End In Sight, Clinton And Obama Focus On Superdelegates

05/17/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As the Democratic Party seeks to find a way out of its nomination imbroglio, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama met with uncommitted superdelegates the past two days. Wednesday, Clinton held meetings at the DCCC headquarters and on Thursday it was Obama's turn. Campaigns surrogates are insisting that there are scores of superdelegates who are "undeclared" but privately committed to Obama, though those endorsements have been very slow to materialize. Yesterday, however, Obama got two congressional endorsements: Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina and Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington. (Politico has perhaps the best super-tracking chart.)

Pressure is mounting on the Clinton campaign but they are showing no sign of halting operations any time soon. The Michigan Democratic Party recently proposed a plan to divide its state's pledged delegate 69-59 and speculation was that Clinton would accept it now that she was in a less powerful position. But her campaign nixed the Michigan proposal yesterday and insisted that they would accept no plan that did not award her the number of delegates she would be entitled under the January 15th vote (73). A campaign spokesperson said: "This proposal does not honor the 600,000 votes that were cast in Michigan's January primary. Those votes must be counted."

Contrary to talk that the Florida Democratic Party was ready to follow the lead of its Michigan counterpart and find its solution to the delegate mess, a party spokesperson is now saying that there is no deal being prepared in Florida.

I take Clinton's quick counter to the Michigan plan to be the first sign since Tuesday that she is serious about staying in the race until primaries are over in June. The quest to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates and give a "voice" to those two states has become a central rationale of her candidacy. Accepting a deal like Michigan's (which would probably be followed by a similar one out of Florida) would remove that rationale without getting Clinton that much closer to Obama. Clinton yesterday wrote a letter to her rival in which she asks him to help her campaign find a solution to the Florida and Michigan mess. She (correctly) blames his campaign for nixing plans of holding revotes in both states and phrases the issue in terms the party's general election chances:

One of the foremost principles of our party is that citizens be allowed to vote and that those votes be counted. That principle is not currently being applied to the nearly 2.5 million people who voted in primaries in Florida and Michigan. Whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee will be hamstrung in the general election if a fair and quick resolution is not reached that ensures that the voices of these voters are heard. Our commitment now to this goal could be the difference between winning and losing in November.

Note that Obama can afford to accept Clinton's conditions in both states without undermining his hold on the nomination; if anything, it would make Clinton's path more difficult as she would no longer be able to portray herself as the sole defender of the rogue states' voices.

Update: The Clinton campaign is now also claiming to have superdelegates who have privately committed, as this Politico story reports. This confirms how little credence should be given to these private commitments -- including those of the Obama campaign. However, this article is the most realistic take on the race that Clinton staffers are accepting to take as they are professing that they are attempting to gauge who among the uncommitted supers is looking to move towards Hillary to judge whether she remains viable.

Read more at Campaign Diaries, Daniel Nichanian's blog.