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June 4th, 2008
10:05 PM ET

Hillary Clinton's concession call to Barack Obama: "I am prepared to help"

Senators Clinton and Obama at the NAACP annual convention in July, 2006.
Senators Clinton and Obama at the NAACP annual convention in July, 2006.

Carl Bernstein
CNN Political Analyst and author of "A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton"

 
Senator Hillary Clinton personally assured Barack Obama today that she recognizes he has won the Democratic nomination for president, and that “I’m prepared to help in any way I can,” according to a person familiar with their conversation.
 
Though she would prefer to be on his ticket as the vice presidential nominee, said this person, Senator Clinton has said her  only requirement  as the campaign goes forward is that “she be a player in the whole process. She doesn’t necessarily want to leave the Senate,  but she does want to be sure that key people from her campaign will have a role in Obama’s  presidential campaign and—if he wins the presidency—his administration.”

“Yes, it is somewhat a power play for vice president,” said this person, a Clinton supporter in Washington with whom she sometimes counsels on important matters.  “But being on the ticket is  not a requirement” for her unqualified help, especially in convincing her supporters to embrace Obama’s candidacy.   “Her speech [Tuesday night] was about being a player and making sure she was a player.”  

However, as late as three this morning, said a source in touch with the highest levels of her campaign, Senator Clinton still believed it remained remotely possible she might become the eventual nomineee of the party, and was determined not to concede to Obama imminently.  Her thinking, said this source, remained focused on the idea that some piece of negative information about Obama might surface, or that some of the superdelegates might be somehow swayed after reconsidering that she was the more electable candidate, after some days of reflection  and polling.

“It’s crazy. Her head is not there yet, to the point where she is willing to accept that she’s not going to be the nominee,” said one of her major supporters this morning, based on knowledge of conversations Tuesday night between Senator Clinton and her seniormost advisors.

Apparently one of the things that changed her mind was the obviously negative reaction of some of her most important backers—-including members of Congress–to her failure to acknowledge Obama as the nominee in her speech to supporters, after Obama had definitively secured the number of delegates necessary to be the nominee.

As the critical response, especially from supporters who had never before wavered, threatened to reach a crescendo-—and it became evident that her chances of becoming the vice presiential nominee were being adversely affected by the reaction—-she went out of her way to assure Obama personally that she recognized his victory, would give him her complete support,  and  try to bring along  her own acolytes skeptical of his candidacy, and would do so rapidly.

Her effusive praise of Obama before the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee today was partly intended to assure him of the kind of support she  intends to put forward—and demonstrate credibility with certain constitutencies she hopes will lead Obama to choose her as his running mate.

“I think she’ll be a total activist. Within a very short period of time you’ll see a very united deal,” said a member of her senior-support network.   Apparently, that will occur Saturday, according to a statement from the Clinton campaign.

Meanwhile, her representatives have begun talking with senior Obama advisors about ways that he can help her pay off more than $10 million in campaign debt, through his partcipation in fund-raising efforts on her behalf between now and September, according to a knowledgeable source.  September is the legal deadline for retiring certain forms of campaign debt under Federal law.

In terms of her vice-presidential aspirations, which Bill Clinton has been pushing privatey as an alternative if she failed in her bid for the presidency,  Senator Clinton is said by her closest supporters to be genuinely convinced that Obama will have a very difficult time winning the presidency without her on the ticket, and that she is intent on demonsrating over the coming weeks her indispensibility to his cause.

“He (Obama) has a real problem with the Jewish vote, with white women over fifty, and a Catholic problem,” said one of Senator Clinton’s backers. “She can do a lot for him with those groups.”
   
It will be a very difficult sell, according to Obama’s senior advisors, many of whom have come to despise—the word is not too strong–the Clintons with the same degree of contempt that the Clintons have, in private and not-so-private, exhibited toward Obama.   

However, Senator Obama is said by some of these same senior advisors not to be nearly so disdainful of Senator Clinton as some on his staff, but he has  been deeply angered at the conduct of aspects of her campaign and the words of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.

 


Filed under: Barack Obama • Carl Bernstein • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. Vanell Volkman

    I'm so sick of the negative attitudes towards Hillary Clinton. If the woman wore the wrong color of lipstick during the campaign,
    she was criticized. The major media was not kind to her in anyway
    shape or form, and I resent the treatment she received. Without a
    doubt, Senator Obama needs her to pull-in the voters that he
    cannot and will not reach. He's comfortable speaking to large
    groups of people, and very nervous when the group is more
    intimate. Senator Clinton can speak to both large groups and
    going one-on-one is her thing. Actually, I think that they would
    compliment each other, and without Hillary Clinton on the ticket
    as VP, I will not vote this coming fall. Everyone talks about the first
    African-American being president, and it's history in the making, etc., and I agree. So, let's make this really an historical time, sending
    a message around the world that the USA is committed to change, and what better way to indicate the seriusness of our goals than having the first African-American president, and the first woman as vice-president.

    June 6, 2008 at 9:26 am |
  2. tullio zanazzo

    Dear Anderson
    I think Hillary has done an amazing job to capture nearly 18000 votes against Barak!! She was the underdog after Iowa as the country went
    head over heals for him! I think he is a great and likeble guy but totally untested in all respects so he is now the nominee and I applaud him and the voters for rising above prejudice and choosing him as the first african american in history. I do not think that Hilary lost because of strategic errors at all! I think she deserves full credit for getting as far as she did given the circumstances. Now I shall reserve my judgment on Obama after he has chosen his VP.if he does not choose Hillary, then I shall know he is weak! No president in history
    has ever been intimidated by his running mate let alone a woman!
    And if he does not see that her 18000 votes mean the White house ticket, then I am afraid I shall agree with MCain's vew of him.
    But I hope for the sake of your country that he is wise enough not to make such a mistake!!! Good luck with your program and continued good health!!!

    June 6, 2008 at 9:01 am |
  3. Paul in NY

    To all the Democrats out there please put Hillary out to pasture! She hasn't done a darn thing for NY. Is a carpet bagger worse than her husband. I'm a republican and if Obama/Edwards or another good VP is on the ticket I will vote for Obama. Obama's campaign is about change and hope, and Hillary is about OLD LIES and BICKERING "politics". She spoils the ideas of change. I like McCain because he's a solid known moderate. None of this fly by your pants George Bush stuff, but I will give Obama the chance if he picks a good VP. My reason for jumping is simple "Democratic President and Democratic Congress lets see what can be done in four years" A note to all the Hillary supporters " WAKE UP" count the lies and double talk. Hillary is poison, so remove the Black Widow.

    June 6, 2008 at 8:10 am |
  4. Sabina

    and hillary is in debt!! 40 million usd....so who will pay for that money if she becomes Obamas running mate??? and shes not conceeding to defeat...hoping something terrible will happen to Obama so she gets the 1st spot,

    im amazed at her craziness!!! go away Billary we are tired of you!!!

    June 6, 2008 at 7:39 am |
  5. stephanie from Denmark

    i know you CNN you never post my comments!!! whatever! what kind of nonsense is this i hear all over?? that Obama wont win the election without hillary on his ticket??? NONSENSE!!! Hillary will NOT be on that ticket! Obama doesnt need Hillary to win in novembér, he has GOD!!! him and God are a majority ;-), furthermore Hillary does NOT deserve the 2nd spot, after the touture she displayed to Obama during the primaries??? you are kidding me!!
    if he looses in november, it just wasnt meant to be, BUT he has what it takes and what he needs to pull through, thats GOD!!
    NO BILLARY ON THE TICKET

    ONLY OBAMA 08

    June 6, 2008 at 7:19 am |
  6. susan bethesda, Md.

    Sen. Obama would definitely lose my vote if he chose Clinton, and I am quite certain he's too smart to choose a VP who starts out with half the country hating her. I believe he will stand his best chance if he selects Sen, Kent Conrad of N. Dakota as his VP if he truly wants to show he represents all the people, and not just urban and suburban liberals. Conrad is a Democrat that gets elected repeatedly in a Republican State. He is one of 23 Senators that voted against the war, yet he is a conservative who can win back the rural vote for Obama. He can also possibly assuage people like myself that are concerned about the trillion dollars of new promises that Obama's made to every age group from pre-school to seniors, in the course of this campaign. Conrad is head of the Senate Budget committee, knows where every penny goes, and won't allow any spending that adds to the deficit. He was the second senator to endorse Obama, and he did it before Iowa./ What they also need to do is announce that Bill Richardson will be Sec. of State at the same time they announce Conrad, so that Richardson's supporters will be placated. Richardson will help with Hispanics and Southwesterners, and has great foreign affairs credentials, With that team, Obama stands his best chance. Of course if Bobby Jindal is Mccain's VP, anything could happen, because Jindal's resume and accomplishments at 36 far outweigh Obama's at 46. Abortion views aside, he's the real deal.

    June 6, 2008 at 3:46 am |
  7. Alina- American living abroad

    Hillary Supporters:

    How can you still stand by her side when she cannot acknowledge defeat on the night Obama won, by all the rules, fair and square, the nomination? That horrible, arrogant speech was about "What Does Hillary Want?". How selfish until the bitter end. She wasn't thinking about you, but herself.

    And for those who say that they will vote for McCain instead?!! Disgusting. He's all for wiretapping and over-turning Roe V Wade. Right, I forgot, Clinton's major supporters are women over 50. Reproductive issues can't worry menopausal women because you can't get pregnant. Come on and wake up to the real issues!

    Support the candidate that truly reflects Democratic values- opposing the ridiculous war in Iraq from day one, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage (two consenting adults should be able to get married!!), etc etc. Don't tell me that the current Republican vision has any meaning to most of us. For those who support McCain I hope you make at least $500K a year, benefiting all the tax cuts for the rich, that you're the typical heterosexual family with the 2.5 kids, etc etc. God forbid you are ever anything else but the conservative stereotype. God forbid you are a colored person, a woman, etc etc. America has become much more diverse and we need a president that can handle all sorts of issues, beyond just the ones that fit a specific, priviledged few. And certainly we need a leader that will engage with the world, not shut out countries using obsolete cold war era diplomacy. This has got to stop or else America will become the derision to the world.

    June 6, 2008 at 3:02 am |
  8. steve

    Caroline for Vice-president! Hillary won in NY even though Caroline endorsed Obama. She won in Massachusetts even with Ted's endorsement of Obama. The Kennedys are passe' and hardly represent a change.

    June 6, 2008 at 3:02 am |
  9. Patricia of Southern California

    I am sick and tired of that word, "Experience", being so carelessly tossed around. Experience, experience! I hear some of you who delusionally and with conviction, state that you will vote in a candidate with "Experience". The truth of the matter, my fellow Americans, is that Bush and his administration probably have 100 years of " Experience", collectively. Look where "Experience" has gotten us. We are laden with a sagging economy, living in one of the worst recession ever, losing our children to the war, losing homes to foreclosures, can barely afford to buy gas, can barely feed our families, are incapable of affording health care and are unable to acquire quality education for our children. These Old Heads, These " Good Old Boys", will not be the ones who will muddle the future for my children. Their "Experience" in office has bankrupted everything that has made America great. We need to unify in "Hope" and "Change". It is our only salvation!! I say we need to clean house, throw out the archaic politicians, the self defeating policies, and bring in policies that truly bring "Change". " Experience has literally ruined us. Obama for Change!

    June 6, 2008 at 2:46 am |
  10. Eric Andalya

    Anderson; I urge the Clinton supporters to look at the big picture...come next year it will be Democrats in control. The Democartic Ticket is not a preserve of the Clintons. The true party supporters will definately support the nominated candidate

    June 6, 2008 at 2:09 am |
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