News outlets are carefully predicting Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton will acknowledge Barack Obama has won enough delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination this evening, but are stopping short of forecasting a concession.
The Associated Press reported, “Officials say Clinton will acknowledge Tuesday night Obama has the delegates for the nomination,” Tuesday morning, the last day of the long Democratic primary season.
“The former first lady will stop short of formally suspending or ending her race in her speech in New York City,” wrote Associated Press reporter Beth Fouhy who has been covering Clinton’s presidential campaign since it began. “She will pledge to continue to speak out on issues like health care. But for all intents and purposes, the two senior officials said, the campaign is over.”
(It’s worth nothing former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney also “suspended” his campaign when he decided to quit pursuing the Republican nomination for president.)
Senior campaign adviser Terry McAuliffe contests the AP is “100 percent reporting incorrectly” Longtime Clinton strategist Harold Ickes strongly denies the validity of the story as well.
Regardless of what her advisers say, the nomination momentum is clearly in Obama’s favor. Different news outlets report Obama only needs between 36 and 42 more delegates to become the nominee. Two primaries will be held in Montana and South Dakota, where 31 delegates are at stake combined Tuesday. His staff predicts he will gain 15 delegates from those contests. After the primaries are over it will be up to the party’s remaining uncommitted delegates to push him over the edge.
Clinton was originally scheduled to deliver a speech in South Dakota at the close of the state’s primary, but abruptly changed her schedule to give a post-primary speech from her home state. Her senior advisers said the event was to be a “celebration” but members of her campaign’s “advance team” were alerted they would be dismissed from the campaign that evening.
Since losing the Iowa primary to Obama, Clinton’s campaign has been riddled by a number of setbacks. Again and again, the Clinton campaign blamed media and in recent days “sexism” for unfavorable treatment and her high negative ratings. The most devastating blow to her campaign, however, came when Obama won a string of primary contests in high-delegate pay-off caucus states that gave him a nearly insurmountable delegate lead. Obama was also much more successfully at raising low-dollar donations through the internet, while Clinton pursued high-dollar donors that were quickly tapped out through the tumultuous four-month primary season.
The most recent, and most likely final, roadblock to her nomination came Saturday when the Democratic National Committee ruled only half of Florida’s and Michigan’s delegates will be seated at the convention because both states violated party rules by moving up their state primaries ahead of schedule. Clinton technically won both states and needed all of the delegates to claim the popular vote, the most persuasive pitch she had left in her arsenal to continue her campaign.
At close of the meeting Ickes threatened what political analysts have deemed the “nuclear option” by saying Clinton instructed him to reserve the right to challenge the decision with the DNC’s Credentialing Committee, thus possibly extending the primary contest until the Democratic National Convention.
Clinton loyalist Harold Ickes was asked on MSNBC late Tuesday morning, after the AP story broke, if he would “pursue a challenge before the credentials committee related to Michigan and Florida.”
Ickes said: “That is certainly possible. I want to be very careful in what I say. I don't want to leave any implication or impression that Mrs. Clinton has decided what to do on the possible credentials challenges. I’ve said yesterday with other members of the press, her decision, she's made no decision in that regard. In my view, she will make it in the context of the next -- the coming several days. But from a legal and technical and procedural point of view what you've said is possible.”