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Sunday Reading: When Will the Dem. Race End?

A quick scan of the Sunday papers underscores that the central question in the Democratic presidential race remains: "When will it end?"

To that end, there are two pieces you should make sure to read before the start of the political week tomorrow.

The first comes from the Post's own Perry Bacon and Anne Kornblut, who scored an exclusive interview with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in which she pledged to stay in the race to the Democratic National Convention in August -- assuming the issue of counting the votes of Florida and Michigan remains unresolved.

"I know there are some people who want to shut this down and I think they are wrong," Clinton told the two reporters. "I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan. And if we don't resolve it, we'll resolve it at the convention -- that's what credentials committees are for."

Make no mistake: Clinton is throwing down the gauntlet against the likes of Sens. Pat Leahy (Vt.) and Chris Dodd (Conn.) -- two surrogates for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) who suggested she consider dropping from the race. It's also a direct response to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who said late last week he would prefer for the nomination fight to be resolved by July 1.

In the campaign to date, Clinton performed best when she is under the gun, facing pressure to win, to raise money, to save her candidacy in some way. She's clearly more comfortable in the role of underdog, a position almost no one ever expected her to occupy. For the moment, Clinton can continue on since it's hard to see any neutral party leader -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), former senator John Edwards (N.C.), former vice president Al Gore, Dean -- stepping forward to push for her to leave the race -- pending an upset by Obama in Pennsylvania, which at the moment seems unlikely.

So, when will this all end then? Former governor Mario Cuomo (N.Y.), the man who was going to be Bill Clinton before Bill Clinton, has some thoughts in an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe entitled, "How to Avoid a Democratic Disaster."

After succinctly outlining the problem -- increased nastiness between the two campaigns, alienation from each of their supporters -- Cuomo writes: "Obama and Clinton can -- by putting aside personal irritations, and to some extent personal aspirations, and agreeing to end the hostilities and form a ticket that offers both of them, a candidate for president and a candidate for vice president who is clearly good enough to serve as president, should the occasion arise."

Sounds great. So, who gets the top slot? And who has to settle for second best? Well, Cuomo doesn't address that CENTRAL problem of his proposal; one of the two gets to be the most powerful political leader in the world, the other gets and office that the ever-quotable John Nance Garner said wasn't worth "a bucket of warm spit." (Of course, that is a statement uttered well before the days of Dick Cheney.)

While Cuomo's point is right -- that a combined ticket between Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama is probably the strongest one Democrats could field, his proposal to square the circle is decidedly unrealistic. Clinton shows absolutely no signs of backing down -- and with likely wins in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia and Puerto Rico ahead, why would she? Obama, on the other hand, leads in pledged delegates, raw votes and has clearly tapped into some burgeoning desire for change in the way politics is conducted in this country.

Both have a case to be president, all the more reason why neither wants to step aside to be vice president -- at least not yet.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 30, 2008; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
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