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. A Florida

    April in Texas I will never vote for Obama .I would rather vote and will vote McCain if Hillary doesn't get in..I feel Obama is fooling many people with his empty speeches..He talks in circles.. He has his own agenda ,but is making people think otherwise!!! Wake up People !!

    May 25, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Ronald L. Betts

    The Hillary supporters would rather put a gun to their heads than vote for Obama. But the simpler solution is to vote for McCain.

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

    It is very obvious why she is continuing to run. Her campaign is still bringing in money and if her campaign ends while it still owes her 11 million dollars, then she won't get that back. So, she continues to raise money while knowing that she has lost so that she doesn't personally take a financial hit

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

    She is MAD MAD MAD, just like the husband! Why are they keeping their supporters hoping they can still win??? Some one explain to that foolish family thet "IT IS OVER"!

    May 25, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. John in New York

    It's a shame that Hillary's candidacy (and maybe career) had to end this way. The issue of race is such a phenomenon in America...It is one thing that can make a person of high esteem sink to the depths.

    It hurts me that someone like Hillary Clinton, who I once admired so much, has let her supporters down in this way.

    People need to learn that they have a responsibility to be role models to everyone. I can't imagine someone like Hillary, after all that has been said, deserving to be President of The United States.

    May 25, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. FactCheck

    Please go ahead and do vote for McCain, you bitter Clinton supporters. Most of us Obama supporters are well off and can weather anothers 4 years of high gas prices, compromised with lobbies, outsourcing of jobs and cuts in healthcare. Come next election time, most of you will be homeless, jobless and/or in poor health. Survival of the fittest.

    May 25, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. CNN loves Hillary

    Enough with the "Rise Hillary Rise" already. The only image it conjures up is one of the undead.

    May 25, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. abby

    just shut that your stupid mouth hillary. your mother gave birth to you to be a big LOSER idiot. power hunger. all your evil thought Obama shall not prosper. you will live in pain to see Barak Obama become the next American president. hillary you area born arrogant loser

    May 25, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Don't be Fooled!

    Are you voting for so called "Change" and "Yes we Can"? Well that was done before and you got Bush!!!! Don't make the mistake this time. Hillary Clinton is the only qualified Dem Nominee!!!

    May 25, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Ovitshio Branco from Puerto Rico

    Clinton has decided that the uneducated white population is her main voting bloc during this primary season. So maybe she thinks she should act like she's from W. Virginia in order to truly feel what it's like to be one of her supporters.
    Well now you know Hillary – and it's not a great way to go through life.
    So make an appropriate apology, start using your privileged educated background to pull this country together and rise above the racism that you so repulsively condoned for the past 5 months.

    We know you're not stupid, so that leaves the country to believe that you're in need of some serious

    May 25, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Independent white woman for Obama

    How about an apology to Obama and his family . There was no excuse for what she said, but nothing surprises me with the Clintons. Power and greed, just like McCain.
    Obama's the only one who can shake-up Washington!

    May 25, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. Sandy from Ohio

    I don't care what the news said I believe that Clinton new exactly what she said. Her thing all along is to say or do anything that she feels will get her the nomination Please don't let this happen No more Clinton's and I hope that Obama show that he means change and doesn't let the media goat him to choosing her as his running mate That will tell the voters that he didn't mean what he has said about change

    May 25, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    What a totally reprehensible woman! It's all about HILLARY, isn't it?

    And exactly why does this hag wear nothing but pants suits? Isn't she butch enough in her demeanor?

    May 25, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. papu

    No room for the Clintons in this election. Give it up and do us a favour.

    May 25, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Ronald L. Betts

    Hillary Clinton said nothing wrong. She simply stated an Historical fact in reference to time. All you paranoids out there get your heads examined.

    May 25, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Stacy Clarks

    As an Obama supporter, I am willing to take her at her words....given the Clinton's history, i simply cannot believe her mind is that sinister, so i think we can let this one go, considering how tired these candidates are on this very long campaign, and how they can word things in ways they do not mean


    OBAMA 08!! DEMOCRATS 08!! UNITY IN 08!!!!!

    May 25, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Mike

    Hillary and her supporters are delusional. Give it up you old bat!

    May 25, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Laura Charlotte NC

    Please Obama for the good of the country and the world, please drop out of the race.

    May 25, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. for Obama

    the world and most americans want change!

    Hillary Clinton is not electable, she failed miserably.

    Superdelegates bring this to an end.

    May 25, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Steve CA

    Its time for the Leaders in the Democrate Party to get this soap opera over with . The Clintons need to get out of this foolish delusional world their living in and face reality.. The Clintons are just showing
    how self -centered and narcissistic they really are

    May 25, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. reality

    Is Hillary citing michigan as an example for third world dictators on how to win at least a primary election. In other words, make sure your name is the only name on the ballot and your opponent's name is not on the ballot and then declare victory saying 'I got the most votes.'

    desparate times for desparate people.

    May 25, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Margo Murphy

    My vote is for Hillary even if I have to write it in. Obama will NEVER get my vote. No experience, no voting record, plays the race card when convienent and keeps close company with very questionable people.

    May 25, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Cathy

    Please, someone show her the door!

    May 25, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. Lilarose

    CNN refuses to allow my comment about Robert Kennedy's death onto this board.

    Why not, CNN?

    I worked on his campaign hours before he died in Los Angeles.

    Why can't we talk about RFK's death? Are we not to even remember the man?

    He had as much if not more potential than JFK.

    May 25, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Laura Charlotte NC

    Why do Obama supporters make comments that would lead one to believe they were about eight years old?
    It's kind of scary.

    May 25, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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