Former Bill Clinton adviser Dick Morris wrote in 2008, “As Super Tuesday nears, the Clintons will likely take their campaign to a new level, charging that Obama can’t win.”
“They will never cite his skin color in this formulation” Morris added, “but it will be obvious to all voters what they mean: that a black cannot get elected.”
Yeah, Hillary went there.
As the Democratic nominee now rails against Birtherism and the alt-right as both relate to Donald Trump, now is probably a good time to remember that Hillary Clinton wasn’t above race-baiting to try to take down Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic Primary.
“Hillary Clinton’s record on race is not great,” The Week’s Ryan Cooper observed in July during the Democratic Convention. “If she wishes to earn some trust on issues of racial justice, a good place to start would be with the distinctly racist undertones of her 2008 campaign against Barack Obama.”
Cooper noted, “As the first primaries got underway in 2008, and Obama began to slowly pull ahead, the Clinton camp resorted to increasingly blatant race and Muslim baiting.”
The Guardian reported in February 2008:
Barack Obama’s campaign team today accused Hillary Clinton’s beleaguered staff of mounting a desperate dirty tricks operation by circulating a picture of him in African dress, feeding into false claims on US websites that he is a Muslim.
Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, described it as “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election.” Obama has had to spend much of the campaign stressing he is a Christian not a Muslim and did not study at a madrassa.
The picture showing Obama in a turban during a visit to Kenya in 2006 first appeared on the Drudge Report website today.
The site said it was circulated by Clinton’s staffers and quoted one saying: “Wouldn’t we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were [Clinton]?”
Geoffrey Dunn outlined some of Clinton’s other offenses during this time in a 2008 Huffington Post column:
Desperate and willing to do anything to win, the Clintons resorted to a naked form of racism aimed directly at white working-class voters in the rural portions of the state. Their message: Barack Obama cannot win because he’s black.
In the early stages of the campaign, it was Clinton’s cadre who kept playing the race card. In New Hampshire, Clinton’s co-chair, Billy Shaheen, accused Obama of being a drug dealer… In the aftermath of the South Carolina primary, former President Bill Clinton compared Obama’s victory to those of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. His message was clear: Obama was a marginal, black candidate…
“In Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell, who headed up Clinton’s campaign, was publicly saying that white voters in the Keystone State would not vote for Obama because he was black,” Dunn wrote. “Rendell’s remarks were racist from the get-go, but no one in the white media called him on it.”
James Rucker of the progressive black advocacy group Color of Change—co-founded by Van Jones—called Clinton’s racially-tinged tactics out, as reported by the New York Times in May 2008, “Senator Clinton’s race-baiting must end today […] She is sowing division and making the outrageous claim that white voters won’t vote for a black candidate.” Rucker added, “The politics of division now seem to be her core strategy.”
When Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan endorsed Obama, Clinton never missed an opportunity to bash him over the head with it. At a debate in Philadelphia, “Clinton again brought up Obama’s alleged ‘relationships with Louis Farrakhan,” despite Obama’s repeated and unequivocal denunciations of anti-Semitic statements and other controversial actions by the Black Muslim leader.”
Clinton even suggested that Obama might have some sort of association with Hamas, further pushing the false narrative that he was secretly a Muslim with questionable relationships.
There are too many examples to list them all here, but Clinton now posing as an opponent of bigotry in her effort to defeat Donald Trump can’t help but drudge up old memories of when she shamelessly used similar ugly politics against Obama.
Politics aside, the first woman American president will be a big deal. The first black president was a big deal too–something the Clinton camp spent months in 2008 implying could never happen.