June 11th, 2014
05:19 PM ET
3 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. cosmo

    it's going to be a very, very long campaign....

    June 12, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Hogan's Goat

    You guys must have gone nuts when Sarah Palin revised history by saying Paul Revere warned the British in advance, then held a press conference the next day to claim she hadn't misspoken. Get back to me when Hillary does that, ok?

    June 12, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. 9hydra

    I'm going to move to the bottom of the ocean. Come get me when 2016 is over.

    June 12, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Fester Free

    Geesh, does the RNC have any good ideas to offer, fixes for the myriad of problems in our government? NO. Next best thing: bash the other party. Tired of the same old thing.

    June 12, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Government Waste Rules

    Just Libtardocrats re-writing history as usual.

    June 12, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Voice of Reason

    RNC: "...Hillary Clinton trying to rewrite her own history ..." Oh, calm down. She said Senator instead of Congressman. It's not the end of the world, guys. Relax.

    June 12, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. joejack65

    Another Republican cheap shot! if you can't think of anything to say then insult them, kinda like so many people do on here.

    June 12, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Lucas

    Hillary is just too old and unlikeable to be President. She's also just unqualified(not that that's ever mattered to dems; hence the community organizer in the white house right now).

    June 12, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Enough is Enough

    1) She doesn't know her history 2) She was born in Illinois, lived in Arkansas and was a Senator from New York.....did they run her out of each of these states?

    June 12, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Libacrytical

    It's not a "mistake" – she's a pathological liar!! Between her "dodging sniper fire" to her "dead broke" to this... she just says anything & everything to try to be "anything & everything" to every one... I just wish politicians would just be who they are, instead of trying to appeal to every possible demographic!!!

    June 12, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Yakobi

    "a senator from Illinois named Lincoln"
    It's nice to see someone nitpicking a democrat's speech mistakes for a change. Something the press had a field day with under Bush.

    "Clinton who is admittedly thinking about running for president"
    She's been running for president for 40 years, people!

    "After losing their respective races, both also went on to serve as secretary of state under the person who beat them."
    And Seward never became president, something else Hillary will have in common with him.

    June 12, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Name Shawn F.Gray

    I want Hillary Clinton to run for the office of President. I support her 100% she has what it would take to make the United States a better and great nation this republic needs to be.

    We love you Mrs. Clinton

    June 12, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Lord Yabu

    Hilly Boo Boo
    Democrats go nuts defending their gaffs. They can only dish it out. Not own up.

    June 12, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. al

    Seward bought Alaska (she probably doesn't even know that), Clinton accomplished nothing.

    June 12, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. me

    So, let me get this correct... Hillary misspoke, and the Right, in an effort to make something of nothing, had a typo... grow up children! Anyone arguing this moronic point (from either side) should go look in the mirror and yell "it's people like you who are screwing up this country!"...

    June 12, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. Mike

    "The RNC has been aggressive in calling out Clinton during the rollout of her new memoir"... AH that's because all the liberal media won't do their job on the Democrats. I'd love to see a poll on how trustworthy the media is. I bet it's down where Congress is right now.

    June 12, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. RH

    Really? You actually use sic for the RNC's extra word, while your own story uses "where" instead of "when" in this paragraph...

    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.

    Sic!

    June 12, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. wonfish

    All the mistakes Bush made (in both speaking and in action) should have been so benign. Funny, I consider myself well educated (PhD and a number of patents) and I didn't even remember that Lincoln was not a senator.

    June 12, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. sly

    Ah, always so nice to see the loser Republicans get their panties all in a bind:

    "Where is his squawk Birth Certificate? I needa to see hiz Birth Certificate"
    "Benghazi Benghazi ... waaaahhh ... why did the security funding bill get vetoed? waaaahhh "
    "Shut down America. Shut down Government. We hate all Government. Waaaah"

    Best of all: "Waaaahhhhh how did a only part white man get to be President? Waaaa".

    June 12, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  20. Diane

    Come on. She doesn't know her US History. Lincoln was only one of our most famous presidents. She gets a pass. Sarah Palin got no pass. Of course not. She was a "hillbilly" from Alaska. What about the "hillbilly" from Arkansas? She tries to be so folksy, talking about "waaaaaaaaaaaaay back when." BTW, how come she's also getting a pass on the five terrorists who don't pose "any threat" to the US? Good one, Hillary.

    June 12, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Enough is Enough

    1) She doesn't know her history 2) She was born in Illinois, lived in Arkansas and was a Senator from New York.....did they run her out of each of these states?
    ---------------------------
    What difference does it make? Hmm?

    June 12, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. me

    @Diane... The answer is simple... Hilary is a very smart person that made a mistake... Sarah is far from a very smart person... just because she's on the right and you are too, doesn't meant that the left is attacking her when they suggest she isn't very smart. I'm sorry if you can't see that fact. Also, please tell me what in the world Hillary has to do with the 5 GB detainees who were released... you do realize she is not in a political seat right now... don't you?

    June 12, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. cribbooky

    Poor Hillary is so disconnected from her team. She doesn't understand that the ones screaming about the 1% are the voters she needs to impress. Complaining that they could barely afford to keep both mansions shows how different her perspective and reality is from her voters. Of course, these people also love Soros and Oprah while complaining about greedy Romney who is only worth a fraction of each of those two.

    June 12, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. Hogan's Goat

    Well, this will give the teabaggers something to cry over while she serves two terms as POTUS.

    June 12, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  25. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Retardlicans and Teabaggers, never make mistakes. Just have the courage to ask one of them. If you don't get your head chewed off for having made this mistake, they'll make sure you get their 25 cent tour through their version of why all people suck, except them.

    June 12, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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