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. RB from NH

    Its nice to hear that the Hillary camp admits that it was their mistakes NOT Obama why they lost.

    It was hers to lose and she lost it.

    Obama had better and smarter people running his campaign and it will be that way in his White House, which is why I voted for him.

    June 8, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  2. elaine

    Hilliary lost because she ran a very negative campaign. I'm sure throughout the general we will still see Hilliary vicious dirty remarks she made about her fellow democrat. By the way Hilliary supporters...she did not get the popular vote...only if she excludes Obama from ever a single vote in Michigan and not count all the st ates that had caucus...you won't even believe the truth when it is even coming out of the Clinton camp...how pathetic to vote for someone just because she is a woman...I thought the policies that a candidate has should be what you judge a person on. Remember...there are 18,000,000 plus Obama supporters...its not all about you and Hilliary.

    June 8, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  3. Susan

    Enjoyed listening to you. Have a great summer & enjoy being with your family 🙂

    June 8, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. Victor, NJ

    reading some of these blogs shows how the U.S is no longer the envy of every nation. It explains how bush who would go down as the worst president in history got to serve two terms. How can you not vote for a candidate with issue which you agree with out of spite. I am amazed how the election has become a popularity contest rather than the progress of the nation.

    June 8, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. Oregon

    Hillary herself was the reason. She's not the paragon she's made out to be.

    Experience claims were grossly overstated, except for her time in the Senate. Lack of truthfulness in general was a problem. Unlikability was a problem. Support for Iraq War was a problem. Taking too much money for corporate donors was a problem. The mistakes of her campaign managers were her fault as well, because those mistakes resulted from her domineering, top-down, autocratic nature.

    June 8, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |

    It is because of people like the ones at the top of this message board (the Obama supporters that are so rude and disrespectful) that most of Senator Clintons supporters will NEVER vote for Obama...

    So remember, next time you feel like saying something stupid...

    He needs us, we never needed him...

    June 8, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. Ridgeway

    Oh, great. Obama as President? Let's hope not. Look at Rhodesia, Atlanta, Birmingham, etc. Chronism, free loaders, relatives, bribes, on it goes. Wait and see.

    June 8, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. Paul

    You tolerate hatred for 20 years.. you are not electable..

    June 8, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. She was great

    Well half the party knows she won.

    Political corrected forced them to support him- even if it destroyed the true warrior leader.

    June 8, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. Sorensen

    What does Wolfson mean: They did a pretty good job studying the mistakes we made!!!
    HE screwed up royally, and they beat the daylight out of him!
    Arrogance can be tolerated from brilliant people.
    Arrogance from people who do not know what they are talking about
    is vulgar.

    June 8, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |

    Just a quick note:

    You will not be able to write in anyone's name in November. If the name is not on the ballot, whether paper, punch card or electronic you can't vote for them.

    June 8, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. zorali

    I'm from Germany and I've been following this elections very closely because I truly love your country and the people. But what I do not understand is that some of Clinton's supporters refuse to endorse Obama. don't you understand that this absolutely not repectful towards your candidates. It is not about you or Clinton or Obama but it is about YOUR country, about your YOUR future. Some are really are acting like kids. voting for republicans is not fair towards Hillary Clinton. So if you are true fan of her be respectful to her and endorse Obama. Think about just like adult people.

    June 8, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Henry Haider

    Hillary's camp did a wonderful and great job but it was Obama's camp which did better, so Obama won. Similarly as sportsmen do, we must acknowledge the results and move on. The primary is over and now we go for the finals.
    Ask yourself if you were a democrat would you want Repulican to be the Commander in Chief and President? Ask yourself who could led our country out of the present situation boldly and re-create our worldwide image, then vote. It does not make sense to cut off your nose just to get even.
    God bless America and its voters.

    June 8, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. No More Clintons, CA

    The name of Clinton, the attitude of entitlement, playing the game in the wrong field, shamelessly changing game rules, lies, disorganization, overspending and wasting campaign donation funds all contributed to the failed campaign.

    Thank God, she is not going to lead the country.

    No VP to the Clintons!

    Say NO to the 3 Chennys/clintons in Obama administration!

    June 8, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. What?

    Bill Clinton finally had the nerve to speak the truth:

    Never has any candidate been SO DISRESPECTED just for running.

    We have had some crappy men. Finally one great woman... and the attacks are on.

    Obama benefitted from encouraging those attacks.

    Michell Obama has been nothing but hateful towards Hillary. She even publicly stated she would not vote for her.

    Well .... see how it works?

    June 8, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. captain

    I am an Obama supporter who feels that Hillary delivered a beautiful, heartfelt speech. Unlike some Obama bloggers, I have the utmost respect and affection for Hillary supporters, and look forward to working together in common cause this Fall.
    While I deplore and condemn the disrespect shown by some Obama bloggers, I remain perplexed that, no matter what Obama says or does, for some Hillary supporters he is ALWAYS AND FOREVER, "vile and hateful." If he issued a statement saying, "I hereby give the nomination to Hillary and I recognize that she is superior to me in every way," the blogosphere would be filled with HRC supporters saying, "I can't believe the vile and hateful way he ceded the nomination to her. What arrogance!"
    Maybe he should just wander off and die. Or would that be too "arrogant?

    June 8, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Surge

    Even after she has bowed out the viciousness of the anti-Hillary Obama supporters continues. It just makes me feel less and less guilty about voting for McCain every time I see this behavior all over CNN and the other pro-Obama media outlets.

    June 8, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Fsm

    "what is 4 more years."
    Digging a deeper hole to climb out of. As if the one we are in isn't deep enough...

    June 8, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. TL

    Different TL here...Although I think that some of HRC's followers/supporters are delusional in the extent to which they blame sexism and other biases for her failures, as opposed to acknowledging any role she played in it, I think the supporters of both HRC and BHO need to take a closer look at their own perspectives and stop bickering. In the long run, I think that what appears to be division can be a benefit us all in the long run if people are willing to sit down and talk out their differences (and similarities) like MATURE ADULTS...of course, that might be asking a lot...

    I do agree as well with the poster who pointed the near-hypocrisy of people who say Obama won because of the Black vote while overlooking the support Hillary got from women and Latino/as, not to mention low income and less-educated whites (many of whom said race was indeed a factor in their voting–which Hillary never did "reject and denounce" ), as standard.

    Remember Kids: always look both ways before you cross the "blame street"–but you're always welcome on the other side. The light is green :o)

    June 8, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. jd

    Hillary you have Bill to thank! Leave him at home next time.

    June 8, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  21. Obama is not what you think!!!!

    HIllary lost because the good old boy network did not want to work for a woman. Obama will do what Ted Kennedy tells him to do. This is fine with me since I am a republican and will be voting for John McCain!

    June 8, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  22. Naomi

    Polly you are such a mess!

    June 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. The people want her

    Come on, guys....stop pretending... EVERYone of power decided it was the year for Obama- and they pummeled and beat and piled on Clinton.

    NO MALE candidate could have withstood a similar attack from ALL directions.

    No one now doubts that she is the stronger and better leader. He was propped by so many and she was throttled by an equal many.

    Who was running stronger in the end?

    We are not fools. We know what you all did. You conspired together and KILLED the warrior. And now try to analyze where SHE went wrong for not going DIRTY in response?

    She is more a hero now than every before.

    June 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. sam

    You can analyze ,whichever you want , at end of the day people decided whom they want to be their candidate from this party. People who voted for other candidate (Hillary Clinton ) have to decide , whom tthey are going to vote for, to meet country need first and their need later, if you voted Hillary Clinton , then you will hard time to vote for Republican candidate , and so you endup voting for Obama. If do not do this , then you are just voting for fun and screwup real election.

    June 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  25. Victor, NJ

    I am amazed some of Hillary supporters think that the election was some how taken from her. They actually think she was entitled to the nomination just because her name is Clinton.

    For the last time she lost because she ran a bad campaign and he ran a better one. As far as I am concerned the DNC went far above the call of duty to accomodate Clinton by including MI and FL. It is not as if no one knew does states would not count at the begining of the election.

    so Clinton supporters grow up and stop acting like bunch of teenagers. or a bunch of idol worshipers.

    June 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
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