August 7th, 2008
02:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama weighs in on racially-charged contest

(CNN) - Barack Obama weighed in Thursday on a contentious Tennessee primary race between a Jewish congressman and an African-American challenger that has been fraught with charges of racism and anti-Semitism.

The contest — between Rep. Steve Cohen and challenger Nikki Tinker — has drawn national attention for incendiary ads from Tinker’s campaign and fliers from her supporters. In one, an announcer says "While he's in our churches, clapping his hands and tapping his feet ... he's the only senator who thought our kids shouldn't be allowed to pray in school."

Another uses an image of the Ku Klux Klan because Cohen did not support the removal of the statue of a Confederate general from a Memphis park.

"These incendiary and personal attacks have no place in our politics, and will do nothing to help the good people of Tennessee. It's time to turn the page on a politics driven by negativity and division so that we can come together to lift up our communities and our country," said Obama.

Tinker also ran against Cohen in the 2006 primary battle to succeed Harold Ford Jr. in representing the majority-black Memphis district.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Rob

    Did the Jewish guy make bigoted statements?

    The black guy calls the jew racist. The jew calls the black atheist?

    How are racist and atheist comparable attacks?

    Obama could have said quit race baiting. He criticized both.

    When are people gonna see that Obama has antiamerican, promuslim sentiments beating in his heart?

    His pastor was a life mentor. His step-dad was a muslim. His pastor is friends with the nation of islam. Jews ought to realize he is not sympathetic to them, he is sympathetic to the cause of black america which often runs hand in hand with islam.

    Obama's mother was 17 years old when she conceived him, living away from her parents in Kansas as a freshman in college in Hawaii, 2 months into her first year. His dad was 24 or 25 years old, a foreign student from Kenya, and statutory raped her. Mom and dad both atheist. Obama had little to do with either parent after 5th grade, this man has no roots other than Rev. Wright.

    Repubs are gonna slaughter him in court of public opinion.

    August 7, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Willow, from Iowa

    Why Cohen was clapping in Churches, yet voted against children praying in schools? That's called "separation of Church and State." I agree.

    There should be no mention of race, no mention of the KKK (unless he actually has ties to that), they should be issue based campaigning. People sometimes think they get sympathy by race baiting. It doesn't work on the federal level and it won't work anymore on the state level. I don't know enough about these candidates to give a knowledgeable answer. Obama was right, "these incendiary comments have no place in politics."

    August 7, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Truly Independant

    The name calling and the polics of fear are the refuge of the disperate and the close minded. Most people on these board need to get out of their comfort zones and experiance other races, creeds, and political viewpoints. Use your intelligence, don't just be a minon of the pundits. Think for yourself and understand both sides of the argument.

    I also want to ask the Obama supports to follow you candidate and stop using all the variations of "old" to describe Macain.

    August 7, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. peakarach,des moines,IA

    Barack Hussein Obama: What did or didn't you say 2 your pastor for 20 yrs Wright? I think Hussein Obama is a joke,hypocrite,liar,phony and a flip flopper candidate in the america history period.

    August 7, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. fairandstraight

    Tom B., enough of the bs already. That church was far for racist. Speaking about the history of black people in america does not mean people are racist. That BS didn't hurt Obama in the primary and it won't hurt him in the general election. If it's God's will for Obama to be president in November of 2008, he will be.

    August 7, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. el polacko

    no wonder jesse wants to cut of his obamas, barack is now the new ambulance chaser. doesn't barry have other things to worry about right now other than a primary in tennessee ? is this what a barack presidency would be like : 'race issues' 24/7 ?!

    August 7, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. seeing the truth

    Tammie From Cleveland Ohio August 7th, 2008 3:02 pm ET

    Why do the blacks always have to pull the race card in everything they do??
    Not only in politics but in every aspect of life. They still think we should
    compensate them for slavery over 100 years ago.
    ummm...only a few years since those white boys dragged that Black man behind their truck in Texas. the white boys were called good kids just having a little fun...IN THE MEDIA. Katrina...Blacks were called refugees...according to the FBI if a Black person and a White commit the same crime, the Black person is more likely to get the greater sentence...look i know your brand of stupidity is the minority among whites but GEEEZ try to keep it to yourself sweetie, you make Good white people look BAD

    August 7, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. Souther Star, TN

    I'm from Memphis and I just voted for Steve Cohen. Tinker is desperate and does not have a firm grasp on the issues that concern us as a city or a country. Steve Cohen has done a great job as the 9th district Congressional Representative and I hope he continues the good work. Not too many AA believe as Tinker does and use race as a wedge to achieve personal gain. She was really behind in the polls and she needed something to try to give her a boost in the final days. She really doesn't understand you far back she sets us all. How pathetic!

    August 7, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. American

    This is just sad but expected from Tenn. they have ran ugly stuff before, one place I'll never visit.
    2008 and still ignorant! When afraid of loosing run on fear that seems to work .

    August 7, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. biffington, biff


    if someone is LYING on you..... and saying that your energy policy amounts to a tire gauge...


    what problem do you have with THAT...

    p.s. this thread was about racial politics

    August 7, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Boston For OBAMA

    TO PARIS...............don't believe the hpye. Barack Obama DID NOT play any race card against McCain. You tell us exactly what it was......please.

    August 7, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Boston For OBAMA

    correction HYPE.

    have to watch my fingers

    August 7, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. leon0146

    This PUMA is tired of the Obamamania of his fake platform based on the corrupted school of politics from Chicago

    Obama has injected the race card in the election from the very beginning. Look at his record please and you will find the real man behind the fake promisse of change and hope

    PUMA action in the Convention to show the DNC that we disagree with his coup to put Obama as the nominee. He was selected not elected remember that. This election will go history as the major mistake of the Democratic Party

    August 7, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  14. bill for barack

    Which Confederate general ?
    It really does make a difference.
    Need more information here, folks.

    August 7, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. Vig

    DUMP OBAMA – we want Hillary Clinton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 7, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  16. Bayou Joe

    Yes, we need to look beyond a persons race, gender, age and look at the person's heart and mind. When you do this we will get the best
    people in office. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way in real life, because people are hung up in the past. Get over it and get a life.

    August 7, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  17. deroy

    OK, Obama weighed in. article does not state what Obama said?

    August 7, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  18. What if?

    C from Texas....This is why racist will never die because the Blacks want to keep it alive so they'll have something to cry about…………
    Speak for yourself.....If I’m not mistaken that was a complaint from racially prejudice whites, as you put it was crying about, “what about me if Obama become President“. Race is a problem with all race, it’s just some play the game in the old way, is racist behind doors, but not really racist in public.
    Obama is biracial so he can tell us all a lot about living with prejudice from both races.

    August 7, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
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