Media pronounces race over; Hillary still running

May 12th, 2008 - 11:42 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 12 (IANS) Even as the media pronounced the Democratic presidential nomination race over with Barack Obama overtaking Hillary Clinton in the support of super delegates, his gritty rival was all set to take one last stand Tuesday. Picking up 21 endorsements since his sweeping victory in North Carolina and a narrow loss in Indiana primaries, Obama had by Saturday the backing of 276 key party officials holding the balance of power in the nomination process as against Clinton’s 271.5, according to one count.

Yet amid ever growing calls to quit the White House race, Clinton has doggedly continued her campaign in West Virginia, the next scene of battle Tuesday.

She is widely expected to win there with one poll suggesting she holds a commanding 43-point advantage over Obama in the mountain state thanks to her white working class base. But even a big victory in West Virginia is unlikely to upset Obama’s applecart now.

The cascade of endorsements for Obama virtually sealed the former first lady ’s fate as she was banking on their support to anoint her the party nominee even though Obama has won more primaries, has a larger share of popular vote and leads her in the count of delegates, who actually elect the party nominee.

But Clinton has advanced the argument that as she has won bigger states,she is more electable in the November presidential contest which is held under a winner take all system rather than Democrats’ own proportional one in the allocation of delegates to the presidential Electoral College.

She also claims overwhelming support among the white working class that makes up the majority of the electorate whereas Obama has been propelled forward largely by the blacks and left leaning liberals.

The backing of super delegates, party officials and leaders who have held elective office, is considered crucial in the nomination battle as neither candidate is likely to reach the magic winning number of 2025 delegates by the end of primary season June 3.

Many of the super delegates who endorsed Obama in the last week said it is time for the party to unite behind him to take on presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in the presidential elections in November.

In the overall race for the nomination, Obama has a 167.5 delegate advantage with his 1,864.5 delegates to Clinton’s 1,697, according to the latest Associated Press (AP) tally.

Clinton started the year with a 106-delegate lead among super delegates, but her margin started to shrink after Obama won the Iowa caucuses in early January.

After 11 straight victories in primaries and caucuses from Feb 5 Super Tuesday to March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas, Obama picked up 51 super delegates while Clinton had a net loss of one.

Obama added another 22 even after her victory in Pennsylvania that her helped her add 11.5 super delegates, including the half delegate from the Democrats Abroad.

There are 217 pledged delegates at stake in the remaining six primaries. A little more than 200 super delegates also remain undecided, and about 40 others will be named by state parties at state conventions and meetings throughout the spring.

Meanwhile, even before Obama fully wraps up the Democratic presidential nomination, he and McCain are already drawing up strategies for taking each other on in the general election, the New York Times reported Saturday citing campaign aides.

Both camps are focusing on the same groups - including independent voters and Latinos - and about a dozen states where they think the contest is likely to be decided in November,

They are also starting to assemble teams in the key battlegrounds, develop negative advertising and engage each other in earnest on the issues and a combustible mix of other topics, including age and patriotism, the Times said.

In a sign of what could be an extremely unusual fall campaign, the two sides said Saturday that they would be open to holding joint forums or un-moderated debates across the country in front of voters through the summer. Obama, campaigning in Oregon, said that the proposal, floated by McCain’s advisers, was “a great idea.”

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