Both New York Sen. Clinton and her husband, the former president, have engaged in damage control this week after black leaders criticized their comments shortly before the New Hampshire primary last Tuesday.
The senator was quoted as saying King's dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while Bill Clinton said Illinois Sen. Obama was telling a "fairy tale" about his opposition to the Iraq war.
‘Fairy tale’ comment draws fire
Former President Clinton has since appeared on several black radio programs to say he was referring to Obama's record on the Iraq war, not on his effort to become the nation's first black president.
At an awards dinner Sunday in Atlanta celebrating black achievement, Michelle Obama said her husband is the person America needs in the White House right now and was critical of anyone who would "dismiss this moment as an illusion, a fairy tale." He is the right candidate "not because of the color of his skin, but because of the quality and consistency of his character," she said.
As evidence the Obama campaign had pushed the story, Clinton advisers pointed to a memo written by an Obama staffer compiling examples of comments by Clinton and her surrogates that could be construed as racially insensitive. The memo later surfaced on a handful of political Web sites.
Obama later called Clinton's accusations "ludicrous," and said he found Clinton's comments about King to be ill-advised and unfortunate.
"If Senator Clinton wants to be distracted by the sorts of political point-scoring that was evident today then that is going to be her prerogative," Obama said.
Another rival, John Edwards, added his voice to the chorus of criticism of Clinton's comments about King.
"I must say I was troubled recently to see a suggestion that real change came not through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King but through a Washington politician. I fundamentally disagree with that," Edwards told more than 200 people gathered at a predominantly black Baptist church in Sumter, S.C.
Later Sunday, the Clinton campaign scrambled to explain comments by one of its top black supporters, BET founder Bob Johnson, that seemed to raise the issue of Obama's admitted teenage drug use.
"I am frankly insulted 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; I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book when they have been involved," Johnson said at an event with Clinton in Columbia, S.C.
In his memoir, "Dreams from My Father," Obama described using marijuana and occasionally sampling cocaine as a youth. He declined to respond directly to Johnson later when asked about it.
"I'm not going to spend all my time running down the other candidates, which seems to be what Senator Clinton has been obsessed with for the last month," Obama said between visits to people's door steps in a Las Vegas neighborhood.
The Clinton campaign later released a statement in which Johnson said his comments referred to Obama's years as a community organizer in Chicago.
Is this pettiness what the campaign trail has turned into? No one looks at the issues any more. Personally, I think Hillary is digging herself into a hole by slinging mud instead of focusing on her base.
AKA - Obama 2008, bitches.