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

Clinton adviser reflects on failed campaign

Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said Obama’s campaign can learn from their mistakes.

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. Watermann

    In my country, Germany, the defeated party concedes the same day. By the way, the Tuesday speech of senator Clinton has surely not been prepared in one or two hours after the last primaries or shortly after the polls have been closed. Everybody knew at that time that Senator Obama will be the presumptive nominee. This speech has been a tactical manoeuvre as well as the "suspending" of her campaign. Telling the truth is not a political attitude, however understandable.

    June 8, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  2. Obama Supporter

    It doesn't matter if the HRC supporters don't support Obama. There are 18+ million who voted for Obama too. And this summer there are graduates from High School and College that know a lot better about McCain and his tactics and 72% of these new voters wil be voting for Obama in November.

    So, I am working hard to promote my candidate Barack Obama for president. I will not allow any negative Gaffe from HRC supporters or McCain grunters persuade me otherwise. You Republicans are playing dirty and we Democrats are going to clean house with you.

    Obama/Dems 2008-2016

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

    First, the Obamabots blame Clinton supporters for dividing the party–now they are trying to blame poor ole Rush Limbaugh! Why don't you Obama people place the blame where it belongs–on you and your fearless "leader"? His greed for power and that of the democratic party leaders knows no bounds. Please do not insult my intelligence by telling me I should support Obama. He stands for nothing that I believe in! I am educated, am not bitter, and I do own a gun and go to church. All of these things are against Obama's ideals. Oh, I am also not a "victim" like Michelle and Barrack. Only hard-working and optimistic, but do not believe that "hope" will pay my bills–( I am also not a republican). McCain is moderate–best bet–if no Clinton.

    June 8, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Glenda Komenac

    As the self-proclaimed leader of the free world, America is far behind when it comes to women in government. Many nations currently have female leaders, including Germany, New Zealand, Chile, Finland,and the Phillipines, and many others, even Muslim countries have elected female leaders. The USA ranks very low in female representation in legislature; even China, Iraq and Afghanistan do better. Why is that?

    June 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. Daniel

    remember Clinton supporters,

    a vote for McCain is a vote AGAINST Hillary and everything she stands for.

    do the right thing, vote for the good of the country not out of false pride

    June 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. Lynn

    Now who will the media, blogs etc. going to pick on. I did it – I went to the voters registration office and change my registration to Independent. My grandmother told me stories how she march for the cause of women to vote. She was very active. It was the 19th Adm. of 1920. I found this quote from Susan B. Anthony which stated no self respecting woman should wish or work for success of a party that ignores her. I am no longer a Democrat.

    June 8, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. martin

    by the way,obama watched hillarys speech at home ,before going out for a relaxing game of golf.please give these people a well deserved break.you people complaining are so petty.

    June 8, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. Daniel

    I do not care what Howard says. I have decided to vot for John McCain. Barack Obama does not have any resume to become our president. CNN, you do not have to spend your time with Hillary or Barack. You ahve to change your attitude and be fair in your reports.

    June 8, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. Mike in Mickleton

    You can't fault the man, he helped the Clinton camp run a good clean race and now he is helping the camp to concede the race just as good and just as clean. My compliments to Wolfson for doing so, if Obama does win in Novemeber, he may seriously want to take a look at atleast reccomending Wolfson to some job in his government, if not naming him to one.

    June 8, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  10. BJ

    I feel that, until the press and media, as well as the DNC and Obama surrogates/supporters & campaign admit that they ganged up and bullied Hillary, there will not be any closure for Hillary supporters.

    The fact that they even criticized her for not conceding on that Tuesday, is proof of these tactics. Pelosi and Dean ordering her to end it by June, the media pundits' reaction, and Obama et al's anger that she did not end it there.

    Until ALL the above is resolved and apologized for, nothing is moving forward. They just need to acknowledge they did what they did, and apologize for it...simple enough, but never going to happen.

    June 8, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Dave G

    To all who are considering voting for McCain, not voting, or writing in Hillary's name in November, please know that this will hurt Hillary Clinton. If she is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as dividing the party and losing the November election to McCain, then her power and influence as a Senator and future candidate will diminish.

    At this point, the best thing we can do for Hillary is to do what she says and vote for Obama in November.

    On the other hand, if you think another 8 years of war in Iraq would be a good thing, then go ahead and vote for McCain.

    June 8, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |

    Clinton Came Close To Winning Even With The Failed Stratagy Of Those Running Her Campaign! There Is A Lot To Be Said In That Itself! Im Glad She Is Now Supporting Obama! I Hope Her Supporters Will Follow!

    June 8, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  13. Matt

    I am glad Clinton is out

    June 8, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. JFK

    Obama is still not my candidate of choice! No matter if Hillary gets behind him to support his campaign, she was the better choice! The Dems need a better primary system next time around. This proportional delegate system is a disaster.

    June 8, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. marty from Indiana

    cnn–enough with the clinton news. Let's move on.

    June 8, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. Marin

    I agree with Wolfson. Is was frankly unfair to expect her to give a concession speech. I was dissapointed by CNN's coverage that night. A panel set up of Obama supporters and supposedly neutral journalists (not one H.C. rep) attack her that night because she didn't give a concession speech.

    June 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |


    June 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Pappu

    You may write me down in history

    With your bitter, twisted lies,

    You may tread me in the very dirt

    But still, like dust, I'll rise.

    -maya angelou

    June 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Turnabout is Fair Play

    So long idiot, you will NOT be missed.

    June 8, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |


    June 8, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. enomisa

    SHE did nothing wrong. She had grace and poise and actually went negative LESS than he did.

    But... it is all perception, not truth. He is the imposter.

    His supporters had more hate than her supporters.

    We did not expect so much nasty, mean-spirited, vitriolic name-calling and insults. NOT in the democratic party. Not from the campaign of unity, hope and change.

    Also Obama let his campaign call her a racist. He himself labeled her as an old style washington insider and warmonger.

    and Obama lied that she was a divider and he the uniter.

    June 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. spencer

    The only reason she lost is because of you the biased new media..You guys never gave her a serious, you put her down constantly and criticized everything she said or did..I do not blame her or her campaign for losing the election, it was you the media that lost her the election.

    June 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. Deini English

    I don't really think they necessarily failed except not having a real plan after February 5. Maybe people are really just ready for something new. Someone who is not a Washington insider. I feel that Senator Clinton's campaign got less gracious and thoughtful at the end, but I am glad to see that she is now putting the Democractic party ahead of her own ambitions. I hope Democrats will now take a good look at Obama, and come to the realization that his stance on issues are very close to Clinton's. McCain should not be an option for any true Democrat that looks at the issues!!

    June 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |


    June 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. brad

    I didn't vote for Clinton but you guys need to stop saying she failed. What she and Obama has done is incredible despite the bitterness that has come out of it. Which I am beginning to think is superficial and maybe has been created. In anycase I think in the long run it has transform the party, for the better.

    June 8, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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