A string of Democratic leaders is endorsing Barack Obama in an attempt to pressure Hillary Clinton to give up her bid for the party’s Democratic nomination. Many party insiders fear that the bitter campaign will make it harder to beat Republican John McCain in the November general election. (The Wall Street Journal) Former president Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife in California, said the tight primary race was “strengthening” the party. "We are going to win this election,” he said, “if we just chill out and let everybody have their say." (San Jose Mercury-News, free registration)
What the commentators said
There’s no reason Clinton should drop out as long as she has a shot, said Isaac Chotiner in The New Republic's The Plank blog, but she has nothing to gain “by an ugly, divisive contest.” The “conventional wisdom” says she has to destroy Obama to win, but the electoral math is against her unless a huge scandal derails her rival. So her smartest move is to “slow things down a bit” so that, if no "game-changer” emerges, she might have another shot in 2012.
It is “insane” for Democratic insiders to try to shut down this battle, said Bill Press in The Huffington Post. The Democratic Party “I knew loved a good fight,” and “believed in giving everyone a fair shot.” And this year “the party is blessed with two of the best candidates ever to run for president.” And the historic contest between “the first African-American and the first woman having a serious shot at the presidency” is inspiring voters like never before—why would one wish for this to end quickly?
The Clintonites have clearly been “breathing the fumes of the campaign bus too long,” said Jay Bookman in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (free registration). Hillary says she must keep fighting “on the grounds that the people are sovereign and must be allowed to have their say. Then, switching gears, she also argues that once the people have had their say, the superdelegates have the right to overturn the people's verdict in her favor.” That “convoluted argument” can only make sense to someone insulated from reality by the bubble of her own campaign.
There’s actually a good reason for Clinton to fight so hard, said Andrew Gumbel in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). America has a “long history of dogged, dirty, win-at-any-cost electioneering.” And it works, no matter how much party leaders claim that the “popular will” is their primary concern.
Judging by the way they’re campaigning in Pennsylvania, said Robert Novak in the Chicago Sun-Times, it is beginning to dawn on Clinton and Obama that neither wins in a Democratic fight to the finish. Instead, they are offering voters “wonkish declarations, nearly identical from Obama and Clinton. Obama thinks he has the nomination won, and Clinton is not desperate enough to launch a suicidal last attack.”