Answering Questions

So, we now know that Clinton didn’t take the day off to drop out.  There’s not much to be said about this; when Tim Russert first announced that she was canceling her morning show appearances, there was definitely cause tongues to wag, but there was also plenty of reasons to be skeptical.

I believe that we all need to watch the Clinton campaign very closely for the next few days before we can truly know what the play will eventually be.

As things stand right now, and as tas pointed out in an earlier post, there is a difference between being essentially eliminated mathematically, and simply being eliminated mathematically.  Clinton exhibits the former, not the latter, and thus has a reason to carry on in this race regardless if people agree with that or not.

But her motivations and intentions at this point are unknowable.  We have yet to see what Clinton is doing on the stump, and how she has adjusted given the general consensus that last night her presidential hopes suffered a heavy blow.  I think that we can learn a lot from whatever tone she chooses to adopt from here on in.

If she chooses to continue to actively run against Obama, I think it’s a fair bet that her intentions are to take things to a convention, appeal to the Rules and Bylaws Committee and the Credentials Committee to have the Florida and Michigan delegations seated in a way that favors her most.  If, on the other hand, we see a definitive shift in focus against McCain, and Obama finds himself absent from Clinton’s stump speeches, then that would signify that perhaps she knows that her candidacy is essentially over.

Which I’m sure would leave the question as to why she would continue to campaign at all?  There are multiple reasons for this, most of them dealing with what she could rangle out of Obama.  Paying off her debts comes to mind, as does possibly being on the ticket, or at least having the status of first refusal of the spot to save face.

But today the Clinton campaign has been quiet, and this is likely because they are assessing their situation.  They need to assess their post NC/IN fundraising, and they are likely keeping a very solid eye on the Super Delegates.  If neither go their way (and already we have seen today that the Super Delegates have begun their march to Obama), then there is a high probability that the Clinton campaign will shift into McCain mode.

Indeed, while the musings of many, myself included, last night may have been about answers and endings, today and the next few days will be about questions.

What interests me are the questions of the Senator from my old home state of California, Dianne Feinstein.  Feinstein, an ardent Clinton supporter, has said that while she still backs Clinton, she wants to know what the strategy for the rest of the primary is for her campaign.  The undertones of this news are rightfully ominous for the Clinton campaign which needs its Super Delegate support to remain at its most rigid.

And I think this becomes the major question of the Democratic nomination race at this point; what are Hillary’s designs for the rest of the primary.  I think few Super Delegates will have a problem with her continuing on if her plans are to maintain a positive campaign that focuses on John McCain, but if her intentions from here on in are to go after Obama even harder, I think we’re going to see a lot of Super Delegates who find this no longer acceptable.

And this will be even amongst Clinton’s committed Super Delegates.

Thus we see the dilemma that Mrs. Clinton faces.  Far too many of us have learned our lesson in asking her to drop out; we’re done with it… or at least I am.  For as long as it is physically possible, and for as long as neither candidate has not crossed over the 2025 mark, she has every right to stay in this race.  But the big question facing this campaign is if it is going to do more harm than good.

If the Super Delegates believe this is the case, then I think it’s reasonable to assume that Obama will reach that 2025 mark sooner than later.

According to the Hill, Feinstein has not been able to reach Mrs. Clinton.

More at Memeorandum:The Crypt’s Blogs, New York Observer, The Washington Independent, The Page, The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room (MUST READ: Apparently, and this is through unconfirmed information via AMERICAblog, General Wesley Clark called Clinton last night and asked her to drop out), The Latest From Capitol Alert and AMERICAblog 

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