ABC News’ Kate Snow Reports: In an interview with the Argus Leader, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., took the unusual step of invoking the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y., when discussing the continuing Democratic nomination battle.
"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it." Clinton said.
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton responded: "Senator Clinton’s statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."
Sen. Clinton almost immediately tried to blunt the potential impact of her statement, telling reporters in South Dakota, "Earlier today I was discussing the democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns that both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June in 1992 and 1968. And I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June that’s a historic fact. The Kennedy’s have been much on my mind for the last days because of Senator Kennedy."
"I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation – particularly for that family – was in any way offensive," Clinton continued. "I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever. My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to and I’m honored to hold Senator Kennedy’s seat in the United States Senate in the state of New York. And have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family."
Clinton’s statement stands in contrast to the initial reation from the Clinton camp.
"She was simply referencing her husband in 1992 and Bobby Kennedy in 1968 as historic examples of the nominating process going well into the summer. Any reading into beyond that would be inaccurate," responded Clinton campaign spokesperson Mo Elleithee.
The context of the statement came as Clinton said that reports that her campaign has made overtures to the Obama campaign about her being vice president or about an exit strategy were "flatly untrue."
"This is part of an ongong effort to end this before it’s over," Clinton said. "I sure don’t think it’s over."
Clinton said that perhaps people are forgetting that there were other candidates in the past who were finishing a distant second and who went all the way to the convention. "I rememeber very well 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992," she said.
Clinton also said she would look to "the camp of my opponent for the source of those stories (about an Obama-Clinton ticket)."
"People have been tyring to push me out of this ever since Iowa," Clinton continued.
"Why?" the reporter asked. "I don’t know. I don’t know. I find it curious. Because it is unprecedented in history. I don’t understand it. Between my opponent and some in the media there has been this urgency to end this. And historically, that makes no sense. So I find it a bit of a mystery," Clinton responded.
The reporter asked if she buys the argument that Democrats are seeking party unity.
"I don’t because I’ve been around long enough. My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it," Clinton said.
Clinton said it was a "historical curiousity" to her that she is being pushed to leave the race and when asked if she thought it had anything to do with her gender, she said she would not speculate but noted that others have.
Clinton went on to argue — as she has been arguing for some time — that she is best positioned to beat John McCain in the fall. She cited Karl Rove’s electoral maps obtained by ABC News last week as proof that she has a better chance of winning in November.
"Does that mean that my opponent can’t win? Of course not. But based on what we know now, if you’re a South Dakotan, who would your best bet be to win the White House? It would be me," Clinton said.
Pressed on whether Obama could win the presidency, Clinton said, "Of course he can win. Anything is possible in politics."
ABC News’ Jake Tapper contributed to this report.