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Ferraro Cuts Ties with Clinton

Former Democratic vice presidential candidate and former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferarro is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington in this June 21, 2001 file photo. (AP.)

By Anne E. Kornblut
Geraldine Ferraro has relinquished her position on the Clinton campaign after causing a firestorm with her remarks that Sen. Barack Obama is only where he is politically because he is a black man.

A senior Clinton adviser said no one on the campaign forced Ferraro to quit the finance committee. "Nobody told her to step down," the adviser said, adding that it might have been counterproductive to try to tell her what to do, given how off-the-reservation Ferraro had been in recent days.

After making her remarks in an interview with the local paper in Torrance, Calif., Ferraro further defended them on television, saying she had been celebrating the outpouring of support Obama received from black voters. Even though Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has distanced herself from the remarks, Ferraro did not back away from them. She wrote a letter to Clinton announcing her decision to move on.

"I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign," Ferraro wrote. "The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen." She signed the note, "Gerry."

Ferraro was the vice presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket in 1984. In what has become only the latest controversy involving provocative remarks by Democratic surrogates, Ferraro said "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. 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."

In a subsequent interview, Ferraro said she would not be discriminated against because she is white. "Every time the campaign is upset about something, they call it racist," she said. Obama officials responded forcefully. Obama himself said that if any member of his campaign were to suggest that Clinton only made it this far in the presidential campaign because she is a woman, the Clinton campaign would be -- rightfully -- outraged.

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 12, 2008; 6:05 PM ET
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