After predicting Clinton was "going out," Bennett marveled at "mainstream media saying that she was done and finished"

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

During the early evening of January 8, the day of the New Hampshire primaries, Bill Bennett said on CNN: "The Clintons come in like George McGovern and go out like Richard Nixon. I think they're going out, by the way." Later, Bennett also stated: "Count Hillary Clinton out of this." But after CNN called the primary for Clinton that night, Bennett commented, "You know, watching the mainstream media saying that she was done and finished -- for a conservative Republican, where do I go? Do I side with the Clintons or do I side with the mainstream media?" At no point did Bennett mention his earlier comments.

Discussing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) presidential campaign during the January 8 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, political contributor Bill Bennett said: "The Clintons come in like George McGovern and go out like Richard Nixon. I think they're going out, by the way." Similarly, during the same day's edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, when Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said, "But don't count Hillary Clinton out of this too early," Bennett responded: "Count Hillary Clinton out of this." But after CNN called the New Hampshire Democratic primary for Clinton later that evening, Bennett commented, "You know, watching the mainstream media saying that she was done and finished -- for a conservative Republican, where do I go? Do I side with the Clintons or do I side with the mainstream media?" At no point did Bennett mention that he was among those who claimed Clinton's presidential campaign "was done and finished."

Bennett also said after Clinton was declared the winner: "But I'll tell you, I mean, this tells you, don't count -- a) don't count people out. And don't count out John McCain. Don't count out Hillary Clinton." Later in the discussion, Bennett added: "And as an almost lifelong critic of the Clintons -- and there's a lot of things you can say about them that are uncomplimentary and that are true -- but one thing is also true. Politically, they are something. Boy, don't ever count these people out. I mean, they are very, very strong."

From the January 8 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: And our old friends, James Carville and Paul Begala, there was a report that they might be coming back in to take charge, but they are flatly denying that report, that they have any such intention. That's what you're hearing as well?

BRAZILE: I'm hearing it as well.

But, look, it's -- and everyone knows, in these campaigns, that, from time to time, you have to change your team, get a new team, a new -- a new group of people. She should thank the team that got her this far and bring on some new, fresh blood.

BLITZER: What do you think?

BENNETT: Well, too bad the best political team in television -- or part of it -- isn't going to help. I think Begala and Carville would help. But, apparently, that denial is absolutely straightforward.

BLITZER: No, they're -- they're both saying it's -- it's not true.

BENNETT: But I imagine they might be able to help.

But I think it's tough. I think it's very tough. All the magic is with Obama. And you can see this. And the bitterness of the Clinton campaign, especially Bill Clinton, and that anger, and I think some of the unfair hits, now the hit on the media, you know, it's -- it's amazing to watch.

If you wait around long enough, history repeats itself. The Clintons come in like George McGovern and go out like Richard Nixon. I think they're going out, by the way.

From the January 8 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

DOBBS: We're going to be talking through the evening. But at this point, do you expect Obama to make a big showing in New Hampshire?

BRAZILE: Absolutely. Look, record turnout proves that Iowa was no fluke.

DOBBS: And you expect McCain to prevail on the Republican side?

BENNETT: I think he will. I think it'll be pretty close. I think Romney lives to fight another day. Again, long time. Stay tuned on the Republican thing --

[crosstalk]

BRAZILE: But don't count Hillary Clinton out of this too early.

BENNETT: Count Hillary Clinton out of this.

BRAZILE: I disagree. You don't know Democrats, and you don't know [unintelligible]

[crosstalk]

BRAZILE: She's in it.

DOBBS: I'm going to take your views, as I'm sure our audience will, but I'm not going to count anybody out of anything.

Bill Bennett, thank you very much. Donna Brazile, thank you.

From CNN's special coverage of the January 8 New Hampshire primaries:

DOBBS: You're looking at the winner of the Democratic primary in New Hampshire. She's not supposed to be there. It was supposed to be Barack Obama by as much as double digits.

The experts were wrong. The people of New Hampshire, certainly the Democrats and independents who voted today, demonstrating what all of those pundits and savants who were so terribly wrong can do with their projections.

I'm here with [author] Carl Bernstein, Bill Bennett, [CNN contributor] Roland Martin. Your reaction to a woman who was supposed to be down and out just a few hours ago.

BERNSTEIN: First of all -- first of all, that's her great speech. And it's her.

The most important thing she said in Iowa that got missed was, "I'm running this campaign." And that's what she did when she got to New Hampshire. Bill Clinton was no longer the primary aspect of the campaign. We're going to see more changes like this -- and that she is no longer speaking from that protective shell.

This is more of her essential self. You see it periodically. I think she knows she has to be real. If she can do this -- tonight, she got the breathing room to have a full campaign. She was down and out. Those polls were only a snapshot, but if they had gone just a little bit the other way -- and, still, the other thing is, you know, 53 percent of the people still did not vote for her.

So, she has got a long way to go, but, boy, does she have breathing room. She can raise money. And [John] Edwards is the best thing she has going for her right now, because he is splitting the vote and taking away from her.

[...]

DOBBS: But Bill Bennett -- absolutely. And Bill Bennett, this senator from New York said, as she began, that she listened to the people in New Hampshire and in so doing, found her own voice. That, also, while a clever line -- and I compliment whoever the speechwriter was -- it also sounded authentic, for crying out loud. I'm not used to this.

BENNETT: Yeah, yeah. Well, I don't know what we have to get used to. Candor. You know, watching the mainstream media saying that she was done and finished --

DOBBS: Right.

BENNETT: -- for a conservative Republican, where do I go? Do I side with the Clintons or do I side with the mainstream media?

[laughter]

BENNETT: It was a tough place to be.

BERNSTEIN: You were for Obama the other night.

BENNETT: Yeah. But --

[laughter]

BENNETT: Right. But I'll tell you, I mean, this tells you, don't count -- a) don't count people out. And don't count out John McCain.

DOBBS: Right.

BENNETT: Don't count out Hillary Clinton.

DOBBS: John McCain.

BENNETT: Right. And it ain't over till it's over. And the people spoke. And that's another nice victory, isn't it?

DOBBS: Two U.S. senators tonight winning in New Hampshire, both of whom -- one within just days, having been written off --

BENNETT: Right.

DOBBS: -- and literally for weeks and weeks, Senator McCain being written off.

MARTIN: But the one word. It was authentic.

[...]

BENNETT: And as an almost lifelong critic of the Clintons -- and there's a lot of things you can say about them that are uncomplimentary and that are true -- but one thing is also true. Politically, they are something.

[laughter]

BENNETT: Boy, don't ever count these people out. I mean, they are very, very strong.

DOBBS: Well, don't count them out, but, as our Gloria Borger said earlier, you know, the savants, the pundits, all of the political experts --

BENNETT: Yes. Yes.

DOBBS: -- need to do a little -- a little --

BENNETT: Soul-searching?

DOBBS: -- seeking of forgiveness and achieve a little humility, or at least modesty, if you can't quite get to humility, because everyone was so wrong in this and breathtakingly so. Roland?

MARTIN: Lou, let me talk about the most favorite sport among African-Americans: NASCAR.

[...]

BENNETT: I mean, it's a tremendous win for McCain. But this thing is still open to three, four, five people.

DOBBS: And doesn't that feel pretty good?

BENNETT: Well, it's a great country, you know? And they decide; the pundits don't. Don't listen to these people, that's what we're saying.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Bill Bennett
Show/Publication
Lou Dobbs Tonight, The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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