Hillary writes letter to superdels

One last gasp before the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meets this Saturday?

The stakes in this election are so high: with two wars abroad, our economy in crisis here at home, and so many families struggling across America, the need for new leadership has never been greater.

At this point, we do not yet have a nominee – and when the last votes are cast on June 3, neither Senator Obama nor I will have secured the nomination. It will be up to automatic delegates like you to help choose our party’s nominee, and I would like to tell you why I believe I am the stronger candidate against Senator McCain and would be the best President and Commander in Chief.

Voters in every state have made it clear that they want to be heard and counted as part of this historic race. And as we reach the end of the primary season, more than 17 million people have supported me in my effort to become the Democratic nominee – more people than have ever voted for a potential nominee in the history of our party. In the past two weeks alone, record numbers of voters participated in the West Virginia and Kentucky primaries. And with 40 and 35 point margins of victory, it is clear that even when voters are repeatedly told this race is over, they’re not giving up on me – and I am not giving up on them either.

After seven years of feeling invisible to the Bush administration, Americans are seeking a President who is strong, experienced, and ready to take on our toughest challenges, from serving as Commander in Chief and ending the war in Iraq to turning our economy around. They want a President who shares their core beliefs about our country and its future and “gets” what they go through every day to care for their families, pay the bills and try to put something away for the future.

We simply cannot afford another four – or eight – years in the wilderness. That is why, everywhere I go, people come up to me, grip my hand or arm, and urge me to keep on running. That is why I continue in this race: because I believe I am best prepared to lead this country as President – and best prepared to put together a broad coalition of voters to break the lock Republicans have had on the electoral map and beat Senator McCain in November.

Recent polls and election results show a clear trend: I am ahead in states that have been critical to victory in the past two elections. From Ohio, to Pennsylvania, to West Virginia and beyond, the results of recent primaries in battleground states show that I have strong support from the regions and demographics Democrats need to take back the White House. I am also currently ahead of Senator McCain in Gallup national tracking polls, while Senator Obama is behind him. And nearly all independent analyses show that I am in a stronger position to win the Electoral College, primarily because I lead Senator McCain in Florida and Ohio. I’ve enclosed a detailed analysis of recent electoral and polling information, and I hope you will take some time to review it carefully.

In addition, when the primaries are finished, I expect to lead in the popular vote and in delegates earned through primaries. Ultimately, the point of our primary process is to pick our strongest nominee – the one who would be the best President and Commander in Chief, who has the greatest support from members of our party, and who is most likely to win in November. So I hope you will consider not just the strength of the coalition backing me, but also that more people will have cast their votes for me.

I am in this race for them — for all the men and women I meet who wake up every day and work hard to make a difference for their families. People who deserve a shot at the American dream – the chance to save for college, a home and retirement; to afford quality health care for their families; to fill the gas tank and buy the groceries with a little left over each month.

I am in this race for all the women in their nineties who’ve told me they were born before women could vote, and they want to live to see a woman in the White House. For all the women who are energized for the first time, and voting for the first time. For the little girls – and little boys – whose parents lift them onto their shoulders at our rallies, and whisper in their ears, “See, you can be anything you want to be.” As the first woman ever to be in this position, I believe I have a responsibility to them.

Finally, I am in this race because I believe staying in this race will help unite the Democratic Party. I believe that if Senator Obama and I both make our case – and all Democrats have the chance to make their voices heard – everyone will be more likely to rally around the nominee.

In the end, I am committed to unifying this party. What Senator Obama and I share is so much greater than our differences; and no matter who wins this nomination, I will do everything I can to bring us together and move us forward.

But at this point, neither of us has crossed the finish line. I hope that in the time remaining, you will think hard about which candidate has the best chance to lead our party to victory in November. I hope you will consider the results of the recent primaries and what they tell us about the mindset of voters in the key battleground states. I hope you will think about the broad and winning coalition of voters I have built. And most important, I hope you will think about who is ready to stand on that stage with Senator McCain, fight for the deepest principles of our party, and lead our country forward into this new century.

She may have a point on her swing-state argument:

The question is, do Clinton’s popular victories over Obama in states that encompass three-fifths of national voters mean Clinton has a better chance than Obama of winning electoral votes this fall? That’s the argument she and her campaign have been making, including at a campaign stop in Kentucky 10 days ago (prior to the Kentucky and Oregon primaries), where she was quoted as saying:

“The states I’ve won total 300 electoral votes. If we had the same rules as the Republicans, I would be the nominee right now. We have different rules, so what we’ve got to figure out is who can win 270 electoral votes. My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes.”

As the Gallup analysis shows, Clinton is currently running ahead of McCain in the 20 states where she has prevailed in the popular vote, while Obama is tied with McCain in those same states. Thus, at this stage in the race (before the general-election campaigns have fully engaged), there is some support for her argument that her primary states indicate she would be stronger than Obama in the general election.

The same cannot be said for Obama in the 28 states and D.C. where he prevailed in the popular vote. As of now, in those states, he is performing no better than Clinton is in general-election trial heats versus McCain. Thus, the principle of greater primary strength translating into greater general-election strength — while apparently operative for the states Clinton has won — does not seem to apply at the moment to states Obama has won.

Even if Clinton’s superdel argument magically worked, there’s still the problem of Michigan and Florida. Lawyers for the DNC weighed in on that issue today, and it doesn’t look good for La Hillarina:

Democratic Party lawyers have determined that no more than half the delegates from Florida and Michigan can be seated at the party’s August convention, dealing a blow to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s efforts to seat the full delegations from those states.

The rules committee of the Democratic National Committee meets on Saturday to determine whether to seat the delegates from these states, which were penalized for holding early primaries.

In asking that the full delegations from these states be seated, Mrs. Clinton hopes to narrow Senator Barack Obama’s delegate edge and make the case that by including the votes from these states, she will have more of the popular vote in the nominating contests, an assertion that has come under some dispute. But the legal analysis, based on party rules and contained in a 38-page memo to the committee, says the committee can either seat only 50 percent of the delegates or seat them all but give them only half a vote, which amounts to the same thing.

Whatever the committee decides about the delegates may not be a big factor in Mrs. Clinton’s pursuit of the nomination. Even if she were awarded all the delegates in proportion to her popular vote in those states — her best-case scenario — she could not overtake Senator Obama’s delegate lead.

However, as the article points out, it’s the popular vote argument Clinton’s pinning her highest hopes on:

The important goal for the Clinton campaign is to include the popular votes from those two disputed states in its overall vote tally. The Clinton campaign is already doing this, but because Michigan and Florida have been stripped of their delegates, an air of illegitimacy hangs over their votes and her opponents do not recognize their popular vote.

If the rules committee seats even half the delegates from those states, that could confer some legitimacy on the Clinton’s inclusion of those votes in their overall tally, although a Clinton aide said that the campaign does not feel it needs the seating of the delegates to legitimize the popular vote. Those votes have been counted and certified by the secretaries of state in both states, the aide said, and the rules committee cannot alter that.

The rules committee’s meeting is important because it needs to address the decisions by Michigan and Florida to move up their primaries in violation of party rules. The committee stripped the states of their delegates as punishment for doing so. If it restores the delegates, even at half strength, it may send a message to other states that next time they can violate the calendar without serious consequences, in effect a license for chaos.

Wouldn’t the schadenfreude over this whole mess be super sweet if the Democrats were defeated by their wacky system of apportional delegates alongside “super delegates”? The scenario: Barack Obama wins the most delegates under the apportional Dem system, easily buys off enough superdels, but loses the general because many of the states he won during in the primaries/caucuses won’t go his way in the general?

The “ouch” sound you heard came from me, right after pinching myself to wake up from that dream. :-<

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