March 29th, 2008
04:40 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: Clinton 'can run as long as she wants'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. Obama turns to leave after speaking with the press after a campaign event in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on Saturday."]
JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton should remain in the Democratic presidential race "as long as she wants," rival candidate Barack Obama said Saturday despite two of his high profile supporters urging the former first lady to give up.

"She is a fierce and formidable competitor, and she obviously believes that she would make the best nominee and the best president," the Illinois senator told reporters while campaigning in Pennsylvania. "I think that she should be able to compete, and her supporters should be able to support her for as long as they are willing or able."

Pennsylvania is the scene of the next Democratic primary, on April 22, and the largest state that hasn't yet weighed in on the party's presidential race. Clinton, of New York, has won primaries in the biggest states so far, but Obama has won more total contests and leads Clinton in race for delegates to the party's August convention in Denver - where the nominee will be formally ratified.

Two of Obama's leading supporters, Sens. Christopher Dodd and Patrick Leahy, said Friday that Clinton should rethink her chances of overcoming that deficit and consider folding her campaign. Leahy, D-Vermont, said Clinton "has every right, but not a very good reason, to remain a candidate for as long as she wants to."

For her part, Clinton told supporters at a rally in Indiana, which holds a May 6 primary, that "The more people get a chance to vote, the better it is for our democracy."

"There are some folks saying we ought to stop these elections," she said in Indianapolis. "I didn't think we believed that in America. I thought we of all people knew how important it was to give everyone a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted."

Obama said he did not discuss Leahy's call for Clinton to get out with the Vermont senator, who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The candidate called fears that the Democratic Party would be damaged by a long campaign "somewhat overstated." But he added that both he and Clinton should avoid campaign attacks "that could be used as ammunition for the Republicans" in November.

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. mwright, birmingham AL

    Good for him. This was a smart thing to say.

    OBAMA '08

    March 29, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Vig

    Mr. Arrogance has spoken

    March 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Jay

    I like how Obama tackles questions such as this one. He always knows the right thing to say and that is why people are drawn to him.

    March 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. j

    Clinton wants to "give everyone a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted" before she disenfranchises them by encouraging the superdelegates to overturn the will of 20 million voters. Nice.

    March 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Marc

    Come on folks. Please tell your candidate to shove it or something as equally eloquent that you constantly say to the Clinton supporters.

    March 29, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. Dee

    I am Obama supporter and I too believe that we have no RIGHT to ask Hillary to leave until and unless it is crystal clear that she would destroy the party...

    March 29, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  7. North Carolina

    I wasn't aware Sen. Obama had any say in the matter.

    March 29, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  8. JCB

    Clinton should remain in the race until the convention. These Democratic leaders that call for her to drop out should fold up and go home themselves. Obviously, they do not believe in the Democratic process, and they are a disgrace to the Democratic Party. Actually, Lehey, Palosy, Kenndey, Richards, and the others who have stated that a long election process will hurt the party are not aware that many of us Democrats will vote Republican if they keep pressuring Clinton to pull out. They are the ones hurting the party.

    March 29, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. Bill in CA

    Well done Barack! The sign of a true gentleman and a man of fair play.

    YES WE CAN!!!

    March 29, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  10. SZ

    How big of him. He's a saint.

    March 29, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. pdr

    no, she really should quit.

    March 29, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  12. Roby, AR

    I think her staying in is good. Democrats shouldn't just roll over like Mitt Romney did. It's just a matter of how Sen. Clinton is running her campaign; it's no longer respectable. As a former Clinton supporter, I expected different from her. Obama 08!!

    March 29, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  13. Dayahka

    Good answer.

    March 29, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. Chase

    Duh, what do you want him to say? Get out now Hillary so I can rest in peace? The point here is he keeps asking his supporters to pressure Hillary out BEHIND DOORS, not in public.

    March 29, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. truth be told

    She can run until it is mathematically impossible for her to do so... then she needs to major in miracles like some past clown on the Republican side.
    That being said, Sen .Clinton seems to wanna play the victime card once more (they're trying to push me out... blablabla). I can't believe she can get away doing that once more. Who believes in that? Definitely not intelligent white MEN!

    March 29, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. Ed

    Let her continue and continue to see what a BIG Loser she really is.,

    March 29, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. Rohit

    Well said Barack. That is what I want from my president. Mr. Ice cool, not ruffled by any moronic statement or theatrical act by Hill-Billy.

    March 29, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. marge

    Actually,Clinton "thinks" the more people that get to vote will change her totals! LOL!LOL!
    Rush has your back Hillary lol!lol! The GOP is trying to set you up for a serious fall.LOL!LOL! But not to worry....Obama will win the nomination and spare all your dirty laundry from being re-aired.

    March 29, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. John

    Voting for hiliary is cointinuing the conflict between the two demcratic canadates. Instead of Sen. Obama confronting Mcain for the office he has to fend off Sen. Clinton's kitchen sink and ideology that if she doesn't win the nomination no democrat will win the presidency. So in Retrospect a vote for Hillary is a vote for Mcain.

    March 29, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. S. Moody Columbia, SC

    Admirable Senator Obama set the record straight. Once again your getting accused of things that other people have said. That seems to be the theme of this campaign. What I'd like to know is why do people think that Hillary will be more electable. Everyone don't know all the Clintons baggage (i.e. new voters) and you can bet the Republicans will dig up all of it plus can someone truly say that Hillary Clinton can win withouth the support of the African American community, new voters, college students, and the suburbanites? Maybe I missed something. It the superdelegates give this race to her can someone say "boycott".

    March 29, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. Lou

    It's not hurting a thing if everyone plays nice. I don't think it will do her any good to stay in longer...only delay the inevitable...If I were Obama I would ignore her altogether and move on to McCain.

    March 29, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. Kimberly in Texas

    A true gentleman and our next President, Barack Obama!

    March 29, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. jp/michigan

    Hillary has a very good reason to stay in this race, she wants all Americans to have the chance to vote. Obama has stopped Michigan and Florida from a re-vote. He wants half of the delegates or nothing. Leave Michigan and Florida out, and Obama might have to go back to his regular job.

    March 29, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. deroy

    obama and mccain should both quit, also.

    we need to start all over again!

    March 29, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  25. msnizek

    If these other States primaries are not important, why did they schedule them anyways. Are we in Africa or some undevelopped country, politics is tough business. These men should men up and don't look scare of Hillary apparent wins otherwise they should do what their favorite did, take a hike in the Caribbean for a few days: Run Away!.. I will support Hillary.

    March 29, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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