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. Are You Serious?

    Funny. I seem to remember another campaign taking some "bitter" comments out of context and inflaming them in the media as well. Karma is a funny thing, isn't it?

    Obama '08!

    May 25, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. Bobby Brown

    How can anyone justify her comments? It is sad day when candidate seems to insight recurrence of a devastating event in US history. I pray that no such event ever occur again. I will pray that God give her a change of heart. There is no room for evilness in a position of authority.

    May 25, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Mark

    Looks like you're praying (maybe conspiring) for some miracle to happen including the extinction of your opponent so that you can climb the ladder which you believe only you are entitled to.

    May 25, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Cfitzgibbon

    Did Hillary "mis speak" once again? She seems to have a difficult time being truly understood......or perhaps she is more understood than she would like to be. Yes, Hillary some people do reconize that you play by your own rules and will say and do anything to be President.

    May 25, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Oscar from NYC

    Those people really don't know how to quit!
    Sadly, Hill and Bill have lost all the respect that I had left for them and they don't seem to understand why.
    Billary, do us all a favor and just go away!

    May 25, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. S in Austin

    Wow. I am really trying to give the Clinton campaign the benefit of the doubt here. But all I hear is blame-deflect-blame-deflect. What about taking some personal responsibility? And what about being honest about who's calling for what? Obama has not called for her to get out of the race. He has encouraged her to continue through the last primaries so that the process is followed, if that's her choice. Some of his supporters are ready to see her go, but that's not Obama's fault!

    May 25, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. Steve

    Now it all depends on Montana, huh? What next? Whoever wins in Puerto Rico will be the President? Pathetic losers!
    I had great admiration for B. Clinton for what he has done during his presidential years. But now, all I have is contempt. Power and greed have blinded the Clintons.
    Isn't it evident to any person with common sense that all Clintons are doing is to divide the country and the party? Hillary wants the nomination, and if she doesn't get it, she wants to screw up all chances of Obama winning in Nov. And she will do anything to achieve that. Pity people don't realize this ploy of hers!

    May 25, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. Am I missing the point?

    Mrs. Clinton's statement was a bit poorly-worded, but frankly I don't see a real problem with it as it stands. I am an Obama supporter, and as I've read through her statement time an time again, I see no specific reference to Obama, nor do I see any veiled implications. It was just a stupid thing to say, and if you put it in context she was talking about something else all together.

    That all being said, Mrs. Clinton's rationale that it's OK for the primary to drag on, because it has in the past, misses one important point. In the other elections, both candidates were still well-funded, were still neck-and-neck, and the trend to elect one or the other wasn't showing itself. In those historical situations neither candidate had the nomination completed by the numbers. In this election, by the time the Democratic convention rolls around, Obama will have the numbers. There will be no reason to consider Mrs. Clinton a viable candidate any longer.

    May 25, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. A Latte Lover, Seattle, WA

    Come on people, lets just let Hillary's latest gaffe go. It was a very DUMB comment. Only she knows for sure what she meant. Lets not feed this. It gives crazy loonies ideas. I'm curious though, how did the Obama campaign inflame this??? He did not make the comment, Hillary did. To me, McAuliffe is looking more and more ridiculous as the days go on.

    David Axelrod, along with the rest of the people in the Obama campaign is AWESOME!!!

    May 25, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Nilda

    I think and I hope after June 3rd., she will be out of this presidential race

    May 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Marvin Geer

    The Media is the single most pervasive element in this race trying to decide your vote. No need to go into who the Corporate Media favors, that is clear to any basically mentally competant voter. Don't go with the Media. Our system free press has turned into a filthy bias rag pushing for more centralized Corporate Power.

    May 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. L-ton

    Dear Sen. Clinton,

    I so desperately wanted you to become president. I signed up to work your camapaign. I donated money to the cause. That I'm now making this request goes against what I truly believed and fought for not too long ago.

    My alliance, like yours, is to the Democratic party. I have made the decision to get behind the party and the party's candidate. I'm sorry you didn't get there. You are terrific. But please, we Democrats need you, your support, your abilities and we need them now. Make the deals you need as quickly as possible and then make the announcement and get behind party. We could be having so much fun right now against the GOP.

    I really am sorry it wasn't you.

    May 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. calif

    who care what she said we know her mind now.

    May 25, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  14. ELM in FLorida

    Only eight more days and -hopefully – this agony will be over.

    May 25, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. GiveMeABreak

    I can't believe Hillary continues to talk about her husband's 1992 campaign not being wrapped up until June. In April Bill had the nomination virtually in hand and Jerry Brown played the spoiler until June... Though Brown (like Hillary now) didn't have much of a chance he continued to fight until the very end; this wasn't good for the party then and it's not good for the party now! Ultimately Bill won the nomination w/ 3372 while Brown had 596 (not much of a nail biter but Hillary seems to have forgotten this). In fact, there was a bit of a controversy over whether Brown would talk at the convention in
    1992 because it wasn't clear if he would endorse Clinton. Does Hillary want to play the role of spoiler in the same way Brown did? Did Hillary think Brown was doing the right thing by staying in the race, and did she think Brown's actions were good for the party in 1992? I don't think so - give me a break! In terms of the 1968 election, LBJ (the incumbent) dropped out of the race for health reasons on March 31, the NH primary wasn't until mid-March, there were only 13 primaries at that time, and the biggest primary, California, wasn't held until June 5th. Given all of this, of course the race was still on in June – duh. This isn't the case anymore so it seems ridiculous to compare the current situation with this, and I don't understand her premise anyway. Was this a good year in Hillary's opinion? Do we want a repeat of that year where one of the major candidates was killed and the republicans ultimately won the white house? Give me a break.

    May 25, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. jeff - Dallas

    Clinton left out the most compelling reason, "Because I am a megalomaniac. I am driven to success at the cost the Democratic Party, and the Nation."

    Let's please get this over with and move on to November.
    Obama 08

    May 25, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. Brian Knoxville, TN


    You're right. This isn't American Idol. If only you had 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 for President of the United States rather than for a popularity contest.

    And you're right about the party having rules. But you are trying to deceive the public when you say that the process ends on June 3 according to the Democratic Party’s 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 with all your statements to end the process as early as possible, while your lightweight candidate is ahead IN ALL BUT THE POPULAR VOTE.

    Btw, have you noticed that many superdelegates have not been willing to give your guy the nomination? Why might that be? Seems like they’re not too comfortable with Obama as the nominee. And with good reason! Apparently, there are some leaders in the Party who understand what’s at stake and that Obama might make some people feel good, but is not qualified and will not win.

    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 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. Marc

    It is over Hillary. I have lost so much respect for you. You are a joke in the Democratic Party and a joke to your supporters.

    May 25, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. Hillary NO VP /no pres.

    She meant every word she spoke /another of her Bosnia tales .

    May 25, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. Pat

    There is one question that I have not hear addresed about Obama. If he had such a meger upbringing how was he able to attend such a prestigious college and how did he become so wealthy at such a young age?

    May 25, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Mike from Westchester

    How many times is she going to tell the same lie?



    May 25, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Alison, FL


    May 25, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Zoe

    "TO UNIFY THE PARTY????" – ah duh!

    You hope you can buy, coerce or fabricate your way to the DNP Presidential nomination that clearly, is not fated to be yours.

    Own it Hillary and at least give us all create for not being stupid.

    May 25, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. jeff - Dallas

    How many times this Primary season, has Clinton, her campaign, or her husband used the "unfortunate statement" defense. We can't afford to have a Commander in Chief who is constantly making "unfortunate statements".

    Obama 08

    May 25, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. R.O.B.

    You can't advance, you need to gracefully bow. Obama is stylin' on the opposition.

    OBAMA '08

    May 25, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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