June 4th, 2008
10:05 AM ET
13 years ago

BET founder to push for Clinton as Obama's VP pick


Watch Johnsons comments to CNN Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Billionaire businessman Bob Johnson, a close adviser and friend to Sen. Hillary Clinton , launched a campaign Wednesday to persuade Sen. Barack Obama to offer the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ticket to Clinton.

Johnson told CNN's "American Morning" that Clinton knows about his push but "she didn't direct me to do it."

A day after the final two primaries, Johnson sent a letter to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Wednesday to lobby the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Clinton as Obama's running mate. He said it needs to be done for the sake of party unity.

"There's no question that Sen. Clinton will do whatever she's asked to do for the party and she will certainly ... entertain the idea if it's offered," Johnson said.

In his letter directed at the Congressional Black Caucus, Johnson wrote:

"As African Americans we agree that the stakes in this election are far too high to take any chances that this party will not be unified from the top to the bottom in our effort to gain control of The White House."

He further wrote:

"You know as well as I the deep affection that millions of African Americans hold for both Senator Clinton and President Clinton. ... But most important, we need to have the certainty of winning; and, I believe, without question, that Barack Obama as President and Hillary Clinton as Vice President bring that certainty to the ticket."

Johnson, who founded Black Entertainment Television, also owns the Charlotte Bobcats basketball team.

He told CNN he was not trying to limit Obama's options, or force him to pick Clinton.

"My letter was not a pressure letter," he said. "This is Sen. Obama's decision.

"If the Congress members can come together and agree as I do that it would be in the best interest of the party to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket, they carry that petition to Sen. Obama," he said.

"This is not a pressure. This is elected officials giving their best judgment."

Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night, according to CNN estimates of the delegate count.

He praised Clinton in a speech on Tuesday evening and said she will be central in the battle for universal health care and efforts to transform energy policy and lift children from poverty.

But in her speech after winning the South Dakota primary, Clinton said Tuesday night she would make no immediate decision on her next steps.

Obama and Clinton spoke by phone for a few minutes early Wednesday. He told her he wants to "sit down when it makes sense for" her, said Robert Gibbs, an Obama spokesman. She indicated she believed that would happen soon, Gibbs said.

Johnson created a stir and drew wide criticism in January for comments he made at a Clinton campaign stop in Columbia, S.C., that some interpreted as a reference to Obama's acknowledged drug use as a teenager.

In defending the Clintons' record on civil rights, Johnson said, "To me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood - and I won't say what he was doing,
but he said it in the book - when they have been involved."

Many people believe Johnson was referring to Obama's drug use, which the senator publicly wrote about in his memoirs, though Johnson later said he was not.

soundoff (516 Responses)
  1. berksdan

    Oh give it up already. She lost the nomination. And did so using every dirty trick against an honest, upright candidate who had integrity.

    Why would he want her as VP? Would you want her next to YOU for the next 8 years?

    I didn't think so.

    June 4, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. different takes!!

    dear Leon,
    you have a funny way of listenning.......were we both listenning to the same speech?

    June 4, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. Alonzo Shannon

    If I were Obama I would not select Clinton as my VP. Anyone with the background of the Clintons could be the cause of things happening that might elevate her to the top job. Sometimes history repeats itself.

    June 4, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. No More Clintons, CA

    Hillary ran her campaign like running the Tatanic. From the inevitable entitlement to the nomination to a sore loser.

    The Clintons are Tatanic ship-load of NEGATIVITY and cannot be trusted.

    June 4, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Tre (Dallas TX)

    I would rather take our chances,and lose than put Hillary on the ticket . She just knocks the luster off of Obama's message.

    Obama 08

    June 4, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Dex Dean

    This is absurd in that the Clintons on the night that was to be Obama's and this countries that they continue to play old line politics. Perfect reason for Obama to keep her off the ticket. What she wants??"? Give me a break, they lost, he now calls the shots and I only hope (Michele tell Barrack) that she is not on his ticket as she and Billy Bob do not represent change. Remember what he said about you Barack! They represent more of the same! You may remember, way back when an Obama supporter called Hillary a monster who will do anything to win. That has proved to be true. Forget the swing states and her 18 million votes, this is the beginning of a new era, the only rules are out with the common person now calling the shots.

    June 4, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. john oluwa

    people like bob johnson are such selfish fools was he not the same person that accussed barack of doing stuff(drugs)in the street when the civil right match was going on all of a sudden he is pushing for hillary to be vp.Hillary wants to blackmail barack into taking her as the vp yet up till now she has no found it fit to acknopwledge him as the winner was it not hillary who said that mccain will bring his experience to the white house,she will bring her 35 yrs to the white house while barack will bring speech.then you fair weather friends like bob johnson is pushing her to be barack's vp

    June 4, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. No More Clintons, CA

    What a STUPID idea!

    Never antoher Clinton again!

    June 4, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Regina Askia Williams

    Hillary Clinton,s defiant streak, stubborness, close mindedness devisiveness and arrogance are the traits that led her to loose this contest. How would Obama accomodate someone blinded by her own agenda to the peril of the party's bigger agenda. Her speech today at the jewish conference threatened to undo the wise and carefully planned approach laid out by the Obama team, with veiled threats of war and unilateral demands sure to induce non coperation by opponents ..... a pattern that she is sure to repeat as VP. There must be another stalwart in her team that Obama could work with. That dream team idea is loosing traction. HRC feels that all should answer to her. There cant be two captains on tha same boat

    June 4, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. bernard, macon, ga.

    How can HRC make a good VP and she can't even let go of the thoughts that she is a better President even when the race is over? We have spoken, and we elected Obama to be our choice for President. Let him decide who he wants. I'd like to ask Mr. Johnson if he would have hired a person under him who thought he wasn't fit to run his company and thought that he wasn't fit for the job? Would you?
    I am not sure why my comments always go into moderation while some of these other radical comments seem to get posted two or three times some days. I guess you have to keep the intelligent comments to a limit. We would'nt want anyone to find out that there are actually people who still think for themselves.

    June 4, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Roy, New York

    Hillary should NOT be on the ticket. Her husband brings too much drama and she is selfish and calculating. Why is it that the White House congratulates Obama on clinching the nomination but Hillary Clinton did not? Her vague, defiant speech made it seem as if Obama was an also ran. Meanwhile Obama congratulated her in a very gracious and respectful manner.

    June 4, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Ruthie, GA

    Obama needs to use the ABC rule when looking for a VP, Anyone But Clinton.

    June 4, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Willam from Texas

    All you Hillary haters obviously don't know that it will take both of them on the ticket to provide a landslide victory against McCain, otherwise we will have a Bush/Gore situation in Nov. Obama may win, but it will be too close to call.

    Us true democrats don't want to settle for just sliding by, we want a landslide, something that will cause the republicans to say "ouch, that hurt"

    June 4, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  14. Didn't drink the Koolaid!

    Obama supporters are a hateful bunch it seems on these forums. Do you think that you don't need the 18 millions voters who voted for Hillary? Naive you were in voting for Obama for primaries and caucuses and naive you obviously are for the Presidential Election in November. This isn't a Democratic Primary in November. If you continue to insult Hillary and her supporters with your hateful and arrogant talk you will NEVER get her supporters to vote for Nobama. You need Hillary as the VP. Don't think so? Wait until November when the Koolaid man loses to McCain. You can all blame yourselves then for choosing the weaker candidate to begin with and then being arrogant or clueless enough to think you can win the Presidential Election with half the Democratic voters that voted in the primaries..

    Obama/Clinton or write Hillary in or vote for McCain.

    June 4, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. Texas Girl

    BoB Johnson go away after using sterotypes to create a billion dollar industry.

    June 4, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. jim

    Absolutely NO. That decision ultimatly lies with Obama. He is the ship;s captain and he needs not be pressured to choose her. There are many other qualified individuals to choose from. She has wasted her chances by utter defiance as recently as yestarday. Yes, she may contribute some how, but the notion that Obama can't win without her is CRAZY. That is the same under-estimation they treated him with from the beginning that saw him win the nomination. He will win the same way against John Mccain in November.

    June 4, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. John Doe

    Please! Now suddenly he knows what Obama needs? If Obama ever takes Hillary as VP, he needs to hire a food tester and Michelle needs to start worrying.

    June 4, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. TESAP

    ??? leon, you are clueless and your comment are without merit...

    June 4, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. skunkrat The Marine

    Adding Hillary makes sense considering the divisions that has occurred over the course of the Primary. I think a joint ticket will instantly unite (95%) the Democratic party and place a dynamic team in the white house.

    June 4, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Is this the same guy who was trashing Obama? I thought he was in basketball? When will the Charlotte Bobcats ever win 40 games, be a .500 team.

    Dr BET, please concentrate on BB!!


    June 4, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. sue calgary


    "Obama doesn't need HER on the Ticket! It's time she stopped serving self and rally around to campaign on Obama's behalf to ensure a Democrat is in the White House in December like she keeps saying she will.
    She is such a sore loser and so UNGRACIOUS!!!!!!!!!"

    June 4, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. One America

    Why does the Hillary camp think that they can force OBAMA's hand? Bob Johnson cares nothing about community. He only care about money. I can't respect a person like him.... Barack should pick that person he wants.....

    OBAMA 08

    June 4, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Michael

    Well I think as long as McCain does not win...whoever Obama picks as a VP I will support him/her regardless of what has happened in the primary.

    Democrats Unite against McCain '08

    June 4, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. thruthseeker

    Leon you are another delusional hater. No one is asking for blind faith. Where have you been for the last 15 months while Obama has been under a microscope? All anyone can ask is that you look at him with blind eyes, meaning not judging him by his color first, wihout giving him a chance.

    June 4, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. JT, AZ

    I think that Senator Clinton is too much of a liability to put on the ticket.

    Genuine Demomcrats will vote for Senator Obama whether she is the VP candidate or not.

    However, she is so despised by the right and many moderates that she would prevent him from reaching cross-over voters.

    June 4, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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