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. Catya

    HRC has shown that she cannot run her own campaign effectivley, so why should she be in charge of our country? Her campaign is in debt, yet her supporters think that she should be in charge of the economy??? She seems to think that anyone that dares not to embrace her is sexist, maybe it's just that not everyone of voting age likes her.

    I realize that a lot of voters have voted for her, but a lot of voters voted for Barack, too. Or don't those voters matter to her?

    May 25, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Margaret from Michigan

    Count all Michigan and Florida votes or it's Adios to the Democrats in November-Period!!! I won't negotiate on my rights as an American citizen. And that means "all" the votes.

    May 25, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. canadianfan

    Viewing this campaign from outside your country, I really do not understand how Hillary Clinton honestly believes that she could be the nominee! She is supposed to be a very bright woman, but seeing and hearing some of the things she says, I wonder where her mind is. All it shows is that she is so so desperate to want to be President that she changes her manner and ideas for what she thinks is popular for the present state she is campaigning in. Also all the things she agree to at the start, like the final number, approving of the Democratic Party's stand re Florida and Michigan she shows how pathetic her campaign is becoming. Obama is the right person for this time in your history.

    May 25, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. Lizzy

    After watching the bullying tactics of Obama supporters at our Texas precinct caucuses and the Senatorial conventions, there is NO way I can support their candidate. They were obviously coached in how to coerce people, and if that's the way the Obama team works, then I want NO part of it. Notice Obama's biggest support came from 'caucus' states... there's a reason for that... coercing & bullying voters.
    As a result of what I saw in the caucuses, I personally think the caucus system needs to be totally scraped and just go to strictly a ballot style primary. And we need to get rid of "open" primaries too & make all states adhere to a closed primary for the Democratic primaries.

    May 25, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Katy

    I'm going to start off by saying I'm an active Obama supporter, and that I was an Obama delegate for my county in Texas.

    However, to one previous poster, she did apologize on this issue several times. To another, they've both made mistakes on the trail of not thinking clearly before speaking, they're tired! Give them a break, this remark was obviously not newsworthy, and it's a shame people are so nit-picky. I guess it didn't matter to you when Obama said he was in the 57th state. They're tired, cut a little slack here people, you get the point, so stop reading so much into it.

    To another poster, She's gotten 49% support of the entire party, she's been a good politician and competitor. There's no reason you should think she should be kicked out. There are way worse people out there with way worse agendas.

    She has every right to stay in till June 3, but I definitely agree that at that time, she should bow out gracefully. I respect her points and reasoning, but I just don't support here approach.

    May 25, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. Ali

    She is a disgrace! And that husband of hers should keep is loud trap closed because they are both beyonf pathetic...we have had enough of the Clintons.. Go Away!

    May 25, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. JC

    National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day
    (Washington, DC) All National Park Service sites are asked to honor America's fallen heroes by participating in the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day. On May 26, 2008 at 3 p.m., Americans should pause and reflect on the sacrifice of those who have died serving our country.

    Thank you!

    May 25, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. jg

    Why? Because she just cant believe she lost the nomination! From the outset this was hers to lose and given the state of the economy and the war in Iraq the Democrats should win this election. It was all there for the taking and her campaign just blew it.

    May 25, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. lance/texas

    she can run, but she can't hide from the truth of what she is doing. and saying. enough is enough. endorse obama on june 3 and get out and be satisfied with a candidate that is not known for power mongering, self aggrandizement and control at any cost.

    besides, there's still 2012, when you can try to make your case again. this time, it aint gonna happen.

    May 25, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. SusanM.

    So now Hillary says she can win on merit. Are you kidding me? Before it was Blue States vs. Red States, then it was primary vs caucus, then it was delegates vs super delegates, then it was popular vote and electoral it's MERIT! Does Hillary really think we are all that stupid to buy this latest spin on why she should stay in the race. LAME! Hillary it makes you seem desparate and pathetic. Also how can your campaign even factor electoral votes? You have to carry a state in the general election to earn them.

    Obama 2008/2012

    May 25, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. Thomas

    The Clinton's involvement in politics hopefully has ended with the farce of a presidential run. Sorry guys, your not going to be the next Kennedy dynasty. I hope they burned enough bridges that New Yorkers will send Hillary packing when she goes for reelection in the senate in 2011. At-least Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee knew when to get out.

    May 25, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. junie, ca

    Bilary have outstayed their welcome. They are now losing any respect people had and are threatening their legacy. Why doesn't the DNC pull the plug on this pathetic attempt to continue?

    May 25, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. John WA

    The Obama camp was more forgiving of Hillary's comment than she has been about anything in the Obama camp. Her comments were NOT OUT OF CONTEXT. We all heard them. She is so arrogant she can't apologize and makes it sound like she is the victim and it is everyone elses fault! This is sociopathic! She won't ever say she is sorry about voting for the war either. She has a grand sense of entitlement we don't need in the White House. And she DID NOT apologize to the party, the voters or Obama. She is a DANGEROUS woman.

    May 25, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Linda

    Hillary Clinton, The greatest woman in our life time will be our next president.

    May 25, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. Franky

    You're on your own sucks to be you man, LOL!!!!

    May 25, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. pam Eugene OR

    This is not an issue for the Obama people. Barack said he took Hillary at her word and that was the end of it.
    Stop with the lies Clinton. You are the one who is making a big deal out of this. Obama always takes the high road while you get down and slime with the worms. You know nothing of honor and pride Hillary. There is no low that is too low for you!

    May 25, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. Ellie in Aurora, CO

    She never will come out and say "I'm sorry". I am still waiting for the apology for the vote for Iraq. There is always an excuse. This comment was just unconscionable, and should be the end of her support and her campaign.

    May 25, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. Josie WA


    May 25, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. Dinand

    Obama is in every outing he's made cynical and disrespectfull. he's is inexperienced and should serve the senate a few more years.

    AMERICA remember when you elected an inexperieced guy the last time. YOU GOT BUSH. Wake-up!

    May 25, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  20. Michael

    Hillary is just wrong. Plain and simple.

    Her supporters are just decadant morons who cling to a past that wasn't really that great. Why they support her is anyone's guess, but at least a GOOD majority of Americans dislike her and hate her.

    She is wrong for America, she'll ruin this country worse than GWB.

    If she steals the nomination from Obama, then McCain will win in November.

    May 25, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. Samuel, Ghana

    Hillary, soldier on!

    Except that your refusal to see that you have lost this is tantamount to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's refusal to accept the Holocaust took place.

    You both have something in common, you try to defy common sense and try to put facts in doubt.

    You know why people are imprisoned for denying the Holocaust took place, because it would set mankind back to Stone Age if any fact can be disputed as illogically as you are doing now.

    So i suppose you know where you belong except, oooops you are a lawyer and would plead insanity so escape Guantanamo Bay!

    My God, you defy even a lab rat's reasoning Mr & Mrs Clinton!

    May 25, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. pavel

    Yes We Can

    only one who can't is McCan't

    May 25, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. Linda

    The people bad mouthing Hillary is Republicans, not Obama suporters. The Republicans are scared to death that Hillary might pull this out, and they know Mccain can't win against Hillary, and they are right.

    May 25, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  24. Justice



    May 25, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. Derek

    The latest Gallup poll shows Clinton with a statistically significant five percentage point lead over McCain which Gallup says is "considerably stronger than Obama's 2-point loss to McCain". These numbers have been fairly consistent. I just want a Democrat to win, and I'm getting nervous with these numbers.

    May 25, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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