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. marissa

    I am a life-long democrat who has NEVER voted for a republican on a national ticket. With Obama as the presumptive democratic nominee, I will have to re-evaluate my position.

    May 23, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. mozartt

    It has been crystal clear that Hillary Clinton cares only about herself and not the American people. . I could write a thesis about why I feel that way, but I imagine that most readers could write their own. If Clinton supporters are dissatisfied with the idea that she is not going to be successful and vote for John McCain, God help up all. We will be repeating not only the Iraq War but also the Vietnam War. You see that's what McCain really wants to win! There will be no universal healthcare, no policies to help ensure that there will be no more home foreclosures, the price of gasoline will continue to increase and the rest of the world will think we are a country of morons. Barack Obama will be a President who keeps his promise – let's hope that Hillary Clinton gets out of the way before the Democratic Party is irreparably damaged!

    May 23, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. Stephanie

    Lol. The press is so full of it.

    And why does she need to "save face"? She's going to lose this by maybe 200,000 votes. That's not exactly a staggering loss. She did extremely well and Obama, if he is smart, will encourage her to be on the ticket. I think that is best for the party, although maybe not best for her aspirations of working on her policy intiatives. But whatever– she'd do the right thing.

    May 23, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. This side of the Mississippi

    Marc In Quebec,
    Unfortunately that's what it is in politics. Remember from the very beginning of this campaign, most never thought that Obama would have a chance at winning...not against a Clinton. So, they must find a way for her to "win" by actually "losing" therefore....saving face
    America the Beautiful

    May 23, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. Aida

    Dear Barack,

    I will never vote for you 'sweetie' because your sexism and true colors show. You are not change, you are a good old politician who writes speeches about change.

    Sweetie, I would not want the US to 'change' to a president who has little or no experience in the government. So, sweetie, I will not vote for you.

    NObama 2008

    May 23, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. Linda

    Seems to me most of the mud comes from Obama supporters. He has cleverly done his attacking by delibertly misinterperting things said. He has twisted everthing to his advantage. The meanness I see from the majority of his supporters on this blog will not allow me to vote for him. This type of unification is not what I am looking for. Tell me why it is ok for everyone to attack Bill or Chelsea but not Michelle? Another hypocrisy. She has put herself out there. This is why I will write in Hillary.

    May 23, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Kerry Sisson

    Hillary has never done anything "gracefully". Why would she start now?

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Lelia

    As a Hillary supporter, I am sick of the blatant sexism. Why is asking Mr. Obama a tough question being racist, but the media ignoring Hillary is not sexist ?

    Sure racism is wrong, but so is sexism.

    If Obama wins the nomination, I will be sitting home on Election Day.

    He will not get my vote !!!

    We women need to show that we have stood by for too long taking the crumbs that men left behind.

    Let the media know that you refuse to vote for Obama. Together we can put Hillary in the White House.

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. Indiana Voter

    I think all of us must accept that this primary election season will end shortly. The key is to ensure that the process is fair which I believe it has been. I have every confidence that the rules committee will sort out the FL and MI voter issue in a way that not only allows them some participation in the process, but also maintains the integrity of the system by recognizing those whose states played by the rules.

    At this point, each of us has a choice as to whether we want to move forward with the nominee or be stuck in bitterness and vengence. If you choose the later approach, you are not hurting the nominee and the Party, you hurt yourself and your family.

    The people who are attacking those who favor the other candidate really need to stop it as it really does not positively influence anyone to change their minds. Threatening to vote for mccain or not to vote also does not change anyone's mind. It just creates doubt about your ability to step beyond your personal interests and put the Party first.

    For all of those who say Obama cannot win, do not be so sure. I would have never thought that he would have been within 1 1/2% of Hillary in Indiana. Many of our voters are similar to those whom Obama cannot supposedly attract. I personally knocked on the doors of hundreds of people in Indiana and Obama has an appeal across a broad spectrum of people. Because of all of the focus on demographics we are minimizing this issue. Moreover, many citizens are tired of the Bush government and how it has ruined our country and are ready to embrace a change.

    Hillary supporters: I understand your disappointment. I would feel the same way if Obama lost the election. However, while I did not like Hillary before the primary season began, I would remain open to voting for her as putting mccain in office would be even a worse option and I would be hurting myself, my family, my friends, and my community.

    Please, let's get focused back on the issues and how we improve our country so everyone has an opportunity for peace and prosperity.

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. Maxine

    If she gets the VP spot it won't be his campaign it will be hers.

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. jesus saves

    i love hillary

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. Ryan

    Reading these comments, one would think that it was Howard Dean who created the rule that if you move your primary ahead of the agreed upon date, you lose your delegates at the convention.

    It wasn't. The same rule existed in 2004, when Howard Dean was a candidate, not the head of the DNC. The head of the DNC at the time: Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe.

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. ron

    It's entirely too late for Hillary to make a graceful exit, she appears desperate, and sinks lower everyday. Why would Obama help her pay off her campaign debt. If her staff knew what they were doing they would 've done a better job of controling the spending, but with Hillaryas delusionary as she is , I'm sure her thinking was my supporters wont let me crash and burn, and now she's trying to bargain from weakness. Does anyone besides her, bill and the daughterbelieve that because she won Ohio tagainst Obama that automatically trandlates into a win in Ohio against MCcain in the general election. If she were his VP she would undermine and double cross him at every turn to sey up 2012. It wpuld be interesting to know the size of the donation made to Trinity Church, to get the rev Wright sermon. No wonder the campaign is in debt.

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. Kennedy

    I think giving her the VP post is completely against the principal of "change we believe in". This woman can not be trusted, she will dilute movement for change with her love for money. If Obama had hired me to look for a VP, Edwards will be the best running mate for him.

    Kennedy, UAE

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Dick in Sioux Falls

    One other thing. Hillary says she is fighting for the little people in this country. Hillary is fighting for no one but herself and her ambition to be the first woman president. Geraldine Ferraro says Obama has played the sex card in this campaign. Where and when? Hillary has played the sexist card repeatedly as she attempts to appeal further to the over 60 women, who she says are yearning for the first woman president. That is that if not playing the sexist card?

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. jack

    Obama needs the Clinton supporters. I don't think he's going to get them.

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Robert

    so...since she lost her entitled spot as the nominee she is now entitled to the vp spot?

    if Obama puts her on the ticket then maybe he isnt strong enough to be the president. let her cry and "find her voice" again, after being in politics her whole life.. maybe her new voice should be a courageous one, a humble one, as she admits defeat and helps unite your democratic party.

    Obama 08!

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. David Cunard

    The vitriolic statements about Mrs Clinton are out of place – she has run a determined campaign and is only a fraction behind Mr Obama. However, if she is to make a graceful exit, bearing in mind that she would be permitted to address the Convention before there is a ballot, she could well say that her opponent has offered her the vice-presidency but that she has declined his kind offer – and at that time would ask that Mr Obama be selected by acclamation. She would look magnanimous in defeat (if defeat it be) and would provide a great theatrical moment to pull the factions together. Of course, we haven't heard from Al Gore yet and possibly he would endorse her, sending many superdelegates to her side. Although the Obama camp says it will be over in three weeks I rather think that's an optimistic view

    May 23, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Mark, Berwyn, PA

    What a joke Hillary has become. First, as the article quotes someone from her campaign, the two sides do not trust each ther enough for the second scenario to happen. So, if they lack that much trust, how on God's green Earth can anyone, ANYONE, think a joint ticket will work. C'mon folks, let's get serious here!!!
    Second, is her major concern is saving face? Or is it saving money? As in, HER loans to HER failed campaign? Well, my money went to Obama's campaign, not for the Clinton's personal bank account. Lord knows they have enough money, they don't need mine. And if she was willing to loan her campaign money and recklessly spend over what she had, that's 100% her own dang fault. Like the rest of us "blue collar white uneducated voters, if we did that with our money, we get stuck with the tab. So Hillary, since you claim to represent the working man, act like one!!!!!

    May 23, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. corey

    Hillary is NOT needed in order to beat McBush. She needs to end it NOW and endorse Obama if she wants to salvage what's left of her dwindling integrity.

    Any democrat who votes for McBush out of spite is not a true American, but rather a self centered and spoiled baby.

    Obama will win, and he will win by a landslide. This country is ready to move away from the current republican administration's broken/failed policies. Let's fix our economy and set things right with the rest of the world.

    Obama/Richardson '08!

    May 23, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. Shelley

    There are a number of good reasons why Hillary should be the VP nominee:

    1. Her supporters would follow her and secure Obama's chances to win in November
    2. The formidable Clinton machine would be forced to work hard for Obama
    3. It would shortcircuit any prolonged battle through to the Convention
    4. It would prevent a Ted Kennedy type insurgent run by the Clintons for the nomination in 2012
    5. It shows a strong candidate the respect she deserves and helps allay legitimate concerns about sexism undercutting her run for the White House
    6. It would offer the American people a truly historic ticket that would very likely be unbeatable
    7. It would send a wonderful message to the rest of the world that America has truly moved beyond Bushism
    8. It would provide Obama with a streetsmart political infighter he will need in getting his legislation through once they are elected
    9. It adds experience to the ticket
    10. Obama may have no real choice (like Kennedy and Reagan before him – this is realworld politics kiddies!)
    11. It reinforces his message of reconciliation and unity.

    There are also good reasons why she shouldn't be the VP nominee

    1. The "Bill Factor"
    2. It may be hard for her to backtrack from some of the negative things she said about Obama
    3. Her own heavy baggage that Republicans will target
    4. Obama supporters will be really pissed off and might switch allegiance
    5. Her own supporters may remain pissed that she didn't win
    6. Any deal will have to involve paying off her campaign debt
    7. It appears that Obama, his wife and campaign people don't like her.

    I'm an Obama supporter and think the good reasons to put her on the ticket clearly outweigh the reasons not to.

    May 23, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Mark in Nebraska

    Obama is the clear choice, and he should be allowed to have a VP candidate that shares his positive and unifying message, as opposed to Hillary's devisive tone. It's too late for Hillary to "get out gracefully" She and her husband have tarnished whatever "Clinton Legacy" existed.
    As far as paying off Clinton's campaign debts... NO WAY! Her campaign did a lousy job of budgeting, her loans to her campaign are just like making a bad investment, too bad, so sad....thanks for playing. Paying her debt off is an insult to working America!

    May 23, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. prefer

    I prefer Hillary to run as an independent.

    Obama is unacceptable as president even if Clinton is the VP.

    He is just unelectable, period.

    She can win by write in alone.

    May 23, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Steve Banicki

    If Obama even offers the VP slot to Hillary I would reconsider my plans to vote for him. Can you imagine a White House containing Barak, Hillary and Bill? Nothing would get done and Bill and Hillary would be scheming to out do Obama. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

    May 23, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Rebecca

    If you compete for anything publicly – you risk losing publicly. And everyone has to "pay to play". Clinton needs to do what everyone else in the world has to do when they try and lose. Suck it up, be proud that you tired and accept your loses.

    May 23, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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