Many people have speculated as to which Democrats have the standing in the party to demand an end to the primary contest before the convention. Some have suggested Al Gore might have the influence to either push one candidate out of the race, or to convince superdelegates; others believe that Jimmy Carter might do it, or they did until he decided to hug Khaled Mashaal. Now it looks like Harry Reid, Howard Dean, and Nancy Pelosi will try to gin up enough courage to demand that superdelegates adhere to a deadline that doesn’t exist:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that he may have to push undecided superdelegates to make their decisions in the Democratic presidential race, if the contest stretches into June.
Reid said he would consider writing a joint letter with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanding that superdelegates make their endorsements public.
“The three of us, we may write a joint letter [to superdelegates],” said Reid. “We might do individual letters. We are in contact with each other.”
Reid’s comments suggest that the party’s top three officials are contemplating a high-level intervention if the primary season concludes in June without a nominee and many superdelegates still undecided.
Even as Reid said this, his office tried downplaying it immediately — and for good reason. People can demand a decision from the superdelegates until they are blue in the face, but it simply won’t work. By rule, the superdelegates aren’t committed until the convention votes on the nomination. They can declare support whenever they want, but they can also change their minds as often as they like until they vote in Denver.
Now, Reid, Dean, and Pelosi could take a superdelegate count and confront the apparent loser in June or July, demanding that they drop out. That would likely produce a laugh and nothing more. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can spend a few weeks wining and dining superdelegates and inducing them to change their declarations until they’re serving dinner at the Pepsi Center in August.
Perhaps this trio thinks they have enough juice to force Hillary or Obama to accede to their will. That would be Harry “We’ve already lost the war” Reid, Howard “Yeeargh!” Dean, and Nancy Pelosi, who couldn’t even stand up to the Congressional Black Caucus to kick William Jefferson out of his House seat. Gore and Carter probably couldn’t do it either, but the notion of these three stooges sternly telling either candidate to get out of the race would make for some great — and momentary — comedy for everyone else involved.