Does A Right-Wing Conspiracy Help Hillary?

Mayor Douglas Wilder of Richmond, Va., on "Face The Nation" CBS

In states such as Indiana where open primaries allow independent and Republican Party members to vote for Democratic presidential candidates, right-wing radio commentators are exhorting their listeners to cross party lines and vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton, in the hope that she - and not Sen. Barack Obama - will become the nominee against Sen. John McCain, a supporter of Obama said.

Mayor Douglas Wilder of Richmond, Va., a former senator, said a concerted effort by right-wing media was driving voters to Clinton because, he feels, she is the weaker candidate for the Democratic nomination.

"Why are the poll numbers showing a certain element of the voter being unreachable as far as Barack is concerned? Let's get real. Who is running all of the ads on a regular basis? The bloggers, the right-wing commentators on the radio," Wilder told Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer. "Who are they supporting? Not Barack Obama. They are literally begging people - and these are Republicans - literally begging people, 'Please vote for Hillary Clinton.'

"They have no intention of supporting Hillary Clinton in November. And why are they doing that? Why is it Barack Obama can reach what some call the 'elite voter' but he can't reach the others? That's poppycock. There is a concentrated effort to derive those voters away from him and to drive them to Hillary Clinton, because many of them think that Hillary will be the weaker."

Concurring with Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Wilder said that the Democrats faced a "riotous" convention if the will of the people - in terms of a candidate with the greatest number of pledged delegates and primary or votes - was usurped by the party's superdelegates. "People would be tremendously upset," he said.

Clyburn, however, went further, believing that such a decision might inspire violence.

It would certainly breed discontent, he said, especially among younger voters, as he described his visits to historical black colleges and universities in his district: "That is what these young people were saying to me. They were very, very upset with all of this talk about superdelegates overturning their energies and overturning their efforts.

"A lot of them were saying that they felt that all of this talk about Senator Obama [was] just ways to damage him permanently for making it impossible for him to win even if he were to get the nomination.

"These young people have come into this party to the extent that I have not seen in 40 years. And we ought not be doing or saying anything to tamp down their enthusiasm."

Clyburn's message to the superdelegates who are free to vote their will? "They are free to take all of these things into account. And I think that they should. What they are not free to do, in my opinion, is to just outright reject or overturn without sufficient cause what may have happened in these various caucuses and these primaries.

"Be very, very careful. Don't do it just because you got the power to do it, but have good reasons if it comes to that."

While Clyburn and Wilder debated the impact or non-impact upon Obama's campaign by the recent remarks of Rev. Lawrence Wright, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and a Clinton supporter, said that her willingness to stay in the race demonstrated a toughness and perseverance that is attractive to voters.

"She's a fighter," Bayh said. "And I think people know that it's not going to be easy to deliver the kind of results that they want. And it's her fortitude, in some ways the fact that she's been knocked down. There have been all these calls for her to quit, to go away, to disenfranchise the people of our state, for example. But she says, no, I'm in this for the American people. I'm going to stand strong for them.

"And so it's that grit and determination I think people like, plus the level of experience, the ability to deliver results.

"Barack is a very formidable person, a gifted candidate, and is very persuasive at any number of levels, but it's that between two good people, that perception that one has a little bit more experience and probably can actually deliver the kind of change that people are looking for I think that's resonating well here in the heartland."



Read the full "Face the Nation" transcript here.
  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

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