May 25th, 2008
11:10 AM ET
6 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. Crystal, Jacksonville Florida

    What she also doesn't mention is now Obama is ahead in McCain in four swing states. She seems to want to argue that because she won California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc...Obama won't be able to win those states in November, which is a completely false argument at best.

    May 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. 35W Southbound

    Rules are rules. When do the Clinton supporters realize this? I don't get it!!! Anyone else, any Clinton bloggers out there that can tell me how or why the rules should change now?

    May 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Janice

    Always more lies and always everyone elses fault. Don't you think it is time for you to take responsibility for your words/actions?

    May 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Terry in Fl

    You keep fighting Hillary! There are millions off us fighting with you. You are our only chance of getting to the White House this term. We NEED you to prevail. PLEASE, for the sake of the poor, the sick, the disabled, the veterans...PLEASE keep fighting! We will follow you all the way to the convention floor and beyond!

    May 25, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. obama - supporter - arkansas

    LOOK HILLARY

    you made the same statement to the time magazine in march. and at that time ted kennedy was not sick. you know the longer hillary in out there the more chance for some nut to try to dispose of obama. it it look as if she was quietly hinting the issue.
    time to go hillary

    May 25, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Bob Stephens

    Hillary has made so many comments during this campaign, that she has taken back, after they had the effect that she wanted. Hillary, please do us all a favor and go back to New York and terrorize the people in the state and leave the rest of us alone.

    May 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. AN OHIO VOTER

    Continue to fight Hillary, don't ever give up!! Senator Obama is still just an "empty suit". Our daughters and sons are watching you. Continue to teach them how to fight for what they believe in and that nothing is worth having if you are not willing to FIGHT for it. God Bless you and keep you safe and strong. We love you and are very proud of you. Stay focused on the issues and continue to challenge the wrongs in this campaign and in our wonderful United States of America.

    BE BLESSED AND KNOW THAT WE CONTINUE TO LOVE AND RESPECT YOU AND FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON.

    May 25, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. gene

    Its a sorry day when you can not refer to a historic event. The media laid on you for the Jessie Jackson remark and now the RK comment . Each designed to cripple your campaign. I am a long time Democrat and a liberal one at that, but no super left wing elitest nut, and I will not vote for Obama in the fall if he is the nominee.

    May 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. On_The_Street

    Lack of realism is far her best reason..

    ...Our campaign is winning the popular vote — and we've been winning the swing states we need ..." But only if she ignores and DISENFRANCHISE the voters from caucus states ..

    She will say and do anything to win..

    May 25, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. geri

    IT IS TYPICAL OF YOUR OPPONENTS TO TWIST EVERYTHING YOU SAY. YOU WILL MAKE A WONDERFUL PRESIDENT AND MY FRIENDS AND I ARE PRAYING YOU WILL EVENTUALLY WIN THE NOMINATION. YOU CERTAINLY DESERVE TO WIN. YOU ARE THE BEST PERSON QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB. WE LOVE YOU HILLARY GO ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. New Day

    I think that Hillary should finish the race. Its a shame that she has turned this into a "women's best hope for a president" type of race because it has put so much pressure on her and her supporters. I have no doubt there will be a woman president but, Hillary wasn't the right choice.

    May 25, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. sniff..sniff..

    Boo-hoo..PLEASE, Lady..give it a rest. She must think that she's owed the presidency because of Bill's 2 terms. She's going to have some serious personal issues when this is all done...not that she isnt having some now.

    Obama 08'/12'

    May 25, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  13. The Truth

    NO Hillary.....

    You have no leadership capabilities. The largest organization that either you or Obama have ever led are your campaigns and your leadership is horrible.

    While Obama's campaign is thriving....yours is over 20 million dollars in debt. Key personal have quit or been fired. You had very poor planning. The theme of your campaign has changed constantly when your message did not work...etc...etc..

    Obama is ahead in DELEGATES...STATES...POPULAR VOTES....MOMENTUM....ELECTABILITY......AND MOST IMPORTANT....

    The American people want an honest President and that is Obama!

    OBAMA '08!

    May 25, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. BettiH, Indianapolis, IN

    This could very well be a threat to Obama if you connect The Clinton's past and their involvements in people that stood up against The Clinton's or threatened thier positions in any kind of way. I wouldn't trust those dogs for nothing in the world.

    May 25, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. Double Standard

    It's very clear that there is a double standard at work this primary season. In the media, Senator Clinton can do no right and Obama can do no wrong. She is being pushed out of the primary process despite that fact that historically primaries continue until someone has secured the nomination. Why should a woman not be able to continue running for office when men have been supported in doing the same thing historically up to the convention?! The Democratic establishment has been so sexist and it's an utter disgrace. The media has also been blatantly sexist and has played favorites with Obama from the start. Obama himself has made sexist remarks and has demonstrated a sexist attitude. I am ashamed of the Democratic Party this year.

    I will write Hillary's name in on my ballot in November. She has the popular vote and should be our nominee (even though she is a woman).

    May 25, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. nurserachet

    I am so frustrated with the media attacks on Clinton–the latest uproar re: comment about RFK's death is just one more, and a tempest in a tea pot, confirming that the media is attempting to push Obama into the candidate slot.
    I have not decided for whom to vote in Nov., but the pushing Obama down my throat is NOT a good way to get my vote. May just go ahead and vote for McCain, at least the media opinions are less involved with his abilities, which are actually PROVEN!

    May 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. John W., Milwaukee, WI

    Hillary, for those of us who KNOW you, no explanation is needed; for those Obamanations who DO NOT KNOW YOU, no amount of explanation will ever suffice...

    May 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. B. Adams

    I think it is sad that a woman who began her campaign with the status as a wife of arguably the most influential man in contemporary American politics, with access to political and financial power, name recognition, and the support of 99.9% of the Democratic coalition (women–white and African American, unions, and superdelegates) would so badly manage a campaign, so alienate key constituencies, and ravage the party, that she is reduced to making irresponsible, divisive, and highly inappropriate comments. It is clearly time to stop!

    May 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA

    OH YES WE KNOW WHY YOU CONTINUE TO RUN.

    WE DON'T EVEN WISH THAT FOR YOU.

    May 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Go Hillary

    It's a shame that you felt you had to explain an innocent comment about primary timelines. The Obama campaign took the comment out of context, twisted its words and created a mood of hysteria (again). Obama is stifling free speech in our country. Shame on Obama and his hyper-sensitive campaign.

    Hillary you are our best candidiate and I will support you in November!

    May 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Chris

    Hillary Clinton – the audacity of arrogance. How on earth are we to trust anything this woman says in future. She is truly a disgrace and has reinforced the perception that she will say anything and do anything to get elected. Even if she somehow became the Democrat nominee, there is no way she is electable as President of our great country.

    May 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. We love hillary

    keep diving the party , you will handle us the goverment..thank you we k now we can count on your dirty work..

    McBush.08 thanks to billary..............

    May 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. KLEM

    The Repulican party must be thanking Hilary Clinton for campainning for them; Yes she's been stirring anger among democrat voters; she's been ruining the credibility of the democratic party with her remarks on the nomination process (by which her husband was elected president of the United States of America).

    My point is, the republicans are gonna play this card on November, and they will be right

    May 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. AN OHIO VOTER

    RISE HILLARY RISE!!

    FIGHT HILLARY FIGHT!!

    DON'T EVER GIVE UP WHEN YOU ARE RIGHT!!

    HILLARY CLINTON, THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!

    YES SHE CAN AND YES SHE WILL!!

    YOU GO GIRL !!!!!!!.............................

    May 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Debby

    Its the media that has blown this out of proportion. Anyone that has an IQ of 30 knew what history she was talking about referring to RK running for the nomination. I think these media night shows and commentators on Friday when they salivated to carry this story are all straight jacket material.

    May 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
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