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. Deborah

    McAuliffe is dead wrong. The comment was a Freudian slip. If anything were to happen to Senator Obama, this reference will be remembered and I doubt if the Democratic party would turn to Clinton in that event. We forgave "hardworking white people." This, though, is beyond the pale. Hillary Clinton is half ambitious and half pure poison.
    P.S. I am a lifelong Democrat.

    May 25, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. Concerned Voter

    This election is like '68 all over again. Look at the states that Obama has lost. This is the year that Democrats could have won but they have allowed the small majority that controls the Democrat party (for the last two decades) and the media control, this election. The "silent majority" will speak with their votes election day and it will not be Obama. (They may vote holding their nose and voting Republican, but they prefer that to an Obama Presidency. Obama may have eventually distanced himself from Rev. Wright, but it took him 20 years!!!)

    May 25, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Belle

    Obama is the race baiter; Obama inspires hatred and animosity. His last statement concerning Hillary's statement on history is just one more in his long line of hate mongering. First he makes the negative statement; then he accepts her explanation while his campaign continues to send out negative statements on the same issue. His claim to be the positive candidate is a farce; those who believe him are simply hanging on to his superficial statements instead of digging down into what he has done and said. He is a hate monger.

    I know how bad the math is but I also know Obama and his supporters are delusional if they believe Hillary supporters will forget his disrespectful and hate-filled campaign and vote for him in November. There is nothing he can do to change this, not even making Hillary the vp candidate.

    May 25, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Sick of Hillary

    Let's talk about the "bitter" comment... Hillary threw in jabs against Senator Obama at every campaign stop. Hillary and her campaign are hippocrites and cowards. What Terry MacAuliffe calls disengenuous is the civil, upstanding and honorable way Senator Obama has run his campaign from day one – Hillary and her crew would know nothing about that.

    May 25, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. Zman

    will you have a clean conscience if they evre give you the nomination?
    Remember that this nomination has to be earn not steal, if you ever get this nomiation you are not any better than bush.
    Seriously you do not have to be the the first woman president of the US. By you continuing to do whta you are doing you are making it 3 time harder for any other woman to become president soon and specially for your daughter if she ever want to run for that position

    May 25, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Eric in Ca

    Did I miss something? Obama camp hyped-up Clinton's remarks? The Drudge Report got it first and it was streamed via the internet. I believe Sen. Obama has taken the high road once again.
    Hillary jumped on Obama's "Bitter" comments and any other gaffe without the same respect that he's given her.
    In my opinion, Obama has clearly displayed leadership over and over.

    May 25, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Moses, Ca.

    Oh! come on...first it was the White vote in Penn,W.V. and Ky and she said she was just stating the facts. Now this. Hillary you have changed, you're not the person I thought I knew.

    May 25, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. mollygonz

    Oh, Terry McAuliffe can stick it! Like Clinton didn't blow up Obama's bitter comments. Blew them way out of context and almost cost him deeply. Obama was asked about what he thought about the RFK comment and he actually defended Hillary Clinton. She could learn quite a few lessons from this humble, smart man. It wasn't the Obama campaign only..there were alot of people outraged by her comment. Like Obama, I tried to give her the benefit. Now her campaign is crying as usual. Suck it up!

    May 25, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Ray jay

    I don't think the comment about RJK was enything but that. The longer you have to think you can win and keep attacking, you risk the chance of a misspeak that will be a bigger headache that ever before.
    You should have stayed in the race but don't runn with the mouth to hurt Barack and make sure the DEM. win the WH

    May 25, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Mike in Calgary

    Hillary's not to be critcized for her June remarks about 1992 or 1968. She is to be criticized for her campaign that has squandered a huge lead and squandered over $200 Million Dollars and is still over $20 Million in debt. She champions health care and education and road safety, (rebuilding highways and bridges after the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota last August) and that she is ready to be commander is chief to fight terrorism and Al Queda in Afghanistan, and saying she'e ready on day one.

    The reality: she did not do her HOMEWORK and did not bother to even read the Intelligence Report on her desk before authorizing the initiation of war in Iraq. She did not do her HOMEWORK listening to economists about the Gas Tax Holiday she proposed for s limited period this summer that she had no power to enact, would be ineffective reducing gas prices and would pull the rug out from under bridge and road safety. She lied about Bosnia – this reveals her character not as a leader but as a schemere and a panderer who does not think about what she says nor about what she does.

    Hillary is all bout REASONS THAT SOUND GOOD ... NOT GOOD SOUND REASONS! That might be good enough for West Virginian, or for racists or for the undeducated uninformed constituency to whom she appeals. It nevertheless explains why she now trails so badly in delegates and why her campaign is $20 Million in debt.

    The only 3AM phone calls she'll be getting are from bill collectors, loan sharks and from a husband who's working late at the office with a young intern!


    May 25, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. amtFresno,CA

    You are Desperate for a win. You are still in the race hopeing something will happen to Barack to knock him out of the race & then you can win that way. Your DARK side is showing for all to see & we have seen it. It is Outrageous that you can make remarks like this, & all the other personal attacks on Barack and get by with it. The DNC should end this race now. It is obvious you are out for YOURSELF, not the Dem Party, you have hurt the Dem Party.

    May 25, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. Michigan Voter !!!

    Obama And His Campaign Are Worried . They Know You Can Win !!!
    They're Trying To Spin Anything They Can Thinking We Are going To Believe Them . This Democrat Can't be Fooled By Obama . We Need A Strong Pro – American President Now !!

    HILLARY , Or John McCain 2008

    May 25, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Go Obama!!

    Why is Terry McAuliffe trying to blame the Obama for this? HRC IS THE ONE THAT SAID IT! The Obama camp has had very little to say about it...unlike the Wright and "bitter" situtation, the Clinton camp fed that for days. They lie, pander, and will do anytihng to win..Thank God it is late and they will be gone in a couple of days......all of them including Terry McAuliffe.

    May 25, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. john

    Senator Clinton is savvy enough to know what she is doing. Its amazing how she is depending on "HOPE". Hoping that something happens to Sentor Obama. The american people have been hoping you get the messge. Go home! We have a preseident to pick for 2008.

    May 25, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. sally moss

    sad state of affairs-i dont know whose worse; clinton herself or her advisors; these people clearly have no agenda but to tear the democratic party down.

    May 25, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. Ken in Western NY

    Clinton and her campaign co-chairman (McAuliffe) are living in another world. One in which two plus two equals one hundred and fifty!!

    She started the whole thing with her reference to RFK . Obama was asked by a reporter about what she said and he simply replied that her comment was unfortunate. That was all he said. He wasn't trying to blow the whole thing out of proportion – that is one of Hillary's tricks, not his. What Clinton and her campaign is trying to do now is shift the blame to Obama. As if he was the one who started this whole mess in the first place.

    And for Bill Clinton to come out now and say that if Hillary wins Montana then she has a chance to win the nomination is absolutely stupid. That big fat blow hard should just shut his big fat mouth. The superdelegates are not going to all of a sudden come out in support of Hillary. And she isn't going to win Montana anyway, so he's only spewing a bunch of hot air.

    May 25, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Charles

    The Obama camp didnt make the comment. Obama didnt jump on her. He spoke to reporters and made the point that we need to take her words. The Clinton camp always wants to point to there actions being taking out of content. Not only did she make those comments on Friday, she also made those comments in the past. It is what it is.

    May 25, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. JJ in NY

    "Must Read" ??????????????????????

    How about "MUST DROP OUT" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This "lady" is divisive and unelectable, and clearly shows signs of emotional and mental disturbance. She is in such a state of shock and denial that she is becoming divorced from reality .

    May 25, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. Susan

    She should stay in the race.

    She can still win.

    Michigan & Fl, she stood up for you,

    Stand up for her.

    She will be a good president!

    May 25, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. Barbara

    The most certain way to end this Hillary Clinton losing campaign would be for Barack Obama to offer Bill Clinton the vice presidency. Bill Clinton would put tracks on Hillary Clinton's back to accept. She'd no longer have him feeding her a bunch of nonsense and could bow out gracefully as she should have already done.

    May 25, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. dales

    Clinton is a fool. That is both of them. From the swindels from the governship too Bills Presidency, the Clintons have proved that they are big business and thro scraps to the underlings. She is a idiot and he's just looking for another tryst.

    May 25, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Glenn

    Aside all of Hillary's rhetoric, the reason she is still running is that she lacks the courage, character, intgrity and the intelligence to withdraw. Kenny Rodgers' song with the lyrics: "know when to hold, know when to fold and know when to walk away" is really appropriate in her case. It is more and more obvious that she wants to take Obama and the Party down with her. That is truly sad!

    May 25, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. MM

    Please, please please Senator Clinton. Drop out of the race for the good of the nation!

    May 25, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  24. Robert

    Hellary's compaign noticed that whatever jab the throw, it lands in their own face. Now, they try to accue Obama of inflaming the race.
    That is very IMMATURE and shows the LOWEST LEVEL of DIGNITY.
    As she said herself, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of kitchen"...time for you to go, you sore loser.

    She lost the primaries and caucauses because of lack of focus and thinking of herself above everyone else. And her superdelegates publicly voice that she can't win.
    The reason she stays in the race is because of lack of care for the people, because of selfishness and to make sure McCobra and repblicans have more time to completely bring America to its knees in both domestic and global grounds.

    Surely, she'll lose the senate seat next election and we'll never get to see her again...

    May 25, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. Over it

    Just face it Hillary..the comment was in bad taste. The Obama camp never inflamed the issue, he even said he didn't think you meant anything by it. You are constantly trying to paint a bad picture of Obama. It didn't work before and it won't work now.

    May 25, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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