The Road to the White House Goes Through Puerto Rico?


From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Who would have thought that seventeen months into this nomination process, the two leading Democratic presidential nominees are battling it out in – Puerto Rico? Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have taken their campaigns to a territory with no constitutional right to vote in the general election and an island where the residents are not required to pay federal income taxes.

In fairness, Puerto Rico – like Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia – has the right to vote in the primary election and their delegates get to cast a vote for the nominee in the party's national convention. Also, the people of Puerto Rico do pay some taxes, including a payroll tax. But the move to campaign in a place like Puerto Rico underscores a larger point, that this presidential contest is quite different than most, with newly given importance to states (and territories) once deemed unnecessary in choosing a nominee. The once traditionally important states like Iowa and New Hampshire have lost some of their luster.

At this point in the campaign, it is almost a mathematical impossibility for Clinton to win the nomination, short of having all the remaining 200 or so uncommitted superdelegates pledge their support to her. So the question posed by some is, why stay in the race and why go to Puerto Rico?

Aside from the obvious sandy beaches and sunny weather, campaigning in Puerto Rico was a promise she made months ago. Clinton has not strayed from her commitment to campaign "vigorously" from now until all of the remaining states and territories have finished voting. The final two states, Montana and South Dakota, vote on June 3rd.

Early on in the campaign, Clinton hinted that she would go all the way to Puerto Rico in what some were billing as the "San Juan Showdown," but with Obama growing closer each day to clinching the majority of pledged delegates and having a rhythmic flow of superdelegate endorsements daily, it seems like the once envisioned "showdown" is becoming more of a "show" than anything else. It seems increasingly likely that if Clinton is unable to gain a sufficient number of superdelegates and pledged delegates after that date, that she will be forced to step aside.