June 11th, 2014
05:19 PM ET
5 years 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. Fred

    Yep, definitely not the first time she has made up history to suit her way of thinking. Sort of surprised she didn't accuse him of being pro-slavery, too!

    June 11, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. goblackhawks

    Actually "bigT" the media did lie and take Sarah Palin's comments out of context. Like when they said she banned books (which she never did) .. But I guess Obamabots like yourself don't actually look at what someone said. But Hillary will get a pass .. because she is so smart .. Like the Messiah gets away with everything .. Fast & Furious,IRS, Benghazi , VA scandal, letting 5 terrorists go free , etc ...

    June 11, 2014 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. Gary

    How did she not know that Lincoln was a President! Wrong branch of the government entirely.

    June 11, 2014 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. Sven

    BENGHAZI!!!!! False Flags everywhere!!!

    June 11, 2014 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. John

    You seriously think this is newsworthy? Are you kidding me? How about school violence? Iraq? Guantanamo?

    June 11, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. tonyb

    Good to see the republicans are bringing their " A" game. What idiots.......prepare for two years of relentless negativism...

    June 11, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  7. don in albuquerque

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa............there satisfied.

    June 11, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. Nicole

    Hillary, is your brain trying to catch up to your mouth again?

    June 11, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. Kevin

    Common mistake as virtue no longer exists in congress.

    June 11, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  10. mark edwards

    This is most likely due to her brain injury

    June 11, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  11. Rob

    Hillary is know for shaping facts to her benefit. Remember Bosnia, how her plane arrived meeting sniper fire, her having to make a mad dash to the terminal with bullets flying over her head, nearly being killed. Obviously we all know this never happened, but it is one of many examples of her embellishments/lies. What I really want to know is what happened to the White House silverware that she stole!!

    June 11, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. Ramjet

    It is quite funny that someone from Illinois did not remember that Honest Abe was a Representative not a Senator.
    I immediately flinched when I read that Former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton could not remember that fact. I'm from Michigan and thus one of those Michiganders, referred to by President Lincoln in jest, remembered the correct Office.
    Oh well, is it really an Issue?

    June 11, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Congress should probably hold hearings on this.

    June 11, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  14. BlackPot

    Don't you find that, since you are covering a small correction, that you, yourself should be specefic?

    Last I checked a senator is a Congressman. So, if you want to be this specific shouldn't you identify him as a "Representative, not a congressman" as you said she should have identified him as a "congressman, instead of a senator"

    June 11, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. Truth squad

    The Republicans are so desperate that they have to talk about a Hillary gaffe, how petty. I mean we all "know" that Hillary "Knows" Lincoln was not Senator, and we must always substitute the right sentence for the wrong one in Hillary's case in order to not be "petty".

    It's not like the Demcrats spent every day of every year Bush was Presdient waiting to pounce on each gaffe, and then spent weeks talking about it. How petty that would have been, no?

    Nuclear, liberals are still talking about the pronunciation.

    CNN et al spent two weeks talking about a plastic turkey that was on display in Iraq for soldiers Thanksgiving Day celebration (the turkey was already there, Bush's visit was a surprise visit that encouraged many of the soldiers, but gee, let's criticize that for weeks).

    What a joke.

    June 11, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    From the party of he nucular village simpleton.
    Like she can't make a mistake? At least she didn't attack women, gays, veterans, seniors or the poor.

    June 11, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  17. Fiona

    I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for a slip of the tongue, until is read the quote. That was absolutely a factual error - comparing senator to senator - and for that reason it is inexcusable. She's sloppy. Not presidential material by any measure.

    June 11, 2014 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. Thomas A. Hawk

    Sniffit, that part about demonizing Lincoln is amazing since he was the first GOP POTUS.

    June 11, 2014 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  19. Moezy

    She has made so many mistakes. This one will not get any Americans killed or cost the tax payer anything.
    But
    It is also the little mistakes that show how little she knows about her own country and Abraham Lincoln.

    June 11, 2014 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. u

    Another empty suit.

    June 11, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. Zack

    I bet most people today don't even know Lincoln was a president.

    June 11, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  22. Brhino

    No more Clinton's, no more bushes; jeezus is this all we have to choose from? Who cares if Hillary is a dope?

    June 11, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  23. AllahSpeaking

    Vote for Hillary 🙂

    June 11, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  24. JP

    In 1998 Bill famously lectured us on the meaning of the word “is.” Perhaps now Hillary will enlighten us on the meaning of “dead broke".

    June 11, 2014 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  25. NewIdeas

    This is just as appropriate and relevant as Kerry criticizing Bush over how he pronounces "nuclear".

    June 11, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
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