From NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro
This might not help the Hillary-for-veep chatter... The New York Post writes, "Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama. '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,' she said, dismissing calls to drop out."
"Clinton made her comments at a meeting with the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader's editorial board while campaigning in South Dakota, where she complained that, 'People have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa.'"
Obama spokesman Bill Burton responded to Clinton's remarks. "Senator Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."
NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli notes that Clinton said something similar the day after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. "Sometimes you gotta calm people down a little bit. But if you look at successful presidential campaigns, my husband did not get the nomination until June of 1992," she said. "I remember tragically when Senator Kennedy won California near the end of that process."
In fact, the specter of assassination was first raised in this campaign on January 8, when a Clinton introducer, a retired teacher from New Hampshire, brought it up before Clinton spoke. "If you look back, some people have been comparing one of the other candidates to JFK, and he was a wonderful leader. He gave us a lot of hope," the retired teacher said. "But he was assassinated, and Lyndon Baines Johnson actually did all of his work and got both the Republicans and Democrats to pass those measures."
Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithe just said to a group of reporters in South Dakota -- including Memoli -- that this is "one of the more ridiculous" issues that has come up in a long race. The campaign, he said, will soon send out an official comment.
*** UPDATE *** Here is the official statement from Elleithe: "She was simply referencing her husband in 1992 and Bobby kennedy in 1968 as historical expmales of the nominating contest going well into the summer. Any, any reading into it beyond that is inaccurate."
*** UPDATE *** Here is what Clinton said in a quick avail: "I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. 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 sen. Kennedy's seat in the United States Senate in the state of New York, and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family."