Clinton Camp Stokes RFK Flap by Blaming Obama
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign accused Sen. Barack Obama's campaign of fanning a controversy over her describing the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy late in the 1968 Democratic primary as one reason she is continuing to run for the presidency.
"The Obama campaign ... tried to take these words out of context," Clinton campaign chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said on "Fox News Sunday." "She was making a point merely about the time line."
The issue is particularly sensitive given longstanding concerns about Obama's safety as a presidential candidate. (He first received Secret Service protection last May.) The Obama campaign called Clinton's words unfortunate and circulated a TV commentary criticizing them, although Obama himself said Saturday that he took Clinton at her word that she meant no harm.
Hours after mentioning Kennedy's assassination, Clinton said, "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."
Obama senior strategist David Axelrod dodged questions about why the campaign was still circulating commentaries criticizing Clinton even after suggesting it wants to move beyond the controversy.
"We're beyond that issue now, so certainly we're not trying to stir the issue up," Axelrod said.
Asked if Clinton has personally called Obama to apologize for the reference, McAuliffe said she has not, "nor should she." He added, "Let's be clear. This had nothing to with Senator Obama or his campaign."
McAuliffe noted that Robert F. Kennedy's son -- who endorsed Clinton last November -- has said that Clinton's reference to his father's death did not cross the line.
"If Robert F. Kennedy Jr. doesn't find offense to it, why is it that everybody else should?" McAuliffe said. "They shouldn't. They ought to take Robert F. Kennedy Jr. -- he did not misinterpret it or misjudge it."
Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation", Clinton senior strategist Howard Wolfson said McAuliffe is "absolutely right" that Clinton didn't want to apologize to Obama for the remark and said: "I think it was unfortunate to attack Senator Clinton's remarks without knowing fully what she had said."
McAuliffe said Clinton is staying in the race to give hope to the millions of women who have voted for her and "she is winning races." And the campaign chairman made clear that his boss would strongly consider pressing on if the Democratic National Committee does not allow Florida and Michigan delegates to vote at the party's convention this summer -- a decision that would boost Clinton's delegate total. The DNC's rules and bylaws committee is scheduled to meet Saturday to discuss the issue.
"We are prepared to fight this so that all 50 states are included, that the delegates be seated. Let's have no questions about that. This race is still very close," McAuliffe said.
Wolfson said the campaign believes the DNC will reinstate Florida and Michigan "100 percent. That's what they should do. That will obviously help us, but it's the right thing to do."
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, delivered a strong signal that it expects the nomination contest to wrap up in the next 10 days, after the final primaries.
"We expect on June 3rd that this process will come to an end," Obama senior strategist David Axelrod said on ABC's "This Week."
"People in this country want change. They've identified Senator Obama as the candidate who can bring that change," he said. "And we're going to be united as a party after June 3rd."
Axelrod acknowledged, "There's an enormous amount of pride and investment in Senator Clinton among millions of women across this country," and that unifying the party after a tense nomination contest will produce "some tumult in the short run."
However, he said, Clinton's "strongest supporters understand how desperately we need change in this country, and I think that they understand that this is a critical election."
One prominent Clinton supporter acknowledged that virtually all hope for her winning the nomination is gone now.
"Obama clearly has the momentum. I am a proud Hillary delegate. But I predict the race will be over soon," said Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.). "The loser will concede graciously. "And I hope that we build what I call a unity ticket, either with both of them on the ticket or with the people on the ticket strongly representing the two bases which we will need to combine if we're to win in November over a very strong Republican challenge."
House Members Looking Ahead to November
The leaders of the Republican and Democratic House campaign committees clashed over their parties' chances in November.
Republicans have been particularly nervous recently after losing three consecutive special elections to Democrats in recent months.
"We've got a challenging landscape, no doubt about it," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee. "But I think the fall elections are fundamentally different than a series of specials."
"We actually, if you'll recall, won all the special elections in 2006 and then got our clock cleaned pretty good at the end of the year," Cole said. "So I think once we're in a presidential year, the dynamic changes and we'll be in a lot stronger position."
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cole's counterpart at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wouldn't predict a number of wins for Democrats.
"It is a rough environment for the Republicans, and it's a rough environment because of the mistakes that they've made and the fact that we, on the Democratic side, have been pushing an agenda for change and they've been trying to stand in the way of change," he said. "They have really become the party of no, veto and the status quo."
"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon