May 23rd, 2008
07:52 PM ET

Clinton's Gaffe: Watch the Superdelegates closely

Jennifer Palmieri
Center for American Progress

Editor's note: Jennifer Palmieri served in the Bill Clinton White House for eight years. She was a White House Deputy Press Secretary from 1998 to 2001. She also served in the White House as a Special Assistant to White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Deputy Director of Scheduling and Advance.

I do not believe Sen. Hillary Clinton woke up this morning and said "today's the day I am going to roll-out the RFK assassination as a justification for staying in the race and the Argus Leader editorial board meeting is the perfect place to do it."

Her explanation of her comments is perfectly plausible to me and I think should be accepted at face value.

But two major problems related to this gaffe remain.

First, most glaring for me, is that her candidacy is so crippled that she is at the point of having to grasp at straws to justify why she is staying in the race – let alone how she can win it.

Second, the people who don't understand why she is staying in the race – and there are many Democrats who do not – will jump on this gaffe to say she has ill-intentions and should be forced out.

I would watch superdelegates closely this weekend. If a few use these comments as a reason to go to Obama, you could see a whole slew going to him.

Program note:Jennifer Palmieri is a guest on tonight's AC360° at 10p ET

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
soundoff (215 Responses)
  1. Debbie blose

    I frankly do not think that she has said anything out of turn, what is worse, the media is saying that her counter part would like to see her out of the race and this would be one of the ways that they could do it, So she said a word that people are all up in arms about, what did you want her to say they he died or was killed it is what it is he was assassinated what other word do you want her to use. I do believe that there are people in the race that is afraid that she might just win and she would be the better president, she has the knowledge the back ground and she is more privy to the environment that would be put in front of her. Mrs. Clinton would be the better president and they are afraid of where this might all end up. Every body better bite their tongues.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  2. Greg

    Robert Kennedy Jr. is not the one to be offended here it is Obama.
    Her staying in the race because ANYTHING can happen and then you bring up the assassination of Robert Kennedy and not think people will question it????

    On top of that she gave another Bosnia story because Bill had his nomination wrapped up before the timeline she gave.

    How many times will people keep making excuses for this lady?
    I know Bill did her wrong and there is sympathy for her, but at some point you must remove the blinders and see things for what they are.

    She is not being treated worse than Obama.
    She doesn't have a 3 month daily 10 sec loop on SOMEONE ELSE words.
    Lets see how long HER words get looped.

    Bosnia died down....

    She doesn't acknowledge her opponents wins...

    She doesn't show up for her loses...

    Please... she isn't as strong as ANYONE might appear coming off an obvious victory and the Polls are now showing that Obama is doing better and is killing her reason for staying in the race.

    An article I saw has him doing better against McCain than Hillary.
    I guess that is why we haven't seen the polls on National Broadcast News recently.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  3. Tracye from NC

    I was outraged by Clinton's comments. Prior to this, I thought that she would be a good candidate for VP but I think Obama should beware. Her desperation to be president has clouded her judgement and she may try anything just to have that position. I understand now why she is still in the race. The Clinton's hunger for power is frightening. I think that MSNBC reported it best. We have forgiven too many of her comments. Enough is enough!

    May 23, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  4. Ana

    With Hillary it's nothing but excuses, excuses, excuses – it never ends. It's always someone else's fault, always the victim, always misunderstood. Like George Washington was the first president of the United States, so to Hillary wants to be the first woman president – that's all she wants, to go down in the history books as the first woman president. All she wants is the title.
    A little info for the media, not all women are for this woman some of us have had the benefit of some education and are capable of critical thinking.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  5. Terrance(Navy Vet) from Chicago

    First Huckabee makes a joke about Obama ducking from gun fire the other day. Now HRC references the RFK assasination. 'Hey, I should stay in the race because maybe some flag lapel pin wearing patriot will shoot Obama and we'll need a canidate.' She then gives a fake apology without even mentioning Obama whom by the way has had secret service protection throughout the race because of death threats. And some people think that african-americans are imagining the institional racism of this country. The idea that being a black man in america has helped Obama is a Joke. The sooner the baby boomer generation goes away the better.(not everybody)

    May 23, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
  6. Diana

    Hillary made a good point….why does the media elect to exploit her comments.

    The media has seriously compromised the elective process with lopsided reporting for months. Who and what is behind it????.

    Obama is a fine man, smart politician and very charismatic but he is not as qualified as Hillary Clinton for the position of President of the USA. Obama and his circle will bring about CHANGE but Americans may painfully regret the change that he might bring about out of his lack of experience and knowledge and because of the powers at work behind his campaign..
    What we have experience under the Dictator Style CHANGE in governing under the Bush administration, may pale as compared to what we may face under an Obama presidency.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
  7. adaku

    she's tired so she misspoke,tomorrow she might sleepy then she might push the button to start world war 3.a president should not let emotions or fatigue rule him the lives of billions are in his hands. mrs. clinton is not ready for the job.o yeah let's remember the crying incident in new hampshire.what a president.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
  8. Mya

    I am suprised how quickly people are giving Hillary the benefit of the doubt. She gave 2 examples, the first (clinton) illustrate a case where the runner up ends up winning which is in reference to her. and second, an example where the front runner doesn't get the nomimation cause he got assasinated.
    It's not a coincidance that when we all hear the comment we are shocked at first and then we try to explain and justify it. the reason we all react negatively at first is because she has given us, throughout the years, reasons to doubt her good will, her integrity, her honesty and worse she has consistently shown her willingness to win at all costs.... even the democratic party as a whole will suffer or even if she has to suggest to the sick and deranged out there that violence could be the way out.

    If the scenario was reversed, I wonder what people would have said of obama.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  9. Kathleen from Louisiana

    Hillary has never been held accountable for anything she has said or done that was in question. Candy obviously has bonded with Mrs. Clinton and wants to just brush this latest "gaffe" aside as though it was no big deal. Let me assure you that it is a BIG deal! Hillary has gone too far and all the super delegates should make their move now toward Obama. I don't what she meant by what she said . . she should never have said it.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  10. LYDIA B

    Sen Hyllary Clinton based her campain on "READY on DAY 1" to lead the nation...
    However, her reference to R.F. Kennedy assassination made on May 23 2008, may demonstrate that she is not always in full control of what she does, when not following a carefully prepared script...
    To many people in my country (Canada) it seems she is still running because something "extraordinary" may happen, and if not, Sen. Obama would be dammaged enough to faill in the fall, and then her predictions would be vindicated...
    Mississauga Canada

    May 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  11. Jacquie

    For someone her age, Bobby Kennedy’s assasination is something seared into the mind – one of those “I remember where I was” events. If his own son can find the sense to understand that she was simply “making a reference to a familiar historical event” to illustrate a point, everyone else should be able to as well. Yes, there are other examples of campaigns going to June, but is it odd that the first ones to come to her mind mind would be RFk’s and her husband’s? Come on people.
    And shame on anyone who jumps to the overwrought conclusion that this somehow means that she is wishing that Obama be assasinated. If we are all determined to see the worst in eachother we will never come together as a country or a party.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  12. David from Oregon

    I don't think she really meant any harm by her words, but they were very poorly chosen. What is sad to me is that if the tables were turned, she would be making a huge deal about this (like his comments about us bitter Americans that I find to be true in many ways). Obama has taken the high road so far and chosen not to rail on her for them. Anytime Obama has made what could be construed as a mistake she has gotten up on her soapbox and preached to the crowd. She needs to exit gracefully now!

    May 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  13. Jennifer Fleming

    I am writing in response to your panel's reaction to Sen. Clinton's comments today. I am an Obama supporter; but, let me also state that I am part of the population that have always given the Clinton's the benefit of the doubt. I work with individuals who have mentioned the fact that Sen. Obama should be "careful" because "someone" could try to hurt him. I think that Sen. Clinton's comments were just terrible!

    May 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  14. Larry

    “It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June. I have heard her make this reference before, also citing her husband’s 1992 race, both of which were hard fought through June. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”

    Robert Kennedy Jr.

    Who happens to endorse Sen.Clinton

    May 23, 2008 at 11:21 pm |
  15. Linda

    HRC should be absolutely ashamed of herself! I don't buy that little 'I'm sorry' not one bit! Next week she'll be lying about something else!

    We are SOOOOOOOOOO sick and tired of HRC and BILL!

    SUPERDELEGATES, please cast your vote, before HRC puts the hit out!!!! How on earth can you ask someone to be your VP if they only want the job in case you are assinated??????????

    SHE WOULD NEVER be ask to be on my ticket! And I pray – Obama will NOT put this woman on his! I wouldn't trust her not one bit!

    May 23, 2008 at 11:21 pm |
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