OK, so Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is staying in the presidential race despite losing among elected delegates, facing a slimming lead among superdelegates, losing the popular vote and behind by 2-to-1 in the number of states carried. She slogs on, hoping against hope for a sudden turnaround in the race.
Apart from the psychological reasons for her stubbornness, is there a more subtle political calculation going on?
Is she continuing her race so as to have a platform from which to continue to bash Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in the hopes of so damaging him that he can’t win the general election? Is she doing this to keep her options alive for the 2012 presidential race?
Hillary is obviously entitled to keep running until Obama has secured the votes necessary for the nomination, and it is certainly understandable that she would want to run until the last popular vote is counted. But must she run a negative, slash-and-burn campaign? Must she use her time on the platform and on television to belittle, mock, deride and try to destroy the man who will eventually be the candidate of her own party?
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) felt similarly justified in staying in the race for the Republican nomination until Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) reached the majority threshold required for nomination. He contested the Texas primary vigorously, even though his earlier losses in South Carolina and Florida made it most unlikely that he could win the nomination. But he chose to run a positive campaign. He didn’t knock McCain. He just articulated the case for his own candidacy.
But Hillary won’t avail herself of that option because it does not serve her long-term fallback position: a shot at the nomination in 2012. If Obama is elected this year, he will seek reelection in 2012 and Hillary would have to face taking on an incumbent in a primary in her own party if she wanted to run, a daunting task. But if McCain wins, the nomination in 2012 will be open. And it might be worth having. McCain will be 76 years old and the Republican Party will have been in power for 12 years. Not since FDR and Truman has a party lasted that long in power. When the Republicans tried to do so, in 1992, they fell flat on their face.
Hillary is using white, blue-collar fears of Barack Obama to try to stop him from getting nominated or elected.
She is playing on his “elitism” by hammering him on blue-collar issues and is mincing no words in painting him as a stranger to blue-collar white America.
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