Obama: Clinton "deserves to be able to run"

Interviewed for NBC's "Today," Barack Obama has some nice words for his opponent.

By Alex Koppelman

Published April 1, 2008 2:17PM (EDT)

On Saturday, Barack Obama made something of a gracious gesture toward his opponent, Hillary Clinton. While some of his supporters turned up the heat on Clinton to get out of the race, Obama said, "My attitude is Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants." (Of course, one might wonder whether Obama was following a standard campaign strategy -- have surrogates and supporters do your dirty work while you take the high road publicly -- but we don't have any evidence either way on that.)

As Time's Mark Halperin noted, in an interview with NBC's Ann Curry broadcast on "Today" Tuesday morning, Obama expanded on those comments. Here's the exchange; video follows at the bottom of the post.

Curry: You think she still has a chance of winning?

Obama: I think that as long as she's in, I don't take anything for granted, and as long as she is on the ballot in any state and she's got supporters who want to cast their ballot for her, that she has every right to stay in the race.

Curry: Are you just being gracious?

Obama: Well, no, I am stating, I think, what is central to our Democratic tradition, which is everybody has a right to run. And she has certainly earned the right to stay in this race as long as she wants. She has run a formidable race. I mean, we won 11 contests in a row and that didn't knock her out. And that's some tenacity on her part.

Curry: You admire her for her tenacity?

Obama: Oh, absolutely. And I think she deserves to be able to run and make her case.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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