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. Kevin

    ***MUST READ***
    Hillary: Why I Lie
    MUST WIN; Must Win; must win.....

    May 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. David Newport, OR

    Is this the kind of President we want? One that can't say "I was wrong"? She made a tremendous mistake in saying what she did. I can accept that from people...we all make mistakes. But what I can't accept is her wanting to blame the "Press" for mis-understanding what she was saying...that this is nothing but a fabrication. It was a cold, heartless thing to say. People who deserve respect, do not give half-hearted appologies lessened with an explanation of "why" they did it. She has no Presidental qualities.

    May 25, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. Someone in TX

    Hill-Bill....................give it up. America doesn't WANT you.

    May 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. saved

    How unfortunate. We heard about "bitter-gate" for months and now we have to overlook what Hillary said because she didn't mean it and her mind was on the Kennedys. What happened when she oh "misspoke" the same words in March.? Coming on people give me a break. Talk about your double standards.

    May 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Bubbi Smith

    It's all about Hillary isn't it. Shame really. I was a big supporter, and then when became obvious Barack was going to win, I was feeling sick. And especially so, when I thought about Hillary dropping out, I was dreading the day for her.

    Now I long for it. Get out PLEASE Hillary... why are you being so selfish. You were an excellent candidate, but someone more dynamic and inspiring came along. It's not a put down to you, but please now do the right thing (for once).

    You could have run in 2004, but you didn't want to face an incumbent. (You probably would have won). You voted for the war, I believe for political reasons, you wanted to look tough.. now it bit you back.

    You are causing divisions, and it appears you are trying to weaken the eventual candidate, are you contemplating a run in 2012?

    Get out now... you've become an albatross..

    Sad really.

    May 25, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. lizzie

    her letter in the Daily News did not do any better than her initial "apology" at excusing her. It just showed her selfishness. She is going to go down in history very badly.

    May 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Jack

    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

    May 25, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  8. Anne

    Lies lies from tiny eyes.

    May 25, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  9. Brian Knoxville, TN


    You have an army of supporters who are with you!

    We know you are a true and proven leader who will not let the ranting of Obama's fanatical haters get you down.

    You're candidacy is too important!

    This country needs you more than it does and the mindless ranting of political ignoramuses or the empty rhetoric of an effete neophyte who will not win the general election in the fall.


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

    She was wrong as sin to say what she said. She said it four times. To say that I regret if anyone found my comments offensive was nowhere near an apology. Give America a break. We do not forgive you for this, unless you own up to what you did, and give a proper apology. Until then you have no capacity to serve this country in any capacity what so ever. To think you would even be considered as VP is laughable!!!!

    Obama 08 and whomever he chooses for VP!!!

    May 25, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Democrats forgot about Women

    Why does a woman always have to justify herself?! Historically campaigns have run until a nominee has the requisite delegates (often up to the convention). The Democratic Party and Obama should be ashamed of themselves for trying to push aside the first woman candidiate (who currently leads the popular vote).
    Shame on democrats for this double standard. I thought the Democratic Party was the party that favored women's rights and respected women – clearly this primary season has shown the sexism that still controls the Democratic establishment. The majority of voters have cast their ballots for Sen. Clinton yet the superdelegates are being blinded by the media and Obama's slick political spin machine.

    I will write in Hillary's name in November if she is not the nominee.

    May 25, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. Lori


    These people want you out so bad they can't stand it. Stay in and fight to the finish!! Our country needs you Rise Hillary Rise!!!

    May 25, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. MP-Pennsylvania

    Dear Hillary

    Are you waiting somebody to remove Obama, Is that what you saying?
    I am a woman and you just make us looks like opportunists. I don't think you are as a role model for my daughters. I will disowe my children if they ever behave like you.

    Also don't tell me that because of Ted got sick you came up with this. You mentioned about Bobby even before Ted was diagnosed with tumor.

    Anyway your arguments are against facts. Please check your maths or go for a crash course if some how you could steal the nomination.

    Voters, please look at big states and swng states voting records for not only for democrats, but for republicans too.

    Ohio- Obama got about 900,000, Total republicans got about 1,000,000. So only 10% of Hillary's voters need to support Obama to win Ohio. If only 35% of Hillary's supporters going to support Obama, he still can win.

    Pennsylvania- No issue. Obama got more.

    Florida is just like Ohio. Remember, he did not campaigned.

    California, New jersy, New york- Obama can win all those.

    Swing states and some republican states, go do the math.

    In November even though we can expect more people to vote, still it will go to both parties (And Hillary's arguments are based on the primary, so let's take primary results).

    CNN please post this

    May 25, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. Sylvia

    I am disgusted with the media and others always giving Hillary Clinton the 'benefit of the doubt' that she has 'just misspoken'. I remember the shame Bill Clinton brought on our country during his last years in office. With all of Hillary Clinton's 'misspoken' comments throughout this primary, what could we expect with her as president (or, God forbid, Vice President) for the next four years? The Democratic Party would be wise to distance itself from these two Clintons.

    May 25, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. pam Eugene OR

    The only way to state that you really regret the comment is to give up and go home. I hope after June 3rd you will see the light.
    No to VP for Clinton. We do not want them back...EVER!

    May 25, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. bill pike

    1. sniper fire–to show she is brave as our service people.ugly
    2. signed NAFTA but knew it was wrong when it was signed, but
    making milliions personally???
    3. voted to go to war but knew it was wrong.
    4. the race card in WV was KKK all over again: clinton's want the
    black people to vote for them but this shows it all.
    5. playing the poor like woman to get the ladies vote.
    6. now this sick sick sick statement using robert kennedy. when
    others just slipped up saying something she would bring it up and
    bring it up–this was not a mistake, it was a sick way to get the
    public to support her.
    7 plays the underdog-stated with a 68% advantage, the entire
    democratic party behind her, and ex president promoting her.


    May 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. Benjamin, San Diego CA

    So much for a "graceful" exit. Lastly, she's rallying up the people of Florida/Michigan behind her, and even a law suit to the DNC, only AFTER the fact.

    When desperation and ill-will come to play, just HOW can you have a "graceful" exit?

    Republicans for Obama!

    May 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. spyturtle

    Take the high road and pave the way for future women. Leave the race with dignity by your own choice for the sake of the Democratic Party. Put a poorly run campaign, accusations of unfairness because your not winning, Bosnian sniper fire, Karl Rove tactics, racism, fear mongering, threat to nuke Iran, Bill and Mark Penn, the damage to the fabric of feminism behind you and get make your exit. You have lost this primary. The mistakes have been your own as it had been yours to lose. It may be a sore pill to swallow but your mistakes were the opening for a dynamic campaign and candidate that out maneuvered you at every pivot.

    May 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Juan

    Please do not try to fool the voters. It is quite obvious that both Bill and Hillary do not care what happens to the Democratic Party and the 2008 nominee (Obama), they are both stirring up anger against the DNC and Obama. We should see it by now, as VOTERS, that this couple only cares about themselves and their ambition – not about their party, not about this country. They will say anything and will do anything to get what they want, no matter what it cost – even the demise of the DNC and Obama. They lied under oath before, they abused their power while in the white house (Lewinsky?) and now they will say anything to fool us, the voters, to trust them again. If they did not do things right when they were in the white house, if they lied under oath while he is serving as the President, what makes you think they will tell the truth this time? WAKE UP DEMOCRATS, stand up for what is right and tell Hilary to give it up while the DNC and Obama still have a fighting chance.

    May 25, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Malcolm Jhala (Zambia, AFRICA)

    As a leader, Hilly should be cogniscent of the fact that she can't say and do anything without taking a moment to think what the nattion will think or do.

    When I fisrt heard the statement on RFK, my first thought was that she is staying in the race with the hope that some cazy loon will blow Barack's brains to give her an unexpected nomination. As we all know there is no other way she can get the nod.

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


    May 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. randy

    I don't agree on some of jimmy carters views some times but this one is well said.

    May 25, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. marylee wagerman atlanta,ga

    I am running incase someone kills my opponent.........

    May 25, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. Eric- Beaverton, OR

    Her math disenfranchises caucus states. She's saying the only states that matter are the states that voted for her.

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










    May 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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