Lawrence O'Donnell: Clinton victory speech actually a concession speech
Political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell reported before the West Virginia primary that a senior Clinton campaign official had told him Hillary Clinton would be dropping out of the president race by June 15.
Now, even following Clinton's solid victory in West Virginia, O'Donnell says he has no reason to change what he said. "Listen to Hillary Clinton's speech last night," he told CNN's Kyra Phillips. "It was a victory speech, but if you read the right lines, you can see that it was actually her concession speech about where this is going. Lines that you never heard before May in Clinton's speeches."
O'Donnell pointed to phrases like "I deeply admire Senator Obama" and "I will work my heart out for the nominee."
"This campaign understands reality," he emphasized "They know where it's going. She will be supporting Senator Obama by June 15."
In response, Phillips played a clip of Clinton saying in the same speech, "I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard."
"What she just said was, 'I'm in this until June third,'" O'Donnell explained. He added that by expressing her admiration for Senator Obama, Clinton is adopting a new tone, but that to give that changed tone the maximum public exposure she has to keep campaigning.
"She alienated a lot of Democratic voters with her campaigning style," O'Donnell stated. "She needs to stay in this campaign to rehabilitate her image ... and then also to ease her supporters ... into the reality that the nominee is going to be Senator Barack Obama. ... What she is doing now is extremely helpful to the party."
This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast May 14, 2008.
Transcript via closed captions
:: thank you very much. senator hillary clinton gets the big win that everyone expected from her in west virginia, but now what? lawrence o'donnell is a contributor to "the huffington post." last week, he said he had intel that said that clinton would drop out of the race by june 15th. lawrence, good morning. what do you think?
:: good to be with you, kyra. as i said, and i reported on huffington post and here on cnn last week, that a senior campaign official, clinton confidant, has told me the exit strategy is for her to be out by june 15th. he said they will go through all of the voting, they will take about a week after that to make their case for the superdelegates and then basically surrender. listen to hillary clinton's speech last night. it was a victory speech, but if you read the right lines, you can see that it was actually her concession speech about where this is going. lines that you never heard before may in clinton speeches. for example, "i deeply admire senator obama. we have always stood together on what is most important. our nominee will be stronger because of this primary campaign. i will work my heart out for the nominee." she is very clearly implying in that speech last night that she will not be the nominee.
:: well --
:: this campaign understands reality. they know where it's going. she will be supporting senator obama by june 15th.
:: okay. listening to what you just said, let's take a listen to another sound bite here and let me get your reaction.
:: i am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign. until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard.
:: okay. little different than what you --
:: kyra, that's exactly -- no. that was the next line i was going to read to you. what it seems to me just said was, "i'm in this until june 3rd." that's when all the votes will have been heard. by may 31st, there will be a decision on how the democrats are going to handle michigan and florida at the convention, so that will be dealt with. june 3 srd when the final votes are cast in this primary. she's saying very clearly in that sentence, in effect, echoing what terry mcauliffe said last week after i reported my information. terry mcauliffe came out and said this would be concluded by the middle of june, and there's only one way this can be concluded by the middle of june. there's no way hillary clinton can reverse it.
:: do you think, listening to what you have to say here, is she now kind of turning around instead of doing any type of negative speeches or advertising, she's caring more about the party now? is she stepping away from --
:: exactly. exactly. "i deeply admire senator obama." yeah, that's a new tone and that's exactly what she needs to do. she alienated a lot of democratic voters with her campaigning style. she's going to win back those hearts and minds through the final weeks of this campaign. look, if she had dropped out last week when we all said it was over, the cameras would have been turned off. the cnn camera would have been turned off, and no one would have cared what she said after that. she needs to stay in this campaign to rehabilitate her image in a certain sector of the democratic party and then also to ease her supporters, especially her more ardent supporters, into the reality that the nominee is going to be senator barack obama, who she admires so deeply. she's got to do that gradually. that's exactly what she's doing. what she's doing now is extremely help to feel the party, extremely help to feel the eventual nominee.
:: you're executive producer of "the west wing," very successful show. all the drama going on within this election year, it's historical. do you see a new show?
:: well, you know, we predicted a lot of this, i mean, quite by accident. he we had a minority candidate played by jimmy smits who got our nomination on the democratic side many what turned out to be a hard-fought, brokered convention with three possible nominees. so, it's been fun for us to watch how this has developed this year basically following a lot of the story lines we did a couple years ago.
:: we ale see another show and learn what happens four years from now. lawrence o'connell, thank you. john?