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. Cesar Chavez. (Ex-Democrat for McCAin)

    Mediocrity (Democrat Party) and Poverty for Obama
    Excellence, Superiority (Republican Party), Distinction, Quality, Brilliance for McCain.

    August 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. Tammie From Cleveland Ohio

    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.

    August 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. Jeff

    Oh please! Obama is quick to denounce using the race card in someone else's campaign but it doesn’t bother him to use it if he thinks it will help his own. He makes me ashamed to be a Democrat!!

    August 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. Billy J -Austin-Tx

    Puh-leeez.....

    I am sure jewish guys are allll about shared values with the klu klux klan. When will we get a political system that informs voters about the candidates and doesn't just push 'buttons'. It cheapens us all as citizens of this grand experiment.

    August 7, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. C from Texas

    "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"

    ----------------------------------
    Are you joking, this is a part of American history. This shows who the racist are, should we forget our past because Blacks think it's racist? Maybe we should get rid of all the Mexican flags and England flags while were at it. This is why racist will never die because the Blacks want to keep it alive so they'll have something to cry about. Remember the Civil War didn't start over slavery, wish some people would get over it.

    August 7, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. White Independant

    Is she the black Hillary?

    August 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Kelby from Houston, TX

    When did the Tennessee primary race draw national attention? I didn't get the memo
    I mean...oh never mind. I give up

    August 7, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Walter

    Good for Obama. We have to condemn sleazy, dishonest campaigning regardless of who commits it.

    Just because McCain is the new champ in this lowest division of political competition doesn't mean that there are no Democrats down there in the gutter with him. And a few of them are African-American. It lends great credibility to Obama's campaign when he calls them out.

    August 7, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Nando, Florida

    EBONY AND IVORY its been this way for thousands of years and will always be !!!

    August 7, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. NoMcSame

    Obama is getting it on both ends from Hillary and from McSame. White people hate to see black people in the role of leadership. I saw it in the navy and I see it on my job. But we are strong and will deal with it but those of you whom happen to be white and support Obama in a way get a chance to walk in our shoes and see for yourself what we go through.
    Look how fast and easy it was for the Hillary supporters to jump on to the ship of the enemy. They would rather go down with someone that does not share their point of view in no way than to vote for or see a black man as president. The reason that they give for doing it make you scratch your head and wonder has America changed at all. Bill Clinton could not see it in himself. It's like the old saying I like you as a person but please don't marry my daughter. Hillary and Bill of all people are standing in the way of Obama more than the republican party itself. We have a long way to go people and if Hillary and her people stand in the way of Obama becoming president by doing something stupid and underhanded at the convention she will NEVER get the vote of most Obama supporters if she ever runs for anything.
    Obama08 with or without the CLINTONS

    August 7, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  11. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    I feel sorry for the people who live in that district, having to be bombarded with that non-sense...........but all americans feel that pain, having to indure the slime machine of the McCain campaign.

    August 7, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. GINA, OHIO

    I JUST CANT BELIEVE HOW HARD IT IS FOR SOME PEOPLE TO LOOK IN THEIR HEARTS AND DO THE RIGHT THING!! INSTEAD, THEY CHOOSE TO LET ALL THE BAD THINGS IN THEIR LIFE DOMINATE THEIR CHOICES. AND THOSE BAD THINGS ARE ALWAYS THE WRONG CHOICES!! IT REALLY IS SO EASY TO LIKE PEOPLE FOR WHO THEY ARE WITHOUT PREJUDICE IF THEY WANTED TO. BUT THEY DONT WANT TO!! THEY GET CONSUMED WITH SO MUCH NEGATIVITY! AND USUALLY THEY ARE MISERABLE!!!!! THATS TOO BAD!! LIFE IS GREAT WHEN WE ARE ACCEPTIVE OF OTHERS!

    August 7, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  13. kathryn

    I thought Roland Martin talked yesterday in his editorial that "the Obama campaign is afraid to inject any race in to this process" and yet here Obama is injecting himself into a racially charged issue that has NOTHING to do with him. HHHMMMM does'nt sound too afraid to mention race when it helps him get a little attention, HUH? Someone please get a note to Roland so he can accurately state the Obama talking points on his next "objective analysis" of how the race is going.
    Kathryn Amherst MA

    August 7, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Chris

    Rep. Steve Cohen is a racist as he called a journalist "these Armenians". He is also a Genocide Denier and a shame to the US congress.

    August 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. NotFallingInLine.org

    Barack Obama is too unprincipled a human being to be "weighing in" on such important matters, and the DNC should have done so much more help Harold Ford, Jr. in 2006.

    Hey, Howard Dean, did you even read my letters to you in 2006 when I asked you to do something to help Harold?

    And now "Party Unity, My A$$!" leaders like Darragh Murphy, the treasurer of PUMA PAC are telling members of the coalition that they should not question "Party Unity, My A$$!" leaders as their members donate money and work hard for the "Party Unity, My A$$!" cause.

    It's a world gone mad...

    Knoxville Puma

    August 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. isaias leon

    yo soy panameño pero pienso que el barack Obama puede ser un buen presidente ya es hora que el pueblo americano busque algo nuevo para su pais es lo que va pasar en nuestro pais panama en mayo 2009 nuestra eleciones veremos cara nuevas y eso es que ayudara a tener mentes fresca y creo Obama debe ser esa diferencia ojala pudiera estar en toma de posicion en la casa blanca

    mister Obama just doit

    from panama
    isaias leon

    August 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. Independent NYC

    If she is already in congress shouldn't she have a record worth running on regardless of how short the resume is there should be something there to demonstrate her ability to represent her voters. If not then its clear why she has gone negative and she needs to loose this election in order to demonstrate that this is no longer the way to win elections. Slim is not constructive.

    August 7, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. Joe Kiloz

    Mr. Obama you should reconsider your continuing stoking of and involvement in race issues in which your words and actions run contrary to the public expectation.
    No one had brought up the issue until you did a couple of months ago and most recently a couple of weeks ago against Senator McCain..
    You are where you are because most Americans are colorblind.

    Most Americans don't care where you came from nor who your parents were. You will be judged overwhelmingly on your policies, but a growing number of voters you have insulted with the race issue will turn against you big time in the privacy of the voting booth.

    For a candidate who professes "change," you're seen by a growing number of Americans as someone who is bent on using race as an issue to try to benefit you.

    August 7, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. hillary

    BO made false charges over and over and over again. just can't vote for him. GO JOHN!!!!!!

    August 7, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. DAN

    Didn't Obama himself recently used the race card against the republicans by saying that they will try to scare you because I don't look like these other guys that are printed on our paper bills? We know he used the race card against the Clintons with Clyburn's help. What a hyppocrite!

    August 7, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  21. Typical White Person

    I'm surprised that he didn't defend Tinker and chastise the rest of us for not understanding her "experience" and why it has led her to make these statements.

    August 7, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. jimmy

    A RACE BETWEEN TWO POLITICIANS WHERE RACE HAS BECOME AN ISSUE IS FRAUGHT WITH REPERCUSSIONS IN THE NATIONAL ELECTIONS . IT DOES NOT MATTER IN THIS INSTANCE WHO FIRST RAISED THE ISSUE. THE OPPONENTS IN THIS CASE
    INVOLVES A JEWISH MAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN .
    OBAMA HAS ENTERED INTO THE FRAY WITH GOOD REASON AND
    HOPEFULLY TONE DOWN THE RACIAL RHETORIC IF ANY.
    TENNESSEE IS A SOUTHERN STATE BUT HAS A LOT OF AFRICAN-
    AMERICAN VOTERS. WE HOPE THE TWO POLITICIANS WILL STOP ATTACKING EACH OTHER PERSONALLY AND REFRAIN
    FROM RACIALLY CHARGED REMARKS.

    August 7, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Travis

    Why does Obama have to weigh in on this? It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Presidential election. His only "tie" to this is that he's black and the woman running the questionable ad is black.

    Great ploy media!

    August 7, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Cindy

    In other words.. Obama sez,"Quit it, Tinker..."

    August 7, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  25. Jim Schimmer

    McSame is definitely a racist! No doubt.
    He can't stand the fact that Obama will be president.

    besides, he is too stupid to realize that too, lol.

    August 7, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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