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. Anonymous

    '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..." Oh please, the republicans make a scandal out of everything! She is on a book tour and probably hadn't gotten much sleep. Get over it!

    June 12, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. cjb

    Brain damage. She sounds like she is having mini strokes.

    June 12, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Tom Bukowski

    Please, this is news? And, Quayle couldn't spell "potato". Big deal. Man, is the GOP running scared.

    June 12, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. Freedom Storm

    Poor, Poor Broke Hillary
    Since leaving office, according to financial records and news reports, they have earned at least $155 million from speeches, salaries and book deals, easily outpacing the post-White House incomes of other former presidential families and distancing themselves from the time when Bill Clinton deducted $2 apiece for used underwear donated to an Arkansas charity.
    What's more, through the kindness of friends and the successful and richly-funded Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, they've received travel and other benefits. The Foundation itself has assets of $257 million and has spent $50 million on travel expenses.
    … … H/T: Drudge Report
    Truth lives only if shared. Keep it moving.

    June 12, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. sam

    She left our people behind to die...

    June 12, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. TONE

    Ellen

    She belongs in jail

    Youv'e got to be kidding me with your garbage comment, the people who really need to be in jail is bush, cheney, rove, and every republican that part take in the government shutdown. 24 billion dollars wasted is criminal.

    June 12, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. Earle

    If she was a repub she would of already been crucified, demonized, as well as all her family. But since she is Democrat, crickets.... The alphabet news stations reporters are nothing more than Democrat cheerleaders trained, I mean brain washed by the Dept. of Education... Tell me otherwise and I will call you a liar.

    June 12, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Padric2

    Like all stupid mistakes made by all politicians…she'll get over it by tomorrow.

    June 12, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. aaron

    Flubs happen to the best of us. If these spinmasters kept track of every inaccuracy, half-truth, and outright lie told by Fauxx News or the other GOPers, that would be many full-time jobs in itself. Granted, McConnell looks aged enough to have personally known both Lincoln and Methuselah, so Hillary likely should've run it by him first.

    June 12, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Hillary got it wrong? When did she get something right?

    June 12, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. mountaincore

    Hillary got it wrong? When did she get something right?

    June 12, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Smeagel4T

    It was pretty amusing that the RNC was so quick to want to downgrade Lincoln back to being just a House member instead of a Senator. :-)

    June 12, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. Joe P

    OMG....Fox Noise will be orgasmic with joy over this one! Who cares about what's happening in Iraq...where our "mission was accomplished" all those years ago.

    June 12, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. sfarris

    Give Hillary a break, she was distracted by the hail of bullets firing around her when she spoke. ;) In actuality I suppose I'd take her gaff over reading queues off of my hand. ;)

    June 12, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Pat

    What difference does it make? Lol...

    June 12, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. liberal disease

    i thought Obama thought he was lincoln?

    June 12, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Edward

    Really??? We had a neanderthal named George W. Bush as president and for eight embarrassing years he butchered the English language, not to mention was hardly ever able to put two coherent sentences together. Yet, this is a story???

    June 12, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. QRST

    I am very tired of reading about the republican's sorry attempts to discredit Senator Clinton.... She SHOULD HAVE BEEN ELECTED in 2008, but instead the people of this wonderful country with their small minds ignored the fact the Hillary Clinton did a GREAT job the first 8 years when her husband was President. No one will EVER convince me that she had nothing to do with Bill Clinton's decision making. The Clinton's 8 year term was one of the best that this country has evr seen. It takes a good woman to clean up the mess that men leave behind... HILLARY CLINTON hould have been the President, NOT OBAMA...

    June 12, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. Don Sporns

    It must be very frustrating for the GOP. Grasping at straws and trying to turn every word into a mega scandal, while knowing full well that Hillary is going to beat their candidate easily in 2016.

    June 12, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. Don Sporns

    Straw makers, start hiring now because GOP is going need a ton of straws to grasp at till 2016.

    June 12, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. carolina corpus

    I don't get it because if I were her I wouldn't even stick my face out of my house let alone think to run for POTUS, but then again some of us have concious.

    June 12, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. john smith

    Hillary won't make it to 2016 before she realizes, she's tired. She'll choice love instead of work! Go Dr.Howard Dean 2016

    June 12, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Hogan's Goat

    I love the smell of desperate Republicans in the morning. Based on stuff FOX news fed you, you actually feel hatred for her? You are an easily-influenced mob looking for a Fuehrer to lead you to glory

    June 12, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. Stephanie

    This is newsworthy, really? It must be a slow news day...

    June 12, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. Jimmy

    ..." Oh please, the republicans make a scandal out of everything! She is on a book tour and probably hadn't gotten much sleep. Get over it! We can't get over it, we remember how Progs treated Bachman and Palin. Repubs have just adopted the Progs war on women tactics

    June 12, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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