Character Assassination?

A conversation is already brewing over at ” XX Factor ” about what Clinton meant when she invoked Robert Kennedy’s assassination as evidence that nomination battles continue through June. Here’s her wording, from an interview with the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader editorial board:

“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.” ( Video .)

Critics have seized on the quote as evidence that Hillary is secretly hoping Obama gets knocked off in the next few weeks. After all, Clinton didn’t say, “Bobby Kennedy was in the race until June.” She said he got shot in June. The Obama camp, ever eager to take umbrage, whisked out a statement that her comment was ” unfortunate and has no place in this campaign.” Others, including Slate ’s Rachael Larimore, think Clinton’s motives were benign.

But most bizarre is the Clinton camp’s apology, fired off just now. She claims she was referencing the 1992 and 1968 elections ” to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June.” Then, the kicker: “The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that, whatsoever.”

At first, the move seems brilliant saying sorry to the Kennedys without saying sorry to Obama. But it also feels like a weak dodge. By not addressing her specific phrasing why say “assassination”? she doesn’t put the issue to bed, thereby guaranteeing another round of speculation.