Plainly, Clinton soon realized that she had made a major gaffe. At her next campaign stop, she spoke of how Dr. King had been beaten and jailed, and that he had worked with President Johnson to achieve the passage of the Civil Rights Law.
First, with respect to Dr. King, you know, Tim, I was 14 years old when I heard Dr. King speak in person. He is one of the people that I admire most in the world, and the point that I was responding to from Senator Obama himself in a number of speeches he was making is his comparison of himself to President Kennedy and Dr. King. And there is no doubt that the inspiration offered by all three of them is essential. It is critical to who we are as a nation, what we believe in, the dreams and aspirations that we all have. But I also said that, you know, Dr. King didn't just give speeches. He marched, he organized, he protested, he was gassed, he was beaten, he was jailed. He understood that he had to move the political process and bring in those who were in political power, and he campaigned for political leaders, including Lyndon Johnson, because he wanted somebody in the White House who would act on what he had devoted his life to achieving.
So I think it's important to set the record straight. Clearly, we know from media reports that the Obama campaign is deliberately distorting this.
Today, at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ in Las Vegas, Senator Barack Obama was asked to respond to her charge that he is distorting her statement on Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King. Obama replied:
“I am baffled by that statement by the senator. She made an ill-advised statement about Dr. King suggesting that Lyndon Johnson had more to do with the Civil Rights Acts. I did not make the statement. I haven’t commented on the statement. For them to suggest that we’re injecting race as a consequence of a statement she made that we haven’t commented on is pretty hard to figure out. Maybe you can tell me and explain to me how we distorted her statement.”
Let us return to Hillary Clinton’s original statement, made on FoxNews, Monday, January 7, 2008. Major Garrett was interviewing Senator Clinton. Read the exchange (you can view the actual video below) and judge for yourself who is now distorting her words.
Major Garrett: You mentioned Senator Obama. Let me read you a quote from a speech he gave today, saying:“False hopes. Dr. King, standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over the magnificent crowd, the Reflecting Pool of the Washington Monument. Sorry guys. False hope. The dream will die. It can’t be done. False hope.Would you react to that?
We don’t need leaders to tell us what we can’t do, we need leaders to tell us what we can do and inspire us to do.”
Hillary Clinton: I would, and I would point to the fact that, uh, Dr. King’s dream, uh, began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that, uh, uh, President Kennedy was hopeful to do, presidents uh, before had not even tried, but it took a President to get it done. That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became real in people’s lives because we had a president who said we’re going to do it, and actually got it done.”
A. Sen. Obama. You can give a great speech. So did Dr. King. Big deal! Speeches don’t mean diddly-squat. The country needs political leaders like me and like President Johnson who can get things done.
B. Sen. Obama, you’re no Martin Luther King! You just give speeches. He understood that we have to help elect presidents who can get the dream done.”