WASHINGTON—Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was distanced from the Clinton campaign on Wednesday, the latest casualty in the contentious race between Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) where backers with loose lips have had to be jettisoned.
Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said Ferraro “stepped down,” as Ferraro tried on Wednesday in interviews to explain remarks she made about Obama that were taken—she strongly said incorrectly—in a racial context. Ferraro had been on Clinton’s finance committee. Ferraro was the first female on a major party ticket when Walter Mondale tapped her in 1984.
This episode started with an interview Ferraro gave the Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif. where she said “"I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign - to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," she said. "For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign.
"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," she continued. "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."
The Obama campaign has been highlighting for two days Ferraro’s comments about race and gender she made in the newspaper interview with Obama himself taking the offensive on Wednesday, Obama told CBS’s Harry Smith “To the extent that Senator Clinton's campaign doesn't distance itself from that, I think it's a perpetuation of the same divisive politics that has done us so much damage.”
Ferraro, in a separate interview with CBS, before the campaign cut her late Wednesday, blamed Obama advisor David Axelrod for having her remarks portrayed as racist and putting Clinton in the position of having to repudiate her.
“ Let me just say, she has been pressed into position by Barack Obama to respond to this. I have to tell you, I'm outraged that Axelrod, David Axelrod, his campaign manager, has chose to spin this as a racist comment.” Ferraro knows Axelrod from New York political races he was worked on, where he has asked for her help. He could have called, she said “He knows I'm not racist. He could have said, "Gerry, what did you say?" And he didn't do it.”
Ferraro, defending herself said, “It wasn't a racist comment. It was a comment, a statement of fact. And for the campaign to take that and spin it and attack Hillary and me is being racist. I have to tell you, it is just appalling.”
Last week, Obama foreign policy advisor Samantha Power resigned her position after calling Clinton a "monster" in an interview.