Former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta told USA Today that "the writing is on the wall" that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee.
"We all understand where this thing is headed," Panetta, who endorsed Hillary Clinton, added. He said he hoped the nominating battle will end "with some grace and honor and a willingness to help unify the party."
Influential Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, meanwhile, said, "At this point, Barack is the presumptive nominee," according to the Huffington Post. "Hillary can't win but something could happen that Barack could lose the nomination."
"What Hillary does in the next month is important," Emanuel added. "If she spends her time contrasting with Senator McCain, drawing distinctions that help the Democratic Party, that's productive. If it's done in another way, that's not productive."
House Democratic Caucus Communications Director Sarah Feinberg later suggested the reaction to Emanuel's comments was overblown. Her email, as noted by Marc Ambinder:
While I realize it's a slow news day, and all 08 reporters feel every news bit must be immediately made out to be breathless, breaking, and instantly analyzed in order to break thru, I would like to clarify two points:
1. All Rahm said was that Senator Obama is clearly now the frontrunner, which by and large means, because of the calendar, he is the presumptive nominee, at this point. He was stating the obvious. Its about the calendar.
2. The "presumptive" quote is only accurate if you ignore the several sentences proceeding this half sentence and the several minutes of conversation that followed it. I'd call it selective quoting. Congressman Emanuel also stated about 90 seconds after this that he thought Senator Clinton can still win the nomination and he stands by that.