August 7th, 2008
02:10 PM ET
13 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. v.a.

    tinker's finished now.

    August 7, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. demwit

    Obama weighs in on race baiting? Again???

    August 7, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    He could kill two birds with one stone. Help them, and himself.

    Offer to host a debate or town hall meeting between these candidates.

    August 7, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. Former republican white man from california for Obama

    Good for him I am liking the fact that he takes responsibility for the actions of others in his party. The radical right republicans just deny or push blame elsewhere they never own up to there mistakes even when there is audio or video or even millions of witnesses. This radical right that has taken over the GOP must be stopped they will be the end of this country! No Extremist America not now not ever!

    August 7, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Obama supporter"White, 60 year old woman

    Another very direct response fitting with Obama's message of change.

    August 7, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. True Blue

    Looks like Barack found his "Sistah Souljah" moment just like Bill Clinton succesfully did in 1992.

    Good job, Barack! I don't care what these pundits are saying- you've been leading all summer and a lead is a lead.

    August 7, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Tom B.

    Obviously Obama has forgotten his 20+ year affiliation with a church that was very radical/racist.

    August 7, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. Paris

    Obama drop the act.

    Then why did you play the race card against John McCain?
    You did the same thing in the primaries.

    August 7, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. Mike in MN

    Well said Obama. Now just do it your self, stop the negativity in your own campaign. And that goes for McCain also. Both are going negative and both need to stop.

    August 7, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    These kind of attacks have no place in politics and they never have a place at our dinner table. In our house we chose to teach love and not to embrace ignorance.

    August 7, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. JD

    As Irishmen, Sens Obama and McCain can both appreciate the negative affects of racism against a people or race. Thank goodness the Irish have moved past the dark days of the early 20th Century.

    August 7, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Great job Obama throw her under the bus. I am sick of these of the wall race baiters. White and Black lets get rid of them all.

    August 7, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. DR. YES

    president obama is already helping to solve problems with political nasties.he has done more for the country,already ,compared to bush/mccain.he's making nasty politicians a threatened species."a change is a comin' "

    August 7, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. Typical White Person

    "These incendiary and personal attacks have no place in our politics..." said Obama.

    Did he say, "I'm just messing with you" after that *stinging* rebuke of the lies Tinker is putting out?

    August 7, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. TerryDo--PumaPac-40+

    My answer to this racially charged attact against Rep. Steve Cohen is for all the citizens of Tennessee to come out and vote overwhelming for Mr. Cohen to demonstrate that Americans are fed up with this BS of racism.

    Racism in America perpetuated by the true Racist!

    Vote for Steve Cohen!!!

    August 7, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Daki

    America must realize we are at a crossroad in our history,many people fear those unlike them and we refuse to confront these things head on.America hides true hatred and racism in codessuch as,he does not have the experience,do you really know who he is,he is arrogant to think he can do what other white men or uppity.This is just code for you are black boy and you donot belong here,find your place.

    August 7, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. seeing the truth

    was the same question asked of mccain

    August 7, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Good call

    Wow! So "it-racism" is not just happening in the presidential election, it is happening during state level campaigning. Not shocked at all. This country is NOT ready for the change that it continues to "shout" for.

    August 7, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Daniel, Houston

    Is this really what our country has come down to, unwarrented 'race'baiting' accusations? People, make this STOP. The politicians are going to keep using these tactics as long as it affects the vote in their favor. Say "NO" to all politicians who falsely accuse opponents of using race in an election. Say "Yes" to thinking about vote before placing them. Say "Yes" to reading multiple sources, critically considering all points, and avoiding hasty emotionally-based votes. THIS is what will save our country, adding intelligence back into politics.

    August 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Tony Z- MD

    I agree. It has no place in politics. If this does not show he is ready to lead than America might not be melting pot anymore.

    August 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Abby

    Agreed.

    August 7, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Texas Trail Dog!

    LOOK YOU AFRICAN AMERICANS NEED TO STUDY UP ON YOUR HISTORY. YOU CAN'T BLAME WHITES FOR ALL YOUR TROUBLES. WE DIDN'T START SLAVERY IN THE FIRST PLACE. THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES WASN'T ABOUT YOU. YOU WERE JUST A TAG ALONG PART OF IT. THE WAR WAS CAUSED FROM INDUSTRIALIZATION NOT SLAVERY. THE REBEL FLAG AND THE CONFEDERATE STATUES ARE HISTORY. SO GET OVER IT. SLAVERY WAS WRONG NO MATTER HOW IT ORIGINATED. BUT YOU BLACKS WERE NOT THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAD, "LONG AGO," FOREFATHERS WHO WERE ENSLAVED. I AM SO TIRED OF YOURS AND OTHER WHITES RACISM. IT IS TIME FOR ALL TO SHUT UP AND MOVE ON. PEOPLE VOTE FOR WHO YOU CHOOSE AND QUIT CALLING YOUR OPPOSITION NAMES. IF OBAMA WINS THEN I WILL GO FOR IT. IF JOHN McCAIN WINS i WILL ALSO GO FOR IT. I JUST PRAY THAT THE MAN WHO GETS THE JOB HAS AMERICA'S INTEREST AT HEART AND NOT SOME SELFISH MOTIVE IN MIND.

    August 7, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Brian - Trinidad

    For a guy who convinced many Ameircans that the Clintons were racist, he sure sounds like the true hypocrite that many see him to be.

    August 7, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Matt-NE

    Following that statement, Obama promptly said, "Why are all the white people picking on my poor black self?"

    August 7, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. Marc PDX

    After using race prominently in the primary campaigns against Hillary, and after attempting to start it up with McCain last week (and getting burned) it now looks like Obama's setting out on an initiative to distance himself from race-based politics. BUT I doubt it will be for long. This has been one of the top plays from his playbook throughout the whole election process. He seems to have a need for this. But he'll try to disguise it for a while and look for every opportunity to speak out against it – as he is doing with this Tennessee case. What a phony!

    August 7, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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