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Hoyer: Democratic Primary Could Damage Party

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledged during an interview with The Fix Wednesday that the ongoing nomination fight between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama has the potential to cause a major fissure within the Democratic Party due to the deeply personal connections voters have with the candidates.

"When they attack one another, it's not just an attack on the other candidate, it is taken I think by women and by African Americans in a more personal sense," said Hoyer. "To that extent I think the continued clash between the two candidates, which is inevitable, is not particularly helpful."

The historic nature of the choice between Clinton and Obama has largely been cast as an unalloyed good for the party, but Hoyer said that the strong identity politics at work in the race may embitter each side toward the other.

Hoyer, the second ranking House Democrat, made his comments as part of washingtonpost.com's "PostTalk" program. They came just hours before Geraldine Ferrarro, the party's 1984 vice presidential nominee and a Clinton supporter, stepped down from the New York Senator's finance team following remarks she made that questioned whether Obama would be where he is in the race if he were white.

Hoyer's full answer about the potential problems created by the increased vitriol between Clinton and Obama on the campaign trail is below.

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Is he right?

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 13, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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