Geraldine Ferraro defends remarks about Obama

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:25am EDT

Geraldine Ferraro makes a point as she accepts the Glamour Magazine ''Lifetime Achievement'' award at the magazine's 2001 ''Women of the Year'' awards in New York, October 29, 2001. Ferraro on Wednesday stood by her comment that Democrat Barack Obama is only where he is because he is black and said the reaction by his campaign was dividing the party. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen

Geraldine Ferraro makes a point as she accepts the Glamour Magazine ''Lifetime Achievement'' award at the magazine's 2001 ''Women of the Year'' awards in New York, October 29, 2001. Ferraro on Wednesday stood by her comment that Democrat Barack Obama is only where he is because he is black and said the reaction by his campaign was dividing the party.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Christensen

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro on Wednesday stood by her comment that Democrat Barack Obama is only where he is because he is black and said the reaction by his campaign was dividing the party.

"My comments have been taken so out of context and have been spun by the Obama campaign as racist that it's doing precisely what they don't want done -- it's going to the Democratic Party and dividing us even more," Ferraro said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."

Ferraro, the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1984 and the only woman ever nominated by a major party for either of the top two U.S. political offices, ignited a flap by telling a California newspaper that "if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position."

"And if he was a woman he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept," Ferraro said.

Ferraro, who is supporting Hillary Clinton's campaign to become the Democratic nominee in November's presidential election, told ABC she believed that was true and that she was hurt by reaction by the Obama campaign that she said painted the comments as racist. She said she has fought against discrimination for 40 years.

"My concern has been over how I've been treated as well and hurt, absolutely hurt by how they have taken this thing and spun it to imply that in any way, any way I am racist," she said.

When asked about Ferraro's remarks, Obama said that being an "African American man named Barack Obama" was not the quickest path to becoming U.S. president.

"Anybody who knows the history of this country I think would not take too seriously the notion that this has been a huge advantage, but I don't think it's disadvantaged either," Obama said.

Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, rode a wave of heavy black support to victory on Tuesday in a primary race in Mississippi and extended his lead over Clinton in pledged delegates to the August nominating convention. The Illinois senator also won on Saturday in Wyoming.

Clinton, who would be the first woman U.S. president, said on Tuesday she did not agree with the comments and called them "regrettable," but the Obama camp accused her of a double standard for refusing to rebuke Ferraro and remove her from her finance position with the campaign.

An Obama foreign policy adviser resigned last week after telling a British newspaper Clinton was "a monster."

(Reporting by Donna Smith, editing by Eric Walsh)

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