May 5th, 2008
02:45 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: The loser's role

Will the loser rally around the winner?
Will the loser rally around the winner?

I keep hearing from very worried Democrats this constant refrain. The loser of the Democratic presidential contest – whether it’s Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton – will have an incredibly important role in determining whether a Democrat sits in the Oval Office next year or John McCain. It depends, they say, on how the loser loses.

Their thinking is shaped in part by the 1968 and 1980 Democratic presidential campaigns.

In 1968, Vice President Hubert Humphrey faced a very stiff challenge from Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota. He had mobilized a lot of young people. It was a bitter contest that Humphrey eventually won. Many of McCarthy’s anti-Vietnam War supporters were depressed and never really jumped aboard the Humphrey bandwagon. Richard Nixon, the Republican, won the election that November.

In 1980, the incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter, faced a tough challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy for the party’s nomination. It, too, was a bitter contest that Carter eventually won. Many of Kennedy’s supporters could never warm up to Carter. There apparently had been too much bad blood. Ronald Reagan, the Republican challenger, won the election that November.

With that historic context, many Democratic leaders now are desperate that the current loser quickly moves on and winds up enthusiastically endorsing and working for the winning candidate. Will that happen? One way of guaranteeing that it will, of course, would be if the losing candidate winds up being the vice presidential running mate.

That is the proposal put forward by former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Will that happen? My sense is that it will happen only if the winning candidate determines that that is the best of uniting the party and winning the election in November.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Seth

    Where are the ticker items on Obama NUMEROUS super delegate endorsements???

    May 5, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. Dave W.

    Clinton would lose in a Presidential election, and would drag down Obama if she was the VP candiddate. She is more like Bush then McCain is, and the USA does not need more of that.

    May 5, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. mk

    The loser's role is to get out of the race when they see that the math is not there for them to win, and support the other candidate wholeheartedly. We're not seeing this currently. Hillary is choosing to bash Obama at every turn. She is actually spending 10's of millions of dollars helping the Republican party bring down the Democrats most viable prospect. The party is obviously not anywhere near her first priority, and by no means will ever be a team player. The Democrats are so deeply split, I seriously doubt it will be repaired. I don't expect any effort from her or Bill in cleaning up their mess whether they get the nomination or not.

    May 5, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. Beezer, Boyd America

    I hope Senator Clinton is a good loser. She can take the remaining states by 20 points each and receive support from 65% of the remaining superdelegates and still not reach the 2025 delegates needed (2024; based on CNN numbers).

    May 5, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Yaw

    So if Hillary wins Indiana and North Carolina O-dam-as s will drop out!! Great then North Carolina and Indiana lets make yhis happen. Bye O-dam-as s

    May 5, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Bud Curtis

    Wolf,
    For there to be a "dream team", it needs to be a deal announced by Obama and Clinton before a decision is made at the convention or by the Supers. In other words, if Clinton or Obama were standing side-by-side when one of them announced he/she were abandoning their bid for the top of the ticket and joining the other's ticket, it might work.

    If the contest ends with a "loser", then there is little hope that the loser's supporters could get behind the other candidate's ticket.

    May 5, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Silvia Salcido, Fresno, CA

    Your reporting always alludes to the Black vote going away disgruntled and possibly not voting if Obama does not win the nomination. By the same token... millions of Latinos (myself and family included) would never vote for Obama!.... We've already decided - if Hillary does not get the nomination, our votes go to McCain. In hindsight, though, the powers that be - and their media partners included –, were probably always vying for McCain to win in the first place. Does each member of the "best political team" get a $1MM bonus if you pull it off?
    Silvia, Fresno, CA

    May 5, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. pxrutherford@msn.com

    Hey wolf, how about reporting actual news. Obama received 4 new superdelegates today. I know it's tough to fit in news between all the Reverend Wright coverage, but I believe this is important. There were actually 7 declarations of support today from super delegates, but three had been previously allocated without formal declaration.

    It's a novel idea, but I know it undercuts the "close race" theme that you guys have been trying to sell. Getting 4 supers on the eve of what you guys have been spinning as a critical primaryseems important, but what do I know, maybe it's more important to cover who's a panderer, or who didn't complete their third grade homework or something.

    May 5, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Eli

    The loser should go home, back to what they where doing before this circus started. I could not invision any level of trust between Obama and Clinton whether Hillary was on top or bottom of the ticket.

    May 5, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Colleen McCloskey

    It may take more than humility and grace – the winner will have to win with dignity not to dis-enfranchise the runner-up. Then the loser may wish to run in 4 years – being seen as vice-pres. doesn't position one for presidential image/ perception

    May 5, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Griff

    In Britain, they alway's stated. Tony Blair couldn't survive without Gorden Brown. on the second and third term election, they said the same. Gorden Brown is just about finished. in less than one term.
    I myself think Bob Kennedy would have won in 68 if not for shooting.
    Nothing to do with you're Question, but, I believe something will happen again, to throw it all out of Sinc..

    May 5, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. Steve - Atlanta

    Please don't vote in Indiana or North Carolina until you see this video....it says it all.... Go to You Tube and type in Mikey Kantor in the search menu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. Deborah, Laplace, La

    Hillary should have dropped out long ago. She keeps lying and playing to ignorant racist voters. If the shoe had been on the other foot and Hillary had the lead in pledged delegates and the popular vote, Obama would have been forced from the race. If the superdelegates make the wrong choice and back Hill, that's the end of the Dems as we know them. The Dems will be a bunch of beer drinking, uneducated folk.

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. kingsley

    wolf you are so irrelivant. you keep spinning for hillary. you enjoy spinning Rev. wright to her advantage. Obama don't need any big victory's. Hillary need to worry about catching up. we are tired of this bias info. a win is a win for us. and we dont care if she keeps it going as long as the winner takes all.

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Ready for Change

    If Obama gets crammed down the Democrats throats by having an unfair election after Clinton has won the most votes by "super" delegates, it won't matter what the loser does, the Dems chances in November go down the tube.

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. Mat

    After Clinton loses NC tomorrow, she needs to step aside, offer her support to Obama and encourage her crazy supporters to unite against McCain – otherwise we're all doomed!

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. Jeff in Saint Paul

    There would be a lot less bad blood on the Democratic side if the Obama supporters (not himself, but his supporters) treated the Clinton supporters with a little more respect. They would do well to remember that just slightly less than half of voting Democrats (in contests we are counting) chose Hillary.

    Unfortunately, many of them call us racist or stupid and say incredibly nasty things about Hillary. It really turns us off to his campaign.

    When the GE rolls around, if Obama is the nominee, he'll have his work cut out for him because of the damage his supporters have caused. Further, he'll have to reach out to moderate democrats or risk losing them to apathy or McCain.

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. proud army and navy mom

    the problem with that theory is that this process has been so long and drawn out because of Hillary's refusal to bow out gracefully, that i literally get physically ill when i see or hear her. if sen obama picked her as a running mate, i could not vote for that ticket.

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. Dyinglikeflies, NYC

    Even the strongest endorsement by Hillary Clinton of Obama would not persuade many of her own voters to support him. His campaign and his supporters have put out a ton of negative energy (laden with a heavy dose of hypocrisy), and many feel that he is not the legitimate choice of the voters but rather is the choice of the commentariat.

    I would be shocked if Obama takes more than 5 or 6 states away from McCain in the general.

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Obama4change

    Wolf Blitzer is so bias that I believe he is secretly a Replublican. I really dislike his show. Please promote Jack Cafferty and fire Wolf Blitzer. He is the worse. He wants Senator Clinton's supporters to be against Senator Obama, but they will come around and rally around Senator Obama when they see that Wolf Blitzer wants McCain (McSame) to win the election in November.

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Independent

    Sadly, the only thing the loser (Clinton) can do is jump aboard the ship she has helped to set sail (McCain). It would be a win/win for the Bush & Clinton family monarchies...the continuance of Bush policy and the reinstallation of Clinton power. Fabulous!

    May 5, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. mitchell

    we don't need a fibber in the white house,even as a vice president.hillary isn't honest,and her negative ratings are bad news for democrats.

    May 5, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. Tina

    Oh boy what a dilemma caused by the Clintons. Will I be able to vote for Obama knowing Hillary will be VP so far the answer is no. Will I be able to change ?????

    May 5, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. Vig

    There will be no losers role.

    May 5, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. Alice

    Much as I admire Mario, I cannot imagine a joint ticket.

    May 5, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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