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Democrats in Delicate Dance

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., pictured outside the White House April 9, 2008, are asking all remaining superdelegates to make their commitments this week. (Associated Press)

By Paul Kane
A pair of carefully worded early-morning statements by the Democratic political leadership demonstrates the delicate dance underway as the protracted battle for the Democratic nomination draws to a close.

The first -- issued shortly after 5:30 a.m. by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Democratic Governors Association Chairman Joe Manchin and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean -- did not directly acknowledge that Sen. Barack Obama has already won more than the 2,118 pledged and superdelegates needed to secure the nomination.

Instead, the group asked uncommitted superdelegates to select a candidate -- either Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) -- by week's end. "Democrats must now turn our full attention to the general election," the leaders said. "To that end, we are urging all remaining uncommitted super delegates to make their decisions known by Friday of this week."

But an hour later, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, issued his own statement congratulating "our nominee" Obama."

Van Hollen's acknowledgment of Obama's victory makes him the 2nd House leader to get behind an Obama nomination this week. Yesterday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) endorsed Obama, More than three dozen other superdelegates followed suit, vaulting Obama past the finish line.

But even with voting completed and enough delegates pledged for Obama to clinch, Democratic leaders say they are determined to give Clinton time and space to end her candidacy on her own timetable. The 5:30 a.m. statement seems to be an effort to allow that to happen, while the Van Hollen statement seems to have veered a bit off-script.

Here are the full statements from the Democratic leaders and from Van Hollen:

The Pelosi-Reid-Dean-Manchim statement:

"We have come to the end of an exciting primary and caucus process: the voters have spoken. As the Democratic leaders of the Senate, House of Representatives, the Governors and the Democratic National Committee we commend all of the participants of the 2008 primary process, especially Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, for making this such a transformational election. Because of the enthusiasm our candidates have inspired, our party has brought record numbers of voters to the polls, gained millions of newly registered Democrats and now has advantages in states many thought were difficult to win. We are grateful to the millions of Independents and Republicans who have crossed over to vote for a Democratic candidate for President.

"Democrats must now turn our full attention to the general election. To that end, we are urging all remaining uncommitted super delegates to make their decisions known by Friday of this week so that our party can stand united and begin our march toward reversing the eight years of failed Bush/McCain policies that have weakened our country.

"We once again congratulate all of the candidates for their leadership and dedication to providing this country with a New Direction. We look forward to working with them and with all Democrats to win the White House, congressional seats and state capitals so we can deliver the change the American people deserve and demand."

Van Hollen statement:

"Over these past five months, we have seen the Democratic presidential nominating contests energize our Party and bring record numbers of new Democrats into the political process. This record enthusiasm has already helped to grow our Majority in Congress through three straight special election wins. Our momentum will continue to move the Democratic Party toward our goal of winning the White House and expanding our Majorities in Congress.

"The enthusiasm, new voters, and Americans' demand for change has clearly expanded the playing field for House Democrats this fall. Our nominee Barack Obama is inspiring millions of Americans to register to vote and go to the polls. In November, voters will have a clear choice between Barack Obama's real change versus John McCain's status quo as he runs for a third Bush term.

"I congratulate Senator Hillary Clinton on her outstanding and groundbreaking campaign. She will continue to be a tremendous asset in uniting our Party, electing a Democrat president and helping to grow our Majority in the House.

"I congratulate Senator Barack Obama. He is an exceptional leader who continues to inspire the entire nation with his message of change. I look forward to working with him during this campaign and as our next President."

By Washington Post Editor  |  June 4, 2008; 8:27 AM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , The Democrats  
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If Obama names Hillary as his running mate it will cripple his campaign. It will mean six more months of Clintonian psychodrama being played out, with every joint appearance between Obama and Clinton being analyzed to death: Did they seem distant, was she deferential or combative, what did his expression mean when she said that, etc., etc., etc.

Sorry, but there are way too many downsides and not many upsides to such a choice. I might feel differently if Hillary had gracefully conceded last night instead of trying to play hardball by "staying in." (In what, I have no idea, since the primaries are over, her campaign coffers are way past empty and she's, well, LOST. But, to paraphrase another Clinton who was trying to reorder an inconvenient reality, I guess it all depends on what the meaning of "in" is.)

With all due respect for running a very intense and competitive race, it's time to let our party's nominee take center stage. This election is over; we still have another one yet to win in November.

Posted by: whatmeregister | June 4, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Bob S.:
Obama didn't even try to win several states of the states you mention - he didn't have to. This was a political chess game, and Hillary was out-manuvered and out-played. That he lost several states late in the contest is immaterial. Had he needed those states, I'm sure his approach would have been different and you would have seen some different results. His focus is now on McCain, as it should be.

Posted by: Steve D. | June 4, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

With Obama having lost 6 of the last 9 primaries (3 of them by 35 points or more), having lost in the all-important swing states, and having received less than half of the votes cast in the "Democratic" primary, it is incongruous for the power brokers in the "Democratic" Party to pick Obama as their nominee and continue to use the name "Democratic." UNDEMOCRATIC PARTY is more appropriate. Sorry, Hillary. I think you'd be a great president and have nothing but respect for you, but even can't get me to vote for the UNDEMOCRATIC CHOICE. He's simply unqualified and I'm too fed up with the UNDEMOCRATIC PARTY.

Posted by: Bob S | June 4, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to mention the large cadre of racists in the Clinton club.

Posted by: Joseph | June 4, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

We don't need her, or her backstabbing supporters.

I know there are many true Americans that support Hillary and will support Obama come November. We don't need the rest.

Obama is above partisan politics. He is about bringing this country together. Moderate republicans as well as independents will follow his message, our message, that US can be more, will be more.

Hillary and her back stabbers, her ignorant white men, and her sexist, selfish, and delusional old guard feminists, can vote for McCain all they want.

Hillary will not stop us from making this country great again!

Posted by: Joseph | June 4, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

As I think was said by someone last night on CNN, she wants to be president and if not that co-president as part of a coalition government. It is all about her.

"A coalition government, or coalition cabinet, is a cabinet of a parliamentary government in which several parties cooperate. "

Posted by: pjonathan | June 4, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Obama and his supporters has used strong-arm and back-handed tactics to disgrace and disrespect Hillary, and all those who had voted for her. Remember, at least half the democrats voted for Hillary. Why not respect them? The Michigan fiasco was the greatest insult of them all. First, had Michigan and Florida results been recognized way back when, this election would have been different. Now, the Obama supporter and the undeclared Obama supporters did not have the guts to show their strong arm tactics in front of the camera on May 31st, but did it behind the scenes. Then, they took four delegates from her that she rightfully won, took Dods, gravels, and the other two candidates 5% that they earned, and combined that with the 40% uncommitted. This 40% could have been for Richardson, Edwards, Biden, or Obama, who said it belonged 100% to Obama. They robed Hillary, Dodd, Gravel, and others to give the delegates to a candidate that obviously did not need them. How insulting it is.

I know 8 lifelong ardent Demorcatic supports, including myself, who now vote for McCain, unless Hillary receives the VP. If Obama is serious about healing the party, the minimum he could do is give Hillary the VP. For the Obama supporters, you got your nominee, if you want Hillary supporters, you better give us the respect and 2nd place that we deserve. If not: Denver, Denver, Denver and McCain '08, McCain '08, McCain '08.

Posted by: Mark | June 4, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Barack and his advisors will be performing an interesting calculus over the next few weeks - how many Hillary supporters who may vote for McCain if she's not on the ticket over against the Independents and Barack supporters they'll lose if she is.

Posted by: Innocent Bystander | June 4, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I voted for Hillary but I like Obama ... I didnt think it was his time . . . thought he could have had a smooth sail as her VP . . . 8 years of not having to go on the record on anything . . . he could have inspired while she led. Nevertheless, I am willing to vote for him in November.

November is a long ways away though and the one thing I would like Obama supporters on here who have been rattling off these hateful and untrue statements to ask themselves is this:

Are you offering a good representation of the candidate you claim to support? Would Obama himself say such divisive things? The answer is NO.

So if you really believe in "hope" and "change"-- don't destroy his chances for that by being so vitriolic and pushing the buttons of women like me who know from personal experience that both racism AND sexism still exist. Realize that as much as Obama inspired you, many of us were equally inspired by Senator Clinton. If the tables were turned now, would you appreciate statements like below? :

"Hillary Clinton is an amazing rude person. Petty and vengeful. How can Obama offer what she is trying to demand? Does she expect Obama to be Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy? "

"but I will say this, "People like you need to be objective and there is nothing personal here". ("people like you" nice phrasing there)

"Hillary lost so deal with it."

"You "Hillary" maniacs are just self loathing idiots looking for some way to externalize your hatred of yourselves, just like REPUBLICANS."

HINT: this is NOT the way to "unite."

Posted by: capitolmoxie | June 4, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Hillary's hinting that she would like to be VP is a political ploy. Barack will be forced to reject her offer, ticking off her supporters. Obama-Clinton is the worst idea I've ever heard. That's an automatic loss. Why even have an election? These two spilled each other's blood all year and then unite for a "dream ticket". Oh yeah, that'll give the American people a clear choice for change and rising about the fray of politics as usual.

Posted by: dcp | June 4, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Given its treatment of the far better qualified candidate (Hillary), I will not longer support the Democratic Party. Nader 08.

Posted by: Aus Tex | June 4, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Obama's humility vs. Clinton's arrogance.

Obama should continue playing nice to Clinton but shut her out of any power in his future. She's toxic. For those who don't see it, just read her non-concession speech. It's like Limbo: How low can you go?

Posted by: Harry, Los Angeles, CA | June 4, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I have voted as a Republican all of my adult life. This year, for the first time, I have been considering voting for Obama. However, if he takes Clinton with him on the ticket, I will vote for McCain.

Posted by: Suzy | June 4, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton deserves/is owed the vice presidential nomination no more than she deserved, was owed the presidential nomination.

Posted by: Vanessa | June 4, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Is time to bring back the lost american pride, lets drop the "bomb" against the wrong Bush goverment.

Lets have the big formula Obama-Clinton together versus Mc Cain.

No body can stop them.

Together they can give us back the economic resuscitation and the credibility and luster that Bush Administration rip in 2 periods.

Patrick Hernandez

Posted by: Patrick /Utah | June 4, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Barack .... I have a question (and don't call me sweetie) ... Were you and Michelle so
"out of it" that neither of you can "remember" the party you attended in honor of Auchi by Tony Rezco?

Posted by: American | June 4, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Didn't HRC say herself that she'd leave the race when there was a nominee? Looks like there's a nominee, so...what's she up to?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 4, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Barack should chose Nadhmi Auchi as his running mate. Nadhmi has BILLIONS. Or Nadhmi could just be a silent partner.

Posted by: American | June 4, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton is the poorest loser I have ever seen or heard of. Also I cannot believe the big shot Democrats who seem to be scared to death of her...why??? She is so old news. She is not a terrorist...she is just a politician who lost a big race.
SO??????????? She should show a little class, concede the race, call Obama and congratulate him, and ride off into the sunset. I am 78 years old and I have never seen such deference shown anyone as is being shown to Hillary Clinton. She should get over it, and her supporters should realize it is not her time, and surprise!!!it may never be. The world will not stop spinning if Hillary Clinton is never in the oval office.

Posted by: beccajo | June 4, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

How can they call themselves Democrats, with either a capital or small d? Their party has decided to let a select group of power brokers, not the people who voted, select their nominee.

-Wm Tate

Posted by: Wm Tate | June 4, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Marjie-Uh, Your JOKING right?

FYI-Teddy, Kerry, Daschle, Reid, Pelosi, and even George Soros are what is REALLY in that apparently "Empty" Suit called: "O'Bomba".

Even Howling Dean has been a bigger Cheerleader than Eugene Robinson, Dana Milbank, or EVEN Little Keithie Drollbermann!

Although their Biased Cheering was nauseating enough! :-(

But NOW, for all the Summer Lovers!

When "Barry" the Puppet is FORCED to take on the Clintons as Running Mates;

It will be "June" all year long! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | June 4, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Actually, it is past time for ALL uncommitted superdelegates to declare themselves.

Let us hope that the Democratic leadership's call for decisions in the next two days will work to end Mrs. Clinton's delusion that she is still in the running -- (for unless she has foreknowledg of future events that will prevent Obama from continuing his campaign, she is delusional to keep on keeping on).

Posted by: No1 | June 4, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Seems that Obama is stalling the vaunted meeting with Hillary. He does not want to name her Veep, but realizes the inevitable. He just wants to push that decision off for a few days.

Posted by: matt | June 4, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

It is time for Nancy Pelosi to show her courage and endorse Obama. Now.

Posted by: Marjie | June 4, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

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