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Clinton's final pitch

From NBC's Mark Murray
With the delegate math -- plus more and more superdelegates -- looking to be on Obama's side, Hillary Clinton is making what seems to be a final pitch to all superdelegates before the last primary contests that end on June 3.

Her argument: that she's more electable than Obama is.

"Recent polls and election results show a clear trend: I am ahead in states that have been critical to victory in the past two elections," Clinton writes in a letter to these superdelegates. "From Ohio, to Pennsylvania, to West Virginia and beyond, the results of recent primaries in battleground states show that I have strong support from the regions and demographics Democrats need to take back the White House. I am also currently ahead of Senator McCain in Gallup national tracking polls, while Senator Obama is behind him. And nearly all independent analyses show that I am in a stronger position to win the Electoral College, primarily because I lead Senator McCain in Florida and Ohio."

She adds, "In addition, when the primaries are finished, I expect to lead in the popular vote and in delegates earned through primaries. [Note: It appears she is ignoring caucus contests.] Ultimately, the point of our primary process is to pick our strongest nominee -- the one who would be the best president and commander in chief, who has the greatest support from members of our party, and who is most likely to win in November. So I hope you will consider not just the strength of the coalition backing me, but also that more people will have cast their votes for me."

Clinton concludes, "Finally, I am in this race because I believe staying in this race will help unite the Democratic Party. I believe that if Senator Obama and I both make our case -- and all Democrats have the chance to make their voices heard -- everyone will be more likely to rally around the nominee. In the end, I am committed to unifying this party.  What Senator Obama and I share is so much greater than our differences; and no matter who wins this nomination, I will do everything I can to bring us together and move us forward."

"But at this point, neither of us has crossed the finish line. I hope that in the time remaining, you will think hard about which candidate has the best chance to lead our party to victory in November." 

In today's earlier conference call, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson was asked whether the campaign believes Obama is unelectable. Wolfson responded, "Could he win? Of course he could win. But he is currently not winning against John McCain."

"Sen. Clinton is winning and will win."

Clinton's full letter to superdelegates is below...

Dear ___________,

The stakes in this election are so high: with two wars abroad, our economy in crisis here at home, and so many families struggling across America, the need for new leadership has never been greater. 

At this point, we do not yet have a nominee – and when the last votes are cast on June 3, neither Senator Obama nor I will have secured the nomination.  It will be up to automatic delegates like you to help choose our party's nominee, and I would like to tell you why I believe I am the stronger candidate against Senator McCain and would be the best President and Commander in Chief.

Voters in every state have made it clear that they want to be heard and counted as part of this historic race.  And as we reach the end of the primary season, more than 17 million people have supported me in my effort to become the Democratic nominee – more people than have ever voted for a potential nominee in the history of our party.  In the past two weeks alone, record numbers of voters participated in the West Virginia and Kentucky primaries.  And with 40 and 35 point margins of victory, it is clear that even when voters are repeatedly told this race is over, they're not giving up on me – and I am not giving up on them either.

After seven years of feeling invisible to the Bush administration, Americans are seeking a President who is strong, experienced, and ready to take on our toughest challenges, from serving as Commander in Chief and ending the war in Iraq to turning our economy around.  They want a President who shares their core beliefs about our country and its future and "gets" what they go through every day to care for their families, pay the bills and try to put something away for the future.

We simply cannot afford another four – or eight – years in the wilderness.  That is why, everywhere I go, people come up to me, grip my hand or arm, and urge me to keep on running.  That is why I continue in this race: because I believe I am best prepared to lead this country as President – and best prepared to put together a broad coalition of voters to break the lock Republicans have had on the electoral map and beat Senator McCain in November.

Recent polls and election results show a clear trend: I am ahead in states that have been critical to victory in the past two elections.  From Ohio, to Pennsylvania, to West Virginia and beyond, the results of recent primaries in battleground states show that I have strong support from the regions and demographics Democrats need to take back the White House.  I am also currently ahead of Senator McCain in Gallup national tracking polls, while Senator Obama is behind him.  And nearly all independent analyses show that I am in a stronger position to win the Electoral College, primarily because I lead Senator McCain in Florida and Ohio.  I've enclosed a detailed analysis of recent electoral and polling information, and I hope you will take some time to review it carefully. 

In addition, when the primaries are finished, I expect to lead in the popular vote and in delegates earned through primaries.  Ultimately, the point of our primary process is to pick our strongest nominee – the one who would be the best President and Commander in Chief, who has the greatest support from members of our party, and who is most likely to win in November.  So I hope you will consider not just the strength of the coalition backing me, but also that more people will have cast their votes for me.

I am in this race for them -- for all the men and women I meet who wake up every day and work hard to make a difference for their families.  People who deserve a shot at the American dream – the chance to save for college, a home and retirement; to afford quality health care for their families; to fill the gas tank and buy the groceries with a little left over each month.

I am in this race for all the women in their nineties who've told me they were born before women could vote, and they want to live to see a woman in the White House.  For all the women who are energized for the first time, and voting for the first time.  For the little girls – and little boys – whose parents lift them onto their shoulders at our rallies, and whisper in their ears, "See, you can be anything you want to be."  As the first woman ever to be in this position, I believe I have a responsibility to them.

Finally, I am in this race because I believe staying in this race will help unite the Democratic Party.  I believe that if Senator Obama and I both make our case – and all Democrats have the chance to make their voices heard – everyone will be more likely to rally around the nominee.

In the end, I am committed to unifying this party.  What Senator Obama and I share is so much greater than our differences; and no matter who wins this nomination, I will do everything I can to bring us together and move us forward.

But at this point, neither of us has crossed the finish line.  I hope that in the time remaining, you will think hard about which candidate has the best chance to lead our party to victory in November.  I hope you will consider the results of the recent primaries and what they tell us about the mindset of voters in the key battleground states.  I hope you will think about the broad and winning coalition of voters I have built.  And most important, I hope you will think about who is ready to stand on that stage with Senator McCain, fight for the deepest principles of our party, and lead our country forward into this new century. 

 

 

 

 

Clinton camp not backing down on FL, MI
From NBC's Mark Murray and Andrea Mitchell
In advance of Saturday's DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee hearing on Florida and Michigan, the Clinton campaign held a conference call with reporters, repeating its claim that it wants nothing less than a 100% seating of those state's delegations to the Democratic convention.

In the call, Clinton adviser Harold Ickes -- who serves on the DNC's Rules committee -- stated: 1) that the primary contests that occurred in those states need to be recognized; 2) that the pledged delegates allocated from those contests must reflect those voters' will; and 3) that the states' full delegations be seated at the convention.

"We fully expect that these issues will be resolved on Saturday," Ickes said.

"Resolved in our favor," interjected Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson.

Tina Flournoy, a Rules committee member and Clinton supporter, added on the call:

Asked during the Q&A session if the Clinton campaign was willing to compromise -- the conventional wisdom is that Florida and Michigan will be punished by having their delegations cut by 50%, a proposal that the Obama campaign seems open to -- Ickes replied, "We are going to go to the committee with our position." He added that 2.3 million voters from Florida and Michigan "cannot be swept aside."

Also asked how the DNC could maintain calendar discipline in 2012 and 2016 if Florida and Michigan aren't somehow penalized, Flournoy said that no state in the future would want to go through what these states have gone through -- so the punishment had already taken place.

In addition, Flournoy rejected the suggestion that she and Ickes have a conflict of interest by sitting on the committee since they are connected to Clinton's campaign. She said she has been either a Rules committee staffer or member for 20 years -- and that there are others on the committee who are Obama supporters.

And during the Q&A, Flourney disputed the interpretation of DNC memo containing legal guidance for the Rules committee, which seems to suggest that Florida and Michigan must be penalized by losing at least 50% of their delegates. According to Flournoy, the memo says one of two things can happen: that you seat only 50% of the delegations or that you seat the delegations in full but give each delegate just half a vote. "The DNC is saying that the rule can be read either way."