Sen. Kennedy Was Upset by Clinton Racial Remark

Published January 12, 2010

Sen. Edward Kennedy was so upset by a racially offensive comment by former President Bill Clinton during the 2008 campaign that it convinced him to endorse Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, according to a new book that seemingly drops a new bomb every day.

 "A few years ago, this guy [Obama] would have been getting us coffee," Clinton told Kennedy, according to the book, “Game Change.”

 While Kennedy’s eventual decision to endorse Obama over the former first lady angered Clinton and stunned some observers, many others suspected that the senator’s longstanding mission to broaden opportunities for both women and African Americans showed that he at least had the potential to stand with Obama. During his 46 years in the U.S. Senate, Kennedy left his mark on every major piece of legislation – including civil and voting rights, education and labor – affecting society’s most vulnerable citizens. 

 Kennedy, known as the Lion of the Senate, died in August from complications from brain cancer.

On Monday, the Rev. Al Sharpton took umbrage with Clinton’s comments.

 "If someone said that he would have been getting us coffee like that in the context they said he said it, that would be very offensive to me, and I would definitely take Mr. Clinton on as I did in South Carolina," Sharpton told FOX News, noting that he has not discussed the matter with the former president.

 Sharpton was among a number of African-American leaders to chastise Bill Clinton for suggesting that Obama’s win in South Carolina was tantamount to that of the Rev. Jesse Jackson two decades earlier. Clinton’s point, critics charged, was to reinforce the notion that Jackson was not “electable” despite that victory. Clinton denied at the time that he was attempting to minimize Jackson’s win.

 The Clinton controversy is just one of many excavated by “Game Change” in recent days. In another instance, the authors placed Nevada Democrat Sen. Harry Reid squarely in the middle of yet another red-hot racial brouhaha. They reported that Reid, commenting on Obama’s prospects to win the White House, said that the then-Illinois senator’s light skin and non-Negro dialect made him a shoe-in as the next commander in chief.

 Asked about his thoughts on Reid’s remarks, Sharpton joined the ranks of Black lawmakers, scholars and other civil rights leaders in saying that he did not find comments offensive.

 "I think [Clinton’s remarks] are far more disturbing because this is someone seeking to stop Mr. Obama's campaign and making a direct reference,” Sharpton said. “I don't know the context in which he said it – but that is far more disturbing to me than even the comments that were made by Mr. Reid."

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Written by <P>By Ed Wiley III</P>

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