WASHINGTON – Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday defended Sen. Hillary Clinton for describing the House of Representatives as a "plantation," saying he felt her choice of words referred to a "consolidation of power" in Washington that squeezes out the voters.
The senator told CNN's "American Morning" he believed that Clinton was merely expressing concern that special interests play such a large role in writing legislation that "the ordinary voter and even members of Congress who aren't in the majority party don't have much input."
"There's been a consolidation of power by the Republican Congress and this White House in which, if you are the ordinary voter, you don't have access," Obama said. "... That should be a source of concern for all of us."
First lady Laura Bush, en route home from a visit to West Africa, criticized Clinton.
"It think it's ridiculous — it's a ridiculous comment," Mrs. Bush told reporters when asked about the senator's remark.
Obama, D-Ill., also told ABC's "Good Morning America" that under GOP control in Washington, "what one has seen is the further concentration of power around a very narrow agenda that advantages the most powerful."
Clinton, D-N.Y., who is seeking re-election this year and is a potential presidential candidate in 2008, said during a Martin Luther King Day event in Harlem this week that the House "has been run like a plantation," in that "nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard."
Obama also said New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was correct to apologize for suggesting that the hurricane-ravaged city would be majority black again because "it's the way God wants it to be."
"If I'm the mayor of New Orleans, I want everybody to come back," said Obama, the Senate's only black member.