Rep. Rangel says Obama among 'best friends'; backs off previous criticism

Just two days after Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) criticized President Obama at a candidate forum in New York, he walked back his comments Wednesday night, calling the president one of his "best friends."

State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D) is one of several Democrats challenging Rangel in a Sept. 14 primary. 

Powell, who called on Rangel to resign his seat even before the House ethics committee detailed 13 alleged violations against the longtime congressman, is now trying to make an issue of Rangel's relationship with Obama. 

From the Daily News:

At a forum Monday, Rangel popped off over an Obama comment last month that the 80-year-old congressman should "end his career with dignity."

The President spoke after Rangel was slapped with ethics charges. "Frankly, he has not been around long enough to determine what my dignity is," Rangel said Monday.

"In the next few years, I will be more likely to protect his dignity."

Rangel said last night his retort wasn't meant as a slap but admitted, "Obviously, it didn't go over big." As for Powell's argument: "I think that Obama would say that I'm one of his best friends. And certainly one of his strongest supporters — I admire him. I respect him."

He said Obama's remark had rankled because "I just thought dignity was an individual thing other people can't really describe."

But, he conceded, "You don't zing the President of the United States if you're interested in working with him."