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. LaTreetha E. Sharpley

    I have heard over the last few weeks that it has become true to alot of viewers that the Wolf Man, is for Senator Clinton. I did not believe it until today. The best hope for this nation is Senator Obama; however the Wolf Man is for Senator Clinton. Please leave your preferences in your dressingroom and give us the news. We know you want Senator Clinton, but report the news trufully

    May 5, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    Hey Blitzer, do u realize that Hill's super D lead has shrunk to 12. What r u going to do?

    May 5, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Kathy Ferguson

    When Senator Obama is the Democratic nominee, he cannot offer Senator Clinton the Vice President slot. I believe she represents too much of the old Washington-style politics that would doom Senator Obama's chances of changing how America works. I think he can seek another Vice President who will better rally the country. At one time, I was ok with an Obama/Clinton match-up but Senator Clinton has just gone too far to be credible, in my opinion. WIth all due respect, Wolf, I think the media has damaged this possibility beyond repair with the constant back-and-forth highlights. I think that CNN has lost its ability to be effective, objective journalists. I do read the website but no longer watch your channel. The coverage of Rev. Wright was deplorable. You didn't have comparable coverage of the religious endorsements that Senator McCain sought and the gaffes by Senator Clinton. You really should be ashamed. Sorry, Wolf, but CNN has been very bad. We were counting on you to be fair. Guess we as viewers are the real losers in all this.

    May 5, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Mark VA

    What is more telling is that more Obama supporters will support Clinton in November than Clinton supporters supporting Obama. I think it is because Clinton is less liberal and therefore her voters will look to McCain as the centrist alternative.

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

    If Obama wins the primary, Hillary will be his worse enemy as his running mate. She would sabotage him every chance she gets so that she could run in 2012. If Hillary wins and wants Obama to be her running mate I think he cares enough about the party and country to do that but we'll wind up with this same scenerio in 2012.

    May 5, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. One

    I recommend who ever wins the nomination either it be Obama or Clinton .. the winner should nominate the loser as his/her running mate and the loser should accept ... that's the only practical way to unite the democratic party ....

    there's too much bad blood ..

    May 5, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Tim

    Latest news!!!! ClintonSuper delegate count down to 14. Senator Obama total delegate lead has increased to 143, with a pledge delegate lead of 157. He now only needs 280 delegates to seal the deal.

    Obama 08!!!

    May 5, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. Jeff


    You analysis is correct to the extent of what could and most probably will happen in the election. With a late convention, uniting the party is almost impossible without the loser as the running mate.

    The problem is that neither wants to be vice-president. Both know that if they did accept and the other won the presidency they would be buried politically. Neither ego could stand that.

    In addition, both are thinking four years from now. If they lose now and don't do more than lip service for the winner, they are in prime position to run against McCain in 2012, if he even decides to run for a second term or God forbid he does not survive a term in the White House due to bad health.

    A joint ticket is just not going to happen.

    May 5, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. Matt

    A year ago, I was a huge Hillary supporter, and I thought that Obama would bring greatness in eight years. I thought that a Hillary-Obama ticket would be amazing, and would set up 16 potentially great years of Democratic White House leadership. Now, if I had any pull at all, I would be pleading with Obama to leave Hillary and her divisive behavior behind. She has made a point in this campaign of making personal attacks – calling Obama a hypocrit from day one, attacking his religion, his so-called "elitism," etc., while completely abandoning a meaningful discussion about issues – and despite their similarities, the two have differences on the issues. Hillary has shown that she is not well-advised, was ill-prepared for a fight in this election, and has a loose grasp on the honest details of her own life and political career. Obama would lose a lot of credibility with me if he were to put Clinton on his ticket.

    I am hoping Obama wins in Indiana and North Carolina. The writing is already on the wall, but faint enough for Clinton to march on at present. With two losses tomorrow, Clinton will be greatly pressured to drop out of the race (finally!), and the Dems can move on to rebuilding and reconciling for a tough battle in November.

    Yes we can!

    May 5, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. Chuck, Oregonians for Obama

    That will never happen Wolf. There is too much personal bad blood between them now. I will be completely surprised if it is even suggested let alone accepted by the other. Hillary's and Bills ego's are too big to accept 2nd chair, and Obama knows that being second with Bill there pretty much seals his fate in that he would not beable to voice a simple opinon (again their ego's)

    May 5, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. Rena

    Wolfe –

    Get over it already. It is certian that Obama is our nominee for the Democratic party. Instead of you guys pandering with Hillary to make her believe she has a chance just like she's convincing the people of Indiana that giving them a holiday gas tax cut is going to help them is pathatic. Why don't you guys do her a favor and America and ask Hillary to step down so we can go forward? It's sad that we have a winning candidate who will do good for America but we are doing everything but trying to support him. Maybe you all at CNN need to read your own articles you print; try the one by T D Jakes just put out today. Maybe he can enlightened you a lot better than those who put a lot of trash on your blog.

    May 5, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. Helene

    Frankly I am so disgusted by Clinton's campaign and her antics that I will never vote for her again, be it for Senator or Governor. And I live in New York.

    May 5, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Hillary Will Win

    I agree with the smart proposal put forward by Mario Cuomo. I think the "Dream Ticket" is the only way to insure that the Democrats will take back the White House.

    May 5, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. dgordon

    Since a large portion of the electorate can't see past what they see on TV, there's a very good chance the Republicans will win it again. But I suspect the mainstream media is in for a shock as we have become quite aware of the influence of the media during this election season and things will change going forward. Maybe not soon enough to correct the injustices done to Barack Obama this year, but you can be sure CNN, FOX, and ABC will feel the repercussions of their influence peddling for years to come. Good luck with that.

    May 5, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Larry from LA

    We do not need Billary as the VP. I would love to see another female as the VP maybe a current senator or governor. There are certainly a lot of qualified women who would be a very good president or vice president. If your wondering I am an older male who believes in equal equaltiy.

    May 5, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Nikki Kirk

    I think that the democratic party is severly damaged. I think that people will be hurt no matter what. This race has been one of the a refresher to the US and to the world that the US has a race problem. The Democratic Primary process havs disclosed it to all of the world. White people still have fears and distrust about people of color (any color except white) that they helped create since Columbus landed here and stole from the American Indians. I think we should stop talking about who is the best candidate and get down to the nitty gritty! The Clintons just showed how dirty that the losers are friendly fire experts! I think the loser should go someplace like Edwards did and shut up until the election is over!

    May 5, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. David Goldman for OBAMA








    May 5, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. KK

    Wolf your program is getting old and tiresome. What has Hill done for you that you are so Bias?

    Don't you know that Hillary is trying to ruin Obama for her own gain. She acts and says the same as McInsane does she should run for REP. VP.

    Don't worry from all that I have read the Supers are in Obama's camp.
    3 today and California Clinton Supers are ready to switch to Obama's camp.
    After Tuesday Obama will need only 184 delegates and the Supers will pour out.
    Clinton has made more Supers angry at the pandering and blaming Congress and Wallstreet and using Race as an issue.
    She might not even have a seat in the Senate.

    Go Obama the next President!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. OK

    From the candidates charecter it will be easier for Obama to back Clinton. The problem will be Hillary backing obama it will be very hard for her to do that.

    May 5, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Pandering

    If Hillary and all her supporters including CNN steal the nomination from Obama...Obama supporters must either vote for McCain or stay home. There is no way in hell she can win, so if she get the nomination that will be a major dissaster for the Democratic Party.

    May 5, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. truthurts

    CNN why haven't you reported Obama's new super delegates?

    May 5, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Adam

    It is funny that an article titled 'The Loser's Role'" is tagged under Both the author, Blitzer, and Hillary Clinton. Nobody really believes she has a chance anymore huh?

    May 5, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. dar

    I belong to no organized political party...I'm a Democrat.

    May 5, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. Benjamin, Columbus OH

    Mr. Blitzer,

    Let me make one thing perfectly clear, if Barack Obama does not become the Democratic nominee if he ends the primary with the most pledged votes, I will make it my mission over the following months to encourage every African-American to show up at the polls on Nov. 4 and cast a vote for every race and issue except President. One party, the Republicans, hardly acknowledges our exsistence and the other party, the Democrats, have taken our vote for granted for far to long. Enough is enough.

    Watch for a systematic, dedicated, organized movement, the likes of one not seen in American politics by one demographic, to make a statement this fall that "enough is enough."

    May 5, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. Jewish Women for Obama

    For once, an unbiased (HRC) article from Wolf...

    I think it's not a matter of who wins or loses... but rather, a matter of how they win or lose. If Obama wins the delegates AND popular votes and Hillary gets the nomination, that's simply not fair, and you don't expect the Obama Nation to support her...

    At this point, we all know that scenario is not possible, so why exactly is she still in the race???

    I think she's campaigning for 2012, with the hopes that she's destroy Obama to guarantee McBush a win....

    May 5, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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