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The Clinton Convention Coup: Not Impossible

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Tony Campbell at Examiner.com on July 30 reported that Hillary Clinton supporters are quietly planning a coup to claim the presidential nomination from Barack Obama on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention.

At that time, Campbell wrote, "The group, P.U.M.A. (Party Unity My A**), claims that 15 delegates have switched from Obama to Clinton in July. There is still the possibility of a floor convention vote to fully seat the delegates of Michigan and Florida, which would benefit Senator Clinton. Finally, the Obama flip-flop on the FISA bill has not been well received by the more liberal segments of the Democratic faithful."

Well, now we know that Florida and Michigan will be seated and Clinton's name will be put in for nomination.

Given that 2025 votes are needed for the nomination, the pro-Hillary website DoneDems.com suggests these hopeful numbers: "Obama has about 2229.5 delegate votes, with 1766.5 pledged delegates and 463 superdelegates. Clinton has 1896.5 delegate votes, with 1639.5 pledged and 257 super delegates. Shift just 175 delegates from Obama to Clinton, and Obama's power grab comes to a halt."

By my own count, Hillary is only 128.5 votes short of 2025, which actually is easier to achieve than 175 votes, but I'm not sure even this number is correct. I'll do some more reporting on this point and report my findings here.

The core question remains: Could a Clinton coup happen? The odds are against success, but Obama is vulnerable.

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The pivotal issue is whether Clinton can pick up enough superdelegates who feel Obama's recent actions or McCain's consistent poll numbers cast doubt on Obama's electability.

Obama has alienated many progressive Democrats who believe he's moved too far to the right since becoming the presumptive nominee last June. His about-face from prior positions to support warrantless wiretaps and offshore oil drilling, quite frankly, suggests that Obama values public opinion polls more than moral principles.

Obama's weak response to the Russian invasion of Georgia, staying on vacation in Hawaii while McCain assertively sent representatives to the troubled region, further reinforces doubts about Obama's ability to handle foreign crises.

Obama's ineffective response to McCain's attack ads, meanwhile, begs the question of his ability to take on McCain in the general election.

My experience as a political journalist says the Democratic National Convention has been so carefully stage managed that a surprise upset is improbable, but increasingly I'm wondering if it's totally impossible.

So, I have to agree with Tony Campbell that if there is an Obama-Clinton showdown at the DNC, the contest will be exciting. Campbell plans to sit glued to his TV screen back in Washington, DC. I'll gratefully be watching from inside the convention here in Denver. Stay tuned!