Dems Latest; Holiday Getaway

Behind The News
December 15, 2010 11:28:03 AM PST
What a strange situation for the two Democratic contenders for President. Clearly word has leaked of some sort of back-channel discussions about a possible exit strategy for the candidate who doesn't win her party's nomination. But while she's still running, it's a wee-bit ludicrous to acknowledge she's thinking about getting out. That just wouldn't look good for the three remaining primaries, and for her argument to the super delegates that, despite the majority of delegates now claimed by Barack Obama, these party leaders should nonetheless cast their selection for Hillary Clinton.

Today, Sen. Clinton was asked about these negotiations. "That's flat untrue ... flatly, completely untrue," she said. "It is not anything I'm entertaining, it is nothing I have planned."

Her denial today reminded me of when George McGovern was running for President against Richard Nixon in 1972, and it was revealed that his running mate, Thomas Eagleton, had at one point undergone electroshock therapy. McGovern came out and said he was behind Eagleton "1000 percent."

The kiss of death. Eagleton was soon dropped from the ticket.

But this is a sales profession, and, until things change, I suspect most Americans understand that the candidate stays on message. She's in it to win it. That's the campaign's line.

How long it remains that way is the question. Meanwhile, Sen. Obama is embracing his own public denial, as he starts the vetting process for a running mate. Sen. John McCain is starting the process on the Republican side, as potential Veep candidates sojourn to Arizona to meet with the assumed nominee.

Speaking of McCain, he released his medical reports today - and now doctors and medical experts are pouring over them, looking for what could be physical weaknesses that we don't know about. It's a touchy subject, to be sure. McCain at 72 would be the oldest person ever elected as a first-term President. He is not in bad shape, considering he has lasting physical ailments and limitations from his years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and considering he had a couple of bouts with skin cancer.

When Ronald Reagan was running for a second term, he was 73, and during his debates with Walter Mondale he quipped that he wasn't going to make age an issue in the campaign by bringing up how young Mondale was.

It was funny, but it was also a way to diffuse the sensitive issue of how-old-is-too-old.

We know now that Reagan perhaps was not physically or mentally 100% during that second term.

Not by coincidence, Sen. Obama says he plans to release his medical records early next week. He's just 46 and was named one of the nation's 25 "Fittest Guys" by Men's Fitness magazine. His rather short medical report will be in stark contrast to the hundreds of medical documents released today on McCain.

We'll have the latest from the campaign trails, tonight at 11. And we'd love to hear your viewpoints about this issue of age. Send them to me, Bill.S.Ritter@ABC.Com, and let me know if we can use your name with your comments.

Also at 11, it's the beginning of the unofficial kickoff to summer, and with gas prices per gallon hovering at around the cost of fast-food lunch, many people say they'll stay closer to home this holiday. Who can blame them?

And for those who do drive, cops in Nassau County will be especially on the lookout tonight and this weekend for drunk drivers. They have extra motivation: One of their own, Ken Baribault, was seriously hurt this week when an accused drunk driver with a suspended license crashed into Baribault's police car.

Today, the owners of Big Brown, the horse who has already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, said they will donate a portion of the colt's winnings from the Belmont Stakes on June 7 to start a college fund for Baribault's son.

We're on the road with the cops on patrol, tonight at 11.

And Tappy Phillips tonight has the story of a small business on Long Island that did a rush job for the government - making glare resistant films for screening machines at MacArthur Airport. They finished the $7,000 project last fall. The client: The Dept. of Homeland Security. Just one problem: The company hasn't been paid yet. Tappy and 7 On Your Side are on the case.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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