An Obama-Clinton Ticket: A Shotgun Marriage?

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Gautam Dutta

Obama-Clinton ’08? For the sake of party unity, the Democratic contest may well be headed that way.

To be sure, Sen. Clinton first floated this idea in March. Although Sen. Obama had already taken the lead in delegates, she had the audacity to offer him the VP slot. Obama declined.

Two months later, Obama still leads Clinton by about 130 delegates, but cannot win the nomination without gaining the support of more superdelegates. Meanwhile, it is highly unlikely that Clinton can erase Obama’s delegate lead — even if she prevails in most (or all) of the remaining contests. But since superdelegates can change their mind at any time, Clinton hopes to win them over with a strong finish.

Here’s how Clinton can convince the superdelegates to give her the top slot: she must beat Obama in Indiana, North Carolina, and virtually all of the remaining states. While current Hoosier polls spot her a lead, she still needs to gain ground in the Tar Heel State.

To control his own destiny, Obama must win both Indiana and North Carolina, along with most of the remaining states. But if he fails to win the Hoosier State, the superdelegates may “ask” him to take Clinton as his running mate.

While McCain coasts to a breezy GOP coronation, the bruising primary has taken a bitter toll on both Clinton and Obama. Unless they join forces, Democrats might not be able to retake the White House. If Obama fails to make the ticket, some of his backers may stay home or vote McCain. If Clinton fails to make it, some of her backers may vote McCain or stay home. Neither scenario bodes well.

Will such a shotgun marriage work? Half a century ago, two exceptional politicians fought fiercely for the Presidential nomination: a charismatic upstart and a seasoned insider. After making peace, they sought to retake the White House from the GOP for the first time in eight years.

After narrowly defeating Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson set our nation on course for ending segregation, reducing poverty, and dramatically expanding immigration.

A fair shake for all Americans, including immigrants and the poor? Not a bad act to follow.

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