— From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
Obama called the "notion" that his campaign is responsible for the backlash Hillary Clinton
has faced about her comments on Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in the in
the civil rights movement "ludicrous" in a conference call today to
announce the endorsement of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.
"Well this is fascinating to me," Obama began of Clinton's remarks on
Meet the Press, in which she accused the Obama campaign of stirring the
pot among African-American leaders about her remarks that it "took a
president" to pass civil rights legislation.
Obama characterized Clinton's remarks as "tired Washington politicians and the games they play."
"She made an unfortunate remark about Martin Luther King and Lyndon
Johnson," he said. "I haven't remarked on it. And she offended some
folks who thought she diminished the role about King and the civil
rights movement. The notion that this is our doing is ludicrous."
Obama went on to criticize Clinton's interview, saying that she spent
an hour focused on attacking him rather than "telling people about her
positive vision for America."
During the interview, Clinton accused of Obama of waffling on his opposition to the war after arriving in the Senate. He said that he had "absolutely" and "unambiguously" opposed the war "at a time when she didn't read the intelligence reports."
Clinton also criticized the ethics bill that Obama helped pass through the senate, pointing to the provision that allows lobbyists to buy politicians meals if they are eating standing up rather than sitting down.
In response to Clinton's comments on ethics reform, Obama said, "She belittled the most sweeping ethic reform since Watergate," and accused Clinton of standing on the "sidelines" instead of trying to help get it passed.
"She started this campaign saying she wanted to make history but lately she's been rewriting it," he added.
McCaskill, who was also on the call, and had spoken about why she was supporting Obama, jumped to the Obama's defense.
"Belittling this legislation is not appropriate," McCaskill said. She went on to tell an apocryphal tale of how as a freshman senator, Obama had held a conference call with her and others entering the senate and asked them for their help on the legislation. Describing the opposition to the bill as a "lot of wink wink nod nod" from older senators, McCaskill said that the legislation had problems but did much to curb improprieties, especially on the use of corporate jets.
On why she was endorsing Obama, McCaskill cribbed a line from his stump speech, calling his run part of the "fierce urgency of now." She said her 18-year-old daughter had convinced her that she shouldn't sit on the bleachers any longer and should make an endorsement.
Saying that she felt that Obama was right for this historical moment and the challenges the country faced at this time, she had decided to support him despite her strong connection to Emily's List and many female politicians and backers who were supporting Senator Clinton. She acknowledged that she had delayed her endorsement mostly for that reason, and had finally decided to endorse after many long conversations with people at Emily's List and across the country.
McCaskill's endorsement of Obama is worthy of raised eyebrows, since she benefited from the strong support of Emily's List and other organizations that help women run for office in her 2006 race to unseat former Sen. Jim Talent in Missouri.
As a Feb. 5th state, Missouri will play a role in the nominating contests, and McCaskill's endorsement and voters' familiarity with Obama since the two states share a border and media markets, may help him there. Obama said he would try to get to Missouri before the 5th.
The call ended in a motherly way, with McCaskill saying, "Barack I want you to get some rest."