May 5th, 2008
02:45 PM ET
10 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. Robert - Portland

    While Obama and his supporters want to sweep Rev Wright under the carpet the fact is that he is a hot-button issue and should be. Let's face it, love him or hate him, Rev Wright knows Senator Obama better than any of us. Obama and his family went to this mans church for over 20 years and Obama himself stated the man was like family. In fact he wrote about him in his book.

    Now that Rev Wrights hate and racism issues have come to light, we are supposed to dismiss this and continue supporting Obama. And futher Obama tried to throw him under the bus. Now comes Rev Wright speaking in public what he has preached for years and tells what he knows of Senator Obama, that he a politician and says what a politician says to get elected. Obama then jumps in the drivers seat of the bus that he threw Rev Wright under and runs him over.

    People it isn't Rev Wright who changed or is crazy like Obama and his supporters want us to think, it is Obama who has done the about face… It's called pandering.

    May 5, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Tampa Votes Barack Obama

    Let me spell it out for you:

    I.T. I.S. N.E.V.E.R. G.O.I.N.G. T.O. H.A.P.P.E.N. W.O.L.F.

    Move on can we?

    May 5, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  3. White Independent

    Obama will become the nominee but he will not be able to take on Clinton and her thirty years of corruption and lies. He shall overcome the negative rhetoric she has thrown at him because there is something happening when Americans who are young in age and in spirit – who have never before participated in politics – turn out in numbers we’ve never seen because they know in their hearts that this time must be different.
    There is something happening when people vote not just for the party they belong to but the hopes they hold in common – that whether we are rich or poor; black or white; Latino or Asian; whether we hail from Iowa or New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, we are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction. That is what’s happening in America right now. Change is what’s happening in America. We are the ones we've been waiting for.

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

    Wolfie. Please ask you buddy Hillary if she has invested in another million shares of Haliburton or Kellog Brown and Root. Why else is she talking about Nukeing Iran and starting World war 3. For you ignorant Hillary supporters, these companies are makeing millions of dollars in profits from the Iraq war. Our wonderfull politicians are invested in these companies and are makeing money on the blood of our dead military heroes.

    May 5, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Roni Ball (Lanham, Md.)

    OK, one last time. There will not be an Obama/Clinton or Clinton Obama ticket for the Dems. It just won't work. Obama and Clinton are light years apart in thought and approach. I have been following the Obama campaign very closely and I just don't see him signing on to be vice president to Billary Clinton. Obama wants to unite the country and do something new. Billary wants to divide and conquer so they can return to the glory days of the 1990s. In addition, if, by some political trickery, Billary is able to pull off the nomination, they will have alienated more than half of the Democratic party and will not get elected - no matter who is on the ticket with her. I am a strong Obama supporter, but I would never vote for a ticket with Billary on it. I don't want to see them anywhere near the White House ever again.

    May 5, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. maxine jenkins

    we already have a loser and she needs to cut the crap and get behind obama

    May 5, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Big Al

    It won't happen if Obama wins. I'm quite sure he'll want a Democrat as his running mate.

    May 5, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. Anthony

    I think the Obama camp has been extremely Anti-Clinton this entire election cycle but the bottom line is Hillary is a force to be reckoned with and Obama needs her come November. A joint ticket (regardless of what Pelosi says) is the only solution. Otherwise I see enough of the other's supporters voting for McCain, myself included.

    May 5, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Eugene McCarthy was from Minnesota not Wisconsin

    May 5, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Independant

    I can see OBama agreeing to be Clinton's VP but something tells me that she would not agree to be his. Surely the Deomcratic party big dogs can make these two fall in line with the rest of the party without making them appear on the same ticket. I believe left to them neither would willing chose the other as their running mate.

    May 5, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  11. Mary

    Barack Obama will be the Democrat nominee and there's 'no way' that Clinton will work in ernest for him. Her Clintonian 'crash & burn' tactics makes all of see that she's no longer 'in it' to win it but 'in it' as a spoiler for Barack. He'll have won the most contests & garnered the most delegates & votes. Why doesn't she admit that it's over??? Because she's out to hurt his chances at all costs. Shame on Hillary Clinton. Shame on her.

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

    This election is making my head hurt.
    The only thing making it better is that I get to have the best political team on television telling me the results. You are all amazing reporters, don't ever change!

    May 5, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. fred

    If Obama gets the will be McCain!!!

    May 5, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. brian

    at this point I think a joint ticket is the only one that could win. democrats need to put aside their differences and join together. then they need to fix their broken primary system...

    May 5, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. mimi de la cruz foe OBAMA




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

    I don't know how anyone can support Clinton! Politics as usual!

    May 5, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. David

    Hillary will want Obama to lose in November so she can run again in 2012 using the slogan "I told you so." .

    May 5, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. Reality check #1

    Wolfe, the only candidate that can win against McCain is Clinton. How much more proof does the Democratic party need? Obama wins caucus states and those will not be caucus' in November. The caucus' were conducted like a third world country election, many of the Clinton voters were given misinformation, had doors locked on them, or the caucus started so late, hours later than planned, that people became frustrated and just left. The DNC can not ignore the 2+ million people in Florida and Michigan. Democrats are so angry with Howard Dean and his shanagans that support for the Democratic party will fade if those votes are not counted.

    May 5, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. truth_hurts

    listen barack being under hillary would be like being in boot camp, you don't want that, however if you win let her be under you. and teach her some diplomacy

    May 5, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. FRANK


    May 5, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. maxine jenkins

    by the way wolf you are aa bias loser too

    May 5, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. Hillary Support before

    CNN is the cause of all this then.

    May 5, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. James

    That is so true. I support Obama-Clinton ticket. We have to unite.

    May 5, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  24. Eric

    Would it be possible to stop talking as if Hillary could win. That would improve your network's credibility. The numbers don't add up and plus, the superdelegates are turning their back to Hillary (3 new ones today for Obama but I forgot, you don't report on those).

    What Hillary will do depends on her health. If she thinks she might have a shot in 2016, she will rally and do a great job campaigning. If not, she will pursue what she does now which is lie, deceit, scare, in order to run for office in 2012.

    May 5, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  25. Raja Gopalan

    The only way that CLinton and Obama agree to choose each other as thei running mate is if they determine that they individually cannot win but jointly can beat McCain.

    May 5, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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