The Hill reports on, well, The Hill this morning after attending a media breakfast this morning that had Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisers conceding nothing to Barack Obama. They have drawn a line in the sand at 2209 delegates, including Florida and Michigan, and insist Hillary will not withdraw until Obama has that many in his corner. If that means going all the way to the convention and a credentials fight, so be it:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) senior advisers said Friday they are willing to push the nomination fight beyond the last contests on June 3 if neither candidate reaches the delegate requirement that includes Michigan and Florida.
While most analysts have determined that Clinton’s chances are all but nil, Geoff Garin and Howard Wolfson, two of Clinton’s senior advisers, told a group of reporters over breakfast that if frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) does not reach 2,209 delegates by June 3, the campaign will continue. …
Garin acknowledged from the beginning that the campaign is “not oblivious to the environment in which we’re operating,” but he and Wolfson made it clear that Clinton has no intention of getting out of the race until the issue of how to treat delegates from Florida and Michigan is resolved.
“It is ridiculous to think that Florida and Michigan will not be resolved,” Garin said. “They’re going to be.”
Wolfson acknowledged after the breakfast that the campaign will have to push the “moral argument” that 100 percent of Florida’s and Michigan’s delegates must be seated for there to be a nominee.
Democrats have operated under the calculus that excludes Florida and Michigan, which puts the delegate threshold for victory at 2,025. Neither Hillary nor Obama can make it to that number before the convention anyway, but the farther threshold makes the race look much less settled. According to CNN at the moment, Hillary has a 160-delegate gap, which only accounts for less than 2% difference in the total delegates committed now. If she can push the other 400 delegates into the mix, she has a better shot at keeping Obama from winning on the first ballot.
This, of course, is a long shot at best. It does show that Hillary has no inclination to accept Obama’s peace offerings, which include tens of millions of dollars in debt relief. As long as she can play the theme of “counting every vote”, she can at least give herself the political cover of a crusader campaign that leads all the way to the convention.
If Obama really wanted to end it now, he could just agree to seat the delegates of Florida and Michigan in their current electoral split, with Obama taking the “uncommitted” delegates from Michigan. He would still lead in the delegate count, and it would deprive Hillary of her last fig leaf for remaining in the race. Without it, the naked ambition would be too obvious. Until then, we get to watch the Democrats spend their money and time infighting, which is exactly what Rush Limbaugh wanted from Operation Chaos.