Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Is It Over Now?

As the number of primaries and caucuses continues to dwindle (along with the number of still available delegates), pressure has been building for Hillary Clinton to end her campaign.

"There's only one question," writes Michael Tomasky in The Guardian. "Does Hillary Clinton keep going?"

Jennifer Parker of ABC News reports that Clinton has already answered that question. "'It's a new day, it's a new state, it's a new election,' Clinton told reporters at a press conference in West Virginia. 'I'm staying in this race until there's a nominee.'"

But, as Jim Rutenberg writes in the New York Times, many of the political pundits have declared the race over.

Charles Hurt agrees. In the New York Post, Hurt writes, "This was supposed to be Hillary Rodham Clinton's ticket back into the game. Instead, it was a one-way ticket home."

If, as Hurt writes, this week's primaries bought Clinton a "one-way ticket home," she's apparently taking the overland route home to New York from Indiana. She spent all day today in West Virginia -- site of the next primary.

Even if the political writers aren't quite proclaiming Clinton's candidacy over, they're hinting that it's making that transformation.

Vaughn Ververs of CBS News asserts that Clinton's "path to the nomination has nearly vanished."

In New York Magazine, John Heilemann writes that Clinton's speech on primary night was "a moment that smacked of the end of something."

A sure sign that the race is over is the appearance of articles speculating on Obama's choice for running mate.

Fred Barnes suggests, in the Weekly Standard, that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, not Clinton, should be Obama's running mate.

"[P]ressure is building for Clinton to drop out of the race and, when the time comes, emerge as Obama's running mate on a Democratic dream ticket," Barnes writes. "In truth, this would be a nightmare ticket, both dysfunctional and illogical."

Barnes concedes that "Rendell was the leading supporter of Clinton when she trounced Obama in the Pennsylvania presidential primary last month. But he's a smart, tough and respected politician who would no doubt embrace Obama eagerly, fully and loyally."

Rendell also would bring some strengths to an Obama ticket that aren't there now.

As a governor, Rendell would bring executive experience to the ticket. He was re-elected governor in 2006, receiving 60% of the vote against a Republican nominee who also happens to be one of the most popular black athletes in Pennsylvania, former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann.

Rendell is 64, which provides much-needed gravitas for a presidential nominee in his 40s who has only three years' experience in Washington politics.

John Judis writes, in The New Republic, "The question is no longer who will be the Democratic nominee, but whether Obama can defeat Republican John McCain in November. And the answer to that is still unclear."

Judis doesn't hesitate to assert that Obama "needs to remedy certain flaws in his political approach if he wants to defeat McCain." Chief among those "flaws" is Obama's need to expand beyond his dependence on two demographic groups -- blacks (who, historically, vote for Democrats in high numbers, anyway) and young voters (who, historically, haven't been reliable participants in the general election).

Both Obama and McCain will enter the general election campaign with crucial flaws.

Their choices of running mates will tell the voters a lot about how serious they are about correcting those flaws.

And make no mistake about it. Quite a few voters are waiting to see who the running mates are before deciding how to vote in November.

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