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. Jake

    In an unrelated story, the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees today 10 – 11. George Steinbrenner refused to concede the game to the Reds, protesting that the sportswriters and the umpires had a prejudice against ship builders. He said, "This is so unfair. We made 10 cracks in the steel ceiling that has always held shipbuilders back against the ever lasting biases that have been held agains us since Noah built that ark thingey.

    He said he would like a couple of weeks to "consider his options, and felt like this should be his time." He did say he would be willing to consider accepting the position of "Co-Winner" if Red Sox management offered it to him". Immediately, ship builders around the world began a petition drive to secure his position.

    June 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. max





    June 8, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. Nowhere Man

    The Hillary defeat will go down as the biggest CHOKE by any politician .... EVER! Going into to this she had everything : Name recognition, wife of a popular ex-president, two term Senator, cash flowing into her coffers on a daily basis, "Ready Day One" with her 35,000 years of experience, the Inevitable Candidate, No Worries, just bring on the Republican challenger!

    They will be writing books about this for years to come about one of the worst campaigns ever run. The second-guessing, the excuses, the downplaying of Obama's wins as he wracked up the delegates, the backroom hysterics, the gnashing of teeth, the finger-pointing will go on for a very, very, very long time ..........

    Obama '08!

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

    Republican Trolls are out in force, pretending to be "lifeling democrats" and sowing seeds of hatred and fear because that is ALL THEY CAN DO.

    A poll taken before Hillary's concession shows 65% of Hillary voters still voting for Obama and only 17% for McCain...and thats mere days after the race was over.

    Don't let paid trolls fool you, Hillary and Obama voters stand together for values.



    Obama 08'

    June 8, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. bk

    Obama is always talking about unity and his own wife said she would not support Hillary if she won and he expects Clinton supporters to back him? Never!

    June 8, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. Harm

    Don't you see how Hillary ashamed herself in front of the whole world
    by her lies, twisting and brought fear into her ads. etc.
    This isn't Presidentional at all!
    She had to heal the party now. Maybe you won't trust her now.....
    because....? You know the answer! Too bad for the United States of America.

    June 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. David, UC Davis

    Obama is clearly the most qualified for the job. A great David and Gliath story that will live forever in American history. Obama will run the country as he did his campaign. Join the force and save America's soul. Obama is the JFK of my generation. Viva America!

    June 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Mike in Mickleton

    Hillary is the rallying point around which many of us(myself included) want to turn the country around upon. We have lost our chance to have her as nominee for this election, but can she not try again in 2012? All of us who support her should not trash her reputation by dousing her party with insults, she supports obama and tells us to do the same, i say if we truley believe she is the champion of the people, then we should listen to her.

    June 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. Gene

    I'm sick and tired of hearing that the media caused Hillary to lose. True.. there were stations that were totally for Obama.. but there were also stations totally pro-clinton. On one hand you have anderson cooper 360 who usually was pro-Obama.. but still reported every controversy. You had programs like Glenn Beck who continually trash Obama and try to scare you away from Voting for him. You have Fox News who loved Hillary and trashed Obama every step of the way... even created some false controversy.

    Blaming the media is a one sided excuse. in the end Hillary lost because she was two-faced. She was sweet to Obama in front of him.. and the next day would slam him with Mud. Though Obama's supporters here on these blogs could be rude.. he always encouraged people not to drag this campaign down. And in he end,... Hillary lost because the majority of the dem's just simply didn't see her as trustworthy. Yes, Majority... that means that it's not everyone.. it's a broad statement to a broad audience 🙂 The problem is Obama was always forced to answer for what everyone else did... not for what he did or said himself.

    June 8, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. B. Churchill

    Hoang – I take it that your major at Cal isn't political science – otherwise you'd know that in voting for president, party really does trump candidate. The victor of a presidential election installs his – or one day soon, her – party apparatus to populate the entire executive branch of government. Every office, appointment and policy of the victors' party becomes an extension of the party; hence, it would be absurd to expect a Democratic president to institute Republican policies or appoint "conservative" judges. It would be similarly absurd to expect John McCain to advance an agenda that wouldn't give Hillary nightmares. Your promised vote for her will serve only those you seem to oppose. Good luck with your studies.

    June 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. MB Nekog

    Why do the Obama supporters continue to slug mud in Hillary's path? Being gracious is obviously NOT something that Obama supporters understand. I find it appauling that every time Clinton stories show up, the Obama camp supporters continue spewing their hatred. Unfortunately for them, they don't realize that they NEED HILLARY SUPPORTERS to WIN this election!

    I'm FIRMLY set in my voting for the fall. I will vote for McCain!

    McClinton Supporter, 2008!

    June 8, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. bobby

    The beauty of democracy is to allow everybody the freedom of speach and decision and this does not exclude the high ranking officials of DNC.They have made decision based on their best judgement and i think we should be civilised enough to respect their decisions and not to call them names. Even as we may openly disagree with their decision we must must respect their inalienable rights to make those decisions

    June 8, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. Miguel Gomez

    Let's not forget the role of the media in all this: They got what they set on doing since the very beginning: to take the Clintons out, THEY SUCCEEDED, for now anyways. isn't it just a little too suspicious that in the last 72 hours I have read the best reviews of Hillary from CNN collaborators and other commentators ever? where were all these people before? Of course, CNN and other media outlets would never let these comments out until they were sure she was out of the game. Now, it's time to take on the other Clinton, let's make sure he gets all the blame or at least let's make sure he doesn't attempt to come out at all. GOOD JOB MEDIA, the so called 4th power really showed its might this time.

    June 8, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. TL

    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.

    Please explain how these people, in your eyes, are "backstabbers." As an Obama supporter, I am genuinely interested in your perspective because I don't see it that way but am intrigued to find out why you do. Is it that you saw this as "Hillary's turn" in the typical political food chain? Please explain (don't get defensive, let's dialogue).

    June 8, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. db

    old school politics *lost*... so far, so good

    June 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. JC Villaruz

    Plain and simple. We didn't want another Clinton!!

    June 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. JAMS Ghana

    The race is not for the swift nor the strong. Let move on and look forward to a good united campaign in the fall. The whole world is looking up to America for leadership for peace, tolerance, justice, security and all the good things prosperity in democracy brings.

    June 8, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |

    The Republican machine is creating campaign commercials of Hillary Clinton saying John McCain would make a better president than Obama, a statement which is still as detached from reality as it was back when it was made. Thanks, Hillary. I will never vote for a ticket with Hillary on it, so Obama better not pick her as VP. I've also suspended campaign donations until I am sure the pick is someone else.


    June 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. The Truth Hurts

    Hoang, UC Berkeley June 8th, 2008 3:07 pm ET


    How about voting for the issues genius? Your vote hurts yourself not the candidates. The candidates will go on and live good lives regardless of your vote. Yeah, voting McCain sure will teach the party and candidates a lesson huh? Too funny.


    June 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. jack

    I want to thank Howard Wolfson for being such an idiot. Thank You! You helped sink(along with Bill) Hillary's chances for ever running for office again. Never again will we have to see her shame herself in front of voters telling LIES. Sniper fire? I have the lead in the popular vote? I'm ready to lead from day one? Only John McCain and I are the only ones qualified to be commander-in-cheif? This is not the type of person who deserves to be in the White House.

    Hillary LOST not because she was a woman, but because she was the WRONG WOMAN. Women will be elected to the office of the President. But only when they come together and back a canidate who has INTEGRITY, HONESTY AND MORALITY. Then people will look at her as someone who can UNITE and LEAD. Hillary was never that person.

    June 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Monroe

    She lost because she voted for the Iraq War. If she hadn't made that mistake (or calculation), no other candidate would have had a significant niche to fill. Clinton represented the Democratic Establishment and all the mistakes they've made during the Bush presidency, and Obama offered a good alternative to that.

    June 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Neutral

    Her campaign hasn't failed, it was the DNC who SELECTED Obambi, going against the popular vote.

    People don't matter to the DNC, money talks, Obambi spent a lot of money buying superdelegates. The Democratic Party should change their name to " PRESIDENT FOR SALE PARTY"

    June 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. Sheri

    Hillary was not swiftboated as some may think. We love Hillary too, but Obama we loved also and we liked the message of CHANGE. They were both great. Obama had to suffer racism and Hillary had to suffer some sexism and it was fair game for both candidates Obama was never disrespectful to Hillary. Obama suffered the media a lot and so did Hillary . I think the media was fair. Look guys someone had to win!

    June 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  24. C T Wallace

    How about the possibility that BO won simply because he's substantially more likeable that HRC, and has sufficient visible substance to allow the majority of dems to unconsciously gamble on his commander-in-chief capabilities? Actually, I think both processes would be unconscious.

    June 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Nikole

    INEQUITY--I would take your comment seriously if you had any proof (links perhaps) to anything you said. You need to step out of your emotional bubble and look at these things through a new perspective. Ask yourself:
    Shouldn't Clinton have a better grasp of the nominating system that she helped her husband go through? She knew all about caucuses.
    Did she care about the votes of FL and MI when she was in the lead? No.
    Who sabotaged her?
    You have never seen a hateful comment posted by a Clinton supporter? I have had many directed at me.

    June 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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