Just Words? Clinton Camp Uses Obama's To Defuse Race Comments

(CBS)

From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro

PHILADELPHIA – While Barack Obama's campaign continues to hammer away on Hillary Clinton for comments Geraldine Ferraro made about him, the Clinton camp tried to turn the tables on Obama today. Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams brought up an interview Obama did in January in an attempt to defuse the situation.

In an e-mail sent to the press, Williams quoted Obama from an appearance on "Meet the Press" where he talked about race and comments from his supporters: "I think that, as Hillary said, our supporters, our staff, get overzealous. They start saying things that I would not say. And it is my responsibility to make sure that we're setting a clear tone in our campaign, and I take that responsibility very seriously, which is why I spoke yesterday and sent a message in case people were not clear that what we want to do is make sure that we focus on the issues."

Williams added, "We agreed then. We agree today. Supporters from both campaigns will get overzealous."

Clinton herself told the Associated Press today that Ferraro's comments were "regrettable."

The comments made by Ferraro, widely recognized for being the first woman to run for vice president in 1984, were published recently by a California newspaper.

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," Ferraro told the local newspaper "Daily Breeze." "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."

The Obama campaign expressed outrage at the comments made by Ferraro, saying that the Clinton surrogate was attempting to drag race into the context of Obama's popularity in a "divisive" manner.

An immediate connection was also made to the Obama campaign's dismissal of a top foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, for calling Clinton a "monster" last week.

Williams ended her email by saying, "Senator Obama's campaign staff seems to have forgotten his pledge. We have not. And, we reject these false, personal and politically calculated attacks on the eve of a primary."

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