May 23rd, 2008 4:42 PM Eastern
Hillary Brings Up Kennedy Assassination, Press Freaks Out
by Aaron Bruns
BRANDON, SD – Another example of the power of the Drudge Report today, as a NY Post story pointing out that Clinton brought up the assassination of Robert F Kennedy in 1968 during an editorial board meeting sent reporters traveling with Clinton into a frenzy.
Asked by South Dakota newspaper the Argus Leader why she didn’t buy the argument that the party was fracturing because of the prolonged contest, Clinton said “my husband didn’t wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June.”
“We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California,” she continued. “You know i just dont understand it.”
After the Post story was circulated to the press corps via blackberry and Drudge, the reporters here at Clinton’s town hall meeting abandoned any pretense of listening to the event, flocking around the first Clinton flak they could find for a response to the quote.
After a brief off the record defense of Clinton’s comments, Campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee gave reporters what they were looking for. “She was simply referencing her husband in 1992 and Bobby Kennedy in 1968 as historical examples of the nominating process going well into the summer,” he said. “Any reading into it beyond that would be inaccurate.”
The reading into it that the campaign worries about is that Clinton would deliberately bring up talk of assassination to raise fears that Obama might face the same danger as an African American candidate. Before his big win in Iowa, many African Americans in the South cited the danger of assassination as a reason not to support Obama.
Clinton made the same historical argument with a more oblique reference to the Kennedy assassination on May 7th at a DC fundraiser. “If you look at successful presidential campaigns, my husband didn’t get the nomination until June of 1992. I remember, tragically, Senator Kennedy won California near the end of that process,” she said. “It has often gone on. And we have a lot to work out here. Because we have to figure out who would be the stronger candidate.”
UPDATE: After the uproar, Clinton came to the TV cameras to make a brief statement on her remarks.
“Earlier today, I was discussing the Democratic primary history, and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns that both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June in 1992 and 1968. And I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination, primary contests that go into June. That’s an historic fact. “
“The Kennedys have been much on my mind in the last days because of Senator Kennedy, and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. i certainly had no intention of that whatsoever.”
“My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to. And I’m honored to hold Senator Kennedy’s seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York, And have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family. Link to Fox Embed source for this article>>
* Link to Argus.com / See video of Clinton top right screen 1min 20 secs making the remarks about the Kennedy assassination.
* The Large screen shows the full Argus editorial board interview with Hillary Clinton.