Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Following the money?

From this morning’s New York Times:

Her campaign is deep in debt and believed to be near broke, and her advisers made the unusual move on Tuesday night of refusing to confirm or deny whether Mrs. Clinton had made a loan to her campaign to keep it afloat.

Now here’s why this is really important (beyond the usual questions about being able to compete with Obama on TV ad buys and the like): With Tuesday’s primaries in the books, there are now more publicly uncommitted super-delegates than there are uncommitted pledged delegates. Many of those super-delegates are Democratic officeholders—elected officials, many who themselves must run for reelection this cycle. To the best of my knowledge, there are no rules that prohibit the presidential campaigns from making campaign contributions to the super-delegates.

Yes, you are thinking correctly—in effect, presidential hopefuls can buy the votes of some super-delegates.

This is one of the things I hate most about the super-delegate system—in fact, I hate it far more than any general principle about how all convention delegates should be selected by popular vote (this being a rather thin argument given that every state allocates pledged delegates by slightly different—or sometimes very different—rules).

If Clinton’s campaign has no cash on hand, then it has no money to spread around to the SD camps. I will even go out on a limb and say that if HRC were to loan her campaign money only to have the campaign turn around and donate it to other campaigns, it might raise an FEC eyebrow or two (that is, if we actually had a sitting FEC). Loaning her own money to her campaign to buy delegates, to my mind, just ain’t going to happen.

Of course, by the time you read this, things may have changed. MSNBC is reporting that Clinton has cancelled all appearances for Wednesday—or at least all electronic media appearances. The Times article says that HRC has scheduled a rally in West Virginia for this afternoon.

I have also read that Hillary’s morning e-mail does not have a money ask included. That seems odd, but I can’t say how odd.

All this said, I, no fan of Clinton, would like to see her hold off quitting just yet. The rationale is best explained by Markos:

If Clinton were to drop out this week, we'd face an uncomfortable situation in West Virginia, with Clinton likely crushing Obama. That would look terrible for the presumptive nominee.

Better than that would be to garner enough superdelegate commitments this week, so that Oregon can push Obama past 2,024. That way, it isn't the supers who clinch it for Obama, but actual voters.

Given my and the rank and file’s current misgivings about super-delegates, I like this scenario/idea. However, I’m not sure that Clinton has the stomach—or the cash—to see it through.

(cross-posted on guy2k and The Seminal)

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