May 25th, 2008
11:10 AM ET
15 years ago

Clinton op-ed: 'Why I Continue to Run'

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Clinton has faced a media firestorm since her Friday comment."] (CNN) - Two days after Hillary Clinton pointed to Robert Kennedy’s June 1968 assassination as part of an explanation for why she was continuing her presidential run, the New York senator continued her efforts to stem the lingering fallout over the comment – and to explain her reasons for staying in the race.

In an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Daily News – portions of which where sent to reporters by her campaign with the headline “***MUST READ***: Hillary: Why I Continue To Run” – Clinton said some had taken the controversial reference “entirely out of context.”

“I want to set the record straight: I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year's primary contest is nothing unusual,” she wrote. Kennedy was still running for president in June of 1968, although his own run was far shorter since he had been a candidate only since March of that year.

Clinton has faced increasing pressure to end her campaign in the face of a nearly insurmountable delegate lead by rival Barack Obama.

(UPDATE after the jump: Clinton senior adviser accuses Obama campaign of "inflaming" the situation)

In her piece, Clinton also pointed to statements in her defense by the editor of the South Dakota paper where she made the comment, and from prominent supporter Robert Kennedy Jr. Most members of the Kennedy family, including those who have backed her presidential bid, have yet to make public statements on her comment.

“I realize that any reference to that traumatic moment for our nation can be deeply painful - particularly for members of the Kennedy family, who have been in my heart and prayers over this past week. And I expressed regret right away for any pain I caused,” wrote Clinton Sunday.

“But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for - and everything I am fighting for in this election.”

Clinton gave several reasons why she was continuing her presidential run despite the increasingly remote mathematical odds of her success, including her beliefs that “I can win on the merits,” provide real leadership on a host of pressing national concerns, and that as the first female candidate with a real chance of making it to the White House “I have a responsibility to finish this race.”

“Finally, I am running because I believe I'm the strongest candidate to stand toe-to-toe with Sen. McCain,” she wrote. “Delegate math might be complicated - but electoral math is not. Our campaign is winning the popular vote - and we've been winning the swing states we need to get 270 electoral votes and take back the White House…”

Clinton’s contention that she is leading in the popular vote has been a matter of great debate, since the only scenario where that claim is possible includes the unauthorized votes from both Florida and the Michigan contest where Barack Obama’s name did not appear on the ballot, and does not include any votes from several caucus states which do not release popular vote totals, but where the Illinois senator won an overwhelming majority of the delegates at stake.

The New York senator added that “no matter what happens in this primary, I am committed to unifying this party. Ultimately, what Sen. Obama and I share is so much greater than our differences.”

In an interview with ABC’s This Week, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said that the campaign was “beyond that issue now,” echoing similar Saturday statements from the Illinois senator himself - despite its statement taking aim at Clinton shortly after she made the remark, and its later decision to send direct reporters to a commentary by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann that was extremely critical of her Kennedy reference.

“As far as we're concerned, George, as far as we're concerned, this issue is done. It was an unfortunate statement, as we said, as she's acknowledged. She has apologized. The apology, you know, is accepted. Let's move forward.”

He also attacked Clinton’s argument that she remained a viable candidate, and would make a more competitive nominee than Obama.

“So - but here's the thing, George. This isn't ‘American Idol,’ OK? This is a nominating process. We have rules,” said Axelrod. “We elect delegates state by state. Senator Obama has built a lead over these six – over these five months. And we expect on June 3 that this process will come to an end.”

UPDATE: Clinton campaign co-chairman Terry McAuliffe said Sunday that she had been making a valid point about the timeline of the race, telling Fox News Sunday that “a hyped-up press over Memorial Day weekend, the Obama campaign inflaming it, tried to take these words out of context.”

McAuliffe said the Obama campaign’s claim that they did not want to attack Clinton over the remark were disingenuous because of the decision to criticize Clinton on Friday, which “got it going so the story would be around for three days. It's nice to get a story going and then, you know, let it go for
three days over the weekend and say, ‘Oh, she didn't mean anything about it.’"

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (449 Responses)
  1. s.positive

    Woman, you've got not chance in this world to be norminated and that the simple fact...

    May 25, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    SHUT THIS GOD-AWFUL WOMAN UP. I am so sick of her and her negative spewing because she lost....

    So now the Clintons plan to "work" the back rooms at the convention to try to steal the nomination? I will NOT vote for this hag no matter what.

    May 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Fran

    I am to the point of not blaming Hillary as much as the SuperDelegates!!

    What is wrong with you people??????!!!!!!!!!!

    Get her out of there or we WILL be looking at a Bush 3rd term!

    May 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. Linda

    I just saw the video on AP when Sen. Obama was asked the question regarding Hillary's RFK comment and Sen. Obama state that he did not think Sen. Clinton meant anything by it and we should move on. Hillary's campain is trying to make something out of it. Hillary's campaign should stop so many incorrect spins and shut up. I am so tired of Hillary that I am just sick. Please post.

    May 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. Connie Sturgeon

    `I am an Obama supporter and I do not believe Hillary wants anything like that to happen to him. I do believe she is wanting another story like Rev.Wright or the bitter comment to destroy him. I do believe there is a lot of deranged people out there that would pick up on those kind of remarks and act on them. She needs to drop out now.

    Obama 08

    Connie from Logansport,IN

    May 25, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. Ed NJ

    The writing is on the Wall. Hillary wants an unreasonable amount of the delegates seated from Mi & FL.

    When she doesn't get her way, she is going to invoke sexism and take this to the convention and split the party.

    Horrible...absolutley HORRIBLE!!!

    May 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Michigan Voter !!!

    Obama , Dodd , Kennedy , Kerry , Richardson , Duachel , Casey , Edwards , Carter , The DNC ….. Don't get !!!!! ……Obama Can't Win , He Doesn't Have The Trust From The Democratic Base ……. Hillary Has The Hearts And Minds Of the Loyal Democratic base !!! …….. Life Long Democrats Like Myself Will Place Their Vote "ONLY" For Hillary Clinton , Or John McCain …… It's Past The Point Of The Democratic Platform Policies …….. It's About What is Best For The Counrty ….. America Needs A Strong Pro – American President !!!!!

    Hillary , John Mc Cain 2008

    May 25, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Erdy


    WAKE UP ALL OF YOU CITIZEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LETS ALL VOZE FOR HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CLINTON WILL PUT BACK ARE GOOD DAYS AHEAD. STRONG DOLLARS, STRONG ECONOMY, JOBS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MORE JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PROSPERIOUS LIFE LIKE THE OLS YEARS OF THE 1992 TO 2000.

    May 25, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Larry

    Hillary you stay in, Bush cheated in the election twice, Obama and his empty headed cult are cheating now, we don't need another air head for president!!!

    May 25, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. From Minnesota

    I think superdelegates bear the responsibility for what their canditate says. By acting or not acting, they are making their choice. What if some of Hillary's expectations will realize?

    May 25, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Dr. J

    Clinton can not blame Obama for her loss. She has to look within herself and look at the people she surrounded herself with. When Obama was trailing, you did not here him complaining about counting Florida and Michigan. Also, there is just as much racism as there is sexism in this race. I am tired of the Clinton supporters whinning. Let's move on with the procession.

    May 25, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. chekawa

    Oh Hillary. Say girl, maybe you need to try a Beltone. You know the little card you received in the mail for hearing loss.

    May 25, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. Just the Facts

    Clinton has no excuses for her statements. She said them and she meant them. I think she is trying to provoke one of her supporters to try to hurt Senator Obama. When there is a "Clinton Body Count" and then you hear these kind of unexcusable statements, one can not but wonder that the clinton's are dangerous people to be around. There are over 20 so called suicides and gun shootings. Somebody please do a statistic ratio for us on knowing that many people dying this way. I know one person on both sides of the family that committed suicide. No one killed by gunshot. One from a car accident, and I'm 50 years old. These people know over 20-27 people with questionable deaths! She will not and cannot win this nomination. How convienent that they all were "about" to give testimony. Some of them may be perfectly innocent, but not all of them. The law of statistics has put the truth to the negative side.

    May 25, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. Jordan Fitzpatrick

    Those calling for One-person, one-vote– I agree with you, but ONLY IF THE CAUCUS STATES ARE GIVEN THE SAME TREATMENT AS THE PRIMARY STATES. I votes in KS, for Obama– in my polling station alone, there were 3,000 voters, and the other 4 stations in my city showed the same turnout. Over 75% of us voted Obama. Don't our votes count? Don't the votes of the 25% of Clinton supporters count? It's not that we disagree every vote should count- it's that Sen. Clinton is NOT for counting EVERY VOTE, only the votes that support HER.


    May 25, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. What if?

    Why should Senator Obama agree to a revote, that doesn’t make him a bad person, we all know if Clinton was losing this request of fake concern would have never suffaced. No one told Bill who to select for VP, now all a sudden a lot of you think you can tell Obama, not…………..that’s his chorce as it always have been for the president. ho do you think you are to tell him who to choose for VP? no one told Bill.

    If Hillary was winning, Florida and Michigan do you honestly think she would care anything about your vote, do you honestly think she would have agree to a revote if Obama was losing? When she agreed not to count your votes, that showed how much she cared about your vote.

    It is sad that she is proud by encouraging her supporters to lobby for her out side of were the leaders will hold a meeting, judging by most of the comments on here from her supporters, this will put a lot of people in harm way, especially if it is not a peaceful rally.
    Let’s be honest democrats, once the nominee (Obama) is seated, how many of you think she will have a second thought or concern about you?

    Please share, We want to know.

    May 25, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Pennsylvania


    This is America and Hillary has every right to remain in this race!

    Please let everyone vote and have every vote count!

    And the ticket should be HILLARY/obama or obama/HILLARY if the democrats want to win the white house!

    May 25, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. Steve L.

    Any Democrat that would vote for McCain please make sure you remember to tell your kids how you helped to screw up the country some more because you supported the worst kind of sore loser ever to run for office. Remember, Ma and Pa Clinton are the ones responsible for GW Bush being in the White House because of all their scandals and unethical behaviors. And, their story continues where it left off. The dopes from Hope are a truly lost cause. And, the only office for McCains age group is Pope, but I doubt he would qualify with friends like Mr Hagee. Imagine, an 80 year old president in his 2nd term. Yikes!! Vote of Obama and end the drama.

    May 25, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. Karen P

    As an independent, I am TOTALLY behind Barack Obama. HOWEVER, if the Clintons are anywhere near the White House I will vote McCain. I wasn't going to make that decision, but the Clintons leave me no choice. It's Obama or nothing for the DNC.

    I do not want the deceit, lies, pension for inciting unrest, dividing the country, instilling greater racial problems than needed to be. Well, there's just NO WAY. I don't want an impeached former president bullying the people around Washington. Obama already said, as well as supporter, let her run the race until the end....but the Clintons try to place blame on Obama for it and that's an outright lie to voters.

    I was willing to be reasonable about the Clintons (who have been shady ever since Arkansas) until these past couple months. That's it. Hillary just is not presidential material...period.

    May 25, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  19. Rj

    How come I don't see any Obama supporters saying they won't vote for HIllary if she wins the nomination? Oh wait, that's because she can't win... nevermind. Talk about drinking the Koolaid!

    May 25, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. Steve in Denver

    How can anyone buy into the falsehood that Hillary is ahead in the popular vote? Is it because she repeats over and over that people (including her) begin to buy into the lie? I just don't get it.....

    May 25, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  21. Piss Off

    Hillary & Huckabee need to be ashame of there self, to invoke this kind of trash in this race. Hillary needs to bow out gracefully. Give it up girl we know you are a strong but yet stupid women. How can you represent the Dem's when you act like a spoiled brat. You just say anything out of your mouth, why don't you just stop now because I am very upset with you.

    May 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Sue

    "This isn't American Idol"
    Sounds more like Obama...

    May 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. ms j


    If you guys prefer Hillary to Obama that's cool, but what makes you guys look and sound so foolish is this, All of you have complained about the Bush Admin, keeping our soldiers in IRAQ. Well, you know Hillary will not be the nominee, let's get real here, so why shoot yourselves in the foot, and I'm not trying to be funny, but we have soldiers dying everyday. I don't have a son in the military, but I do have a heart for a mother who does! I sure hope none of the comments saying, "You will vote for McCain if Hillary is not the nominee" are from mothers who have children in the military, because there is a saying,"You will reap what you sow". While these soldiers are sacrificing their lives, you Hillary supporters are saying, "We don't care, if Hillary is not the nominee, our vote goes to McCain, your lives don't matter, OUR EGO DOES!

    May 25, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Marty FL

    Over the last two days, I have tried to remain objective with Senator Clinton over her RFK reference. I do not believe she meant any harm to her fellow colleague, but regardless of the intent, the comment was completely inappropriate. As this primary has progressed, it has become more and more challenging for me to retain the respect I have long held for Senator Clinton.

    If Clinton says she is the best candidate to go against Senator McCain, what is she waiting for to show it? She has wasted so much valuable time triangulating against a fellow Democrat (now I see what that term means), instead of going "toe to toe" with McCain. Most Democrats would rather see how our candidates would go against the Republican nominee, but Obama seems to be the only one doing that now (very well I might add).

    Clinton has a lot of ground to make up now as far as I am concerned. Hillary is going to have to re-earn some respect at this point, and the only I see it happening is if she ends this contest with some dignity after June 3rd and campaigns like she really means it for Obama, who will likely be the nominee by sheer mathematics. It is the only way I see how the Clintons retain their legacy for the future. I pray they are listening.

    Si se puede!

    May 25, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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