Hillary On The Michigan Primary: That's Okay

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JANUARY 28, 2008

Hillary On The Michigan Primary: That's Okay

John Heilemann's cover story in New York magazine this week is well worth your time (as is Jon Chait's piece on a similar topic. Actually, Chait's is even better--it's one of his better TRB's in a run of very good ones--but I digress...) Before you run off to read the whole thing, though, take a look at this exchange:

I noted that in Michigan, with only Clinton’s name on the ballot, 70 percent of black voters had pulled the lever for “uncommitted” instead of her. Given her and her husband’s storied bond with African-Americans, I wondered if that stung.

“No, it doesn’t, it doesn’t at all,” she said. Clinton added that she understood why many blacks would choose Obama, given the historic nature of his candidacy. “A lot of people who might not vote for me in a primary will not have the conflict going forward in the general election that they have today. And I guess my strong message to African-American voters is one I think they know and they know I know, which is that it’s okay [emphasis added].”

I assume Hillary's trying to say she didn't think African Americans intended Michigan to be a personal repudiation of her, and that she certainly didn't interpret it that way. But it's so inartfully worded that it sounds weirdly entitled--as though Hillary's giving black voters permission not to vote for her. (If I were a black voter, my first thought might be: I didn't ask if it was okay...) I think she'd have been better off stopping after the "going forward in the general election..." line.

--Noam Scheiber

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