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If Clinton Wants VP, Obama Can't Stop Her

By Bob Beckel

Does Hillary Clinton want to be the Democrats vice presidential candidate? Probably. Could she get on the ticket by dropping out before the last states vote on June 3rd? Definitely not. Does Barack Obama want her on the ticket? Absolutely not. Can he stop her if she wants it? Probably not. Why not? Super delegates are why not.

When the last pledged delegates are totaled on June 3rd, and assuming the current demographic support continues for both candidates (and baring a major development they will), Barack Obama will have around 1690 delegates and Hillary Clinton around 1550. Add in their current super delegate support and Obama will have 1980 total delegates, and Clinton 1825.

There are roughly 235 undecided or unnamed super delegates, most of whom will pick sides before or shortly after June 3rd. Given the inevitability of his nomination Obama will get the lion share of these delegates. An educated guess would be 185 for Obama, 50 for Clinton. Final count; Obama 2165; Clinton 1875. (Assume Michigan and Florida will be seated and be an even split so we can leave the magic number at the current 2026).

It's all over. Obama will have about 54% of the delegates and Clinton 46%. (I know there are a few delegates missing. Some are Edwards, a few uncommitted, and a few refusing to decide- another wash). Hillary Clinton will have come up short by 150 votes. But this isn't horseshoes. That said she still comes in a very close second, which puts her among the closest runner-ups in Democratic Party history.

So Barack Obama is free to pick a running mate? Not so fast. Her losing margin of 150 is only 19% of the super delegates at the convention. Most of the 795 super delegates have been put under enormous pressure by both candidates for months. For those that chose Obama the decision was an especially painful one both personally and politically.

Almost all super delegates have had a long history with the Clintons. Many have only personally known Barack Obama a few months. Many who sided with Obama have benefited professionally, financially, and politically from their relationship with the Clintons. Many had jobs, and good ones, in the Clinton Administration. Many have been the recipients of tens of thousands of dollars raised on their behalf by the Clintons.

Can you imagine how hard it was for most of these super delegates to turn down the former president of the United States? It was tough enough turning Hillary down, but their former boss, political godfather, and personal friend? I've talked to many of them; trust me it was for most the hardest thing they have ever had to do in their political lives.

Just consider for a moment the final phone call with Bill Clinton when the super delegate had to tell him he or she had decided to go with Obama. Clinton," It's time to make a decision. Hillary needs you and I need you. We've been through a lot together. When you needed me I was there, now we need you".

Super delegate, "Mr. President, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I'm going with Obama because (whatever). Ask me for anything else Mr. President, but I've got to do this". Clinton, "I'm very disappointed and personally hurt, but do what you think you have to do. So long."

Now imagine its June 4th and Clinton calls again. Clinton, "I know Obama has enough votes to win, but I wanted you to know Hillary has decided to run for vice president at the convention. You know there are two roll call votes at the convention: first president then for vice president. I know you are voting for Obama for president. Fine, but I want your commitment to vote for Hillary for vice president."

You imagine being on the floor in Denver. Hillary's delegates, NEARLY HALF THE DELEGATES, are demanding she be on the ticket. These are true believers who have stuck with Clinton through thick and thin. To them, putting Hillary on the ticket is a crusade.

Most Clinton delegates are women, most Democratic voters are women, and they're going to just accept some middle aged white governor that Obama is rumored to want? No way. They are in your face. Hillary supporters from back home are jamming your Blackberry. This and more horror scenes flash through your mind in a nano second.

Then it occurs to you; if the roles were reversed and Obama came close to winning and wanted to be the vice presidential candidate, could you imagine the convention saying no?

Clinton," If we get your commitment now (we've already got a bunch of Obama super delegates to support her) we don't have to take a vote or fight in Denver. With Hillary's pledged delegates and a hundred or so super delegates we'll be over 2026 before the end of June. Saves Barack the hassle of picking a running mate and we can be united against McCain on day one."

Are you going to tell the former president of the United States no again? Anyway you convince yourself it's a great ticket and will help Obama in those big swing states. "I'm with you Mr. President". Clinton," I knew I could count on you". You want to bet there aren't 20% of the super delegates who would buy this deal? We're talking super delegates here, not profiles in courage.

If Hillary Clinton wants the vice presidential nomination, and her loyal delegates demand it, and the Clinton machine puts its full weight behind it, she will be on the ticket.

Count on it.

Bob Beckel managed Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign. He is a senior political analyst for the Fox News Channel and a columnist for USA Today. Beckel is the co-author with Cal Thomas of the book "Common Ground."

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