In a relatively mild response, Clinton continued, "And both of us have had supporters and staff members who've gone over the line, and we have to rein them in and try to keep this on the issues. There are big differences between us on the issues — let's stay focused on that."
Obama chided Clinton for Ferraro's comment to a Pennsylvania newspaper.
"I don't think Geraldine Ferraro's comments have any place in our politics or in the Democratic Party," Obama told Pennsylvania's Allentown Morning Call newspaper. "They are divisive. I think anybody who understands the history of this country knows they are patently absurd. And I would expect that the same way those comments don't have a place in my campaign they shouldn't have a place in Sen. Clinton's either."
Ferraro, a 72-year-old lawyer and former congresswoman, told a California newspaper that this campaign has been "very emotional" for her and suggested Clinton has been a victim of a "very sexist media."
"I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign — to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," Ferraro told California's Daily Breeze local paper.
"For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her," she said. "It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign."
Ferraro's controversial comments made news less than a week after Obama's senior foreign policy adviser Samantha Power resigned from the Illinois senator's campaign for calling Clinton "a monster.''
The Obama campaign held a conference call with reporters Tuesday with Obama supporter Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., arguing that Ferraro's words "undermine" Democrats' "ability to win in November."
"It's disappointing that Clinton supporters have sought to somehow diminish Sen. Obama's candidacy and his support by suggesting he's in some way being given preferential treatment because of his race," Schakowsky said. "Any and all remarks that diminish Sen. Obama's candidacy because of his race are completely out of line."
Schakowsky urged Clinton to call on all of her advisers and supporters to change the tone of the campaign.
Obama campaign manager David Axelrod added the comment was "part of an insidious pattern that needs to be addressed" within the Clinton campaign, pointing to Clinton's remark on "60 Minutes" that rumors of Obama being a Muslim aren't true, "as far as I know," she said.
"When you wink and nod at offensive statements, you're really sending a signal to your supporters that anything goes," Axelrod said, arguing that Clinton is seen as a "divisive and polarizing force."
The Obama campaign pounced Tuesday afternoon on Clinton's mild statement about Ferraro's remark, referring to language Clinton used when she urged Obama to denounce and reject anti-Semitic comments by Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan.
"With Sen. Clinton's refusal to denounce or reject Ms. Ferraro, she has once again proven that her campaign gets to live by its own rules and its own double standard, and will only decry offensive comments when it's politically advantageous to Sen. Clinton," Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said.