May 25th, 2008
11:10 AM ET
10 years ago

Clinton op-ed: 'Why I Continue to Run'

Clinton has faced a media firestorm since her Friday comment.

Clinton has faced a media firestorm since her Friday comment.

(CNN) - Two days after Hillary Clinton pointed to Robert Kennedy’s June 1968 assassination as part of an explanation for why she was continuing her presidential run, the New York senator continued her efforts to stem the lingering fallout over the comment – and to explain her reasons for staying in the race.

In an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Daily News – portions of which where sent to reporters by her campaign with the headline “***MUST READ***: Hillary: Why I Continue To Run” – Clinton said some had taken the controversial reference “entirely out of context.”

“I want to set the record straight: I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year's primary contest is nothing unusual,” she wrote. Kennedy was still running for president in June of 1968, although his own run was far shorter since he had been a candidate only since March of that year.

Clinton has faced increasing pressure to end her campaign in the face of a nearly insurmountable delegate lead by rival Barack Obama.

(UPDATE after the jump: Clinton senior adviser accuses Obama campaign of "inflaming" the situation)

In her piece, Clinton also pointed to statements in her defense by the editor of the South Dakota paper where she made the comment, and from prominent supporter Robert Kennedy Jr. Most members of the Kennedy family, including those who have backed her presidential bid, have yet to make public statements on her comment.

“I realize that any reference to that traumatic moment for our nation can be deeply painful - particularly for members of the Kennedy family, who have been in my heart and prayers over this past week. And I expressed regret right away for any pain I caused,” wrote Clinton Sunday.

“But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for - and everything I am fighting for in this election.”

Clinton gave several reasons why she was continuing her presidential run despite the increasingly remote mathematical odds of her success, including her beliefs that “I can win on the merits,” provide real leadership on a host of pressing national concerns, and that as the first female candidate with a real chance of making it to the White House “I have a responsibility to finish this race.”

“Finally, I am running because I believe I'm the strongest candidate to stand toe-to-toe with Sen. McCain,” she wrote. “Delegate math might be complicated - but electoral math is not. Our campaign is winning the popular vote - and we've been winning the swing states we need to get 270 electoral votes and take back the White House…”

Clinton’s contention that she is leading in the popular vote has been a matter of great debate, since the only scenario where that claim is possible includes the unauthorized votes from both Florida and the Michigan contest where Barack Obama’s name did not appear on the ballot, and does not include any votes from several caucus states which do not release popular vote totals, but where the Illinois senator won an overwhelming majority of the delegates at stake.

The New York senator added that “no matter what happens in this primary, I am committed to unifying this party. Ultimately, what Sen. Obama and I share is so much greater than our differences.”

In an interview with ABC’s This Week, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said that the campaign was “beyond that issue now,” echoing similar Saturday statements from the Illinois senator himself - despite its statement taking aim at Clinton shortly after she made the remark, and its later decision to send direct reporters to a commentary by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann that was extremely critical of her Kennedy reference.

“As far as we're concerned, George, as far as we're concerned, this issue is done. It was an unfortunate statement, as we said, as she's acknowledged. She has apologized. The apology, you know, is accepted. Let's move forward.”

He also attacked Clinton’s argument that she remained a viable candidate, and would make a more competitive nominee than Obama.

“So - but here's the thing, George. This isn't ‘American Idol,’ OK? This is a nominating process. We have rules,” said Axelrod. “We elect delegates state by state. Senator Obama has built a lead over these six – over these five months. And we expect on June 3 that this process will come to an end.”

UPDATE: Clinton campaign co-chairman Terry McAuliffe said Sunday that she had been making a valid point about the timeline of the race, telling Fox News Sunday that “a hyped-up press over Memorial Day weekend, the Obama campaign inflaming it, tried to take these words out of context.”

McAuliffe said the Obama campaign’s claim that they did not want to attack Clinton over the remark were disingenuous because of the decision to criticize Clinton on Friday, which “got it going so the story would be around for three days. It's nice to get a story going and then, you know, let it go for
three days over the weekend and say, ‘Oh, she didn't mean anything about it.’"

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (449 Responses)
  1. Brad, Charleston, SC

    You have every right to stay in the race through June 3rd, but, you must bow out gracefully.
    We hated Bush for stealing the election from Gore.
    The same thing will happen if you steal this election from Obama.

    May 25, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Jim

    Go Hillary, good for Hillary. Don't every give up, keep fighting the good fight. We support you and are with you all the way.

    May 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Bush was never elected

    I can't believe she didn't apologize. Cold hearted. Why would anyone blame Obama for her remarks?

    May 25, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Phil Newton

    She may have Van Gogh's ear for sound bites, but I doubt she meant anything other than what she said.

    Let it go.

    Now...on to an Obama presidency.

    May 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. Alex in MA

    Please end this nonsense! SUPERDELEGATES come out and end this nonsense!

    May 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Ardnuas

    The TRUTH... You are trying to DESTROY the Democratic Party for rejecting YOU...... The foolish superdelegates (keeping quite )are letting YOU do it.
    Obama/Hagel ( I want Chuck Hagel to be VP)

    May 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  7. No More Clinton in Politics

    I hope she loses her position as the Senator from New York.

    When someone contests her seat, you can count on my donation.

    May 25, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. cbenji in NYC

    clinton has no business running for president.
    she obviously doesn't know how to think before speaking.

    May 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. Josh

    The time line doesn't make sense. Both of the primaries she was talking about started much later in the year.

    That being said, this race is growing ugly. Despite it all, Democrats have to come together, or we risk 4 more years of bloodshed in Iraq. I challenge anyone who says different (those who say they would vote for McCain if their candidate doesn't win) to say that to the face of a soldier or the family of those soldiers.

    Can anyone really be that selfish?

    May 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. Dave

    You give the DNC and Obama so much crap for disenfranchising voters in Florida and Michigan. So how can you, in good conscience, claim they counted and claim the popular vote... math that only works if you disenfranchise caucus states? All twelve of them or however many?

    Ohhh, I get it. It's okay if votes don't count as long as they're for YOU, Mrs Clinton. I see.

    May 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. rumpusgoopus

    "But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for..."

    Considering Clinton has done innumerable things that fly in the face of what she supposedly "stands for" in this campaign, it's no surprise this comment would be construed this way (even ignoring the fact that it's the most obvious interpretation of what she said).

    May 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Veterans for Obama

    Just go away.

    May 25, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. Jeanne

    She continues to run because she's stubborn and has lost touch with reality. She references California a couple of times in her argument for staying in through June. This might make sense if California held it's primary in June, as it has in the past, when she had a chance to pick up a large number of delegates but California moved it's primary up and there is no longer a large number of delegates left to gain. She can only hope to win this race if something unfortunate happens to Obama, as she has hinted could happen, or the superdelegates override the results of the election. I'll wait to see what happens once the primaries are over but I'm betting that she'll find an excuse to "keep fighting" resulting in a lost election for the Democrats. I'm sure the Republicans will be grateful.

    May 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. Gringo

    Hillary...keep going. Don't give them a thing. If they're going to do it, make them earn it.

    Independent in the fall sounds good. Maybe with Lieberman as VP.

    Obama is a bad joke, supported by a lot of dreamers that ought to know better.

    May 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. Disappointed in the Clintons

    Let's move on. At this point, it doesnt matter why you said what you said, you said it and it was in BAD taste not only for the Kennedy legacy but also for Obama. You apologize IF you offended anyone? Well Senator Clinton you offended many of us. You lost many votes behind that comment and desperate attempt to win at ALL cost.

    May 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. Ken in Florida

    "This isn't American Idol" ... I love it!!!!!

    May 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. Walt

    Time to support the people's choice Hillary. You say you care about the people, etc., etc., etc., well then support their candidate and let's move on.

    May 25, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  18. strong

    Hillary is a highly intelligent woman. Despite what alot of people think, she is no fool. She has the choice of staying in this race, and so she should !

    America: count your blessings that we have Hillary. Vote for her. Who else is there really to vote for? Wakey, wakey.

    Hillary 2008 & 2012

    May 25, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. Cohiba


    I am an egotistical, untrustworthy, power-hungry meglomaniac. I continue to run because I am entitled to the presidency. I continue to run because I do not care about what is best for the country; I only care about what is good for me. I continue to run becasue I am the best and I am ready on day one to the run the country into the ground the same way I ran my campaign. I continue to run because there are a lot of people who will take the blame when I screw up...I am not accountable to anyone. And most importantly, I continue to run because I still have several pantsuits that I have not worn yet.

    May 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. Susan MO

    Hillary will win!

    She is for all the people.

    She is experienced.

    She is a fighter.

    She is for our country!!

    Hillary 08

    May 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. John, Portland, Oregon

    She has learned on thing from the Bush Administration, never clean up your mess and keep repeating your right all the time. The best part of this long campaign season is we really got to know the two candidates and the one getting the nomination has proven himself an admirable person and Sen. Clinton being so desperate has shown very little personal substance in just a short time in the national spotlight. She will be lucky to hold her senate seat after this. Sad how she has gone into the shadows of herself to try and convince so many she is up for the job.

    May 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  22. Nora

    Keith Olbermann was very harsh with her but he brought up all her lies,her attempts to change the rules and the ridiculous statement of her saying she is more electable. I think Keith was right on the money with his comments. Hillary if you are more electable then why are you so behind, I wish someone would answer that question.

    May 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. Michigan Born & Educated

    Millions of us are rooting for you, Hillary! Thank you for your dedication to America and all its people!!

    May 25, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. robb

    This RFK thing is hanging on like the Grim Reaper. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Hillary.

    May 25, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. Leslie

    She said Kennedy was on her mind when she made her "misspeak" on Friday. Was he also on her mind 2 months ago when she made similar remarks in Time Magazine?

    May 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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