Obama co-chairman: Clinton didn't cry for Katrina

Clinton says emotional moment in New Hampshire may have been a turning point for her campaign.

By Tim Grieve
January 10, 2008 1:26AM (UTC)
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Hillary Clinton said today that her emotional moment in New Hampshire Monday "could well have been" a turning point for her campaign. That must mean that it's time to consider again the authenticity of the candidate's emotions, and here to do the considering is Jesse Jackson Jr., a national co-chairman for Barack Obama's campaign.

In an appearance today on MSNBC, Jackson said that Clinton's "tears" -- none actually fell from her eyes -- are something that "we're still analyzing within the Barack Obama campaign." "Those tears also have to be analyzed," Jackson said. "They have to be looked at very, very carefully in light of Katrina, in light of other things that Mrs. Clinton did not cry for, particularly as we head to South Carolina where 45 percent of African-Americans will participate in the Democratic contest, and they see real hope in Barack Obama."


Jackson continued: "We saw something very clever in the last week of this campaign ... We saw a sensitivity factor, something that Mrs. Clinton has not been able to do with voters that she tried in New Hampshire. Not in response to voters. Not in response to Katrina, not in response to other issues that have devastated the American people -- the war in Iraq -- we saw tears in response to her appearance. So her appearance brought her to tears, but not Hurricane Katrina."

Asked whether he was suggesting that Clinton's "tears" were "staged," Jackson said he wouldn't go that far -- but then suggested that there are things in the world worth crying over, and that whatever got Clinton going wasn't one of them.

Although Jackson was plainly speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign -- note the use of "we," plus the statement that the Obama campaign is "analyzing" the tears -- Obama himself declined to comment on Clinton's emotional episode when he was asked about it Monday. "I didn't see what happened," he said then. "I know this process is a grind. So that's not something I care to comment on."


John Edwards wasn't so cautious. As news of the teary moment spread, he said that campaigns are tough, but so is being president. The next morning, he said he hadn't meant to criticize Clinton -- but also that he couldn't remember ever tearing up on the campaign trail himself.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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