Clinton refuses to bow out of White House race

Democrat Hillary Clinton on Wednesday vowed she would not quit the party’s bitter White House race, but faced mounting pressure to step aside in favour of a resurgent Barack Obama.

”I am staying in this race until there is a nominee,” Clinton told reporters in West Virginia, which holds its presidential primary next Tuesday. ”I am going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee.”

Clinton leapt back on to the campaign trail with a hastily arranged stop in West Virginia, after being trounced by Obama in Tuesday’s North Carolina primary and winning by only a hair’s breadth in Indiana.

But some of the fire seemed to have seeped out of the New York senator, as she reeled off a toned-down version of her stump speech. Significantly, she did not once mention or attack her rival.

Clinton’s failure to pull off the ”game-changer” result she needed in the twin primaries triggered calls for her to allow Obama to muster for a general election showdown with Republican John McCain.

George McGovern, the Democrats’ defeated presidential candidate in 1972, urged the former first lady to step aside for the good of the party as he threw his support behind Obama.

And a prominent Clinton supporter, Senator Dianne Feinstein, said she wanted to hear from the former first lady to explain ”her view on the rest of the race and what the strategy is”.

Quoted in the Hill newspaper, which covers Congress, the California Democrat also said: ”I think the race is reaching the point now where there are negative dividends from it, in terms of strife within the party.

”I think we need to prevent that as much as we can.”

In a further sign she is floundering, Clinton lent her campaign $6,4-million over the past month, according to aides. That took her personal input from her own fortune to more than $11-million.

Despite the grim outlook, Clinton argued anew that even though she dropped further behind Obama in nominating delegates, she remained a better bet to take on McCain in the general election.

Decisive stride

But the Obama campaign subtly upped the pressure, while also showing signs of being content to afford her a graceful exit.

”In my judgement, last night [Tuesday] Barack Obama took a giant and a decisive stride toward the nomination,” said defeated 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, on a conference call of heavyweight supporters of the Illinois senator.

Senator Claire McCaskill said: ”It would be inappropriate and awkward and wrong for any of us to tell Senator Clinton when it is time for the race to be over.”

Obama thrashed Clinton 56% to 42% in North Carolina, bouncing back from weeks of missteps and the controversy over his former pastor that had threatened to derail his bid to become the first black United States president.

Clinton then took Indiana by 51% to 49%, but only after she saw her once commanding lead whittled down to a mere 18 400 votes.

With Obama only an estimated 177 delegates shy of the 2 025 needed for the party’s nomination according to the independent web site, Clinton appears to be running out of options in her quest to be the first woman president.

All day, the Clinton campaign fought a blizzard of media commentary declaring the race over in advance of the final six primaries climaxing on June 3.

Clinton’s communications director, Howard Wolfson, hit back: ”The punditocracy does not control this contest, voters do.”

Clinton insisted that the race might well change on May 31 if, at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee’s rules committee, she regains the delegates she lost when primary results in Florida and Michigan were voided.

”And this is really about fundamental fairness in recognising the legitimate votes of two important states that Democrats have to try to win in November,” she said, after the two states were punished for holding their votes early.

Analysts said the party’s remaining undeclared superdelegates, who can vote for the candidate of their choice, would start flocking to Obama’s side in light of Tuesday’s results.

At least four more superdelegates came off the fence Wednesday to endorse Obama — two state leaders from North Carolina, one from California and one assembly member from Virginia who abandoned Clinton for Obama. Clinton scooped up one in North Carolina. — AFP



Make sense of your world

Subscribe to Mail & Guardian at R10/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Stephen Collinson
Guest Author

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Informal waste collection shouldn’t let plastic polluters off the hook

The image of plastic recycling as the solution to plastic pollution is perpetuated by statistics that highlight successes, which are communicated in tonnes and percentages that are difficult to visualise.

Millions of rand lost as SANDF returns unauthorised Cuban Covid-19...

Remedial action against officials suspected of wrongdoing must be taken, says the ministerial task team investigating the defence department

New year, same rules: The science behind masks, ventilation and...

Wearing a mask, washing your hands, good ventilation and keeping your distance all help to lower your chances of getting infected by the virus that causes Covid-19

Red Cross makes first medical delivery to Tigray since September

The ICRC said the urgently-needed supplies and essential drugs, which were flown in, would be distributed to facilities across Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…