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    June 02, 2008

    Hillary's end game

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillaryprotesters Hillary Clinton managed to close the gap some on Barack Obama with two primary events over the weekend and even succeeded in moving the goal posts a bit on the total needed to clinch the nomination. And yet despite those successes, the mathematical odds of her capturing the nomination are all the more improbable.

    The party's Rules & Bylaws Committee vote on Saturday netted Hillary some 24 delegates -- 19 from Florida and 5 from Michigan -- and moved the "magic number" needed to clinch the nomination up to 2,118. Then Clinton's convincing win in Puerto Rico on Sunday yielded another 38 delegates for her and 17 for Obama.

    As a result, Obama's total delegate count stands at 2,070, just 48 shy of clinching; and Clinton is at 1,914, still 204 less than needed to win. There are only 31 pledged delegates up for grabs in tomorrow's Montana and South Dakota contests, the last on the primary calendar. Another 202 superdelegates remain unpledged.

    To clinch, Obama needs only 20 percent of those remaining delegates, while Hillary would need 88 percent. Even if Obama gets just half (15) of the 31 delegates out of Montana and South Dakota, he'll need only 33 of the remaining 202 superdelegates to win.

    There are all sorts of signs that the Hillary camp is finally ready to accept Obama as the nominee, including Politico's report that Clinton advance staffers are being let go, as well as Hillary's decision to speak Tuesday night from her home state of New York, rather than in Montana or South Dakota.

    "It does appear to be pretty clear that Senator Obama is going to be the nominee," acknowledged Clinton campaign national co-chair Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor. "After Tuesday's contests, she needs to acknowledge that he's going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him."

    Party leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have also spoken out, making clear they will do everything in their power to end the contest this week, presumably by pressuring superdelegates to make their selections one way or the other.

    Even Clinton herself is said to have "come to terms over the last week with the near certainty that she would not win the nomination, even as she continued to assert, with what one associate described as subdued resignation, that the Democrats are making a mistake in sending Mr. Obama up against Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee."

    The only remaining question of significance relating to Hillary, then, is whether she will (a) truly work to unify the party, (b) do the minimal necessary to preserve herself as the alternative should Obama stumble this year or lose in November; or (c) actively undermine Obama with an eye toward 2012.

    John Heilemann of New York magazine says the answer to "What Hillary wants" is clear:

    Whenever this query is put to me — which only takes place, oh, on the order of 100 times a day — my response is simple: She wants to be president. Duh. And if it ain’t gonna happen this year, then her central objective is to make it as likely as possible in 2012.

    I think that's exactly right and explains her aggressive campaign long after the math was clear, and even the divisive jeering encouraged by Hillaryland at Saturday's RBC meeting. Whenever and wherever possible, the not-so-subtle message to her supporters is to help sink the Obama ship, so that Hillary can try again in 2012.

    If Obama does lose and if Hillary does run again in 2012 (as could Obama), she may well find that the scorched earth campaign she and her husband ran this year has poisoned the well for her in 2012 (or even 2016).

    (Photo of Clinton protesters outside RBC meeting via New York Times)



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    1. Randy Bear on Jun 2, 2008 9:40:31 PM:

      Interesting post that sums up a lot of what I've been seeing in some of the other political blogs. Whatever the strategy it appears her staff of old guard Democrats can't seem to fathom a loss and possibly want to take this all the way to Denver.

      What is even more troublesome are the claims by HRC supporters to vote for McCain if she doesn't get the nomination. This kind of attitude suggests these people are more in love with the person and not the purpose. The most damaging thing she could this year would be to run as an independent which would fracture the vote so badly McCain would all but be assured the victory.

      I know we've pulled a lot of people into the process as result of this primary season but if these are the kind of people that were pulled in, I'd prefer they stay complacent on the sidelines. That's not the kind of enthusiasm we need in the Democratic party.

    1. Hawyer on Jun 3, 2008 1:07:07 AM:

      Hillary and Company have known since February that it is virtually impossible for her to capture the nomination. Thanks to the Dem Nat Com --- which implemented the byzantine superdelegate gambit -- presumably to ensure diversity and electability after the 1972 McGovern fiasco --- we have been served-up this interminable primary season.

      The GOP machine is now geared up to savage Barack Obama. Trust me, the swiftboating of Kerry will be child's play compared to what we're in for.

      At stake are the independent and swing voters - who will be treated to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's wallpaper: God Damn America reprise.

      Say hello to President (100 years' war) McCain. George W. (two-term mandate) Bush now has a successor.

      How did we get here ?????

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