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Geraldine Ferraro sparks controversy with remark on Obama

Comments that trailblazing Democrat Geraldine Ferraro -- now a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton -- made in advance of a weekend appearance in Southern California are rippling across the political scene today, the latest example of a surrogate causing headaches for the candidate they're supposed to be helping.

Ferraro didn't call Barack Obama, Clinton's rival in the battle royale for the Democratic presidential nomination, a "monster." But in an interview with the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Ferraro broached Obama's race in a way that diminished what the Illinois senator has accomplished.

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," she said for an article aptly headlined "Geraldine Ferraro lets her emotions do the talking."

She went on: "And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Well, of course, all successful national politicians happen to be "very lucky" to be who they are. A certain current president benefited from being the son of a former White House occupant. And a certain current contender wasn't hurt by being the wife ...

of an ex-president.

Ferraro's "analysis" also overlooks Obama's skills as an orator and the talent he's shown in assembling a first-rate political team that has outmaneuvered Clinton and her strategists in a number of key ways.

But what will gall many the most about Ferraro's take on Obama is that were it not for her gender, she would not be in a position where Clinton sought her out to be a high-profile member of her finance team or reporters seek her out for comment.

Ferraro, 72, had been in the House less than six years when Walter Mondale chose her as his running mate in the 1984 presidential campaign. Outside of her New York district and Capitol Hill, few had heard of her. She was picked because Mondale wanted to break a barrier -- selecting the first (and, so far, only) woman for a major-party presidential ticket.

The Clinton camp has distanced itself from Ferraro's remark. "We disagree with her," chief spokesman Howard Wolfson told Politico.

But it will be interesting to watch whether pressure builds for the campaign to sever its ties with Ferraro.

-- Don Frederick

 
Comments () | Archives (95)

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If Hillary does not herself make a public statement 'denouncing and rejecting' Ferraro's racist comments, we can only assume one or two things:

1) Ferraro is a big fundraiser for Hillary, so Hillary doesn't want to lose her

2) Hillary actually supports these racist comments.

Let's she which Hillary makes an appearance this time.

Geraldine was always an attractive and fairly bright candidate, but her intellect is slipping..
If Hillary were not married to Priapic Bill, the man who did not have sex with "that woman", and who feigned ignorance when she had lived with the man who had been mowing them down for years, she would be doing slip and fall cases and making nearly as much money as she and he are making now in the post presidency sweepstakes.
Instead she is running for the presidency and bottom feeding. Geraldine, shame on you.

This democratic primary is getting so heated and nasty, I'm think about voting independent this year.

What is normal person supposed to do?

The GOP is the same it always is. The DNC is splitting in half. Barack Hussein Obama is hiding from his own middle name. And Hillary is using every dirty trick she can.

Geraldine is absolutely correct. She said what most of us are thinking.

But do the Clinton camp "reject and denounce" her for those views?

Ask me if I care who said what about who! These type of things are becoming Lame.. This person said this and that person said something about someone. I would like to hear real commentary on what the canddidates have to say about economy, war, student loans, etc., Maybe because there is no difference or very little difference the bashing occurs. who knows.......I am getting tired of it and may go green.

Expect the Media to give the Clinton Campaign a pass on this. When Obama campaign staff say things that reflect poorly on his campaign, it's all HIS fault. But Clinton can't be held responsible for ANY of her staff's gaffes due to media bias for the Clinton family. This has been ongoing since the 1992 Presidency.

This is why newspapers and television news is dying out. The people who state it as it is are in the internet blogs, not the professional media with its debts and owners.

Rob H.

Well Geraldine Ferraro is right about one thing.... If Obama wasn't who he is, He would not be where he is . Barack Obama is fine upstanding young gentleman who has a vision for the future of our country . I can see now where Hillary's arrogance comes from. She is being advised by Ferraro. She says that no woman ( black or white would be in his position running as president ) She had a failed her run and Hillary is behind. To hear these 2 women talk...... no other woman ever deserves the opportunity to run for president. If I was a woman, I would be pissed. In her bid to slime Barak, she managed to paint all women ( black or white as hopeless.

Alas, the truth of the matter has finally raised its ugly head, and we can now all see the prejudice is, indeed, behind the actions of many who say they want equality. There you have it, folks, someone who's been considered a "great" national leader showing her true colors.

I thank the press for using their channels to illuminate this issue because (I believe) much of the resistance to embracing Senator Obama is ties to this very mentality. The fact that we are on the threshold of the first Black President in the United States is scary to many, unthinkable to others, and a smack in the face of those who have prided themselves on the greatness of the "one great" ethnicity.

It is my hope that we can finally start the process of waking up to the realities of prejudice in America and start our own journey to enlightenment.

What's that expression about people who live in glass houses? Good God, I'll be glad when this election season is over. But then 1 day after this one ends the next one will start.

I agree without a doubt; if Hillary wasn't a woman married and backed by one of the best Presidents these United States have had, she would not be in this position.

I wonder why some people find it difficult to accept the fact that Obama has accomplished alot and that he does not need affirmative action to be president. His academic qualification speaks volumes considering the struggles he had to go through. He is on equal footing with any presidential candidate in the past, now or in future. Ferraro represents the same old guards with the same old mentality we are trying to get away from. Dont hate, educate!

The only reason why Geraldine Ferraro's interview is stirring up such a controversy is because it's true.

Ms Ferraro was making some rediculous comments on NPR not long ago as well, claiming that the only reason Hillary is losing is because she is a woman. Now she is dragging out the race card. Seemingly, her only views hinge on her rather twisted perspective of racial and sexual discrimination. She seems to believe the former only exists as a positive and the latter only exists as a negative, and that both of these things are the only issues in this campaign. Just plain stupid, biased and offensive, this person.

Clearly this article was written by an Obama-supporter who basically turned around and did the same thing he was condemning. She said the only reason he is where he is is because of his race and the author said she's only there because she's a woman. This does nothing but cause conflict...and the author himself is a "third-generation Washingtonian." Does that mean he is only there because of his parent/grandparent much like Bush? Say what you want but don't condemn people for being judgmental than do it yourself and publish it for everyone to see.

oh wait, this comment won't show anyways, because the author must approve it...

Boy with Geraldine in my side I don't need enemies. I'm glad I voted for Reagan and Bush, and not her. I'm Hispanic and my race happen to be black. To say someone is where they are because of the color of their skin makes me just want to throw up. Mr. Obama is an accomplished young candidate. Mr. Obama's talent and the talent of his staff can't be overlooked. He has a message and a plan. He is my choice for President. It seems that Hillary and her team have been hell bent on humiliating Mr. Obama, so if Obama is not the nominee I'll vote for John McCain, he has the integrity that she certainly doesn't have. Character matters.

This election this season has certainly brought the worst of most Americans, or should I say uncovered the ugly truth about people this great nation. What a tragedy!

I have a noble solution, though. How about we tell Barack Obama and any other presidential contenders to crawl back into their den so that we can hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton because she belongs to the elite club? Then after 8 years of her presidency, we get back together and decide whether to hand the next presidency over to Chelsea Clinton or Jeb Bush because these two families are better Americans and are more deserving than all of us.

Clintons are trying anything to take it away from Obama.

Why cant they tell what Bill will do in the WhiteHouse again?

Is Bill "Client #139"?

Let's see how Billary are going to respond to these subliminal remarks by Ferraro. Where is Wolfson at this moment? The Bill and Hillary show want it both ways in this campaign. They will do a Wink and a Nod, and the comments will keep on coming. The Clinton's never have had integrity, and they never will. Sen. Obama may not win the nomination because of Hillary's win at all cost attitude. To think that I served 24 years in the USAF, and see someone like Hillary Clinton possibly being elected President makes me sick. Sen. Obama is our HOPE!!!

Here we are in 2008 and these closet racists really have a problem with a black president. Geraldine Ferraro must be envious of Obama because Mondale only captured Minnesota and Washington D.C. when he ran in the general election. She needs to wakeup and realize that Obama campain is superior to what she and Mondale had.

Funny, if Obama wasn't black, the race would have been over in his favor by now. Funny again, if it was always partisan we shouldn't fix it for the benefit of the country?

Another example of the difference between Obama and Clintons campaign. Obama's aide, resigned after callling Clinton a monster, Clinton does nothing when her surrogate says such diminishing statements

Here we go again...dare we bring up the indictments against here and her husband? Dare we mention that her gender was the only reason she was on a ticket that lost 49 to 1 against Reagan/Bush in '84? Something about glass houses comes to mind.

HILLARY CLINTON MUST LIVE BY HER OWN STANDARDS:

SHE ASKED BARACK OBAMA TO "REJECT AND DENOUNCE" MINISTER FARAKAHN.

IF SHE DOES NOT SO THE VERY SAME ON THE SMEAR,
RACISIT COMMENTS BY CLINTON SUPPORTER, GERALDINE FERARRO, IT WILL BE MORE EVIDENCE THAT
HILLARY CLINTON FEELS THERE ARE DOUBLE STANDARDS FOR HER...ONES IN HER FAVOR.

IF THE CLINTONS DON'T DO THIS IN STARK TERMS, THEY ARE PART OF THIS UNDERCOVER SMEAR OF
SENATOR OBAMA.

IT SUPPORTS HILLARY CLINTON WILL DO ANYTHING TO WIN..AT ANY COST TO ANYONE, INCLUDING HER OWN PARTY. A DISGRACE

Ferraro is simply speaking for Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton has said repeatedly that it is tougher being a white multi-millionaire woman and wife to the President of the US than to be a black man. Black men in the US have a free ride from society, don't you know? I am not an African American but I am still appalled and furious at such blatant lies, manipulation, smears and deceptions. AND the support of US media before the Teax and Ohio primaries that gave Mrs. Clinton the swing voters. Rush Limbaugh’s call for Republicans to cross over to vote for Mrs. Clinton to keep the race going and “bloody” Obama brought out over 4% of the so-called Hillary voters in Texas, and this fact has been supported by both Hillary precinct folks and exit polls. Hillary is gaming the system, wink, wink, playing the gender, race and poor-me-class (but I loaned myself five million of my own money as a good investment to win the presidency) cards

You're 100% correct, Geraldine. A white man with 12 straight victories would have the nomination already. Get over yourself and quit playing the race card to get Hillary elected. We have had white male presidents for years. Obama graduated at the top of his Harvard law class. Can you say the same for George Bush? How about Hillary Clinton? He is more than qualified no matter what his race is. Obama '08

Mr. Obama is not really a great orator. Look closely at his speeches... He says nothing. Granted, he does motivate, but so do many coaches and motivational speakers. So, let's just elect the best motivational speaker and be done with it. For goodness sakes, read the words of Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, or MLK... These men actually said something. Mr. Obama says nothing. NOTHING! I'm mostly an independent when it comes to my voting record. I've voted for Reagan both times, Perot in 92, and Clinton in 96. My words are not partisan, but i am concerened that we're going to elect a president simply because he's African American, good-looking, and makes us feel better. The hollywoodization of the U.S. continues....

Ferraro who? She made no impact when she was running as VP. And will not make one now. And I'm not sure who can argue Hillary is not Monster like or a flat out monster. She will do anything to ensure she wins. True Monster like behavior.

Black is the new white? Glory days! I've heard of this 'white privilege' thing, and now that the tables are turned, I'm quite excited to put it into action. What to do? Run for office? Seems because I'm black I'm a shoe-in for any office in the land. Oooo, there are a few private country clubs down south I'd love more than anything to join. Maybe I'll buy a home now that the mortgage banks are issuing sub-prime loans mostly to whites whose credit is as good as mine. I apologize ahead of time to all the white people who will be assassinated by black cops for just being. But hey, in Ferraro's bizarro world life is so easy for me i haven't the time to worry about that.

Geraldine Ferraro has made a boo-boo. I wonder if Hillary will renounce and reject her?

Also, I wonder where Geraldine studied...She does not know proper English. The statements should read, "If he were" not "If he was". It's elementary English 101 -- called subjunctive case.

I am sorry. Is there anyone left who does not know this?

Ferraro's comments are not only offensive, but absurd. Hillary Clinton was married to the president of the United States, which is the biggest reason she is famous. So this is a glass house Hillary's surrogate is throwing stones from. The second reason it's absurd is that black men are very under-represented in congress, so to suggest it is somehow helpful is nonsensical. If Clinton fails to fire Ferraro I'll consider the 'monster' comment in a different light...

Is it too hard to fathom that Ferraro may actually be speaking from experience? You make the point very well that she's one of the club, but seem to attck her for speaking from that position.

Geraldine needs to stop...What she needs to do is to prepare herself to accomadating Hillary for counseling at the aftermath of a humiliating and botched presidential campaign, which is likely to happen. Ms. Ferraro, of all people, can definitely relate to that. Losers gravitate to losers!

Her remark, "Perhaps if he (Obama) were a white man, he would not be in this position." Likewise, perhaps if Geraldine were a woman, Michael Dukakis might not have experienced such a lopsided defeat in the 1988 presidential campaign.

She's a typical politician, isn't she? Governer Dukakis' decision to prompt Ms. Ferraro to be his running-mate, in 1988, proved to be one his biggest miscues which eventually ended in his failure to be Commander in Chief. The nerve!!

The Democratic Party can’t win in November if we are not all together behind our candidate. The Clintons are igniting race and gender tensions because it is their only chance at winning. The problem with their plan is they will need us to come back together in November and that is going to be very hard if Senator Clinton’s camp keeps up all this divisiveness. The Clintons are going to hand this thing to McCain. She can't win the “Commander in Chief Debate” or the “Experience Debate” against McCain. Democrats, no matter who you support if this type of political tactics don't stop we are going to be stuck with 4 or 8 more years of Bush/McCain politics.

Well it's the truth, Obama has 90% of the black vote, black racism at it's best.

"Ferraro's "analysis" also overlooks Obama's skills as an orator and the talent he's shown in assembling a first-rate political team that has outmaneuvered Clinton and her strategists in a number of key ways."

Well said, Sir.

Shame on you, Geraldine! Shame!

We were proud when you served on the democratic ticket. Now we need you to regret your remarks and
give your full support to Obama for president.

As you know Bill abused his power with a young intern in the white house. You need to act so that he never has access to student interns again.

I remember your speech at Wells College. Ethics in govenment. Now you can support Obama the model of
ethics reform in the senate.

Going by their own standards, the Clinton campaign has to both denounce AND reject Ferraro's support, and also fire her. Anyone willing to bet on it?

When Hillary comments that she is the candidate of experience, does this mean that under her presidency we can expect the same kind of labor laws and healthcare that her experience brought to Walmart when she sat on their board of directors? Scary thought....

Wow. So it's not OK for an Obama staffer to say that Hillary has been acting like a monster, but it IS OK for Ferarro to say that the only reason Obama is where he is is because he's BLACK??? Where's the outcry to fire Ferarro? Such a double standard here. Personally, I'd rather see people like that stick with the Hillary campaign. It just helps to highlight the fact that Hillary is just more of the same old politics that we've seen for years now. I used to really like the Clintons. I still do to some degree. But their behavior in this campaign has really disappointed me.

I wish this would all just end. I used to look up Geraldine as a pioneer and groundbreaker. Now, I feel a little dirty... like she's been harboring racial and gender tensions.

If this continues, the democratic party is going to bust.

Ferraro is notorious for making disparaging remarks toward African American men who run for president.
Former first lady, Babara Bush pegged her just right when she called her a witch, minus the w plus a b.

I applaud Ms Ferraro for not being afraid and saying what has to be said. She is in the unique position of having been a VP candidate and can attest to the prejudice that women are subjected to day in and day out. What she is saying is absolutely correct so the liberals and the AAs should try to figure out how to make things right for everyone, including women. We hear the press and op-ed columnists writing plain nonsense about the Clinton campaign yet no one is crying gender slander. See the recent inflammatory article in the NYT trying to stir up more racial divide (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/opinion/11patterson.html?hp). We hear how Hillary has been exaggerating her foreign policy experience in Northern Ireland by citing one of the two Nobel Laureates’ comments, obviously the one who wants all the glory to himself. Why has the press not published the comments from John Hume?

“I am quite surprised that anyone would suggest that Hillary Clinton did not perform important foreign policy work as First Lady. I can state from firsthand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

She visited Northern Ireland, met with very many people and gave very decisive support to the peace process. There is no doubt that the people of Northern Ireland think very positively of Hillary Clinton’s support for our peace process, due to her visits to Northern Ireland and her meetings with so many people. In private she made countless calls and contacts, speaking to leaders and opinion makers on all sides, urging them to keep moving forward.

Anyone criticizing her foreign policy involvement should look at her very active and positive approach to Northern Ireland and speak with the people of Northern Ireland who have the highest regard for her and are very grateful for her very active support for our peace process.”

What nerve of her to say this. Obama is trying to unite everyone and she is trying to keep it divided. With friends like hers who need enemies. This is someone who backs Hillary Clinton. Your comments sickens me. I know you are past menopause so no excuses. This is very sad. You would have been better off putting a white hood over your head.

The Clinton campaign should be embarrassed by the racism and religious bigotry that has streamed out of their mouths since the start of the nomination cycle. Hopefully the voters will see fit to punish them in Mississippi today.


You know, it's tough looking at a Party that you always thought "stood up for the little guy", who always claimed to value civil rights.... yet seeing them tear down anyone who they feel gets in their way, using any tactic necessary.

The Party just sits there in silence. Between this, and the debacle with FL/MI, they've bungled this election, and quite possibly destroyed the Party. And I don't even think they have a clue what's going on.

Every email I've sent asking them to PLEASE speak out against these kinds of comments, just a blanket "stop", hasn't been even responded to, never mind resulted in any action.

I will do my best after this election to encourage democrats to switch to independents. Give your money for the candidate, not the Party. Let this monster bleed itself dry.

Obama is inspirational and has integrity. His appeal has nothing to do with being black.Hillary Clinton's tactics have given fodder to the Republicans and John McCain. For those of us who are against the war and hope for a less fearful, pugnacious diplomacy and foreign policy, she has been disloyal to the party and our efforts.
Why will she not reveal her tax returns, or the papers that would inform re her years in the White House? Those years were rife with turmoil, and it appears that her campaign staff now suffer from the "Clinton" style of administration.
Obama has not used so much dirt available re her in his campaign. He is decent and has integrity. Please support him. we need CHANGE.
Trudy Carter

Some people really make mockery of American politics and life. People like Ferarro and Co. drag American politics below the level of politics of some sickening corrupt third-world country. America is a great nation and must work to complete what Abraham Lincoln hat started: and end to “black-white” binary thinking. Obama’s mother is white, whiter than Ferarro! Only in America and those countries that ape her that someone whose mother is white or pale is not white. One would think that Tiger Woods' protest against the negation of his mother's blood in him would put an end to this nonsense. Is a person with a Japanese father and a white mother an Asian in America? Why is this "black"-"white" binary mindset so rooted in American national psyche and distorts Americans’ perception of reality? Rick above is totally right: All the American presidents from Washington to Bush are “black”.. This whole campaign raises a disturbing problem in genderism and gender discourse. It is meant to overcome discrimination, but it could easily be exploited in the hands of racist feminists and power addicts. Why did Mondale chose Ferarro as his running mate? Obama is a brilliant scholar – a former president of the Harvard Law Review. Ferarro is even blind to how Obama has changed the political discourse within a short space of time. Is that also due to his white-black skin colour? Jeez! Switzerland may not be perfect, but you don’t find this crude talks in Swiss politics.

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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