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. William

    Hopefully, we learn from the mistakes of history and not repeat them. However, that being said, look at the anger and cheap shots in this blog. History may repeat itself. It would just be a lot easier if overweight people, smokers, drinkers, and anyone with a speeding ticket was not allowed to vote.

    May 5, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Jan

    God forbid if Clinton DOES win & Obama takes 2nd. My feeling is that Obama will bow out with grace & dignity, keeping – if not INCREASING – his integrity. It WILL be that exact opposite for Clinton: She MAY put that fake smile on her face for a minute, but she will continue severing the party.

    The SMARTEST thing she could do is to change party affiliation directly following the primary nomination: Go back to being the republican she always was before Bill.

    Bottom line: If Obama loses, some his supporters will back Clinton & some will back McCain ( some, like me, will move to Canada), most will probably sit this election out. The Party will suffer permanent division.
    If Clinton loses, the majority of her supporters will back Obama, a few MAY back McCain, and FEW will move to Canada. Pleasantly enough, the PArty remains in tact.

    May 5, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. Paulinus, Canada

    God Bless America? Too much corruption and divisiveness in this country. CNN is part to be blamed owing to their unfair reporting. God knows and See all thinkgs.

    May 5, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. Sam

    Wolf, please don't force Clinton down the majority's throat! Please stay away from running the next president of the USA! And tell all those Clinton News Network people that Obama has received two superdelegates today, and he received more over the weekend that you guys have conveniently avoided reporting on, yet you've changed the numbers!!!!!!!!! what's going on?

    May 5, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. joe

    Obama's supporters are so full of vicious hatred, I would never vote for a man who engenders so much divisiveness and evil toward others. I will write in Clinton or not vote...

    Obama's cult should have thought a bit before spewing such evil and hatred toward people with different opinions. I hope Obama goes down in the General Election - he and his followers are sick.

    May 5, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. Ardnuas

    Wolf, your ONLY goal seems to be to get the Clintons back in the Whitehouse, so..... SMART voters will not listen to you!!! Report the news and STOP trying to get Hillary elected.... we know she will say and do ANYTHING to get elected.

    May 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. cynta

    I cannot believe that Americans want another unvetted individual as presidient of the USA. Obama would make a great preacher, but not the POTUS. He already has the power-to-be in his pocket. It is not about what is best for the American people, it is about the oil companies and lobbyist. That is why the DNC set the primary up with caucuses and distribution of delegates. Whatever one may feel about Hillary she is a hardworking dedicated individual and her record reflects this. Obama has no paper trail and I know people in his district who do not want him back. He does not care about the AA and I am one. Let's get real his running has been planned long before now and it is all about keeping the rich richer and the poor poorer.

    May 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. Caryn, Washington DC

    Obama has already won the nomination as far as I'm concerned. If the will of the people is overturned and Hillary gets the nomination, I will be utterly disgusted with the Democratic Party...but I'll still vote for her. I won't like it but I would never vote for John McCain.

    May 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Democrat from Apex NC, 22 yrs old

    I honestly have a hard time see Hillary not being a sore loser if she does not get the nomination. I personally think that she would look even worse to her supporters if she were to go on and support Obama, considering how much mud she has slung his way. She has damaged the party because of her inability to see the writing on the wall, while I am a huge fan of Bill Clinton, I believe that Clinton mentality of "never give in" puts her (IF she loses, which she probably will not) in a very precarious situation where she will get on a podium and go "support Obama", and her supporters will go "But you said he was the wrong guy compared to John McCain". It is going to be very interesting to see what happens at the convention.

    May 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. Call_it_like_it_is

    Wolf, when you going to cover the postetive achievements of the Obama campaign, like the endoresments that he recieved from the some of the superdeletgates today. It is a shame to see the bias on your program....

    May 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Ell from Texas

    CNN has not been reporting the demo. race fairly. I think Jack is the only one that understands the true MATH, rather Hill wins Ind or NC it would have to be by LARGE MARGINS.......that has not happened YET!

    So when CNN reports close race it is a joke, what a sell out to the American people who can add 2 + 2.

    Please do your job and vote on your own time!

    May 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Jason

    Eugene McCarthy was a Representative, then a Senator, from Minnesota. He is not to be confused with the anti-communist crusading Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin. They are both good states – both Midwestern states, but nonetheless, they are different people. Different states, different people. Get you facts straight, Wolf.

    May 5, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. Bill Hansen

    Watching Hillary Clinton take the load road and gang up with the Republicans on Barack Obama, if she somehow managed to win the party nomination, I wouldn't vote for her. I am sick and tired of the low quality of our political affairs where it is o.k. to twist the facts to win an election and to concentrate on the non-issues. I'll toss my Democratic party card and return to my "independent" status and sit this election out.

    May 5, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Ade

    Huuuuuh, Wolf that sounds like a campaign for Hillary for a Vice Presidency. It will not be a bad idea, but will Hillary keeps her head low enough to avoid confronting her boss (President Obama) in he White House? That remains very relevant. I quite agree with Pelosi who argued sometime ago that Dem should not only be thinking about wining but how to govern after wining the presidency. I will suggest a middle of the road resolution to your question. Clinton may be asked to suggest names that Obama could consider and make a choice. But choosing Hillary as VP...count it out.

    May 5, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. Lorenzo Clemons

    Comments pending approval..... I have waxed eloquently only to find my comments have not been included..... I guess I am to Obaminized!
    So Obama for '08

    May 5, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. southcarolinadem

    Why is everyone talking about IN like it is the big story tomorrow? If you notice, NC has almost 40 more delegates than IN. OH I know why, because that is the state Hillary has a shot in. Hey CNN how about reporting on Obamas super delgegates he picked up today? OH I know, that won't help Hillary. I laugh at Fox for calling themselves fair and balanced, now I guess I need to start chuckling at you guys too.

    May 5, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Lonnie Allen

    I was a supporter of Hillary until her true colors emerged when she started to lose. If she pushes the Florida and Michigan issue to win this is what is wrong with America. I believe that Obama is the only chiooce that a democrat has now. Hilary has shown her true colors she will do anything to win even cheat. She is a disgrace to America.

    May 5, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. A.K.

    Not that I'm surprised, but you have a lot of nerve, Wolf. In either of your comparisons, it appears that Obama is the candidate whose supporters never joined forces and led to a Republican win, yet you've pushed Hillary every chance you've had, so don't pretend to me that you think reconcilliation will happen "only if the winning candidate determines that that is the best of uniting the party and winning the election in November". Obama already has the best interests of the party in mind; I doubt you're purposefully or inadvertantly chastising Hillary.

    May 5, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. jp/michigan

    Prediction: Obama the Democratic nominee. McCain in the White House. Hillary the Nominee. Hillary in the White House.

    May 5, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Stan

    How the heck has CNN not reported yet that Obama picked up 4 more Superdelegates today (3 from Maryland) and Hillary none.

    May 5, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. Jim

    Although an Obama/Clinton ticket might be very appealing to many of us, it is full of potential problems. After the recent "kitchen sink" attacks, how often do you think Obama would be looking over his shoulder, looking for the knife in the back?

    May 5, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. Bill

    Obama will not allow a liar like Hillary to be on his team. Obama runs a tight ship, not the kind of sleaze machine Hillary runs.

    May 5, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. D

    Obama will not have this problem because of all of the new voters and independents he's bringing in. Do the die-hard hillary supporters won't do anything to prevent him from becoming a president, even if they vote for McCain.

    Don't forget that only negigible proportion of voters vote in primaries – only the fundamentalist democrats. there is a much larger proportion of democrats that have not voted, and Obama is much better positioned to get them for the GE. Deal with it!

    May 5, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Lenny from Texas

    If Hillary doesn't get the nod to be the democratic president, how about a McCain/Clinton ticket? McCain has indicated in the past he would not have a problem with a democratic vice president. McCain and Clinton are friends and work well together. Now that would be a dream ticket. What would Hillary have to lose except sticking to the Democratic Party which she has every right to do?

    May 5, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Jim Davis

    Obama earned 6 super delegates today and no mention from the Clinton News Network. Are you waiting for Hillery to finally get one so you can use it as a lead story. I can see it in bold lettering. CLINTON SNAGS SUPER DELEGATE and then two paragraphs later and by the way Obama gets six.

    May 5, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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