May 25th, 2008
11:10 AM ET
7 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. Dwight

    Please Clintons..for the good of the country...JUST GO AWAY.

    May 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Brian Knoxville, TN

    Axelrod,

    You're right, this isn't American Idol. If you have only said that five months ago, maybe most of the people who voted for Obama would have understood that they were voting for the Party's nominee rather than for a popularity contest.

    And you're right about the party having rules. The process doesn't end on June 3 according to the rules. It continues until the convention in August. Decades ago, the Party gave about one quarter of the delegate votes to Party leaders (the so-called superdelegates).

    You're not fooling anyone when all your statements to end the process as early as possible, while your lightweight candidate is ahead IN ALL BUT THE POPULAR VOTE

    Sincerely,
    A lifelong Democrat who will not vote for any candidate with no experience as a national leader and with no experience at all in foreign policy.

    WAKE UP DEMOCRATIC PARTY (the Republicans are quietly laughing at us, hoping we will once again put forward a candidate they will beat in the general election).

    May 25, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. David

    Obama is violating the "rules". Scolding Super Delegates into voting on his elected delegate lead makes Axelrod's comment completely asinine. This isn't American Idol, so we won't be voting on emotional slogans and ethereal promises.

    May 25, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. Prof. Charlie, University of Texas

    This holds true for bitter-gate, Wright-gate, Michelle-gate. Why did she call him "elitist" and questioned his judgment? Do we see hypocrisy?

    May 25, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. john

    GET OUT HILLARY.

    May 25, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Barack Obama 08/12

    Hillary can stand toe to toe with McCain as she said she can and that will be as McCain's VP
    Hillary said she has
    merits /what ?All we hear is racism.sexism, lies ,hate and Clinton Math always try to screw someone .
    Leadership /She is leading us into a world of her Bosnia type lies,
    Hillary is a Republican /her leadership is leading Bill out of the oval office after his nightly escapades.
    Hillary went gone off the deep end and Carville was with her .
    NO HILLARY VP FOR OBAMA

    May 25, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. john

    ALL HILLARY SUPPORTER GIVE IT UP.

    May 25, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Robin Panchoo

    Hi . I believe that is high time for H. Clinton to take a rest and let B.Obama fight this presidential without any further confusion . B. Obama has proved himself to be worthy of the American people and I believe too , that once and for all , let history takes its course . Thank You .

    May 25, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. Won't vote for Obama? Then it's time to enlist ...

    These are the risks that American soldiers have faced everyday for over five years now, and under President McCain, they will face them for at least four more years.

    That's an incredible sacrifice to be made because some Clinton supporters decided to oppose Obama on issues wholly irrelevant to actual policy. That being the case, I just have to ask:

    If you refuse to vote for Obama, why are you asking others to sacrifice for your decision?

    If you're going to help McCain get elected, you need to take responsibility for your actions.

    This election is bigger than you. It's bigger than Barack Obama. It's bigger than Hillary Clinton. Lives will be saved or lost depending on who is elected in November, and if you're going to willfully help prolong the war, it's time to do the honorable thing and enlist.

    Locate a U.S. Army recruiter in your area:

    Don't worry, you'll still be able to get election results from Baghdad, and you'll still be able to "sit this one out" under the comfort of a mortar attack.

    And yes, I'm sure hearing about an Obama defeat will seem all the more sweet when you're laying in the choking aftermath of an IED explosion with a piece of half-melted plastic burning a hole into your intestines.

    I'm sure you'll be comforted by the knowledge that history had no place for President Obama when you're staring at the empty space where your leg used to be.

    And certainly, I'm sure the crippling terror of post-traumatic stress disorder will be nowhere as severe as the disingenuous "concern" you'll suffer over debunked Rezko conspiracy theories and the excited ramblings of a liberation theologian.

    Of course, those already serving will not get the same perverse comfort from their sacrifice, so there's no excuse for not taking on this burden yourself.

    If you truly believe that Obama should not be president, if you truly believe there is no greater pain than seeing a primary opponent win the general election, then this sacrifice can only be considered a modest price for your convictions.

    May 25, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Sandra

    It will be a great day when HRC bows out of the race, hopefully with grace. It is time to unite behind Barack and win back the White House. Eight years has been too long with GW Bush. Let's turn the page.

    May 25, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. Lisa

    Yes, Hillary dear, we all know why you continue to run. You have made it abundantly clear....no confusion here.

    May 25, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. Tjaye for Obama

    It's just time to let it go. She is turning herself into a victim and being dishonest on so many levels. The next woman who runs will have so much of this negativity to overcome because of her. I think she needs to look at the big picture of the future and gracefully let this play out with her being positive and showing she can at least appear to be a team player. We have too much at stake for one woman to destroy an election that should be a gimme for our party.

    May 25, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Dan from Wisconsin

    Hillary still thinks she can win because she is a sore loser....she will not accept defeat gracefully. She will pull all stops in order to try and get the nomination. She thinks that she deserves it and should be given the nomination, even though the math is against her. She wants the rules changed to benefit her... for example Florida and Michigan. She signed off earlier that she agreed not to campaign in either state because they moved their primaries up....now she changed her tune again only because she is losing. She doesn't care about those states, she only cares about one thing and one thing only.....Hillary Clinton.

    May 25, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Kay-Arizona

    Wow. did you folks ever miss the subject on that comment.

    The subject was the Primary still going on in June, which is what she was talking about. The reference to Bobby Kennedy was simply a time line reference.

    Anyone that read anything else into that comment has to have their own agenda or does not know history.

    May 25, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. Won't vote for Obama? Then it's time to enlist ...

    These are the risks that American soldiers have faced everyday for over five years now, and under President McCain, they will face them for at least four more years. That's an incredible sacrifice to be made because some Clinton supporters decided to oppose Obama on issues wholly irrelevant to actual policy. That being the case, I just have to ask:

    If you refuse to vote for Obama, why are you asking others to sacrifice for your decision?

    If you're going to help McCain get elected, you need to take responsibility for your actions. This election is bigger than you. It's bigger than Barack Obama. It's bigger than Hillary Clinton. Lives will be saved or lost depending on who is elected in November, and if you're going to willfully help prolong the war, it's time to do the honorable thing and enlist.

    Click here to locate a U.S. Army recruiter in your area.

    Don't worry, you'll still be able to get election results from Baghdad, and you'll still be able to "sit this one out" under the comfort of a mortar attack. And yes, I'm sure hearing about an Obama defeat will seem all the more sweet when you're laying in the choking aftermath of an IED explosion with a piece of half-melted plastic burning a hole into your intestines. I'm sure you'll be comforted by the knowledge that history had no place for President Obama when you're staring at the empty space where your leg used to be. And certainly, I'm sure the crippling terror of post-traumatic stress disorder will be nowhere as severe as the disingenuous "concern" you'll suffer over debunked Rezko conspiracy theories and the excited ramblings of a liberation theologian. Of course, those already serving will not get the same perverse comfort from their sacrifice, so there's no excuse for not taking on this burden yourself. If you truly believe that Obama should not be president, if you truly believe there is no greater pain than seeing a primary opponent win the general election, then this sacrifice can only be considered a modest price for your convictions.

    May 25, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. JC

    I don't care why you want to run forever.
    Go ahead, run forever.

    Of course, the more outrageous comments made by you and Bill will give you more publicity for free. We understand that you now have to think creatively when you are deep in debt.

    May 25, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. D. Claiborne, Martha's Vineyard

    . . . Hillary’s RFK comment was quite calculated indeed. But make no mistake that what you “wish” on others could very well be an omen
    for yourself. I think it is preposterous for her to ever hope that the
    majority of Americans would want her to lead them anywhere, let
    alone as president. She owes the Kennedy’s an apology, that is if
    she has any ounce of dignity left in her cold and calculating spirit.

    May 25, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  18. The Beat Goes On

    Robert Kennedy's son was not offended by the gaffe. So, everyone else needs to see the comment as it was– a simple reference to a timeline.

    Just as everyone remembers it was November when JFK was killed, most people remember it was June when RFK was killed. They are just dates that stick in Americans' minds.

    She shouldn't even have to apologize because it's clear that Hillary meant that other primary campaigns (like Bill's and RFK's) have extended into June. So, why can't hers?

    All the flap about the comment is sheer nonsense.

    May 25, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  19. Neutral

    You continue to run coz the longer it gets, you solidify your base, they're getting broader and deeper and increasing in numbers while your opponent is on the decline. You're one tough lady Senator Clinton, you'd be a great President if the American people give you a chance to serve this great country called America. Its not every day we see a woman with fortitude and heaps of perseverance who swim against the tide guarded by men who feels a woman's place is at home, barefoot and pregnant. The world has change a lot, but this country is hesitant to change, that is electing a woman for President. Real change will only come into this country when the American people shows courage and elect a woman for President, it will tear down walls that have been there for many years that brings upheaval into this country of ours – discrimination. I'm a libertarian, but I wll not hesitate to cast my vote for you if your party choose you as their nominee for Presidential election. You become a SYMBOL of REAL CHANGE, you become an inspiration to young girls and boys, they too can be President if they persevere and do the right thing. All the odds are against you, as long as you don't kowtow to those asking you to quit, you will succeed. You are the TRUE DEMOCRAT, a party of FDR.

    May 25, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. Big D

    Why isn't she more directly challeged every time that she says she has more of the popuar vote? She doesn't – she's wrong. So why doesn't the media more firmly dispute that? She can only make that claim by distorting the votes – not by just using a different method. First she gives Obama no votes at all for Michigan – not even 1 vote, not a portion of the uncommitted – she gives him 0. And then she doesn't count (disenfranchises) all of the voters in the caucus states. Sure it"s hard to figure out how to count the popular vote there. But that's why the popular vote isn't used to determine the nominee. The only real measure that counts is the number of delegates. So it's dishonest to switch to counting the popular vote, and then she dishonestly counts those. She should be challenged every time that she makes this claim and not allowed to present this dishonest spin. She knows better and we know better.

    May 25, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. Chuck

    The only thing that has been in Hillary's heart and prayers for quite a while now is: winning the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United State of America and nothing else.

    As astute a politician as Hillary is, I am astonished about what she said last Friday. Subconsciously, she must be having deep rooted thoughts as to why she "must" continue to run.

    May 25, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. ML

    I think Hillary should stay as long as possible. I will vote only for Hillary.

    after reading an article in Times about Michele -it seems that she is force behind him = he is her puppet, and actually Michele is running.........why is she publicized so much?

    May 25, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. W. Baker

    The only thing that counts is the Electoral College Map and the winning of 270 votes. Hillary Clinton is by far the strongest candidate against McCain. Despite being out spent by Obama, out endorsed, and ignored by MSM – she is getting the vote of the people. The highest endorsement you can have in a democracy. The Super Delegates are SUPPOSE to vote for the candidate that can win – not the one chosen by the news media. Anyone that looks at any of the Electoral College Maps can see she is the one that can win in Nov. against the Republicans.

    May 25, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. Robert Wiseman

    First, Robert Kennedy Jr. continues to express support and faith in Hillary Clinton. He is reported as having said that he finds nothing at fault with her comments and trusts that she was speaking honestly about the length of the race and that there is no problem with it going into June or longer. That closes the issue as far as I am concerned, even if I didn't already think that the reaction to the statements about RFK was odious.

    Second, it is obvious that the main stream media and her opponents want the only woman to get this close to the nomination out of the race. I don't know when another woman will come around who will be willing to take the abuse that is being thrown at her, instead of the objective analysis and comment that other candidates receive.

    Third, Obama is quoted today as saying that Hillary Clinton is 'inflaming' voters in Michigan and Florida. It seems that if Hillary Clinton wasn't making her legitimate claim that these two states had a right to have their votes counted in some fashion at the convention, he would be able to fool the voters in both those states come November. As he looks down his nose at the intelligence of the people in Michigan and Florida it is his distance from their concerns that will inflame them, not Hillar Clinton's attempting to get them involved in the process.

    May 25, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. Valerie

    This election is not similar to those elections because you cannot win. California voted a long time ago and Obama has the majority of the pledged delegates and is very close to the "magic number" when you also count superdelegate endorsements. Clinton is far, far away from any magic number she might choose. Even if the rules were changed, it would be impossible for her to win at this point.

    Stand down, Clintons. We are ready for a NEW Democratic America. You are old news.

    May 25, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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