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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cantwell Caveat: She’s Backing Clinton, But She’ll Vote Based on Pledged Delegates at the Convention

posted by on March 25 at 14:50 PM

Via The Columbian by way of The Politico:

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, one of Washington’s 17 Democratic superdelegates, isn’t ready to shift her allegiance from Sen. Hillary Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama — yet.

But in an interview with The Columbian’s editorial board Monday, she said the candidate with the most pledged delegates at the end of the primary season in late June will have the strongest claim to the party’s presidential nomination.

“I definitely don’t want the superdelegates to be the deciding factor,” she said.

“If we have a candidate who has the most delegates and the most states,” the Democratic party should come together around that candidate, Cantwell said. The pledged delegate count will be the most important factor, she said, because that is the basis of the nominating process.

UPDATE: I just traded emails with Cantwell spokesperson Ciaran Clayton, who confirms the accuracy The Columbian’s account.

RSS icon Comments


File this under "Today in politicians' information-free statements..."

Posted by David Wright | March 25, 2008 2:57 PM

Finally some sanity from a Clinton supporter. Superdelegates should not be the deciding factor. Though she's still leaving herself too much wiggle room. It shouldn't matter who wins the most states (or the most votes, or whatever). All that matters is the most elected delegates. Otherwise, superdelegates WILL be the deciding factor, and that will look worse than awful to the general public, and will cause untold upheaval within the party at a time when unity is needed to defeat McCain.

Posted by Trevor | March 25, 2008 2:59 PM

Earth to ECB
Earth calling ECB
Come in please....

Posted by Transit Voter | March 25, 2008 3:02 PM

"Oooh, look. Over there, on the wall. It's The Writing..."

Posted by Andy Niable | March 25, 2008 3:05 PM

one thing you can count on super delegates being, and that is total and utter cowards. even if they wanted to overturn the popular vote, they wouldn't have the spine to do it. they'll follow the path of least resistance. all we're witnessing now is them trying to find a way to do it without looking bad.

Posted by some dude | March 25, 2008 3:05 PM

This is going to make Hillary grimace.

Posted by elenchos | March 25, 2008 3:05 PM

So... barring a minor miracle, she's going to support Obama, but she's not say it it.

Posted by JC | March 25, 2008 3:07 PM

If Sen Cantwell (hi, Maria!) hadn't said this, I'd be kind of surprised.

A lot of electeds (most superdelegates are elected federal officials or state governors) know that if they end up forcing a candidate on us, they stand a good chance of becoming unelected officials.

And a lot of checkbooks they usually rely on will suddenly close - and donations go to their challengers - and there will be some.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 25, 2008 3:07 PM

Well, since Washington's pledged delegate totals favor Obama..... is this to be interpreted, really?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 25, 2008 3:09 PM

I bet if Hillary were a superdelegate in Cantwell's position she'd be willing to take a politically risky stand against popular opinion to help her friends and do what she believed was right, even if it cost her.

Buhwahahahahahahaha! Just kidding.

Posted by elenchos | March 25, 2008 3:11 PM

Yeah so, I can remember a time when HRC and O seemed so similar on the issues that I didn't have a strong preference. I initially was in favor of HRC because of Obama touring with that creepy ex-gay preacher - but I was soothed by his statements (Dan Savage's endorsement helped, too) and came to focus on two things about HRC: the fact that she voted for the occupation of Iraq, and the fact that she backed that ridiculous, shameful anti-flag-burning amendment. Small things. There weren't many differences. This is an example of the anchoring effect (and many other heuristics/cognitive biases, too, I think). Since then I've become pretty strongly pro-O and I've thought to myself, wow, I hate HRC. I've felt proud reading every Obama speech, and uncomfortable and angry reading HRC's remarks. A few days ago I was thinking that I wouldn't vote for HRC in a general election, because how could I vote for someone who voted for the occupation of Iraq? Clearly I am affected - many of us are - by the choice-supportive bias. We've come to harden our position on our favorite candidate, even though initially we may not have felt that strongly.

However, if HRC gets the nomination, I will vote for her. You should, too. Because four years of a McCain presidency is not a small thing. For one thing, it's an almost certain track to war with Iran. Just read his Al Qaeda/Iran mix-up - corrected by Lieberman - to see the truth of this. Hillary's not really evil or a bitch or a cunt - we just think she is because she's attacking OUR TEAM. She's really pretty close to him on the issues.

Obama's still better. He should be President. But we should still rally behind HRC in case of her nomination. Also, cognitive biases need to be more reported and better understood (they affect economic decisions and health care, too). Too bad people think their own brains work perfectly. It's everybody else on that other side who's irrational.

Posted by Sister Y | March 25, 2008 3:13 PM

Cantwell, shouldn't you be representing the views of your state? You know, the one you're allegedly elected to represent? I know that in this case, that will probably be how it ends, but if the state had voted for Clinton I'd expect you to be talking not about supporting whoever is ahead in the national delegate count, but who is ahead in your state's count. Last I checked, you're not Senator of the US. Yes yes, the democrats give the superdelegate power for a reason, but if you're going against your state you better have a damn good reason.

Posted by Are you Sen of the US now, Cantwell? | March 25, 2008 3:13 PM


NM was for HRC yet Richardson for Obama. that's okay.

MA for HRC yet Kennedy for Obama

that's okay.

bit selective, aren't we?

Posted by unPC | March 25, 2008 3:21 PM

*YAWN* Eli, you're off your game today. Big time. This is not news. She's just giving herself a way out, which she won't use.

The vast majority of superdels will swing to Hilary in late May. They are going to wait as long as possible, so they can be as influential as possible.

Neither Obama nor Hilary can win without them. But they will switch to her in the end. Mark my words...

Posted by fluteprof | March 25, 2008 3:29 PM

unPC, where did you read in my comment that I'm selective or that I support Obama? I didn't mention any other senators of other states because 1) I don't care about them, and 2) they're not the one who just made a statement that they'll be voting the same as the national delegate count. I would argue the same to any state-level representative who is elected by the voters of the state -- don't say you're voting the same as the US as a whole, because I don't really see that as a good reason.

In Richardson's case, if he makes a cogent argument for why he's supporting Obama, then fine -- he is hopefully exercising the power given to him as a superdelegate by the democratic party, and he'll be held accountable (as Cantwell will). In my opinion, I don't find the argument that Cantwell presented here -- essentially that she's representing the interests of the US democratic party instead of the state's -- very compelling.

Posted by defensive much, unPC? | March 25, 2008 3:31 PM

Hillary's realized the only way she's going to face McCain in the general election is if he's running for re-election.

Hence the recent efforts to kneecap our party's presumptive nominee in an effort to further her own political fortunes. Just one of the many reasons why Hillary Clinton doesn't deserve to be the nominee.

Posted by ru shur | March 25, 2008 3:32 PM

If super delagates simply put their vote toward the candidate with the most pledged delegates instead of who they think will best run the party then what's the point of having Super Delegates.

Posted by what's the point | March 25, 2008 3:34 PM


listen dude, who said it was ok for richardson to go against his own people? not me. he is taking a chance by going against his local flow, but i wouldn't. for you to assume that obama supporters think otherwise is making a huge assumption. and that makes you an ass, if i'm correct. i don't think like you.

(attention all elected state officials acting as superdelegates: i would recommend you listen to the voters of your state. that includes you kennedy and richardson. you here me? maria does make a good point though. but you can choose any candidate of your choice. gravel is still in this. and after we’re done, how about we scrap this silly system, ok?)

Posted by cochise. | March 25, 2008 3:35 PM


The problem with HRC is that the only way she can win the nomination at this point is to persuade the superdelegates to overturn the will of the people. It would be a disaster for our party.

Right now, HRC is floating the idea that all she needs to do to win the nomination is to win Pennsylvania. There is even a certain amount of conventional wisdom out there that says Pennsylvanians are so racist, they'll never vote for a black man. Both ideas are wrong - flat out wrong. Hillary has to win Pennsylvania by at least 65% just to stay in the race and if Wyoming can go for Obama, then obviously white people are not a racist as HRC is counting on.

Simply to catch up to Obama's lead, HRC has to win every contest left by huge margins. It's just so unlikely to happen, but she clings on and drags out a primary that she can't win.

I originally supported Clinton. But Obama won me over fair and square. He's earned his lead, not demanded it because he's entitled to it. Clinton needs to wake up and smell the coffee - bow out before any more damage is done.

Posted by montex | March 25, 2008 3:38 PM

fluteprof, my stimulus cheque vs. your stimulus cheque that hillary wins the nomination.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 25, 2008 3:48 PM

that is, if she wins you get my cheque, and if obama wins you get my cheque

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 25, 2008 3:50 PM



Can I be in on this bet, too?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 25, 2008 3:52 PM

@20: Aww, I hate to take your money on such an easy bet...

Posted by fluteprof | March 25, 2008 3:58 PM

no sweat off my back. that stimulus cheque was going towards lottery tickets and beer anyway. make the bet.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 25, 2008 4:06 PM

fucking typo and work! you know what i meant; hillary wins you win, obama wins I win.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 25, 2008 4:07 PM

bellevue, you think clinton is going to win the nomination -- enough so to sacrifice your only chance to revive the economy and stave off a recession?

Posted by infrequent | March 25, 2008 4:08 PM

she wont win the nomination, which is why I am willing to sacrifice something useless to me.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 25, 2008 4:13 PM

well, with your correction, my post doesn't make as much sense. it was a question with an added snark bonus.

Posted by infrequent | March 25, 2008 4:14 PM

" Superdelegates should not be the deciding factor. "

No matter what you think should happen, superdelegates will be the deciding factor one way or another. That's what they're there for and the numbers don't add up for either candidate anyway.

Posted by josh | March 25, 2008 4:15 PM

i don't know -- that's not what they are there for, is it?

Posted by infrequent | March 25, 2008 4:30 PM

No, superdelegates were put there to make sure we didn't have the religious right or ultrapatriots capture the Dem nominating process.

One of the problems the MSM has been having is the similar policy views (NOT identical) on many issues for both Clinton and Obama, both of whom are very well qualified to represent the Dems in the General election in November. Which means, basically, the superdelegates should, for the most part, anoint either candidate, depending on who actually wins.

Which, of course, means Obama. Even if Hils blackmails the party into allowing the ridiculous results from MI and FL to stand.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 25, 2008 4:31 PM


Hillary was initially the presumptive nominee. She has the connections, she's married to a former president, she has more power to make life tough for any colleagues who don't support her. If a vast majority of superdelegates support her enough to overrule the pledged delegate count (and risk damaging the party overall), they would have come out and said so already. Their silence is telling.

But, as I already said, keep dreaming.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 25, 2008 4:40 PM

Seeing as how Clinton needs ALL of the remaining superdelegates, but instead she's slowly but surely shedding the ones she already has, I don't think it's accurate to say this is still a contest. If she comes out of PA with +70 or so (a 75-25 split) then MAYBE Clinton can get back in it, if she then finishes very strong in all the remaining contests.

Really, it's not as close as Clinton supporters are making out.

Posted by Fnarf | March 25, 2008 4:55 PM

What #17 said. I'm pro-Obama, but people who say that super delegates shouldn't overturn the will of the people don't get what the supers are there for. In this case, since Clinton and Obama are pretty close policy-wise, I think it makes more sense to go with the person in the lead (Obama), but since the candidates are also pretty close in pledged delegates, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the supers go for Clinton. They can always argue, and I think reasonably, that neither candidate cinched the nomination, so they just went in and did their job to put one or the other over the top.

Posted by spencer | March 25, 2008 4:55 PM

It doesn't matter. If you're afraid that superdelegates are mostly for Clinton, and are going to "overturn" an Obama victory, relax; that's a Clinton campaign meme, but it's not true. The superdelegates are going to (mostly) vote for Obama.

Posted by Fnarf | March 25, 2008 7:25 PM

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