wolfson told reporters that he would have offered his apologies if he had made the remark. “I’m not apologizing, I’m not resigning, I’m not doing anything.”

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (262 Responses)
  1. People Of Color See It For What It Is

    McCain, our war hero, is old and mean, who don't show alot of skill when it comes to the economy. I wonder if he's shell shock! What other real choice do we have!

    March 24, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. Sick to my stomach

    Wow, this race is getting quite tiresome. I think Pres. Clinton was playing on people's doubts about Obama. I can understand that, people are thinking it. I am – we need a patriot. Is Obama a patriot? Not sure.

    March 24, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. Robert in Albuquerque

    posters to forums like these on both sides of the isle, Dem and Rep are becoming pathetic. ALL people in office are shady... Hillary AND Obama alike. Get used to it.

    March 24, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Dawn in Florida

    Hillary and her campaign are like kids on the playground that bully everyone and then cry NO FAIR when the underdog fights back.

    Obama 08

    Disappointed Hillary supporters like myself before I woke up....its not too late to jump on the Obama train.

    Moms for Obama 08

    March 24, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. Mike

    Wake up America. How do you spell evil? H-I-L-L-A-R-Y.

    March 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. Yes

    Boy we all sure have become PC. I mean you can't say anything now a days. Maybe we should all become a bunch of mutes. This is America people, freedom of speech use to be in high demand. Now you get hunted down, denounced and rejected for stating your OWN opinion. What have we become? a nation of hall monitors, thats what.

    Suck it up you wimps!

    March 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. Paul

    The Clintons can dish it out but they can't take it.

    Bill's comments were clearly a "hidden" message toward an attack on Obama and media outlets noticed it before the Obama campaign.

    Also, this guy who made the blue dress remark is not part of the Obama campaign team so why are you Hillary supporters attacking Obama. This was an indepentent person attacking the Clintons, NOT OBAMA.

    GET A LIFE as John McCain likes to say.

    March 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Levae

    Hillary is just a liar and her team is so lost. 35yrs of experience and she is losing the race to a ROOKIE. AMERICA IS REJECTING THE CLINTONS. PLS GET THAT THREW YOUR THICK HEADS. TAKE YOUR BACK DOOR DEALING AND RETIRE.

    March 24, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. pd4hillary

    Florida and Michigan Dems along wih Hillary supporters, July 3rd is the date set to change party affiliation if Hillary does not get the nod. Mark it on your calendar and spread the word on the blogs.

    March 24, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. Michael, Texas

    More and more MCcain is looking better in Nov.

    Thanks Hillay we will now have another 4yrs of Bush Jr.

    Unless you stop and drop out, so the DNC can try and fix the deep cuts made buy you, and bill.

    March 24, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. MY

    Shar, I find it funny that you have a problem with Obama taking a vacation most likely with his family, but I bet you do not have a problem with Clinton having 5 million laying around to loan her campaign and charging them interest. These blogs can be fascinating.

    March 24, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. Angela

    Obama doesn't play the victim. That honor goes to HRC and her silly campaign staff. She/they keep up the double standard. When the shoe is on the other foot or the heat gets turned up on her, they cry foul. Get over yourselves. I'd vote for McCain before I'd vote for someone without honor, character or integrity.

    March 24, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Shannon McMurphy

    Obama is now running the most negative, abusive campaign I've seen in a long time. What's his problem? Isn't he still in the lead?

    By throwing mud at Clinton he covers himself with it. The guy hasn't got any substance or much of anything else to offer, except a 20-year history with a racist pastor.

    And for those of you who can't seem to remember, HILLARY is running for president, not Bill.

    March 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Go Hillary!!! Cosmic Comedy Queen!

    Children, stop now. Hillary is the only fit candidate.

    March 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. Ed

    If we start responding to all comments on the blogs by supporters of either candidate we will never get to the issues. This supporter, a former Democratic State Chairman endorsed Obama in September 2007. This is not a statement from the Obama campaign. The stories by the news organizations and the comments by the campaigns exaggerate the story. The comment was not about Senator Clinton (attacking the New York senator in "starkly personal terms" and reflected the "gutter tactics that (the Obama) campaign is now deploying" . The person removed the comment and apologized as he should have. Maybe more people should remove their blogs and apologize from what I have read. This isn't even news and the comments by the Clinton spokesman is over the top.

    March 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. California Voter

    It's pretty bad when all that someone can dig up is old, old news about the Clintons. Really sounds more like all that Republican talk, rather than coming from Democrats. However, Obama has a history of ruthless and dirtly politics: From a story about how he first gained public office in the Illinois State Senate: (Chicago Tribune April 4, 2007): The day after New Year's 1996, operatives for Barack Obama filed into a barren hearing room of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. There they began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer, the longtime progressive activist from the city's South Side. And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama's four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot. His overwhelming legal onslaught signaled his impatience to gain office, even if that meant elbowing aside an elder stateswoman like Palmer. A close examination of Obama's first campaign clouds the image he has cultivated throughout his political career: The man now running for president on a message of giving a voice to the voiceless first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it. One of the candidates he eliminated, long-shot contender Gha-is Askia, now says that Obama's petition challenges belied his image as a champion of the little guy and crusader for voter rights. "He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?" Had Palmer survived the petition challenge, Obama would have faced the daunting task of taking on an incumbent senator. Palmer's elimination marked the first of several fortuitous political moments in Obama's electoral success: He won the 2004 primary and general elections for U.S. Senate after tough challengers imploded when their messy divorce files were unsealed. Hence, his rapid ascent to power…

    March 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  17. anonymous

    Can Obama people please stop this hate. President Clinton didn't say that Obama is not a patriot. Why do you have to distort reality of his words? He said exactly what we all want–for the Democratic partic to stop tearing itself apart and just look at the facts of what candidates are offering instead of all of the stuff in between. He is totally right, and those of you who are saying that he referred to Obama as not patriot want to continue the fighting. STOP! it's time for us to stop attacking each other and focus on the issues. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

    March 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  18. Robert

    HA ha ha ... this is so funny! I am really going to hate it when the candidates actually begin talking about something serious for a change.

    March 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. Susan

    He only told the truth-something the Clintons are not capable of.

    March 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. Eric S

    Go Hillary, Obama is nasty and tasteless.

    March 24, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. For Obama

    what comes around goes around is what I always say. Hillary can dish it but cannot take it.

    And in my opinion by Bill Clintons speech I took it the same way. Hillary and Mc Cain are patriotic and Obama is around a bunch of controversial non issues, so he is not patriotic enough. That is exactly the way I took it.

    I also feel that Clintons are hypocritical to be saying anything about controversy instead of issues when they are full of scandal themselves.

    Obama/Edwards 08

    March 24, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. BobW Rochester, NY

    Would you lie about your combat record? Hillary lied about hers (Tuzla) and she wasn't even in combat. When is CNN going to report on Hillary's lie about her trip to the balkans and being under sniper fire? Whenare they going to report on how Hillary has padded her resume when it comes to experience? It seems they are giving one man's anger more coverage than they did the story that sparked the anger. Bill once again threw Obama under the republican bus and CNN wants to overlook it.

    March 24, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  23. Sue

    First of all. What Bill did is past and should not be a part of Hillarys campaign. THat is so wrong and hurtful. Don not judge until you have been there done that!! Obama keeps his mouth shut until someone tells him what to say. He has no clue!!! THe Clintons are not corupt and dishonest! Do some research. Every single person in this world has made mistakes!!! THank goodness we can learn from them to become better people. We have all done things in our past that we wish we could change. The name calling on this blog is just not right. We are supposed to be a civil society that is able to look at the ISSUES (suprise!) and make our decision. What has been said is in very poor taste and Fischer should be ashamed. I say go Hillary and if she is not the nominee then no vote!!

    March 24, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. Paul

    I know it's negative, but the Blue Dress comment is hilarious. We don't need another sexual affair back in the White House. I hope Bush had the carpets cleaned. Ha Ha ha.

    March 24, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  25. Takow

    The looser to all of this is Bill Clinton. He will never get the respect he gained as a president. The Clintons don't care for the party nor their daugther's interest who might one day run for public office. The Clintons will never recover from this self destructive attitude.

    March 24, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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