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March 28, 2008
Howard Dean wants race over by July 1
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean says in an interview this morning on CBS that he has told the candidates that he wants to see the race over by July 1.:
DEAN: “Well, I think the candidates have got to understand that they have an obligation to our country to unify. Somebody's going to lose this race with 49.8 percent of the vote. And that person has got to pull their supporters in behind the nominee. That's our obligation, because in the end this is not about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It's about our country. We're not going to have four more years of George W. Bush, which is essentially what McCain is offering us. There's a really big difference between our candidates on these issues. And I don't believe for a moment that at the end of the day, the Democrats are going to vote for somebody who's going to put more right-wingers on the Supreme Court. But we do need to keep in mind that personal attacks now, often do have the seeds of demoralization later on. So I want to make sure this campaign stays on the high ground.” I'm sure that this is not sitting well with Hillary Clinton. Yesterday, she promised to take the Michigan-Florida primary controversy "all the way to the convention floor" if necessary. Her entire strategy is based on drawing out the process by which Superdelegates will decide who to support, hoping that Obama's numbers drop significantly enough that she is seen as the only alternative to defeat in November.
SMITH: “Well, [the nominating] season is over. Do you want the superdelegates to have some sort of vote immediately so that you'll know months in advance of the convention what the outcome is?”
DEAN: “Well, I think the superdelegates have already been weighing in. I think that there's 800 of them and 450 of them have already said who they're for. I'd like the other 350 to say who they're at some point between now and the first of July so we don't have to take this into the convention.”
And I think Dean is being hugely optimistic if he thinks the remaining 350 supers will immediately fall into line after the last primary in early June. From what we've been hearing, there may be a group of 50-100 superdelegates who, at the moment, don't want to make up their minds until right before the convention. Depending on how these remaining primaries go, they could make the difference between victory and defeat for either candidate.
Dean has lost control of this process by not asserting his authority with regard to the FL-MI primary mess. As it stands now, Michigan is almost certainly completely disenfranchised thanks to a court ruling that invalidates the January 15 primary and does not allow a revote. And while there's still a chance for a resolution to the Florida problem, Dean's lack of leadership on this issue means that Hillary Clinton will almost certainly take the question to the convention - as long as she is still mathematically alive for the nomination.
In short, Dean is in a mess of his own making. And announcing cutoff dates isn't going to solve anything.