Clinton Must Run All the Way to the Convention

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) must take her presidential campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention in August, and she must remain in the race until the convention ballots are all counted.

We are reminded it is those delegates voting at the convention who shall determine the party’s presidential standard-bearer, and no one else — no combination of primary state votes, no cluster of superdelegates, no orchestrated group of party leaders nor any collection of Democratic talking heads.

Idle chatter trying to force Clinton to prematurely abandon her campaign is being driven by pundits, partisan bloggers, hopeful job applicants and other favor-seekers with an obsession to be, sooner rather than later, on what may be viewed through a narrow political prism as the winning side. But is it the winning side?

The effort to push Clinton out of the race ignores the right of Democratic voters in Michigan and Florida to be counted in the selection process after each state’s voters were disenfranchised for their state having moved up the primary date. Their participation now must come at the convention in Denver, where delegates from Michigan and Florida — critically important swing states — will each get half a vote.

Wins by Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) have largely divided up votes cast in the Democratic primaries over these many months. And aside from chosen delegates (whose only commitment is to a first ballot), there also are 795 superdelegates whose presidential preference is not locked up until votes are cast at the convention. Neither candidate can claim the requisite number of delegates to be the nominee. That happens in balloting when Democrats meet in Denver.

It is Clinton who managed to win those critical primaries so necessary to a Democratic White House victory in November — states such as Ohio, New Jersey, West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. She won an equivalent in excess of 309 presidential electoral votes, and more than 14.5 million popular votes were cast in her favor. She repeatedly dominates with core Democratic voters: blue-collar workers, those without college degrees and older voters. Clinton must give voice to these constituencies in Denver.

Clinton, like Obama, is waging an unprecedented campaign of historical proportions — she as the first woman to be within reach of the Democratic nomination for president and he as the first African-American to be similarly within reach. The precedence alone of their campaigns dictates both Clinton and Obama present to convention goers not just their primary wins but their credentials, experience and ability to win the general election.

As the last primary votes are cast today, some will want a coronation before the will of the convention has been adjudicated.

There will be very loud and very determined illegitimate calls for Clinton to bow out. They will cry out for suspect pleas to party unity and ill-conceived suggestions that a prolonged nominating process — one that rightfully should go to decisive balloting on Aug. 25-28 — is harmful to the party.

That’s baloney. The excitement of this Democratic primary season as attested to by burgeoning party coffers and unprecedented levels of voter participation across the country serve to reinvigorate the national party after 12 years of Republican reign in Congress and eight years of a very unpopular Republican president. With daily reminders at the gas pump and in the grocery store of a seriously ailing economy and two wars abroad, Americans are more than ready to put Democrats back in the White House.

A national dialogue that continues all the way to the convention is healthy for the political process and advantageous to the nation as Democrats seek to win the White House for the first time in eight years.

Former Rep. Michael Forbes (N.Y.) switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party during the 106th Congress.

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