Obama not yet ready to write Clinton off

May 9th, 2008 - 11:37 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 9 (IANS) Hillary Clinton has been written off by the pundits after a near knockout blow, but rival Barack Obama is not yet ready to declare himself “the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party”. In fact, Obama who is hoping to be America’s first black president, would not even rule her out as his running mate on what Democrats call a “Dream Ticket” in the November White House race against presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.

“Not yet,” he said on a TV show when asked if his massive victory in North Carolina and a near tie in Indiana last Tuesday had sealed his nomination. “I will be, if Clinton decides not to go on or if we complete the six contests and we are ahead as we are now.”

“But nothing is certain. I don’t want to take it for granted,” said Obama on NBC Nightly News Thursday. “Clinton has been written off before, and came back. And she’s a formidable candidate,” he added.

Asked whether he would consider Clinton as a vice presidential running mate, Obama said it would be “presumptuous” to consider such a thing before the race is over. “We haven’t wrapped this thing up yet.”

But “there’s no doubt that she’s qualified to be vice president, there’s no doubt she’s qualified to be president,” he said. “I’ve said that before. But I think I can be a better president, otherwise I wouldn’t be running. But she’s a very capable, very smart person. And anybody who’s been in a political contest with her, can tell you that she’s no pushover.”

Ending a big-state losing streak going back more than a month, Obama’s 14-point victory (56 to 42 percent) victory in North Carolina Tuesday helped him build an unassailable 1,846 to 1,685 lead in delegates who would pick the party nominee at a convention in August. The winner needs 2,025 delegates.

It would be mathematically impossible for Clinton to beat Obama as only 216 delegates are at stake in the remaining six contests. Obama too is unlikely to reach the winning number, leaving the decision to nearly 800 super delegates - elected party officials free to back any candidate.

Apparently banking on the super delegates, the former first lady has vowed to carry on until the end of primary season June 3 amidst dwindling finances and increasing calls from party leaders to drop out.

However, her campaign did signal Thursday that Clinton might not take the battle all the way to the August convention. “I don’t see it going to the convention,” Terry McAuliffe, her campaign manager, said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Echoing Clinton’s determination to fight on, McAuliffe said the party’s super-delegates would resolve the contest soon after the final election is tallied. “I think the super-delegates are going to move very quickly,” he said. “After June 3, this is going to come to a conclusion.”

Dismissing criticism that Clinton was dividing the party by staying in the race, McAuliffe argued that the hard-fought race has energised Democratic voters.

Noting that Bill Clinton was not selected as the party nominee until June 1992, and the Democrats handily won that election, he said: “We have all said we will be together at the end.”

McAuliffe also said the question of Florida and Michigan, whose delegates have been barred for holding their primary elections in January in defiance of Democratic Party rules, needed to be settled by the party.

But he did not seem to think it would stand in the way of concluding the race by early June. “Within a week or two after June 3, I think it will be all over,” he said.

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