Thursday, May 8, 2008

Clinton Aide Says Race May Not Go To Convention

The New York Times reports:

As Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton rejected calls for her to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, her campaign signaled Thursday that Mrs. Clinton might not take the battle all the way to the convention at the end of August.

“I don’t see it going to the convention,” Terry McAuliffe, her campaign manager, said in a televised interview.

In recent days, a number of party leaders have called on Mrs. Clinton to cede the nomination to her opponent, Senator Barack Obama, but the Clinton campaign has insisted that she would fight through the end of the primary season. Appearing NBC’s “Today” show, Mr. McAuliffe echoed Mrs. Clinton’s determination to fight on, but said the party’s superdelegates would resolve the contest soon after the final election is tallied.

“I think the superdelegates are going to move very quickly,” he said. “After June 3, this is going to come to a conclusion.”

Mrs. Clinton showed no signs of slowing down on Thursday as she began a three-state campaign swing in advance of contests in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon. Appearing beneath the state Capitol dome in Charleston, W.Va., Senator Clinton told a small but enthusiastic crowd that she would not stop until the remaining six contests are complete.

“I think we want to keep this going so the people of West Virginia’s voices are heard,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton’s criticism of Mr. Obama was muted during her appearance; she said she has done much better than her opponent with certain key voter segments, including women, older voters and blue-collar workers. Mrs. Clinton trails Mr. Obama in pledged delegates and cannot catch up in the remaining races, but she said argues that she would be more successful in the general election against the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain.

While Mrs. Clinton set out on 20 hours of appearances, Mr. Obama appeared Thursday at the Capitol in Washington. He shook hands with members of both parties and posed for photographs during the 45-minute appearance in the House of Representatives.

As he walked through the chamber, Mr. Obama said he expected Mrs. Clinton to win West Virginia and Kentucky and described her leads in those states as “insurmountable.”

“My goal is to bring the party together as soon as possible,” he said.

In an appearance on CNN on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Obama focused his attacks on Mr. McCain, who he said was “offering us four more years of the same policy that has gotten us where we are now.”

Asked whether he would consider Mrs. Clinton as a vice presidential running mate, Mr. Obama said it would be “presumptuous” to consider such thing before the race is over, although he complimented Mrs. Clinton as a candidate and said, “Obviously, she would be on anyone’s short list.”

But Mr. Obama said consideration of a running mate at this point would be premature.

“We haven’t wrapped this thing up yet,” he said.

One issue that remains to be settled in the Democratic race is the disposition of votes in Florida and Michigan, whose delegates have been blocked because of a conflict with the Democratic Party over the timing of those states’ primary elections in January. Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly said that the failure to resolve the conflict could draw the contest into the convention and has insisted that the matter needs to be resolved.

“And if we don’t resolve it, we’ll resolve it at the convention — that’s what credentials committees are for,” Mrs. Clinton said in an interview with The Washington Post in March.

In his appearance on the “Today” show, Mr. McAuliffe also said the question of Florida and Michigan 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.

Mr. McAuliffe also dismissed criticism that Mrs. Clinton was dividing the party by staying in the race. He argued that the hard-fought race has energized Democratic voters and noted the Bill Clinton was not selected as the president nominee until June 1992, and the Democrats handily won that election.

“We have all said we will be together at the end,” he said.