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. Angry Florida Voter

    Note to the DNC-

    If you want my vote in November, you better count it now!
    And not 1/2 a vote. I'm not 1/2 a person.

    And don't tell me about some rules made by party hacks. They make rules for their own agendas.

    In America, it's one person, one vote, and they all count.

    May 25, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Shelby

    So you say something stupid and its his fault people are upset? You're amazing!!!!!! Why can't you just say " I'm sorry, it was dumb, I don't want ANYONE (not just the Kennedy family) to be offended ." I don't think you realize what you said was wrong and there is something VERY wrong about that.

    P.S. if you want to be vp you probally shouldn't continue to reference the possible death of the President.

    May 25, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. Kris K from CA

    There is no excuse for the Clinton statement. She did it and it stands. It took her off the table as a candidate and shows just how troubled she is personally. Not a person you want representing you at international events on the world stage. She isn't trustworthy or honest. She is no longer believeable. She has ruined things for herself. She has no one to blame but herself. She is a tragic figure in American politics-along with her husband.

    May 25, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. nina

    Hillary, please, do continue to very end of elections.

    I read in one of the following articles, but could not add my voice there.
    I read this :
    "Michelle Obama, the candidate's wife, is his closest confidant. She often says, "I'm not his senior adviser, I'm his wife." But she also talks about how dinner conversations about their family are what's in his mind when he's crafting policy. She's the ultimate truth teller to the candidate; he calls her for feedback after debates. She has led the campaign's outreach to female voters: As a lawyer and hospital executive, she provides evidence that Obama respects strong women even as he's campaigning against one."

    so, Obama is not able to make his own decision, he has to report to his wife, he has to look for OK in his wife. How strong president he will be? Not strong – he HAS to go for approval to his wife!!!!!
    So, who will be runing this country? Michele! Not Barack.
    Does anybody realize this?

    May 25, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. papu

    Terry & other surrogates of Clinton-stop spinning. Its over.

    May 25, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Remy

    Hillary will will the nominee if she keeps on staying and focussed

    May 25, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Mikhailovich

    Hey Hillary, you continue to run because your overpowering ambition drives you to it... because you think the Democratic party owes you the nomination... somehow... because you hope that Obama will make a big mistake. I am not a politician or an expert on American politics, Hillary, but the way I see it, the only way you can win is through treachery and skullduggery, and winning that way will cause a firestorm in the Democratic party. The way I see it, you want to win so badly, you don't care if you blow up the Democractic party...

    May 25, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Venus


    Hillary has only herself to blame for her remarks!

    I recall how Hillary and her campaign – blew-up bitter-gate and clinging-gate!

    Obama played this game a different way! Let the media run with it and let person weigh in!!!

    Obama is a better person than me! I would have put a lot of gas on this issue! Instead------- he let her squim and then 24 hours later made his comments!

    I don't blame him! Hillary has mean nasty in this race!

    May 25, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Abiola Falayajo, Melbourne, Australia

    You've made every points available Hillary, its time to go pls.

    May 25, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. Ravi

    I believe her husband wrapped up his nimonation well ahead of California primary in 1992. Please check the facts. Bringing up Bobby Kennedy is the worst thing she did (she did it back in March also). She could use lots of other refrences if she wanted to...
    I believe America is tire of Bush and Clintons. We do need change!!! We need younger blood to get this country on the right track. We need to stop borrowing money from China and need to stop this bleeding NOW...

    May 25, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. AF

    Hillary should realize that being president is not an entitlement that she deserve. The country vote on the person they think will best run the country. Her track record in this campaign has shown she is not the best person for example budget, supervision of her staff, lying, and a host of other issues.

    May 25, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Agnes

    iF she's going to make stupid statements like that, she should not be president. And if she was tired and sleep deprived, how's she suppose to answer the phone at 3 o'clock in the morning and make a decisive decision? We don't need a president that always misspeak and has visions of snipers shooting at her. That proves Hillary will not be a good president or VP. She's always tired and it causes her to misspeak. Yeah, uh,huh.

    Here's my suggestion for Hillary. Since she want snipers to shoot at her, she should move to Iraq and run for president. That way she will have her snipers and be the first woman pantsuit wearing president. HOORAY for Hillary!

    **************VOTE FOR HILLARY******************
    1. To be mentally evaluated.
    2. To sharpen her math skills.
    3. To REPENT!

    (Hard working white, black, latino, asian Americans with morals and love for the democratic party)

    May 25, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. Tubby The Tuba

    The American people know what's on Hillary's mind. Suggesting that scenario as a reason for staying in the hunt only gives some idiot an idea that they may act on. She should drop out of the race. Remember she is the veteran political candidate extraordinaire...she knows what she is doing. Now if she can only pay her campaign costs off and not screw those people over.

    May 25, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Gaylon Barrow

    HILLARY, I certainly hope you continue to run. BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT ACCEPT A VP slot next to Obama. After four years of him they will ride him out of the country on a rail. Eventually the SUPER DELEGATES WILL SEE THE LIGHT. Obama can not win this election. There are far too many of us Democrats that will switch and vote for JOHN McCAIN BEFORE WE'LL VOTE FOR HIM OR SIMPLY WILL NOT VOTE.


    May 25, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Nancy Frank

    The NEGATIVE publicity of Hillary Clinton's historical reference to the timeline of democratic primary contests is un-warranted. Senator Clinton was simply making a historical reference and providing examples of primary contests that have lasted until June (1992 and 1968). I FAIL TO SEE HOW THIS IS A RACIST STATEMENT. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW REFERENCING HISTORY IN SUPPORT OF STAYING IN THE RACE UNTIL EVERY VOTE IS CAST AND COUNTED IS RACIST?

    May 25, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. Mark

    That is distasteful, Hillary.

    May 25, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. Obama Nation

    Wait it's Obama's fault that Clinton said those words? Jesus , what type of people has clinton surrounded herself with. SHUTUP and apologize to Obama and his family so we can put this behind us.

    May 25, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. CA California

    The math is not in her favor. Why have primaries spending millions of dollars if it does not contribute to the Presidential nomination.

    May 25, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Les

    Hillary's comments could be construed in the most terrible and dangerous way. The Democratic Party must take action to remove her from the campaign for President or even Vice President.

    May 25, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. California Voter

    As is often true, it's not the thing someone says, it's how that person reacts to the fallout that causes the problem. Hillary Clinton, after THREE DAYS and with the time to craft an op-ed, STILL HAS NOT apologized to Barack Obama. She is despicable.

    May 25, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Air Force Member

    Cliton you are sick! just leave already with out making the Democratic party suffer and more significantly with out looking like a fool in front of the whole world

    May 25, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. La Raza

    Hey Hillary I know a good shrink .......... please just talk to him.

    May 25, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Ann

    Com'on – please don't give us that BS that she has a better chance to beating McCain... It's a lot of crap. If she indeed has an edge, why can't her numbers show it! The best to prove it is through the primaries and caucuses. She has been measured and she failed miserably...

    If you really care for America, please do us some good and bow out gracefully.

    May 25, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. JFK

    Thank you Mrs Clinton for staying in the race. Not all people want Mr Obama running. With his strange ties to his church, his lack of experience, and the way he has conducted himself leaves many people umcomfortable. Sadly, many people are not looking at this as a hiring decision but more a popularity contest. Thank you for staying in and giving us a more experienced and sensible choice! Now, if only others could see things more clearly through their Obama induced fog.

    May 25, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. MI Women 4 Obama!

    No Hillary, you stay in the race because you and Bill love controversy. Its all clear now why you stayed with Bill after his affair with Monica…..the controversy “excited” you both!

    You Hillary….have no merits, can’t even lead a campaign effectively lone enough provide the leadership that this Country needs. You are not leading in popular vote – YOU agreed to not count MI or Fl until you realized you needed us. MI & FL will get seated somehow someway; no one doubts that in the end our votes will count – but not for Hillary!

    I venture to say that if the Caucuses and Primaries started all over today across the nation it wouldn’t take long for Barack to flush the Clinton’s right down the toilet.

    You’re right about one thing…this is not American Idol, so quit acting like it is because Barrack is certainly not the one acting that way.

    Barack is running a clean campaign, staying with the issues, speaking the truth; he’s running within budget, he’s organized, on-top of everything! That’s the kind of leadership this Country needs.

    We need CHANGE, no more old Washington politics, and you Hillary [and Bill] are the nothing but the old!

    You want to rally the Democratic Party…..??? Then get out and back Barack so that we can take the Whitehouse this year but without you in it. Not as the President, not as the Vice President.

    Watch out Hillary, Barack is about to become your boss!

    BARACK OBAMA 08 & 12!

    May 25, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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