Imus Clout Prompts Political Support

ByABC News
April 11, 2007, 5:12 PM

April 11, 2007 — -- Advertisers like Procter & Gamble are pulling their spots. Civil rights groups and basketball stars alike condemn him, prompting a "mea culpa" tour by embattled radio shock jock Don Imus.

But a funny thing happened on the road to condemnation for one of America's most popular radio and TV talk show hosts. In politically correct Washington, amid a race with the first viable African-American presidential candidate, none of the leading contenders for the presidency is calling for Imus to be fired, that is, until now.

Obama told ABC News' Jake Tapper Wednesday he would never reappear on Imus' show and wants him fired.

The other major presidential candidates -- Republicans including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Democrats including former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. -- have only offered varying degrees of condemnation for his racially tinged remark that the Rutgers University women's basketball team was populated by "nappy-headed ho's."

Read carefully between the lines:

Giuliani calls it "very wrong."

McCain calls it a "very bad comment."

Dodd calls the comment "hurtful" and "wrong and unacceptable."

Edwards, joining the critics chorus on Wednesday, calls it "wrong" and added, "I think he knows that."

Even Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., whose family has a long and sordid history with the shock, has resisted calling for Imus' head. The Clintons were targeted by some of Imus' most pointed barbs at the 1996 Washington Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner.

Imus quipped that if he had to bet on a Clinton to face a subpoena he would have picked Roger, the president's rabble-rousing half brother.

He recalled the president saying "Go, baby" while doing radio play-by-play at an Orioles game and added, "I remember commenting at the time, I bet that's not the first time he's said that."

"I've never wanted to go on his show and I certainly don't ever intend to go on his show, and I felt that way before his latest outrageous, hateful, hurtful comments," Clinton said in response to the Imus uproar, according to her Web site, which featured a large photo of the offended Rutgers team and a link for supporters to offer the team words of support.