Hillary Clinton's Campaign: A Look Back

This time, she seemed tense, rattled by Obama's surge.  The more relaxed Obama seemed, the more tense she became.  He began to accuse her of claiming all of the successes of her husband.  And none of the failures. 

"Well, I understand the point, but it's, it's really beside the point," Clinton said.  "I have been very forthright in saying that we weren't successful on health care.  The whole world saw that.  But I think you know more about someone by seeing how they respond to setbacks than successes.

"In New York, I could meet enough people, I could have a ripple effect of friends talking to friends and family talking to family and, pretty soon, a lot of people creating a critical mass could say, 'Hey, I met her.  I got to know her.  She's not as bad as I thought.'"

Clinton came in a disappointing third in Iowa, and she was inevitable no more.  Now she was playing catch-up, searching for surer ground.  Her message seemed to change daily, while Obama's message -- "Change We Can Believe In" -- stayed constant.

But after a remarkable afternoon in New Hampshire, in which the public saw an uncharacteristic flash of emotion, she surprised the pundits and won the primary there.

In her victory speech, she said, "I came to New Hampshire and I found my own voice." 

She may have found her voice but her husband's voice soon drowned hers out.

Many black voters felt alienated by comments Bill Clinton made while campaigning in South Carolina, and Obama trounced Clinton in the state's primary by 28 points.  "Nightline" caught up with her again in Georgia, just before Super Tuesday.

"Well, I think he is a very passionate promoter and defender of me, and I appreciate that," she said.  "I think we all have spouses who are totally committed to our candidacies.

"But this campaign is about me.  It's about what kind of president I will be, what I will do as president.  So, I want everyone who is supporting me to be on the same page about that."

Clinton did well on Super Tuesday -- cashing in the big states -- but not well enough to shut Obama out.  In addition, her campaign was broke, while Obama's was flush with cash. 

What followed was a veritable electoral slaughter, Obama beat Clinton in 11 contests in a row, many in the smaller caucus states she had ignored.

March 2008: A Historic Candidacy

But still, she persevered.  "Nightline" saw her again in Appalachian Ohio, just before the March 4 contest there.  

But instead of showing her vulnerable side and admitting she was discouraged, as she'd done in New Hampshire, she was arduously on-message.  

"I am good," she said.  "I am great.  I'm having a terrific time.  I mean, from the outside, campaigns look as hectic and grueling as they are, but on the inside, it's really -- it's a really intimate experience in a lot of ways. You feel like you're invited into people's lives in a way that is very precious to me.

She never gave the speech many were waiting for -- the speech on gender, on what it meant to have a woman say she could fill the shoes of the commander in chief.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...