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. Mantan

    Hillary, your statements, especially your lies are well planned out. You know exactly what your saying, because some of your gullible supporters believe your lies. Some of your supporters know your lying but are only fooling themselves. You said your in it to see all votes count, that's a lie, you said your a head on the popular vote, that's a lie, you said you want to stay in until Florida and Michigan votes are seated, that's a lie, because you agreed before the campaining began not to included them. You said your comments about RFK were not referenced to Obama, that's a lie, because the only way your going to win is unless something happens to him. Get out LIAR.

    May 25, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Independent

    Why are people afraid to really post their own opinions instead of post bites (derived from sound bites)? For example, is Hillary really ahead in the electoral map – or are you just repeating it? Another common one is the idea that someone would vote McCain if Hillary does not win; that type of post cannot be from a serious Democrat because Obama and Hillary have many of the same policies. Instead, there is an appearance of "republican talk radio" gamesmanship. Be honest and think independent – I vote no more post bites allowed in the comments! Come on CNN – clean up the posts and keep it real.

    May 25, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. What if?

    Jack May 25th, 2008 12:15 pm ET
    There's no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is more electable….. It's all about the Electoral College…. and the Demographics in Ohio, PA, and Florida have rejected Obama overwhelmingly (and these are Democratic voters!)
    without Hillary's supporters in Ohio, PA, and Florida, Obama cannot beat McCain in Nov
    That’s the point it's in your mind, not the majority of voters that voted for Obama……

    When I first Clinton say she will keep fighting for woman, two states who broke rules, the media is bias, she was winning first, if she was a republican she would be the nominee by now. The only way she would have beat Bush in 2004, is votes from the very people she didn’t call hard working white voters.

    Hillary is a highly intelligent woman, but at the same time she will say and do anything to win.. Thank you Obama, we the voters hear you loud and clear, we the majority do know you care about the poor, the sick, the disabled, the veterans. “Hillary, for those of us who KNOW you, no explanation is needed“…what SAD about this quote is she really believe this no matter what damage she causes to the demo crated party.

    What if Obama beats McCain, will you still say no one but Hillary can beat him after November?

    May 25, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Benny from Philadelphia


    May 25, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. TN Democrat

    So tired of the Clinton's & Bushes!

    Let someone else have a chance!
    (NOT McCAIN!!!!!!!!!!!)

    Obama '08

    May 25, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. Bill Brown

    The simple fact is that she hopes it happens. You Hillary lovers may not like that, but the truth hurts. (Note: I didn't say she would oversee it). If you have not figure out by now that this woman will literally do ANYTHING to get elected President then you are a fool.

    However – she had no Plan B when she failed to secure the nomination on Super Tuesday, and she can't even manage a crisis like a word slip-up.

    She has eminently disqualified herself from the serious consideration for President that she never deserved in the first place.

    One final point: If Hillary is as smart as everyone says she is, why was she stupid enough to say what she did?

    May 25, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Debra4Obama

    You fool no one Hillary Clinton! We see very clearly the wishes of your dark heart and the bad seeds you plant with your 'mispeaks'. All I can say is the EYES OF THE ENTIRE WORLD are watching this election. No one had better harm a hair on the head of Sen. Obama or his family.

    Barack Obama for President 08/12

    May 25, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. AVEMBE The sun

    Mrs Clinton= bla bla bla bla whatever...

    May 25, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. J El Educado

    Just like GW Bush in the 2000, trying to bully herself into the nomination. How despicable!

    May 25, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. Kobs

    When you over star yr invitation that is what starts to happen.

    May 25, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  11. Freedom of speech

    All of you McCain supporters, Clinton lovers, think about it, Lets give Hillary 70% of Puerto Rico, split Montana and South Dakota. Barack only needs 25 delegates at that point, which gives Billary 88% of the remaining delegates.

    This is an imposible senario for the Hillster, Barack will run againt the the Viet Nam warrior the can not stand behind our warriors that keep us free! McCain will be defeated in the general election.

    An endless war, torture, 4 more years of Bush economics are not going to elect McBush and we will be free from the fear once again!

    I pray War crimes are looked at closely to ensure to the world that no one is above the law and those who broke it will be punished!

    God bless our Democratic President, Barack Obama, God bless our Democratic Congress and Senate to change the course that the Republicans refuse to change! And God bless America.

    If you vote for McCain, our country will go bankrupt and the deficit will grow at a pace of 700 billion a year, or nearly a trillion a year.

    May 25, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. Marilyn

    Her comment about RFK had NOTHING to do with Obama!!! Honestly, she could say "the sky is blue" and you Obama idiots would try to twist the words to make it seem like an insult. Get over yourselves!!

    May 25, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. Emeka, Florida

    At this point, Hillary should not be in the news. The news now is between Obama and Mcain. Surely, another candidate would run against her for her NY Senatorial seat and by then the Clinton's would finally be done with, except if Chelsea later decide to go into politics. Chelsea even has a better chance of being the first female President unlike her mother, provided she(Chelsea) learns not to be heartless like her mum.

    May 25, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Shirley Hall


    You seem to be very busy!!!

    May 25, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Hey everyone! Why not just relax and start focussing on winning the General Election. Hillary is over, let her sink as she wishes to sink. All this Hillary bashing only intensifies the focus upon her. Ignore her and she'll just go away.

    May 25, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. gary


    May 25, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. Madison

    I would just like to say that if "the unspeakable" happens... it would be the start of the second Civil War in American history. I'm just saying, American should think long and hard about the repercussions of their actions.

    May 25, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. Linda31

    So now the new thing is the Clinton camp trying to blame Obama for the blow up over her gaffe. There is a way to run a graceful campaign and stay in the race, but that's not what she is doing. Mudsling and blame is shameful.

    I still do not understand what comments have to do with you staying in the race. Please explain....

    May 25, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. Becky

    I'm appalled at the rudeness and lack of civility used to atack at Hillary by the Obama suppoters. I will never vote for Obama,And Florida will not go with Him no matter what John King and his comments will say,And everything she says is being taken out of context .It's just ridiculous.In the general election Obama will not close the deal,He is unelectable and even that you have given him and easy ride on your reporting what is true is that Hillary is the best choice.And she does have the popular vote count.

    May 25, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. Bill

    Look Guys, Hillary has better chances to win popular vote in general election an much better chance to actually get elected if you consider Obama vs Clinton performance in the swing states. So guys close your elitists mouthes and listen to the people.

    May 25, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  21. Curliss

    I think its the right time for the democratic party to split. Hillary should run as an INDEPENDENT if she doesn't get the democratic nomination.

    GO Hillary! Go Hillary!

    May 25, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  22. Rebecca

    Anybody out there that actually believe Hillary still has a legitimate chance of beating Obama needs to find some good medication to stop their mental dillusions. The superdelegates, most who know the Clintons on a personal level unlike the voters, are more than happy not to have to give their vote to Hillary. They don't like Bill and Hillary for reasons that the average voters know nothing about. They will not change their mind. They cannot stand the Clintons and as long as they have a viable alternative their votes will not go Hillary's way.

    May 25, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Bob Slone

    It is so unfortunate that Obama is the likely Democratic candidate to become Commander-in-Chief because when he was graduating high school, he would not have qualified for military service because of his experimentation with drugs.

    May 25, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. Rj

    The shot heard around the world was self inflicted...

    May 25, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. Dee, St.Louis

    I see Hillary's paid bloggers are up early today. Get this in your big heads Hillary supporters, she will not be the Democratic nominee. Even if Obama loses the GE, the Clintons will never get back in the White House. LMAO

    May 25, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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