Rich Galen

Big - BIG - night for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not only did she stop the Obama run of eleven straight primary victories; but she clearly planted the "Big State" flag into the middle of this nomination process.

In her victory speech last night Clinton mentioned the big states she has won, including California, New York, Michigan and Florida.

Michigan and Florida, you may remember, were stripped of there delegates because they refused to obey the Democratic National Committee rules and moved their primaries ahead of February 5.

The Obama folks will be saying that the number of delegates is what counts, not the popular vote.

Guess what? We might not know the answer to the delegate count for days. But we do know that Hillary won Tuesday night.

Take Texas for example. Hillary was awarded Texas about One O'clock this morning based upon the popular vote. We may not know the delegate count for days. Doesn't matter. Hillary won Tuesday night.

Obama was looking forward to knocking Hillary clean out of the electoral ring last night. Instead Hillary turned the race around.

This is wonderful news for Republicans. It means that the Democratic battle for the nomination will go on for at least the next six weeks and we'll all be glued to our TV sets watching the results from Pennsylvania on April 22.

My debate partner on AP Television, Jenny Backus, said last night's results made it probable that neither Obama nor Clinton would have a majority of elected delegates going into the convention in August, meaning the whole thing will ride on those Super Delegates about whom we've heard so much.

For Clinton, the secret will be to continue her momentum through Mississippi, Wyoming and Pennsylvania. The Super Delegates will act more-or-less like the people who decide who gets into the NCAA basketball tournament and where they play: Teams playing better in February and March are given more weight than those who played better in December and January.

If Hillary shows continued strength going into the final round of primaries, the Super Delegates might well be swayed toward voting for her, whether Obama has more elected delegates or not.

And while Clinton and Obama snipe at each other - probably upping the ante as Obama's handlers demand he get nastier to match her attacks against him - John McCain gets to solidify his position as the nominee presumptive having reached the required 1,191 delegates.

As soon as the AP called all four states for McCain giving him the magic number, I called Mike Huckabee's campaign manager (and Mull Pal), Ed Rollins, to congratulate him on getting Huckabee this far along.

Huckabee lasted longer than Rudy Giuliani who was the first major candidate out of the race. He lasted longer than Fred Thompson. And longer even than Mitt Romney.

But when McCain was declared the winner last night, Rollins told me that Huckabee was going "to go out in a few minutes and endorse McCain" and Huckabee did just that.

Later today, Senator McCain will meet with President Bush and accept the President's endorsement. That will signal the change of command at the Republican National Committee - moving from an organization dedicated to advancing the Administration's agenda to an organization aimed at working toward the election of the next President.

Democrats will try to paint a pretty picture by saying the continued one-on-one fight between Clinton and Obama will continue to generate enthusiasm in the Party. It may, but trying to get the warring parties back together after what will likely be a bruising convention in Denver will be no small task.

If Hillary is the nominee, Washington-based Democrats are planning for Obama to be on the ticket with her - as if that will satisfy the disappointed Obama backers.

It won't they will leave Denver demanding to know why Hillary didn't become Barack's VP running mate.

As for the GOP, the McCain folks will be able to spend the next eight months building (and paying for) a well-oiled General election machine.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.