April 21st, 2008
07:50 PM ET
14 years ago

Bill Clinton: Hillary would be winning with GOP rules

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Joining wife Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, former President Bill Clinton argued that if Democratic candidates were awarded delegates the same way as Republicans, his wife would be beating Barack Obama in the race for the 2,025 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination.

“If we were under the Republican system, which is more like the Electoral College, she'd have a 300 delegate lead here,” Clinton told the Washington Post. “I mean, Senator McCain is already the nominee because they chose a system to produce that result, and we don't have a nominee here, because the Democrats chose a system that prevents that result.”

Overall, Obama leads Hillary Clinton by 144 delegates - 1,648 to 1,504 - according to CNN's delegate count. However, Clinton still has 24 more superdelegates than Obama, leading 254 to 230.

Many states in the Republican primary race award delegates on a winner-take-all basis, whereas every state on the Democratic side uses a proportional system.

The former president has been shuttling back and forth between eastern and western Pennsylvania over the past few days, shoring up votes for his wife in this crucial primary contest.

He takes Obama to task for several of his recent television ads in Pennsylvania, calling a recent one – in which he says Sen. Clinton’s health care plan would force people to pay for health care plans they can't afford – “truly hilarious” and "bull.”

Hillary Clinton has maintained a consistent lead over Obama in Pennsylvania polls and needs to win Tuesday night to silence calls for her to drop out of the race.

At the end of each speech, the former president addresses those calls, introducing supporters to “Clinton’s rules of politics:" "If somebody tells you you ought to quit, it’s because they’re afraid you won’t, and there’s no quit in her ... and I’ll tell you something else, if somebody tells you you can’t win, it’s because you know you can.”

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soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. Ross

    Well, well, well. The excuses have already begun and Hillary hasn't even lost yet. Maybe she should switch back to the GOP. If you can't take the heat then get out of the kitchen.

    April 22, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  2. KW

    If Hillary would have sealed the deal by super Tuesday, she wouldn'
    t have said nothing about the voters of Michigan and Florida. She only started wanting to count MI and FL votes when she fell behind. Just to think of it, Hill actually agreed to not campain MI and FL because both states moved their primary's up. So she was willing to disenfranchise voters then, so why all of sudden with the change of heart.

    April 22, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  3. Jason

    He's right. If you hold everything the same she'd be ahead right now. The problems here are, of course:

    a) Obama has run a much better campaign than Clinton has. Does anyone really think that if the rules were different Obama and his campaign wouldn't have adapted to the different rules? It would be like saying "well if we only counted the states that went D in the last general election Hilary would be winning". Of course she would be but Obama would have campaigned much differently under a different set of rules.

    b) Democrats were up in arms over the electoral college vs. popular vote screw up in 2000. What would it look like if the same party that complained so strongly ended up electing the candidate that had far fewer popular votes?

    April 22, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  4. Mark

    All of you people who are screaming "I'll vote for John McCain if my Democrat doesn't win!" should be ashamed of yourself. You say you want out of the war and want changes made to the economy? You think you'll get that with McCain? I doubt it.

    Get over your egos. When it comes to the issues Barack and Hillary are pretty much on the same page. The execution may be different but they both seem to care about moving beyond what we are currently dealing with. An administration that thinks the Constitution is a piece of toilet paper and that the lives of the citizens (below the upper 3 percent) are disposable.

    April 22, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  5. Diane Moore

    Hillary has too big a ego to step down gracefully. All she knows is to backstab and lie.Who would want that to lead a country

    April 22, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  6. BG

    Bill Clinton sounds as if he would favor undemocratic rules. The fact is, the Republican system is unfair in many ways to voters who vote for the other guy. The rules the Democrats use aren't perfect for their nomination process, but to think someone winning by only 51% to 49% is somehow deserving of all the delegates from a state is hardly logical.

    I guess that's the whole point though, if the Democratic primaries were winner-take-all, the people in small states and states that don't "matter," wouldn't matter as much as "big" states. That would have taken care of that troublemaker Obama, who had the nerve to come along and start winning the popular vote, electoral delegates, superdelegates and dominate the national poll numbers, total states won and campaign treasure chests while eating into her 20-30+ point advantages in her key states (Like PA).

    Ask yourselves this question, if Hillary was still losing under the winner-take-all rules in an alternate world, would Bill Clinton still suggest winner-take-all states are better than porpotionate? Of course not.

    As a Canadian, I think the Electoral College has its own issues as well. The artificial electoral votes (points) poorly represent the will of the people (popular vote) making candidates focus on swing states only. I know it was designed to off balance high density areas of population, but it's just too artificial causing even bigger problems.

    By the way, I think it's deplorable how negative this campaign has become and how sad it is when people don't research anything. Sure both sides are getting negative, but I saw one side (Obama) try to keep above it for months and stay mostly factual and honest. If you do one ounce of research his arguments and explanations hold up. While on the other side, (HRC) they use arguments which are disproven or seen as hypocritical within three seconds of thinking back to previous statements made by them or blatant evidence. Unfortunately people take everything their candidate, the media or a close one says as truth without exploring things further.

    April 22, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  7. Common Sense

    Liar...They would eat her alive. Every lie would be exposed, they've been preparing for her for 6years and they're ready... but lovely barack threw the curve ball...so now they just don't know what to do. and bill get ready to go to jail this september, hillary won't be able to presidential pardon you for your financial corruption trial in september.

    April 22, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  8. Chris K

    Lets see, Bill and Hi trash the prominent African American that the Democratic party has been boosting the profile of. They trash their party leadership. they trash the last two Democratic Pres nominee's (Gore/Kerry). They trash the caucus system they helped set up. Now they are trashing the rest of the Democratic party nomination system....WOW! And Democrats love em to death ...Lol

    April 22, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  9. Please make it stop

    Let me guess; going to try to change the rules now? Obama still has the popular vote. I'm sure it's ticking you guys off that he is doing so well. Maybe it's time for someone other than a Clinton and Bush to be in the White House.

    April 22, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  10. Jim

    Now that the race is as close as it is, Obama is probably wishing he had convinced his surrogates to get PA to also move it's primary up earlier than what was initially permitted by the DNC. This would have permitted him to take a fully paid, free ride to the Convention without spending the gobs of cash he spent in PA. With FL, PA and MI having the most older voters (in QTY, not % as MI doesn't rank 3rd as percent), Obama doesn't want those states to count in the primary and likely hopes those voters won't make it to the polls in Nov.

    But guess what, they're not getting any younger or any more liberal six months from now than they currently are! If he loses even one of these states, or Ohio, and I think he will lose at least 3 out of 4 of those states–possibly all 4–in the general election, he will become a statistic.... a leading candidate to almost become President. Yes, he'll get to appear on Oprah twice a year until 2012 as she helps him rebuild his war chest for the next race, but he will lose in 2008 against McCain.

    Wake up America! I truly believe Obama is sincere, genuine and wants to bridge divided sides together. But he has been strongly endorsed by too many people that are out of touch with America. Elites of the Democratic Party who are VERY LIBERAL. John Kerry, his wife Theresa, Ed Kennedy, the Daley Machine, Jan Schakowsky, Nancy Pelosi, Jesse Jackson and the "neutral" DNC Chair Howard Dean. There are numerous others, whom the press downplays, instead focusing on central figures who also support him such as Sebelius and Richardson (that by the way was only strategic to benefit the party to not lose all Latinos in the general election if Obama wins–why do you think he waited to endorse until after his state was won by Clinton??? ) We need to give Obama a chance to prove himself in a different capacity that he actually achieves change on both sides of the aisle and change in WDC.... which by the way, you've got to wonder why he hasn't attempted any change since he's been in the U.S. Senate.... Why hasn't anyone asked this question?


    Once the general election begins and if Obama is the Democratic candidate, Republicans will multiply the dirt found thus far by the Clintons by 100 to offset McCain's gaffe comment about being in Iraq another 100 years. No American over 60 in states besides IL is going to vote for Obama and most over 40 will likely still choose McCain, especially Latinos in FL, TX, AZ, NM and CA. With Schwarzenegger being a popular Governor of CA, with McCain's moderate stance on tax issues and social issues, his superior stance on foreign policy and his renegade tactics even within his own party to question ill-thought policies or procedures, Obama might even lose the motherlode state of CA delegates! He'd get crushed in such an outcome.

    McCain will win more of Hillary's supporters than Obama would win, which gives him the edge. And he would win less of Obama's supporters if he were to run against Clinton. You crunch the numbers. Only 5-10% in total aggregate votes is likely to be just enough to get Hillary to win states like FL, PA, OH and NJ against McCain, states in which he'd likely win by those margins or better against Obama. And she may even barely win states like AR, TN, MI and MO against McCain, ones Obama would lose. She might even win AZ (McCain's own homestate) and NM against McCain, which Obama would lose. Yes, she will lose AK, KS, UT, MT, ID, SD, ND, NE, MS, WY, AL, but so will Obama! Both will lose TX as well, although Hillary's pull on the Latino vote would force McCain to spend limited resources there to win TX, whereas, he'd need to spend no cash there to win against Obama. Yes, Obama may win CO, IA, WI and OR against McCain, states that Hillary would likely lose to McCain, but is that enough to make up his shortages?

    These are very tough choices for superdelegates to make the ultimate decision. Do they continue to lose elections with elite, out-of-touch candidates like Al Gore, Howard Dean (we almost drank the kool-aid on that candidate!) and John Kerry? Or do superdelegates vote for the candidate who will win the general election? Yes, these former presidential candidates are all interesting, eccentric intellectuals, but Obama is just more packaged and polished. Will his new, fad-like appeal fade as buyer's remorse sits in over the summer? Can Democrats take this risk? Go ahead, but it will just push our country into further debt as McCain leads us into the next forest.

    April 22, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  11. Kay-Arizona

    The DNC created this mess, now they want to end it early. If..they had allowed Florida and Michigan to have their primary when they wanted we wouldnt have that problem.

    If they had said all Primaries had to be over by May 1, there wouldn't be a question where we are now. All states have the right to vote to select their candidate. Its not fair to change the rules in midstream.

    The DNC has been so busy trying to control the outcome of this race we all have a real mess on our hands and its all their fault.

    Poor leadership and stupid decisions on the part of the DNC,not either of the candidates that are still standing and all democrats will pay the price. Back off DNC and let it take the course you set for the selection of the candidate. If you feel you have to correct any of your mistakes, you better fix them all.

    April 22, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  12. matt


    the man has a point PERIOD!

    you have to stop denying FACTS!

    and another fact is after she wins PA and you count in every americans vote. SHES WINNING THE TOTAL POPULATION VOTE TOO

    so if you want to keep on crying,
    Go cry on Jeremiah Wrights shoulder,

    How racist can someone be, and obama not even notice it.

    If he is president, our country gets bombed.. would he notice it?

    April 22, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  13. zane

    If Hillary is the right MAN for the job why is Bill campaigning for her.

    April 22, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  14. DON'T DARE.

    It is always a problem when you are losing the competion, Billary will want the ruls to favour them and when its doesn't it will be criticized.

    Everything is wrong when his wife lost and every vote count when Hillary won, but when Barry Obama wins , its should not count or not important.
    Typical Bill wants Hillary to win at all cost.

    That is the reason I think Hillary will run for the Republican in the next election. She and Bill will destroy the democrats and switch to Republican.

    April 22, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  15. Texas Independent

    And that's the reason we should either get rid of the electoral college or award it proportionally.

    Al Gore lost with approx 500, 000 more votes
    It Kerry would have won Ohio, Bush would have lost with approx 2.5 mil more votes.

    If the DNC was using the winner takes all systems, Obama who is up in the popular votes would be losing the delegate vote.

    How can we preach democracy to others when ours needs updating.

    April 22, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  16. Chuck in Oregon

    Bill, all the what "IF's" in the world would not resolve this right now. Only the facts sir and they are that she is not winning. If you want to play by the GOP rules then maybe you should join the GOP simple as that. But since this is not the GOP, put a sock in it will ya. You all can not seem to balance your nomination campaign budget (you have already run that into the red), what makes you think we want you messing with our National Budget. America has your (the Clinton) numbers and we really do not particularily care for the way they are adding up.

    April 22, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  17. Mara

    That's because Hillary is a Republican. I don't remember Bill whining about the rules in 92 and 96.

    April 22, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  18. Snapper, Seattle

    I guess that depends on what your definition of IF IS?! Oh the big IF. If the Clingons would go away we wouldn't have to listen to all their excuses day after day; if Mr. Clingon would shut his mount, maybe the earths temperature would go down some; if Mrs Clingon would put a bag over Mr Clingon's head she sure would do the world a big favor!

    April 22, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  19. Thore from Chicago

    If your had the FL and MI Hillary would be ahead on all counts and the automatic delegates need to consider this fact.

    April 22, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |

    Democrats will prove they are indeed the DUMBOCRATS if they put up Obama as their nominee.

    Only DUMBOCRATS would think that you do not need EXPERIENCE or KNOWLEDGE to be the President of the United States.

    Only DUMBOCRATS would think that all you need to be the President of the United States is a big mouth promising change that you have not done your entire life till you run for President.

    Only DUMBOCRATS would think that the the Presidency of the United States is a job that does not require EXPERIENCE and KNOWLEDGE from its applicants.


    April 22, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  21. Curtis - Marietta, GA

    So wait, let me get this right. The argument I'm hearing in the posts is that Hillary can win against McCain in certain states because she has gotten more electoral votes there in the Democratic Primaries? And who is she running against currently, another Democrat?

    Yeah, because beating another democrat in the same state = beating a republican in that state. How about we look past the system and look at what the people want.

    Let's try this on for size, we should go with the candidate that has the biggest following, the better message and a chance at unifying the country, not tearing it apart? If we could pick one candidate and all the voters (new and old) can come together, then the GOP has no chance! Why are we fighting amongst ourselves?

    Now, let's face facts. She is out of it! It is mathematically impossible that she wins. Do you really think the DNC is going to put her on the ticket if she has less electoral votes, less popular votes, is already having problems with campaign money, is not making friends with the "higher-ups", but happens to get the most superdelgates?

    It's been a good battle, but it's over. The longer this goes on, the worse it is going to get. It's a shame really, we had a good chance at doing something good this election, but we can't even keep from tripping over our own feet.

    April 22, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  22. Sure

    Bill does have a point on how the dems need to look at the way they appoint delegates.

    April 22, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  23. T from Texas

    The Clintons have gone from being laughable to being downright pathetic. This all boils down to Hillary NOT being ready from day one.

    She failed to win the most states, she failed to win the most delegates, she failed to win the popular vote, she failed to raise enough money to re-energize her campaign, she failed to run an organized campaign...she failed, she failed, she failed. Why would the American people want this person to run our country? Aren't we in bad enough shape as it is?

    I'm backing a leader with a vision, new ideas who knows how to inspire a new generation to change the world. Thank God for the Democratic system.

    Obama 2008!!!

    April 22, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  24. Sean

    This reminds me of the movie Big Daddy where the kid is playing cards with the adults, and every hand he screams "I win!" When quizzed, he explains the rules (that change every hand) and not surprisingly he wins! If only we could change the rules to suit our situation...

    April 22, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  25. Hillary

    I guess Bill Clinton run under the same rule .This has shown that the Clintons are say anything ,do anything to win.Your time is over.
    OBAMA 08

    April 22, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
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