in January of 2009. I can win this nomination if you decide I should, and I can lead this party to victory in the general election if you lead me to victory now.”
Robert Smith, a political scientist at San Francisco State University, says that while there’s no real reason for Clinton to hang on—she’s trails Obama in delegate, super delegate, and popular vote counts, and risks going even deeper in debt—the few remaining contests in which she is guaranteed wins, will allow her to go out on a high note.
“When she started to plan her campaign years ago, she’d probably never heard of Obama. And when a person with hardly any national experience beats a person of her stature, it’s probably difficult to accept. But I assume her advisers are telling her what everyone else knows, even if we’re not hearing it in the press,” Smith says.
Peter Groff, a Colorado state senator and executive director of the University of Denver Center for African American Policy, agrees that Clinton would prefer to go out with a bang. But, he adds, with contests remaining in Kentucky, Oregon, Missouri, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico she’s probably also trying to figure out what her next step should be. According to Groff, Clinton has three choices. First, she may be thinking about whether she’d like to the vice presidential nominee, although he doubts Clinton would be very interested in second place. Another option is to remain in the Senate, where she might become the “lioness of the Senate” a la Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, “or become that chamber’s majority leader if she’s that gung ho about the politics of creating policy,” Goff says. The final option is becoming governor of New York, he adds.
Or she may simply be thinking of more immediate concerns, such as determining what role she might play in the next convention or help with retiring her campaign debt.
Lately, however, the tone from both camps seems to have taken a decidedly more civil turn. Obama, without trying to appear too presumptuous or overt, has clearly turned his attention to the fall and has been aiming his target more at McCain.
With Obama being widely viewed as the presumptive Democratic nominee after his big win in North Carolina last week, the willingness of the Clinton faithful to transfer their support to Obama may depend in large part on how gracefully the New York senator exits the race. Smith says some of the damage caused by the prolonged competition between Obama and Clinton can be easily repaired if in her final concession speech Clinton reminds voters that campaigns are by nature tough and divisive, emphasizes the commonalities between the two camps, and salutes Obama for having waged an extraordinary campaign.
But Obama also has a lot of work to do. Vincent Hutchings, a political science professor at the University of Michigan, says Obama will likely focus more on the economy, higher energy prices, and concrete solutions. “To the extent that he didn’t talk about those