Democrats brace for the decider in presidential battle

May 19th, 2008 - 10:35 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 19 (IANS) As Hillary Clinton facing almost impossible odds prepared to take one last stand Tuesday with an expected win in Kentucky, Barack Obama is all set to declare the Democratic presidential race over with a victory in Oregon. Despite Obama’s commanding lead in the delegate count, the former first lady has been campaigning hard in the two states that together account for 121 delegates, telling voters she’s “running for the toughest job in the world.”

But unmindful of Clinton’s persistence, Obama was planning to lay claim on the party’s presidential nomination with a rally Tuesday on primary night in Iowa, where his solid win in January caucuses robbed Clinton of an aura of inevitability and propelled him to the front.

Though he has been campaigning for primaries in Oregon and Kentucky, Obama instead of sparring with Clinton has of late trained his sights on the November presidential election turning his guns on presumptive Republican nonminee John McCain.

Iowa has been a swing state in recent elections. Democrat Al Gore narrowly carried the state in 2000, and President George Bush collected the state’s seven electoral votes by just over 10,000 votes in 2004.

Obama, who would be America’s first black president, of has already garnered the support of 1904 delegates, including 292 super delegates or key party officials not bound by primary results, is just 121 short of the magic number of 2,025 to to clinch the nomination.

Yet despite trailing Obama across all fronts - pledged delegates, super delegates, states won and the popular vote-Clinton with only 1717 delegates, including 274 super delegates, has refused to heed growing calls to drop out of the race.

Seeing the writing on the wall, a number of super delegates who hold the balance of power in the nomination process if neither candidate wins the required majority, have endorsed Obama saying it is time for the party to unite behind him to take on presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.

Among the key endorsements won by Obama over the last week was that of the 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, who had been holding out for months since dropping out of this year’s race after early setbacks.

“There is one man who knows and understands that this is a time for bold leadership. There is one man that knows how to create the change, the lasting change, that you have to build from the ground up,” Edwards told a boisterous crowd at a campaign event in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“There is one man who knows in his heart there is time to create one America, not two … and that man is Barack Obama,” he said. He also praised Hillary Clinton calling her a woman “of steel” who was a leader not because of her husband former president Bill Clinton but because of what she has done.

When the nomination battle is over, “and it will be over soon, brothers and sisters … we must come together as Democrats,” he said.

Yet Clinton has been claiming a lead over Obama in the popular vote, a debatable claim, especially because the Democratic National Committee doesn’t count the votes of Florida and Michigan, which Clinton does.

Florida and Michigan were stripped of their 368 delegates for scheduling their primaries too early, and Clinton was the only top-tier candidate whose name was on the ballot in Michigan. Clinton’s campaign also excludes the caucus states in their popular vote count.

The Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, a 30-member panel charged with interpreting and enforcing party rules, is to meet May 31 to consider how to give representation to the two crucial general election battlegrounds.

“All those people on TV who are telling you and everybody else that this race is over and I should just be graceful and say, ‘Oh it’s over’ even though I’ve won more votes,” Clinton told supporters in Kentucky.

“They keep telling me to quit,” she said. “I don’t know, maybe I was just raised with the kind of values you were raised [with]. You don’t quit on people and you don’t quit until you finish what you started and you don’t quit on America.”

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