The Hillary Deathwatch
Not even the RBC meeting can save Clinton now.
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The high-stakes drama of Saturday's rules committee meeting appears illusory. Meanwhile, Obama rakes in more superdelegates, putting him 40.5 away from the nomination. According to our formula, that sinks Clinton to 0.4 percent.
T minus one day and counting to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting. Can you feel the suspense? Clinton supporters are busing up from Florida. Obama fans are being encouraged to stay home. Tout le média will hang on Howard Dean's every word, as well as those uttered by the Obama and Clinton campaign surrogates sent to argue their cases.
But the drama is largely phony. DNC lawyers have said that seating any more than half of the Michigan and Florida delegations would violate party rules. The proposed solutions are well-known. And every likely compromise fails to put Clinton within range of catching Obama, who now leads by 200 delegates.
But the Clinton camp is still pushing for full seating. "We are hopeful and confident that after hearing all the arguments and hearing all the facts ... that all the delegates will be seated and all of them will have a full vote," Harold Ickes said on a conference call today. What about the ruling by the DNC lawyers? Senior adviser Tina Flournoy remains undeterred: "We continue in the face of overwhelming odds to believe in the better judgment of our colleagues on the rules and bylaws committee."
But even Ickes isn't sure they can count on those colleagues. Clinton has 13 supporters on the 28-member committee, but Ickes doesn't necessarily expect all of them to vote her way, the Huffington Post reported. On today's call, Ickes clarified that he meant the committee members are "independent people." "I don't want to say we have every person" who supports Clinton supporting her plan, he said.
It's not all gloomy, though. Clinton could benefit from revelations that the Rev. Michael Pfelger, a Chicago priest who has known Obama for 20 years, made cruel remarks about Clinton in a sermon last week. But it might be too little too late. If Obama survived Wright, with whom he was close, he will likely survive Pfelger. (The campaign has condemned Pfelger's remarks, and the priest has apologized.) Still, it's yet another no-longer-closeted skeleton Obama will have to deal with in the general.
Meanwhile, Obama picks up two Texas superdelegates today—state party Chairman Boyd Richie and his wife, Betty. That puts him 40.5 delegates away from the magic number of 2,026, but expect that number to change after Saturday's RBC meeting. First Read games out the scenarios and figures that Obama will emerge from Saturday about 60 delegates away from the nomination. * If that happens, watch Clinton's chances rise just in time for Puerto Rico on Sunday.
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Illustration by Rob Donnelly.