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. Jill

    Hilliary Clinton is a foolish idiot.

    May 25, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. robert e lowe

    hey go clinton go we need you all the people in america need you clinton 08

    May 25, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. J. Odo

    Doesn't it seem mildly ironic that the only people that are supporting hillary are those who are uneducated and under-accomplished? To me, this says that hillary has only succeeded in fooling the dummies.

    May 25, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. Steve From Oregon

    You know, there is a place for Terry McAuliffe in the entertainment business as a science fiction writer. The Obama campaign took the high road as usual and chose not to attack Mrs. Clinton or inflame the story. Yet McAuliffe gets away with making phony claims about how they intentionally put the statement out on a Friday. Of course, they should have made a statement before she spoke. I really will be glad when she is put on ignore and nobody chooses to write about her anymore.

    Vote Obama!

    May 25, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. Former Hilary supporter

    Fine, let's give Hillary the nomination, and give her a good start aganist McCain with nearly 27 million in debt. How lovely?? This is not about Hillary now. It us about Hillary in 2012 do not you get it????

    May 25, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. Redbug-OH

    she is continuing because she just can't believe she is lossing. Well hil you are. Now do us all a favor and end it plz. So the TRUE winner SENATOR OBAMA can get on with the business of campaigning for the president of the USA and send bush/mccain back to arizona. WE WANT CHANGE!!!!!!!!!! FL & MI i'm sure will be seated and counted in some way but it will not be enough to save hil. I admired hil at one time but she has shown her true colors. The changes she wants to make on selecting a nominee is the same way her husband was elected. I'm sure she didn't find anything wrong with the process then. So why now? I'll tell you why, BECAUSE SHE IS LOSSING. So lets see if she will continue her fight to change it after the election. BYE BYE hil.

    May 25, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. J Kay

    Obama's campaign's reaction to the innuendos stated by HRC was far more gracious than my initial reaction when I heard it first hand on CNN. Now they the Obama Camp is accused of inflamming the remarks. She changes personas as often as people "hopefully" change their underwear.

    Oh yes, re staying the the race Hillary. Are you going to represent Artchaletta to get a recount on his LOSS on American Idol? He at least accepted second place far more gracefully than you ever could and he's sooooooo much more honest.

    May 25, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Willy

    Keep going Hillary. Obama is running scared.

    May 25, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Debby

    Of course Obama keeps saying Fl/Mi delagates will be seated at the convention, if he is the nominee he automatically gets them. He doesn't want the voters voices to be heard before then or she will get most of them now. This is the reason he is saying she is doing damage in Florida. He is hoping the stupids step up and endorse him before the 31st so the rules committee meeting will be moot. This is so undemocratic coming from the so called uniter.

    May 25, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Virginia For Obama


    May 25, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. reasoning minds

    What most people don't seem to realize is that the vote count is very close between Clinton and Obama. So, I would say that to keep insisting that Clinton drop out or that the Obama nomination is secured is at best unreasonable and at worst is an extremely arrogant position to take.

    Remember half of democrats are supporting Clinton and to insult them would be a grave mistake on the part of Obama and his campaign supporters.

    May 25, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Judy

    Yo Obama supporters-would you have been so harsh with Teddy when he challenged a sitting Pres., was 100's of votes behind and took it to the convention floor. I thought not.
    So lay off and let the process run its course. The DNC created this problem, not Barack or Hillary.

    May 25, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. PatriotPatrick

    The fact that the superdelegates have not ended this makes me very afraid to be african american. It seems that the superdeligates feel the same as Hilary. She is running because she wants to run our country the same way she ran her campaign. Can you image what the international blunders and mis-speakings and lies would do to our standing in the world? With all she's done, why doesn't anyone question HER electibilty?

    May 25, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. New Day

    oh, is she is still in the race? hmmmmm, isnt that odd.

    May 25, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  15. David Goldman for OBAMA








    May 25, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Concerned Canadian

    Nice to see the Obamabots are out in full force this morning. Whats wrong...something in your heart still telling you your friend Obama may not get the nomination ?

    Magic number not reached yet. Getting concerned right ?

    Obama did have his name on the Florida ballot you know. Worried ?

    Superdelegates can flip sides a hundred times in a day you know. Get the picture ?

    Why the rush to end the primary ? Everbody has to catch a train or something ? Don't worry..McCain's going nowhere. Democracy doesn't run on a clock you know.

    May 25, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. William

    I think Hillary's campaign has moved squarely into "pathetic" territory.

    With the stories about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia, the revelations that she really wasn't all that anti-NAFTA after all, the various other half-truths and deceptions, and now this, and it all adds up to a desperate also-ran that for whatever reason cannot let go of the nomination in the face of defeat.

    She denies the math, changes the rules, and goes back on her initial support of excluding Florida and Michigan because now she thinks it will favor her to include them.

    I don't want that kind of person as president. What she is capable of doing, and her continual justification of interpreting things however benefits her, scares me. It should scare this country too. Hillary Clinton is nothing but a female version of Dick Cheney.

    May 25, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  18. Ken from Michigan

    I don't know where in the hell she went to school. And as for the math!, come on now!, if she's this stupid and tries to bend the rules when she first said she'd uphold them, what kind of president would she be?

    May 25, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. WQ

    Hillary has the right to continue running until a winner is declared, that is never the issue. The problem is she has become extremely negative and vindicative, making it harder for the eventual party nominee to win in November:

    – She is pushing women away from voting for a man by raising the gender bias issue
    – She is pushing the Michigan and Florida democrats to vote republican if she does not get her way.
    – She is increasing her attacks about the party rules, that she was happy with when she thought she was a shoe in. This also will have an impact on whether her supported will vote for the party in November.

    HRC is increasingly looking like a sore loser that prefers that the party nominee loses this election so she can run in 2012. There is no loyalty to the party here.

    The super delegate need to stop her as soon as possible. The impact of her actions will also be felt directly by some of them as they go through congressional elections.

    May 25, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. Allene Gannon.

    I am so shocked to learn from journalists in "Meet the Press" that Hillary actually wants Obama to die.

    As a woman, it shocks me and as a mother, it saddens me and as Hillary supporter, it hurts me

    May 25, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. Jason

    A very well calculated comment, but unfortunately, no one will heed to your words, rather what you wished to others will come back to consume you.

    May 25, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Paul

    I'm not too bothered about her comment, it was probably not intended that way. I am bothered that she's prolonging a failing campaign which is deeply in debt and dividing the party.

    May 25, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  23. Marc in DeKalb, IL

    Yes, the RFK comment MUST have been completely unrelated to Obama, except that... he's the only other one running and the front-runner, and so any comment like "I'm staying in because of what happened to RFK" ... is *DIRECTLY RELATED* to Obama.

    You're sick if you think ANYONE will buy that it wasn't related.

    Heck, you're sick anyway.

    May 25, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. heartlight 3, Maui, HI

    I don't understand how all these Hillary supporters are concluding the media (or whoever) is forcing Obama on them. He is winning! All they are doing is reporting what is so. I can see that many people are refusing to accept that, but the bottom line is he's winning! I understand that it is disappointing when your team (or candidate) loses, but no matter how many times you say it's not true, winning is winning and losing is losing. Caucuses do count. All the people who voted in caucuses represent others who did not vote. If they wanted something different, they should have gone out and voted for it. This is ridiculous. He has the most votes, the most delegates, the most states won, the most supers. Sure, she should finish the race if she wants to, but she will eventually have to accept the fact that he won.

    May 25, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. PA for Obama

    Once again, Clinton News Network deletes my comment....

    Whether she meant anything nefarious or not, Hillary still owes Sen Obama, his family and his supporters an apology for her senseless remarks. But true to her GOP form, she won't even admit she did something wrong, let alone apologize for it.

    Gutless SuperDelegates, wherever you are, get a spine and END THIS THING NOW!!!!!!

    May 25, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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