June 11th, 2014
05:19 PM ET
2 months ago

Senator Abraham Lincoln? Clinton misidentifies the former president

Chicago (CNN) - Abraham Lincoln rose to national prominence in the mid-1800s as a House member from Illinois, a state now affectionately known as the Land of Lincoln, and later as an iconic U.S. president.

But during a speech in Chicago on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton – who was born in Illinois – misidentified the state's most famous politician as a senator, not a congressman.

Clinton made the mistake as she was trying to compare the 2008 Democratic presidential primary – where she, as a senator from New York, squared off with then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois – to the 1860 race for the Republican nomination – where Lincoln, a former congressman at the time, faced off against then-Sen. William Seward of New York.

"A senator from Illinois ran against a senator from New York," Clinton said of the 2008 primary. "Just as had happened way back with a senator from Illinois named Lincoln and a senator from New York named Seward."

Noting that both she and Seward had lost, she added: "It turned out the same way."

The Republican National Committee quickly jumped on the mistake, blasting the clip and a statement to reporters.

"With Hillary Clinton trying to rewrite her own history during through (sic) this book tour, it’s only fitting that she tried to rewrite Abraham Lincoln’s history," said Jahan Wilcox, a party spokesman. "Before she embarks on another presidential campaign, Clinton might want to take a History 101 refresher."

Hillary Clinton's poll numbers edge down

The RNC has been aggressive in calling out Clinton during the rollout of her new memoir, "Hard Choices." Like they would in a campaign, the party committee has kept close tabs on Clinton, someone who is admittedly thinking about running for president and said this week she will likely announce her decision in 2015.

The former secretary of state's comparison was meant to drive home the point that Clinton joining Obama's first term cabinet was unlikely and show the president was building a "team of rivals." Both Clinton and Obama have become fond of the term that originated from the 2005 Doris Kearns Goodwin book about Lincoln's cabinet that bears the same name.

Despite the mistake, there is a comparison to be made between the two New York politicians.

Both went into their respective nomination fights as the frontrunner from their party. Clinton lost to Obama in the contentious 2008 primary but later became a vocal surrogate for the future president.

Seward was also seen as a shoo-in for the nomination in 1860, but after four contentious ballots at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Lincoln secured the nomination and later won the White House.

After losing their respective races, both also went on to serve as secretary of state under the person who beat them.

The rest of Clinton's appearance in Chicago – the second of her book tour – centered around an interview with Rahm Emanuel, the city's mayor and a longtime Bill Clinton aide.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (281 Responses)
  1. lucimorland

    Really? The Republicans must be desperate if this is what they want to talk about.

    June 11, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    Oh please – we will hearing about this now the next two years?
    I can see it now – there will be a heated discussion about politics, philosophy, and the future of our country and some Beavis and Butthead wannabe will comment "uh, uh – remember when Clinton said......"

    June 11, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. Gaven

    LOL! The GOP is so petty. Is this really the best they can do…"take History 101 refresher"? LOL!!! What's next, they point out that she said "who" instead of "whom" in some speech? "OMG! Someone who makes grammar errors when they speak should NEVER be President!!! Vote GOP! We value, like, good education and stuff!"

    So lame.

    June 11, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Clinton might want to take a History 101 refresher."

    This from the people who, when polled, show a surprisingly high percentage of them blame Obama for the poor response to Katrina? Who consistently try to claim FDR's New Deal made the Great Depression worse? Whose propaganda network consistently comes up in study's as directly correlated with the ignorance of its viewers? Who run around demonizing college and graduate students and "elitist academics"? Who claim Lincoln started the Civil War and that it was not about slavery? Enough already. They need to just STFU.

    June 11, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. bigt

    Maybe she'll blame it on the gotcha ya media like Sarah Palin did.

    June 11, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Ol' Yeller

    Yes, they still trot out Obama's 57 state gaff (while completely ignoring the 108 Volume set of dubya's first 100 days in Office). It is weak, extremely weak, especially when you have rand paul plagiarizing others (one way to avoid gaffs, I guess.... steal other's hard work).
    Can you just picture rand's first State of the Union address if they managed to steal another election... "Four Score and Seven years ago, I had a dream that I would ask not what my country could do for me rather I would perish on a cross of Gold.... Shane... Shane... come back...
    Shane.

    June 11, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. O'drama ya Mama

    Ok fine you can have that one GOP. Now run ads on it for the next 2 and half years and that will be her demise....sarcasm off

    June 11, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    And this from the party of science deniers, imaginary American history, flat-earthers, Birhters, and who knows what else.

    June 11, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. Gunderson

    Um, Well,
    Now all 57 states off Obama Radar Screen, no? And remember! All Republican's vote on Tuesday and all Democrats vote on Wednesday. Others vote on time!

    June 11, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. danicalifornia

    This country has been so divisive with President Obama who from the moment he was elected refused to work with both parties. His "we won" attitude has been downhill since. Do we really want to deal with Hillary for the next 2 years plus another 4 if she wins. Haven't we had enough of her divisiveness back when they were in the WH for 8 years. Time for a change.

    June 11, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    Hillary isn't concerned about truth or accuracy. Just winning.

    June 11, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. smith

    Here we go with the double standards by both sides. Nobody`s perfect and that applies to both sides.

    June 11, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. Beeman

    No telling how many people looked it over before she made the speech. She is a smart lady and not arrogant enough to not laugh it off. Do you see he getting shredded by Diane Sawyer.

    June 11, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  14. Manny

    Lmfao. Hillary gots this in the bag if this is what makes them excited lol

    June 11, 2014 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. CALIFORNIA

    Democrats have a history of forgetting history.

    June 11, 2014 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. billbfit

    Totally brain dead. Pretty soon she'll be mumbling and making strange noises behind the podium. God help us if she strips naked and twerks for us.

    June 11, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. sly

    HIllary Clinton is much more intelligent than your average American. One of the wisest and most respected leaders in Washington.

    She'll make an excellant sucessor to President Obama – the most sucessful President since Ike.

    These are good times for America! Our economy has been rescued. Our foreign policy is incredible (1st President since Ike to not start a war). Our nation is safe from foreign terrorists! Thank you, Mr. President!

    June 11, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  18. JustSayin

    Almost reminds me of the uproar over mispronouncing nuclear or misspelling potato.

    June 11, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  19. Markus A.

    who cares. About the only thing I take from this is that we seem to like our politicians absolutely ignorant on American history, issues and politics. Most of them have "D" by their name, but the "R"'s aren't any less "special".

    June 11, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. puddintane

    How about that word "strategery"... who said that

    June 11, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. DustyOnesIsBack

    Clinton is just dumb

    June 11, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. infonomics

    Hillary is not half the man that Bill wanted to be.

    June 11, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  23. ShannonNutt

    Lincoln DID run for the Senate, he just lost (and only by a handful of votes). It's not the biggest mistake in the world. Although I'm sure the Republicans will have us thinking otherwise over the next week or two.

    June 11, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Ohdarn

    Right. The GOP is so Petty. The Democrats would never make fun of someone for misstating anything....

    June 11, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  25. meki60

    must be that brain tumor acting up

    June 11, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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