Clinton invokes RFK assassination in summer 1968 among reasons to stay in race; later apologizes
Sen. Hillary Clinton, in defending her decision to continue running for the Democratic nomination that almost certainly will go to rival Sen. Barack Obama, invoked the shooting death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in the summer of 1968.
"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?" Clinton said to the editorial board of the Sioux Falls, S.D. Argus Leader. "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.
"I don't understand" the calls to exit the race, she added.
The Obama campaign responded to Clinton's statement, saying, "Sen. Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."
Clinton apologized for the remark, saying, "I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever."
The New York senator later elaborated, saying, "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 Sen. Kennedy's seat for the state of New York."
In early March of this year, Clinton made a similar RFK remark in an interview with Time: "Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June, also in California. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual."
Sensitivity to even the humorous suggestion of assassination in this campaign season has been high, particularly in regard to Sen. Obama. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee found that out recently when he kidded about Obama ducking a gunman, a spontaneous quip he later apologized for.
CNN earlier reported that the Clinton camp was in talks with the Obama team about joining forces for the November election, saying that if Obama does not run with Clinton on his ticket, "civil war" in the Democratic Party could result. Clinton later denied that any such negotations were taking place.
This video is from ArgusLeader.com, broadcast May 23, 2008.