Last night, Bill O’Reilly asked Al Sharpton the $64,000 question — what happens if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination even if Barack Obama comes into Denver leading in pledged delegates? After the losses in Texas and Ohio, the new meme has the superdelegates wondering whether Obama can win a general election. If Hillary can make it closer by the time the convention rolls around, say to within 70 or so pledged delegates, the superdelegates will throw their support to the most competitive candidate.

After hesitating a bit, Sharpton makes it clear that he and his supporters won’t accept a brokered outcome:

Superdelegates are not Supermen. The party can’t say it represents the concept of one-man, one-vote democracy and then make backroom deals that ignore the popular vote and the will of the electorate. They will march in the street to protest a Hillary nomination if she comes into Denver trailing Obama.

Strong words indeed.

Duane and I discussed this today, and he thought that putting Obama at the bottom of the ticket will avoid a walkout. I don’t think Obama will be willing to tie his political fortunes to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and I don’t think that his supporters would forgive him easily if he did. The Clintons are everything that his campaign opposed — insider deals, nasty personal attack strategies, and the politics of the Beltway. Accepting that bottom slot would endorse all of that and eliminate the one advantage he gives the Democrats.

Sharpton’s threat gives Obama potent leverage to keep from accepting a convention demotion. If his supporters start talking about third-party movements, the Democrats are finished up and down the ticket — and they know it.

UPDATE: My apologies — Red Lasso seems to have a problem with this episode from O’Reilly. Hopefully it will work again soon; it worked when I loaded this initially.