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. Mike

    It's obvious Hillary was referencing Bobby Kennedy's attempt to win the nomination in June of '68 despite being behind in the delegate count. She was comparing her own situation to that of Bobby Kennedy in 1968. The immaturity of Obama supporters exploiting this comment for political gain is galling and reprehensible. Many Obama suppporters seem to be very young, very immature, have little or no knowledge of American political history and are simply trying to push the buttons of Clinton supporters.

    May 25, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Gaylon Barrow


    May 25, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. karen charlottesville, va

    Terry McAuliffe should know. The Clinton campaign is expert at inflaming a situation and then sitting back to watch the sharks feed.

    The superdelegates need to end this disgusting display of ego now. it's done a lot of damage to this country.

    May 25, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Dan (TX)

    Because rich women always get what they want – one way or another.
    I can't help wonder after her comments the other day about Bobby Kennedy, if Hillary isn't beyond putting a contract out on Obama. (It certainly would be cheaper than her campaign loans.)
    This spoiled woman is truly self-serving with an ego without boundaries.
    Superdelegates please put an end to this once an for all!

    May 25, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Tony of Michigan

    Even after Obama admitted he had made a BAD choice of words,in the Bitter remark,Did the Clintons back OFF??? NO! So she should be VERY happy he don't run the Same Type Campaign as Her.

    May 25, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. dales

    3 decades of either a Clinton or a Bush ius just too much. Just look at the poor shape America is in both Financially and International reputation. TIME FOR A CHANGE

    May 25, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Gwen NC

    the Obama camp is on the attack, they think they've got the edge and their trying to go in for the kill. Their response to Hillary's statement was what was inappropriate. It was obvious she was trying to say campaigns have gone well into June, that it's nothing unusual. We're seeing how really nasty Obama and his people can be. His supporters have made that obious for a long time. If Hillary doesn't win the nom, I hope to GOD that the McCain wins. I for one will be voting for Hillary, write in if need be. I won't even vote for Obama if she's his VP, you don't vote for VP's.

    May 25, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |

    Hillary don,t quite,stay in this race ,we need you in the white house-Obama can,t win come Oct.


    May 25, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Steve

    That sound you hear is the sound of the goalposts moving again.

    With Bill now having introduced the new strategy that the pledged superdelegates can flip if she looks strong enough, it is now NOT about reaching 2026, or 2209, it will become about electability.

    Now it is going to be about what the last X primary results show. After Tuesday, Hillary – uless she concedes finally – will pick some number of the last primaries that suits her need and will proclaim that in spite of being outspent, she won X of the last Y primaries which shows the people want her, etc. etc.

    In her warped mind, she will "rightfully deserve" more superdelegate support and they will work the rooms to convince Supers who have already pledged to Obama to "flip" before the convention to change the math.

    This popular vote farce is a joke and somebody ought to literally take her to task to demonstrate what equation she is using to MANIPULATE the American public.

    She is looking more and more insane and out of touch by the day, and more and more people are tirng by the day. Obama needs to play hard ball now while she is looking foolish.

    May 25, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Ivan

    President Obama will be the choice of the American People!

    May 25, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Noble Seattle, WA

    What Ms. Clinton is not saying about her insistence to continue to be in a fight that has been long over speaks more volumes than the reason she is giving for staying. Maybe she needs to tell us which fight and who is in the fight with. As for '08 democratice presidential nomination, the lights are out and decsision made.

    May 25, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. Eddy

    Hillary repeated as farce

    May 25, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. Eric Beill

    Many African people used to think that USA political leaders are trustworthy. Are American politicians in the position to condemn Mugabe while in 2000 COUNTING-RECOUNTING gave a clear picture of a Cow-Boy Democracy?
    Now, what do we learn with Hellary : "I'm losing, I'm the best to have racial and non educated people vote " Poor USA ! Let new immigrant come to USA and educate you real values. I'm personally amused to see how some news reporters are visibly suffering while anouncing Obama victories. Hopefully I'm a Canadian.
    God bless America!?

    May 25, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  14. Jim

    Why you ACTUALLY continue to run:


    How else to explain your continuation to destroy the party with fear mongering, racist division when your chance of winning is 1%....

    That's not what any unselfish person would do if he/she truly cares about the party.

    And Wolfson: Oh, NOW it's OBAMA's FAULT she made those regrettable comments?

    May 25, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. Ken

    Sen. Clinton has only one shot. If she captures 50 delegates in the remaining races and Obama scores 36. Obama still wins if you seat all of the delegates from MI and FL. The only way Sen. Clinton can pull this out is if she is to have the delegates that she did not win in MI remain uncommitted and thus forcing Obama to have to convince those uncommitted delegates to support him. But it would also give Sen. Clinton the opportunity to convince them they should vote for her.

    The DNC on the other hand cannot afford to award the all of the delegates. Particularly when the Republicans took away half of the delegates from those states. The DNC has penalize the early jumpers or they will lose control of the primary process.

    Now that gambit can only gain her the pledged delegate lead. She would have reverse Obama's super delegate lead to overtake him.

    May 25, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. martin

    mcauliffe is so paranoid ,about the obama camp's,strategical success,that he's reading more into what their response was.the clinton campaign is very lucky that the obama campaign didn't take this 'ball' and run with it until the clock runs out.people are a lot more upset with her statement,than either of the campaigns.the reactions to her comments ,will last longer than any apology or excuse,just like huckabee's dumb 'joke'.americans are sensitive to remarks of this nature,with good reason.many of our best leaders have been taken away from this country, most of those who remained, aren't worth the ground they stand on.we've become immune to fear tactics,and this statement,will be construed by many to be a subliminal example of one.this is obama's ticket to the white house,to be able to make those tactics has worked well against hillary's attempts at it,and will work much better against the republicans,because it's the only tactic they have left.just remember,"there is nothing to fear ,but ,fear itself."

    May 25, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. R. Brown

    Lady Please

    Your entire campaign has been hinting 'something can happen to Obama' or 'some type of act of GOD'. You are a LIAR and Mentally ILL. You are NOT fit to run this country and YOU will NOT be re-elected by the good people of NYS for Anything!

    WORDS MATTER especially if you and your campaign said those words over and over and over again.

    You misspoke about Bosnia, you misspoke about Ireland, you misspoke about China, you misspoke about NAFTA, you misspoke about the dying woman and I can bet my whole life savings we will find that you misspoke about the boy who ‘sold his bike’ to donate to your campaign. You misspeak like President George Bush but with the audacity of not taking responsibility for setting the stage for something to happen to one of your fellow Americans.

    Blaming the Obama campaign for your FAILURE to act like an adult and take responsibility only adds to the insult. You NEVER take responsibility as if you’re incapable of accepting the truth. You are a congenital LIAR and suffers from ‘Learned Helplessness’ but the campaign trail is NOT the place to get help!

    You should be arrested upon entering NYS. You silly woman are a disgrace and ANYTHING you say from this point forward will be muted out because I HATE listening to divisive LIARS.


    May 25, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. rima

    You run not for the country,nor for the people but you run bc you are hungry for the power.

    May 25, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. kiki from OMAHA

    It's very easy to try to rectify a gaff. As of me personnaly I think she is just expressing what she has in her subconscionus. I don't buy that argument when their is no chance of winning the nomination do to the math. Imagine a little beat of Obama in her position making this kinda statment. What will her supporters say? what will the media do?
    I bet they will call for his resignation. Fortunately Obama is so geniously protecting her by downplaying this. That is why I will support him with my last breath.

    May 25, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. Lisa Hampton Newark, NJ

    She is such a liar. I can't believe anybody would take her seriously anymore. Hillary go away!

    May 25, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  21. Bruce TX

    I say Hillary all the way, Forget the Party and there whining, if Obama gets Nomination stay on November Ballot as a Independent and win it! Obama and McCain are an Economic Disaster waiting to Happen!

    May 25, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  22. susie for Obama


    May 25, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  23. Kristen

    I read the entire thing and also watched the ENTIRE video. Hillary Clinton said NOTHING wrong. In fact, she made the same comments in prior interviews. When you see the entire video you can witness for yourself that she was referring to the DATE (June) as the reason for staying in the race because other DEM nominations have gone on through June as well.

    Furthermore, I have learned that Ted Kennedy took his fight all the way to the convention floor against Carter – an incumbent Pres – and Ted Kennedy had far less delegates.

    I not only hope that Hillary stays in the race until the convention, I hope the super delegates realize that she's the one to beat McCain.

    I will NOT vote for Obama if he's the nominee. And as a lifelong democrat, this should concern the party.

    I would vote for McCain in a general election. I keep hearing he's pro-life and so this will turn off tons of women. True. But that isn't the only issue – Experience and national security DOES matter. Obama has neither.

    May 25, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. Mark

    I tend to believe that she honestly means all of this, but she destroys her own credability with some of her contentions. How can I take her seriously on things like this whe she contends that we should count the MI vote as-is, when Obama wasn't even on the ballot? Hillary has an unfortunate set of mismatched arguments that contradict each other. She wants to count MI and FL and all of their popular votes because she doesn't want to disenfranchise those voters. But then she doesn't include or even account for some of the caucus states. I guess she wasn't as worried about disenfranchising voters in those states. When she shows such a lack of any real moral conscience or sense of basic right and wrong on these issues, why should I give her any credability on any of these other issues?

    May 25, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. john williams san diego, ca.

    Your royal highness–take your circus and the clowns that support you out for a listening tour..WE reject you and your 35 year old plan of power and evil...GO AWAY and take care of bubbas' needs. Again,WE reject you.

    May 25, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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