Saying that she is “sorry that people thought” her comments about Sen. Barack Obama’s race being part of his success were “racist,” former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro defended her remarks Tuesday, adding that “sexism is a bigger problem” than racism in a Fox News interview.
Despite her defense, Ferraro still made the decision to resign from Clinton’s finance committee Wednesday. “I am stepping down … so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign,” she wrote in a letter obtained by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux Wednesday. “The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won’t let that happen” she added.
Her original remarks, made to the Torrance Daily Breeze late last week, have sparked a war of words between the Obama and Hillary Clinton camps in the already tense nominating race.
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” Ferraro, said when asked about Obama’s popularity. “And if he was a woman (of any color) 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.”
Clinton separated herself from the statement, saying “It is regrettable that any of our supporters — on both sides, because we’ve both had that experience — say things that kind of veer off into the personal,” according to the New York Times.
Obama’s campaign, not satisfied with Clinton’s stance, earlier called for Ferraro’s removal from her finance team.
“When you wink and nod at offensive statements, you’re really telling your supporters that anything goes,” Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod said, according to the Washington Post. “She ought to be removed from those positions. There’s no other way to send a serious signal that you want to police the tone of this campaign.”
Obama called the remarks “divisive” and said they don’t “have any place in our politics of the “Democratic Party,” the Allentown Morning Call in Pennsylvania reported.
On Fox News Tuesday evening, Ferraro said she respects Sen. Obama and he “shouldn’t antagonize people like” her, who could become crucial fundraisers if the Illinois senator becomes the Democratic nominee.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Ferraro was on the defensive, saying she has been unfairly criticized, according to a Los Angeles Times account, and turning the blame on Obama’s campaign for the dust-up.
“My comments have been taken so out of context and been spun by the Obama campaign as racist,” she said on the morning talk show Wednesday. “That, you know is doing precisely what they don’t want done — it’s going to [divide] the Democratic Party and dividing us even more.”
Last week on the NewsHour, Ferraro told Jim Lehrer she is concerned about Obama’s leadership and his ability to win in the general election.
“There are no caucuses in November. Can we win in November?” she asked. “Can he win in the large states where they’re out counting votes in elections? That’s an important issue.”