Hillary Clinton apologized for any offense her remarks about Robert Kennedy’s assassination might have caused. We don’t know what got into her yesterday – did the devil make her say it? – maybe the Hill just wasn’t feeling well. Come to think of it, she does look a bit feverish. (AP photo)
OPEN MOUTH, INSERT FOOT
While on the campaign trail in South Dakota yesterday, Senator Hillary Clinton apparently contracted a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease.
Citing historical examples of Democratic candidates who fought for the nomination well into June – including that of her own husband in 1992 – Clinton then tripped over her own tongue, igniting a worldwide firestorm of controversy by bringing up the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy:
The comments came in a meeting Mrs Clinton was having with the editorial board of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader newspaper.
Responding to those who had called on her to withdraw from the Democratic Party’s presidential race, Mrs Clinton said:
“My husband did not 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. I don’t understand it.”
What I don’t understand is what Hillary Clinton was thinking when she blurted this one out. While I see where she’s going with this, and she is historically correct, her timing is positively Godawful.
With the 40th anniversary of the RFK assassination coming right up, Senator Ted Kennedy’s recent brain cancer diagnosis, and a Kennedy family already divided between Obama and Clinton, this seemed the absolute clumsiest thing a presidential candidate could utter — and at the worst possible time.
Observers say the remarks could be damaging if people were to interpret them as an indication that Mrs Clinton believes the assassination of her rival would benefit her campaign.
Yikes. Let’s not even go there.
The New York senator later apologized to the Kennedy family and expressed her regret at any offense her comments may have caused.
RFK JR.’S $.02
At least one member of the Kennedy family wasn’t offended by Senator Clinton’s remarks. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who has endorsed Clinton for president) defended her in a telephone interview with the New York Times Friday evening.
“I’ve heard her make that argument before,” Mr. Kennedy said, speaking on his cell phone as he drove to the family compound in Hyannis for the holiday weekend. “It sounds like she was invoking a familiar historical circumstance in support of her argument for continuing her campaign.”
Mr. Kennedy said he has been traveling and had not seen the video or read Mrs. Clinton’s comments, but said his support of Mrs. Clinton has not wavered.
He added that the protracted fight for the Democratic nomination would only last “two more weeks.”
“The candidate’s going to emerge within the next two weeks, and the party will get behind them,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Late last evening, Kennedy also fired off a written statement through the Clinton campaign press office.
Bobby cautioned folks not to be offended at Clinton’s mention of his father’s assassination when discussing why she was staying in the race and how there was precedent for the primaries lasting until June.
“It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June. I have heard her make this reference before, also citing her husband’s 1992 race, both of which were hard fought through June. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”
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. Thanks.”
And a big thanks to Senator Hillary Clinton for giving the Memorial Day weekend fill-in crew at every cable news channel plenty to pontificate on between now and Tuesday. Oh, brother…here we go again.
So turn off your tv sets, everyone. Don’t even bother watching for the next three days. Hell…go fishing. Go to the beach. Have a backyard barbecue or something and just enjoy a nice holiday. Try to ignore these campaign season distractions and instead remember America’s fallen. Think of all our troops currently stationed around the world. Send a care package to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan — and a prayer that God will keep them safe until our next president can finally bring our fighting men and women back home again!