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. Brian

    When Bush won the presidency in 2000 he ruled as the president of the Republicans of the United States. Obama needs to show he is a better man and offer the VP to Hillary. WE need a president of the United States NOT just a president of a part of the United States.

    UNITE America!

    UNITE the Democrats

    Obama '08

    June 4, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  2. Brian from NYC

    This is a thugish type act set in motion by the Clintons to hurt Obama. You will see over the coming weeks, her speech last night started it, that the Clinton's will make it impossible for Obama to choose her and then they (the Clinton's) will play the role of the victim to hurt Obama chances in November. She is setting herself up to run in 2012.

    June 4, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |

    Terry McAughluf (?) Clinton's Senior Advisor needs to come back to reality. It was not Hillary Clinton's night. They all need to open their eyes and close their mouths and listen to what is going on.

    Clinton on the ticket would be a disaster. Hillary has so much baggage and Bill is still collecting baggage and garbage. No amount of money can clean that up. With her it is about EGO and POWER. She would destroy the party to get that. It is only about Hillary.

    It's so sad that the Clinton campaign and all that are involved can't even congratulate with honest Barack Obama.

    I'm a 60 year old Republican w/women voting for Barack Obama and proud of it and proud of him.

    Congraturlations to Barack Obama

    June 4, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  4. Alice in Florida

    Congratulations to Senator Obama, but this life-long Democrat will not vote for him unless Senator Clinton is his running mate. I will change to an Independent and vote for McCain if she is not.

    June 4, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  5. Susie

    It would be nice for him to offer the VP to her, but she should decline. Why would she want a job with less power than she's had in the last decade? She can be more effective as a Senator. I also don't want to the woman who came closest to the White House get in there only on a man's coattails.

    June 4, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  6. David Waller Bertoni

    Choosing Clinton for VP would be the worst decision Obama could make. Right now, standing up to Clinton would demonstrate that he has a strong backbone and true leadership skills. She's behaving like a tin-pot dictator with delusions of grandeur, and he just needs to say "no." Of course, the pressure will be intense. She will push and push and threaten and threaten. Kind of like the wackos in the Middle East that Obama will need to deal with as leader of the United States. He needs to demonstrate that Clinton bullying, from both Bill and Hillary, has become a study in impotency.

    June 4, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  7. San

    Clinton, McAuliffe (sp?) and Wolfson should have to answer to INTENTIONALLY misleading voters since the North Carolina/Indiana primaries. I feel sorry for Clinton supporters because they were USED. The criminal use of bogus stats to raise money and create havoc–i.e. lying-should NOT be allowed in campaigns.

    Contact the Fed Elections Commission and let your voice be heard!!!!

    June 4, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |


    June 4, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  9. Dusacre


    June 4, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  10. Turning the page

    Bob Johnson proved very early on that he brings nothing to the table. Hillary would have been wise to pick someone else to advance this aspect of her obvious vp goals. This was a really bad choice.

    Congratulations Senator Obama. Thank you Iowa and Montana for a good start and finish!

    June 4, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  11. The Lady

    Please let Obama make his own choice for VP.

    June 4, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  12. Constance from FL

    How dare you! I am disgusted with Bob Johnson. How dare him think that he could strong hold Barack. You are nobody to everybody Bob. We know your agenda. You are not for Barack, but you are for Hillary, and Hillary is for herself. Didn't you hear her speech last night, all about "Me, me, me, I, I, I". In Barack's speech it was "We". Give me a break. You are dilusional if you think that Hillary can still win this thing. It's over. To Clinton: This is crazy. You have lost the bid. All you are doing is hurting the country. You are dividing all of us. Stop and realize that you are not the nominee.

    June 4, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  13. mississippi librarian

    Please no HRC on the Democratic ticket in the Fall. She has proven herself to be a liar and we don't need that. John Edwards is a much better choice, he and Obama both have the same concern for this country and its people. She is still lying about the popular vote, those thing were done to tear Obama down, but she did not succeed.

    June 4, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  14. Paul

    I think this guy should just shut up his big mouth. We hear enough from this idiot

    June 4, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  15. Mary IN AL

    No clinton VP. NO NO::NO NO NO! She is not worthy to be his VP with her rude, bully tactics. Senator Obama does not need her to win. He will lose more support than he would gain from her. She has a lawsuit pending and way too much bagage. She is a sore loser and does not deserve the honor. NO VP for clinton. You see where her campaign ended–in the basement of an unknown school. She did it to herself with her constant negative rhetoric against Senator Obama and she does not, does not deserve or need to be VP.

    June 4, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  16. Nikki

    Bob Johnson needs to go somewhere and sit his butt down! Who cares what he thinks! He said Obama was in the hood, hanging on the streets doing who knows what....so why now does he think Clinton should be a VP to someone like that? I hate when people use the "issues of the day" to suit their needs. Bob Johnson is a white man in a black man's body. Please Bob Johnson go somewhere and sit down because no one cares what you think...you jerk!

    June 4, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  17. BIG "V"

    Mr. Johnson, you really should be ashamed of yourself. First you spew poisonous venom about Mr. Obama in SC, and now you have the wisdom to proclaim that you know what is best in the name of unity for the Democratic party. I held your accomplishments with high regards not only as an African American, but as an American. You have lost credibility with me, and people that are close to me. You have truly given credence to the divide and conquer mentatility.

    Mr. Obama will not be PIMPED by what you perceive to be " FOR THE SAKE OF PARTY UNITY"

    June 4, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  18. Sam Rose

    Hillary is a liability–
    -in many ways-she proved that last night-

    Any respect I had for her as a woman–was lost last night-

    I am disappointed as a woman and a Democrat how she handled herself–

    No way to Hillary as VP-she has already divided the party-
    enough of the Clintons and their EGOs-

    June 4, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  19. Patricia- Indiana

    "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.

    Did the world flip upside down last night? Why should Obama have to ask anything of Clinton? Her final speech was a clear indication of her continued lack of unifying support for the democratic party. She had a golden opportunity to end her run with grace and dignity, but instead opted to show that her intentions continue to lie solely in the self absorbed Clinton realm.

    June 4, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  20. Chris, Middletown, CT

    You have to be kidding....does he understand that supporters (like me – as a Republican) – would not support Obama (as I have) with Clinton anywhere near the ticket....we realize that when you state you were "under sniper fire" – then we find out that never happened...that wasn't a "misspeak" – that was one of many many lies....and we don't want Clinton anywhere near the White House....I'm sure Vince Foster trusted the Clintons too

    June 4, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  21. ME

    I do not think he needs to pick her for vice president he needs someone with more experience to balance him sice everyone says he does not have a lot of experience he needs someone who is strong in his weaknesses because of his lack of experience

    June 4, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  22. Constance from FL

    Furthermore, I am a 24 yr old, black woman, and I can tell you that after the things that I have seen from Hillary and Bill, any black person would be crazy to think that these people have any of our best interests at heart. It's laughable!

    June 4, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  23. Justin

    I'm shocked and saddened to read many comments by Hillary Clinton supporters. Please read the following very carefully:

    These two canidates are very similar in views.
    There are only two differences between them–One is female. One is black.
    For the people who were behind Hillary, and now will vote for McCain.....

    Are you sexist... or racist? There is no inbetween.

    You're not for the Democratic party, because if you were... you would back whoever was nominated.

    It's really that simple.

    June 4, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  24. Terry

    If Hillary is not the VP he will lose. All Hillary supporters will vote Mc Cain or write in Hillary. Someone has to teach Obama the ropes he has no experience.

    June 4, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  25. wrob

    Get a grip! She's still saying she is the best candidate for President. Everybody but Hillary can knows that the nomination fight is over but she won't concede – anything with two heads is a monster. She will ABSOLUTELY NOT "do anything she is asked or can do for the Democractic party" unless it suits her personal ambition. Anybody can see that. That is NOT the change message that won.

    June 4, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
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