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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Did Anyone Else Think Hillary Clinton’s Closing Statement in the Debate Sounded a Little Bit—Just a Little—Like a Concession Speech?

posted by on February 21 at 18:48 PM

It was a beautiful closing statement, don’t get me wrong. It just sounded kinda sorta like a concession speech.

UPDATE: Jeffrey Toobin just said basically this same thing on CNN—that she sounded like she’s realizing this campaign is at its end, and she’s trying to leave it on a high note.

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I'm totally with you. "I'll be fine. We'll all be fine."

Posted by Michigan Matt | February 21, 2008 6:54 PM

Yes. I said that. She's only staying in to get air time for the Democrats. Very loyal of her.

Posted by elenchos | February 21, 2008 6:55 PM

I'm glad that she's taking the high road; if the race is over, at least she's not taking Mark Penn's scorched-earth policy.

Posted by David | February 21, 2008 7:00 PM

i love how anderson cooper said shoom as he glided from giving autographs to the desk.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 21, 2008 7:04 PM

The Democrats need a strong standard-bearer in the Senate, an attack-dog who will Bork bad judicial nominees or champion good Supreme Court nominees, who can shepherd caring domestic legislation and articulate why it must be passed, and who can take over when Teddy Kennedy eventually leaves. Hillary is perfect for that job, and can be there longer than eight years.

Posted by Andy Niable | February 21, 2008 7:05 PM

Maybe a little but I was wholeheartedly inspired by it.

Posted by Jersey | February 21, 2008 7:05 PM

Not sure how to read that closing. I actually thought she did quite well in the debate and she seemed to have a fighting spirit for most of it. But, yeah it did ring of concession. Or, at least, acknowledgment that the end is quite near.

Posted by gnossos | February 21, 2008 7:07 PM

Damn that Anderson cooper is a cutie! Does anyone know if he currently has a boyfriend?

Posted by GiveMeAMan | February 21, 2008 7:08 PM

Looks like they're gonna replay the debate on Saturday and Sunday @ 5 again. Another chance to get drunk, though maybe not as fun the second time.

Posted by Mike of Renton | February 21, 2008 7:11 PM

David Toobin of CNN had a similar reaction, Christopher. He said that it was a comment that sounded like it was coming at the end of a campaign, not the beginning, and that she was choosing to leave having taken "the high road."

Posted by Bub | February 21, 2008 7:19 PM

Uh. Oh. Word on the street is that the "We're going to be fine" bit is straight from John Edwards' mouth. Is that the smell of a xerox on your breath, Hillary?

Posted by Michigan Matt | February 21, 2008 7:19 PM

I think it's more a case of her trying to put a little bit of that Obama mustard on the ball. She needs a 90-yard touchdown pass to win this game.

Posted by Fnarf | February 21, 2008 7:20 PM


Posted by sugamama | February 21, 2008 7:31 PM

In fact I mentioned it on the live Blog, however Eli didn't post any of my comments after my first one.

The live blog is only live if you don't censor Eli....

Posted by Reality Check | February 21, 2008 7:32 PM

im glad reality check finally stopped signing his comments. it was getting embarrassing.

Posted by rc! | February 21, 2008 7:37 PM

hillary always does better at debates, if you watch the cnn live graphs she always pulls much better numbers (and lots of times edwards pulled more). problem is that most people aren't watching the debates, or really learning what the candidates plans are. they are just following whatever the hype is.

Posted by um | February 21, 2008 7:40 PM

The other thing I was thinking was that maybe the first one to read one of unPC's comments all the way to the end could post a summary? Or just paraphrase the main points (if any)?

Because sometimes down in paragraph 12 there is some good stuff, but who gets that far? Somebody does, so just call that out for everybody else.

Posted by elenchos | February 21, 2008 7:42 PM

Meanwhile, the NYT is reporting that there are serious concerns about how the Clinton campaign has burned through cash.

Posted by gnossos | February 21, 2008 7:47 PM

I'm with 5. let's hope she campaigns effectively in the fall and helps generate as close to 60 senate seats as is possible.

Posted by LMSW | February 21, 2008 7:50 PM

Put a fork in her! Shes DONE!

Posted by xerox schmerox | February 21, 2008 7:53 PM

@16 - Plans, hype ... same thing.

Posted by Mahtli69 | February 21, 2008 7:54 PM

looks like Univision will be replaying the debate tonight at 8:30 - so don't put down that bottle just yet.

Posted by hairyson | February 21, 2008 7:56 PM


I'd like to believe she's conceded, but she still stares daggers at him.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 21, 2008 7:58 PM

I kind of feel sorry for her. I mean she has done everything she was supposed to do to become president, and honestly would not be a half bad one. But, unfortunately Obama is the better choice. In another year she might have sailed to victory, but not this one.

Fortunately she is a great Senator and New York should be pleased to have her. I hope she serves their until a ripe old age.

Posted by Giffy | February 21, 2008 8:25 PM

I had the very same reaction on her closing.

At the very least, what it did was give her supporters permission to move over to Obama, since she'll be fine. I think a lot of her residual support stems from the oft-stated "I feel sorry for her." And, I think her statement will resonate with those who are hanging on for that reason.

Posted by Timothy | February 21, 2008 8:40 PM

@25 - that's the best analysis i've heard regarding her statement all night.

Posted by Brad | February 21, 2008 8:44 PM

I know everyone says, as a first reaction, that Hillary wins debates. And she does -- on the standard analysis of who can rattle off the most points per answer. She is a policy wonk, a good one. She knows her stuff and she doesn't stop on her answers. She can even be a litte bit compelling now and then.

But there's something remarkably assured (and assuring) about Obama. He gets a lot of notice for his speeches, but in closer settings he can share his reasoning and build a case very steadily. He's in control; when Hillary clanked that "change you can Xerox" thing he just shook his head and redirected.

Anyway, damn -- remember when we had Al Gore? (Nice guy, awful candidate) John Kerry? (Talking tree.) This is heaven by comparison.

Posted by Andy James | February 21, 2008 8:54 PM

The only thing I'll concede to enormous penis!!!

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle's Enormous Penis | February 21, 2008 9:18 PM

If Hillary is so upset about the horrors our wounded soldiers have endured maybe she shouldn't have voted to send them to war in the first place. Her compassion after the fact is a little too late for the some 3000 Americans who didn't come home alive.

Posted by citykitty | February 21, 2008 9:21 PM

I thought it was an awesome finish. I think Obama wanted the last word since he started 2nd but her spiel was so good and when everyone stood up to applaud it was over.

Posted by Anon | February 21, 2008 9:25 PM

She'll still make one of our best US Supreme Court Justices.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 21, 2008 9:39 PM

I think you're right, Anon. I also think they're going to give the last word in Ohio to Obama, and that's when he's going to wrap this thing up. This debate made me feel a lot better about Clinton, though. I think she made the 180 after that Xerox comment--I wonder if her advisers weren't planning this.

Posted by sam e. | February 21, 2008 9:39 PM

I predict she wins Texas (narrowly), wins Ohio by 12, and we hear and read more words than anyone can bear about the greatness of this debate moment -- the New Hampshire tears times 10.

Then she acts all flat and focus-grouped and unappealing again and Obama wins it anyway.

Posted by Andy James | February 21, 2008 9:51 PM

The New Republic reports that she stole those words from John Edwards:
Clinton: “You know, whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people. And that's what this election should be about.”

Edwards: “What's not at stake are any of us. All of us are going to be just fine no matter what happens in this election. But what's at stake is whether America is going to be fine.” AND “I want to say this to everyone: with Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a millworker's gonna be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine.”

Posted by Michael | February 21, 2008 9:58 PM

I think it was powerful in that it was a humanizing moment-- Hillary cares-- but after her earlier comments, it felt insincere. I can't be alone in that. She's a great politician, though, and I'm proud of her for conducting herself well at the end.

I didn't like the "we're going to be fine" bit, though. Has anyone seen the movie "America's Sweethearts", where at the end, Catherine Zeta-Jones's self-centered character says, "Don't worry about me. I'll be fine"?

Someone else just said to me that Paul Begala, a former Clinton advisor, offered his advice to Hillary on CNN'S politics show with Wolf Blitzer a day or two ago. He suggested she should say, "We'll be fine, Barack and I, but what I'm worried about is the rest of the country." Sounds like she might have heard that advice. :p

Posted by V | February 21, 2008 10:02 PM

@31 - HELL, yeah. Hillary for the Supreme Court!

Posted by Yogi | February 21, 2008 10:08 PM

I'm all for Justice Clinton on the Supreme Court... but let's get real--she's have to be confirmed by the Senate. Therefore we need Obama's coattails to get as many more Democrats in the Senate to make that happen.

You think Hillary's polarizing as a Presidential candidate, wait until she gets nominated for the Supreme Court. It will be the Republican's turn to "Bork" someone.

Posted by Andy Niable | February 21, 2008 10:18 PM

Also, given the appointment-for-life clause, I would like Pres. Obama to appoint a justice who is strong on civil liberties and is 14 years old.

Posted by Andy James | February 21, 2008 10:22 PM

Perhaps you mean it sounded a lot like John Edwards' concession speech.

Posted by K | February 21, 2008 10:28 PM

@34.. you didn't get the memo from Hillary... "plagiarism" only matters if you make "words" such an important part of your campaign.

The implication is that if you're not emphasizing "words" (as opposed to what? ape-like gestures?), Hillary is evidently free to borrow language at will.

Posted by oneway | February 21, 2008 10:29 PM

@39 (K), Wow. Now that's a concession you can xerox.

Posted by V | February 21, 2008 10:32 PM

Do you seriously think America is going to elect some retorical hot air? Be real.

Posted by DH | February 21, 2008 10:36 PM


Fortunately, I've learned to spot unPC's posts after a few sentences and usually skip the rest since it's all crap anyway, at least when it comes to this election.

Posted by Mike of Renton | February 21, 2008 11:55 PM

It reminds me of that fantastic, eerie Brit movie appropriately entitled "Hilary and Jackie", where renowned cellist and world-class weirdo Jacqueline Du Pre' is repeatedly reassured by her normal sister Hillary "Everything will be alright" as Jackie descends into simultaneous madness and untreatable Multiple Sclerosis.

See this movie, it is an unknown classic.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | February 22, 2008 4:08 AM

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Posted by Steve | February 22, 2008 5:28 AM

It is so socking that Bush's prediction that Hillary would be the nominee was WRONG!! Who would have guessed President Bush was soo wrong....

Posted by Andrew | February 22, 2008 5:50 AM

Hillary the plagiarizer? Closing statement lifted from Bill and John Edwards. I know this is getting a little old but when you live in a glass's the video

Posted by artistdogboy | February 22, 2008 6:27 AM

Stop with the Hillary for Supreme Court. There are thousands of lawyers and individuals more qualified than her. Why do people assume she is qualified when she's simply riding her husband's coattails?

Posted by Medina | February 22, 2008 6:51 AM

There's a difference between quoting something verbatim in a stump speech & quoting something similar in an extemporaneous debate. One is plagiarism and the other is not.

Posted by sugamama | February 22, 2008 7:12 AM

I think Hillary is an amazing Senator and that job is so much better suited to her strengths. The debate last night showed that. What she utterly lacks is that nebulous, "head of state" quality that our system also requires voters to respond to. At least she lacks it for 49% of Americans.

I really would like to see Hillary be the next Ted Kennedy Liberal powerhorse in the Senate for years to come. I didn't see a conscession speech, but I did see a talented senator choosing her words carefully so she has some grace if she pulls this off OR drops out.

Posted by SpecialBrew | February 22, 2008 7:25 AM

The supreme court thing won't happen. And saying make her justice on the sc or she'll be great in the Senate is just the passive way to say don't make her VP. I assume you who say those things realize that it does not come across as a gracious or unity type move, but more like a dismissive, patronizing attitude, and if you don't realize that, well it does.

The smart move and the unity move is offering her VP.

1363/1231 delegates so far, 2594 total, Obama has 52.54 % of delegates Clinton 47.45%.

Popular votes with Florida are 10,876,624 and 10,246,199 = 21.1 m total
10.9m/21.1m = 51.6% for Obama. 48.3% for Clinton.
(nos. are from realclearpolitics.)

Why not win over that 48% ?

Unify a party split closely.

Get more intense support and less fall off from all the Clintonistas and all her donors and endorsers and voters.

****Produce a great big huge happy moment on national tv that reinforces the unity theme and makes Obama look statesmanlike and goddamn fucking nice ************-- instead of leaving 48% of the party feeling dissed and making Obama look not so nice.

A balm for the wounds of the party.

At a support level of 47%...there's a lot of people that like her. VP is a way to get them on the team solidly and intensely and with more passion than if she is not VP.

And not being offered the no. 2 spot when you are a close no. 2 in every measure of electoral success -- is a slap. Ouch! Guess that's what a few of the Obama folks intend but it's not too smart.

Unity and everyone pulling at the oars together with maximum energy is best if you want to maximize chances of winning. Leaving 48% of the oarsmen and women dispirited is not smart.

Unity we can believe in = offer her VP.

Posted by unPC | February 22, 2008 7:55 AM

She wants me.

Posted by Mr. Poe | February 22, 2008 7:56 AM

@51 - You're crazy if you think she'd take VP if it was offered. Her ego's too big for the position.

Posted by Georgia Guy | February 22, 2008 8:04 AM

Give me a break. Concession? Maybe; but I doubt it. Plagiarism? Please!

Someone please tell me you've NEVER said, "Whatever happens [I'll/You'll/We'll/etc.] be fine."

Posted by DanFan | February 22, 2008 8:06 AM

@51-- Supporting her work in the Senate and suggesting it's the best use of her skills, or suggesting she be nominated for the Supreme Court doesn't discount her as a VP candidate and yes it would encourage unity, which the party will need after this contentious race, but we should consider:

1) would she really accept?

2) would her different style of campaigning and approach to politics not clash with Obama's, creating a dissonant message in the fall campaign?

3) would the press about the campaign obsess about their chemistry, turn it into a "bicker watch" and focus more on an alpha-dog anticipation rather than the message of the Presidential candidate?

Sure, I'm all for offering it to her. Or make it happen--correct me if I am wrong, but the convention balloting for the Vice-President is separate, not a choice of the Presidential nominee. So the Democrats, independent of Obama, could still choose her as the VP candidate.

Posted by Andy Niable | February 22, 2008 8:15 AM

@51 -- Nice try at hiding the "with us or against us" Bush rhetoric. Just because 48% are voting for her doesn't mean they're against Obama. Unlike the republicans, most democrats see shades of grey, and 48% see Clinton as slightly more attractive than Obama. You're trying to assert, incorrectly, that 48% are for her and are against Obama. Doesn't work like that in this party. Choosing Obama as pres and not including her as VP isn't "Leaving 48% of the oarsmen and women dispirited". There are a bunch of reasons for not choosing her as VP, some of which have been presented in this thread. I congratulate you on making the switch from the republican party, but you still have a lot to learn.

Posted by new here | February 22, 2008 8:17 AM

How about this "Obama/Gore 2008" Huh? How about that huh? Sounds like a winner to me!!!

Posted by Andrew | February 22, 2008 8:33 AM

new here, you should hear him go on about the electoral college and how obama has nothing but hollow victories

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 22, 2008 8:44 AM

i think its funny that she is barely behind and now everyone is calling for her to concede. um, if barack was this far behind against mccain would you tell him to concede?

Posted by sure | February 22, 2008 8:45 AM


The difference is the Democratic party has to join together and unify behind one candidate.

Comparing Barack to the other party for the Presidential seat isn't the same as comparing Barack vs. Billary for the Democratic nomination.

But we think you are still smart for trying to think really hard... keep it up.

Posted by Reality Check | February 22, 2008 8:57 AM

OMG! She totally plagiarized ME! This one time, when I was 14, I fell off my bicycle while trying an awesome trick on a dirt ramp and my bike went into a crowd of onlookers. My friends were like 'are you ok??' and I said... I shit you not...
'I'll be fine. We'll all be fine.'

GOD I hate her! If you're going to steal my words, at least credit me!!

Posted by ISaidIt | February 22, 2008 8:58 AM

(1) Didn't watch the debate. While I'm glad the candidates are still drumming up interest and enthusiasm, it's been all over but the shouting since the WA/LA/ME/NE weekend.

(2) As a die-hard, you're-never-going-to-convince-me-Obama's-better Hillary supporter, I'm glad it at least appears (knock on wood) that she's going to take the high road leading up to OH and TX. There will be some back and forth through media proxies, but if she doesn't go deeply negative we'll all be the better for it.

(3) Lay off unPC. I love his apparently infinite supply of enthusiasm for HRC. Yes his posts are too long, but without naming any names, I can think of Obama supporters who are equally infamous around here for writing similarly long screeds.

Posted by Big Sven | February 22, 2008 8:59 AM

@56: If my precinct was any indication, a lot of people were planning to vote HRC even though they liked Obama better, because they ate the "more electable" bait.

Posted by K | February 22, 2008 9:06 AM

Big Sven, i think it is ridiculous when he asserts that Obama wont win california or ny in the general because he didnt win them in the primary.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 22, 2008 9:27 AM

Check out these poll results in Ohio:

Hilary Clinton had a commanding 23pt lead as recently as late January.
That lead has dwindled to as low as 7 points as of two days ago, and
that's before her poor showing in the debate last night.

I think it's apparent that she's gonna lose Texas. With two weeks
before the March 4th Caucuses and Primaries, Barack has plenty of time
to pump up the volume in Ohio.

Maybe Hilary's closing statement of the debate was a concession speech
after all...

Posted by NaFun | February 22, 2008 9:46 AM

Christopher: Only if that's how one wishes to read the tea leaves. Obama is film and gossamer and good intent and possesses the enviable ability to make people feel good about themselves feeling good about him. Whereas Hillary is nuts, bolts, political know-how and a model of extemporaneous speaking whilst thinking on her feet.

I would pray that the myriad of trolls out there in cyberspace who continually post derogatory, debasing, anti-woman, photo-shopped images and tasteless critiques of Hillary would consider how it would feel if your mother, wife, sister, daughter were running for president - merely that alone. And if they deserved such vicious, schoolyard bully treatment. Hitler fared better.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | February 22, 2008 10:00 AM

@61, LMFAO!!! That's exactly the point I was trying to make!

Posted by DanFan | February 22, 2008 11:13 AM


Her showing in the debate last night was far from poor. It seems clear to me that she won the debate.

Posted by Blacksheep | February 22, 2008 11:17 AM

Before I say anything else, let me say I am supporting Obama. But I feel like this is really being blown up by the media. If you actually read what she said, vs. the way it's being talked about, it seems like what she's doing is providing some sense of healthy perspective to the whole thing, not necessarily conceding. I actually think if more candidates spoke this way during campaigns, it would be much better for our country. I mean, yes, you run for President because you want to be President, but to not have some sense of perspective on the possibility people might choose someone else and that that choice could potentially serve the public interests well, even if differently than you propose, is really fucked. I'm so tired of it, politicians trying to convince us that if you don't choose them, the alternative is Armageddon or something. We need people who see public service as a SERVICE or contribution to the world, not an entitlement or even prize to be won. It's called humility, and it seems to be rarely expressed to any degree of sincerity by any politician these days. If she had carried and voiced this perspective consistently throughout her campaign (particularly at the beginning when she was considered inevitable), maybe Senator Clinton might find herself in a different place now.

Posted by bookworm | February 22, 2008 11:20 AM

I admire Hillary. I think she's tough, wily, and smart. She is also, rightly or wrongly, an incredibly divisive figure.

Also, I wish I didn't get the impression that everything she does is calculated, and that this gracious moment was just a response to the boos that followed her earlier "get tough" remark about "change by Xerox."

Anyway, I agree with #50. Her strengths are perfectly suited to the Senate: making deals, massaging the process to get the desired outcome.

Posted by Anne | February 22, 2008 8:32 PM

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