The New York Times and FOX News report Hillary Clinton will suspend her 17-month, historic candidacy on Saturday. Below the fold is the text of the email sent yesterday from the Clinton campaign that details her rally in Washington for staff and supporters, and, will formally endorse the nomination of Barack Obama.
Longtime readers of Rod 2.0 will know that we began chatting up Obama as a presidential contender when the site debuted in Ocober 2005 and May 2006. Obama and Clinton are terrific candidates, but, we said several times during the primary season that we believed Clinton was the more formidable general election candidate and much stronger on the issues, especially universal health care, education, the sub-prime lending crisis and the economy. Clinton would have expanded the map and handed McCain his hat in a landslide, picking up states such as Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Nevada and New Mexico, and, crushing the Republicans in the entire Ohio River Valley. Clinton's popularity in Appalachia, the Ozarks and the Southwest is almost unprecedented for a modern Democratic presidential candidate. These are states Democrats won before and can win again ... with the right economic and security message.
Clinton ran the weaker primary campaign and the first two and a half months were mismanaged, without a message, and underestimated the appeal of Obama. Deciding not to contest the February caucuses and Wisconsin was the fatal mistake of the campaign. On the other hand, after recalibrating in March, Clinton emerged as a superb candidate with a populist, solutions-oriented message. Clinton's March thru June run was remarkable because the pundits have effectively said since February that 'she couldn't win' and, well, you know those 'silly, stupid voters.' With the exception of North Carolina and Oregon, Clinton has won almost every major contest since March and cleaned Obama's clock in contest after contest, sometimes spectacularly so, such as 30 and 40 percent margins in Kentucky, West Virginia and Puerto Rico, and, despite being outspent by as much as three or four to one. Ironically, this plucky spirit has earned her the respect and admiration of many Republican politicians and strategists who once despised her.
Clinton leaves the campaign with a bang and won South Dakota on Tuesday, another state strongly favored for Obama. Clinton ran on economic and Native American issues, and, energized turnout to defeat a ballot initiative that would have restricted abortion choices. Obama outspent Clinton and appeared in commercials with former Senator Tom Daschle, who remains as unpopular in South Dakota as he was on Capitol Hill during his disastrous stint as Senate Majority Leader. Daschle is despised by many within the Native American community and was probably a liability.
The Democrats fielded an excellent primary field but this unfortunately became the ugliest Democratic primary season in recent history. Clinton hate used to be exclusive to Beltway pundits and right wing talk radio and this primary season, the cable 'news' networks, the Obama campaign and the 'progressive' blogs ramped it up to hysterical proportions. Instead of a primary contest between two strong candidates, the contest became racialized and Clinton was presented as the villain who was trying to 'stop the first black man from becoming president'. This was vintage Daley-Axelrod-Jesse Jackson Jr. Chicago style primary politics. The sexist comments and misogyny that passes for punditry and commentary remains beyond pathetic. As a result, the party is split on class, gender and racial lines and and will require some heavy lifting by Obama and his team to put it back together. It will not be easy but it can be done.
Not sure what Clinton's next move will be. Months ago, when Clinton was ahead, a unity ticket seemed the way to go. Since then, we've repeatedly said that is not going to happen. At this point, besides asking for some recognition for her campaign and its approximately 18 million voters, Clinton probably wants to take a long weekend and sleep in. She will campaign for Obama in the fall if and when she is asked.
Clinton's email message after the flip.
I wanted you to be one of the first to know: on Saturday, I will hold an event in Washington D.C. to thank everyone who has supported my campaign. Over the course of the last 16 months, I have been privileged and touched to witness the incredible dedication and sacrifice of so many people working for our campaign. Every minute you put into helping us win, every dollar you gave to keep up the fight meant more to me than I can ever possibly tell you.
On Saturday, I will extend my congratulations to Senator Obama and my support for his candidacy. This has been a long and hard-fought campaign, but as I have always said, my differences with Senator Obama are small compared to the differences we have with Senator McCain and the Republicans.
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I have said throughout the campaign that I would strongly support Senator Obama if he were the Democratic Party's nominee, and I intend to deliver on that promise.
When I decided to run for president, I knew exactly why I was getting into this race: to work hard every day for the millions of Americans who need a voice in the White House.
I made you -- and everyone who supported me -- a promise: to stand up for our shared values and to never back down. I'm going to keep that promise today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.
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.
I know as I continue my lifelong work for a stronger America and a better world, I will turn to you for the support, the strength, and the commitment that you have shown me in the past 16 months. And I will always keep faith with the issues and causes that are important to you.
In the past few days, you have shown that support once again with hundreds of thousands of messages to the campaign, and again, I am touched by your thoughtfulness and kindness.
I can never possibly express my gratitude, so let me say simply, thank you.