Rich Galen

On Wednesday night, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama participated in their final debate before Tuesday's primary in Pennsylvania.

The prevailing theory is that Clinton was trying, in the wake of Obama's "bitter" comment, to demonstrate to the super delegates that he is unelectable in November and, so, they should support her at the Democratic National Convention in August.

According to Clinton's home-town paper, the New York Times, it didn't work.

Reporter Patrick Healy writes in today's paper that the Times interviewed "a cross-section of a cross-section of these super delegates - Members of Congress, elected officials and party leaders."

The result? "Most of the super delegates said they wanted to wait for the results of at least the next major primaries - in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Indiana and North Carolina two weeks later - before choosing a candidate."

On Super Tuesday, February 5, it was inconceivable that this would go beyond the date of the Texas and Ohio primaries a month later - March 4.

When Clinton won three out of the four contests that night, senior Democrats were horrified as they considered the six long weeks before the next major event - Pennsylvania.

There was a flurry of activity (in what would have been smoke-filled rooms if indoor smoking were still a part of our culture) way back then, to try and come up with some mechanism to have the super delegates choose up sides.

The idea was - and is - to get the number of super and the number of elected delegates above the current magic number of 2,025 which would be the majority and, thus, declare a nominee.

That, of course, presumes, that neither Michigan nor Florida has their delegations seated, but that is a discussion for another day.

Senior Dems are putting on a brave smile saying the continuing excitement attached to this electoral death march is good for their party.

But, DNC chairman Howard Dean was on CNN yesterday whining about a process which is sapping the strength of the party faithful. Calling on the supers to pick a side, Dean told Wolf Blitzer:

"We cannot give up two or three months of active campaigning and healing time. We've got to know who our nominee is."

Whoa. Check please! "Healing time?" If this is such a good party-builder what is Dean talking about? Who has to heal? And from what?

Obviously, every day this goes on is one less day Hillary or Barack get to run against McCain and is one MORE day when the lines harden between their supporters.

Further, I continue to get questions from reporters wondering whether this attention on Obama/Hillary is damaging Sen. John McCain's ability to generate news.

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