“We can’t get her to sit down and talk,” the Hillary Clinton person was telling me. “We have been having a hard time getting her to stop campaigning long enough to talk about how she actually ends this thing.”
It is understandable. She has been campaigning for so long. She has fought so hard. And, let’s be fair, in recent months she has done so well.
So why talk about losing? You know who talks about losing? Losers. And that is not how she sees herself.
“This has been such an intense process,” Clinton said Sunday night. “I don’t think there has been a lot of time for reflection.”
It’s like the old saying: You can rest when you’re dead. And Hillary Clinton’s campaign is not dead. Not quite. Not yet.
She has but one slim chance for victory. She must, in the next day or two, persuade superdelegates to vote for her instead of Barack Obama.
She has an argument. She has — according to her math — more popular votes than Obama. She has done better than Obama in some states that the Democratic nominee will need to carry in November.
She says she has been “fully vetted” and will make a tougher, better, less vulnerable nominee to oppose John McCain.
But the superdelegates are party insiders. They (like much of America) are tired of this long, contentious campaign. And when they hear Clinton adviser Harold Ickes threaten to prolong the fight by taking it to the Credentials Committee and the floor of the Democratic convention, they despair. And they have a solution: Just give it to Obama and be done with it.
“Harold just doesn’t like to lose,” an uncommitted superdelegate told me Monday. “A lot of Clinton people have reached a state of acceptance. Harold has not.”
Hillary Clinton does not appear to have quite yet reached a state of final acceptance, either. When acceptance means defeat, it is easier to just keep campaigning until there are no more states to campaign in. Which is why her staff is having so much trouble getting her to sit down and talk.
It could be over Tuesday night. But why do anything until then?
On Monday, Clinton was scheduled to attend rallies in the South Dakota cities of Rapid City, Yankton and Sioux Falls. Her husband was scheduled to make six stops in the state. They are campaign machines. They cover ground. They move forward. They grind on.
And yet they both know how it is likely to end. “This may be the last day I’m ever involved in a campaign of this kind,” Bill Clinton said Monday in Milbank, S.D.
But even if both leave the stage, several questions will remain, and one big one is this: What do they do about the anger, the anger of those who believe that Hillary Clinton has been treated disrespectfully and unfairly throughout this campaign?
Some of the anger was seen Saturday at the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting in a Washington, D.C., hotel, when some Clinton supporters in the audience chanted, “Denver! Denver! Denver!” and “McCain! McCain! McCain!” after the committee awarded what they felt were too many delegates to Obama.
Don Fowler is a member of the rules committee and committed to Hillary Clinton. He is a former chairman of the Democratic Party and a soft-spoken Southern gentleman who is highly respected within the party.
And he is troubled. He is not an extreme partisan — he actually voted for a measure that helped Obama — but he thinks the Obama people pushed too hard for their victory Saturday and are making a mistake.
“If the Obama people don’t let up, they are giving Clinton people an excuse to not cooperate,” Fowler told me Monday. “And I mean cooperate in a full range of things: whether we will have a good convention and whether they will be supporting the nominee in the fall.&rduo;
After the rules committee meeting was finally over and the shouts had died away, Fowler did the sensible thing. “I went to the bar and had a drink or two,” he said. “But I was disappointed. I thought the Obama people behaved very poorly. They could have made things a lot easier and behaved more magnanimously.”
It could be argued, of course, that when you are going to win the nomination anyway, you don’t have to bother about being magnanimous.
Unless you want to win in November, that is.