CNN: Clinton Camp Pushing For Compromise In Formal Talks

05/31/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


The punditry is abuzz after a report on CNN this morning that Clinton and Obama have held formal talks about her exit from the race, with Clinton outlining three possible scenarios. Bloomberg reports:

The two Democratic campaigns are talking about ways for Clinton, from New York, to drop her bid for president that may include joining the Illinois senator's ticket, CNN reported. Talks are in a "very preliminary" stage and are described as "difficult,'" the network said.

However, the revelation from CNN cites only anonymous sources. And an interview with David Axelrod on Thursday claimed that talks had not begun between the campaigns:

The chief strategist for the Obama campaign, David Axelrod, said Thursday that no overtures had been made by Mr. Clinton or any prominent supporters to place Mrs. Clinton on the ticket.

"There have been no contacts between the campaigns, and no one is looking for a deal of any kind," Mr. Axelrod said in an interview. "She's running for the nomination for president, as we are. We're focusing on closing out the nominating fight. We'll deal with vice presidential questions in sequence."

Talking Points Memo suggests that even if the report is overstating conversations between the campaigns, the disclosure of Clinton-Obama talks is significant:

On first blush I'm skeptical that there really are "formal talks" in the usual sense of that phrase. The report appears to lean heavily on sourcing from within the Clinton camp, which is notable. The significance here may not be that there are formal talks underway or that the vice presidency is under discussion. The real significance may be that this is the opening salvo from the Clinton camp ahead of the negotiations that would likely accompany her withdrawal from the race.

[Watch the report]

Several Clinton supporters, including Bill Clinton and Sen. Diane Feinstein, have been pushing for Clinton to join an Obama ticket.

UPDATE: Suzanne Malveaux, the CNN correspondent who originally reported the talks, appeared on CNN to walk back her initial report slightly. She now suggests the talks between the camps are informal (as opposed to formal), and are primarily motivated by Clinton supporters. She still stands by the claim that the camps are in communication about a possible endgame. Take the distinction for what you will.

UPDATE: Well, if these talks are in fact taking place, then neither camp is fessing up about it. Greg Sargent reports on Election Central:

Well, I've just spoken to both campaigns about this. And their denials couldn't be more adamant.

Here's what Hillary spokesperson Howard Wolfson sent me:

1) There have been no discussions with the Obama campaign
2) The only scenario being discussed by this campaign is Senator Clinton's nomination as President
3) The report is 100% false

And here is what Obama spokesperson Bill Burton said:

"This is something that I agree with Howard on 100%."

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