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. SnorkY2K

    This is just fluff. It is a mistake that anyone can make. Let's here about her foreign trade policy. Will we continue these foolish trade deals that give away american wealth, resources, and jobs to foreign countries that will continue to block our goods? How will she be able to deal with banksters when her son in law is one?

    June 11, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. mcfx

    And had this been a conservative female politician CNN would have 24 hour coverage rivaling only that of their coverage of MH370. In fact, CNN typically does incredible investigative reporting on non-critical issues like "women in binders" & Bridgegate and is incredibly silent on Benghazi, IRS, AP, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    June 11, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  3. will

    Senate-congress Gate!

    June 11, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. davis@bwana.endjunk.com

    Hillary, you're no Abe Lincoln.

    June 11, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. MJ

    She just had a lapse in memory. Happens when you get old and poor.

    June 11, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. Lizzie

    bigt, she already stated that the media does not like her.

    June 11, 2014 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  7. just saying

    Hillary Clinton's brain injury is starting to show itself....

    June 11, 2014 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. theotherbob56

    "Benghazi!" "Lincoln!" She's doomed, I tell ya!

    June 11, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  9. D jones

    Maybe Mrs. Clinton should proof her materials before she opens her ignorant mouth.

    June 11, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. Sam Sabu

    And this is who libtards want for president? At this rate she will misidentify a nuclear launch button for something else. Over 320 million people in this country and our only options are people whos last name ends in Bush or Clinton? We deserve better!

    June 11, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. Allen

    This reminds me of the guy who called in to complain about the fake bird noises being piped into NBC golf broadcasts. Who gives a flying f?

    June 11, 2014 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  12. Jack

    Hillary (Palin) Clinton... Another ridiculously stupid bleach blonde.

    June 11, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  13. blakenaustin

    Since when has Hillary ever demonstrated a knowledge of the facts? This woman would be nothing more than Obama2. I don't beleive we could survive it as a nation.

    June 11, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  14. fromoverhere

    Bwahahahaha Jason Wilcox! You're so clever! Isn't it great that all the world's problems can now be solved with sound bites? I'm sure, as soon as you train your laser-like wit on things like income inequality, healthcare, immigration, climate change, Russian expansionism, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East...this old world will be right as rain! Keep up the good work!

    June 11, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  15. fromoverhere

    Jahan. Not Jason. Apparently the world's problems can't be solved by autocorrect either.

    June 11, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. Etham Frome in VT

    I can see Abraham Lincoln from my mansion...

    June 11, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  17. DC Johnny

    Oh you Lefties are hysterical.

    Had this been either Bush, or more recently, Sarah Palin, you would jump all over it, along with every media outlet and entertainment shows like SNL.

    Of course, when it's one of your own, you jump all over the GOP, per usual hypocrisy.

    Can't we be adults and just acknowledge in a world of mass media and hundreds of millions of cell phone cameras, there will be the occasional gotcha moment and move on?

    Nah, you guys first.

    June 11, 2014 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  18. Larry L

    I think the House of Representatives should form a special committee to investigate this scandal!

    June 11, 2014 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  19. S. B. Stein

    The media seems to think that you can call a member of the House a Congressman and that be different that Senator. You can call a Senator Congressman because the Senate is a part of Congress.

    June 11, 2014 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  20. Olaf Big

    I think the RNC goons are just stupid. No brain left- just a knee-jerk reflex. They could actually score a few points here by being gracious, or making a funny joke about this gaffe.

    June 11, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. Ben H

    Does anyone else appreciate the irony of the RNC making a typo in their statement about a very small mistake of Clinton's? Maybe instead of concerning themselves with Clinton re-writing history, they should concern themselves with re-writing their press releases, especially when the topic of it is such a small, pedantic mistake.

    June 11, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  22. Alfred

    Are you saying Dems don't jump on political rivals when a meaningless gaffe is made? The article is a CNN/liberal biased e-rag article and the GOP comments are no more nor no less than had a GOP'er made a similar mistake.

    June 11, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  23. Smitty

    Just another inept person seeking office. Is there any common sense left in D.C.

    June 11, 2014 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  24. Rick Springfield

    I was born a poor black boy. If Hillary can re-write her revisionist crap history and the history of this nation, why not me also?

    June 11, 2014 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  25. Garth

    Lol... even CNN finally sees it...

    June 11, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
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