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. Amy

    I think it is clear that the Clinton's own the Democratic Party, not the voters. If she were any other candidate, the super delegates would have fallen in line behind the candidate chosen by the people-Obama-and ended this already. Instead, due to either loyalty or fear of the Clinton machine, they are letting her tear down our candidate, thus harming our chances for victory in the fall. When this is all said and done, I think we need to hold another election-to get rid of the party leaders and insiders who are allowing this to happen.

    May 25, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Godwin

    She is not only hurting the democratic party, she is hurting her political future. The longer she stays in this race, the higher her chances of misspeaking again.

    May 25, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. Clinton/McCain

    Thank you, Hillary for pointing out the absurdity to media hype on this matter. Obama could have taken the high road by defending your remarks and criticizing the pundits who overreacted. Instead, they fanned the flames, like they have been doing throughout this campaign. This is what they live for. They are sick individuals.

    May 25, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. Reality Check

    LIAR LIAR. You got the idea after what Huckubee said. People were worried about his comment, so you decided to use it for your advantage. It did not seem to bother you that Barak has two small children. You just want to be President no matter what. Even if it is to hurt the best candidate Democrats have had for quiet some years.

    Hillary, you are a wicked wicked woman in many ways.

    That's all I have to say.

    May 25, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  5. Bob, Lyons Oregon,

    McAuliffe is a fool. The Obama campaign did not inflame anything, they simply responded to an outragious and irresponsible statement. Obama took the high road as usual and is letting it go. He knows that mispeaks happen in a long campaign. McAuliffe is one of the reasons we have problems in the dem party.

    Obama takes the high road.
    Clinton takes the low road.

    Obama has the integrity I want in a president.

    May 25, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. Jerry in Boston

    The Obama camp and their supporters are just devious old politics as usual. Take an innocent comment by your opponent, the meaning of which was clear, and twist it beyond credulity in order to demonize them.

    Clinton is a master at this too, but at least she doesn't pretend otherwise.

    May 25, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Big O Chicago

    The Obama campaign has pretty much not made an issue of her insensitive and bizarre statements. Unlike the Clinton campaign which has tried to jump on every single gaffe Obama has made. If Clinton insists on staying in the race at least run a dignificed campaign

    May 25, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. dwho

    There is a problem with Hillary Clinton's comparision of her campaign with Bob Kennedy and her husband in 1968 and 1992. The fact is those two candidates respective campaigns were not in debt with the Election Commission. The legitimacies of their campaigns were seen. Hillary is only continuing because she wants to put the DNC and Obama into more debt. Her campaign is mismanaged regardless of the amount she has raised. Yes, she has won most of the electoral states. But the primary has never been determined by who won the most electoral states. So her staying in is only hurting the possibility of the Demoncratic Party chance of winning in November.

    May 25, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. Debbie Mayer

    From one of your many admirers - *THANK YOU, HILLARY* - for staying in this race. Please don't let Jimmy Carter and his crew get you down. You've come too far to stop now and you're the best hope we've got.

    May 25, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. Ryan

    "Obama campaign inflaming it"

    How? Show me a quote, liars. The PEOPLE are outraged...rightfully so.

    There are over 14,000 comments on Huffington and more on MSNBC...those are REAL people.

    Stop blaming everything (FLA and MI, this, sexism etc.) on Obama.

    Always the victim, Hillary.

    May 25, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. unite the dems

    I wish the Clintons would just go far far away. I'm getting very angry at the supers for letting this pathetic race continue. Obama only needs 50 delegates before June 1st. This can be done and I wish it happens.

    May 25, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Tim MN.

    Stay in the race Hillary! And no DO NOT accept the VP nomination if Obama should clinche the number 1 position on the ticket. It will be a lost cause and with your head strong ways all of your supporters don't want to see your name on a losing ticket. Let the sexist fools send Obama to slaughter! Exit stratergy.................. brush yourself off walk away tommorow is another day.

    May 25, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. Lora B.

    Hillary Clinton is the best qualified candidate and deserves to win this election. The biased male-dominated media is pushing to get Obama elected by publishing negative articles about Clinton. I am so sick of it that if Obama is eventually elected and does not offer Clinton the v.p. slot, I won't vote for him because it simply proves that he is an elitist who thinks he is better than Clinton and all of her supporters.

    May 25, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. Jay

    Oh! It is now Obama's fault? Why did she apologize then?

    Obama is even gracious to accept her apology and let the issue die.

    When the Obama bitter-gaffe occurred, Hillary & her campaign played it over and over again for weeks...They even made TV Ad buys on it; she exploited it to the maximum, despited the fact that what Obama said was true but he choose poor wordings to express it just like Hillary did in this gaffe.

    What a shame on Hillary and her Campaign.

    May 25, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. Jennifer - American in Canada

    The problem with Sen Clinton's argument regarding the Delegate Math as opposed to the Electoral Math is that it is fundmentally flawed. DNC uses the Delegate Math in the nomination of a Candidate, the Electoral Math is basically unproven and can only be determined after the General Election. Sen Obama is leading in the Delegate Math. America at this point is looking for a Visionary who carries the banner of "change". The Experence argument will not work in this kind of atmosphere. Looking at the solid campaign that Sen Obama has run, would to show that all a Commander in Chief would need to do is surround himself/herself with the best people with the necessary experience to help him to his job as President effectively. America is screaming for change and Sen Obama is a very appealing canditate right now. This would make him very electable as a nominee and in the General Election.

    May 25, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. John Schwarz

    I'm appalled in the first place, but also by her non-apology apology. And only directed to the Kennedy's. She's harmed the nation, harmed the sacntity and integrity of our political debate and competiion.

    She needs to apologize to all of us, and indirectly/implicitly to Obama without naming him publicly.

    But only if she's sincere. And if she doesn't see the harm in what she said to all of us, that speaks volumes about her.


    Where are the big public poltical an social leaders–Dems, Republicans, White House on condemning her?

    Had Putin, or Chavez, or Musharraf, or Castro or any politician anywhere in the world said something like this, they would have been condemned swiftly and universally by those types in the US.

    May 25, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Elizabeth, NC

    The month of June will come and go like all other months. What will be her excuse then.

    May 25, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. ask

    Why are comments to this article open and to the above article closed?

    May 25, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. mel

    Please step down you are hurting the party toward november
    general election. You can change the rules that you agreed to.
    You are losing now you want the clinton rules only. If you were the front
    runner,you would not be challenging the rules you did not object in
    the beginning. What was good for other is good for you as well,so
    step down after june 1st

    May 25, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. GARY

    As Hillary rides off into the sunset don't let the door hit you in the behind!

    May 25, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Ryan

    "Their response to Hillary's statement was what was inappropriate."

    Gwen : Again with the Clintonista lies and spin...the Obama camp said NOTHING more than 1 sentence. They said it was "unfortunate", and after that Obama said he "took her at her word".

    STOP with the lies, Clinton people. Your candidate lost, and is self-destructing.

    May 25, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. After further review,Texas

    Its so deep, I need hipboots.

    May 25, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. Bubba

    Don't forget that there were 56 individuals in the clinton inner circle that died of mysterious circumstances.

    May 25, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Phil

    Where is the apology to the American people? Where is the apology to Obama?
    Months ago I was elated that Obama our Hillary would be our nominee. After watching Hillary change the rules over and over again, use ads like the 3AM add, praise McCain on the Democratic ticket's expense, commit "gaffes" in Bosnia and this latest comment, I am convinced that I could never vote for someone like this. At the same time McCain is 10 times scarier still.
    Obama seems to be the only rational candidate with as cool temper, sound judgment and moral character.

    OBAMA 08

    May 25, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. David, Santa Rosa, CA

    Howard Dean-
    Please shut the Clinton campaign down! Did you hear Howard Wolfson on CBS this morning? How about Terri McCauliffe on ABC? These people are stirring up the pot, pointing fingers in every direction but never looking in the mirror. They are causing the Democratic party harm. Not even the newscaster of CBS could hide incredulity regarding what the Clinton camp is verbalizing.

    Gov. Dean, it's your job to lead the party. It's time to lead. It's been time to lead. Make a decision.

    May 25, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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