In an e-mail today addressed to her supporters, Hillary Clinton offered her thanks and expressed a willingness to help the Democratic party unite behind Senator Obama. On Saturday, she plans to hold an event in Washington that will likely act as a farewell address, where she’ll pay tribute to her followers and to her accomplishments and possibly endorse Senator Obama: “[I will] be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise.”
Prior to this e-mail, Senator Clinton offered little indication of what her supporters could expect in the coming weeks. By all accounts, it seems that she may have been gearing up for a last-ditch effort to convince the electorate of her candidacy’s viability. After Tuesday’s split results, she seemed ready to reflect on the proper course of action. However, since Tuesday, many of her top advisors and congressional colleagues have strongly encouraged her to take action. Immediately.
Yet, Thursday has now practically come and gone and, from the appearance of Senator Clinton’s website, there is little evidence of an exit strategy. Though, Thursday night brought rumors of a meeting between the two candidates where they supposedly discussed everything from pantsuits to large personal debts. That being said, at this point, Senator Clinton has not yet officially dropped out of the race, nor did she explicitly state in her e-mail that she plans to endorse Senator Obama on Saturday. In the meantime, it seems that she will suspend her campaign, opting to remain a candidate and maintain her portion of state and district delegates.
Top democrats from her home state of New York, however, have chosen not to wait. As early as Friday, even her most virulent supporters will begin to officially endorse the Obama campaign.
Since Montana’s results, many Americans have become troubled by what is perceived as hesitation on Senator Clinton’s part to declare Obama the outright winner. Mike Lupica of the Daily News went so far as to say, “[Senator Clinton] acts as if she is the shadow-president of a constituency that includes the 18 million people she says voted for her, as if those votes belong to her, as if all 18 million people are waiting for her to give them their marching orders. She leaves the race with the same air of entitlement with which she entered.”
The Clintons have long complained of a media-bias for Obama, and perhaps Mr. Lupica has unwittingly become primary evidence of this. No doubt Senator Clinton is drained after months on the campaign trail and deserves a moment’s pause without being berated for demonstrating a little intertia. Yet, regardless of the veracity of Mr. Lupica’s statement, his emotive response to Clinton’s inaction raises a fundamental point of contention for the Democratic Party. Senator Clinton (intentionally or not) remains a polarizing figure for the American public. For both Bill and Hillary, it’s still love or hate. And Toby Harnden of Real Clear Politics holds that many potential cross-over potential Republican voters would vote against her no matter where she appears on the ticket in November. Not only that, but conservatives might be moved into actually voting for McCain, should Hillary appear as VP. On the other hand, many of Clinton’s supporters have demanded that she be awarded the vice-presidency, and may not vote should Obama seek a different running mate. Not to mention that many Clinton supporters stated early on that they would not vote for Senator Obama at all should she be defeated.
Senator Clinton will presumably endorse Barack Obama on Saturday, but questions swirling around the vice-presidency remain. Senator Obama would be well-advised to keep Bill away from the White House especially after the Vanity Fair expose last week. Most likely, he’ll seek another alternative to a Clinton vice-presidency.
Looking back on the campaign, it seems the Clintons have been alternately praised for having that do-whatever-it-takes-scrappiness and criticized for their “ethical pliancy.” But whatever their non-political image may be, the Clintons are superlative politicians; they are tough, sharp, charismatic, and know how to step to a challenge.
Thus, with her bid all but over, Hillary now faces her biggest challenge yet. It’s time to see how Senator Clinton reacts as a LEADER. She has fought hard for what she believes in and what she represents, but it is time for Senator Clinton to show that she understands her role as a political leader and that she can do what is best for her constituency and the American public at large.
How do you think she’s handled her exit from the campaign? And what will her role be, if any, in the Obama Administration?
I’d love for you to weigh in.