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Clinton Continues to Haul in the Endorsements

The news today that Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has decided to endorse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is in keeping with the party establishment's continued coalescence around the New York senator.

Strickland, who had held a southern Ohio House seat for much of the 1990s, became a hot commodity in the presidential sweepstakes when he cruised to the Buckeye State governor's mansion in 2006 -- staking a claim as the most powerful elected official in one of the biggest presidential battleground states.

The endorsement by Strickland comes less than a week after former vice president Walter Mondale threw his support behind Clinton and further. Altogether, the endorsements further signal -- as we wrote a few weeks back -- that party regulars are starting to line up behind Clinton's candidacy under the belief that she represents their best chance at regaining the White House.

It's through that lens that Strickland's endorsement is best and rightly viewed. Ohio's presidential primary is set for March 4; it is hard to conceive of a scenario under which the nomination is not already decided by March. (That doesn't mean The Fix didn't try in this piece from earlier in the week!)

In endorsing Clinton now, Strickland is affirming his belief that she is the Democrat best positioned to carry his home state -- perhaps the most crucial battleground in the country. Don't underestimate the "electability argument" as a potent story line in the Democratic presidential primary fight this year.

In a conference call with reporters announcing his endorsement, Strickland drove just that point home. "In spite of the admiration I have for her and her incredible skill set, I would not be making this endorsement if I didn't think she was the strongest and best candidate to win the presidency," Strickland said, according to the Associated Press's Beth Fouhy. "I don't think it's likely a Democrat or Republican candidate will be successful without being successful in Ohio. I understand the importance of Ohio in the equation."

The timing of Strickland's endorsement is aimed at refuting talk being fomented by Clinton's rivals -- Barack Obama and John Edwards most notably -- that nominating her would badly jeopardize the party's chances of taking back the White House.

For Strickland, his decision to back Clinton is certain to further bolster speculation about his chances at being chosen as the vice presidential nominee if the New York senator wins the nomination. Strickland is the third potential veep to side with Clinton; former Gov. Tom Vilsack (Iowa) and Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) are the others.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 9, 2007; 2:57 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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