New York Times
May 9, 2008
Sen. Clinton and the Campaign
There is a lot of talk that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now fated to lose the Democratic nomination and should pull out of the race. We believe it is her right to stay in the fight and challenge Senator Barack Obama as long as she has the desire and the means to do so. That is the essence of the democratic process.
But we believe just as strongly that Mrs. Clinton will be making a terrible mistake — for herself, her party and for the nation — if she continues to press her candidacy through negative campaigning with disturbing racial undertones. We believe it would also be a terrible mistake if she launches a fight over the disqualified delegations from Florida and Michigan.
The United States needs a clean break from eight catastrophic years of George W. Bush. And so far, Senator John McCain is shaping up as Bush the Sequel — neverending war in Iraq, tax cuts for the rich while the middle class struggles, courts packed with right-wing activists intent on undoing decades of progress in civil rights, civil liberties and other vital areas.
The Democratic Party must field the most effective and vibrant candidate it possibly can. More attack ads and squabbling will not help achieve that goal. If Mr. Obama wins, he will be that much more battered and the party will be harder to unite. Win or lose, Mrs. Clinton’s reputation will suffer more harm than it already has.
She owes more to millions of Americans who have voted for her (and particularly to New Yorkers, who are entitled to expect that if she loses, she will return to the Senate with her influence and integrity intact).
In addition to abandoning the attack ads, Mrs. Clinton must drop her plans to fight to seat the delegations from Florida and Michigan, which defied the Democratic Party and moved up the dates of their primaries. A lot of people voted in Florida anyway, but Mrs. Clinton should not pursue this nuclear option. It would make the Democrats look unable to control their own, just when they want to make a case that they can lead the entire nation.
Both candidates have been vowing in the last two days to unite the party, and Mr. Obama could do more to rein in his anonymous campaign aides and other supporters who spend their days trashing Mrs. Clinton.
The undeclared superdelegates should stop their coy posing. With few exceptions, there is no reason left (other than the hope of making back-room deals) for those whose states have voted to keep their positions private. The rest should state their allegiance as soon as their primaries are held in the next few weeks.
There is a lot that Senators Clinton and Obama need to be talking about in coming weeks, starting with how they will extract the country from President Bush’s disastrous Iraq war. A robust debate about health care and the mortgage crisis would remind all American voters of what is at stake in this year’s election. It would also prepare whoever wins the nomination to be a better debater and campaigner in the fall.
We endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and we know that she has a major contribution to make. But instead of discussing her strong ideas, Mrs. Clinton claimed in an interview with USA Today that she would be the better nominee because a recent poll showed that “Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again.” She added: “There’s a pattern emerging here.”
Yes, there is a pattern — a familiar and unpleasant one. It is up to Mrs. Clinton to change it if she hopes to have any shot at winning the nomination or preserving her integrity and her influence if she loses.