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Friday, May 23, 2008

Clinton Apologizes for Assassination Reference

posted by on May 23 at 14:40 PM

Woah. I go to lunch for an hour, come back, and find out that while I’ve been gone Hillary Clinton has been talking about one of the Kennedy assassinations—as a way of explaining why she’s still in the race. What???

Doesn’t she know that this touches on the murmured fears of a lot of Democrats who cannot understand why she’s still running? Doesn’t she know that, with Ted Kennedy just diagnosed with a brain tumor, this is perhaps the worst moment for a statement such as the one she made today during an editorial board meeting in South Dakota?

Clinton has since apologized, and if you take the most charitable view of her comment you can see what one hopes she was getting at: Democratic nomination fights have historically lasted until June, and one example of that phenomenon is Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in June of 1968—while he was still in a nomination fight.

But man, if that was the intended meaning, what a dumb way to put it and what a dumb day to bring it up. This is a self-inflicted wound from which it will be hard for Clinton to recover. And if she was really trying to slyly suggest that she’s staying in the race on the off-chance that Obama, like Kennedy, will be assassinated this summer—well, here’s an example of what happens when someone believes that was her motivation.

Let’s go to the tape. Here’s Clinton’s assassination remark:

And here’s her apology:

Quite a day. It began with Clinton people leaning on Obama to give her the VP slot, and it appears to have ended with Clinton completely blowing any chance she had for the VP slot—much less anything else.

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From CNN:
Clinton made a similar reference to Robert Kennedy in a March interview with Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel, telling she could not envision a scenario where party elders would step in and call for the race to end. "I think people have short memories," she said then.

"Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual."

Posted by nargus | May 23, 2008 2:42 PM

It's over for Hillary.

Posted by Lloyd Cooney | May 23, 2008 2:44 PM

At this point I can't remember when it wasn't over for Hillary.

Posted by tsm | May 23, 2008 2:46 PM

Suggestion for a new (NON-SEXIST!) nickname for the Senator: "Tin-Ear Clinton"

Posted by Andy Niable | May 23, 2008 2:48 PM

Gee Sven. Do I even need to make a comment on this, or can Hillary's words speak for themselves?

Yep. Guess I was way off base with my earlier remarks.

Posted by Reality Check | May 23, 2008 2:50 PM

That settles it. Everyone should come see RFK, opening night at STIFF this year (which just so happens to be the anniversary of his assasination). The filmmakers and author of one of the most extensive books on the subject will be there.;jsessionid=FA1294673E06DD7F131846DD44FF3381

Posted by trueindependent | May 23, 2008 2:56 PM

How likely is it now that Obama will choose her to be 1st runner up knowing that she secretly wishing someone will blow the crown of his head?

Posted by Stella | May 23, 2008 2:58 PM

In fairness, as far as she knows, no one has any plans to assassinate that notorious Muslim, Barack Hussein Obama.

It's only an overabundance of caution on her part, that keeps her in the race.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | May 23, 2008 2:59 PM

Jim Webb is a far better VP choice anyway.

Posted by Porkchop Sandwiches! | May 23, 2008 3:00 PM

It's been over since February, but the reaction to this remark may finally be the thing that causes her and her spouse to admit this publicly.

Posted by Trey | May 23, 2008 3:00 PM

I started as a Hillary supporter, and I still suspect she'd be a better president than Obama, but she is without a doubt way shittier at running a campaign, other than one that appeals to the racist cracker vote.

Posted by Tiktok | May 23, 2008 3:03 PM

She can still blow Bill. He seems to enjoy that.

Posted by up-n-ready | May 23, 2008 3:04 PM

The worst part about that "apology" was that she just didn't GET why it was so offensive to many people. It wasn't just that she took the Kennedy name in vain, it was that she suggested that she could get the nomination if her opponent was assassinated.

Man... I think that I hate her now more than the Republicans hated her in the 1990s.

Posted by demo kid | May 23, 2008 3:05 PM

How many sharks does Hillary have to jump before finally being handed her hat?

a commenter on the huffington report - wish i had said it!

Posted by Stella | May 23, 2008 3:05 PM

why is she apologizing in a grocery store?

Posted by brandon | May 23, 2008 3:06 PM

Yes, Reality Check, I think Hillary's words here do in fact do her far more damage than anything any army of SLOG writers could say in a hundred years.

Good god. Just go the fuck away already, Senator Clinton.

Posted by Big Sven | May 23, 2008 3:07 PM

ps- what bothers me the most is that it shows that she has lost whatever political instinct that she had when running such successful Senate races in NY. Of course if anything happened to Obama before the election, she *would* (though no longer) have been a natural alternate. But by saying this, she looks like a fucking ghoul at best and a fan of assassination at worst. Blech.

"Tin ear" indeed.

Posted by Big Sven | May 23, 2008 3:10 PM

its all for you hillary

Posted by Damien | May 23, 2008 3:12 PM

@13 "she took the Kennedy name in vain"

LOL so true

Posted by Non | May 23, 2008 3:13 PM

if she won the nomination for some crazy reason that didn't involve obama being killed, what obama supporter would vote for her?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 23, 2008 3:16 PM

@17 - Yeah but she wants this so badly that her instincts are shot. Honestly, watching her right now reminds me of playing Red Light Green Light back in elementary school: Those first few steps? No problem, cool as ice, it doesn't really matter. The crucial steps? Oh but everyone's twitchy.

Obama seems to be approaching this as something he's trying for now and, if he doesn't make it, he can try again. He's serious about it, this isn't a joke, but it's not the end of the world.

Clinton's going after it as if this is Very Important, which it is, given that she's been working for this for the past (to be kind) 16 years.

Posted by Chris B | May 23, 2008 3:19 PM

Wow, what is with the irrationality of Democratic voters. I understand if you hate Hillary or Obama's supporters, but it makes no sense to then vote against a Democrat. Your hate for either candidate cannot trump the fact that McCain will keep troops in Iraq and directly cause harm/death to US soldiers.

Vote on real issues not on your petty dislikes of another candidate.

Posted by Medina | May 23, 2008 3:24 PM

Keeping it classy for over 35 years!

Posted by kk | May 23, 2008 3:26 PM

voting for someone doesnt have to be about the views they have on issues. for instance, most of my support of obama stems from the fact that he has inspired younger people to get involved in the political process and if president it will reinforce democratic participation as having an impact. I think that is more important long term than his views on many things.

I don't agree with hillary on many issues but her victory against obama would send the signal that you have to be a manipulative, deceitful, ill informed, populist blowhard and voting for the relatively more ethical option is fruitless.

McCain offers views closer to my own which is what matters when the big picture of both candidates is the same in this election.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 23, 2008 3:43 PM

whine whine whine everything is about Obama. Nobody can say shit about him even if it's not directed at him. Just give him the presidency already so we don't have to hear him jumping at any perceived slights or attacks.

Posted by shera | May 23, 2008 3:47 PM

She apologized to the Kennedy family, not the Obama family. Still hoping for the Veep slot, Hill? What about August, the month that the Dem convention happens? Lotta crap happened in August - the atomic bomb lit up Japanese skies, Marilyn Monroe died, Princess Diana died, that Manson Family stuff happened, Bill Burroughs died, and so on...

Posted by E | May 23, 2008 3:51 PM

Wow. I missed Big Sven's conversion. Huh.

Posted by arduous | May 23, 2008 3:51 PM

everything is about obama's run at teh presidency if you're not delusional about hillary's chances of winning the nomination.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 23, 2008 3:54 PM

What lurks in the back of so many minds - and has for months - is better left unspoken; however, we quietly admit that lurking thought to one another and then go all shhh... Could/should we dare entertain that thought? Her mistake: she said it aloud and Pillory Hillary begins anew - self-righteousness reigns. Drag her down to the town square in Rouen and set the faggots alight - vite! vite! vite!

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | May 23, 2008 3:55 PM

She also made 2 other weird claims in the original statement.

#1. "People" have been trying to get her out of the primary since Iowa. WHAT PEOPLE???

#2. Again with the "my husband" didn't wrap up the primary until June. That's interesting since he only won because of Ross Perot's split of the GOP vote.

Posted by Shawn Fassett | May 23, 2008 3:55 PM

Perhaps if Eli had gone to lunch more often, Hills would be out of the picture by now.

Posted by Explorer | May 23, 2008 3:56 PM

Yikes... I think if she did get the VP slot Obama would have to have double Secret Service protection to keep from getting Vince Fostered.

I doubt anyone would survive long if their selfish insistence on breathing was all that separated Hillary from the Presidency.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | May 23, 2008 3:57 PM

Man I thought Ann Coulter is vile. Maybe they'll have some sisters talk soon.

Posted by bigdee | May 23, 2008 3:57 PM

@ 21 - didn't he promise to his wife that if he didn't win, he wouldn't run again?

@ 29 - I agree. I think the lesson here is that Hillary does not make mistakes, and that if it weren't the overwhelming misogyny of Americans, they would recognize this. Thirty five years of political experience doesn't lie.

Posted by UnoriginalAndrew | May 23, 2008 4:12 PM

Another case of so-what. Headline sez "Sky is falling." Alarmists say "It's the end of the world." Tomorrow the sun rises. In some number of weeks the dems will have a nominee. Some number of weeks after that, he/she/it will be elected the next president. It will be a fucking miracle.

Posted by umvue | May 23, 2008 4:13 PM

I'm sorry.

This is too much.

It's time to pull the plug on her campaign before she starts getting even more loony tunes.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 23, 2008 4:15 PM


The most charitable interpretation of this is she didn't really mean to suggest that she should stick around to see whether her black opponent is assassinated. She was just trying to come up with examples of other primaries that were still in full swing in June, and RFK is the one that just happened to pop into her mind. But even if people buy that explanation, it suggests she's undisciplined and/or prone to making mistakes when tired, which is not exactly great support for her case to the superdelegates that she is the better candidate (to say nothing of the better President). Her keep-on-digging-that-hole apology doesn't exactly help.

Posted by power forward | May 23, 2008 4:16 PM
Posted by NapoleonXIV | May 23, 2008 4:16 PM

Will, where IS the plug? Judging from the responses above, the townspeople of that Brooksian Transylvania town will accompany you with torches, pitchforks and staves. You must not hold back if you know the place of the plug. I hear the music of Hanna-Barbera in the background - it's your signal. Allez!

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | May 23, 2008 4:24 PM

she's been talking so much her political filter needs to be replaced. its possible she doesn't even know that there's a fear of assassination - she was just giving instances of campaigns that went on to the convention.

and obama's campaign has some thin skin - but until that last nail is in her coffin, its good politics to keep hammering.

Posted by max solomon | May 23, 2008 4:30 PM

Rhett, do you hide behind lampooning and exaggeration because you don't actually have something relevant to say, or because you can't defend your candidate of choice in a serious way?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 23, 2008 4:35 PM

BA: Sorry I don't answer "When did you stop beating your wife" questions.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | May 23, 2008 4:44 PM

@39 - June 3rd. Expect to hear much moaning and gnashing of teeth then.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 23, 2008 4:47 PM

@11 Doesn't how she runs her campaignreflect in some part her general character and how she would handle the presidency?

Posted by Todd | May 23, 2008 4:52 PM

Geez! What a couple!

You don't talk about canidates getting shot while you're in a campaign and if a woman has your penis in her mouth you had sex with her.

Posted by Mikeblanco | May 23, 2008 4:53 PM

37, 40: bullshit.

Other campaigns carried on until June because significant primaries carried on until June. This year, they do not. This year, California was over three months ago. Her argument is bullshit. Her reference to assassination is grotesque.


Before your name enters the language as slang for "psycho bitch who doesn't know when to leave off".

Posted by Fnarf | May 23, 2008 5:43 PM

Rhett, you seem to know enough about rhetoric that using the hyperbole and exaggeration you do would be beneath you.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 23, 2008 5:45 PM

What can people in Washington do about loose cannon Clinton? What about the super delegates that have pledged for Clinton? Simms and Patty Murray and Cantwell? How grotesque if Simms still backs Clinton after all she has said and done. The Stranger should stir the pot on this and shine a light on the Sups that still back Clinton by Monday.

Posted by Black is the new Black | May 23, 2008 5:57 PM

This is so weird.

I haven't been a fan of Clinton, ever. The idea of having two families share the White House for between 20 and 24 years is utterly repugnant to me on so many levels.

But honestly, I don't read her remarks the way everybody else seems to be reading them. I think she was just using the assassination as a marker for where, in the year, something happened. It's like if I were trying to reference something that happened in 2001, it would either be before or after September 11th -- using September 11th as a reference point wouldn't necessarily reflect on the subject matter under discussion.

Posted by Judah | May 23, 2008 6:10 PM

Thomas Beckett might have a few words about danger of these sorts of comments.

Posted by lol | May 23, 2008 7:49 PM

Dear Obamaniacs,

Jeesh. Hillary was likely tired and didn't choose the best wording. But she does have a point.

This is a very small tempest in a teapot.

How come The Stranger doesn't post items such as you can see right now on, about a McCain electoral-college blow-out against Obama?

Man, are you people going to be walking zombies the morning after the general election, when the seas haven't parted for Obama.

Why won't the rest of the nation see your Capitol Hill truth?

Posted by Mr. Astonished | May 23, 2008 7:51 PM

Listening to Keith Olbermann right now.. Holy Crap....

I can't wait to hear this again!

Posted by Brian | May 23, 2008 7:57 PM

mr. astonished, why does the stranger employ a bunch of liberal pussies?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 23, 2008 8:07 PM

Yeah, that would be really shocking if some random hard-working white American, say from West Virginia, took a shot at Obama, who as far as I know isn't a Muslim, although he does consort with terrorists like Hamas and the Weathermen, and wants to take away your guns (unlike Hillary, who of course loves rural hunters and their guns).

Good thing Clinton is around to step into the nomination, just saying', just in case something like that would ever happen. Huh.

Posted by bob | May 23, 2008 8:11 PM

Can we please stop calling using "Hard working white American" as a code for racist hicks? These fuckers are giving real hard working white Americans a bad name.

Posted by Clint | May 23, 2008 8:41 PM

arduous@27: I stopped supporting Senator Clinton right after the "hard working Americans, white Americans" line. I still think she's a super smart, effective, good Democrat, but she's now in a place where she has to say horrible stuff to continue to justify her Presidential candidacy, and I just can't go there with her.

History will say that she and Bill got too desperate this time around when the chips started to fall against her. The key to being one of the cool kids in school is to not appear like you want to be one of the cool kids in school.

Posted by Big Sven | May 23, 2008 9:01 PM

Mr Astonished:

Tired, huh? As tired as she was back on May 6th when she also mentioned RFK's assassination in relation to her staying in the race? Tired when she repeated the Bosnia sniper lies over and over?

But let's just say you are correct. Does this mean we'll get the true, no-holds-barred Hillary when she gets tired (including when she takes calls at 3 AM?)

Say it once, and okay, you misspoke. But more than that? What's stunning is how desperately low this one is, even for Tin-Ear Clinton.

It's very possible this "teapot tempest" is being magnified by the mass anxieties in a large number of his supporters (whom, by the way, you insult by calling maniacs, and harm your own case in the process), but it's just as likely that this is further demonstration of her poor judgement under pressure and yet another slip of her unscrupulousness. Not qualities I want in a president from any party.

Or is this just the Kool-Aid talking?

Posted by Andy Niable | May 23, 2008 9:17 PM

I heard about this earlier today and was definitely in the "how dumb can you be, Hillary" camp. But, now that I've had a chance to watch the video.... I definitely see what she was meaning to say. Historically, many primary races have lasted until June, such as her husbands and Bobby Kennedy's (which, we all remember went until June because that's when he was assassinated).

I think the people who have inferred that she meant, I'm still in the race in case something happens to Obama, are way off base.

I still think the comment was politically moronic because it's so easily misinterpreted, but after seeing the video I definitely think she was just trying to make the point that historically, not having a candidate until June is not unusual.

Posted by Julie | May 23, 2008 9:33 PM

Hey, how about this, she was just pointing out that if anything happened to Obama they would have her running for President. Kind of like Bush's comment that Cheney could be president.

Posted by Epimetheus | May 23, 2008 9:38 PM

Dear Obamaniacs,

You people are unbelievable.

You're doing exactly what you accuse Hillary and her supporters of doing. You sling out racist descriptions about stupid, white trash.

But that's OK, because you are the people you've been waiting for.

Again, come Election Night, will you be in shock when McCain trounces Obama.

But I'll enjoy reading your comments here, as you moan and groan about the stupid American electorate.

Posted by Mr. Astonished | May 23, 2008 9:47 PM

Again, come Election Night, will you be in shock when McCain trounces Obama.

i'll take that bet. i'll put my IRS rebate check on it.

Posted by some dude | May 23, 2008 10:03 PM

Mr. Astonished - And Clinton will do everything she can to help McCain win, knowing that a McCain victory means she can run again in four years, when even he will have to admit he's too old to run for a second term.

Posted by bob | May 24, 2008 12:30 AM

You people will blow anything out of proportion. US politics are so ridiculous. The rest of the world is laughing at this preposterous spectacle.

Posted by -B- | May 24, 2008 12:45 AM

@63 - You bet they are. Because the rest of the world totally has their shit together.

Posted by sleestak | May 24, 2008 6:04 PM

"a super smart, effective, good Democrat"

Not to berate a convert, but how is Clinton super-smart (she threw away a campaign that started out as a done deal and makes constant gaffes and mistakes), effective (she lost this and is a follower, not a leader, in DC), good (she lies constantly and badly and relies on fear to win votes), or a Democrat (she is, in short, in Cheney's back pocket and best friends with Murdoch and Scaife)?

I just don't understand how people can say, "Okay, I finally get that I shouldn't vote for her, but she's still totally Presidential material". No, she isn't. If she were, she'd be the next President instead of the person who's going to make the entire world pay because she wasn't good enough or smart enough or qualified enough to make that happen.

Posted by whatevernevermind | May 25, 2008 10:28 AM

Julie @58,
I also thought she was making an insanely clunky reference to June, and mentioned the RFK assassination as a sort of guidepost - "remember that, everyone? JUNE - remember?". Whether or not she has any subliminal assassination wish I don't know about, but assuming she does not, it was still jaw-droppingly boneheaded. Insensitive.

But I joined the ranks of the outraged was when I saw the "apology". To the Kennedys. Please. At that point she's just ratifying the mistake, and casting doubt on whether it even was a mistake.

Also, her reference to '68 and '92 as being somehow still up in the air in June were flat-out-wrong. And I wish more people were calling her out on THAT because it's not a misspeak; she knows better. It's a deliberate mislead.

Lastly: Rhett Oracle is fun, but he sees the world through victim-colored glasses in drama-queen frames.

Posted by Phoebe | May 25, 2008 11:03 AM

I don't get the big deal. Yeah she could have worded it without mentioning the assassination, but the fact is his campaigning for the nomination wasn't completed when June rolled around. Seems like a valid point. Good lord, people, freak out much?

Posted by Geofre | May 25, 2008 11:52 AM

Geofre @68,
It's still a BS comparison because the primary started in March in 68, not January, and when RFK won Cali there were still plenty of votes left for him to get - so it's not the same at all. She's nuts. I don't know if she has got herself to believe this or just hopes we do, but either way - ugh. Like with the sniper fire.

Posted by Phoebe | May 25, 2008 12:26 PM

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