Starting Gate: Here Comes The Cavalry

Campaign craziness moves back to its hometown this weekend as members of the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee convene in Washington to try and finally resolve those delegations from Florida and Michigan currently stuck in limbo. The meeting is expected to come complete with blanket media coverage and protest marches on behalf of Hillary Clinton, for whom the cause has become a crusade.

There are various estimates of what might be decided at the meeting but most fall somewhere in the range of halving both states delegations, boosting the number of total delegates needed to clinch to the nomination without much changing the overall lead held by Barack Obama.

For all the attention focused on the DNC meeting this weekend, the real action is happening in the hierarchy of the Democratic Party, where the chieftains are preparing for the real endgame. One by one, party leaders are making it crystal clear that they aren't going to stand for any more tomfoolery once the primary season ends on Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday said she would "step in" to end things if the campaign doesn't come to a natural conclusion shortly. House Majority Whip James Clyburn said he would announce his endorsement on Tuesday. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid mixed no words about the direction he sees things going, saying in a radio interview that "simple math indicates" Obama is the presumptive nominee.

Democrats are weary of a process which has energized the party but threatens to divide it the longer it goes on. Few have the stomach for a fight at the convention, knowing the losing history of nominees chosen that way. And, with prospects brighter than they have been for decades, it's understandable.

Still, wrapping up the primary contest remains a delicate task. For weeks, party leaders and Obama partisans have gone to great lengths to avoid making it appear that anyone is trying to shove Clinton out of the race. Her supporters, particularly women and those blue-collar voters in Midwest battleground states are too important to offend. With no more votes to be found or delegates to be won in the primary process, though, the patience is wearing thin.

Much will depend on how Clinton reacts over the next week. Her campaign has projected travel through June 6th (where to remains a mystery since there are no more states to be won). If Obama reaches the magic number by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning with a combination of pledged and superdelegates, he will certainly declare victory. If the process closes without, or even before, Clinton's agreement, the healing will be harder.

Around The Track

  • The Sioux Falls Argus Leader endorses Clinton this morning in advance of the South Dakota primary. From the editorial: "Her mastery of complex policy detail is broad and deep, and her experience as a senator and former first lady matches that. Measured against her opponent, Clinton is philosophically more moderate. That is likely a good thing for South Dakota."
  • Clinton continues to draw large crowds of devoted supporters even as the odds grow longer against her, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Clinton may be facing defections among her supporters on the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee that could have an impact on the Florida/Michigan decision, reports Huffington Post's Tom Edsall.
  • "I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn't reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause" – Barack Obama, on the latest controversy involving the pulpit.
  • CBS News' Ryan Corsaro reports on comments made by a religious leader at a GOP fundraiser attended by party heavyweights last night. "Please Lord, tell Senator Obama that maybe change is a good thing," prayed Monsignor James Lisante. "And maybe he should think about changing his favorite preacher."