June 8th, 2008
04:58 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton adviser reflects on failed campaign

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/08/art.wolfson.cnn.jpg caption="Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said Obama’s campaign can learn from their mistakes."]

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton’s communications director Howard Wolfson spoke about the New York senator’s failed presidential bid on CNN’s Late Edition - and acknowledged: “There are things that we would have done differently.”

“I think Barack Obama did a pretty good job of learning from whatever mistakes we made,” he told host Wolf Blitzer. “If his campaign wants to study ours and see what we did right and wrong, I'm sure they're going to do that.”

The outspoken adviser also defended the fact that Clinton waited until Saturday to give her concession speech.

“I know we live in the minute-by-minute media culture,” he said. “I think it's a little unrealistic and frankly unfair to expect somebody who's been running for president for 18 months and has done as well as Senator Clinton did – [she] was winning states in the last several months by 30, you know, 40 points to - on the last day of the primary - immediately come out and give a concession speech.”

Despite Wolfson’s admission that the campaign made some slip-ups, he insisted that not highlighting the history-making aspect of being the first female president was not one of them.

“It didn't seem to hurt our ability to get the votes of women who were Senator Clinton's strongest supporters. We overwhelmingly won the woman's vote in this race… African-Americans as a whole tended to vote for Senator Obama in overwhelming numbers, a great credit to him. But white women and Latinas did vote overwhelmingly for Senator Clinton, over 60 percent.”

And what about Wolfson’s immediate plans?

“I'm looking forward to a summer of some relaxation. I'll miss talking to you on a daily basis. But I'm going enjoy talking to my family more,” he said with a smile.

soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. Mike - Ventura, CA

    This is one face I WON'T miss at all. I really believe he manipulated the truth and turned it into falsehoods.

    June 8, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. No secret

    She lost because her party failed her just to advantage the other candidate and because the media dared not trash Obama, but Clinton was fair game.

    You all swiftboated her.

    The new democrats have brought in an element of hatred and vile and vulgar personal attacks against fellow democrats.

    Obama rode that agitated wave of hatred while proclaiming unity.

    Sorry... propaganda and hypocrisy is lost on us life long voters. We see right through it. We marched and protested and got beaten in the 1960s- just to work against that kind of thing.

    Now the hate returns and is fed to us as change, hope and unity?

    Sorry sorry DEMS.

    Hillary... I adore you and will always vote for you anywhere and anytime. You are the true dignified champion leader of the people.

    June 8, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Bias

    Hatred from democrats against fellow democrats did it... and a media that drooled over Obama while spitting at Hillary.

    June 8, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  4. Venus

    Nice to see this guy leave as well!

    Why would Obama team want to look at what Hillary's team did regarding the primary? They are still stuck in the dark ages and thank God Obama didn't select them!

    June 8, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. Inequity

    How about unfairness, cheating, caucus, disenfranchised voters, race-card playing, an Obama celebrity fest, a pro-Obama and anti-Hillary media.

    Sabotage by her own party. Hatred and vile vulgar personal attacks: HO? Bi–ch, ? anyone- from Obama supporters and the media.

    Richardson openly spewing his anti-Clinton hatred.

    Media twisting all thing Clinton into negative and all things Obama into HISTORICAL proportions.

    Now watch it backfire when the DEMS lose in Nov. We won't vote for Obama even if he WERE the savior of the World.

    June 8, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Anony-mouse

    There are still some Clinton supporter (or perhaps Repubs in sheeps clothing) who are claiming that Obama's campaign was sexist and racist. They point to the African-American votes as evidence.

    What people should realize is that while Obama did capture a significant percentage of African-American votes, Clinton captured a significant percentage of women's and Latino's votes. So, if Obama's campaign was sexist and racist, then, by definition, so was Clinton's.

    So, I think people need to get past their anger and frustration and just vote for who they think embodies their beliefs and principles. Voting against someone for spite is just stupid. Nobody learns anything, and you don't get what you really wanted.

    Therefore, if you believe in what Hillary was campaigning for, then you have to choose which candidate more closely matches that – and vote for him (or, write in Hillary – that would make much more sense than voting against someone out of spite).

    June 8, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. Hoang, UC Berkeley

    Many Obama supporters have bashed Hillary's for deciding to stay home, write in Hillary's name on the ballots, or even vote for McCain. The thing is that you don't understand. This is a Presidential Election. You don't vote for a party; you vote for a president. It does not matter whether Obama is from the Democratic Party, nor does he have similar plans with Hillary. WHEN YOU VOTE FOR A PRESIDENT, YOU VOTE FOR THE PERSON YOU TRUST, YOU VOTE FOR THE PERSON YOU THINK THAT WILL DO THE BEST JOB, YOU VOTE FOR THE PERSON WHO CAN LEAD THE COUNTRY, AND FINALLY BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU VOTE FOR THE PERSON WHO THINKS FAST AND ACTS FAST TO PROTECT YOU WHEN AN EMMERGENCY OCCURS. As a typical Hillary's supporter, I DON'T THINK AND DON'T BELIEVE THAT OBAMA IS THAT PERSON. I'm gonna write in Hillay anyway. I'M NOT VOTING FOR A PARTY; I'M VOTING FOR A PRESIDENT.

    June 8, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. martin

    hillarys campaign was as poorly ran as hillary and bills mouths.the biggest change i've seen ,already ,in this campaign,is the fact that the person who ran their campaign honorably,actually won.obama never trounced on the tons of baggage the clintons carry,and he stuck to the issues ,when not defending himself and his wife ,from personal attacks ,by both mccain and clinton.i'm starting to regain my faith in this country and 'i feel a change a coming'.

    June 8, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. jimmy

    With all due respect, I am not sure there is anything the Obama campaign can or would want to learn from from the Clinton campaign; with all the mistakes, the grumbling , bad management and drama that it was.

    June 8, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. TL

    Among all things, the biggest mistake the Clinton team made was consistently belittling Obama from day one. The sad part is that even up to this day, the team and their supporters are still thinking that Obama does not deserve to be the norminee of the party. The way they try to elbow Obama to take Clinton as VP is totally disrespectful.

    Also, when they tried to repeat their talking points as facts over and over again and thinking that people will buy it. That totally turned the reasonable people off.

    June 8, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  11. Media frenzy to kill

    What about an openly obvious anti-Clinton crusade by the Party (Dean, Pelosi, Richardson) , the DNC, the pundits, the Obama team, the MSM and all the crazed but vitriolic new democrats that Obama inspired to extremes of bigotry and hate.

    The vicious name-calling and internet attacks against fellow Democrats. And The Clintons being called racists early on to sway a key demographic didn't help her any.

    the propaganda message (of divisive form ) of unity from the Obama camp.

    Forced message of desire for change 24/7.

    June 8, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Josh, New Mexico

    Wolfson-you and your staff are a huge bunch of idiots--you had a 20-30 point lead at one time and blew it-a 3 year old could have seen that you had the wrong message which means your pollster did a terrible job-and not to have a caucus strategy is unforgivable-

    In every sport I've ever watched, if a team had a huge lead and blew it, it was the coach that got dumped-

    You did Hillary a disservice and anyone who hires you in the future deserves what they get-

    June 8, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |

    Wolf, this was a very good interview today, with Mr. Wolfson. Senator Clinton had a very good team surrounding her. I hope Mr. Wolfson has a wonderful vacation with his family and comes back rested and ready to continue. Whatever he decides to do, I'm sure that he will do a fantastic job. Thank you Mr. Wolfson for your dedication, support and strength with the Hillary Clinton campaign. As a supporter of Senator Clinton's, she earned my respect, support and dedication a long time ago. She is a fighter, she is intelligent, she is strong and most importantly, SHE IS A PHENOMINAL WOMEN!!!!

    Thank you Mr. Wolfson for supporting and working for "our" Hillary and congratulations on a job well done!!


    June 8, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    YOU LOST.... Shut up and go away....


    June 8, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  15. POLLY

    Mr Wolfson, you ran a good campaign, I congratulate you, the failure came from the incompetence of Howard Dean, the enthusism of the backstabber senators Nancy Pelosi , John Kerry, Chris Dodd,and others in the democratic party to bring Hillary down so they can crown prince Hussein with the nomination, the biases in the press like CNN and MSNBC/NBC.

    That broght me to a decision, I changed my voter registration from democrat to Indepedent. I can no longer support this party of corruption, they will no longer get one cent of my hardworking money, and all I can say is, what is 4 more years.

    June 8, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. Media frenzy to kill

    She did NOTHING wrong.

    The media gleefully slammed her and happily praised him- unfairly.

    African Americans used the race-card to justify a 95% defection rate.

    The new democrats waged a relentless propaganda campaign of hatred to destroy and eliminate anyone who wasn't Obama.

    Fools fell for the folly of the Phantom of the Oprah.

    June 8, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  17. Dean

    I wonder why these so-called Democrats who are claiming that Obama's supporters are why they won't vote for him haven't considered that perhaps Republicans have been playing both sides of the fence – posting as Obama suppoters *and* Clinton supporters trying to stir up a fight... for exactly this purpose.

    If you vote McCain for this reason, you are condoning such Republican tactics – again!!!!!!!!

    June 8, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. Vig

    Clinton did not have "failed" campaign. She was set-up to fail by news organizations such as Clinton Nemesis News (CNN) -with it's Hillary hating commentaries and the rest of the sexist smear campaign while Obama was made into some god-send. Hell can freeze over before this Democratic will vote for BO. True Blue's for Hillary will write her in on the November ballot and right the wrongs.

    June 8, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. jimmy

    FYI Mr Howard, in the last half of the race, she won only WV and Kentucky and puerto rico by 30,40 points. Some of us where actually paying attention.

    June 8, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. j

    HRC will be better prepared next time she runs and there are plenty of options.

    June 8, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. Oprah did it.

    It started with Oprah and the celebrity fest.

    It ended with the superdelegates dragging a limping and bleeding Obama across the finish line to hide the fact that he did not get the minimum number of pledged delegated.

    It was the unfairness- why NOT take it to the convention, like the white guys of primaries past got to do?

    Why not wait until the convention for the superdelegates to weigh in?

    Now we are stuck with a dictator to be- who rallies the youth to new levels of antipathy against fellow democrats.

    June 8, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. A proud SUPPORTER of OBAMA


    June 8, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  23. m.c.

    There was nothing wrong with the campaign, and certainly everything good about the candidate. The DNC decided, at least in 2004, when they had Obama give that speech at the convention, that they were going to push him forward. They railroaded the caucuses in Iowa and then tried to get Hillary to leave the campaign, AFTER ONE SILLY CAUCUS!!! How stupid is the Democratic Party, to have this flawed system??? Gee, maybe that's why we pick losers except for Bill Clinton. Even Kennedy would not have gotten a second term, I truly believe. I've been a Democrat for forty years, but no more. I am now a Republican for good, they've chosen a Centrist, they feel the mood of the country. We want change, but not right, OR left. If Hillary can still somehow be the nominee, then she will have my vote. She will ALWAYS have my vote!!!!

    June 8, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. Unbelievable

    I actually felt that Sen Clinton absolutely did highlight her "accomplishments" as a woman and she did everything she could to appeal to women voters. Having people like Geraldine Ferraro come out and accuse Obama of only getting where he is because of his race and of sexism was just one of those ways that she divided the electorate. She blatantly said working whites are for me and Obama is having trouble with these voters. How is that not using race and gender? I am a little frustrated with all of the talk about the media being biased against her. From the start the media anointed her as the inevitable nominee and they ran the rev Wright clips 24/7 for 10 days straight. There was also collective amnesia about all of the Clinton scandals from their time in the white house, many of which she was right in the middle of. She was aloud to take credit for all of the successes of Bill Clinton's presidency while not having to take credit for it's failures. NAFTA comes to mind. Her appearing to tear up in an interview just before the NH primary was just another example of how she used her gender to appeal to women and it was very effective.

    June 8, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  25. Grace

    It would be really stupid for Hillary's theme to White House would be " the first FEMALE president". It would not make any different in coutcome. One could sense her entitlement back to the White House.

    She lost because she was not prepared to be challenged by a junior, minority senator at all & her team & advisors were too invincible in addition to a walking time bomb of Bill. Nothing to do with her being a FEMALE candidate.

    June 8, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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