Mar 022008
 
Authors: Sean Reed

Hillary Clinton is facing a dilemma.

After failing to perform in the last 11 primary season contests, her critics, reveling in the weakened state of her campaign are calling for her withdrawal from the race.

If the New York senator fails to perform on Tuesday, in which the states of Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island and Ohio are up for grabs, her detractors say her campaign is essentially done, anyhow.

Others, however, including former Bush top strategist Karl Rove, have said such calls are unwise and that Clinton still has a fighting chance, should she decided to take it.

And they’re right.

As it stands now, Clinton is down 1,267 delegates to Sen. Barack Obama’s 1,369, according to CNN — short a mere 102 delegates.

Tuesday’s contest will divvy up a total of 444 delegates among the four states, the bulk of which will come from Texas and Ohio.

As it stands now, Obama has an extremely narrow 4 percent lead in support in Texas, while Clinton has an only slightly better 7 percent lead in Ohio, according to CNN.

The New York Times reported that the candidates are in a similar state with Rhode Island and Vermont — the former leaning toward Sen. Clinton and the latter for Obama.

Should the results comes out as equitable as these early polls, Clinton will still be well within reach of enough delegates to come back on top, with big races in Pennsylvania and North Carolina still ahead in the upcoming months.

Number-wise, critics are right — it is far too early to completely discount Clinton as a viable nominee for the Democratic Party.

However, a bigger consideration is the damage a continued Clinton campaign could do to the party’s viability in the November election.

Last week saw a barrage of attacks from both sides, including a flier distributed by the Obama campaign criticizing her stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement and a myriad of speeches by Sen. Clinton attacking Obama for his lack of experience.

The most malicious attack, however, came in the form of a photograph released on the Drudge Report of Sen. Obama in traditional Somalian garb, which was credited to a Clinton campaign staffer, according to the New York Times.

The Obama campaign responded, calling the release of the photo “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party.”

Maggie Williams, Clinton’s new campaign manager, neither confirmed nor denied the photo was released by the Clinton campaign, but said, “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed,” and further noted that, “Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.”

Of course, a photo of Caucasian female politician wearing nontraditional clothing will be perceived far differently than those of a Black man with a self professed “funny name” wearing a turban when there is a great fear among many voters that he is a Muslim.

It’s sad fact that the mere possibility of a candidate being a Muslim could be detrimental to a campaign, but it’s true, and if the photo was indeed leaked by a Clinton staffer, they were well aware of what they were doing.

Should this type of bicker ing continue, voters on both sides of the Democratic fence will be turned off, which could be catastrophic to the big game in November against the likely Republican candidate Sen. McCain.

If Clinton is serious about her candidacy and her party, she either needs to step out gracefully to minimize the damage or change her campaign strategy. If she does the latter, Obama will follow.

Unfortunately for Clinton, as the underdog, the responsibility to change the tone falls on her, as she has more to lose. Hopefully, she’ll make the right choice for her campaign and her party.

Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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