Democrats in Delicate Dance
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."
Washington Post Editor
June 4, 2008; 8:27 AM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , The Democrats
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