Clyburn calls for an end to Obama-Clinton spat
WASHINGTON (CNN) — House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, whose recent criticisms of Hillary Clinton helped fuel a heated back and forth between the New York senator and Barack Obama, said Tuesday it’s time for the two presidential candidates to move on.
“I am hopeful that our party will be allowed to lay out its vision for their country, and that cannot be done if all the focus is on distinguishing factors like race and gender rather than a shared and individual vision for where our country needs to go,” Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, told reporters on Capitol Hill.
In an interview with the New York Times Friday, Clyburn had said he was disappointed with recent comments from Hillary Clinton that some took to suggest President Lyndon Johnson had more to do with passing the Civil Rights Act than Martin Luther King, Jr. He also expressed frustration over Bill Clinton’s recent remark that the characterization of Obama’s record on Iraq as consistently anti-war is a “fairy tale.”
“We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics,” he told the New York Times. “It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone’s motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those. That bothered me a great deal.”
Clyburn said Bill Clinton called twice to explain what he meant by his comments — most recently, an hour after the congressman returned to the United States from a trip abroad. He also said he’s spoken to both Hillary Clinton about the issue, and has accepted the two’s explanations of their comments.
“I don’t think we ought to be so politically correct about everything that we say every time someone makes a mistake, ‘throw the person off the campaign,’ or something of that sort,” he said. “I think what we do is accept their explanation as to what they meant by what they said and go on. A lot of people who work in campaigns get very excited sometimes.”
He continued to insist he would not endorse any presidential candidate, upholding a pledge to the candidates and to the Democratic Party that he would stay out of the race ahead of the state’s key January 26 primary.
— CNN’s Alexander Mooney and Deirdre Walsh
Filed under: Barack Obama • Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton • South Carolina
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