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. Sebastian

    It's Teneesee ... birthplace of the Klan .... what do you expect.

    Nathan Bedford Forrest was probably the "general" in question.

    It was the Tenneesee GOP that tried to malign Mrs. Obama. They'd have never done that to a white potential 1st lady.

    I really don't want to see the media ( Fox, ABC, CNN, NBC, CBS) always go running to Senator Obama as though he must speak on every topic where an African American is involved. He should take that off the table, if they dont' have the good sense to.

    August 7, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. informed florida voter

    It's a given. If we don't hand over the key's to the city to every black person that runs for office, we are going to hear charges of racism. Apparently, the concept of earning your respect and way in life wasn't high on the list of things taught in black households. It's never going to change. Black people will never appreciate that certain things had to happen thru the course of history to make life better for them. My ancestors never owned a slave but as a white person I will always be held accountable for slavery back in the day. Never mind that millions of blacks in Africa are suffering and exsisting in a hellish way of life, the spoiled gang banging drug dealing young blacks in America will never understand that if their own people had not sold their ancestors into slavery hundreds of years ago, they would most likely be living their lives in Africa right now.
    No, it wasn't pretty or even humane, but the fact of the matter is that we do not control destiny and fate. The good lord had a plan and life is playing out according to God. The ones that suffered and paid the price for expanding the horizons of the black race were the ones who deserved to be revered and honored. Not some young punk who thinks the world owes him something when he's never done more than sell drugs or lay up at home on welfare. I'm not responsible for the slavery or misdeeds done hundreds of years ago and I'm tired of the whining and crying. I scratch out a living just like everyone else and the race issue is a non issue to me and millions of others. There will always be whites who hate blacks and blacks who hate whites, it's just life. Everyone should be treated equal and receive the same basic rights. The blacks need to stop the race card BS because it just hurts their cause.

    August 7, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |

    Nikki Ticker thinks she is entitled because she is black. Ford's brother said "no white man is qualified to represent black folks." Ford and Tinker MUST GO! She is playing of the fears of black folks. DONT FALL FOR IT.

    August 7, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Tired of W, OH

    This is nothing compared to what the repubs are going to do when they really get desparate.

    August 7, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Ed

    Obama: Pot, meet kettle.

    August 7, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Belle Senator Obama tries to play the race card for HIS OWN PERSONAL advantage, but he is against others doing the exact same thing? How about that! YUP certainly was all Senator Clinton's fault...wasn't it now.

    August 7, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. Peter E

    And after all of this, democrats will still say it is the republicans who are the racists... Even when two of their own fights like this...

    August 7, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Eli

    LORD HOW MERCY, the CHOSEN ONE has stepped in to help. WHAT ALL CAN HE DO!!!

    August 7, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. republican

    This election is starting to get me nervous.
    it seems that one mistake can cause a huge riot in 2008



    August 7, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. carlo

    Texas Trail Dog-Let the door knob hit you where the dog should have bit cha.

    Obama can't win with some of you, can he? I want to hear McOld's response. Why hasn't he been asked about this? Is it so hard to believe that a man who is half black/half white has the right to speak about both races and not be racist? How can he be racist against himself?

    August 7, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. mary, new jersey


    August 7, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. Former republican white man from california for Obama

    Brian in Trinidad he did not convince anyone that the Clinton's were racist no one her believes that! not even republicans. Bill Clinton opened that can of worms on himself! Try again with more lies and hate about Obama it is funny these people don't even care about issues they only care about there pathetic emotional self. Much like the radical right in the GOP These Puma idiots could be the end of us all.

    Obama 08

    August 7, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. Tired of W, OH


    (end rant)
    Come on, people. Let's type like grown ups here.

    August 7, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. California Gold

    This is what a leader does: remind all parties of the work to be done, shed the damaging attacks, and get back on track.

    Of course McCain would never take this stance. This is his style and by keeping on the low road proves he is unable to lead.

    August 7, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. Joyce memphis, tn

    I live in Memphis and we DON"T LIKE MS. TINKER!!! She has no substance and no policies. And she has the nerve to put Obama's face on her flyers!!! She needs to put McCain and Rove's face on them because she is following their tactics. All she does is tell people why we shouldn't vote for Cohen instead of telling us why we should vote for her. Cohen voted against the removal of the statue because he didn't want to cause racial tension...If that statue was to been taken down then the white neo-Nazis would fight for the renaming of MLK park and Civil Rights Museum. Our black mayor and black city council agreed with him 100%. He voted to take Christian prayer out of our school and replace it with a "moment of silence" so the children of all religions would be free to pray to their god. Today is election day and I don't think she will get that seat. If so then Memphis will be put back 50yrs.

    August 7, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. cas

    TEXAS TRAIL DOG – Well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 7, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. Obama supporter"White, 60 year old woman

    So sad the bitterness, close mindedness and pettiness of the few Clinton supporters who can't accept reality. Don't you have a hobby you can take up, some volunteer work you could occupy yourself with or put on a bake sale to help pay off her debt?

    August 7, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Clinton/McCain

    "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.

    That's some good advice. Too bad the hypocrite (Obama) can't follow it.

    August 7, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Ransford

    Why are Americans so racist? everything there is about racism.. Remember the words of MLK. "One day my four little children, ... will not be judge by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character" I am afaid to say that that dream died with Martin. Thank God I live in Canada.

    August 7, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. The Truth shall set you FREE!!!!

    Texas Trail Dog ........We Know Our History ...Experience is the Best Teacher

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

    biffington, biff
    if you have to play race politics in order to win, then you shouldn't be running.
    my 2 cents .here is A Nickel Shut the H_ll Up

    August 7, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    "he's the only senator who thought our kids shouldn't be allowed to pray in school." then he's the only sane senator you have; kids SHOULDN'T be praying in school!! GO REP. COHEN!!!

    obama was asked how he felt about the situation and he answered. what he said is true, enough with the ugly carl rove/newt gingrich ugly, lying way of playing politics. let's hope this country and the world have gotten as ugly as they are going to (i know, i dont believe that either).

    August 7, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    My God, they're all out in this thread. Yikes.

    August 7, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  23. Vanessa

    People who try to distract from racism by throwing out the term "race-card" are people who consider an accusation of racism to be more damaging than racism itself.

    When you in your heart divide people by race you are leading this country to what we see in Iraq with the Sunni vs. Shia.

    If McCain or any politician running for office can't win on their ideas and convincing arguments for our future, they shouldn't win. Leave race out of it!!

    Come together America!! Right NOW!!

    August 7, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  24. Reality check #1

    Obama's campaign has injected more race, has been more sexist, and has divided this nation more than any campaign in history. The nerve of him to speak about anyone being divisive. Obama should take a good hard look in a mirror. He has alienated Democrats from their party and created a new group of Republicans and Liberals. His divisive ways will come to light in November when once again the democratic party is defeated.

    August 7, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. Dawn

    A race-baiter calling out a race-baiter...isn't that special.

    August 7, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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