Clyburn Rips Clintons for 'Demonizing' Obama

S.C. Rep. Jim Clyburn criticized the Clinton campaign for "demonizing" Obama.

ByABC News via GMA logo
April 26, 2008, 9:47 AM

April 26, 2008 — -- South Carolina Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn has expressed his worry about the tone of the party's race for the nomination and criticized the Hillary Clinton campaign harshly for how it has dealt with Barack Obama.

"I think a lot of Clinton surrogates have been marginalizing, demonizing and trivializing Obama," said the undeclared superdelegate, who worried the Democrats will lose in the fall if Americans lose faith in the election process.

The renowned Civil Rights advocate saved his harshest words for the campaign's No. 1 surrogate, Bill Clinton. Clyburn was incensed when the former president seemed to dismiss Obama's South Carolina primary win earlier this election season.

"Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice," Bill Clinton said in February following his wife's defeat in January.

When asked about the comment this week, Clinton said he was the victim of racial politics.

"I think that they played the race card on me. And we now know, from memos from the campaign and everything, that they planned to do it all along," he said.

Those comments further upset Clyburn.

"How do you play the race card on the ex-president of the United States? How do you do it? I would like to know how that's done and who they [are]. And I'd like to see these memos he's talking about. That's what's so bizarre about this," Clyburn said.

The talk about race has heated up again in the Democratic race following Hillary Clinton's win Tuesday over Obama in Pennsylvania. Critics have wondered aloud whether the politics of race has slowed Obama's momentum, as some Democratic leaders start expressing concern about the Illinois senator's weaknesses among a key Democratic group -- white working-class voters.

Earlier this year, Obama ran into trouble when controversial comments from his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, hit the airwaves. The biracial Obama hoped to put the controversy to rest by delivering a speech on race addressing his relationship with Wright.

In a televised interview last night with Bill Moyers, Wright said the controversy surrounding him came from out-of-context sound bites and the mainstream media's naïveté about the African-American experience.

"I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt for those who were doing that [they] were doing it for some very devious reasons," said Wright, former Trinity United Church of Christ pastor.

The reverend's comments come after Obama's campaign continually has tried to put the issue of race to bed.

"We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they're two different worlds," said Wright, who has more interviews and appearances lined up.

In the interview Wright also complained about how the media only used sound bites to convey his thoughts. It's the constraint of television news and what the Obama campaign is worried about.