Senator Hilary Clinton made it clear she’s in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination until the end … which is all of three more weeks. What a non-shocking bit of news. Of course she is. If she can raise the money (and at one point her victory speech in West Virginia tonight was beginning to sound like a telethon — I half expected Jerry Lewis to come on stage).
The fact that she won’t win the nomination is not the issue. She makes history every day she remains in the race. Every primary she enters is further in the nominating process than any woman has gone before. Add to that her pride in being a person who never quits and there’s no way she can withdraw. Unless she has to.
And the only reason she would have to is if she runs out of money. Some talking head said her campaign costs about $1 million a day. Another said the campaign owes staff, vendors and lenders about $20 million (Senator Clinton has lent the campaign roughly $10 million so far). I’m sure she can cut her expenses some, but still, that’s a lot of cash.
Fortunately, she’ll get some from her supporters. They’re ardent and the Alamo mentality is kicking in. They’ll want to fight to the end so expect a few million to show up in her coffers this week. Plus, she can lend her campaign a few more wheelbarrows of cash. Senator Barack Obama, once he’s the nominee, will help her retire her debt. And, worse comes to worse, she can write another book or husband Bill can give a few more speeches in Japan or the Middle East.
What will be interesting to watch over the next three weeks is how Senator Clinton behaves and what she says. Ideally she’ll focus her attacks on the presumptive GOP nominee, Senator John McCain. She’ll of course emphasize her own strengths, but she should refrain from giving Republicans any more ammunition than she already has.
And then there’s Michigan and Florida. Senator Clinton wants to forgive those states for breaking the Democratic National Committee’s rules. She wants their delegates seated as the vote stands. This is, of course, ridiculous. Why would the DNC forgive state parties that willfully and knowingly break the rules? What message does that give to the other states? What would happen in 2012 or 2016 if the Democratic Party says “never mind” in 2008?
Besides, holding out for all their delegates makes Senator Clinton look silly — or worse. She acquiesced to the party decision before the vote. It’s insulting to voters to think that she now finds the situation a violation of civil rights. Politicians tend to be self-serving, but Senator Clinton is in danger of taking the concept to new heights. Her credibility is at stake. She needs to spend the days leading up to the DNC rules committee meeting on Michigan and Florida focusing on her legacy, not reminding people that her principles are so fluid.
Senator Clinton has moved beyond being a candidate. She’s a cause now, both in her own mind and those of her strongest supporters. You don’t end a cause three weeks before the end. Hopefully, you don’t do damage to your legacy with just three weeks to go either.