April 28, 2016

The Ugly Truth About Clinton’s 2008 Campaign Exit

As the Democratic presidential primary winds to a close in the coming months, numerous outlets are drawing comparisons between the 2016 race between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders and the 2008 race between then-Sens. Clinton and Obama. 

Arguing that the race is over, Clinton’s team is eager to get Sanders out of the race, but is careful not to actually say those words. They argue Sanders’ continued involvement in the race only further divides the party in the lead up to the general election.

But they’re also arguing against their own logic from 2008. That year, it was Clinton who trailed in the delegate fight, and Clinton who became increasingly desperate as the winter campaign pressed on into the spring:

But even after the nomination appeared out of reach for Mrs. Clinton, she continued to raise doubts about Mr. Obama’s viability in the general election and to make comments that many viewed as divisive. In May 2008, Mrs. Clinton touted her support among whites, suggesting that Mr. Obama’s support among “working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again.”

Later that month, as Mrs. Clinton faced a growing chorus of calls to exit the race, she defended her decision to continue with an explanation that touched off an uproar.

“We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California,” Mrs. Clinton said, noting that past primary campaigns had stretched into June.

She later expressed regret for the remark.

The Huffington Post also went through 2008 stories to dig deeper into the tactics employed by the ’08 Clinton campaign and concluded:

Hillary Clinton worked for party unity, but only after a very hard-fought and contentious primary season. I offer these reminders up because now she finds herself in the opposite role. And it seems like everyone’s memory has gone fuzzy when recalling the final two months of the 2008 race. Hillary Clinton’s campaign team has no real leg to stand on now, in calling on Bernie Sanders to “stop attacking Hillary” or even to drop out of the race for her convenience. Because that’s definitely not what Hillary herself did, exactly eight years ago.

And when on Monday Clinton tried to claim, “I did not put down conditions” regarding the negotiations over her eventual support for Obama in 2008, the Washington Free Beacon noted that Clinton did just that:

Reports from early June 2008 show that the Obama campaign’s willingness to assist Clinton with the massive campaign debt she had amassed was a major sticking point when it came to her political surrender.

Top Clinton adviser Harold Ickes told major campaign donors that Clinton “was unlikely to pull out of the race until the issue of her massive debts was resolved,” according to a June 3, 2008, report from the Daily Telegraph, which also indicated that negotiations were in progress.

As the Huffington Post rightly noted, in this fight Clinton does not have a leg to stand on.