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. Brian

    And you call yourselves Americans? How dare you. One person – one vote is where we should be – THAT would be American. That would be freedom. Go Hillary!

    May 25, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Helena Fee

    She is not giving up. If she is not satisfied with the decision next Sat., she will appeal and keep appealing until the convention. When Obama reaches the magic number of 2,025, she will continue the argument that this is the wrong number. The Clintons really believe she will win the nomination by hook or by crook. And, they are both supposed to be of high intelligence!

    May 25, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Bill

    Regardless of who wins the nomination, it is a shame that the voters did not select the nominee. Instead it is being done by party insiders. Just the type of business that I thought Senator Obama wanted to change. He should have agreed to let Florida and Michigan have a revote, but he felt his chances were better with the good ol boys.

    May 25, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. fred

    To Obama supporters, please stop antagonizing Hillary supporters. Soon enough they will realize what happened and the sooner they come into the Obama camp the better. To Clinton supporters, Nobody stole this from your candidate. Let's compare Obama to McBush and see the true democratic choice. If you really intend to vote for McBush over Obama then you were never a real democrat anyway. I want all real Democrats to come together right now over Obama.

    May 25, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. vic nashville,Tn

    We watched Reliable Sources today morning in CNN
    After that our Votes for Hillary or Mc Cain
    Caucuses system against the democracy no privacy when your are voting
    Fl and MI Votes must count if don’t that also against the democracy
    She is leading by popular votes
    If she don’t get the nomination
    Our votes for Mc Cain
    Hillary 08

    May 25, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. April in Texas

    It should never have been said or even thought period. There are many other examples you could have used. You poorly chose that one of them all. You are not winning and your electibility argument is out the window. I will never vote for a Clinton EVER. Face the reality that you have been beaten in politics by an unknown.. Your name isnt as important as you seem to think it is. I am a woman and by all polls I should be one of your supporters but thankfully I do think for myself and made the best choice for Obama..

    Obama 08/09

    May 25, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. lloyd

    Its over for the clintons, we dont need you hillary just look at your comment.

    May 25, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. steveda - poconos

    These guys make me laugh. Hillary's campaign is famous for last minute, Friday afternoon bombshells that linger over the weekend. Obama's campaign made one statement Friday that I am aware of ... that there was nolace oin this campaign for a remark like that.

    Frankly this whole "I'm being pressured to drop from the race" is a line of crap. No one in any position of power is pushing her from the race. This is nonsense spread by her campaign to make her seem the victim – in hopes of swaying voters in the few remaining primaries.

    Although I support Obama, I have nbo issue with her continuing her run, so long as she doesn't split the party. Of course, that's exactly what she and her chief stooge McAuliffe are doing. They are claiming that the Dem party is sexist – despite the leadership role of Nancy pelosi and other women in high office. They have used geraldine ferraro as their attack dog to unofficially press this point. They are positioning Hillary as the ONLY woman in America capable of ever running for the presidency – denigrating every woman in the party.

    On top of all of that, her campaign is actively inflaming the democrats in Florida and Michigan as she positions herself as the defender of their voting rights – when she didn't give a rats patoot months ago when the decision was made. After all she figured she was a shoo in so she didn't need those voters anyway.

    frankly, she underestimated her competition, over-estimated her strenght, mismanaged her funds and overspent (her claims that Obama is outspending her 3 or 4 to 1 tells all when you consider he only raised 20% more than her). In short her campaign management sounds a lot like the Bush Administration's management of the White House. Frankly, if you cannot run a well-organized campaign and manage your finances, you don't deserve the right to run the country which is infinitely more complex.

    May 25, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. independant

    Obama is trying to stir up things in Florida because he dosn't want their votes to count. Both MI and FL are going to be seated, we know that already. He is just trying to make sure that FL and MI will stay out of this race because he knows he's losing the popular vote.

    May 25, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Lia Redegeld

    These people are really un-un-unbelievable. She made a very big mistake by mentioning the "A" word and now they try to blame Obama for it. Really, I am speechless. Because Obama didn't react on her behalf right away, they say it's his fault things get out of hand. Superdelegates: come on, make your choice, because this is very bad for the democratic party.

    May 25, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. carolinas

    Hillary doesn't have a good heart to stepdown...because, she is selfish and trying to destroy the party at the convention. If "SUPERDELEGATES ARE SMART"... then they should leave her and send a message to clintons before the convention. Otherwise, definitely it shows that how much America is clinging to color, race, power and money...which is dividing the core of democracy and.losing respect around the world.....shame on you... Hillary, be a role model for moral values..

    OBAMA 2008..

    May 25, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Nancy Frank

    We the voters of Florida and Michigan want our votes and delegates to be counted as we voted. We the voters of the United States of America want Hillary Clinton to stay in the race until every vote is cast and every vote is counted. We the voters of the United States of Amercia think it is good for America to run the primaries until June, as it gives us a better understanding of the candidates' qualifications. And finally, we the voters of the United States of America want the super-delegates to be a part of the nomination process to ensure the best candidate for the party is selected.

    May 25, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Drew, Central FL

    She could said anything to state her case. She didn't have to reference Bobby Kennedy. Misstatement, indeed!

    May 25, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. patrick

    Barak you're a fake guy that people haven't know. Your'e an arrogant and very unlikalble to be the leader of the great nation.

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

    Barak Hussein Obama is a bogus, he speaks so well that convince people to stick with him but the fact his personality and character is far to be the leader of the most pwerful country. Hillary is the best for the position if she only managed well her campaign. Obama had lots of hidden ideas that would shock Americans someday. He's not of what he showed to the people. Be reminded folks lots of cheating and tricks happened during the primaries and caucuses which Barak Hussein Obama as the brain, he adopted or got those ideas from the 3rd world countries of how to win the election, remember how long he stayed in Indonesia and Kenya? and his ideology was not of what you think as of a Christian. This will be the start that Americans will get the technique and learn how to win the lection, it's not only by knowledge and intellects that people can win but by cheating. If people only know what Barack Hussein Obama is doing and his bogus personality will give them a total dismay. Please wake up Americans!!! God Bless!!

    May 25, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Ken

    After reading several of the comments here, I realize that there are a lot of people that are DUMB!

    The "Media" and Barack Hussein are making the historical remarks of the Kennedy situation, TOTALLY OUT OF CONTEXT!!!!!

    Barack Hussein Obama will never be elected President even if he does get the nominee (which I doubt he will). He will be unable to beat McCain in NOvember. Hillary Clinton is the only one that can beat McCain in November!

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

    HRC can still rewrite her history and be remembered as the first woman who fought hard and broke all ceilings. Unfortunately, her tactics have always been so flawed and really does no good to women who will come after her. She takes great pride in being a fighter, and I admire that. But here is where she falls short, great fighters, fight by the rules, she does not stick to the rules after agreeing to. She should be labelled " the greatest back alley brawler of all times" Enough of blatantly changing the rules of engagement and moving goal posts.

    How can she run a campaign with no sense of fiscal responsibility and then claim that she is the best qualified to handle the economy of the greatest nation on earth? You would think that she'd stop and analyse her fiances, but no, she continues to rack up debt. Reminds me of President Bush.

    Summer's here and I am waiting on her promise for gas tax holiday that would guarantee cheaper gas. McCain promised the same. Still waiting.....

    No human being should be excused for waiting on the sidelines just incase their opponent should die. The fact that she uttered those words, means she has given it some thought. This is not the person that I want leading my country.

    May 25, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Go Obama

    So it is ok for Hillary to claim that as the first female to reach this far in a primary election she should stay? I bet if Obama open is mouth and says as the first black person to reach this far I should stay and be nominated right away, the Clinton campaign would scream and say he is using the race card, but isn't she using the sex car by claiming that she is the first and only female to make it this far ? She talks about merits and experience, I have not seen what Hillary as accomplished in this country so far that is worth talking about. Her husband was to me a good president because when he left we had surpluses almost everywhere. But she can not use her Husband experience as her own. Also she wants to change the rules in the party because they do not favor her anymore, she forgot that those same rules got her husband elected twice. Moreover Hillary I think America is tired of having the same famillies running it. We've had Bush,Clinton,Clinton,Bush,Bush and now we are going to have a Clinton again, come on we want some change. I use to be one of your supporter but after this past months I am not anymore because I realized you are not running for the American people, but you are running so you can be able to brag abiut the fact that are the first women to be president in this country, It is not about you, it is about us the American people.

    May 25, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. Obama 08

    Hillary will still be campaigning in Janaury when Barack Obama is being sworn in as President. Barack is going to be one of greatest President's. A 60 year old w/white female voting for Barack Obama.

    May 25, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. Starfire

    Has anyone told her that the nomination is not a constitutional right? I really think that she still believes we owe her the nomination.

    I live in NH, in a small town. Eveyone I know of that voted for her in this town has expressed regret that they did so.

    If the primaries were to be redone, I think she would find she has lost many that she thought she had. If this was the first time she had brought up the subject, I would have believed she regretted her comment. Back when we voted here, the subject was brought up and she never regrettted that one of her staff had said it.

    Again, the rewriting of history, the inability to be honest and show a human side has made me ashamed. I would like to see the White House have the honor and prestige it once had. Hillary just wants to rent out the Lincoln bedroom again....

    May 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. J. Mike

    Denial is a heavy fog to dispel – and if Hillary has any authenticity left, she'll probably see if lift months after she's had down time to reflect, sleep, and recognize all that might have been.

    As my young son might way, end the drama and elect Obama.

    May 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Bridgette - PA

    OMG!- Is this the same person who said "I would not have attended Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years" or "We can't pick our families but we can pick our pastors"! How could her campaign charge OBAMA'S campaign with anything. She is sick,sick, sick. She is a delusional, selfish, unapologetic, liar, cheat, vindictive, nasty crybaby! I wouldn't be surprised if she's not purposely trying to damage the next woman's chances of running for President. Hillary supporters, if nothing else, I hope she has finally showed you her true colors!


    May 25, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. Ryan, FL

    Obama hasn't gotten the number of delegates he needs to win the nomination, even removing the delegates of FL and MI from the picture, so Hillary has every right to continue fighting.

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

    I am asking Hillary to please do not drop out. We need you to go
    the distance. Obama, is not what we need. This Country has turned
    it's back on enough. In GOD we trust. We had better keep it that way.
    Obama has to many questionable things in his resent past. To many
    questionable people. We can't afford to overlook these very important
    things. And my vote will go to McCain

    May 25, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. fred

    Go Hillary!!

    It will either be you or McCain!!

    Obama can never win....he is an empty suit!!

    May 25, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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