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Simon Burns MP: Hillary's still in it to win it

Simon_burnsSimon Burns, MP for West Chelmsford, explains why he thinks Hillary Clinton is right to stay in the Presidential race.

As the Democratic Party primary season enters the home stretch, with the last eleven primaries in the next six weeks, it has become clear that neither candidate will secure the necessary 2025 delegates to be the nominee before the Convention at the end of August. The reason for this is that they are running too close for one of the candidates to break out and secure enough delegates to pass the 2025 delegate threshold. Whilst Barack Obama leads in the ordinary delegate count, Hillary Clinton is ahead with superdelegates.

The problem facing the Democratic Party is that two large states, Florida and Michigan have had their primary election results disqualified because they defied the Democratic National Committee and held their elections on days not approved by the DNC. As long as this ruling stands and no compromise agreeable to both candidates and the DNC is found then the stalemate will continue. The irony of this situation is that in both primaries Hillary Clinton won them convincingly. She took 50% of the vote to Obama’s 31% in Florida and 55% in Michigan to undecideds' 40% as Obama’s name was not even on the ballot. If these results had been accepted Hillary Clinton would now be ahead in the ordinary delegate count, with the superdelegates and in the popular vote.

In these circumstances it is bizarre that some people, undoubtedly spurred on by Obama surrogates, are spinning that Hillary Clinton should withdraw from the campaign and allow Obama to take the nomination.

Ultimately, the current Democratic nominating process is meant to select the candidate who will: a) be the best president – the best commander-in-chief, steward of the economy and exercise leadership; b) defeat John McCain; and c) promote and defend core Democratic principles such as universal healthcare.

On all three counts Hillary is the best choice for the Democrats by a long shot. Barack Obama may be brilliant at delivering the lofty, inspirational speeches but there is more to being the next President of the United States at a time when the US economy is heading for recession, over forty million people have no health insurance and America is bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq than mere eloquence. It is a fact that Obama has achieved very little in his three and a half years in the US Senate.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has thirty five years of experience particularly in the field of children’s education, healthcare and even her most strident Republican opponents in the US Senate grudgingly admit she has been highly effective as the junior Senator for New York over the last seven years.

Additionally her victories in the current primary season have been more impressive than Obama’s if based on the criteria of who is the best candidate to win the general election in the fall. Whilst Obama has been winning caucuses and primaries in the South and small states like Utah, North Dakota and Idaho, which the Democrats will not win in a month of Sundays in a general election, Hillary has been winning the largest states in the Union like California, Florida, Texas and swing states like Ohio. She even won Massachusetts convincingly despite Obama receiving the endorsement of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Duval Patrick, the popular governor.

The key to resolving the impasse in the battle for the nomination is to sort out the problems with Florida and Michigan. Together, with 368 delegates, they command just under 10% of the total number of delegates to the Convention and it would be political suicide for the Democratic Party to deny the voice of these two large and critical states in the nominating process. The most sensible solution would be to re-run the primaries but efforts to achieve this have so far failed. Alternatively the problem could end up in the courts which would, I suspect, be to no-one's advantage.

But with the situation still on a statistical knife-edge, with Hillary more electable due to her experience and appeal in states that command large Electoral College votes and a greater appeal than Obama to women, Latinos and working class Democrats, it would be madness for Hillary to concede.

The Clintons have a longstanding reputation for being fighters and not throwing in the towel and I see no evidence that she is preparing to do so now. And she is right not to because she’s in it to win it. If the Florida and Michigan problems can be resolved I believe that she stands an excellent chance of being the nominee and she certainly is the better candidate to defeat John McCain in the fall.


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