Sunday, March 30, 2008

Clinton Vows to Battle to Convention

Clinton Supporters

Hillary Clinton has pledged to take the nomination fight all the way to the Democratic National Convention. The Washington Post has the story:

In her most definitive comments to date on the subject, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Saturday to put to rest any notion that she will drop out of the presidential race, pledging in an interview to not only compete in all the remaining primaries but also continue until there is a resolution of the disqualified results in Florida and Michigan.

A day after Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean urged the candidates to end the race by July 1, Clinton defied that call by declaring that she will take her campaign all the way to the Aug. 25-28 convention if necessary, potentially setting up the prolonged and divisive contest that party leaders are increasingly anxious to avoid.

"I know there are some people who want to shut this down and I think they are wrong," Clinton said in an interview during a campaign stop here Saturday. "I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan. And if we don't resolve it, we'll resolve it at the convention -- that's what credentials committees are for.

"We cannot go forward until Florida and Michigan are taken care of, otherwise the eventual nominee will not have the legitimacy that I think will haunt us," said the senator from New York. "I can imagine the ads the Republican Party and John McCain will run if we don't figure out how we can count the votes in Michigan and Florida."

Asked if there was a scenario in which she would drop out before the last primaries on June 3, Clinton said no. "I am committed to competing everywhere that there is an election," she said.

The Clinton campaign requested the interview Saturday to talk about how she could win and to emphasize her focus on Michigan and Florida.

Her remarks come as Clinton faces a mounting drumbeat, driven by the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his backers, for her to bow out and avert a party crisis. Obama's supporters argue that he is too far ahead in pledged delegates for Clinton to catch up; Clinton counters by saying that neither of them has secured the 2,024 delegates needed for the nomination.

At a news conference Saturday in Johnstown, Pa., Obama welcomed Clinton to continue campaigning. "My attitude is that Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants," he said. "She is a fierce and formidable opponent, and she obviously believes she would make the best nominee and the best president."

Central to Clinton's case that she can still win is solving the question of Michigan and Florida, whose Democratic parties scheduled primaries in January in violation of national party rules, leading to their contests being invalidated.

Dean has said he would like to find a way to seat the two delegations, but no agreement has been reached among the state parties, the Clinton and Obama campaigns, and the DNC. The failure to schedule a revote or to count the earlier results has been a major setback for Clinton, who won both primaries, though she was the only Democratic candidate on the ballot in Michigan.
From a strategic perspective, given the individual stakes for Clinton politically, I can't question her decision to fight all the way to Denver.

Still, Clinton's bid at this point is the longest of long-shots, as seen, for example, in what some say is the weakening of her case that she's more competitive in the Electoral College vote.

Note, however, how Michael Barone's reporting that Clinton's actually more likely to win the national popular vote over the course of the primaries, which could again bolster the Clinton case to continue on in the race:

The Clinton campaign would do even better to use population rather than electoral votes, since smaller states are overrepresented in the Electoral College. By my count, based on the 2007 Census estimates, Clinton's states have 132,214,460 people (160,537,525 if you include Florida and Michigan), and Obama's states have 101,689,480 people. States with 39,394,152 people have yet to vote. In percentage terms this means Clinton's states have 44 percent of the nation's population (53 percent if you include Florida and Michigan) and Obama's states have 34 percent of the nation's population. The yet-to-vote states have 13 percent of the nation's population.

Thus the Clinton campaign could argue that Obama cannot win states with most of the nation's people even if he wins all the remaining eight primaries. Could argue—but I don't think that's going to persuade any superdelegates that Clinton is the real winner.

This exceedingly fine-tuned debate most likely shows the correctness of Clinton's decision to fight on. Indeed, if you read the remainder of Barone's essay, there remains a distinct possibility of Obama failing to decisively shift the superdelegate momentum his way in key upcoming primaries, such as Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina.

Perhaps all this is democracy at work, a vindication of the modern primay system as participatory and representative.

I'm just glad the GOP's race is wrapped up, and that I'm not facing the anguish of seeing my party twist in the wind indefinitely.

Photo Credit: Washington Post