Thursday, March 13, 2008

Clinton advisor resigns over Obama racist comment

A Hillary Clinton adviser has resigned over her comment that Barack Obama would not be ahead in the race for the White House if he were not black.

The Clinton campaign confirmed Geraldine Ferraro had stepped down from her role on the finance committee of Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign after making the racially charged remarks about Sen. Barack Obama. Geraldine Ferraro, a vice-presidential candidate in 1984, announced she was stepping down from an honorary role on Mrs Clinton's finance committee. Earlier, she had told US network ABC that her remarks had been "spun by the Obama campaign as racist" but were not. Ferraro notified Clinton by letter Wednesday that she would no longer serve on Clinton's finance committee as "Honorary New York Leadership Council Chair". Obama in turn rejected the idea that being black was a big advantage. Clinton has distanced herself from the comments, quoted in a US newspaper interview last week.

The row flared up on Tuesday, the day of the Mississippi primary election, which was convincingly won by Obama. The result is not decisive but boosts his lead in terms of delegates at the August convention where the party will choose its White House candidate. With the Republicans' race settled, their presumptive nominee, John McCain, has been focusing on a nationwide fund-raising drive.

Ferraro wrote a letter to Clinton, saying: "Dear Hillary, I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what's at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen. Thank you for everything you've done and continue to do to make this a better world for my children and grandchildren. You have my deep admiration and respect, Gerry," read the letter, first reported by CNN. "I am sorry that people think this was a racist comment," Ferraro said in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" Wednesday.

She declined to apologize directly for the firestorm she created when she told a local California newspaper that "if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position." Ferraro told Sawyer she was "absolutely not" sorry for what she'd said, suggesting she had tried to pay Obama a compliment. Ferraro said she was saying that "the black community came out with ... pride in [Obama's] candidacy. You would think he would say 'thank you' for doing that. Instead, I'm charged with being a racist." Ferraro told "GMA" she was drawing a comparison to her own history, contending that if she had not been a woman Walter Mondale would not have chosen her as his running mate in 1984 -- a point she also made in the newspaper interview.

No comments: