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. seth


    May 5, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. SaneTexan

    If Obama is the nominee...then it will be like the 80's all over again. He and his fringe Democrat supporters can't win the general election. Can you spell McCain Democrats? This Democrat sure can.

    May 5, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Paull

    Clinton go home! And take your inane wife with you!

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

    If Hillary wins the nomination, I don't care who she picks–she won't get my vote because there are fundamental differences between her character and motivation and Senator Obama's.

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

    - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama by 7 percent in a new nationwide poll of party voters, USA Today reported.

    The USA Today/Gallup survey was taken after the controversy reignited over comments by Obama's former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the newspaper said. Illinois Senator Obama led New York Senator Clinton by 10 points in support nationwide in a similar poll two weeks ago, USA Today said.

    The new poll marks the first time that Clinton has been ahead in three months. Clinton also was seen as the stronger Democrat to beat John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, by 5 percent points, USA Today said.

    May 5, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. seth


    May 5, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Tim

    If Hillary plays politics as usual, as Senator Obama claims (and I agree with him), then why would she be qualified to be his running mate to help bring real change? She wouldn't be, she isn't, and I won't vote for a ticket with her name on it.

    May 5, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Donald

    I feel that we all just need to let the people vote stop interjecting race and sex. We need to look at the bIg picture health care and Jobs. Both

    May 5, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. Jim Hannon

    I'm not surprised to see that Wolf Blitzer thinks Gene McCarthy was a senator from Wisconsin. He probably has him mixed up with Joe McCarthy.

    May 5, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Voter

    There will be no dream ticket. Obama will win the democratic nomination and McCain will win the general election. And in 2012 Clinton will win the general election.
    McCain '08
    Clinton '12

    May 5, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Eleanor

    It is time that the media stop asking Obama questions in a negative fashion and when he does not ansewr as the media expects you start to bagger him. Unlike when you address questions to Senator Clinton, you ask the question as if her answer is already accepted.

    News media no wonder the uneducated are voting for Clinton because they are swayed by the way the media addresses each candidate.

    Stop and look at yourself

    May 5, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. John

    Wolf Blitzer eats from the clinton's table, anyone who watches the situation room can see how he reports. He reports as though Barack Obama is behind and Hillary Clinton is the front runner, even in this peice he is saying "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" he says Barack name first like he;s behind.

    he is such a biased reporter.

    May 5, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. bigben

    no voting for obama. he is weak

    May 5, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. truthurts

    6 supers for Obama and not one story. Is CNN now a tabloid?

    May 5, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Tammy - KCMO

    If Clinton ends up being nominated in any capacity I will NOT be voting for anyone in the Democratic party. I think that Obama is smarter than this and won't let it happen.

    May 5, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. John Smith

    We need real change in the criteria for "voting" in any election for the presidency". Here is my proposal, and I await your comments:

    Only people with at least an AA degree from a community college should vote for the nominee. That is, we need only those who are "informed" about policy issues to vote.

    We expect our president to be brilliant and learned, so should the voters.

    May 5, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Mike Glenn

    Hey, Wolf:
    It just isn't going to happen; the egos on both sides of the question are just too big. Barack won't accept the veep slot, as it's pretty much a given that Bill will be the de-facto VP in a Hillary White House. On the reverse, I think Hillary would sooner chew her own leg off before she'd work for the newbie from Indiana.
    No-one's going to do a Mitt Romney here, Wolf. Not even if it means burning the party to the ground, it's just not going to happen.
    P.S.: I miss your Pentagon briefs! 🙂

    May 5, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. Pro-Democracy

    The real loser is Wolf Blitzer. I don't know what it is but he has completely lost his touch. All of his Ticker prompts are either extremely light weight or irrelevant. Alas

    May 5, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Alex

    The only way Obama will loose the nomination is if the super delegates fall for the race trap the Clintons set up. If that is the case Obama has to just take a well deserve holiday and watch from the far distance. If I were him, I would not say a word until after the election is over. He has created unprecedented momentum for this campaign regardless of continuous effort by the Clintons to put a hole through its progress. If the super delegates fail to see this then Obama and his supporters should stay away from the election.

    May 5, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. MC, Pa

    CNN, Obama received 6 SD today. Why don't you report? Shame on you for letting bloggers reporting the news.

    May 5, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. Stephen David

    Oh my word... the rhetoric in these comments is ghastly!

    Well... "If person X is the candidate the world will come to an end" or "If person Y get's the nomination I will vote for the party I don't believe in." Tis' truly silly season and once again and many have stooped to the level expected of them.

    Obama supporters are mean, Hillary supporters are ignorant, blah, blah, blah...

    I want a democrat in the WH... Personally, I would prefer Sen. Obama, but Sen. Clinton would be okay too! We need to stop this childish behavior within our own party. (I can hear someone saying now... well I will stop if they stop first).

    How can we increase our world perception with this kind of idiocy?

    Dems, get over your ego and your candidate and be a dem. How embaressing and shameful this is.

    May 5, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. yhoff76

    Jeff I agree, as an Obama supporter, that we need to unify regardless of who gets the nomination, but let truth be told, Hillary does cater to that closet racist vote under the code name" White rural voters"..haha, I mean, some people are looking for a reason to not place a person of color in the oval office. If Hillary wins fairly, she'll get the Obama vote, we are college educated, young, insightful and tired of American racists but we won't turn on our party the way Hillary supporters have ignorantly threatened to do.

    May 5, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Neutral


    Too much harsh words being thrown at Hillary supporters from Obama supporters. I've never seen so much viciousness until now. I'm an independent voter, I'm watching this show closely and weighing my vote in general election. I've seen so much disrespect for the former First Lady, totally uncalled for. If this is the generation that will lead our country out from the brink of recession, we are in TROUBLE as a nation. As the old saying goes, "the youth is wasted on the young."

    McCain will get my vote in general election if Obama is the nominee for the democratic Party. The DNC can ponder when general election is over how they've lost the Whitehouse for third in a row. Too much animosity, Hillary can ask her supporters to support Obama, it's not going to work. Here's my reason why, people will cast their vote NOT base on party line BUT who can BEST lead our country, that's where EXPERIENCE count MOST. You wouldn't trust a medical intern to perform open heart surgery on you, would you?

    May 5, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. jane naples

    Why does hillary tough lady keep threatening Iran?
    Someday we will have to there and search for her under the long burka. Then we will see how tough she is. Obama is much more
    safer to deal with. He doesnt threaten, because it gets you in more problems.

    May 5, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Tony Snow who worked for Bush is coming to CNN, does Wolf feel the pressure of Tony taking his job as to why he is so pro-Hillary. If so Wolf needs to not go there, he would stand a better chance at staying neutral.

    May 5, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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