지난 해 말 까지만 해도 많은 미국의 정치 전문가들은 힐러리 클린턴 상원의원이 2008년 미국 민주당 대선 후보 경선에서 손쉽게 승리할 것이라고 믿었습니다. 그러나, 그같은 예상과는 달리 바락 오바마 상원의원이 민주당의 대선 후보로 사실상 확정된 가운데, 전문가들은 클린턴 의원의 패배 원인을 분석하고 있습니다. 이에 관한 자세한 소식입니다.

미국의 정치 전문가들은 몇 달 전만 해도 승리가 거의 확실한 것으로 보였던 힐러리 클린턴 상원의원의 패배를 초래한 원인이 무엇인지 분석하고 있습니다.  

버지니아 대학교의 래리 사바토 정치학 교수는 클린턴 의원 선거 진영 내부와 외부의 지나친 자신감을 첫번째 요인으로 꼽았습니다.

그들 모두는 경선 초반 전에 오바마 의원을 쉽게 물리칠 수 있을 것으로 생각했지만, 그것은 아주 잘못된 생각이었다고, 사바토 교수는 지적했습니다.

클린턴 의원이 이라크 전쟁에 찬성표를 던졌던 지난 2002년에 패배의 씨앗이 뿌려졌을지도 모른다는 지적도 나오고 있습니다. 클린턴 의원은 나중에 이라크 전쟁에 대한 지지를 철회했음에도 불구하고, 일단 찬성표를 던졌다는 사실은 처음부터 전쟁에 반대했던 오바마 의원에 맞서는데 불리한 요소로 작용했다고, 뉴욕 주립대학교의 브루스 미로프 정치학 교수는 말했습니다.

클린턴 의원은 부시 대통령이 이라크에 대해 군사력을 사용할 수 있도록 승인하는 법안에 찬성표를 던졌기 때문에  민주당 경선에서 강력하게 전쟁에 반대하는 도전자가 나올 가능성과 당내의 많은 운동가들이 그같은 후보를 지지하고 나설 가능성이 항상 존재했다고 미로프 교수는 분석하면서, 따라서 클린턴 의원이 거의 확실한 민주당 대선 후보라는 가정은 항상 의문시 됐었다고 말했습니다.

또한, 클린턴 의원은 유권자들이 변화를 요구하고 있는 시기에 경험을 강조하는 잘못을 저질렀다고, 일부 전문가들은 지적하고 있습니다. 브룸버그 통신의 인디라 락쉬마난 기자는 당초 클린턴 의원의 선거 구호가 '경험'과 '준비태세'였다고 말했습니다.

궁극적으로 클린턴 의원은 자신이야말로 변화를 이끌 수 있는 경험을 가진 후보라는 점을 강조했지만, 강력하게 변화를 요구하는 유권자들의 지지를 이끌어 내기에는 충분하지 못했다고, 락쉬마난 기자는 지적했습니다.

전술적인 실수 또한 클린턴 의원의 패배에 한 몫 했습니다.

사바토 교수는 클린턴 선거 진영에서 첫 경선 무대였던 아이오와 주에서 승리하기 위해 너무 많은 돈을 썼다고 말했습니다.

사바토 교수는 공화당의 존 맥케인 상원의원이 아이오와 경선에 참여하지 않고도 공화당 후보로 사실상 확정됐음을 지적하면서, 클린턴 의원도 그렇게 했어야 했다고 말했습니다.

그러나, 사바토 교수와 락쉬마난 기자 두 사람 모두 클린턴 의원이 예비선거 대신 당원대회를 열였던 다른 주들에서 승리하기 위해 총력을 기울이지 않았다고 믿고 있습니다.

또한, 클린턴 의원의 남편인 빌 클린턴 전 대통령은 선거 운동에 큰 자산이었지만 인종 문제와 관련한 전혀 예상치 못했던 발언들을 하는가 하면, 플로리다와 미시간 주는 대의원이 많은 주로 클린턴 의원이 승리할 가능성이 많았지만 당내 규정을 어기고 너무 일찍 경선을 실시하는 바람에 대의원 자격을 절반 밖에 인정받지 못하는 등 클린턴 의원이 통제할 수 없는 문제들도 있었습니다.

이같은 요인들에도 불구하고, 클린턴 의원은 미국 역사상 그 어떤 여성보다 대통령 후보 경선 승리에 근접했으며, 미국 역사상 첫 여성 대통령에 대한 클린턴 의원의 도전은 경선 기간 내내 많은 사람들의 열렬한 지지를 받았다고, 전문가들은 분석하고 있습니다. 

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Late last year, many U.S. political analysts believed that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would easily win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2008. Now, while Senator Barack Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Clinton is reconsidering her political future. VOA's Kent Klein examines what went wrong for the Clinton campaign.

After this year's final Democratic primary elections, last Tuesday night, Barack Obama made a speech many people would have thought highly improbable a year ago. "Tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States of America."

A short time earlier, Hillary Clinton addressed her supporters. "Now the question is, where do we go from here?" And given how far we have come, and where we need to go as a party, it is a question I do not take lightly," she said.

It was not the speech she had hoped to make.

As the primaries concluded, Clinton did not concede the Democratic nomination to Obama, but it was apparent that her rival had the support of enough delegates and superdelegates to become the party's nominee.

With the primary season over, political analysts are assessing the factors that caused Senator Clinton's defeat, when her victory had seemed almost certain months earlier.

That sense of inevitability, both inside and outside the Clinton campaign, may have led to overconfidence, according to University of Virginia political professor Larry Sabato.

"They thought they were going to knock Obama and everybody else out of the box with the first few primaries and caucuses, and they were just dead wrong," he said.

The seeds of defeat for the Clinton campaign may have been planted as early as 2002, when Senator Clinton voted in favor of waging war in Iraq. Although she later renounced support for the war, that vote may have put Clinton at a disadvantage against Obama, who opposed the war from the start, according to Bruce Miroff, a professor of political science at the State University of New York at Albany.

"Because Hillary Clinton voted for the resolution in 2002 authorizing President Bush to use military force in Iraq, there was always the likelihood that there would be a significant anti-war challenger to her in the Democratic primaries, and that a lot of the activist base of the party would rally behind such a challenger. So the premise that Hillary was a kind of inevitable nominee was always questionable," he said.

Also, some analysts say Clinton made a mistake by touting her experience at a time in which voters preferred change. Indira Lakshmanan has been covering the campaign as a political correspondent for Bloomberg News.

"Initially, all of her slogans had to do with experience and readiness, and eventually then it became 'Ready to change, ready to lead.' More and more, there was this evolution in her campaign, trying to then say, 'Wait a second, I am the change agent, I am the person who has the experience to make change happen.' But it was not a nimble enough operation, it seemed, to adapt quickly to, apparently, what the American electorate wanted in this election cycle, which was 'change, change, change,'" she said.

Tactical errors also seem to have played a role in Clinton's failure to win the nomination. Sabato said the Clinton campaign spent too much of its money in trying to win the first contest of the season, the Iowa caucuses, in which Senator Clinton finished third.

"They spent far too much on Iowa. They probably should have skipped it. John McCain skipped Iowa, and he is the Republican nominee. You can skip Iowa. You can get away with it. They wasted an awful lot of the money that she collected, and she was the fundraising leader at the end of 2007," he said.

However, both Sabato and reporter Lakshmanan believe the Clinton campaign did not try hard enough to win in other states that held caucuses instead of primary elections.

"And it turned out Obama won essentially an insurmountable lead by the middle of February, largely due to his success in caucus states," she said.

Some problems in the Clinton campaign were beyond the candidate's control. Professor Bruce Miroff says Senator Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, was seen as a skillful politician and a huge asset to the campaign, until he began making unpredictable comments, especially regarding racial issues.

"So it was assumed by everybody that this was a big advantage for Hillary Clinton. Rather, what we saw was that some of President Clinton's more unruly personal habits stepped on her campaign and caused problems that she certainly did not need," he said.

Another setback for Clinton was when the delegate-rich states of Florida and Michigan, which may have been likely to support her, were penalized for holding their primaries too early in the year. Due to a compromise, delegates from those two states will receive only a half-vote each at the party convention.

Despite these factors, Hillary Clinton came closer to winning the Presidency than any other woman in U.S. history. Her bid to become the first President's wife to return to the White House as President herself generated enthusiasm through the entire primary election season, and fell just short in the end, narrowly defeated by the first African-American to win a major-party Presidential nomination.