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. dave

    so what? Has she ever told the truth?

    June 12, 2014 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    -very pathetic, these Republicans do not care for the Repurcussions of wrong wars on wrong mis-judged calculations of WMD as a result of which Iraq was falling apart and destabilized ENTIRE middle-east. Yes, Saddam ruled that area with mere "SIGHT". "NAZAR", look what is happening with these guys idiocy. Instead these thugs rant on just trivial stuff–senate or house-member. Does it really matter? No. Very pathetic to divert the attention of colossal.

    June 12, 2014 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  3. Nameriw8w

    Amazing, a lib nut got something right. The Civil War was not about slavery, if you look at history it was an economic war. The south was growing cotton and shipping it north to the mills then buying it back as textiles. The north had a strangle hold on the cotton market and was pushing the growers around. Slavery was prevalent in the North as well as the South. When southern growers decided to buy the equipment from Europe to make textiles in the south, northern manufacturers pressed congress for protection. One way to disrupt the south was to announce that slaves where to be freed. Even though the last slaves to ever be freed where in the North long after the war was over. You will notice that the North still is the predominant area for textile manufacturers in this country. The ships delivering the Souths mills where captured in New Orleans. The sad thing is the predominant history says that Lincoln wanted to just free slaves and all liberals buy into the story. This is just a very simple example of how history was warped for an agenda, the real story of how Lincoln was pressed into the war and how the South was punished when the president wanted to unite is very complex and much more interesting than the fairy tale put forth by libs.

    June 12, 2014 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  4. Jerry

    Killery: "See nothing, hear nothing, do nothing; therefore, I am as clean as a flake of fresh falling snow (cold and calculated.) Besides, 0-Bama wants me to replace HIM as his rightful queen."

    América, don't be fooled, AGAIN!!!

    June 12, 2014 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  5. TheReckoning

    look at all you complaining this is petty and weak. You cowards did this to palin for half a decade. Stop embarrassing yourselves. Just take it for what it is and stop crying you females

    June 12, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  6. Orso

    Maybe the GOP can get W to edumacate Hillary a little. 😉

    June 12, 2014 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  7. Lord Toronaga

    Brain Damage. Getting old. Just be a grandmother in your mansion and call it a day.

    June 12, 2014 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  8. Sonny

    Well what's worse is that liberals are trying to say that our republic is not a by the people for the people form of government, when Lincoln clearly said it was and that that form of government must be preserved or that the civil war was in vain, he said this in is Gettysburg address.

    June 12, 2014 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Bigt - but I still support her right to a 1920's style death ray

    June 12, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  10. Spgfld Tom

    Wait until Hillary finds out Lincoln was a Republican!!!

    June 12, 2014 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  11. john

    I'm not a big fan of Hillary, but furor over this mistake is ridiculous. Most people in the US can't name their current Congressional delegation and many can not recognize Joe Biden from a photo. But lots and lots of people know Sponge Bob Square Pants and Paris Hilton. Unbelevable

    June 12, 2014 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  12. Chris-E...al

    Clinton is very good at thinking she's very smart . Not so fast Hilly .

    June 12, 2014 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  13. getajobhippies

    honestly old hil' will blame the "vast right wing conspiracy" just the way she did back in the 90's. while this is a very minor flub added on to her others it points to a person who is clearly not prepared to lead.

    June 12, 2014 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  14. Anon.

    Look, I think this is much ado about nothing – but to you angry folks on here, would you have given a pass to Bush (W that is?)

    June 12, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  15. Ramon F Herrera

    Mrs. Palin -who frequently brags about the Founders- was able to mention ONE. George Washington.

    June 12, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  16. BroEzekiel

    At least this mistake didn't kill anyone.......

    June 12, 2014 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  17. Stephen

    I can see Lincoln from my bedroom window.

    June 12, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  18. Pudendal Cleft

    What she should have called him was "psychopath".

    June 12, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  19. dmtrevin

    The facts about Lincoln in this article aren't even correct. Lincoln was born in Kentucky and didn't move to Illinois until he was an adult. It's easy to get simple facts wrong...even with fact checkers and editors. Move on.

    June 12, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  20. Tim

    LOL...potato, potatoe. There is no more calming moment than when the opposition demonstrates they are as human and fallible as our sides choice of leader who did not live up to expectations. It is always easier and more enjoyable to have the other side fail in some way than to admit our own side has failed. When the greatest failure is on the other side, we find success on our own and we forget we once had hope for something better. Defensive mode is never enjoyable so what little joy we find in the failure of another is blissful in comparison. Any athlete worth being called a competitor, however, understands to be the best you have to compete against the best. In politics we seek to destroy the best on the other side in order to run against the weakest. We should be demanding the best from the other side and beat them on merit and then we all are better off in the long run no matter which side wins. But destroy the best to run against the weakest is politics and we tend to get what that brings us. So, Senator/congressperson...potato/potatoe...well, it is always more fun, and easier, to prove the other side stupid and less capable so much so anyone can be president. That's what character assassination is all about...destroy the best of the other side so we do not have to be as good ourselves.

    June 12, 2014 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  21. Florida Girl

    Anyone remember Palin's gaffe about the number of lanterns used to warn how the regulars were coming? Come on, folks, this isn't worth the ink to print the story. Politicians are humans and allowed to misspeak. Let's cover the real issues, eh?

    June 12, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  22. Lord Toronaga

    I like the part in her book where she and her husband worked hard for their 100 million dollars....by talking. Oh yes... we can all relate to that. I also love democrats who talk about income inequality, but live in splendor. It would be interesting to see their IRS form 1040.

    June 12, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  23. TONE

    I don't care I will vote for her regardless. The republican party has puppets as leaders, and the koch brothers are pulling their string, too many republican presidential hopefuls, senators, and congressmen has a daily ritual of being on their knees infront of the koch brothers waiting for the next talking points with a full mouth.

    June 12, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  24. Tony D

    Normal In NH
    I have a crazy idea...why don't we elect a competent, qualified person for POTUS? Let's try that...it's been quite a while since the US voter has done anything even close...whatdoya think...maybe? Or will it simply be anointing the next in line?
    --

    The country had a chance to in 2012. Instead the press attacked him because of his success and wealth. Now why would anybody that is competent and successful run?

    What we have are liars and con artists like Obama. They have nothing but tired, old failed leftist/socialist/communist policies that have proven to be failures through out history. But most of our population doesn't know history because the liberal/union/leftist controlled school systems stopped teaching history or have twisted it to suit their agenda.

    So we are destined to repeat electing losers like Obama and Clinton that have done nothing, accomplished nothing, but ride in on the abject stupidity of a majority of the American people, many of whom are dependent on big government hand outs.

    June 12, 2014 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  25. callnews

    Great Clinton quote from Gurgyl, " Does it really matter?" Well, not so much this article's issue, but the one presently before the House hearings' ; Yes, it does.

    June 12, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
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