Clinton goes straight back to stumping after loss

Hillary Clinton didn't even stay in South Carolina for the results of Saturday's Democratic primary, going to Nashville to get back on the trail; pundits weren't happy.


Alex Koppelman
January 27, 2008 8:35AM (UTC)

In a sign of just how quickly Hillary Clinton's campaign wants the narrative to shift from her almost 30-point loss to Barack Obama in South Carolina's Democratic primary, Clinton wasn't even in the state to give her concession speech. Instead, she was at a rally in Tennessee, and after thanking her supporters, quickly congratulating Obama and thanking the people of South Carolina, she was moving on.

"I want to tell you how excited I am that now the eyes of the country turn to Tennessee and the other states that'll be voting on Feb. 5th, and of course to the state of Florida, that'll be voting on Tuesday. So millions and millions of Americans are going to have the chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted, and I can't imagine any place I'd rather be than right here in Nashville as we kick off the next 10 days."

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After that, it was clear that Clinton's speech would not be the usual primary night speech, and that she would be right back on the stump. The pundits were not happy. "One of the worst nights of Hillary Clinton's life," an angry-looking Carl Bernstein said on CNN. "She had a chance at the end of the evening to be magnanimous and say something about where her campaign is gonna go; instead, she was shopworn, tired. It's exactly what they don't need -- the Clinton campaign -- and she's going to have an uphill fight." On MSNBC, a Bloomberg News columnist asked, "Where's the class?" and the combined attacks on that network apparently provoked the Clinton campaign to respond. In an e-mail read by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, an unnamed Clinton campaign staffer wrote, "Just to be clear, Hillary Clinton called Sen. Obama to congratulate him at 7:01. She issued a statement congratulating him, and she has now congratulated him again."

Of course, it's perfectly reasonable to think, as those pundits clearly did, that Clinton acted childishly or unprofessionally in moving on to a stump speech without delivering a true concession speech. But she's not alone in doing so; when Obama lost the popular vote in Nevada's caucuses earlier this month -- he eked out a narrow victory in the delegate count, but that's still considered a loss -- he left that state without giving a concession speech.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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