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. Observer

    A Question!

    Would Clinton supporters vote for Obama if she WAS on the ballot??

    Unlikely.. Bit like having to share the ice-cream that was promised to only you!

    May 23, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Matthew, San Francisco

    Her graceful exit should be planned in 8 years, during her second term as pres. because Obama should not be the nominee. Please don't drop out Mrs. Clinton. Obama is slipping further and further down everytime he opens his mouth and is unscripted.
    I think people are making too much out of what other people are saying instead of listening to her. This is a trick they use to make it seem like it is over. It is not. Don't believe it. Stay in through August Mrs. Clinton, please. Do it for the sake of the Country

    May 23, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. larry King Live

    give me a break obama is getting the nomination using shameful loop hole'ssss in the system. He should be the guy given the boot out. Who cares of starbucks kind and there freaking thinking how the world should look youll.........

    May 23, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. White female voter

    Obama has taken on the mighty Clinton machine and is winning fair and square. He has earned the privilege to appoint his VP. He does not owe Hillary anything. She would be a liability. There are several others on the political scene, male and female, who are far more qualified.
    I don't think the Clintons know the meaning of gracious.

    May 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Mike, Iowa

    If the two sides don't trust each other enough to make some simple fake public show of offer/refusal, WHY IN THE WORLD would they trust each other enough to be on the same ticket, and later to lead the nation? That is a recipe for ABSOLUTE DISASTER.

    Obama camp, tell Hillary, sorry you mismanaged your campaign & ran up tons of debt, but we don't owe you a thing. Open up a "Please Donate To Me" fund like your hubby did when he racked up tons of lawyer bills, and encourage the suckers to give you money.

    You lost; deal with it. Barack will be far better off without you anywhere near him.

    May 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Hell has no fury, like a woman scorned


    May 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    She just needs to exit! No Deals! No More Strong Arm Tactics, which is how OLD SCHOOL POLITICS IS DONE! Sen. Obama wants to do away with that approach. You do something for me, I'l do something for you. Let her exit the same way she got in........

    May 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Linda

    As a while, over 50 California female voter, I am really, really sad to see Clinton's machiavellian antics.

    Rules have and will continue to change oer the years to make things more equitable for every sex, race, and religion. However, rules that are changed so that "the end justifies the means' is the end of democracy.

    The rules agreed to by everyone at the beginning of this contest have to stand." They were seen by all parties as just and fair. to all the candidates.

    If the rules are truly unfair, then they need to be democratically changed before the next election no t at the last minute to favor one candidate or the other. It's the only way to ensure that race, religion, and sex do not matter.

    May 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. Jeff Cummings

    How could Hilary possibly be part of the ticket for a man that she has deemed over and over again as not qualified to be president? The GOP would use her own words against her if there were an Obama/Clinton ticket.

    May 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Real Change

    I can't understand why either side would want Clinton as VP. As VP Hillary will be totally tied to the performance of the Obama administration. In other words her destiny is not in her own hands. And all to accomplish...WHAT? If she wants to be President she should go be Governor of New York.

    As for Obama, Hillary is litterally one of the last figures in the entire party that he should want as VP. She completely undercuts the credibility of his change message, and very can't trust her.

    This VP thing is a dumb idea for everyone involved. I hope they both think through this a little better.

    May 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. Theogracias


    May 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. jmarie

    i have no doubt Hillary is behind the artfully planned talks.

    She wants to make it look like Obama is eager to have her join him, and she will do in a way to draw thunder for herself.

    Honestly, I have thought that the Clinton machine may still go to very scary extremes to be the nominee

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. JT

    According to my sources, Hillary is still planning and working hard to be the nominee.

    Vice President to someone not better than you, is not a good idea.

    It is like your dad is working for you. No, no.

    Obama not even good enough to be VP as far as I am concern.

    No experience, no military experience, no record of accomplishment.

    I think the DNC or half of the democrats are not thinking right.

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Madalynn

    You are all blind. I will see you all in the bread lines when Obama gets elected, he has no experience. HELLO AMERICA? Or better yet he will be sure to create a nuclear war with his inexperience so we all may not be here anyway to stand in a bread line. I refuse to vote if he wins.

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Conventional Wisdom

    Hillary please take this all the way to the convention!

    I will not support Obama and will write Clinton's name in on my ballot if she is not our party's nominee.

    All the way to Denver!!!!

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. It's not news

    The fact that a few supporters are talking exit strategy, when the Clinton campain is not, is frankly, not news. Everyone except Hillary and Wolfson are talking exit strategy. They've been doing that for weeks.

    Hillary, get a grip. This has gone on to the point that you are looking desperate and pathetic. Your maneuvering to broker some kind of backroom deal, or win the nomination on a legal technicality isn't going to work. People are on to you. The people have spoken, and are speaking right now. Listen to them. A good president listens.

    Obama 08-Clinton-some other time

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. felicia

    I have been a huge fan of Obama since I heard him speak at the Democratic National Convention a few years back. I am proud that a African American man has made it this far. I am also proud that our country has come so far in the last 40 years because if you take a look back at history, we weren't allowed to vote let alone run for PRESIDENT!

    Personally, I think that he SHOULD offer her the VP slot. They may not like each other, but they both have a lot to offer. HIllary would have to understand that she is the VP, not the President. She would have know her position and play that position. She is definintely a strong candidate. If Obama offers the position to her, I think she should accept. It would unite the Democratic party for the most part. I understand that Obama is for change, and Hillary represents the old politics, but sometimes people have to compromise to things accomplished. I know that regardless of who is on the ticket with Obama there are some people who just aren't going to vote for him at all for whatever reasons....race, inexperience, or whatever....He's never going to be able to make everyone happy.

    I really don't understand the people who say that they will vote for McCain if Hillary Clinton doesn't get the nomination. The Republicans and Democrats are so different. How can you swing from supporting HIllary to supporting McCain? It just doesn't make sense.

    Hillary Clinton has put up a great fight. I have a lot of respect for her in that sense. She is a very smart woman, I believe that she may be president one day. But right now, she needs to play that VP slot. She needs to bow out gracefully with dignity. She also needs to let this whole Florida/Michigan thing go. She agreed that the votes wouldn't count. But now that she's behind, she wants the votes counted. Thats not fair. Grow up Hillary and do some good as the FIRST female VP.

    Obama/Clinton 08!

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. Mike C

    I pray that Sen Obama does not offer Sen Clinton the VP slot. If he did so publicly on the understanding she would turn it down, is there anyone out there who doubts she would immediately turn around and accept it?

    Any chance she may have had for it should have been toasted this week. Her pushing of emotional hot buttons has gone a long way to ensuring a divided party, and if she "forces" her way on the ticket in this fashion it would dramatically reinforce the Republican argument that Sen Obama would be a weak leader. She can't be trusted to unify the party–she's been working hard to divide it by waving the following red flags:

    Sexism–yes, just as their are voters who vote against Obama for race (More than 20% in WV admitted it to exit pollers). But she's behind because her campaign wasn't ready to compete after Super Tuesday (going 0-11) and mismanaged resources so badly they've raised $80-$100M yet ended up $20M-$30M in debt. She also squandered her initial position as the "Establishment Candidate" with more money, superdelegates, and name recognition by far.

    Inviting an argument over whether racism or sexism has been a bigger factor in the nomination race can only divide the party amid arguments that ultimately would be based on emotions and perceptions.

    MI/FL–a way will have to be found to seat delegates that reflect but do not slavishly follow a flawed primary–some penalty must be paid for knowingly violating rules, and as many have pointed out thousands stayed home because they'd been told the votes would not count. I'm in favor of seating FL as is, giving MI's uncommmited to Obama, and stripping both states of superdelegates–but the RNC method of halving delegates is also possible.

    But holding out for counting votes for Sen Clinton and only her in MI is patently absurd, and whipping up resentment against the "the DNC" as if she had nothing to do with the penalty (her advisors on the DNC voted count MI/FL as zero, and she firmly supported that until she needed them) will only make it harder for ANY democrat to win those states in Nov.

    Popular vote: this is a powerful emotional issue in a democracy, but the truth is neither party's primary process is designed to generate a meaningful nationwide popular vote. Several have pointed this out (Slate Magazine, Jonathan Alter, etc), yet the emotional power of this leads to things like RealClearPolitics tracking SIX different ways to compute it.

    By thundering loud and long over a statistically invalid number, Sen Clinton is ensuring that whomever loses the nomination will have supporters who can point to a "popular vote" that "proves that the nomination was stolen." Again, she'd deliberately chosen the path of dividing the party.

    Whatever chance Sen Clinton had of being put on the ticket as VP should be blown away by her choices this week. If you put her on as VP she might as well be President–McCain would win anyway (have you seen her negatives even among Democrats lately?) and there is no chance she would defer to President Obama if they did win.

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Mary

    I would worry about putting her on the ticket if I was Obama. I am sure he would end up like alot of other Clinton inner-circle that end up dead. They will stop at nothing to have her be President. I hope that her crazy tactics have destroyed any chance of her getting a nomination in 2012 like she is hoping for.

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Rave

    First, I think Hillary should exit. She has done enough damage to the party and the candidate for now. The sooner she does it, more graceful it looks.
    I knew it would come down to this VP position.
    Please leave the VP nomintation to Obama and the party gurus.

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Willy Brown

    Put her on ticket, That's the only way Obama is ever going to get close to being president

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. Kenneth M.

    here is one: get out!

    May 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. David Goldman for OBAMA







    May 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. Benumbed by Hillary

    The irony of all ironies: Here she runs one of the most reprehensible and incompetent campaigns in recent history against one of her own, injects racism, faux feminism and anything else she can engender into the mix and now she has to be offered the VP slot? Having her on the ticket would not translate into a larger base number. It would look phony, political and fly in the face of everything that Obama has conscientiously stuck to throughout: Being honorable in the face of dishonor.

    May 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. MP

    DNC is a joke. They are mistaken if they thank that we Hillary supporters will vote For Obama after the way they shoved him at us. The DNC is Corrupt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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