Monday, January 28, 2008

Bill Clinton Tried To Stop Kennedy's Obama Endorsement

Former president Bill Clinton tried hard to convince Ted Kennedy not to endorse Obama over Hillary.

The Washington Post calls the Kennedy stamp of approval "one of the most sought-after prizes of the Democratic nomination battle." Both the Hillary and the Obama campaigns sought the Kennedy prize:

Obama had cultiBill Clinton Tried To Stop Kennedy's Obama Endorsementvated Kennedy's support for months. So had Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who along with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, had pressed Kennedy in recent days to at least remain neutral.
In the end Bill Clinton's failure to listen to warnings that his attacks against Obama had gone too far cost Hillary:
Kennedy's decision came after weeks of his rising frustration with the Clintons over campaign tactics, particularly comments by the couple and their surrogates in South Carolina that seemed to carry racial overtones. Kennedy expressed his frustrations directly to the former president, but to no avail. He came to his endorsement decision over the past week, after speaking to numerous family members, especially younger ones, and gave Obama the word on Thursday, people familiar with the endorsement said.

The New York Times reports that the "discussions " between the Clintons and Kennedy became "heated:"
Both the Clintons and their allies had pressed Mr. Kennedy for weeks to remain neutral in the Democratic race, but Mr. Kennedy had become increasingly disenchanted with the tone of the Clinton campaign, aides said. He and former President Bill Clinton had a heated telephone exchange earlier this month over what Mr. Kennedy considered misleading statements by Mr. Clinton about Mr. Obama, as well as his injection of race into the campaign.

The Kennedy endorsement is further evidence that Bill Clinton’s over the top attacks on Obama have gone too far and have hurt Hillary's candidacy. That's a fact the Hillary campaign subtly acknowledges:
Campaign officials, without acknowledging any faults on Mr. Clinton’s part, have said they will change tactics and try to shift Mr. Clinton back into the role he played before her loss in the Iowa caucuses, emphasizing her record and experience.
At Politico, Mike Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown also write about the Clinton's efforts to prevent the Kennedy Obama endorsement and call the rejection of Hillary as least as embarrassing as her 28-point loss in the South Carolina primary on Saturday.

Has the Clinton's race baiting boomeranged? We won't know the answer to that question until after the twenty-odd February 5, contests. We do know that Bill Clinton should learn to listen when party leaders tell him to shut up.

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