Editorial: Clinton Should Quit Race After RFK Comment

This story was written by Editorial Board, Independent Florida Alligator


Many observers of this years historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination have been wondering out loud why Sen. Hillary Clinton hasnt dropped out of the race yet. Sen. Barack Obama has won more states and more pledged delegates, and now he has secured the endorsement of more superdelegates than Clinton.

The only thing Clinton has going for her is the popular vote, which she is winning by a slim margin if you exclude the caucus states of Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington and include the renegade primaries of Florida and Michigan (Obamas name wasnt even on the ballot in the latter state).

What President Bush might call fuzzy math is Clintons best well, only talking point for why she deserves to be the Democratic nominee.

The dubious nature of her contention is magnified by the complex rhetorical gymnastics and inverted logic inherent in claiming a popular mandate within an electoral process almost as diverse as the states participating in it. Some states hold closed primaries, where only Democrats can cast ballots; some states hold open primaries, where independents and sometimes Republicans can vote; and some states hold caucuses, where participants are predominantly stalwart party activists who have the time and patience to gather and select delegates.

Clintons caveat-laden popular vote calculus is disingenuous, misleading and desperate. But this is politics, after all, where mastery of the art of spin is oftentimes the most significant component of electoral success. And if Clinton can convince the superdelegates to abandon Obama based on this factually impaired popular vote argument, then more power to her.

Yet recent comments suggest theres a far more troubling rationale behind Clintons refusal to exit the Democratic race.

On Friday, the former first lady met with a South Dakota newspapers editorial board in advance of that states primary next week. When asked why she thought certain segments of the party were calling for her to withdraw from the race, Clinton responded that it just didnt make sense to her, noting that previous Democratic nomination contests have continued deep into the summer months.

This is an established fact. The 1980 nomination battle between President Jimmy Carter and Sen. Edward Kennedy and the 1984 race between Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Gary Hart were contested all the way to the Democratic National Conventions of those respective years.

Yet Clinton did not reference these examples. Instead, the junior senator from New York spoke the unspeakable, raising the specter of one of the darkest moments in American political history: the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy in 1968.

We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June [1968] in Califorina, Clinton said. Invoking the traumatic events of June 5, 1968 is unconscionable and unforgivable. Although she hastily offered a half-hearted apology for her detestable remarks, its simply too little, too late.

We are quickly approaching the 40th anniversary of RFKs assassination. And in many ways, this years presidential campaign shares a great deal in common with its 1968 counterpart. Then, as now, the nation faced grave uncertainty, was embroiled in a tragic and unnecessary war and was intensely divided. Likewise, then, as now, there was a candidate who inspired a movement for change, as millions of Americans dared to hope for a future untainted by war, greed and corruption. That vision for change was snuffed out by an assassins bullet. We pray that this years campaign renders a different result.

Obama has called Clintons comments careless and has given her the benefit of the doubt. We find the comments abominable, an we view them as proof that its well past time for her to exit the race.

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