May 11th, 2008
02:05 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama camp: Clinton not looking for a deal

Barack Obama’s campaign denied the suggestion that Hillary Clinton is looking for a deal.

Barack Obama’s campaign denied the suggestion that Hillary Clinton is looking for a deal.

(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign rejected suggestions Sunday that Sen. Hillary Clinton is staying in the race in hopes of brokering some kind of agreement with the likely nominee.

"I don't believe that Senator Clinton is looking for a deal," Obama's chief campaign strategist David Axelrod told "Fox News Sunday," when asked about suggestions she may want the Obama campaign's help retiring her campaign debt.

"I don't think that's what this is about," he said.

Axelrod said he believes Clinton "will have the capacity to retire her debt."

He also denied rumors that the Clinton camp may be in some kind of discussions with the Obama camp to make her his running mate. "There's been no discussion about vice presidential nominees and this whole scenario," said Axelrod.

Clinton's top strategist Howard Wolfson told the same program, "We think Senator Clinton is going to be the nominee," and that he has "seen no evidence of her interest" in the number two slot.

"This isn't about debt retirement or about the veep," he said.

"This is about winning campaigns in key upcoming states, making the case to superdelegates that based on Senator Clinton's track record, winning the big states - Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Florida - running ahead of John McCain now nationally in polls and in those key states, that we would be the best nominee."

Both Democratic campaigns cite different polls to show the candidates' potential nationwide standing against Sen. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Wolfson added that if voters in West Virginia "want to end this on Tuesday, they're perfectly capable of it." Both campaigns expect Clinton to win in the state, and polls show her ahead by a wide margin.

But mathematically, Clinton's chances of collecting enough delegates to clinch the nomination have shrunk to the point that many consider her presidential aspirations for 2008 virtually over.

Wolfson said the Clinton camp has a total of about $20 million in debt.

Both campaigns have broken fundraising records. But Obama has outpaced Clinton since January, outspending her in advertising by a wide margin in many states. The Clinton camp has large sums of money in donations usable only for a general election, if she were to make it that far.

Axelrod said Clinton has "competed hard" and is "playing it out as she sees fit. I don't think she's waiting for a cue or a signal from us or an offer of financial assistance. And I think that would demean her to suggest otherwise."

He added, "I don't think even under any scenario... that we were going to transfer money from the Obama campaign to the Clinton campaign. We obviously need the resources we have. We have a great task ahead of us." He said he believes "there was a misunderstanding out there about that."

Axelrod also denied reports that Obama's wife Michelle wants nothing to do with the Clintons, presenting a potential obstacle to what some have called a "dream ticket."

"That's false," he said, emphasizing that there have not been "any overtures" about a possible Clinton-Obama ticket.

Wolfson and Axelrod appeared separately on "Fox News Sunday," avoiding the head-to-head matchups they have often engaged in previously. They also limited attacks on each other to a minimum, in a noticeable change from the back-and-forth throughout much of the campaign season.

soundoff (460 Responses)
  1. Anteneh

    The Clinton campaign is finished. They're $20 million in debt according to Wolfson (I don't know whether to be skeptical or not). But seriously, if you have to resort to deficit spending during a campaign, then you're sure as heck not able to tackle the economy.

    May 11, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. John, CT

    Unless Senator Obama completely freaks out and starts wearing a hammer and sickle on his lapel then Senator Clinton is not going to be the nominee. The common feeling among the superdelegates is that the person with the greater popular vote and delegate count is the person they will vote for. I have to agree that Wolfson is just saying that because he wants to get paid and/or the press attention. Those are the only motives I can think of for the Clinton camp to stay in it.

    May 11, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Celeste

    It is time for her to do what is right for the country and stop doing only for herself.

    America needs a person with education and intelligence to get begin to fix all the stuff the Republicans have ruined over the last 7 years.

    McCain is not capable.

    May 11, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. cate

    Hey, this is one person we know thoroughly (and love dearly).

    Is she a beggar? NO.
    A whiner? NO.
    Looking for a handout? Never.

    STOP the negative attacks on her, will you?

    The press has blamed her for everything imaginable, even Obama's shortcomings. Her victories were downplayed to pitiful 'squeaks'.
    Stop it ! Enough.

    She will make sure that the voters feel like they are part of this process. This is who she is and always has been.

    Why does the press have a difficult time with this democratic concept?

    May 11, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Nick

    "We think Senator Clinton will be the nominee" I hope that this doesn't mean they have a nasty attack coming out like a picture with Obama sitting in the church with Wright giving one of his Anti-American speeches...

    May 11, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. cathy

    Hillary is Cleopatra –Queen of Denial

    May 11, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. gcbfred

    I dont beleive she has any designs on the VP spot either. I do beleive though that she has every right to continue her quest for the Nomination. She is running for President, remember? Duh! ...I dont think she should seek or accept any deals including VP. If she did, she would be locked in for a maximum of 8 years whereas if she wanted, she could run again in 4 years. He will be a president in training as he goes through his ON THE JOB INTERNSHIP. ... He just might screw it up so bad that we will be wanting him out in four hears....But my following thought is that he won't become president anyway. I know he is a articulate speaker, but it is all talk. All I have seen so far is an empty suit.

    May 11, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. king from toronto

    they are looking like camp huckabee more, and more ,each day."major in miracles"lol,it's bin over since super tuesday.

    May 11, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. alice2Fresno,CA

    It is obvious to everyong except Clinton's & her campaign that she can not win. Why she stays in the race is unbelieveable. she is hoping she can find/dig up something on Obama that will cause another outrageous personal attack on him & in that way hurt him & maybe win then. Most of the Press incl. Tim Russert says Obama is the Nominee. I don't think she should be on as VP, she represents Washington as Usual, & he is a New Way of Politics & wants to move forward with CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

    May 11, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Interesting

    even if she miraculously (most likely through some closed door, under handed deal) was able to secure the nomination, what would she do then? McCain's weakness is that he is very underfunded, but how will clinton look if she is already 20 million (probably more by the end of the campaign) in debt? she will have nothing left for the general election. talk about electability...

    May 11, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. The Oracle

    And that would be too good for her. She needs to pay them debts off herself after going so negative.

    May 11, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. The Oracle

    GCBFred: If all you see is an empty suit, then with HRC you're just looking at an empty pantsuit. Cause they have the same policies.

    May 11, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. John, Belgium

    You might have seen an empty suit but politics mind You is talk and then action. Also on Hillary: She's not a strong contender. If she would be she would be the one on top by now. She isn't. Not only she isn't, there is not a single chance she'll become President this election. For Obama things are looking up any which way You look at it. It's up to him now. Not up to her.

    May 11, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. Austin, Davenport, IA - re: Tony, Miami

    Tony, you and many others are fooling yourself when you say that this campaign is over. It's funny to see everyone ignore possible voter turnout in West Virginia, Kentucky, and ***especially Puerto Rico.***

    Once she wins the popular vote, it will be extremely difficult and hypocritical for anyone to back Obama.

    If Clinton wins the popular vote, then a delegate's vote for Obama is a vote for the last eight years of Bush's policies.

    It's easy to say that Obama is winning the (pledged) delegates, so he should be the nominee. However, the problem here is that the pledged delegates are unable to come to a decision. Therefore, it is up to the superdelegates to vote with their conscience. When Hillary wins the popular vote, I hope that decision will be easy for them.

    May 11, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Donald

    clinton,is over.Just step down,someday,somehow it will be your turn.

    May 11, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Objective Mike from Illinois

    It is right to point out that Obama does not have that much experience but I have two problems with this statement:

    1.) Mitt Romney said Obama has never done anything in his life. Well he ran a very successful record-breaking campaign while "genius" Romney failed despite all his money.

    2.) Longevity is not the same as wisdom and the ability to listen. The truth is that the president himself does not have to come up with a gazillion ideas. There are tons of advisors, senators, congressmen etc etc that do that. What we need from a president is foresight, wisdom and the ability to motivate!

    As Obama said: What we have is not a lack of good ideas (heck I have at least 20 good ideas). What we lack is the political will to move this country past our current problems.

    May 11, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. DocG

    Its finally over!

    May 11, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. Dori in AZ

    It wouldn't be a dream ticket.

    The White House would become our national House of Horrors.

    Hillary Clinton needs to get honest – something she rarely does – with her supporters, & admit that their trust in her has been misplaced & their donations to her have been mismanaged. She's "competed hard," as Axelrod says, ultimately at her supporters' expense.

    Tell her to pull the funds out of her personal bank account – she has it! – to pay the $20 million debt that her campaign owes. It's HER debt, NOT Obama's, NOT her supporters', NOT the country's.

    May 11, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. Tracy

    Obama and the media need to stop even referencing Clinton. When she's not getting attention she'll slink away like Huckabee had to do. Goodnight, Hillary, your tale is over.

    May 11, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. Eric

    The only way that Mrs clinton win the nomination is if she does some back door politics and offers the super delegates a piece of the money from the healthcare plan she puts in place. Meaning if the health care companies take one of every three dollars for there profits then if every American pays for health care regaurdless if they are a single parent with three kids living in a shack then they can skim $4.00 of every $10 for ther profits they keep $2.00 for them selves and give hillary $1 and the super delegates the other $1 and giving them selves a raise in there cities to cover it up.

    May 11, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Fredric

    Just what we need, a presidential candidate utterly divorced from reality. She'd almost be funny if she weren't so false and dangerous a signpost on this confused or at least ambivalent nation's roadmap.

    May 11, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Mehr

    Although I give Senator Clinton all the right to stay in the race, I believe that sooner or later she will have to step out. Whether that day comes on May 13th or June 3rd is up to her but i still believe that she will have to end her campaign in a graceful matter. As for Senator Clinton staying in the race to get some political position with Obama, is hopefully unlikely because it is not helping her instead hurting Obama to officially start his general election campaign

    May 11, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Chris

    "Wolfson added that if voters in West Virginia "want to end this on Tuesday, they're perfectly capable of it.""

    Riiiight. They're going to try to spin tiny West Virginia into the game changing victory that will propel her past Barack. What is this now? the 19th different way of measuring victory that they've come up with since Super Tuesday?

    We've seen Barack stay the heavy favorite despite her saying that Indiana was the game changer, or WV, the popular vote (w/ Obama getting 0% in Michigan), Ohio, Texas, California, big states in general, whoever wins blue collar voters, whoever doesn't win those republican states, caucuses shouldn't count, he can't win democratic strongholds, he hates those hard working small towners, 2025, now its 2209.....All while ignoring that whole delegate know? the one that determines the winner. next week she'll ask for a whole new primary season and ask for the best 2 out of 3

    May 11, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. mariann

    Clinton staying in the presidental race until June 3rd is also a way to decompress and come to the final realization that she will not be on the top of the ticket.

    May 11, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. Elroy

    gcbfred, you sound so shallow minded, when any president takes their first term in office it is a new job for them and that person has to still be in a learning process anyway, so pick your words wisely and don't talk a talk that other people talk without analizing their own words.

    May 11, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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