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

    You know if Hillary would have dropped out she would have never made that statement.

    May 25, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. beverly

    hillary has a tremedous ego, that has already got her plenty of trouble she needs to take a vacation away from politics, she is heading for a terrible landing. she has lost a lot of respect for self, therefore how can any body respect her now. lots of people are feeling angry with her, do your self a favor and drop out now.

    May 25, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Richard in Bellevue, WA

    It's business as usual., Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) the republican byline has taken center stage in the Clinton campaign. Their current strategy is to scare people into voting for her instead of rising above her opponent.
    She fights on but without the wisdom to pick the right fights to wage. The Clinton campaign uses last ditch efforts from the political pages of the past to try and win a nomination in a new era of politics.
    Her campaign's only remaining strategies are to change the rules, alter the math or scare people into voting for her. Telling of a candidate who favors Karl Roves playbook.
    Expect the same from Hillary over the next few weeks as the candle reaches the bottom, expect to see more from the bottom

    May 25, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Shannon

    How despicable of the Obama side to try to create a media frenzy over the JFK remark, she was simply talking about campaigns that went into June, and the side of hope and change, the side that says it wants to unite the country twists it into something ugly and untrue. What a disgrace it is for Obama and his supporters to use words like hope and change. They are about hate and hate only.

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

    Wake up people, the nomination has been this way forever. Sure it is bad, but we're stuck with it for the present. It has no relevence to this election, and won't be changed anyway to suit one candidate.

    May 25, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Janice

    The voters know the truth, and they will never listen to Hillary's lies.

    She's toast, and as a women I'm ashamed of her.

    Obama will be my next president, period.

    May 25, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. ThinkSmart

    I wish people weren’t so dumb. Vote for principles and what the candidate believes in. If you agree with Hillary’s solution on issues, you must recognize Obama’s solutions are not far from hers and vise versa. If your democratic candidate looses the primary than the next best option is the other democratic candidate. Don’t throw your vote away in Nov because you want to be selfish and stubborn because you’re upset the rest of the country didn’t fully agree with you. Be smart. Vote on issues not whose pastor said what, or who said something that was taken out of context, or who has the support from who.

    May 25, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. jason

    the thing i don't see is: why is it she seems to think she deserves the presidency, at this point?

    her campaign started the whole "hillary or mccain 2008" crap – why shouldn't she expect the obama supporters to take on the same jealous attitudes? When you consider there are more Obama supporters than Hillary supporters, that doesn't bode well.

    Which is another thing: she actually claims the popular vote (if you don't count caucus states), which is absurd. Who's she trying to fool? What's worse: who is actually fooled by this? Lying politicians is as old as politics, but why are people still falling for it?

    At this point, she is actually willing (and, in fact, trying) to take the nomination from someone with the majority vote. Does she honestly think that whoever the nominee will be is bound to get the presidency? Does she think we'll all forget that she stole the nomination?

    Obama or Nader '08!

    May 25, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. RJII

    she puts the idea out so it will influence the Supers, snipers and/or her deluded followers, then she act like "who, me?" I can't possible be that much of a monster.

    Come on girls, this woman lies and lies and lies. Now, she's claiming she won the most voters and all votes count. She's lying to us once again.
    She does not have the popular vote,
    she agreed MI and FL votes don't count, and tricked the other candidates to not campaign in those states.
    And her voters math includes FL/MI and doesn't include the caucuses (which she now says are fake) I thought all counts were suppose to matter. Oh, it's the ones that help this liar's goals.
    Not this woman, let's get a decent female.

    May 25, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. ForBetterAmerica

    America have to really really think about what they want in next 4 or 8yrs. People who voted in 2000 and 2004 have to think once who they did vote for and why they did so. People who did not vote in 2000 or 2004 have no right to say anything now as they did not choose when they had a chance. What everybody can do in 2008 is to vote for whoever they think is the honest and best president for America. And ofcourse, have to live with the choice you made for another 4 yrs.
    Good luck !!

    May 25, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Michael in LIttle Rock

    I see the McCain supporters are still out there pretending that they want to cast a vote for Hillary.

    Doesn't that cynical old game ever get tiresome to play? Not while there's still even a minute chance for you to throw a monkey wrench into the other side's proceedings, I guess... you guys really are kind of like Hillary in that regard.

    And to everyone else out there: I hope you realize by now that probably around 80% minimum of the "Hillary supporters" out there who are saying that they'd vote for McCain over Obama are really just elephants in donkey's clothing.

    May 25, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. kathy

    obama always inflames the situation and then backs away and says it was me i denouce those statements. he is a joke and so is his wife. thank god he wont win in nov. i dont want anyone as racist as him, his wife, and pastor in the white house. IF he does get in by some chance wright better forbidden to step on the white house grounds

    May 25, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. Lisa from Dallas


    Here's a twist; offer Barack the VP slot on your soon to be announced Independent ticket. No, on second thought he may want to start a book club with Raul Castro.

    May 25, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. Obama's Weak

    Wasn' t Obama president before? I think his name was Jimmy Carter then.

    May 25, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Rico

    As an impartial person I must point out that we don't pick our primary nominees by popular vote and our president isn't selected by popular vote (al a 2000, 2004.) Why is this arguement constantly waged by clinton and her supporters.
    I just say lose gracefully and don't claw and scratch at this point. clinton supporters are so devoted to her winning that they seem to step outside of logic for her.
    Regardless of her loss we still need a democrat in office. I say get your feelings off of your sleeve and start to fight the next battle which is the one against the republicans.
    Any person who says they will vote for mccain when hillary loses is either doing it out of spite or doing it for divisive reasons. hillary and barack are on the same side. mccain is the enemy!

    May 25, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Peter

    Her statement was simply a mistake.
    Some mistakes are politically fatal and THIS IS ONE!
    She inadvertently has risked Obama's life and her own life needlessly. She is not ready at 3:00PM why is she going to be ready at 3:00AM!

    May 25, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. dan davenport

    Obama's campaign was accused of fanning the flames of Hillary's horrific RFK remark??? My God!! The flames were like an out-of-control forest fire which needed no fanning!!!! She NEVER said she was sorry in the way she should have!!! It's typical and disgusting behaivor on her behalf and I'm stunned! She has destroyed any respect the ANYONE still had for her, even if they admit it or not! Time will be the judge of that. As far as her continuing her fight to win...yawn!

    May 25, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. Carl

    Hillary thought as much about her remark as Barack did about his "bitter" remark. How quickly did Hillary's campaign agree that Barack misspoke, or didn't mean it? They rode that misfortunate comment into the ground. But, I suppose it would be sexist to not forgive and forget Hillary's misstatements.

    May 25, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. heartlight 3, Maui, HI

    How can you say Obama's campaign inflamed this issue? I thought they were very restrained, just calling it an unfortunate comment. Much more so than Hillary has been about the stupid statements he has made. She has run with them for days. He has been pretty consistent about downplaying her mistakes. Some of his supporters have not, but he himself has mostly encouraged people to move on from her gaffes.

    May 25, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. John Wilkes- LA,CA

    At the beginning of this primary season, I was very excited about the prospect of having a Clinton in the White House again. After watching this campaign, however, I have lost a bit of respect for the Clintons. I believe that Obama is the kind of leader we need if we are to evolve as a nation. He continues to prove himself.
    Having said that, if he is not the nominee come convention time, I will absolutely 100% support Sen. Clinton. I do not like her antics, but her policies are too similar to Sen. Obama's to vote for McCain out of bitterness when our nation is at stake. Point blank... I hope to God that Obama will be our next President, but anyone on either side who says they'll vote McCain or stay home in November SURELY isn't looking at policies or issues.

    May 25, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  21. Reality Check

    Well it is obvious that the Barak Obama campaign is lying about not starting the negative attacks in the first place and just playing the same old Washington games now spinning it to "apology accepted" status. (And who is Barak Obama to "accept" an apology on behalf of the Kennedy family anyway???)

    Too bad CNN chose not to report on the entire op ed, which is a very well written piece by the true Republican candidate and the only one with a chance to win the general election.

    May 25, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  22. kathy

    hey john


    his supporters dont realize we hate him as much as you do hillary
    either way 1/2 of america will be unhappy when this is over
    i say let him have it hillary we all know you have something on him let it drop.

    hillary/08 who cares about the democractic party we need someone for all of america not just black america

    May 25, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Digger

    I believe Hillary's only goal now is to make sure Obama doesn't win. "Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned". It sad, because she is willing to destroy the party. I believe she is willing to destroy America. Her vote for me or else attitude is both divisive, and destructive. She is serious about the notion it's either her or McCain. Looks like for more years of Bush politics. Thank Hillary!

    May 25, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. AK in LA

    I support you all the way Hillary! Everyone needs to come out of denial and realize that if Obama was such a strong candidate he would not be losing these last primaries (and with so overwhelming losses!). Let's not get swept up in the arrogance and try to win in September. People, Obama is not a sure win. Face reality.

    May 25, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. mendemoi


    May 25, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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