Clinton Expects Race to be Resolved Next Week

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she expects uncommitted superdelegates to begin making the choice that will decide her marathon Democratic primary race against Barack Obama soon after Tuesday’s primaries.

In a conference call with Montana reporters, Clinton was asked about the effort by top Democratic leaders to push for a quick end to the fight for the presidential nomination after primaries in South Dakota and Montana next week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and party chairman Howard Dean will urge uncommitted delegates to choose sides.

Clinton said: “I think that after the final primaries, people are going to start making up their minds. I think that is the natural progression that one would expect.”

Clinton said superdelegates — the party and elected officials who can vote for whomever they choose regardless of what happens in the primaries and caucuses — will have to decide who is the stronger candidate in the fall to run against Republican John McCain.

“I think that people will have to ask themselves those questions, who would be the best president in terms of preparation and readiness and effectiveness, and who would be the stronger candidate. And I imagine that process will begin after the end of the last primaries,” Clinton said.

Last week, Clinton indicated that she might take the fight to the convention in August if Michigan and Florida want to challenge an unfavorable ruling on their delegates. The two states were stripped of their delegates for holding early primaries; a special Democratic National Committee panel meets Saturday to decide their fate.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Clinton was asked whether she would support the states if they appeal an unfavorable rules committee decision to the convention floor, the former first lady replied:

“Yes I will. I will, because I feel very strongly about this.”

“I will consult with Floridians and the voters in Michigan because it’s really their voices that are being ignored and their votes that are being discounted, and I’ll support whatever the elected officials and the voters in those two states want to do.”

Taking her battle to the convention would fly in the face of an increasing number of party leaders who say the contest needs to be wrapped up shortly after the last primary on June 3 to prepare adequately for the fall election.

Asked if she now envisioned the race extending beyond June 3, Clinton replied: “It could, I hope it doesn’t. I hope it’s resolved to everyone’s satisfaction by that date, because that’s what people are expecting, but we’ll have to see what happens.”