The finish line

Behind The News
June 4, 2008 1:28:35 PM PDT
I'm no political scientist, but it seems to me that the emphasis on whether or not Hillary Clinton pulls out of the race is far less important - and in the long run more problematic for the Democrats - than whether Barack Obama declares victory and becomes the leader of the Party. I know there are many people who wouldn't agree with that. They would argue that Sen. Clinton has come this-close to becoming her Party's nominee, and in the process has energized women voters. And so what she does and when she does it -- and how she does it -- has great meaning. How does she concede defeat while saving face and keeping the people who are ardent in their support of her from defecting to Republican John McCain?

That drama will be played out, if not tonight after the polls close in Montana and South Dakota, then certainly tomorrow and the rest of this week.

And tonight, Sen. Clinton has thrown the first public peace offering, telling lawmakers that she'd be open to becoming Barack Obama's running mate.

What a conundrum for Sen. Obama. A "dream team" ticket of Obama/Clinton would go a long way to pulling a Democratic Party that has gone from united to divided. But for Obama, and assuming he's elected, having a Vice President who wanted to be President who happens to be married to a man who was once the President, could be quite a challenge in managing his administration.

That might become a secondary consideration to getting elected, however. It's a long way till November, but there seems to be no shortage of women out there who insist that if Clinton doesn't get the nomination they'll either vote for McCain or sit out the 2008 Presidential election.

Clinton on the ticket would likely keep those women in the fold.

There's another fascinating part of this historic (first black, first woman) race. Women would say that they have always taken a backseat in terms of getting their rights, and getting their causes advanced. And the history of the black civil rights movement and the women's movement is a long, complicated and at times conflicted saga.

Back in the days of the abolitionist movement, women were strong activists for the end of slavery. And the most radical of them had to bite their tongues and delay their own desire for women's right to vote. Black men were given the right to vote before the women who helped free them from slavery. It was a source of tension back then.

There's no question that many, not all, women have rallied behind Clinton because she's a women. It's also true that many, not all, blacks have rallied behind Obama because he's African American. Totally understandable.

In the end, many others would hope it's the person -- not the gender or race -- that should matter.

It's certainly made for perhaps the most interesting Presidential race in our lifetime. We'll have complete coverage of the last two primaries - and what's next for Clinton and Obama -- tonight at 11.

There's another election we're covering tonight. The U.S. Senate race in New Jersey -- it's the primary election for both parties. The fascinating race involves incumbent Senator Frank Lautenberg, whose age - he'd be 91 when his next term ends, if he's re-elected -- has become an issue. The other angle is why New Jersey is holding an election now; it did, after all, hold its Presidential primary in February. Why in the world would a state that is crying about budget deficits hold two elections? Why didn't they also move up their Senate race and the other local races?

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.