Monday, June 02, 2008

With Obama On Brink of Clinching Dem Nod, Clinton Reported Readying to Concede

Former First Lady Wins Big in Sunday's Puerto Rico Democratic Primary, But Illinois Senator Is Poised to Cross the Finish Line After Final Votes in Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday -- Thanks to Rules Committee's Rejection of Clinton Demand to Let Florida and Michigan Get Away With Breaking Party Rules

US Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama ...

Barack Obama has a date with history this week, as the Illinois senator stands poised to become the first African American to clinch the presidential nomination of a major American political party. His victory was all but assured on Saturday when the Democratic Party rules committee agreed to seat Michigan and Florida delegates with half-votes at the party's August convention in Denver, in a compromise that angered supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who threatened to fight to the August convention. But on Tuesday morning, the Clinton camp was reported to be preparing to concede. (Photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)

(Updated 4:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday, June 3, 2008)



As if Hillary Clinton doesn't face enough problems, her husband, former President Bill Clinton -- who was impeached over his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky -- has become embroiled in a controversy over an alleged new extramarital affair.

Vanity Fair magazine reports in its July issue that the former president has been linked to actress Gina Gershon, a relationship that has been the subject of Hollywood gossip for several years.

You can read the full article at Vanity Fair's Web site.


By Skeeter Sanders

Hillary Rodham Clinton won a lopsided victory Sunday in Puerto Rico's Democratic presidential primary, but it's Barack Obama who will have a date with history -- as the party's first African-American presidential nominee.

In a landslide win in a Spanish-speaking U.S. territory whose residents cannot vote for president in the November general election, the former first lady captured a two-thirds majority of the of the votes, continuing a trend throughout the campaign of overwhelming support for Clinton from Latino voters.

With all precincts reporting, the Puerto Rico vote count showed Clinton with 263,120 votes, or 68 percent, to Obama's 121,458, or 32 percent. Clinton picked up 38 delegates to Obama's 17. But the results did little to close the New York senator's overall delegate gap with Obama.

Before cheering supporters in San Juan, Puerto Rico's capital, she predicted she would have more popular votes than her rival when the primaries end Tuesday night and insisted that she is the best Democrat to face Republican nominee-elect John McCain in November.

But as the party's 180 remaining uncommitted superdelegates began closing ranks behind Obama on Monday, Clinton was reported to be preparing to deliver what campaign aides described as a "farewell" speech on Tuesday night.

Clinton, After Public Bravado, Finally Bowing to Reality of Delegate Math

Obama stands poised to capture an absolute majority of all delegates to August's Democratic National Convention in Denver -- clinching the nomination -- as early as Tuesday night, after the polls close in the last-in-the-nation primaries in Montana and South Dakota.

Already, the Illinois senator has turned his attention exclusively to the upcoming fall campaign against McCain. The Obama campaign began a concerted effort on Monday to rally undecided superdelegates around him so he can claim the Democratic presidential nomination after the primaries end on Tuesday night.

Clinton, meanwhile, invited fund-raisers and other supporters to an election-night rally in New York, where, aides told The New York Times, she was prepared to deliver what they described as a farewell speech that summed up the case for her candidacy. They said Clinton was not likely to withdraw from the race on Tuesday night, probably waiting until later in the week, once Obama’s victory appeared clear.

Obama's delegate victory was all but assured on Saturday, when the party's rules committee rejected the Clinton campaign's demand that disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan be seated in accordance with the votes cast in January primaries there -- which were held in violation of party rules.

Instead, the disputed delegates will have only half a vote at the convention, a decision that the rules committee said was dictated by the necessity to prevent a precedent from being set whereby states can violate party rules with impunity in future Democratic presidential primary contests.

Obama Needs Only 46 More Delegates to Clinch It

The rules committee's decision increased the total delegates Obama needs to capture the nomination from 2,026 to 2,118. But Obama already has surpassed the original magic number based on the results of the Puerto Rico primary, with 2,070 delegates, according to an Associated Press count -- just 48 shy of clinching the nomination. Clinton still trails with 1,915.

Only 31 delegates are up for grabs in Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday. But with Obama favored to win both states and with superdelegates now coming out for Obama in rapid fashion -- at least eight Senate and House members are expected to endorse him the moment the polls in South Dakota close -- the Illinois senator is likely to clinch the nomination by Wednesday morning.

Clinton's staunchest supporters, confronted with the now-unchecked tide of superdelegates joining the Obama camp -- and the former first lady abruptly canceling all campaign stops other than her New York rally Tuesday night -- conceded privately that the race was effectively over and that the former first lady has lost.

In a continuing show of strength in states that traditionally vote Republican in the November general election, Obama is favored to win Montana -- where no Democrat has won since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 -- and has a better-than-even chance of winning South Dakota, which hasn't voted for the Democratic nominee since native-son George McGovern in 1972, who has endorsed Obama.

Some die-hards in the Clinton camp hinted darkly on Sunday that the former first lady would keep fighting all the way to the convention. "Mrs. Clinton has told me to reserve her right to take this to the Credentials Committee" at the convention, said Harold Ickes, a Clinton supporter who is a member of the rules committee.

Indeed, Clinton supporters attending the rules committee meeting in Washington were furious with the committee's decision -- and they didn't hesitate to give the committee an earful of their displeasure.

"How can you call yourselves Democrats if you don't count the vote?" one of the many pro-Clinton hecklers in the audience yelled loudly and repeatedly before being escorted out of the chamber by security. "This is not the Democratic Party!"

A proposal favored by Clinton that would have seated the Florida delegation with full voting power in accordance with the January primary was defeated, 15-12.

Clinton Claim of Holding Popular-Vote Lead is Patently False

Clinton was far from being in a compromising mood Sunday night, adamantly insisting that she is the real front-runner, claiming that she has won a majority of the popular vote. "In the final assessment I ask you to consider these questions. Which candidate best represents the will of the people who voted in this historic election?" she said in an appeal to some 200 uncommitted superdelegates who hold the balance of power in the fight for the nomination.

"Which candidate is best able to lead us to victory in November and which candidate is best able to lead our nation as our president in the face of unprecedented challenges at home and abroad?"

But Clinton's claim of a popular-vote majority -- which she continued to make on Monday -- is flatly untrue. Her assertions includes estimates for caucuses in Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington state, where no official candidate popular vote is available -- and where Obama won handily.

Her claim also ignores the fact that Clinton, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich were the only names on the ballot in Michigan after Obama and former rivals John Edwards, Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd all withdrew their names in support of the Democratic National Committee's decision to strip Michigan of its delegates for violating party rules.

After Clinton (55 percent), the second-largest bloc of votes in the disputed Michigan primary -- the vast majority of them cast by Obama supporters in predominantly black Detroit, according to exit polls -- went to an uncommitted slate (40 percent). Kucinich (four percent) and Gravel (less than one percent) barely registered a blip.

For Clinton, a Dilemma About What to Do Next: Fold or Fight?

With the race for the Democratic nomination virtually finished and Obama all but assured of the capturing the brass ring, Clinton was forced Monday to consider a range of options, from withdrawing from the race and endorsing Obama, suspending her candidacy to be available in the increasingly unlikely chance that Obama will stumble of be taken down by a late-erupting scandal -- or fighting on to the convention floor.

Almost immediately after the rules committee meeting ended, the Clinton camp bluntly warned Saturday that the former first lady would likely challenge the committee's decision on the Michigan delegates to the party's credentials committee -- which has the final say on who gets seated at the convention. Clinton aides adamantly insisted that the Michigan decision did not reflect the votes cast in the state's disputed January 15 primary.

But the former first lady was warned with equal bluntness that if she decided to carry on her fight over Michigan to the convention floor, she risked being branded a "spoiler" both inside and outside the party.

Even one of her staunchest supporters, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, said that a floor fight over the Michigan delegates was unlikely -- and would be futile anyway.

"I don't think we're going to fight this at the convention, because even were we to win it, unless it's going to change enough delegates for Senator Clinton to win the nomination, then it would be a fight that would have no purpose," Rendell said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Such a move would only have confirmed what this blogger has been saying for the past two weeks; that Clinton had put her personal ambition ahead of the good of the Democratic Party and that she didn't deserve to be president if she went that far.

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Volume III, Number 36
Copyright 2008, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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