May 5th, 2008
02:45 PM ET
7 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. Lee WV

    I will vote for Obama ,but not Obama /Clinton.I researched the 1968 nomination of Humphrey ,he was pushed into the nomination by "big city bosses".If Hillary is given an election that she didnot win I think that the results will be similar.

    May 5, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. errrr

    Dream ticket again? Let's see how Pelosi jumps out again, condemns the idea that another women may be in a higher rank than her.

    May 5, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. dan davenport

    No need to fear about McCain winning against Obama, and it will surely be Obama. McCain is too old and out-of-touch. He also has "preacher" problems in his closet, he won't be able to drag Obama down with Rev Wright, which he has resolved in an intelligent and respectable way. McCain has NOT denounced his "white elephant in the room preacher"

    May 5, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. Jim

    Is this broke? Dont expect to get this in, just checking, I've submitted twice now, none show up.

    May 5, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Hillary's role

    Don't you mean Hillary's role!

    May 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. Party Leaders

    Nancy Pelosi's recent two month tirade in the media with her unneeded and unnecessary comments on the campaign.

    Howard Dean with his screw up over Florida and Michigan.

    Claire McCaskill and her involvement in the State of the Union snub-gate. And her recent comments about superdelegates.

    These Democrats don't speak for me and hundreds of thousand other Democrats. They are sadly mistaken that their involvement and comments were needed or justified.

    We will send a loud and clear message to these three amigos that all votes matter and their voices are not needed.

    Hillary '08 or McCain !

    May 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. mitchell

    oh,yeah,why is there not a ticker story on obama's 9 'supers',endorsements.i noticed clinton got one.

    May 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Jeff Illinois

    It is therefore obvious that we would want the motivational speaker to be second. Vice President Obama will do nicely. Sidenote: On Larry King last week, President Carter said he won by a fluke. So that means the only Democrat to win the White House in the last 30 years (and that wasn't by popular vote) was Bill Clinton. People want to hate on HRC because she is ruthless. That's what it took to get Bill elected the first time. The Republicans are ruthless and they will not back down simply by virtue of an Obama nomination. We need ruthless, or accept another term with a Republican... and then, the sky will open and yet another generation of young folks will wake up.

    May 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. RB

    Well, when you consider that the only reason HRC is in this race for so long is to damage Barack to the point that John McCain wins the presidency so that she can run again in 2012, I don't think she has a role at all. She has put her personal greed ahead of the welfare of our country. She continues to lie, cheat, steal in the name of "politics". Well, that's exactly what we're tired of getting from politicians. As a republican, I would vote for Obama because McCain is simply out to lunch and would probably run a much better campaign by going on vacation somewhere. BUT, I will never, ever, vote for Hillary Clinton.

    May 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Independent

    This is the problem – if HRC loses, which is basically a given, she SAYS she will work her hardest to get Obama elected. Of course, she has also said she underwent sniper fire while running to an armored vehicle when in fact a ten year-old was reading her poetry and giving her flowers.

    That old saying, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer," applies perfectly to this situation. Unless Obama can get the entire Clinton family to retire quietly into the backdrop (NOT going to happen), he needs to keep them right by his side day and night. Maybe with muzzles on.

    May 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. USAF Sr. Airman

    Unfortunately, thanks to Hillary's campaign tactics, an Obama Clinton or Clinton Obama ticket would be wide open for Republican attacks. After all that Hillary has said and done, nobody would believe she supports Obama enough to be his VP or have him be hers. Republicans would slaughter that sort of Democratic ticket in debates.

    May 5, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. Jo

    Clinton has promised to support and work her heart out for Obama by name if he is the nominee. Obama has said if Clinton is the nominee he will support democrats. Not quite the same and certainly not the sound for unity necessary to unite behind the nominee. If super delegates have a worry it is the implied threat made by many in the Obama support group that if he is not the nominee then it will have been stolen from him and his supporters will walk out of the convention and out of the party.

    May 5, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. LA Ben

    It's not necessary that the loser (Hillary) becomes the #2 behind the party's nominee (Barack) for the dems to have a shot in November.

    As long as the loser of the race supports the winner both vocally and by stumping for them a little in the fall, the party wounds should be healed enough to pull out the victory.

    May 5, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. king

    If Blitzer's blitzkrieg is anything to go by, history will repeat itself.

    May 5, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. Debbie

    If Obama ends up being the nominee, there is no way Hillary should ever agree to be his VP. That would be like losing a promotion at work to someone less qualified and less experienced and then being asked to teach him how to do the job.

    May 5, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Patricia Gaedeke

    I'm voting for Barack Obama because I'm voting against Hillary Clinton. I do not want to see her face in any form on an Obama ticket.

    May 5, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Terry in Fl

    Michelle Obama will never allow her husband to support Hillary or accept the VP position. She's all or nothing and will be very bitter. I question if I would even vote for Hillary if she put Obama on the ticket with her. I think both Obamas are filled with anger and that will transfer into our leadership. Look at every appearance of Obama on television, there's no black people. maybe one or two token displays but it's clear to me obama is willing to abandon his pastor, his church and his race in order to win this race. One of the ten commandments, thou shall not covet. This man scares me and I want him nowhere near my house!

    May 5, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. edna

    Obama has already won.. it's the cowardice acts of the so called super delegates that's holding things up>Why wouldn't they end this so the nominee has time to campaign for the presidency.Good thing they're not running, because the ones holding out has no character or good judgement.

    May 5, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Yolanda /San Antonio, Tx

    Unfortunatle Wolf that will not happen..Let's just say by chance McCain takes the nomination...The Superdelegates will be blamed for not making a decision sooner, not Hillary or Obama.. At least from there point of view.

    Overall, Dean & Polosi will take the blame as well. Neverthless, the blame will be the Whole Democratic Party's fault. We would have brought it all on ourselves.

    Go Figure if it happens.

    May 5, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. James

    The real question is will any beneficial unity come from the loser, Obama, campaigning for the brilliant and gifted Senator Clinton. The answer is a 100% NO, NO, NO!!! In fact, it would be counterproductive to have the naive Obama, with the albatrosses of NAFTA-gate, Bitter-gate, and Wright-gate hanging on his bowed and defeated neck, to campaign for Senator Clinton. Thanks, but no thanks!! It would be the kiss of death!!
    The simple fact is that the present nation-wide polls show Senator Clinton easily defeating McCain in November 2008 with a landslide victory of 53% to 40%. Its a NO-BRAINER!! NO to Obama!

    May 5, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. wood burns

    I will NEVER vote for any ticket that Includes Hillary " Cackles at the truth" Clinton.

    May 5, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. Same Sentence

    Wow, did you read that last sentence. "the best of uniting the party" I don't think that phrase has ever been used with HILLARY!

    May 5, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. Brian

    Wolf, will you never let your precious 'Dream Ticket' go? It's a fake story and there are plenty of real stories to cover. Show some journalistic integrity.

    May 5, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. David E. Cowen

    Having the loser be the Veep nominee is an easy fix that neither candidate is likely to agree to. Such a choice would certainly boost the nominee and put McCain at a severe disadvantage. However, with McCain's age, the loser for the nomination will have a strong shot at 2012 if McCain wins the election in November.

    So, if Obama loses the nomination, he can sit back and say "I was robbed" and let Hilary go down with no help from him. His coolness to her victory will have a chilling effect on African-American voters and on the new younger voters he has attracted. He then comes back in 2012 and claims the crown arguing he would have won but for her negative ads.

    If Hilary loses, she could sit back and not help Obama. Her alooftness in helping Obama win in November puts him further from the blue-colar Democrats he needs to win, and who seem to prefer her over him. If he loses, she gets to say "I told you so," and becomes the undispusted front runner automatically for 2012.

    So, despite what is best for their own party, each may perceive what is best for themselves and go the low road in November.

    May 5, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Romulus, Michigan

    CNN I will say what you are not willing to say.

    Watch the people behind Senator Clinton at her rallies pre-dominantly white. Watch the people behind Senator Obama, multi-racial just like America.

    Senator Clinton is attracting a large number of people who want things to stay the same. Everything changes, it up to the American people to make the change a positive change for everyone.

    May 5, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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