March 12th, 2008
12:02 PM ET

Defiant Ferraro says she's being attacked because she's white


Former Democratic vice presidential candidate and former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferarro is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington in this file photo. Ferraro, a fundraiser for Democratic Presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., suggested Sen. Barack Obama only achieved his status in the presidential campaign because he's black. The Obama campaign called on Clinton Tuesday to denounce the comments.

Former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro continues to defend her critical remarks about Sen. Barack Obama.

In an interview with the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif., she's trying to turn the heat back on her critics.

"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says, 'Let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world,' you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," she said. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

No, you're being attacked, Ms. Ferraro, because your comments are stupid.

What's offensive to any African American who has achieved a measure of success is that whites try to negate it by saying it was because they are black. In her initial comments, she said, as an afterthought, that Obama is doing well because of his message and a good campaign. But she clearly stated that he's successful "in large measure" because he's black.

Well, Rep. Shirley Chisholm was black. And she didn't win in 1992.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is black. He ran in 1984 and 1988 and he didn't win.

L. Douglas Wilder is black. He briefly ran in 1992 and he didn't win.

Rev. Al Sharpton is black. He ran in 2004 and he didn't win.

Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun is black. She ran in 2004 and she didn't win.

Obama has won in Utah, Idaho, North Dakota, Washington state, Delaware, Iowa, Vermont and Connecticut. All mostly white states. So did voters there choose him out of white guilt?

An increasing number of voices say that the Clinton camp wants this race and gender debate because it helps them. Even several Democratic strategists have said as much.

And now Ferraro says her 40 years fighting discrimination gives her the right to make such claims.

Sorry Ferraro, it does not.

– Roland S. Martin, 360° Contributor

Listen to Roland's radio show interview with Rev. Jesse Jackson re: Ferraro's comments

Filed under: Raw Politics • Roland S. Martin
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Ginny Baumann

    I am the least likely person to ever make a racist comment. That said, I think what Geraldine Ferraro meant was – if he were a white man, where/who would he be? He'd be John Edwards, that's who, and where is J.E.now?

    March 12, 2008 at 8:27 pm |
  2. lukas

    While I think that Mrs. Ferraro comments were taken out of context, I believe she lacked wisdom in making those comments. She should have know that such comments would have only hurt Hillary's campaign and not in any way helped it.

    Also, I respectfully also disagree with Mrs. Ferraro comments. However, I do believe it is the intent of Obama's team and supporters to label her comments as racist. This I don't agree with and I believe it is Obama's team that is helping to create seeds of discontent and try to gain a political edge. This can be seen by many of the comments that the Obama campaign have put out on this issue. Again, I disagree with Mrs. Ferraro's comments and wisdom of speaking them; HOWEVER, this was a test for Obama to determine if he is the "OLD SCHOOL POLITICIAN" – OR – the new "SELF DESCRIBED NEW BRING EVERYONE TOGETHER LEADER". I think that Obama failed this test by allowing people in his campaign and supporters to sow seeds of divisiveness. Obama should have handled this in the manner that he claimed he stands for.

    Obama knows that Mrs. Ferraro has worked very hard against discrimination against anyone and is a liberal in the democratic party who takes on the causes of the "poor" and "disadvantaged'. Obama tried to bring shame to Mrs Ferraro in a more intense way than is deserving. Again, I conclude again that I disagree with Mrs. Ferraro comments and believe that she lacked judgement in making such comments.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  3. harry

    geraldine ferraro also made the same statement about rev. jesse jackson in 1984 .as stated by foxnews network.so this is her second time making such statement as barack obama being in this position because he is a blackman.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  4. MCooks

    I am a black woman and I have felt that Mr. Obama has done as well as he has because he is black and the black community is throwing their support behind him. I believe that if he was saying the exact same thing he is now, but was a white man, he would not have the strong support from the black community. I would like to add that part of the reason the black community is supporting him so strongly has to do with the fact that White America has embraced him. This makes it more likely that he will be elected. I have spoken with family and co-workers that have plainly stated that they like Hillary, but feel the need to stick with Obama because he is black. I offer the recent Mississippi primary as an example of the fact that that Blacks are rallying behind Mr. Obama because he is black. I find it unfortunate that the black community is so quick to support Mr. Obama because he is black. I think they will be terribly dissappointed if he is elected. They will then have to deal with the fact that he is just like the other politicians, he just happens to be black. I would also offer that the black community should have supported John Edwards. He is for poor and working people, period. This includes minorities and whites. By the way, why are white people so afriad to mention race? Why is it that Black people can talk about it, but whites can't.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
  5. Philip

    I don't believe that she was being racist. She is, however, wrong in her analysis and because of the topical nature of her comments, severely hurting Hillary's campaign.

    What's worse is that instead of sitting back and at least thinking about what she said and the responses, she shot back within a day with another inflammatory remark pointing out race. She is, at best, a third rate politician and a first rate helper of the Obama campaign.

    Surely, Hillary Clinton is not particularly adept at picking her supporters.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  6. Donna R.

    This is getting out of hand ! ! If they say something positive about Mr. Obama it is called racist, no matter what is said. It is sad to see how so many people are being called racist in this election, so much that it is now obvious of what has really been going on here. These are people who stood up for the African American community, and yet to help this campaign the Obama supporters are willing to destroy those who stood by them for so long. The race card is being played but it does not seem to be by those who were first accused. This is not the kind of "change" that this country needs. It is time to stop this nonsense and focus on this election and what is best for our country.

    Donna R. MI

    March 12, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  7. Shelagh Holmes, Seattle

    I believe that Mrs. Ferraro is deliberately stating and restating her racial view of Senator Obama's campaign success and in fact escalating her attack in an effort to keep the issue before the public. The Clinton campaign has regularly used this technique though for the most part it has been rejected by the public. We certainly don't need to give them the White House as a reward.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  8. Elaine Hughes

    It is probably something that should have been left unsaid, however, I believe without a shadow of doubt that it was taken out context. We only heard for a day about someone in Obama's camp calling Hillary a "Monster", but we have been hearing about Ms. Ferraro's remarks for several days now. What gives with the unequal media coverage? The media will help to defeat Senator Clinton, no doubt. This is such a historic event that all of us are fortunate to have the opportunity to witness. but I am extremely frustrated with the unfairness.

    March 12, 2008 at 7:26 pm |
  9. Vince Foster

    WHAT A LIAR !!!!!!!!

    Now Ferraro says OBAMA is playing the race card ??????
    Give me a break !!
    This is about what SHE said not what he or his campaign said. They didn't say ANYTHING until she did and all they said was that they didn't like what she said.

    LMAO !

    I guess now she is going to say that White people are oppressed !

    March 12, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  10. Lauren

    I just wish to God all candiates were kept hidden until the damn elections were over, so we could get a chance to check out their beliefs first and not ther DNA makeup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 12, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  11. Patty Detroit

    Why won't anyone state the obvious – Hillary Clinton would not be where she is today if she were not the former first lady. She does not stand where she is because of her own accomplishments. Her claim of 35 years of experience is, as Tom Daschle said, specious. Last week participants in the Peace talks for Ireland and Kosovo both denied any involvement by Hillary Clinton. She uses the George Bush tactic, if she says it enough we will believe her. I'm sick of the tactic, and I'm afraid that If she's president, she won't tell the citizens the truth.

    However, if she is the candidate, I will support her, I won't be happy about it though.

    March 12, 2008 at 6:45 pm |
  12. Regina in Pa.

    Ms. Ferraro's comments speak to her generation. It is hard for folks who did not live through the heyday of affirmative action to understand how insidious that kind of thinking is...how deeply it has penetrated the sub-conscious of a whole generation....
    What I think Ms. Ferraro was trying to say is 'the time is finally right for an African American and a woman to be true and viable candidates.' Unfortunately she fell back on generational jargon....and her public exit from Sen. Clinton's campaign is the price for her failure to consciously alter how she speaks.
    I hope we don't lose too many more bright, well intended people from both camps...it is the brilliance of the candidates and their teams that is making this the best thing we've had in a long, long time in American politics....

    March 12, 2008 at 6:44 pm |
  13. Jill

    Twitter-bated bull is all I see out of the masses of spiritually misguide people that are seduced sticking their heads in the sand; ignoring very important issues connected with this guy and his situation. Wanting a victory for the 1st time... Not a victory for America and Americans... Wrong is just wrong...

    I find it appalling that someone running for such a high office would not R-E-S-P-E-C-T that in its self. The freedom.... To agree we disagree! Without manipulation.

    Pleaseeeee.... From the words of his own mouth, you cannot have it both ways...

    The woman has a point.... It is just not politically correct for NEW era of ignorance that is being mislead and bred.


    March 12, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  14. Kim J

    Has Geraldine forgotten? Obama is also WHITE! Where is the pride and attribution of his WHITE culture/background/heritage? Does having a father of African descent negate his heritage from his white mother? I think not.

    There are two sides to this coin that make the VALUE of the man, Ms. Ferraro. You (and the Clintons) can't pick on one side of the coin, and think you're making a valid point. He's YOUR brother too...Sheesh!

    March 12, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  15. Judy

    I agree with you Roland, Geraldine Ferraro's remarks were stupid and she should have apologized. Her defense was only to antagonize the situation and only get angrier. Senator Obama got where is because he is articulate, smart, personable, politically savy, and educated, all the qualities she seems to have lacked in 1984 and now. He is also an absolutely brilliant role model for all children of every class, race and gender.

    March 12, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  16. Wilma, in Georgia

    I agree with Ms. Ferraro.

    March 12, 2008 at 6:29 pm |
  17. MDA

    As a counterpoint, why won't anyone say that Hillary is largely where she is because of her husband. HRC initially got elected to the Senate because of her husband. She has 6 years of elected experience. The rest of her "experience" is largely derivative. I am a white woman, age 58, who is an Obama supporter.

    March 12, 2008 at 6:28 pm |
  18. Kathy, Andover

    You're absolutely right: Ferraro is stupid.

    Now, as far as the racial divide (reported by CNN) in Mississipi. Do you think that has more to do with Republicans supposedly supporting Clinton? It ticks me off they can mess with our elections like that, in some states.

    March 12, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  19. Darnell Braxton

    I think this is completely out of line, I do know where she was going with this. Affirmative action and so on but there's a time and place for such discussions and that time is not in the middle of a historic race for the presidency. Where were these comments when Sen Clinton was by far the notable figure in the race? This should be about issues and not race or gender issues

    March 12, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  20. Laurie Stare

    It disturbs me that the sexist and racist comments are drowning out conversation on the real issues.

    March 12, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  21. Shabar

    Al Sharpton ran in 2004, Jesse Jackson ran before that. They didn't win. So Ferraro's statement makes no sense. What MOST of the MSM fail to point out when talking about race is Obama's "mixed" heritage and multicultural appeal. He was raised by his white mother and white grandparents in Hawaii. I believe that's a major factor why he's doing so well accross the nation. People of ALL races feel he can relate to them.

    March 12, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  22. andy

    Roland you know that if it wasn't for affirmative action there would be no person of either party running as president and thats the truth! And what she said I do not believe to be racist Oh but Im only a Mexican and Im not white or black so my opinion dose not count or will ever be posted right??

    March 12, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  23. mary

    If Obama is elected president, are we going to be engaged in 4 or 8 years of racial touchiness? It really gives me pause.

    March 12, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  24. Mike P

    For those who think Ferraro's comments are "stuipid" or "racist", please tell me what,other than black racism, could possibly account for Obama's disproportionate showing amoung black voters. His "accomplishments"? Name one – other than being elected and/or giving speeches full of cliched platitudes. His thinnly veiled implications that "change" means the first BLACK president are good examples. And,BTW, how many states would he have won without a disproportionate black vote? Is seeing and commenting on the obvious black racism ,racism ? If so, i guess being intelligent and observant is racist.

    March 12, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  25. Tammy

    Actually her right to free speech allows her to say whatever she wants. I've had African Americans tell me they are voting for Obama simply because he is black. No other reason. He's one of them, and that is the basis for the vote. He appeals to whites I talk with because he represents a change away from the DC establishment. If any other white female were running, he wouldn't be in this race. If anyone not associated with Bush were running, he'd be back in Chicago planning to buy his next house with help from an accused criminal. What I find most interesting is that when CNN and 360 first made race and gender an issue in a special, everyone decried it, told Randi Kaye all sorts of things, and slammed AC360 for bringing the truth to light. Randi is a white woman; Anderson a white man. I forgot. White people don't struggle just as hard as blacks to get where they are in life. You're wrong. You couldn't pay me all the money in the world to endure the hell Anderson Cooper has. And I'd bet Randi Kaye's rise as a journalist wasn't a cake walk, either. Funny how the tables have turned on the race and gender issue, isn't it, though? Defending Obama's race and struggle means this is about race. And the only reason Hillary Clinton is where she is politically is because women like Geraldine Ferraro broke the barriers all those years ago. Yet she's stupid because her truths ruffled your feathers.

    March 12, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  26. kmichelle_Troy, MI

    I hope most of the country has moved beyond this divisiveness. These comments tend to unite African American Voters, in the same way Bill Clinton lost the Black vote for Hillary back in South Carolina. Good Work Geraldine!

    March 12, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  27. kmichelle_Troy, MI

    Republican Alan Keyes has run for at least two elections and hasn't garnered 1% of the popular vote. Geraldine Ferraro's comments speak to her mind set. She's a 60+ year old woman, reflecting decades old thinking. That is why a new generation of interculturally educated Americans is the promise of a better future.

    March 12, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  28. David Russell

    Mrs.Ferraro is correct in her comment., Its the ignorant Obamorites that are always quick to play the race card but can not stand up to the heat of the truth. I am amazed people actually support Obama, he will single handedly try to destroy this country through the ploy of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. The last stage of democracy is when people vote to give themselves money, that will lead to our fall. If you can't afford something, do without. I for one, am not politically correct.

    March 12, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
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