John Dickerson takes questions from readers wondering when the Democratic race will end.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
May 23 2008 11:48 AM

Our Primary Concerns

John Dickerson takes questions from readers wondering when the Democratic race will end.

(Continued from Page 2)

Yorktown, Va.: Don't you think it is in the ultimate best interest of the party to allow Hillary to exhaust her credibility during the primary and not the general election or her administration?

John Dickerson: There are still a) lots of Democrats who like Hillary a great deal and b) lots of Democrats who want the race to continue. Ticking them off by somehow forcing her out is probably not something the party wants to do if it wants to stay healthy.

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Tampa, Fla.: I'm wondering and hopefully you can answer this question. Has Obama ever visited Iraq or Afghanistan? If not, my other question is this: Why would he sit down unconditionally with the very leaders who were trying to kill our troops, but won't sit down with the troops he wants to command? Please let me know. Thank you.

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John Dickerson: Clever. I think "unconditionally" is not an accurate framing of his view. He has been to Iraq (I'm not sure about Afghanistan) and he's sat down with the troops in other settings.

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Waukegan, Ill.: I think Obama should try to name his vice president sooner rather than later—as soon as he crosses the delegate threshold for the nomination. The longer he waits, the more time Hillary and Bill have to build pressure to force her onto the ticket, against his better judgment. He's the de facto leader of the Democratic Party now, and he needs to show some decisiveness and put an end to all the Clinton gamesmanship. The longer it drags on, the more it hurts him.

John Dickerson: Makes sense. I think the Obama campaign was happy to let out word that he has started working on his veep in order to move along that view that he's the de facto leader.

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New York: If Hillary fights on until August, should we start reserving our McCain inaugural tickets now? Two months seems way too short for a Democratic nominee to make their case, especially since Big Mac looks really "above the fray" at the moment.

John Dickerson: A lot can happen in politics. I still don't think this goes until August but even if it does, the Democratic nominee will have plenty of time to make their case.

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Cabin John, Md.: You seem to predict that the superdelegates will fix everything shortly after June 3 by finally declaring for Obama. But it sure would be easier to fix the Florida and Michigan problems after this happens, wouldn't it? Can the Rules Committee "punt" on May 31 for two weeks or so, or do they have to decide on that day?

John Dickerson: Great question. I think they need to decide. If they punt it goes to the convention I believe which would be too late for most people's liking.

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St. Simons Island, Ga.: I am a daily reader of Slate and of your column in Slate and very much admire your writing and insight in the campaign. I did not know (or had forgotten) you are Nancy Dickerson's son. I will have to read your book. Keep up the good work.

John Dickerson: Fortunately for me, I am Nancy Dickerson's son. I hope you do read the book and thank you for your very warm comments.

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Fairfax, Va.: At this point, Hillary's most likely path to achieving her dream of the presidency is for Obama to flame out this fall, allowing her to spend the next four years on a "told you so" campaign, and knocking off McCain in 2012. Waiting until 2016 is much dicier. So Obama has to expect that she will do everything she can to feign support while simultaneously seeking to undermine him, without leaving obvious fingerprints. And yet, he somehow has to appeal to her constituency and not diss her. Tough job.

John Dickerson: Perhaps. I think she'll have to work like the devil for him if he's the nominee to prove that she wasn't trying to put this kind of a strategy in place at the end of the campaign. Otherwise she'll have lost the support of a lot of people in her party.

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Falls Church, Va.: What about the theory that Hillary is staying in the race because of pressure from Bill—to compensate for the scandals and incomplete accomplishments of his own administration and to extend his supposed dynasty? And this would be a reason, by the way, not to give Hillary the vice presidential nomination —three's a crowd! Thanks.

John Dickerson: Bill Clinton would complicate things if he were the 2nd Lad, or whatever they'd call him. But Mario Cuomo made a good point on Face the Nation this last weekend which is that Clinton has lots of things he's doing all over the world that will keep him busy and out of the way.

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Seattle: Because of the symbolic status of Florida as the state the Republicans exploited to "steal" the victory away from Gore in 2000, isn't Hillary's push to now include Florida an awkward reminder of the past, only this time pitting two Democrats against each other rather than a Democrat and Republican? And as a result, won't all the Florida fuss weaken the Democratic Party and create an odor of corruption once again?

John Dickerson: Could be. It depends on how the Rules and Bylaws committee handles it. I think they'll be bending over backwards to look fair for just this reason.

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Alexandria, Va.: It seems to me that by seating both the Florida and Michigan delegates, the Democrats as a party look more frazzled and divisive than ever. Why haven't the big names in the Democratic Party orchestrated a compromise yet? How are Democrats supposed to be effective as a party against the Republican machine if they don't get their story straight?

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