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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Clinton's Open Letter To Obama On MI and FL

On a day when it appears that the Michigan controversy may be resolved in a way that's fair to all parties -- but not in a way that gives Hillary Clinton all that state's delegates and Barack Obama none, as her campaign insists -- Clinton has just upped the ante by issuing what seems a hastily penned open letter to Obama, pretending that he is the sole obstacle to a fair resolution of the Michigan and Florida brouhaha and that she has always supported revotes (neither of which is accurate). There's lots to discuss, but the letter itself is more than adequate fodder:

May 8, 2008

Senator Barack Obama

Obama for America
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, IL 60680

Dear Senator Obama,

This has been an historic and exciting campaign. Millions of new voters have been brought into the process and their enthusiasm for the Democratic Party and the principles for which you and I have fought and continue to fight is unprecedented.

One of the foremost principles of our party is that citizens be allowed to vote and that those votes be counted. That principle is not currently being applied to the nearly 2.5 million people who voted in primaries in Florida and Michigan. Whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee will be hamstrung in the general election if a fair and quick resolution is not reached that ensures that the voices of these voters are heard. Our commitment now to this goal could be the difference between winning and losing in November.

I have consistently said that the votes cast in Florida and Michigan in January should be counted. We cannot ignore the fact that the people in those states took the time to be a part of this process and to make their preferences known. When efforts were untaken [sic] by leaders in those states to hold revotes to ensure that they had a voice in selecting our nominee, I supported those efforts. In Michigan, I supported a legislative effort to hold a revote that the Democratic National Committee said was in complete compliance with the party's rules. You did not support those efforts and your supporters in Michigan publically [sic] opposed them. In Florida a number of revote options were proposed. I am not aware of any that you supported. In 2000, the Republicans won an election by successfully opposing a fair counting of votes in Florida. As Democrats, we must reject any proposals that would do the same.

Your commitment to the voters of these states must be clearly stated and your support for a fair and quick resolution must be clearly demonstrated.

I am asking you to join me in working with representatives from Florida and Michigan and the Democratic National Committee to arrive at a solution that honors the votes of the millions of people who went to the polls in Florida and Michigan. It is not enough to simply seat their representatives at the convention in Denver. The people of these great states, like the people who have voted and are to vote in other states, must have a voice in selecting our party's nominee.


Hillary Rodham Clinton

The typo-ridden dashed-off letter seems at least in part a response to Obama's touring Capitol Hill today in the wake of what may turn out to be Tuesday's decisive Democratic primary contests in North Carolina and Indiana. The enthusiastic response he garnered from House Democrats, who CNN reported "surrounded" the senator when he arrived, suggested that many of the Congressional superdelegates believe a turning point has arrived and that at last a sure party nominee for president was moving among them.

Obama claimed he was not on The Hill seeking undecided superdelegate votes, but admitted that he'd "love to have their support" and was happy to respond to any questions they might have for him.

Clinton's Open Letter was released to reporters as the cameras were clicking on Capitol Hill.

In recent weeks, the Clinton camp has made the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations to the national convention a cornerstone of the campaign, its only real path to the nomination. The Hillary For President website posted a petition this week that supporters could sign to help advance the cause and the campaign has included the Florida delegate numbers in its nomination tallies. Clinton has included them in her stump speeches as well.

Of course not all Clinton supporters agree with the campaign's logic. Mame Reiley, a pro-Clinton superdelegate and a member of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, for example, says she is inclined to seat the Florida delegation as is, due to the full slate of candidates there, but, she says, "it's a whole different ballgame with Michigan," where Hillary's main rivals followed the rules and withdrew their names from the ballot. "My decision there," Reiley said, "might make Hillary not happy with me."

Read M.S. Bellows follow-up piece, Clinton's Hail Mary, at OffTheBus.

Additional reporting contributed by OffTheBus blogger Chip Collis.

Original here

Clinton supporter pressures Pelosi over White House battle

WASHINGTON — In a heated phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late last month, Hillary Clinton supporter Harvey Weinstein threatened to cut off campaign money to congressional Democrats unless Pelosi embraced a new plan by the movie mogul to finance a revote of the Democratic presidential primaries in Florida and Michigan, according to three officials who were briefed on the contents of the conversation.

The three officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the private phone conversation, said Weinstein, a top supporter of Clinton’s presidential campaign, appeared determined to buy Clinton more time in her battle against Sen. Barack Obama by pushing for the revote and pressing Pelosi to back off her previous comments that superdelegates should support the candidate who’s leading in pledged delegates in early June.

Weinstein, a co-founder of Miramax Films who now runs the Weinstein Company, called CNN Thursday to vehemently deny that he issued any threats. “Never, ever was the thought about denying funding to Democrats,” he said.

Weinstein said the phone call focused on his offer to put together a team of people to help finance a revote in Florida and Michigan. “I told her people felt there would be a disenfranchisement of voters” unless Democrats came up with a remedy, he said.

–By CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry

Original here

Clinton: Obama Not Winning Over "Hard-Working Americans, White Americans"

USA Today notices that Sen. Hillary Clinton has begun referring explicitly to her appeal among white voters while on the campaign trail:

Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed Wednesday to continue her quest for the Democratic nomination, arguing she would be the stronger nominee because she appeals to a wider coalition of voters -- including whites who have not supported Barack Obama in recent contests.

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press 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."

This is the second time since Tuesday's primaries that the Clinton campaign has referred to the racial dimension of the voting electorate. Ben Smith reports from yesterday's conference call on the state of the race:

And Garin brags, specifically and explicitly, about her strength with the white vote, comparing North Carolina's white voters in North Carolina to those in Virginia. (The conversations have always been about these voters, but they're usually referred to as "blue collar" or by some less specifically racial euphemism.)

"We lost the white electorate in Virginia, started even in North Carolina among the white electorate just two weeks ago, and ended [with] a very significant win of 24 points among those voters," he said, acknowledging that among black voters, Clinton "did not do as well as we would want or need."

Original here

Edwards' Campaign Manager to Endorse Obama

Jake Tapper is ABC News' Senior National Correspondent based in the network's Washington bureau. He writes about politics and popular culture and covers a range of national stories.

ABC News has learned that David Bonior, the campaign manager for the 2008 presidential race of Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, will endorse Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, today.

Bonior, a former Michigan congressman, was once the second highest ranking Democrat in the House, and is influential with labor unions.

Tuesday night's results were said to be key to Bonior's decision -- specifically the fact that Obama's lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, appears insurmountable.

Bonior is also said to like Obama's general positive tone, as well as Obama's message of change and stance against taking money from federal lobbyists.

Edwards has not yet endorsed either candidate.

Original here

Amid Talk of the End and Boos From the Crowd, Clinton Carries On

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigning on Wednesday in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s greatest gift may be her ability to remain upright and smiling as chaos and chagrin surround her.

On what was probably one of the toughest days of her campaign so far, with pundits and analysts of all stripes declaring her presidential candidacy finished, Mrs. Clinton put on her battle face Wednesday and confronted what was at times a hostile crowd at a hastily arranged speech here at Shepherd University.

Shepherdstown, a quaint and hippieish town on the Potomac River in the West Virginia Panhandle, is where Robert E. Lee led his Confederate Army in retreat after the battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day of the Civil War.

Mrs. Clinton endured boos when she mentioned her proposal for a gasoline tax holiday, catcalls when she spoke of ending the Iraq war and, most difficult of all, the heckling of her daughter, Chelsea, who introduced her.

“End the dynasty!” a young man holding an Obama poster shouted when Chelsea Clinton stepped to the microphone.

All the while, a smile was fixed on Mrs. Clinton’s perfectly made-up face — not a hair was out of place — and she betrayed only an occasional glimmer of recognition of the exceedingly narrow straits she must now navigate.

At one point in her 19-minute remarks, Mrs. Clinton promised that the United States would have universal health care “if I’m president,” a deviation from her customary “when I’m president.” She said she was proud of her two-point victory in Indiana on Tuesday, but made no mention of her 14-point loss in North Carolina. Nor did she speak the name of her rival, Senator Barack Obama, or even refer to him as “my opponent,” as she ordinarily does.

Her remarks on the steps of 19th-century McMurran Hall on the main street of town were an abridged cut-and-paste job of her standard stump speech. It was not her most fluid effort. While discussing incentives for education and public service, she took a sharp detour into trade policy and vowed to get tough with oil-producing nations before circling back to preschool programs. But the modestly sized audience applauded at the appropriate times and, except for an unusually large and at times vocal contingent of Obama supporters in the crowd, the appearance went off without incident.

Mrs. Clinton added the stop at 3 a.m. Wednesday in an effort to show that she remained committed to campaigning in the remaining six contests on the Democratic primary calendar (West Virginia holds its primary on Tuesday). She may also have been seeking refuge from the dust storm of speculation in Washington over the fate of her campaign. She returned to Washington after the event in Shepherdstown to try to persuade a small group of undecided superdelegates to remain undecided, and then to raise money for her near-broke campaign at a mother-daughter dinner at a hotel.

A pop psychologist might say that Mrs. Clinton was showing symptoms of denial or of being divorced from reality, but she has said for months that she will not quit as long as there remains a mathematical possibility that she could capture the nomination. That chance narrowed considerably Tuesday night, but the path is not totally blocked.

As a brief news conference after her remarks at the college, she said, “It’s a new day, it’s a new state, it’s a new election,” her upbeat tone never wavering. “I’m staying in this race until there’s a nominee. I’m going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee.”

Jay Carson, a campaign spokesman, said that he had spoken privately with Mrs. Clinton on Wednesday morning and that she was in a good mood.

“We feel we did well last night,” Mr. Carson said. “She is not someone who is buffeted by the day-to-day ups and downs of the campaign. She is tough and tenacious. That’s why she’s a phenomenal campaigner and why she’d be a great president.”

“She’s unflappable,” he added. “She’s proven that to you in the press and to the voters.”

In her victory speech in Indianapolis on Tuesday night (in which she also conceded North Carolina), Mrs. Clinton vowed to press on but sounded wistful at times about a long campaign that many believe will soon draw to an end. She delivered an unusually long list of thank-yous, reminded Democrats that “we are all on the same team” and pledged to support the nominee — if she does not prevail.

But there was no sense of leave-taking Wednesday, as Mrs. Clinton began what she described in a fund-raising letter as the “final 28 days of voting.” But her supporters sensed that more than a calendar page was turning. Many said they felt that Mrs. Clinton’s quest was coming to a close.

Joanne Drewry, 47, a contractor in Shepherdstown, stood in the back of the crowd holding a pole with six Clinton posters stapled to it. She said she was disappointed in Tuesday’s results and believed that it meant the end of Mrs. Clinton’s presidential ambitions, at least this year.

But she said she hoped that Mr. Obama would offer Mrs. Clinton the vice-presidential nomination and that she would accept it.

“I’d like to see them join together,” Ms. Drewry said. “They’d sweep the nation.”

Original here

Cindy McCain says she'll never release her tax returns

Cindy McCain, wife of Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., listens to participants in a round table discussion at Miami Children's Hospital in Miami, Monday, April 28, 2008.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
AP Photo: Cindy McCain, wife of Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., listens to participants in...

WASHINGTON - Cindy McCain says she will never make her tax returns public even if her husband wins the White House and she becomes the first lady.

"You know, my husband and I have been married 28 years and we have filed separate tax returns for 28 years. This is a privacy issue. My husband is the candidate," Cindy McCain, wife of Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting John McCain, said in an interview aired on NBC's "Today" on Thursday.

Asked if she would release her tax returns if she was first lady, Cindy McCain said: "No."

The Arizona senator released his tax return last month, reporting he had a total income of $405,409 in 2007 and paid $84,460 in federal income taxes. He files his return separately from his wife, an heiress to a Phoenix-based beer distributing company whose fortune is in the $100 million range.

Sen. McCain is routinely is ranked among the richest lawmakers in Congress, but he and his wife have kept their finances separate throughout their marriage. A prenuptial agreement left much of the family's assets in Cindy McCain's name.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Cindy McCain's refusal to release her tax returns gives the appearance of a double standard on the part of her husband.

"What is John McCain trying to hide?" Dean said in a statement. "Throughout this campaign, he has acted like his own calls for openness and accountability apply to everyone but himself. Now he thinks he can bring that same double standard to the White House."

In response, Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz said, "Howard Dean continues to lower the bar in this election."

Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton filed joint tax returns with their spouses and publicly released those returns.

Original here

Once-secret memos question Clinton's honesty

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton applauds at a rally today in Sioux Falls, S.D.

A decade before Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton admitted fudging the truth during the presidential campaign, federal prosecutors quietly assembled hundreds of pages of evidence suggesting she concealed information and misled a federal grand jury about her work for a failing Arkansas savings and loan at the heart of the Whitewater probe, according to once-secret documents that detail the internal debates over whether she should have faced criminal charges.

Ordinarily, such files containing grand jury evidence and prosecutors' deliberations are never made public. But the estate of Sam Dash, a lifelong Democrat who served as the ethics adviser to Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr, donated his documents from the infamous 1990s investigation to the Library of Congress after his 2004 death, unwittingly injecting into the public domain much of the testimony and evidence gathered against Mrs. Clinton from former law partners, White House aides and other witnesses.

The documents, reviewed by The Washington Times, identify numerous instances in which prosecutors questioned Mrs. Clinton's honesty, an issue that continues to dog her on the campaign trail after she was forced to acknowledge earlier this year exaggerating a story about coming under sniper fire as first lady during a visit to Bosnia in 1996.

For instance, the papers say prosecutors thought Mrs. Clinton first concealed her legal representation of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association — and the money she made doing it — during the 1992 presidential campaign when she and her husband, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, came under fire in a questionable Arkansas real estate project known as Whitewater.

Beginning in March 1992 and continuing over the next several years, Mrs. Clinton steadfastly denied that she ever "earned a penny" in representing her Rose Law Firm clients, including the failing thrift's owners, James and Susan McDougal — the Clintons' partners in the Whitewater Development Corp. project.

But the newly discovered records, more than 1,100 pages in 30 separate documents, tell a different story.
A June 1998 draft indictment of Mrs. Clinton's Rose firm partner Webster L. Hubbell, who followed the Clintons to Washington in 1993 as associate attorney general, said Mrs. Clinton did legal work for Madison "continuously" from April 1985 to July 1986. It also said she represented the thrift before the Arkansas Securities Department for approval to issue preferred stock, helped Madison obtain a questionable broker-dealer license to sell the stock and was actively involved in a failed Madison project known as Castle Grande.
The draft indictment clearly asserts that Mrs. Clinton, despite her denials, represented Madison and its projects "in a series of real estate and financial transactions." A separate 183-page report included in the Dash documents said Mr. Hubbell and Mrs. Clinton "concealed from federal investigators the true nature of their work" with Madison and its various entities.
Clinton campaign spokesman Jay Carson disputed the allegations.

"This is a baseless accusation which was looked into over a decade ago in an investigation that took $71.5 million and eight years to determine there was no case," he said.

But exit polls from Tuesday's North Carolina and Indiana primaries found that about half of the voters in each state said they didn't find Mrs. Clinton "honest and trustworthy."

Mrs. Clinton misspoke in March when she claimed she had come under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996. She said she and her daughter, Chelsea, ran for cover under hostile fire shortly after her plane landed in Tuzla. She later admitted to making a "mistake."

The Library of Congress documents have not been released publicly. A library official said they are still be "processed."

In April 1998, Whitewater prosecutors, divided over Mrs. Clinton's truthfulness, argued over whether to indict her on charges of lying under oath about her legal work for Madison. Lawyers and others close to the probe said a draft indictment of the first lady became "a work in progress" after Mrs. Clinton's January 1996 grand jury appearance in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Prosecutors concluded at the time, the sources said, that she had testified falsely in denying doing legal work in the Castle Grande venture.

"There is concern among some about how successful they might be in bringing a criminal indictment against Mrs. Clinton for obvious reasons, but there is no lack of desire to do so," one lawyer familiar with the probe said at the time. The lawyer said the decision rested on two major points: whether there was sufficient evidence to contradict her sworn testimony and, more importantly, whether prosecutors could win the case in court.

No indictment was sought, but Whitewater prosecutors noted at the time, according to the Dash documents, that sworn statements by Mrs. Clinton were contradictory and misleading and that her involvement with Madison"s failed real estate project known as Castle Grande project was only fully detailed with the discovery of her Rose firm billing record summaries in the White House living quarters in January 1996 — two years after they had been subpoenaed.

A week before the summaries were found, the Resolution Trust Corp. (RTC) said in a Dec. 28, 1995, report it had little information on Mrs. Clinton's ties to Madison or Castle Grande. After their discovery, the agency concluded Mrs. Clinton was more involved with the two entities than was previously known.

The summaries said Mrs. Clinton billed Madison for 60 hours of legal work, spoke with Madison officials about the Castle Grande project on 14 occasions, discussed legal matters with Madison's owners — the McDougals — 16 times, had 28 meetings with Rose firm lawyers on Madison, and met with state regulators about Madison at least twice.

At the time, Madison was seeking help from Mrs. Clinton's Rose Law Firm in Little Rock to fend off state and federal regulators concerned that the thrift was insolvent. Madison also wanted to jump-start a questionable preferred stock deal to pump much-needed cash into the operation and was desperate to keep the government from shutting it down.

In December 1995, the Senate Whitewater Committee also made public handwritten notes of a telephone conversation that contradicted assertions made by Mrs. Clinton during the 1992 presidential race that she had little participation in the legal representation of Madison when state and federal regulators were deciding whether to shut it down.

The notes, by New York lawyer Susan Thomases, one of the first lady's closest advisers, said Mrs. Clinton had numerous conferences with officials at Madison, that she reviewed documents, that she made calls to discuss a preferred stock plan aimed at keeping the failing thrift afloat, and that "she did all the billing."

The committee released 350 pages of Madison files that said Mrs. Clinton, according to the billing summaries, had made significant claims on the thrift for legal services, and at one point was listed exclusively as the billing attorney. The summary is all that remains, since the original Rose firm billing records for Madison disappeared.

In May 1995, as the Whitewater investigation expanded into separate probes by Senate and House committees, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), the RTC and a federal grand jury, Mrs. Clinton denied in sworn affidavits any knowledge of a Madison real estate project known as Castle Grande, saying she had "no recollection" of doing legal work for the 1,050-acre development.

Madison was closed in 1989 at a cost to taxpayers of $70 million. Castle Grande failed at a taxpayers' loss of $4 million.

Another major area of concern, authorities said, was an option agreement regulators said "facilitated" a questionable $300,000 payment to Seth Ward, the Madison official to whom Mrs. Clinton had spoken about Castle Grande. The agreement was written by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Hubbell and guaranteed Mr. Ward a payoff and negated his liability in the project. While the option was never exercised, it disguised the reason for the payment and created a paper trail to justify the outlay to Mr. Ward, who was Mr. Hubbell's father-in-law.

Mrs. Clinton told the RTC in May 1995 she had no memory of providing legal services for Mr. Ward and said in a sworn statement she did not know the Castle Grande name, thinking the project was called IDC even though the Castle Grande name was widely associated with the site.

Not truthful

According to the Dash documents on Whitewater, investigators also challenged Mrs. Clinton's public statements on what she knew at the time of Mr. Hubbell's March 1994 Justice Department resignation. Mrs. Clinton told reporters she thought he quit over an "internal billing dispute" with his former Rose firm partners that "likely would be resolved."

But the records said that three months before the resignation, Mrs. Clinton had been told by another Rose firm partner, Allen Bird, that Mr. Hubbell's "billing problems were very serious" and documents released during the Senate Whitewater hearings in 1996 said that two weeks before Mr. Hubbell resigned, Mrs. Clinton was notified formally that her former law partner was involved in a conflict-of-interest investigation and he might have lied in a sworn statement to federal regulators.

The Dash records also state that Mr. Hubbell's extensive role in a conflict in the Rose firm's representation of Madison and his testimony under oath to the RTC had meticulously been described in a March 1, 1994, memo written by White House Associate Counsel W. Neil Eggleston and forwarded to Mrs. Clinton by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes.

The records said Mr. Eggleston's seven-page memo described concerns by the RTC and the FDIC on whether the Rose firm had disclosed its prior legal representation of Madison in an FDIC lawsuit against the thrift's former auditors and whether Mr. Hubbell had disclosed his relationship with Mr. Ward in Castle Grande.

Mr. Eggleston's memo, according to the records, said the RTC had concluded the Rose firm disclosed neither the prior representation nor Mr. Hubbell's relationship, noting that an "ultimate finding" of nondisclosure would mean that "Mr. Hubbell was not truthful in his recollection." Mr. Eggleston said a finding against the firm would mean that it was "permanently barred from any further work for the RTC or the FDIC (and possibly other banking regulators.)"

He also said that while it was "not clear" whether the FDIC or the RTC would review the accusations under an actual conflict standard, there was the possibility of sanctions in the case, including "criminal liability," the records said.

The records also said Whitewater investigators were concerned that Mrs. Clinton played a key role in helping Mr. Hubbell obtain consulting contracts after his March 14, 1994, Justice Department resignation.

In a report titled "Hubbell Hush Money Summary," Whitewater investigators said that a day before Mr. Hubbell quit, Mrs. Clinton and other top administration officials met privately at the White House to arrange for him to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees at a time his cooperation in the Whitewater probe could have resulted in charges against the then-first lady.

The records said Mrs. Clinton took an active role in White House efforts to "take care of" Mr. Hubbell financially, helping to locate campaign supporters who divvied up more than $450,000 over the next nine months mostly for consulting work he never did.

In 1997, Mr. Starr subpoenaed White House records to determine whether the consulting fees were intended to guarantee Mr. Hubbell's silence in the Whitewater probe. Mr. Starr also wanted to know whether the White House had sought or directed the payments.

An Oct. 22, 1998, report said Mr. Hubbell's fees were arranged through "high administration officials or advisors," including Mrs. Clinton, whom was described as "the direct impetus for at least one client." Others who helped were identified as White House Chief of Staff Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty; former Democratic National Committee Chairman Truman Arnold; Washington lawyer Vernon Jordan; Small Business Administration Chairman Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff; and U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, the Clinton-Gore campaign chairman in 1992 who later served as commerce secretary.

An April 21, 1998, report questioned why White House officials would choose to "support Hubbell and take care of him" at a time "[Mrs. Clinton] was on notice that Hubbell engaged in a widespread pattern and practice of cheating the [Rose Law Firm]." The report said a "sinister reason" could be Mr. Hubbell knew about Mrs. Clinton's role in doing legal work for Madison and other related companies.

A May 21, 1997, memo, noted that most of the company officials who paid him consulting fees said no work product was ever produced. The report said one employer told investigators the only document Mr. Hubbell produced was "his bill."

Mr. Hubbell pleaded guilty in December 1994 to mail fraud and income-tax evasion in the theft of $482,410 from his Rose firm clients and partners and failing to pay $143,747 in taxes. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison, serving 16 before being released.

The Whitewater probe ended on March 21, 2002, when Independent Counsel Robert W. Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr, concluded in a final report there was "insufficient evidence" to bring charges against the Clintons. But the report also said statements by the Clintons to investigators were "factually inaccurate" and that White House delays in the production of evidence and the "unmeritorious litigation" by its lawyers "severely impeded the investigation's progress."

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The Five Mistakes Clinton Made

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, May 8, 2008.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, May 8, 2008.

For all her talk about "full speed on to the White House," there was an unmistakably elegiac tone to Hillary Clinton's primary-night speech in Indianapolis. And if one needed further confirmation that the undaunted, never-say-die Clintons realize their bid might be at an end, all it took was a look at the wistful faces of the husband and the daughter who stood behind the candidate as she talked of all the people she has met in a journey "that has been a blessing for me."

It was also a journey she had begun with what appeared to be insurmountable advantages, which evaporated one by one as the campaign dragged on far longer than anyone could have anticipated. She made at least five big mistakes, each of which compounded the others:

1. She misjudged the mood
That was probably her biggest blunder. In a cycle that has been all about change, Clinton chose an incumbent's strategy, running on experience, preparedness, inevitability — and the power of the strongest brand name in Democratic politics. It made sense, given who she is and the additional doubts that some voters might have about making a woman Commander in Chief. But in putting her focus on positioning herself to win the general election in November, Clinton completely misread the mood of Democratic-primary voters, who were desperate to turn the page. "Being the consummate Washington insider is not where you want to be in a year when people want change," says Barack Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod. Clinton's "initial strategic positioning was wrong and kind of played into our hands." But other miscalculations made it worse:

2. She didn't master the rules
Clinton picked people for her team primarily for their loyalty to her, instead of their mastery of the game. That became abundantly clear in a strategy session last year, according to two people who were there. As aides looked over the campaign calendar, chief strategist Mark Penn confidently predicted that an early win in California would put her over the top because she would pick up all the state's 370 delegates. It sounded smart, but as every high school civics student now knows, Penn was wrong: Democrats, unlike the Republicans, apportion their delegates according to vote totals, rather than allowing any state to award them winner-take-all. Sitting nearby, veteran Democratic insider Harold M. Ickes, who had helped write those rules, was horrified — and let Penn know it. "How can it possibly be," Ickes asked, "that the much vaunted chief strategist doesn't understand proportional allocation?" And yet the strategy remained the same, with the campaign making its bet on big-state victories. Even now, it can seem as if they don't get it. Both Bill and Hillary have noted plaintively that if Democrats had the same winner-take-all rules as Republicans, she'd be the nominee. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign now acknowledges privately:

3. She underestimated the caucus states
While Clinton based her strategy on the big contests, she seemed to virtually overlook states like Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas, which choose their delegates through caucuses. She had a reason: the Clintons decided, says an adviser, that "caucus states were not really their thing." Her core supporters — women, the elderly, those with blue-collar jobs — were less likely to be able to commit an evening of the week, as the process requires. But it was a little like unilateral disarmament in states worth 12% of the pledged delegates. Indeed, it was in the caucus states that Obama piled up his lead among pledged delegates. "For all the talent and the money they had over there," says Axelrod, "they — bewilderingly — seemed to have little understanding for the caucuses and how important they would become."

By the time Clinton's lieutenants realized the grave nature of their error, they lacked the resources to do anything about it — in part because:

4. She relied on old money
For a decade or more, the Clintons set the standard for political fund raising in the Democratic Party, and nearly all Bill's old donors had re-upped for Hillary's bid. Her 2006 Senate campaign had raised an astonishing $51.6 million against token opposition, in what everyone assumed was merely a dry run for a far bigger contest. But something had happened to fund raising that Team Clinton didn't fully grasp: the Internet. Though Clinton's totals from working the shrimp-cocktail circuit remained impressive by every historic measure, her donors were typically big-check writers. And once they had ponied up the $2,300 allowed by law, they were forbidden to give more. The once bottomless Clinton well was drying up.

Obama relied instead on a different model: the 800,000-plus people who had signed up on his website and could continue sending money his way $5, $10 and $50 at a time. (The campaign has raised more than $100 million online, better than half its total.) Meanwhile, the Clintons were forced to tap the $100 million — plus the fortune they had acquired since he left the White House — first for $5 million in January to make it to Super Tuesday and then $6.4 million to get her through Indiana and North Carolina. And that reflects one final mistake:

5. She never counted on a long haul
Clinton's strategy had been premised on delivering a knockout blow early. If she could win Iowa, she believed, the race would be over. Clinton spent lavishly there yet finished a disappointing third. What surprised the Obama forces was how long it took her campaign to retool. She fought him to a tie in the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday contests but didn't have any troops in place for the states that followed. Obama, on the other hand, was a train running hard on two or three tracks. Whatever the Chicago headquarters was unveiling to win immediate contests, it always had a separate operation setting up organizations in the states that were next. As far back as Feb. 21, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe was spotted in Raleigh, N.C. He told the News & Observer that the state's primary, then more than 10 weeks away, "could end up being very important in the nomination fight." At the time, the idea seemed laughable.

Now, of course, the question seems not whether Clinton will exit the race but when. She continues to load her schedule with campaign stops, even as calls for her to concede grow louder. But the voice she is listening to now is the one inside her head, explains a longtime aide. Clinton's calculation is as much about history as it is about politics. As the first woman to have come this far, Clinton has told those close to her, she wants people who invested their hopes in her to see that she has given it her best. And then? As she said in Indianapolis, "No matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party because we must win in November." When the task at hand is healing divisions in the Democratic Party, the loser can have as much influence as the winner.

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Miami Beach Superdelegate Gelber Backs Obama

MIAMI (CBS4) ― In the Democratic presidential race, neither Senators Clinton nor Obama can secure the nomination without the support of the roughly 800 superdelegates, with over 100 who have not yet committed to either candidate; Florida House Minority Leader Dan Gelber is one of them but he is no longer undecided and has committed to Senator Barack Obama.

Even though Hillary Clinton told West Virginians she's going nowhere until all the votes are in, the roar of political pundits is filling the airwaves.

Gelber announced his decision on his blog late Wednesday afternoon, and spoke with CBS4's Michael Williams.

"Senator Obama is appealing to people's better angels; he's appealing to mine," said Gelber. "And I think that's a great way to go, so I have no remorse about the decision. I think it's time to end the primary and it's time to think about November."

Gelber posted his reason for choosing Obama on his website. Gelber wrote, "Sen. Obama has made his case with the pledged delegates and that will not change in the upcoming weeks. As much as I think our primary system is absurd, it is the system under which we operate and to ask superdelegates to overturn the pledged delegate results is both elitist and decidedly un-Democratic. Furthermore, too much is at stake in November to continue debating amongst ourselves. We must draw the stark contrasts between the Democratic plan for America's future and the Republican agenda."

You can read the rest of his blog entry at

Superdelegates--most of them party officials--will put one candidate or the other over the top. Of course, Florida Superdelegates won't have any say at all if the state's disputed primary is not recognized.

Hallandale Beach State Senator and un-commited superdelegate Steven Geller plans to file suit next week demanding the full Florida vote be counted.. Even if it is, it may not change much.

"Right now its clear the odds are 75-80 percent that Obama will be the nominee."

It's a historic prize within reach.

Gelber's support is important for Barack Obama particularly within the Jewish community. Picking up Gelber should also mute the criticism that Obama would not compete well in Florida and Gelber's support could be a big help to Obama in South Florida as well.

So what is a superdelegate? They act as free agents - they are people who get to be a delegate at the convention without being pledged to vote for a particular candidate. Their votes don't count anymore than the regular delegates, but because they aren't pledged, they can vote for either candidate, regardless of their state's popular vote. The superdelegates make up about one-fifth of the total delegates.

Florida has 25 powerful superdelegates to offer Obama or Clinton if Democratic party leaders agree to recognize them at a meeting in late May.

Raul Martinez, a former Hialeah mayor and now a Democratic congressional candidate, is also a superdelegate who said earlier this week that he supports Hillary Clinton, for now.

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Big Rewards Await Clinton If She Ends Campaign Now

About Thomas B. Edsall

Thomas B. Edsall is the political editor of the Huffington Post. He is also Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. From 1981 to 2006, he was a political reporter at the Washington Post. He is the author of Chain Reaction and Building Red America. Tom can be reached at

She has ruled it out, but a prompt withdrawal from the contest for the Democratic nomination offers Sen. Hillary Clinton the prospect of major rewards.

One of the most inviting is the near certainty that the Obama campaign would agree to pay back the $11.4 million she has loaned her own bid, along with an estimated $10 million to $15 million in unpaid campaign expenses.

In addition, Democrats, both those who are loyal and those who are opposed to her campaign, say the odds of her winning a top leadership spot in the Senate would improve dramatically if she gracefully conceded now. The icing on the cake includes an improved political climate, giving Hillary and Bill Clinton the opportunity to heal the rift with the black political community.

"If she leaves the stage gracefully, as Gore did in 2000, she will be able to rebuild her political capital within the party fairly quickly, and over time most of her perceived and real sins will be long forgiven and/or forgotten," said Dan Gerstein, a Democratic consultant and Obama supporter.

While Clinton currently has her eye focused on only one thing, the presidential nomination, if she loses -- as appears increasingly likely -- her stature in the Senate will depend, in part, on whether she is ultimately seen as helping or hurting Obama's chances in November.

That stature, in turn, will be crucial in determining her success if she decides to try to climb the Senate leadership ladder. This year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada faces what could prove to be a tough re-election fight.

Brookings scholar Tom Mann contends that for Clinton to emerge from the contest without severe wounds, one path might be to redirect the main thrust of her presidential bid away from attacks on Obama to a focus on John McCain.

"Clinton's status in the Democratic party will be enhanced if she finds a timely and honorable way to become a strong supporter of an Obama-led ticket in the general election. She can do that by remaining in the race but directing all of her campaign rhetoric against John McCain or by suspending her campaign immediately."

At the moment, Clinton shows no signs of quitting. In West Virginia Wednesday morning, she told reporters: "I'm staying in this race until there's a nominee. And I obviously am going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee....I believe I would be a stronger candidate against Sen McCain, and I believe I would be the best President among the three of us running."

In a Wednesday afternoon fundraising email, Clinton declared, "Today, in every way that I know how, I am expressing my personal determination to keep forging forward in this campaign."

On the money front, it is not uncommon for winning presidential campaigns to pick up some or all of a competitor's debts and obligations, although the size of Clinton's debt and her personal loans to her campaign are unprecedented - somewhere over and above $20 million.

The Clintons have made a total of $109 million since Bill Clinton left the White House in January 2001. This year, however, he has had to cut back on his hugely lucrative speech-making, and sources close to the Clintons say they are not in a financial position to keep investing millions into her bid.

While both Obama and Clinton have broken all Democratic fundraising records, once one of them become the de facto nominee, the floodgates are expected to open even further, as Democratic donors this year are intent on victory.

In addition to an expected tidal wave of cash to the nominee to finance the general election campaign, the Democratic National Committee, which has been struggling financially, will undoubtedly see a repeat of 2004, when it raised an unprecedented $300 million after John Kerry became the undisputed nominee.

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Clinton makes case for wide appeal

Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed Wednesday to continue her quest for the Democratic nomination, arguing she would be the stronger nominee because she appeals to a wider coalition of voters — including whites who have not supported Barack Obama in recent contests.

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press 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."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.

Clinton's blunt remarks about race came a day after primaries in Indiana and North Carolina dealt symbolic and mathematical blows to her White House ambitions.

POLITICS BLOG: Blogosphere is buzzing

The Obama campaign, looking toward locking up the nomination, stepped up pressure on superdelegates who have the decisive votes in their race.

In both states, Clinton won six of 10 white voters, according to surveys of people as they left polling places.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that in Indiana, Obama split working-class voters with Clinton and won a higher percentage of white voters than in Ohio in March. He said Obama will be the strongest nominee because he appeals "to Americans from every background and all walks of life. These statements from Sen. Clinton are not true and frankly disappointing."

Clinton rejected any idea that her emphasis on white voters could be interpreted as racially divisive. "These are the people you have to win if you're a Democrat in sufficient numbers to actually win the election. Everybody knows that."

Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said Clinton's comment was a "poorly worded" variation on the way analysts have been "slicing and dicing the vote in racial terms."

However, he said her primary support doesn't prove she's more electable. Either Democrat will get "the vast majority" of the other's primary election votes in a general election, he said.

Clinton lost North Carolina by 14 percentage points and won Indiana by 2 points after competing full-out in both states. She had loaned the campaign $6.4 million in the past month. She said she might lend more.

"We should finish the contests we have and see where we stand after they're over," she said, referring to the six remaining primaries that will end June 3.

There were signs of unrest Wednesday, even among Clinton allies. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein wondered to The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, "whether she can get the delegates that she needs." Former South Dakota senator George McGovern, whose 1972 presidential bid gave Clinton her first political experience, switched his support from Clinton to Obama.

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The Hillary Deathwatch

The Hillary Deathwatch is now a widget. Add it to your Facebook page or blog.

A high-profile change of heart, a multimillion-dollar loan, and more Obama superdelegates drag Clinton down 1.7 points to 2.5 percent.

George McGovern, the Democratic nominee for president in 1972, says he's done supporting Hillary Clinton. He told Fox that she waged a valiant campaign but that it's time for her to drop out because the math is too daunting. McGovern had already flirted with Obama a few weeks ago—he told the Huffington Post that Obama had the better chance of winning in November—but today's announcement is a hiccup that Clinton can't afford.

Not only that, McGovern went vigilante and said Clinton should withdraw. Claire McCaskill, a surrogate in chief for Obama, said it would be "inappropriate and awkward and wrong" to tell Clinton when to quit. (This despite Obama supporters Chris Dodd and Patrick Leahy doling out that very advice before Pennsylvania.) Obama's stance on this seems clear—he's confident that he's going to get the nomination, so there's no need to pour salt on Clinton's wounded ego. Plus, it spares him the embarrassment of sure defeats in West Virginia and Kentucky that would occur even if Clinton were out of the race. He'll still lose with her in it, but he won't lose to a ghost.

In order to get to West Virginia and Kentucky, Clinton will need money—money that she doesn't necessarily have. Revelations that Clinton loaned herself $6.4 million last month raise questions about how long she can compete. (And that loan was before she lost North Carolina and won a Pyrrhic victory in Indiana.) On a conference call this morning, her advisers wouldn't say what their overnight fundraising numbers were, but it's safe to say they weren't spectacular. Clinton has plenty of resolve to keep going, but that doesn't mean she has the money necessary to do so.

One more note: Since last night's results, Obama has netted four superdelegates (two uncommitted from North Carolina, one uncommitted from California, and one Clinton convert from Virginia). Clinton has netted zero. (She picked up a North Carolina super but also lost one to Obama.)

So why isn't Clinton totally submerged? Because she hasn't taken herself out of the race yet. As long as she's hanging around, there's still a remote possibility that she can take Obama's place if the unpredictable happens. Plus, Deathwatch wouldn't be as much fun without her.

For a full list of our Deathwatches, click here. For a primer on Hillary's sinking ship, visit our first Deathwatch entry. Send your own prognostications to

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Obama Lawyer: Bush Manipulating FEC For McCain

Obama counsel Bob Bauer, on his always-punchy personal blog, considers the newest appointments to the FEC and writes that the regulatory body is being put back together to exclude a Republican commissioner who had taken a critical stance toward McCain's attempt to thread the needle on public financing.

In this one move, the White House ended McCain's accountability for his use or abuse of the primary public financing system while putting him in position to take money for the general.

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McCain Supporters Deliver Indiana To Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s narrow victory in Indiana last night would not have been possible without votes from John McCain supporters who have no intention of voting for her in the fall, even if she were to win the nomination.

Here’s a look at the numbers behind Clinton's Indiana performance (based on exit poll data on

Clinton won Indiana with 51% of the vote to Barack Obama’s 49% for a 2 margin of victory. After subtracting pro-McCain voters from each candidate’s total, however, the numbers reverse.

Excluding pro-McCain voters, Obama actually leads Clinton with just over 51% for a nearly 3 point margin.

In all, pro-McCain voters in Indiana caused a net shift of 5 points in Clinton's favor in the final margin, in the process taking what would have been a Barack Obama victory and handing it instead to Clinton.

In Indiana, more than 1 in 8 Clinton voters said they would vote for John McCain even if Clinton won the nomination compared to fewer than 1 in 22 Obama voters who said they would vote for McCain if Obama won the nomination.

In North Carolina's primary, which is closed to Republicans, Clinton relied even more heavily on pro-McCain voters who say they would not vote for her in the general election than she did in Indiana. (NC exit poll on

Nearly 1 in 6 of Clinton’s North Carolina supporters were pro-McCain voters. Meanwhile, just 1 in 31 Obama supporters were pro-McCain voters.

The final results in North Carolina were 57.5% to 42.5%, giving Obama a 15 point victory. After subtracting pro-McCain voters from both candidates, Obama’s victory margin increases by 7 points, giving him a 22-point 61%-39% win.

By the books, there's no taking away Clinton's Indiana victory, but it is worth remember that it was only made possible by voters who have no intention of voting for a Democrat in the fall.

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Dianne Feinstein To Clinton: Show Me Your Plan

More rough news for Sen. Hillary Clinton. The Hill reports that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of Clinton's "most prominent Senate supporters, said Wednesday that she has asked the former first lady to detail her plans for the rest of the Democratic primary."

"I, as you know, have great fondness and great respect for Sen. Clinton and I'm very loyal to her," Feinstein said. "Having said that, I'd like to talk with her and [get] her view on the rest of the race and what the strategy is."

Clinton, who eked out a win in Indiana Tuesday night but lost big to front-runner Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in North Carolina, has not responded to Feinstein's phone call, the California senator said.

"I think the race is reaching the point now where there are negative dividends from it, in terms of strife within the party," Feinstein said. "I think we need to prevent that as much as we can."

Tuesday night's results are widely viewed as a blow to Clinton's hopes after she failed to deliver a "game-changing" performance. Instead, Obama extended his leads among delegates and popular votes.

Feinstein stressed that Clinton is not an "also-run candidate," but added that there is a question "as to whether she can get the delegates that she needs. I'd like to see what the strategy is and then we can talk further."

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Clintons in Denial

Barack got his game back. Hillary needs a reality check.

Barack had the voters at his back against all the forces trying to bring him down. He held his lead in North Carolina, and only the Rush Limbaugh Republican vote stands between Barack and victory in Indiana.

Hillary needed two wins. She failed utterly. But she will not stop, not on her own.

The superdelegates should intervene and send Hillary a message. Out now.

If they don't, the supporters of Obama should step up their persuasion on those still-undeclared superdelegates to recognize the inevitable and bring this campaign to an end.

Supporters of John Edwards should push their former candidate to release his pledged delegates now, a move that might make the difference as early as this week.

Progressives should intensify the counterattack against Clinton's smear campaign against Barack's character and bogus arguments for recognizing Michigan and Florida, sending the message that her campaign tactics risk a massive defection of the disillusioned in November.

It must be understood that at least not on their own. Left to their own repetitive patterns, they will step up the attempt to damage Barack Obama so that he is rendered unelectable in the minds of the superdelegates. At the very least, beginning this week, this may mean an assault on Bill Ayers, the Weather Underground, and a twisted depiction of Obama's history of statements on the Palestinians. (On this latter point, they can run commercials of Clinton kissing Yasser Arafat's wife, perhaps coupled with footage of her landing under "sniper fire" in Bosnia. Bloggers may have to carry these messages, since Obama won't.)

The Obama forces cannot (and will not) coast to victory. In terms of issues, they should intensify the focus on the Clinton proposal for "massive retaliation" and "obliteration" against Iran on behalf of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. That was front-page news in Toronto yesterday while receiving zero attention in the New York Times and CNN. Barack should take up Robert Kennedy's 1968 anti-poverty mission in West Virginia. Finally, his campaign needs to build firewalls in Oregon, Montana and South Dakota to maintain his lead.

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With the Media Seemingly Decided, Clinton Faces Three Options

hillary-clinton-truck-bed-250x200.jpg It took a long time for the results from Lake County, Indiana, to be filed on Tuesday night. Was it long enough for the conventional wisdom to be cemented?

As the hours passed into the night yesterday, Hillary Clinton's chances dimmed. By mid-evening, she had lost North Carolina by 14 points and was clinging to a diminishing lead in Indiana. By 10 pm, the political world was all staring at the same situation: Clinton, up on Obama by an unexpectedly low 30,000-40,000 votes in Indiana, endangered by the still-absent results from the northwestern county known as Lake County, home of Gary and just outside of Chicago.

As the pundit class waited for Lake County to tabulate, Clinton's precarious position became the only topic of conversation. On MSNBC, Tim Russert declared the race over, saying that Clinton had no realistic path to the nomination after the events of the day. Chuck Todd, normally beholden to the numbers and unaccustomed to bold proclamations, conceded that Russert may have been correct. On CNN, David Gergen said that Clinton's ability, seen repeatedly in the campaign, to respond with a victory when her campaign was on the precipice had finally failed her. Democratic superdelegate and CNN contributor Donna Brazile stated that it was in the best interests of the Democratic Party to unify around one candidate. In fact, the entire broadcasting team at CNN, seemingly over a dozen people, was so dismissive of the New York Senator's chances that Clinton surrogate Lanny Davis complained about the coverage on air.

But then, after midnight, Lake County finally submitted its result and Clinton won Indiana by two points, momentarily jeopardizing the media narrative already in the making. But it appeared that Obama's miserable two weeks leading up to election day Tuesday set the bar for him so low that his 14-point victory in North Carolina and his two-point loss in Indiana were effectively a victory in the media's eye, which, jaundiced by the expectations game, doesn't see a win as a win and a loss as a loss. Adam Nagourney, the New York Times's lead political reporter, published a news analysis Wednesday morning that began, "In this case, a split was not a draw." The Drudge Report ran a simple headline under a picture of Obama: "The Nominee."

And maybe rightfully so. Clinton won Indiana by 23,000 votes. That means if 12,000 late-deciding Indianans had woken up on the other side of the bed, or seen one fewer Clinton ad, or had one more conversation with their Obama-loving granddaughter, the election would be, for all practical purposes, completely over. And besides, Obama's lead in the delegate count grew because of a split decision in Indiana and a significant delegate pickup in North Carolina. Moreover, Clinton now has fewer pledged delegates with which to close the gap. She must now win a staggering percentage of the superdelegates to overturn Obama's lead in the pledged delegate count.

That that leaves her with three options.

First, keep fighting like nothing has changed. When their candidate is challenged, Clinton supporters respond with huge monetary shows of support. And when their careers are challenged, the Clintons themselves kick it into another gear. Hillary Clinton can double down on the upcoming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky (where she leads by large margins), ratchet up the calls to seat Michigan and Florida, make a zillion phone calls to superdelegates every day, and hope that Obama gets caught in another Reverend Wright-esque sandstorm. (It wouldn't hurt to drop the gas tax pander.) Rumors persist about one last piece of truly nuclear opposition research the Clinton campaign has held back about Obama. It could release some such thing; the only danger is that if Clinton does not win the nomination, the Democratic nominee may be fatally wounded. But wounding the nominee is obviously not a concern if the Clinton campaign chooses this option, anyway.

Second, she can drop out immediately. Despite the calls for this that are certain to ring through Obama-friendly parts of the blogosphere today, this may not be the best option for Obama. If Clinton drops out this week, Obama may lose the upcoming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky to someone who is not on the ballot.

Third, lay the groundwork for a graceful exit in a few weeks. Assuming that Clinton sees the end of the road on the horizon, this choice has several advantages over option number two. First, the Clintons have donated a lot of their own money to the campaign; staying in and continuing to raise funds allows them to retire some of that debt. Second, the last two weeks of the campaign can take a conciliatory tone, attempting to convince Democratic voters who have cast their lot with Clinton that Obama ain't so bad after all. This would go a long way in rehabilitating Bill and Hillary Clinton's reputations within the Democratic Party, and position Hillary for a vice presidential selection, should she be interested. If she hopes to be a future Senate Majority Leader or a candidate in 2012, this route may be the necessary one.

At this point, the race is all about Hillary Clinton's psychology. She and she alone has to choose one of these three options. Bill Clinton will likely be part of the conversation, and Chelsea may be too. But ultimately, the person who has put in the most work perhaps of anyone in America over the last year has to either accept that she has lost the fight of her life, or decide that she is willing to continue down what becomes an increasingly untenable road. The media's collective mind seems to be made up, meaning that if Clinton continues on, she will have to do so under a chorus of calls for her to euthanize her campaign.

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Obama To Pick Up Four Superdelegates After Primary Win

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., reacts at her Indiana Primary night party in Indianapolis, Tuesday, May 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama pocketed the support of at least four Democratic convention superdelegates on Wednesday, building on the momentum from a convincing North Carolina primary victory. Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed to remain in the race "until there's a nominee."

The former first lady declined to say whether that meant through the roll call of the states at the Democratic National Convention this summer.

Clinton also disclosed that she had loaned her campaign an additional $6.4 million in recent weeks, evidence that her once front-runner campaign was in deep trouble.

She told reporters the loans were a sign of her commitment to her quest for the White House. She earlier loaned herself $5 million as she struggled to keep up with a better-financed Obama campaign.

Obama, now the front-runner, was home in Chicago during the day as his aides spread word that he would soon begin campaigning in states likely to be pivotal in the fall campaign. They also relayed word of the four endorsements, expected to be made public later in the day. Both disclosures were meant to signal fresh confidence that the nomination was quickly coming into his possession after a grueling marathon across 15 months and nearly all 50 states.

Clinton's appearance in Shepherdstown, W.Va., was meant to underscore her determination to stay the course. She also arranged a private meeting later in the day with uncommitted superdelegates.

Jeanette Council, an undecided superdelegate from North Carolina, said she decided over the weekend to endorse Obama but waited until after voters cast their ballots to announce it on Wednesday.

"I just think Senator Obama is the face of America," Council, a commissioner from Cumberland County, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "When I looked at it, I was so excited at the fact that he was bringing in so many new people and there was an excitement around the campaign."

Clinton won the Indiana primary narrowly early Wednesday, but the overall impact of the night's two contests was to lengthen Obama's lead in national convention delegates without fundamentally altering the nature of the race. The results also prompted former Sen. George McGovern, a Clinton backer of several months, to urge her to drop out while endorsing her rival.

Obama has 1,846.5 delegates to 1,696 for Clinton in The Associated Press tally. It takes 2,025 delegates to win the nomination in Denver this summer.

Clinton told reporters it would take 2,209 or 2,210 delegates to win the nomination, not the 2,025 in use by the Democratic National Committee. The higher total would come into play if the delegations were seated from Michigan and Florida, two states that held primaries outside the time frame that party rules required.

The former first lady campaigned for months to have new votes in both states, although lately has said she merely wants the delegations seated.

Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, said on Tuesday night it was possible a compromise could be worked out to seat the Michigan delegates. He did not mention Florida.

Asked at her news conference whether she intended to remain in the race through the convention roll call, Clinton said, "I'm staying in this race until there's a nominee and obviously I am going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee."

Clinton backers appeared on early morning television programs to stress that she was still in the race and to urge party leaders and elected officials known as superdelegates not to flee to Obama.

"This candidacy and this campaign continues on," Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said on CNN.

Obama was 184.5 delegates shy of the number needed to secure the Democratic nomination, his campaign finally steadying after missteps fiercely exploited by the never-say-die Clinton.

His campaign dropped broad hints it was time for the 270 remaining unaligned superdelegates to get off the fence and settle the nomination.

In a counter to Wolfson, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said: "The delegate math gets exceptionally harder for Senator Clinton every day."

In a memorandum to superdelegates, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe reminded them of the delegate math necessary to secure the nomination. He said Clinton would need to win 68 percent of the remaining delegates to win _ an extremely unlikely scenario, made harder by her poor performance Tuesday.

"With the Clinton path to the nomination getting even narrower, we expect new and wildly creative scenarios to emerge in the coming days," Plouffe wrote. "While those scenarios may be entertaining, they are not legitimate and will not be considered legitimate by this campaign or millions of supporters, volunteers and donors."

It was in the superdelegate arena _ even more than in the scattered primaries left _ that the Democratic hyperdrama was bound to play out.

Clinton vowed to compete tenaciously for West Virginia next week and Kentucky and Oregon after that, and to press "full speed on to the White House."

But she risked running on fumes without an infusion of cash, and made a direct fundraising pitch from the stage in Indianapolis. "I need your help to continue our journey," she said.

And she pledged anew that she would support the Democratic nominee "no matter what happens," a vow also made by her competitor.

But her campaign schedule belied any immediate reconciliation. West Virginia holds its primary on Tuesday. Kentucky and Oregon hold their contests a week later. Puerto Rico is scheduled for June 1 followed promptly by Montana and South Dakota on June 3.

Her campaign is making the case that those contests are crucial to her and will press Democratic party officials to resolve disputed contests in Michigan and Florida, which she won but whose results the party voided because the primaries were held ahead of the schedule set by Democratic Party rules.


Associated Press Writers Mike Baker in Raleigh, N.C., Liz Sidoti in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Tom Raum in Chicago and Nedra Pickler in Washington contributed to this report.

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Obama Seen As Stronger Candidate Versus McCain

About Sam Stein

Sam Stein is a Political Reporter at the Huffington Post, based in Washington, D.C. Previously he has worked for Newsweek magazine, the New York Daily News and the investigative journalism group Center for Public Integrity. He has a masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a graduate of Dartmouth College. Sam can be reached at

Hoping to woo superdelegates, Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has turned to the argument that she, not Sen. Obama, is the best Democrat to take on John McCain in the general election.

Exit polls from Tuesday night, however, do not support that argument. In Indiana, despite the fact that the numbers portend a Clinton win, Obama is viewed as the nominee best able to win the White House, by a margin of 50 to 47 percent. In North Carolina, according to CNN, that divide is even more pronounced: "voters gave the edge to Barack Obama: 54 percent thought he was more likely to win in November, while 40 percent chose Clinton."

There are other telling signs. Forty-five percent of Indiana Democratic primary goers said Clinton was dishonest, versus thirty-three percent for Obama. Sixty-six percent said Obama shared their values. Sixty-three percent had the same opinion of Clinton. That spread was even greater in North Carolina, where 69 percent said Obama shared their values compared to 61 percent for Clinton.

There was one saving grace for the New York Democrat. The numbers suggest that there may be more defections to John McCain should Obama end up the nominee.

Fifteen percent of North Carolina respondents say they would vote for the Arizona Republican should he and Clinton face off in November. That number rose to 19 percent if it were McCain v. Obama. In Indiana, meanwhile, 17 percent of voters said they would support McCain if he were facing Clinton, while 20 percent said they would back the McCain if he battled Obama.
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Hillary Is Done, Say Media Overlords

Picture 1-20 Hey, look, Matt Drudge did something nice for the entire country: He ended the Democratic primary, even though it was supposed to continue until eternity. See the picture and headline at left, which ran atop Drudge Report tonight. Drudge's link went to a video of Meet The Press anchor Tim Russert calmly explaining to America that "we now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be" and that Hillary Clinton is probably about to quit (she cancelled her TV appearances and everything!). Then David Gergen, the Bill Clinton aide turned talking head, said on CNN the election is over, partly because Chelsea looked sad during Hillary's last speech. "You could see the anguish on her face," Gergen said. "I think the Clinton people know the game is almost up." Remaining voters, politely thank your media overlords for deciding the election on your behalf. Clips of Russert and Gergen, and a bigger pic of the Drudge page, after the jump.

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George McGovern defects, calls for Clinton to drop out

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Ex-Clinton consultant cheers McGovern's 'guts'

Former South Darkota Senator George McGovern has reversed his endorsement of Senator Hillary Clinton and urged her to drop out of the race for president following her showing in Indiana and North Carolina.

McGovern says he now endorses Barack Obama. He was the Democratic nominee in 1972, when he lost to then-President Richard Nixon.

McGovern himself was instrumental in the current nominating process, which weighs caucuses and primaries more heavily than superdelegates. The 85-year-old Democrat was named chairman of a Democratic Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection in 1969. In part, due to his urging, the commission cut back the power of party officials and insiders and increased the roles of caucuses and primaries.

Ex-Clinton White House strategist lauds call

"Bully for him [McGovern] for having the guts, wisdom, and leadership to say it because that's what's on the minds of a lot of people in the party these days and they don't have the guts to say that they don't want Hillary to be the Democratic nominee," Kitty Kurth, a former Clinton White House consultant and Democratic strategist from Chicago, told RAW STORY Wednesday. "That doesn't mean that we like Bill or Hillary any less. It's just that different times call for different leadership."

Kurth, who now runs a strategy firm called Kurth Lampe, is busy working on the 6th District Congressional race in Illinois, Rep. Henry Hyde's old district. She says she's neutral in the presidential race this cycle.

"I'm officially neutral," Kurth said. "I was very lucky when I worked with the Clintons and the Gores when they were in the White House. I am personally thankful for all the opportunities they gave me but it's time to move on."

Kurth said that McGovern is showing the kind of leadership others in the party need to demonstrate and the math is all pointing to Obama.

"The math was done by Jonathan Alter and months ago and it's only gotten worse for Hillary," she said. "Her speech last night was schizophrenic. At one point she was almost going to concede and the next second, she's saying she's on to West Virginia. She needs to end this but the longer she waits, the harder it's going to be for her and for the party. It's a tough decision."

Kurth added that she didn't think it was a bad idea to let other states normally not involved in the presidential primary to get a chance to organize and vote this time around.

"Keep the primary going but take the gloves off," she said. "Let's make this more of a boxing match rather than a street brawl like it has been for the last couple of weeks."

Correction: Kurth's last name was incorrectly spelled in an earlier edition.

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Exit Polls: Limbaugh Effect Seems To Rear Its Head

About Sam Stein

Sam Stein is a Political Reporter at the Huffington Post, based in Washington, D.C. Previously he has worked for Newsweek magazine, the New York Daily News and the investigative journalism group Center for Public Integrity. He has a masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a graduate of Dartmouth College. Sam can be reached at

Did Rush Limbaugh actually impact the Democratic primary?

The loud-mouthed radio talk show host has been encouraging Republicans to vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton to continue the "chaos" in the Democratic race. And a sampling of some key exit poll information suggests he may, to a certain extent, be having an effect.

Thirty-six percent of primary voters said that Clinton does not share their values. And yet, among that total, one out of every five (20 percent) nevertheless voted for her in the Indiana election. Moreover, of the 10 percent of Hoosiers who said "neither candidate" shared their values, 75 percent cast their ballots for Clinton.

These are not small numbers. By comparison, of the 33 percent of voters who said Sen. Barack Obama does not share their values, only seven percent cast their ballots in his favor. Basically, more people who don't relate to Clinton are, for one reason or another, still voting for her. These are not likely to be loyal supporters.

On a broader level, among the 17 percent of primary goers who said they would choose Sen. John McCain over Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical general election match-up, 41 percent of that group came from Clinton's own camp. In essence, roughly seven percent of Clinton support in Indiana (40 percent of 17 percent) said they would defect to the Republican should she end up the nominee. That would be a difficult punch to stomach in November. In 2004, nearly 1 million Indianans voted for John Kerry. A seven percent defection rate would have meant 70,000 less votes.

By contrast, if the general election is between Obama and McCain, 19 percent of the Indiana Democratic primary goers said they would support the Republican. But only 12 percent of that group (2.28 percent) would come from Obama's camp.

The numbers suggest one of three things: A) Clinton's support in Indiana, while clearly there, is not entirely solid; B) a large swath of Indiana primary goers simply didn't like the nominees and thought of Clinton as the lesser of two evils; or C) Limbaugh's hatchet plan could be having political ripples.

Perhaps it's a mix of all three.

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GOP leaders warn of election disaster

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.)
Cole told members that the NRCC doesn’t have enough cash to “save them” in November if they don’t raise enough money or run strong campaigns themselves.

Shellshocked House Republicans got warnings from leaders past and present Tuesday: Your party’s message isn’t good enough to prevent disaster in November, and neither is the NRCC’s money.

The double shot of bad news had one veteran Republican House member worrying aloud that the party’s electoral woes — brought into sharp focus by Woody Jenkins’ loss to Don Cazayoux in Louisiana on Saturday — have the House Republican Conference splitting apart in “everybody for himself” mode.

“There is an attitude that, ‘I better watch out for myself, because nobody else is going to do it,’” the member said. “There are all these different factions out there, everyone is sniping at each other, and we have no real plan. We have a lot of people fighting to be the captain of the lifeboat instead of everybody pulling together.”

In a piece published in Human Events, the Republicans’ onetime captain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, warned his old colleagues that they face “real disaster” on Election Day unless they move immediately to “chart a bold course of real reform” for the country.

And in a closed-door session at the Capitol, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told members that the NRCC doesn’t have enough cash to “save them” in November if they don’t raise enough money or run strong campaigns themselves.

Although a top House Republican brushed aside Gingrich’s broadside as “hype from a has-been who desperately wants to be a player but can’t anymore,” the harsh words from Cole were harder to ignore.

“It was a pretty stern line that he took with us,” said one House Republican.

Cole, on the defensive in the wake of special election losses in Louisiana and Illinois, pointed his finger Tuesday at his Republican colleagues, telling them that they had been too stingy in helping fund party efforts. He also complained that the Republicans ran weak candidates in both Louisiana and Illinois — a charge Cole made despite the fact that, as NRCC chairman, he could have played a major role in choosing the party’s candidates if he hadn’t made the decision to stay out of GOP primaries.

In his meeting with members, Cole distributed a document showing that even former Republican political guru Karl Rove had badmouthed Jenkins, according to GOP sources. It’s not clear whether Cole meant it as a criticism of Rove or of Jenkins.

But Cole’s overall message was clear, said members who sat through the meeting: “If you’re not out doing your own work, and you’re waiting for the NRCC to come in at the last minute and save you, it ain’t gonna happen.” That’s how one lawmaker characterized Cole’s talk, adding that the NRCC is “not going to have the resources” to help all members “and Democrats will have a lot more money.”

Republicans are suffering a crisis of confidence after the two special election losses. There’s talk that House Minority Leader John A. Boehner and other GOP leaders could be ousted if the party suffers double-digit losses in November.

Gingrich’s broadside did little to calm the GOP jitters.

While Gingrich softened his blow by circulating it privately to the GOP leadership on Monday — a day before it was publicly released — his language was still strong, and his message was seen as a broad attack on Boehner, Cole and the rest of the Republican leadership.

“The Republican loss in the special election for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District last Saturday should be a sharp wake-up call for Republicans,” Gingrich wrote. “Either congressional Republicans are going to chart a bold course of real change or they are going to suffer decisive losses this November.”

Gingrich said Republicans cannot rely on the popularity of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, to carry them to victory in November. And he warned that attacks on Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, could backfire.

“The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti-Rev. Wright or, if Sen. Clinton wins, anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail,” Gingrich said. “This model has already been tested with disastrous results.”

The NRCC ran TV ads tying Cazayoux to national Democratic figures in the Louisiana special election, only to see Democrats grab control of a House seat that had been in the GOP column for more than three decades.

Gingrich, who was pushed out as speaker following GOP losses in the 1998 midterm elections, advocated “an emergency, members-only” meeting of House Republicans in order to hash out a new reform agenda before Memorial Day. He also called for a “complete overhaul” of the NRCC.

Gingrich said that if the GOP leadership would not go along with his plan, “then the minority who are activists should establish a parallel organization dedicated to real change.” He offered nine policy proposals designed to achieve that goal, including repealing federal gas taxes, reforming the Census Bureau and declaring English as the official language of the United States.

Boehner tried to put the best face on Gingrich’s message. His spokesman, Michael Steel, said that Boehner “certainly agrees — and has said repeatedly — that Republicans can only succeed this year by being agents of change and reform.” Steel said Republicans have to convince voters that they can “fix” Washington and that, in the coming weeks, they will be “laying out Republican policies that embody the sort of changes we need.”

But there is no question that Gingrich has identified a nervous undercurrent among House Republicans that could morph into full-fledged panic if the GOP loses a special election next Tuesday in Mississippi. Republican Greg Davis is squaring off against Democrat Travis Childers for the House seat held by former Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who was appointed to the Senate to replace retired Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

With internal polls from both parties showing the race as a tossup, the GOP is putting on a full-court press. The White House has dispatched Vice President Cheney to Mississippi to campaign on Davis’ behalf. And Wicker, Lott, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will hold events for Davis this weekend and early next week, according to GOP sources.

House Republicans will hold a rally with President Bush on Wednesday morning, with all 199 members invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to show solidarity with the president, according to GOP sources.

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