May 23rd, 2008
04:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Sources: Clinton, Obama supporters discussing exit strategies

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" "] (CNN) - Several close friends and supporters of Hillary Clinton tell CNN they are pushing for a "graceful exit strategy" that would allow the Clinton and Obama camps to come together, and for the New York senator to save face should she fail to become the Democratic nominee for president.

The discussions are not taking place between the campaigns, but rather among informal campaign advisers on both sides who are trying to actively influence and shape the debate as the competition nears a close June 3.

Bill Burton, national spokesman for front-runner Barack Obama's campaign, said "there are no talks underway between the campaigns," and that any suggestion from Clinton insiders is "unequivocally untrue."

"We are two campaigns, in real competition, not having any such talks about exit strategies," Burton said.

Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod said "there have been zero discussions, back channel or otherwise between the campaigns."

Clinton campaign aides also deny that any talks are taking place between the campaigns, emphasizing that the contest is not yet over. Clinton herself said the report was "flatly untrue" during a meeting with the editorial board of a South Dakota paper Friday.

But some Clinton camp insiders and close friends are actively floating three scenarios which they believe will influence whether or how the two teams merge.

Full story

soundoff (1,165 Responses)
  1. Suzanne

    I think we are WAY beyond a graceful/face saving exit. Of course, we will all smile and pretend...but we know have seen who Hillary is and as a white, 60 year old woman, I am embarrased by her.

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Andrew

    I just can't believe the Democrats screwed this up so badly. After 8 years of Bush the republicans are actually going to win. Its too bad too, Obama is just the type of president this country needs right now.

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. T in Kzoo

    I'm supporting whichever dem wins, but, seriously, Obama doesn't owe Clinton anything! For Clinton insiders to try and blackmail/strongarm Obama into picking her as VP is just as dispicable as Clinton's fat-cat supporters trying to blackmail the DNC, Dean, and Pelosi into making a deal about MI and FL. I do think something should be done about MI and FL, but blackmail and strong-arming is exactly what puts off so many of Obama's supporters from supporting Clinton. Just be a decent human being and face your problems head on. Using underhanded strategies = acting like a Republican, which any person should be ashamed of doing.

    Dems '08.

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Beverly

    Why would Senator Clinton need to "save face?" She wants to be president and will do anything to get it. She might as well wait until the state roll call at the convention at this point. Then she should give a very SHORT speech congratulating the nominee. And NO, I do NOT want her on the democratic ticket.

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. Tim

    Nothing would energize the Republican Party to come out and vote against Obama more than an Obam/Clinton ticket. Where is it written that a nominee much choose the sour grapes person he defeated? If her supporters wont vote for him because she lost, he doesn't want them anyways. Worst case scenario, we'll just endure another Republican administration sink this country even lower until it's completely weakened and wiped out. I can't stand Hillary, I can't believe Bill even married someone like that. SHe's teh one who's been continuously bitter and made the most off-the wall comments. She and her husband would fare a lot better in the Republican Party- I'm not sure why they despise her so much. Didn't her book say she was originally Republican anyway?

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. Ed

    I hope it doesn't involve paying Sen. Clinton's Campaign debt. Because Sen.Obama has done so well fund raising doesn't mean his campaign should get saddled with her debt. There have been so many lies regarding Sen. Clinton's true fund raising numbers and true debt let them handle their lies and debt themselves(She's a multi-millionaire) If you couldn't pay your debts you should have dropped out long ago.

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. CitizenAJ

    I still think it WOULD HAVE BEEN a strong ticket, Obama/Clinton, when the words between the two campaigns were pleasant. I still think it would be now except, you keep hearing disenfranchise republicans and independents of non-appalacian states say they will not vote for Senator Clinton in any capacity. She should have won by a large, double digit margin as he did in North Carolina and Oregon in Pennslyvania but it was close. Some say due to his 3 to 1 spending, I say it is due to her high negatives. Adding her to his ticket would add those negatives.

    Look, individuals from Pennslyvania told me personally they do not want to see her as President. A lot of republican backers here in Virginia voted against her in the open primary on February 12th. As much as it unifies the party and will bring democratic voters together, will it be enough to overcome John McCain in the Fall? I feel by himself, Senator Obama can defeat John McCain, not too sure with Senator Clinton on the ticket. Of course, the votes she has received in the primaries say different so . . . They should keep this option open and a top option. It should be discussed seriously.

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Peter T

    > Hilary cant bully herself to Obama ticket. She is not needed period.

    I think you're wrong. Without the Hillary wing, Obama risks loosing the general election, even in this favorable year. I dislike Hillary, especially after her unprincipled populism in the last months, but I would vote for a Obama/Clinton ticket – universal health insurance is too important.

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. SB

    Clinton is not owed anything. Hillary should be man enough to stand on her own two feet after all is said and done. Hillary Dems should stop wearing thier emotions on their selves and be good sports about the whole thing. You don't go home crying "I don't want to play anymore" when your side starts losing. If you are a democratic be true to the party and support the nominee! Democrats in White house in 08!
    Go OBAMA!!!

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. TheRealTruth

    What a JOKE

    This woman should NOT be VP. Seriously stop the madness. We don't need her dirty slimy tactics nor do we need her racist supporters.

    Seriously this woman has lost all respect in my eyes. To think how popular and admired she was.

    Now CNN will you post THAT or is there something that you need to censor?

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. OJ=Orange Juice

    Deans it.

    Obama was handpicked by the old school Dems back in 2004.

    May 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. Jack Box

    Obama has no Clinton.

    Obama needs no Clinton.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Bdiddy

    I think graceful would have been to get out 2 months ago. Not that Hillary doesn't have the right to fight and stay in, it's just at what cost will the party have to pay for this and there will be a cost.

    I think their worries should be on future contests looking at the way they conducted business, they did way more harm to themselves than good because they showed clearly this was about them and not the future of america or their party.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. concerned4USA

    I think Hillary is acting like a "little girl" who always wants to have things her way all the time. Its obvious she never thought Sen. Obama would get this far and that fact hasn't registered with her yet. She's been very divisive and petty (as well as untruthful) all through this campaign season, coming up with different arguments just to further her cause. I wonder why she has dropped the line of the "the candidate with the most superdelegates" carrying the day, now that Sen. Obama has a commanding lead there. She's now talking about her being treated unfairly because she's a woman. She should swallow her pride and stop acting like she's doing anyone a favour by running for president!!!!!!

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. John, Europe

    The third option is the best!

    Hillary and Obama both sit down together face to face. Hillary offer VP to Obama and Obama graciously refuses it. And Hillary become the nominee and wins Nov. easily!

    Vote Hillary!

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. DannyCali

    I don't think that she going serve Obama VP it not working at all. Even Hillary get nominee she not going to take Obama for her VP either. She have more experience than Obama how she going to be a VP for him. If
    Obama group want to throwing some jab just hit them back thats it.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  17. Josie(Vermont)

    Hillary has been adamanly questionning Barack's electability. Why in the world would she want to be his VP? Her arrogance is suggesting that people will be then voting for her and not for him. Since she likes to change the rules, will she, as the VP be giving the state of the union addresses? Should the president be always be sitting in the back of the VP? She is probably waiting for these answers to finally exit the race and unify the party.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. dmw

    I keep hearing this, yet, the Clinton campaign says it is not true. If I were Clinton, I would NOT want to be on the Obama ticket after all of the hateful, mean, crude, cruel, sexist, demeaning comments he and his supporters have said about this woman who has done nothing but support the people who everyone normally forgets about in this country. Hillary has been discounted and people she and her husband has help get elected, only for them to turn their backs on her, is almost too much to swallow.

    Obama is going to lose the general election. The Republicans will not hold back like Hillary was forced to do because the media, the left-wing, and black politicians always cried racism whenever she opened her or Bill said about anything Obama did not like.

    With Jews, older women, moderate/conservative Democrats, blue-collar workers, moderate/conservative independents, Hispanics, and some of us who are black and support Hillary, she can come back in 2012 and win the nomination and Presidency. I don't know of anyone who will vote for Obama from this group of my friends.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Darryl M. Arlington TX

    Divisive, we must put a end to this type of talk....

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Mr Fix it (

    All 3 scenarios discussed here is otherwise known as corruption and there fore unacceptable.

    -What is the point of having candidates campaign against each other and stir up supporters for this long only to have them merge and shake hands at the end so as ease the loser's ego.
    – Clinton (Hillary) is untrustworthy and her campaign staff as well. Has any one forgotten what dirt and negativity she portrayed through out her campaign?
    – If the positions were reversed would anyone be talking about forcing Hillary to offer a VP position to Obama? He would have been dismissed and rejected siting his so called reverand contraversy.
    – It is up on the nominee to select a VP of his liking; one that would represent his vision and be respectfull of his presidency. Hillary has demonstrated otherwise this far. Why her??
    – This process of selecting a nominee is a democratic process and the elected nominee should not be pressured in any way shape of form to select a VP. His choice should be final. The party can not start by dictating / influencing the presumptive president at this stage on how to run his job.
    – Hillary is making a huge deal about having won WV and KY by a large margin. Has anyone forgotten that she lost 13 states in row and Obama won them all? Has anyone forgotten that with out the african american vote Hillary has no chance to the presidency.
    – Why are we even debating on how she should exit. She chose to stay in the race even when she clearly knows she has no chance with hopes that something would happen to Obama and she would take the nomination. Now is this how you stay in the race hoping and wishing something bad to happen to your opponent? Has anyone forgotten how nasty she was during the Wright contreversy? Why should she get any position in Obama's government? To me if given any position she should not be in the Obama's cabinet period at this point she may be a mole.
    – Now for Hillary's supporters; just imagine that Obama was as behind as Hillary is and Obama was running the type of campaign she was running. Would have wished to have him on your team?
    – Hillary should go away and represent her NY constituency.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. dee sawyers

    I think Hillay Clinton isthe best candidate and should stay in the race. Why should she quit? To make it easier on the guys? Watching her conduct herself with grace and professionalism under such hatefilled attacks (can't get that personal with the others but attacking females seems to be ok) has me proud to be female and even more aware of how much more women have to outperform men to be considered half as good.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Never Obama

    Once Hillary Clinton exits, the party will find themselves with a candidate peddling hype that no one with a brain will EVER buy.

    We rejected the bandwagon at the start and we will continue to reject this dummy puppet who can't even clearly and definitively state his own positions.

    We will NEVER vote for the lesser candidate who screwed over the better candidate in every possible way- just to gain the narrowest of leads in this primary.

    Obama is showing his political weaknesses more and more every day. All he had to do to show how unprepared he is was to open his own mouth and vocalize a thought without the benefit of a good script.

    He put it off as long as possible- trying to sway the voters his way with his prepared, vague and lofty speeches. But now he has to state his own actual ideas and positions. Difficult to do when he obviously doesn't have any- just flawed idealistic musings.

    What a disaster for the democrats that they installed this demagogue as their nominee.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Steve

    This is how politics really works, folks. Don't tell me Barack Obama is above all this backroom dealing. How do you think he rose to become a United States Senator? He began his political career in one of the most corrupt arenas in the business– Chicago. It wasn't the singing of the celestial choir that brought Obama into politics. It was the same motivation Hilliary Clinton had– power. Both campaigns wield a great deal of power as we come down the stretch. Support is split almost 50/50. Both need each other. Clinton knows it and Obama knows it, too. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. BOB

    If Hillary is on the ticket please let me know where to send the check to John McCain. We are almost rid of her for good, let's not blow it now!

    May 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. Darrel from Denver

    Good news. The sooner, the better.

    Clinton never stood a chance, she just thought she did. Had the Democrats not had the alternative they now have, they would have lost yet another presidential election loaded in their favor. Ther was never any way Clinton was going to be elected to be President.

    Her unfavorable ratings would have definitely worked against her versus McCain. Her experience, so-called, would haved worked against her versus McCain. She could never represent the change needed, she is old school. She would never have brought in to the Democratic party the voters and supporters Obama is bringing in. This would have sealed her fate versus McCain.

    She is unelectable except to 50% of the Democratic party – those segments that represent the old America and do not reflect the new America.

    The Clinton legacy is over. It's about time.

    May 23, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
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