From NBC's Tom Lea and Mark Murray
Four days after he made an unmistakable allusion to Obama's teenage drug use and even referred to him as Sidney Poitier, Clinton supporter Bob Johnson apologized to Obama for those remarks.
"I'm writing to apologize to you and your family personally for the un-called-for comments I made at a recent Clinton event," Johnson said in a statement. "In my zeal to support Senator Clinton, I made some very inappropriate remarks for which I am truly sorry. I hope that you will accept this apology. Good luck on the campaign trail."
On Sunday at a campaign event for Clinton in South Carolina, Johnson, the founder of BET, said this: "As an African American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues, when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing but he said it in his book... When they have been involved, to say that these two people would denigrate the accomplishment of civil rights marchers, men and women who were hosed, beaten and bled, and some died... To say and to expect us now all of a sudden to say we are attacking a black man. That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me or a guy that says I want to be a reasonable, likeable Sidney Poitier 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.' And I'm thinking to myself, this ain't a movie, Sidney."
The Clinton campaign then produced a comment from Johnson saying that the media was mischaracterizing his remarks -- a response that this most recent statement now demonstrates was untrue. "My comments today were referring to Barack Obama's time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else," Johnson said in that comment. "Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect. When Hillary Clinton was in her twenties she worked to provide protections for abused and battered children and helped ensure that children with disabilities could attend public school. That results oriented leadership -- even as a young person -- is the reason I am supporting Hillary Clinton."
At Tuesday's Democratic debate on MSNBC, Clinton said she took Johnson at his word. "Well, Bob has put out a statement saying what he was trying to say and what he thought he had said. We accept him on his word on that."
When NBC's Tim Russert asked whether Johnson's comments were out of bounds, Clinton replied, "Yes, they were. And he has said that."
Well, not until today.