Hillary Clinton campained in WV, OR and SD on 5/8 even as pundits and Dems asked, "How will the Democratic nomination battle end?" The Washington Post's Balz writes that the party "is beginning to coalesce around Barack Obama," but many are also concerned about the final outcome: "Will it end happily or unhappily? Will the loser go graciously or bitterly? Will the Democrats end up united or divided?"
From Clinton's campaign, however, there's "no talk of bringing the race to an end anytime soon." Balz writes, party strategists are sketching out three possible scenarios for an end to the Clinton campaign. "For the good of the party" she could exit as early as after next week's WV primary -- or the following week post KY and OR. She could quit after the May 20 primaries, when Obama might be able to claim "a majority of pledged delegates and, therefore, the nomination." Or, "the messy scenario" would see her continue through the Dem Nat Convention in Denver in late August, "mounting challenges before the party's credentials committee over the seating of Michigan and Florida delegates" (5/9).
In a piece headlined, "Clinton's future depends on graceful exit," The Globe's Lehigh writes, it's "easy to get seduced by delusion when real hope has faded, as it has now for Hillary Clinton." Friends might be skittish about "declaring that it's over," but the delegate math "has now become highly improbable."
Paul Pezzella, a Clinton back and contributor: "The math doesn't compute for Hillary to win this nomination. I'm hearing the fanciful fat lady clearing her throat in the background." But Clinton has options, Lehigh notes. She could run in 2012, if Obama loses in Nov. Or if he wins, she could try again in 2016.
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA): "At this point, her possibilities and her future in the party are very sound. But the ending and the follow-up always make the difference" (5/9).
Those who have spoken to Clinton, however, say she's reluctant to leave, reports the Los Angeles Times' Nicholas. U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) said he met privately with Clinton Wednesday at the DNCs DC office. "She wasn't talking exit," Mahoney said. "She's talking winning."
Ultimately, a Clinton aide said, Clinton will decide with her husband about how to proceed. Staff won't be consulted (5/9).
I See White People
Clinton was criticized 5/8 for comments she made 5/7 to USA Today's Kiely and Lawrence: "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview. Clinton cited as evidence an AP article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
HRC added: "There's a pattern emerging here."
The Washington Post's Robinson writes, Clinton's majestic sense of entitlement splits the party along racial lines." Citing her comments to USA Today, he adds that "as a statement of fact" her remarks are "debatable at best." And as a rationale for why superdelegates should choose her over the IL Sen, "it's a slap in the face to the party's most loyal constituency -- African Americans -- and a repudiation of principles the party claims to stand for."
"Here's what she's really saying to party leaders," Robinson adds, "There's no way that white people are going to vote for the black guy. Come November, you'll be sorry" (5/9).
In a call with reporters yesterday, HRC strategist Geoff Garin "also emphasized how well Clinton was doing among white voters," reports Newsday's Riley.
But Riley writes that there are problems with the argument. Building a base of voters who are "uncomfortable with a black" -- a coaltion "whose foundation is racial antipathy" -- "has not historically been a Democratic Party value." Obama in NC and IN performed better with whites than Clinton did with blacks. So, Riley argues, Clinton "comes off as the polarizing candidate." Moreover, Obama did better in both states with voters between the ages of 17 and 64. "Hillary's support is limited to people who will be dead in 20 years," Riley writes. "Is that the way to build the future of the Democratic Party?" (5/9).
Air America's Maddow, on Clinton's argument that Obama can't win over white voters: "I think that is a very, very blunt argument. It's getting very close to saying that, you know, we're a racist country, and we're not going to vote for a black man, so we ought not nominate one" ("Race for the WH," MSNBC, 5/8).
Radio talk show host Bill Press: "I think she's just repeating what the newspapers have told us, Barack Obama has done very well among African-Americans and very well among the higher educated, and Hillary Clinton is getting the working class moms and dads, and she's getting white voters" ("Verdict," MSBNC, 5/8).
Dem strategist Joe Trippi, on Clinton talking about how well she does with white voters: "Everybody else has figured out that this thing is over. ... They're out there, you know, again just trying to push. That's just not going to work right now" ("Early Show," CBS, 5/9).
John Edwards was on "Today" and "Morning Joe" this a.m. Some highlights:
Edwards, asked if there's any way for Clinton to win the nod: "I think she's made a very strong case for her candidacy. The problem she has is, it's very difficult to make the math work."
On Clinton saying whites are supporting her: "Hillary and Barack are both in a very tough and extended campaign. This is a battle. It's a fight in both cases for their political future and the future of their country. I think they're just in there, fighting. I think that's what she's doing."
Asked if Clinton's comment helps the Dem Party: "Let's assume Barack is the nominee -- 'cause it's certainly heading in that direction. If Barack is the nominee, the question is, will we all be together and united in ensuring that all these voters that we're going to need in November come out and vote for Barack Obama?" ("Today," NBC, 5/9).
Edwards, on Clinton's comments about whites supporting her: "I think it's fine for Hillary to keep making the case for her. I think when that shifts to her contention about everything that's supposed to be wrong with him -- I don't agree with some of what she just said, by the way -- but I think that then we are starting to do damage instead of being helpful." ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 5/9).
Just Whisper In My Ear
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), an HRC backer who said post-IN and NC that she wanted to speak with Clinton about her future, did have that convo with her 5/8 p.m. The Orange County Register's Bunis writes that Feinstein won't "publicly ask Clinton to pull the plug yet."
Feinstein: "Her strategy is to win this election. She's going to make the decision if the time comes. She doesn't believe it's the time, and she's going to continue on."
More from Feinstein: "I'm sticking with her, absolutely." And this: "I agree that she should take this for as long as she feels she has a chance to win it" (5/8).
Rep. Chris Carney (D-PA) announced his support for Clinton on 5/8. He'd met with her 5/8 in DC at the DCCC. Carney: "We are extremely fortunate to have two very strong candidates vying to lead our nation. Pennsylvania's 10th (Congressional) District (voters) overwhelmingly chose Sen. Clinton in the Pennsylvania primary, and I will respect their decision" (Krawczeniuk, The Daily & Sunday Review, 5/9).
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) also endorsed HRC yesterday. Clinton won 57% of the vote 5/6 in his 15-county mountain district (Schrader/Boyle, Asheville Citizen-Times, 5/8).
Meanwhile, three GA superdelegates said they will stick with HRC in her "uphill battle": Lonnie Platt, a former labor leader and DNCer; Carole Dabbs, who was an aide to ex-Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA); and Michael Thurmond, the state labor commissioner (Sheinin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/9).
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), an undeclared superdelegate, told the AP that voters in states that still have primaries should have the opportunity "to go through this exercise in democracy" (5/8).
Politico's Smith and Parnes report that Clinton asked some superdelegates this week during her meetings with them in DC to commit to her privately, without the risk of a public endorsement, "so she could gauge whether she has the support she feels she needs to remain a viable candidate" (5/9).
Get The Hook
The New York Times reported that the Rev. Al Sharpton -- no superdelegate himself -- said that "it's over" for HRC last night, a comment that could "carry some weight among NYC superdelegates backing Clinton. Sharpton to NY1: "As you know, I've been in the ministry of civil rights all my life, but had dealings with entertainers because of James Brown. The worst thing in the world is when an entertainer doesn't know when the show is over. The audience is gone, the lights are down, you're getting ready to cut the mics off and you are still on the stage singing. It's over, it's all right, it's over. Come sing another day, but this show is over Senator Clinton" (5/8).
Clinton began 5/8 in WV, giving no indication to the crowd of 400 gathered outside the state Capitol Rotunda that she woudl pull out of the race. She called WV "a test" -- noting that No Dem has won the WH without carrying the Mountain State since Woodrow Wilson in 1916 (Searls, The Charleston Gazette, 5/9).
Later, at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, Clinton said that SD Dems, who wrap the primary process June 3 with MT, "will have the last word" (Ellis, Argus Leader, 5/9).
And HRC hit OR for the final stop of the day. "Hoarse from a cross-country campaign trip through three states," Clinton told supporters in Central Point, OR, yesterday that she would press on, and she called for her rival to debate on OR issues. Introduced by OR Gov. Ted Kulongoski, she said she favored restoring federal payments to timber-dependent counties and criticized Obama for voting for the energy bill that "took away states' authority over siting liquefied natural gas terminals." She called for thinning forests to reduce the danger of wildfires.
She also urged voters to cast mail ballots, which will be counted May 20. "Those of you who have already made up your mind to support me, send it in," she told a crowd of 1,200 at the Jackson County fairgrounds. "If you think you've made up your mind to support my opponent, wait awhile. Keep thinking. Keep waiting for that debate."
Apologizing for arriving late to the OR event, Clinton "made light of the long odds against her." HRC: "We were kind of flying against the wind. But that's the story of my life. Flying against the wind, you'll get there eventually" (AP, 5/9).
More on the call for a debate: "I just heard that my opponent changed his schedule, and he's going to be in Portland tomorrow," Clinton said, also in Central Point. "I'm going to be in Portland tomorrow. I'm going to be in Portland tomorrow. I'll meet him anywhere for a debate" (Preusch, The Oregonian, 5/9).
From Hoarse To A Horse
The Chicago Tribune's public editor, Timothy J. McNulty, criticized his paper for running a lead editorial in Thursday's paper headlined: "No photo finish for Clinton," tying her fate to that of the felled filly, Eight Belles, who was put down after breaking her front ankles in last week's Kentucky Derby.
The edit's opening graph: "The only filly in the crowded field crossed the finish line second, but the fans who'd bet on her still had one last gasp of hope. Perhaps some fortuitous technicality would disqualify the first-place finisher. But things got worse instead of better. We're talking about Eight Belles, who was euthanized Saturday after almost winning the Kentucky Derby. But we're thinking about Hillary Clinton."
McNulty writes in his 5/9 follow that the analogy made him "queasy." "Notwithstanding the playful, even clever, writing of the editorial, it was wrong, I believe, to use language that conflates the presidential race and the sad need to euthanize a female horse, ending with this sentence: 'There's no reason to wait until August to put Clinton, and the rest of us, out of our misery.'"
McNulty said the piece violated a key rule of Journalism 101: "Refrain from mixing politics, gender and tragedy in the same extended analogy."
"The once-formidable fund-raising machine of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun to sputter at the worse possible moment" for HRC's campaign, write Healy and Luo of the New York Times. The Clinton camp is curtailing spending on political events and ads during her push in the last six nominating contests. Advisers said she is committed to spending more of her own money if necessary, but they "spoke optimistically about a rise in fund-raising if she prevails" in WV.
In the day after Clinton's PA victory, the campaign reported that $10M had been raised online. After NC and IN, one of Clinton's national finance chairman, Hassan Nemazee, put the number at "$1 million-plus." Phil Singer, a Clinton spokesman, wouldn't confirm the report, only that they'd raised "seven figures" online as well as at a DC fundraiser Wednesday evening (5/9).
Clinton's campaign loans -- $6.4M over the last month from assets jointly held with her husband -- are raising new questions about "the millions of dollars that special interests have paid Bill Clinton for speeches and other work since he left the White House." Since he left the WH in 2001, WJC has "been crisscrossing the globe," speaking "roughly 250 times on tours that brought him more than $40M in six years." Sponsors included investment bankds that later suffered billions of dollars in losses in the sub-prime mortgage crisis, an insurance group with an interest in any overhaul of the country's health care system, a group that favors reunification of Taiwan with mainland China, a Colombian business development group that backs a free-trade agreement and more than two dozen Jewish groups, synagogues and museums.
Clinton spokesman Jay Carson: "There are no conflicts of interest, and every dollar either of them have made is all publicly available" (Gordon, McClatchy Newspapers, 5/8).
About A Boy
The latest USA Today/Gallup poll published this week examined the "burdens" facing the three remaining candidates for prez: 38% said they are less likely to vote for John McCain because of his link to President Bush; 33% said they are less likely to vote for Clinton because of her husband; and 33% said they are less likely to vote for Obama because of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
"Some public love and admiration for Bill Clinton runs very deep, but dislike and disapproval run even deeper with others. Hillary cant control him and she won't shake him, as demonstrated during his sexual mischiefs in the Oval Office" (Neuharth, USA Today, no date).
A Wall Street Journal editorial notes: There is a separation under way between the Clintons and the Dem Party. "Truth be told, this was always a marriage more of convenience than love." Party progressives didnt' like Bill Clinton's New Democrat ways, but his gifts were needed to win back the WH. "The price was that [Dems] had to put their ethics in a blind Clinton trust" -- from Whitewater to Johnny Chung to Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky.
More: "Slowly but surely, these Prisoners of Bill and Hill are now walking away, urging Mrs. Clinton to leave the race. ... It took 10 years, but you might say Democrats have finally voted to impeach" (5/9).
Hooray For Hollywood
Politico's Ressner reports that HRC's Tinseltown pals are hanging on tight. Next Thursday Clinton will hold a fundraiser at Los Angeles' Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. Half the tix -- $150 per person, $2,300 for VIP passes to a reception -- have already been sold. The event is still accepting donations (5/9).
So Long, Farewell
Headlines of note:
The New York Sun's Shlaes: "Hillary's Long Goodbye" (5/9).
The Tampa Tribune's March: "Clinton Backed Into Corner" (5/8).
The Newark Star Ledger: "Hillary Must Get Out With Grace" (5/9).
The New York Daily News' DeFrank: "What Makes Hillary Clinton Tick, Even While She Bombs?" (5/9). And the paper's editorial: "Hillary Clinton Needs To Know When To Fold 'Em" (5/8).
New York Post's Hurt: "Desperate Hillbillies Threaten To Break up Party" (5/9).
The AP's Fouhy: "Clinton Urges Supporters To Ignore Calls To Quit" (5/8).
This article appears in the May 9, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.