Feature

Hillary: Should she quit—or fight on?

Hillary Clinton just won’t take no for an answer, said Jay Bookman in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “For several weeks now, it had become clear that she could not win the Democratic nomination.” With only 10 primaries to go, Barack Obama leads her by

Hillary Clinton just won’t take no for an answer, said Jay Bookman in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “For several weeks now, it had become clear that she could not win the Democratic nomination.” With only 10 primaries to go, Barack Obama leads her by some 140 delegates, and barring a major gaffe or revelation, she has virtually no chance of overtaking him. That’s why more and more prominent Democrats, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, are stepping forward to endorse Obama and advise Clinton to end her campaign. Yet Hillary “cannot bring herself” to admit defeat, particularly because she and her circle of advisors have invested so much of their own egos in her winning the presidency. “I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started,” she said last week. “If we don’t resolve it, we’ll resolve it at the convention.”

So desperate is Hillary, said Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal Online, that her campaign is now issuing threats to fellow Democrats. Last week a group of top Clinton donors sent a letter admonishing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for saying that the party’s 800 superdelegates should support whichever candidate wins the most pledged delegates. The letter strongly hinted that if Pelosi didn’t come around to Hillary’s position—that the superdelegates should feel free to swing the nomination to Clinton—major Democratic donors might stop contributing to congressional candidates. Even for the Clintons, this was a “new level of thuggishness.” But Hillary is now capable of anything, simply because she “cannot accept that this nobody from nowhere could have beaten her.” If she thinks she can win by tearing Obama down, said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post, she’s mistaken. In recent weeks, her husband and some high-profile supporters have suggested that Obama is nothing but another Jesse Jackson, albeit with better rhetoric, while she has criticized Obama’s choice of pastors and indicated that he’s unqualified to be president. Polls, however, show that Obama’s approval ratings have bounced back to 49 percent, while Clinton’s have sunk to just 37 percent—their lowest point in seven years. Hillary’s doggedness is becoming so toxic that it’s beginning to sour many one-time Democratic admirers on the whole “Clinton brand.”

That’s simply not fair, said Chuck Todd in MSNBC.com. Having amassed nearly 1,500 delegates and won most major states, Hillary has no obligation to bow out. You never know: “Another controversial issue” could emerge before the convention in Denver in August, and inflict a mortal wound to Obama’s electability. In the meantime, a longer primary season will yield a better and more battle-hardened candidate. Obama has already had to deal with “the first crisis of his political career”—the controversy over his former pastor, the inflammatory Rev. Jeremiah Wright—and Clinton’s now forcing him to hone his message for the white, working-class voters he needs to beat John McCain. Sure, “there will be a point where she could do damage to the party, but we’re not there yet.”

Oh, yes we are, said The New Republic in an editorial. Even though Clinton and Obama basically agree on the key issues, they’re spending their time bickering over “picayune” differences, keeping each other on the defensive, and failing to explain why America should vote for either of them. Meanwhile, an unchallenged McCain is “consolidating his base and building goodwill with the rest of the electorate.” His poll numbers, not surprisingly, are steadily rising. “It’s about time for the Democratic Party to panic. If it wants to win this election, it needs this race to end as soon as possible.”

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