Calvin Butts on Politics

Question: Why did you support Hillary Clinton in the primary?

Rev. Calvin: Well, I think it’s good to say I had no reservations about Barack Obama. I think that he is qualified, visionary, strong, absolutely, he’s intelligent, not taking it, no question. But I believe he’s committed to his principles and the issues that he espouses, so I had no reservations. But I’m in New Yorker and I have a long… and meaningful relationship with the Clintons. For example, I’m the President of State University of New York in Old Westbury. I took over a college that was not in good shape. We built it up it’s in excellent shape now. But during the process of rebuilding the school, I needed help, and I remember picking up the telephone once and calling Bill Clinton, I say “Mr. President, I’d like for you to come out and speak for our college.” So, I’ve a big luncheon that raises money to send young men and women overseas to study, just travel or study abroad, and he said he would come. Actually, I’d put it in a more of a colloquial way, I said, “Can you help a brother out?” He said, “I’d be right there.” Now, not only did he come, he didn’t charge me anything and I [raised] with Bill Clinton the largest amount of money that the college has ever raised since its inception. You can’t… you can’t forget that. He established an office in Harlem. Hillary Clinton has been very supportive of our community development activities what I call our kind of creative protest against deterioration and as a United States Senator. I’ve been with Bill Clinton in many settings, Hillary Clinton in many settings when they have acknowledged our work, encouraged us, put us in contact with people who can help us. How do you walk away from that? That would make me less of a person. And so, when Mrs. Clinton said that she was going to run for president, I said that I would support her in the primary and I stick by my word. I’d talked with Senator Obama and we had a very good conversation. I said, “You know, Senator, if I lived in Illinois, we wouldn’t have a problem but I’m a New Yorker.” Now, two more points, my Congressman is Charles Rangel, he have the powerful Ways and Means Committee and my senator is Charles Schumer, very powerful man in the Senate. They too were supporting Hillary Clinton and they also have worked with us in our community development activities, in our educational programs. And so, I stuck with Hillary Clinton because she’s been a friend and I think that she is eminently qualified. She’d paid her dues. She would have been a tough candidate. Now, when the primary was over and she did not win and Barack Obama did, absolutely no question, and I told Barack Obama that face to face as close as you and I are right now that I would support him and I am supporting vigorously without apology and I want him to win because I think it would be good for America. But that still does not take away my high regarded respect for Senator Clinton and I really hope that her career in elective politics is not over.

Rev. Butts didn't forget the support he had received from the Clintons over his tenure at State University of New York in Old Westbury.

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