HORMIGUEROS, Puerto Rico – Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday offered a spiritual defense for continuing her presidential campaign, as she sought to put to rest the uproar over her comments about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
Speaking to a full congregation at the Pabellon de la Victoria evangelical church, Clinton spoke in measured terms about faith in the face of adversity.
“There isn’t anything we cannot do together if we seek God’s blessing and if we stay committed and are not deterred by the setbacks that often fall in every life,” Clinton said.
Clinton is campaigning for Puerto Rico’s primary on June 1, which offers 55 pledged delegates to the national Democratic convention. The New York senator is expected to win the contest, thanks partly to her ties to the large Puerto Rican community in her home state.
Clinton spoke of her determination to stay in the race despite trailing Sen. Barack Obama.
“If I had listened to those who had been talking over the last several months, we would not be having this campaign in Puerto Rico today,” she said, alluding to calls during the past few months for her to drop out of the race and support Obama.
“But I believe this is an opportunity unlike any in recent history for the needs and interests and diversity of the people of Puerto Rico to be in the spotlight. This is an opportunity to educate everyone about this wonderful place,” Clinton said.
In an op-ed piece in Sunday’s New York Daily News, Clinton revisited her reference to the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy during a meeting Friday with a South Dakota newspaper’s editorial board when she was asked whether she would stay in the presidential race. Clinton’s comments were sharply criticized, and she later said she regretted any offense she might have caused.
“I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year’s primary contest is nothing unusual,” Clinton wrote. “But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for – and for everything I am fighting for in this election.”
Campaigning for his wife Sunday in South Dakota, Bill Clinton said she was treated unfairly for the assassination reference. “That really made my blood boil,” he said.
On television Sunday, top advisers to both Clinton’s and Obama’s campaigns said they were moving on from the issue.