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She Has No Choice

Today, for the first time, Hillary Clinton said that she would be open to the possibility of a joint ticket with Barack Obama. She, of course, is speaking about a Clinton-Obama ticket, not the converse. Here’s the exchange from earlier today:

On CBS’ morning program, anchor Harry Smith said to Clinton, “We talked to a lot of people in Ohio who said there really isn’t that significant a difference between you two, and they’d like to see you both on the ticket.”

“Well, you know, that may be where this is headed.” Clinton said. “But of course we have to decide who is on the top of the ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me.”

The only way that Clinton could win the nomination at this point would be through convincing superdelegates to vote for her at the convention. This will be viewed by Obama supporters–the unprecedented million-plus people who have contributed money to his campaign, whom the Democrats do not want to alienate–as a power grab, and rightly so. To prevent the party from tearing itself to shreds, Clinton will have no choice but to offer Obama a position as her running mate. Whether he accepts her offer is a different question. He may bank on her losing to McCain, which would make him the presumable front runner in 2012. If Obama, on the other hand, wins the nomination, he will have no reason to make Clinton his running mate, ending (for good, I predict) her political ascent.

So today’s remarks are part of a well-coordinated strategy to increase her chances of convincing superdelegates to support her, even though she trails in pledged delegates, states won, and the popular vote. This olive branch is not motivated by a desire to save the Democratic Party (because the Clintons could care less about that) though that is its effect, insofar as keeping the party together just this once is vital for Clinton to have any shot at beating McCain should she become the nominee. To do that, she has no choice but to have Obama on the ticket with her.