Editorial: Clinton and Obama must end nomination fight for good of nation
If Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton don’t soon conclude their messy primary fight, they risk handing the presidency to John McCain.
With Clinton’s twin victories in Ohio and Texas, the race could conceivably be decided by superdelegates at August’s Democratic National Convention in Denver. Throw into the mix the possibility that Florida and Michigan, originally stripped of their Democratic delegates for moving up their primaries, could hold caucuses to reinstate representatives to the national convention.
Despite primaries the next few days in Wyoming and Mississippi, then into April when Pennsylvania awards 158 delegates, the races are not expected to substantially alter the gap in the candidates’ pledged delegate count. As of today, Obama still leads by about 100 delegates.
If Florida and Michigan re-enter the race, Clinton could slice into Obama’s lead, though that’s a big “if.”
In any case, here’s why a protracted Democratic fight hurts the party: Supporters on both sides have become increasingly rabid. As the candidates’ rhetoric sizzles in the coming weeks, Democratic voters may become rigidly polarized.
If the nomination comes down to a convention fight, lingering bitterness by supporters of the losing candidate may propel them not to vote at all in November – or worse, vote for McCain.
Clinton took a chance with her negative campaigning in the Texas and Ohio primaries – and by most accounts, it worked.
She evidently convinced voters in those states and in Rhode Island that she’s best equipped to handle White House-style crises, and that Obama’s relative inexperience is a detriment.
That’s nonsense, but polling suggests last-minute voters in those states took the bait. The longer they progress, political contests inevitably end up in the mud, and this one is no different. Obama has tried to stay above the fray, but he has little choice at this point but to aggressively respond to Clinton’s attacks.
But as unrealistic as it seems – given the enormous prestige of the job they’re after – Clinton and Obama must end their primary fight well before the August convention. One of them – preferably Clinton – must drop out, and the two unite as running mates.
Alas, that probably won’t happen, especially if Michigan and Florida rejoin the mix, but we can hope.
The stakes are enormous.
If elected, McCain will continue George W. Bush’s disastrous policies, and that’s a fate this country can ill afford. Clinton and Obama must halt their wrangling before it’s too late.