Clinton's nondenial on Obama pastor

Asked whether her campaign is approaching superdelegates about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Clinton avoids confirming or denying.

By Alex Koppelman
Published March 20, 2008 8:35PM (EDT)

Ever since the controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Barack Obama's connections to him, first exploded, there has been an open question: What would Hillary Clinton's campaign do with the uproar? Appearing to get involved could be deadly for the Clinton campaign, but on the other hand, it does need every advantage it can get at the moment.

In an article in the New York Times Thursday, Adam Nagourney shined some light on the answer; it may be a sort of Solomonic response, actually. The Clinton campaign hasn't been discussing Wright publicly, and isn't slamming Obama for his pastor, but is, Nagourney says, going to superdelegates and making an electability argument based on Wright. "Mrs. Clinton's advisers said they had spent recent days making the case to wavering superdelegates that Mr. Obama's association with Mr. Wright would doom their party in the general election," Nagourney reported.

At a press availability on Thursday, Clinton was asked about Nagourney's report. ABC News' Eloise Harper has the details of what ensued:

Clinton refused to deny that her campaign was pushing the story.

When asked, Clinton ignored the Wright portion of the question and said "well my campaign has been making the case that I am the most electable, that I have said for a year or more that I am the person best able to make the challenges that our country faces as commander in chief."

When Clinton was then asked specifically if her campaign was pushing the Wright story –- she shrugged and took the next question, ignoring the reporter.

Now, it's worth noting, before anyone jumps to conclusions here, that a nondenial isn't the same as a confirmation, which she didn't give either. Even if the Clinton camp isn't officially involved, Clinton can't control what every single one of her operatives is doing at any given moment, and it would be pretty embarrassing for her to deny the report only to have a new story come out later proving her wrong. That said, either scenario is plausible, and though she didn't confirm Nagourney's report, Clinton's own remarks seem to indicate that it's true.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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